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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Question for former theists
« on: January 25, 2014, 12:29:59 PM »
This is not to argue nor belittle nor to bait you.  Just a question which popped into my mind and so decided to act on it. 

When you were a theist, was there a specific teaching, or verse or book of the Bible or individual in the church or event that tipped the scales for you in deciding to leave theism?  If so, would you mind sharing it? 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

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Offline Nam

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2014, 12:48:39 PM »
I read the totality of the Bible and not the cherry-picked verses provided by my parents or whatever church I belonged to. But what got me to read the totality was the obvious prejudices and bigotry resonating from those fellow Christians around me that I didn't like, and I wanted to know where it came from.

I learned many years later that many people already have those faults they just use their religion to validate it.

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2014, 01:10:08 PM »
I don't know if this counts. I was just a kid when I was a theist. And I was a theist in the sense that I was told to go to Sunday School very week. But when I started learning about myths in school, and those myths sounded almost exactly like bible stories, I put 2+2 together and concluded that Christianity was yet another myth.

Fifty plus years later I'm still pretty happy with my conclusions.
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Offline Logic Noir

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2014, 01:44:01 PM »
For me, the beginning of the end was the story of the tower of babyl when i was around 17 or so.  I just remember thinking, 'This...is stupid'.

I'm a PK, by the way.  Once I was out of the house, I began studying on my own and realized that I was brainwashed.  Never looked back.

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2014, 01:58:29 PM »
Welcome Logic Noir. Stick around. Newbies are always welcome.
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Offline SevenPatch

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2014, 04:04:27 PM »
No specific verse here.  I read the entire OT and a lot of the NT when I was a teenager. I might have remained a theist (believing that God existed) if other Christians interpreted the bible the way I did, which was just a peice of fiction with a few useful life lessons.  Instead there are people who take it literally and probably don't even know how much negative garbage is in it.
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Offline relativetruth

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2014, 04:37:38 PM »
I don't know when or what my exact tipping point was? I was brought up in a very happy family. Although my father was a very religious person he was also very introverted and never tried to empose his beliefs on me or my elder brother.

My family ensured, with some financial cutbacks, that I had an education way way above that which my Mum and Dad ever received. However, it was even before I was able to articulate my thoughts (thru my advanced training!!) that I started to have doubts.

I inherited my fathers introversion which meant that between the ages of 5 and 11 I never discussed or challenged the ideas that seem to be presented at my classes at sunday school. Even though I had soo many thoughts going in my head.

The link below should further explain my story

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,26246.msg597261.html#msg597261
God(s) exist and are imaginary

Offline Traveler

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2014, 04:52:29 PM »
I was never a theist, but my parents both were until young adolescence (13ish I think).

In my father's case, he was told that he couldn't read certain books. He decided/realized that if they were afraid of his seeking knowledge that they could not be correct.

In my mother's case, two things happened. She had questions that not only were not answered, but she was told to stop asking questions. Somewhere around then she realized that her parents and siblings all had a type of belief/faith that she had never really felt.

Basically, in both cases, they got the message that learning/seeking/questioning was bad, and they were both very intelligent and curious people.

For what its worth, my dad's family is catholic and my mom's is conservative lutheran.
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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2014, 04:56:29 PM »
My bible is marked up with highlights and sticky tabs marking passages promising comfort and reassurance that I never received.  Verses basically telling me this cluster f*ck my life has become is all part of god's plan and if I just keep my faith he will fix it all,  but nothing is getting fixed, it just gets worse and worse.  Promises that I should knock and the door will be opened, seek and find, ask and I will receive but no door ever opened, I found no one and I received nothing I asked for.  I realized there were two options - God was mean and cruel and ignoring me or god does not exist.  I picked the second.
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline relativetruth

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2014, 05:18:13 PM »
My bible is marked up with highlights and sticky tabs marking passages promising comfort and reassurance that I never received.  Verses basically telling me this cluster f*ck my life has become is all part of god's plan and if I just keep my faith he will fix it all,  but nothing is getting fixed, it just gets worse and worse.  Promises that I should knock and the door will be opened, seek and find, ask and I will receive but no door ever opened, I found no one and I received nothing I asked for.  I realized there were two options - God was mean and cruel and ignoring me or god does not exist.  I picked the second.

