This is per a PM from Ron Jeremy... I tried to reply but kept getting a web error. He suggested I post an intro.
I was raised Catholic in the eastern US. My father was a blue collar worker and my mother stayed at home. We did the church thing every Sunday and I had to do all the Catholic Rituals. Half of my dad's family thought my mom and dad were hell bound for being Catholics instead of "born again" Christians. My parents are good people but my mom took church very seriously when it suited her, and ignored it when it didn't... but acts as though she didn't ignore it (for example she'd have steamy pirate novels laying around the house that she'd devour in days)
I remember that my mom seriously thought the apocalypse was coming when Ronald Wilson Reagan became president, because each of his names had six letters in them. "He's the 6 - 6 - 6!" I was a child and seriously worried that the world would end before I got to do all kinds of cool stuff.
By the time I was 16, instead of attending church, I'd drive there to a different service from my parents and lay out on the hood of my car and get a tan so that nobody could proove I didn't attend.
In college, I met this girl who was very Christian, and she asked me if I believed in heaven and hell. I did. She asked me why I didn't take it more seriously then, if I might end up going to hell? So as I dated her, I started to become more serious about being a Christian.
After two years of dating her and not going past 3rd base because of her beliefs, she ended up dumping me for a player with three kids by two different women... so that was my first big "Wow, Christians are really living a double standard when it comes down to it" moment.
I went a little wild after that, I mean, why not, trying to be a good Christian boy didn't pay off? But I always felt guilty about it.
After a bit of a scare, I thought god was trying to teach me a lesson, and that I should settle down with a girl and stop sinning. I prayed and volunteered at a Christian organization and there, I met my first wife. It seemed like an answer to a prayer. After 3 months, I proposed to her, and when I put the ring on her finger, (in Feb), FIREWORKS went off... real FIREWORKS. They were shooting a movie but we didn't know that, so it seemed like a sign from God that we should be together.
We were re-baptized yet again as no two churches ever agree on the right way to be baptized.
After a long engagement, I started to see some issues in this woman, (mental health issues, signs of depression, heavy guilt self-hatred) and they were mostly tied around her guilt for anything she did that she felt God didn't want her to do. But this resulted in her hurting herself and worse.
Normally, I'd have broken off the engagement or insisted she get help or something, but, I didn't because I figured it was all part of God's plan and I'd try to help her. We had fears of therapy stemming from the religious upbringing.
But when everyone around you is telling you stuff like, "Everything happens for a reason" and you pray to meet a person and fireworks go off right? It seems like "too much to be coincidence".
So she goes on meds for depression... though it was really hard for us to accept she needed professional help in the first place because the religious beliefs get in the way. And for five years of the marriage... things were mostly GREAT. She was normal and we could communicate and got along pretty well.
But when we had our child, she went off her meds... and things started going down hill.
Within a few months in 2007 I went from thinking things were fine to realizing that there wouldn't even be a chance to attend counseling.
She painted me to be a monster because divorce is wrong, and she couldn't admit to her family that she had fallen for a manager at work... so to keep the support of people she loved, she had to throw me under the bus. I had to take all the blame or else she'd feel too guilty about having just met someone that she liked better.
Once I realized she was not going to attempt to even try to resolve our issues, I agreed to work with her quickly to end the marriage if she agreed to half custody and a fair financial arrangement.
During this emotionally devastating time, I was going to my church for help. Behind the scenes, at one-on-one sessions and prayer groups, I started to notice a lot of incompetence by people who claimed to be guided by the Spirit. They were confident that they could help, but their help was very poorly formulated.
The people who worked with me or prayed with me seemed to see that I was as well intended and sincere as a human being could possibly be... and I was. I mean, I was ALL-IN on trusting God to help resolve the issue. We were all together, with good hearts, agreeing in prayer that, if nothing else, it made sense to have at least a chance to try to work to save my family in counseling rather than hurt my daughter.
What is the harm in taking a few months to see whether or not a healthy relationship can be restored after over a decade of marriage and a supposed belief that the creator of the universe brought you together with this person? Fair enough right?