To me even if God was just mean and cruel I still cannot see why an All-Powerfull god could get it's jolly's from metaphorically taking the wings off a fly?
God(s) exist and are imaginary

Offline rev45

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2014, 05:34:23 PM »
Several things made me stop listening to most people when it comes to finding information about gods. 

I was a member of two churches that had major splits within themselves.  The first was over if there is a hell and if baptism is a requirement to be saved.  People yelling, crying, and some even throwing things at each other.  Passion from both sides and each using scripture to back up their position.  I remember thinking that a basic ideas like baptism and hell shouldn't be an issue that would lead to such an argument.  The second split was similar in that the minister got into heated arguments with members over (what I thought) were basic Christian teachings, but people still found verses to back up their different opinion and so that church split too.

Almost every preacher I've listened to would always say a prayer before their sermon asking for God to speak through them.  It was something done every week so over time I didn't think much of it.  But then the last church I attended was in the transition of getting a new preacher.  While the church leaders were searching for candidates, an interim minister filled in.  He did the same as all the others of asking God to speak through him.  But during his sermons he would say things that were flat out wrong.  The one I remember vividly was him saying how most major universities across the US were now stopping teaching evolution and were changing over to intelligent design.  When he said that I looked at my wife and asked her if I heard that right.  As I thought later about it I realized that God wasn't speaking through the ministers.  Sure anyone can be wrong, but how can you be so wrong when you're speaking God's words?  Church wasn't a place to learn, but to hear someone opinions.

Then there is this website that gets posted here every now and again.  http://jesus-is-savior.com/  When I found it I was already deeply doubting my religious beliefs and it pretty much sealed it for me.  I've seen some websites say it's a fake and others will say they're not sure.  But for me after reading several of it's articles I decided to just say heck with it.  I left the church for good and completely wiped the slate clean of everything I thought I knew about God.  I can never be sure who god is speaking through or if it's just someone spouting their opinion.  So now I wait for a god to do something that will make me know, not just believe, it's there.  I'm done listening to people tell me what their god wants (usually servitude and money) and I'm waiting patiently for the god/gods/goddesses to make themselves known so that I can be sure I'm getting the truth. 
Here read a book.  It's free.
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Online jynnan tonnix

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2014, 06:45:34 PM »
I was never what one might call a dedicated theist...I was raised Catholic by parents whom I never realized were quite as religious as they later turned out to be. Or maybe their faith just began to get more important in their lives as they got older. They are both over 80 now, and seem more and more involved in the church.

At any rate, I guess I had some vague sort of idea of god when I was young, but we were not Bible readers, so my knowledge of Bible stories was limited to those same verses which come up, year after year, on schedule, during the Catholic Mass, and the occasional Charlton Heston movie.

I was, however, a pretty voracious reader. In my early years I enjoyed a lot of fairy tales, and after the age of 8 or 9, various mythologies joined those. And, honestly, I don't think it ever occurred to me that the stories of the Bible were NOT fantasy. It wasn't until I happened upon my dad kneeling at the foot of his bed saying prayers. Until that time, I think I'd just assumed that it was part of a bedtime ritual like stories and lullabies, but somehow it had never occurred to me that it was something "grownups" still did; that they actually took it seriously. For whatever reason, that just put me off. I think I lost a little bit of respect for my dad at that moment.

Later on, I always found myself trying to wedge Christian beliefs and those of other religions into some sort of Universalist philosophy. Though I'd never so much as heard the word Universalist back then, it didn't make sense that one religion would be right and all the others wrong, and if there was a god, he must somehow accept all these paths as simply different ways to reach the same destination. 
I suppose I was reasonably happy with that conclusion.

Then I met my first Fundie as a Junior in High School (they were still fairly rare in Connecticut back then. Even though we are still not exactly overrun with them to this day). And the notion that every single person who was not "born again" and didn't have that "personal relationship with Lord & Savior Jesus Christ" was irredeemably bound for hell just hit me as so fundamentally wrong; so completely evil (if, indeed there was a deity which worked that way) that it completely turned me off from anything to do with Christianity at that point. If that was the way god worked, I wanted no part of him. And, ultimately, it became clear, upon doing more and more reading of both sides of the argument, that the only way it all made sense was that most probably god did not exist.

Offline penfold

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2014, 07:09:19 PM »
Hate to say it but essentially my theism died with my education.

Really came in three parts. First step was when I learnt about the scale of the universe both in terms of space/time and in terms of complexity both of which made the notion of an anthropocentric universe seem implausible - while this alone did not end my faith it opened the door to doubt and really was the start of the collapse. I also remember a course I took studying Mark's gospel in the original Greek; the more I learnt to read it as an historical text the less mysterious and authoritative it seemed. The final straw though came when I started to specialise in philosophy in my final years of school and then at university; engaging with the broad scope of human thought over the millennia rid me of any lingering nostalgia I felt for the faith.

To quote Bertrand Russell:

Quote

The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very
uncertainty. The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through
life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the
habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which
have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his
deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to become definite,
finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar
possibilities are contemptuously rejected. As soon as we begin to
philosophize, on the contrary, we find, as we saw in our opening
chapters, that even the most everyday things lead to problems to which
only very incomplete answers can be given. Philosophy, though unable
to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which
it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our
thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while
diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly
increases our knowledge as to what they may be; it removes the
somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never travelled into the
region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by
showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.

Problems of Philosophy Ch XV
« Last Edit: January 25, 2014, 07:12:11 PM by penfold »
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Offline shnozzola

Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2014, 07:10:55 PM »
    Easy question to ask, long answer of life required.  :)  I was raised a member of The Church of The Brethren in a Brethren college town, thereby being a very liberal branch of the Brethren.  All members of the congregation are made to feel guilty when we do not do enough for our fellow man (which I like), and all people of all stripes are welcome (which I like).   The Brethren are known for service.   A branch of Anabaptist pacifists with Mennonites and Quakers, Brethren started Heifer Project International.  The Brethren say, "No Creed But Christ", meaning the 4 gospels are the blueprint for life, with the Brethren choosing service, love, and acceptance from the Christian cafeteria.  For myself joining the US Peace Corps was an easy decision sprouting from Brethren roots.  My beliefs through life were that god, Allah, Jehovah, the force, Krishna, the gods of native Americans, whoever, was the same entity.  A spirit that breathed love into humanity, that Jesus understood.


   One thing is for sure, I was never taught to fear god.  As I have gotten older, god has gotten smaller.   A theist in a catholic website recently told me I have gotten bigger, too big, god has not changed.  I do not agree.  I don't feel that I am not humble.   Long ago, probably late teens, I believed everyone gets saved in the end, no exceptions.  About the time of 9/11, realizing the hatred of the west from theist Muslims,  and with scientific study of the universe changing what we are learning, I happened upon WWGHA.  Velkyn and Hermes quickly took me to task, but I already was the type of theist that knew no man can be certain of anything, and the rest has been and easy slide.  I have no angry reason to dislike christianity - my sisters and mom are very religious, thinking all their hard work is led by god, but my dad just thinks everything is funny.  Understanding that absolutely no one can have a corner on truth, so can be no judge, is the important thing for me.  That is why debating sure theism has become important.
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Offline Hatter23

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2014, 09:50:56 PM »
This is not to argue nor belittle nor to bait you.  Just a question which popped into my mind and so decided to act on it. 