I just wanted some closure or a sincere attempt at keeping our vows to the big spaghetti monster in the sky.
As things fell apart, I noticed that the prayer group started distancing themselves. They'd prayed sincerely and nothing was happening, so... maybe it was free-will on my ex-wife's part, but maybe it was something that I was doing wrong. (I hadn't cheated, or been abusive, or had any addictions, or been neglectful... though I wasn't perfect, there was really no great reason to blame me)
When "god doesn't act" you can't consider that it's because he doesn't exist, you have to start looking for how you failed, like Linus in the Pumpkin Patch.
But I started to blame myself and feel blame from others that god had decided not to answer these prayers. There was definitely a search for a cause for this beyond "god not existing at all" and fingers were pointed in various directions... all different directions depending on which person was talking. If there really was a God who had a relationship with all these Christians, wouldn't they say the same things?
It went on like this for a while, and I was online, on Google, looking at "how god answers prayers" and I came across the videos for this site.
10 Questions Every Intelligent Christian Must Answer
The Greatest Optical Illusion in the World
I read the whole "Why won't God Heal Amputees?" Site and "God is Imaginary" and I couldn't defeat the arguments but I still didn't believe it. I shared the site with a few believing friends and asked them to help me defeat the arguments and they couldn't either.
My ex-wife was sitting in a big evangelical church with her new husband and my daughter, acting like a star christian but treating me like garbage in so many ways...
For example, our dog, which we'd raised from a puppy, got very sick. When I called her to tell her, she was cold and brutal about the whole thing. The first words out of her mouth were, "I hope you don't expect financial help with that." She'd literally just emptied my bank in a deal that was still probably less brutal than the courts would impose, and was living for free with her folks while earning a very good income. I didn't want her back, but I'd thought perhaps we could share a moment of empathy over the impending death of our pet.
As I sat on the floor of the vet with my dying dog, making the decision myself to put her down... I really started to analyze all the ways that Christians really don't act as though they believe at all. There's only love when it benefits them. I started reviewing in my mind the near retarded level of advice that I'd get in my sessions at the church. I was terrified to question God but I started questioning more and more.
The questions made total sense and the answers never made sense... except "god is imaginary".
Over the next several years, I started to reform my beliefs and base them only on things that made sense.
I started to review my whole life as a Christian and seeing all the excuses I made, and everyone else made, for god.
I reviewed my bigotry that was bred in as a Christian and changed that as much as possible.
It's sad that it took such a traumatic event for me to shake off this delusion... but it was hammered into my head from every side since I was born, so, the excuses for God just seemed normal.
I have great sympathy for believers who still make excuses for God, yet, I'm frustrated with them too, because I've personally experienced profound damage and a less than optimal life for decades because of my delusional beliefs. Nobody in my life has ever hurt me MORE than Christians. Even if it's just as simple as suffering a tragedy and having a Christian tell you, "God has a plan, everything happens for a reason."
I really only stopped blaming myself and excusing "god" for everything once I saw statistics on how Christian marriages fail at a slightly higher rate than every other type, and how all scientific studies for prayer show that it has no effect on anything. It wasn't just that I was unworthy of god's blessing, but that nobody was getting blessings... and claimed blessings happened at the same rate that rich kids got presents from Santa compared to poor kids.
Currently, I'm happily committed to a great woman who isn't a believer... (more agnostic), and my child is a skeptic who I have half the time and loves me very much.
I love my child and feel bad for my ex. We've both tried to be civil as much as possible.
I know the Bible very well and I am well versed in every excuse that people make for God, and why they're all bull.
I think the story, in spite of being about me, is very informative as to how religious delusion can be harmful even when it's not extremist like radical Islam. I find that being very open and honest about what happens helps to tear down delusion in our country just a little bit more, so, I share when I can.
If God was real, and he answered prayer as promised in the Bible, and he really united two people in marriage... then God wouldn't have a worse success rate than Match.com
That's just one of many, many, many reasons why I am convinced that a belief in the Christian god, or anything supernatural, is not rational.