When you were a theist, was there a specific teaching, or verse or book of the Bible or individual in the church or event that tipped the scales for you in deciding to leave theism?  If so, would you mind sharing it? 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
Not within the Church. However, a culture of hypocrisy laid a foundation. However it was when I created a fictional religion at age 14 for storytelling purposes...and figured out if a bright 14 year old with a long weekend came come up with a religion, anyone can. And while I at first just rejected Catholicism, I continued to look and look and found nothing to distinguish the claims of religion from fiction, other than people believing in them.
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

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Offline lotanddaughters

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2014, 12:20:58 AM »
I started out as a child who believed the stories that the adults told me about the Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel, etc. I never knew what the Bible said about slavery. As a Christian, I never bothered to read the entire Bible and concentrate on what it actually says. In church or school, we would read biblical passages, but the preacher or the teacher must have never led us toward "suspect" passages like the ones regarding slavery. Sure, I knew that God sanctioned battles to be fought against enemies of the Israelites, but I was never made aware of the details. As I grew older, I viewed the extremely far-fetched biblical stories more and more as being allegorical.

Somewhere around the age of twenty, I realized that I was no longer a Christian. There wasn't a major event or enlightening moment. It was just gradual. It was pretty much me thinking, "You know, the ancient world is filled with extremely far-fetched tales. The stories that I used to believe without question no longer appear any different than the ones that my surrounding society and I know to be fictional." I remember saying things like, "I believe many of the historical accounts of the Bible. I just don't believe in any of the science-fiction."

As time went on, I learned more and more of what the modern, unbiased scholarly view is in regards to the origins of ancient Middle-Eastern religions. As an atheist, my perceived historicity of a person named Jesus Christ has eroded down to practically nothing. As an atheist, I have more Bible verses memorized by my own voluntary interaction with the Bible than I ever did as a child who was encouraged by adults to memorize Bible verses.

I know that as humans, our moods can vary from moment to moment. Sometimes I get frustrated when I encounter a Christian who, after getting bombarded with evidence to the contrary, remains a Christian. But, overall, I have to admit to myself that I find our whole "circumstance of believers and non-believers" fascinating. It's kind of like how I don't like murder, but many of the most fascinating books or movies seem to involve murder.

Offline Grendel

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2014, 04:23:56 PM »
This is not to argue nor belittle nor to bait you.  Just a question which popped into my mind and so decided to act on it. 

When you were a theist, was there a specific teaching, or verse or book of the Bible or individual in the church or event that tipped the scales for you in deciding to leave theism?  If so, would you mind sharing it? 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
God hardening Pharaoh's heart. 

God being an overall giant flaming prick and immature 12 year old, but with the power (and inclination) to kill anyone who looks at him cross-eyed.

Tower of Babel and all other stories revolving around faery tale nonsense or god not wanting us to think or do anything for ourselves
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 04:26:52 PM by Grendel »
This 'free will' nonsense didn't seem to bother your god when it set up the sting operation in the Garden of Eden with two magic trees and a Talking Snake™

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2014, 04:41:50 PM »
This is not to argue nor belittle nor to bait you.  Just a question which popped into my mind and so decided to act on it. 

When you were a theist, was there a specific teaching, or verse or book of the Bible or individual in the church or event that tipped the scales for you in deciding to leave theism?  If so, would you mind sharing it? 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

No one isolated experience, more of a gradual change of perspective than anything else. Much of what has been reported in this thread so far by rev, jynnan tonnix, lotanddaughters, could have just as easily been written by me.

I sometimes point out that the Bible itself had nothing to do with my deconversion, but it certainly has done a lot to support it. Raised Catholic, then many years of a vague SPAG belief system, onto agnosticism and finally to atheism. If it weren't for politics, I'd still be a disinterested party. I have VERY strong feeling about the importance of a firm line between Church and State.
"It's hard to, but I'm starting to believe some of you actually believe these things.  That is completely beyond my ability to understand if that is really the case, but things never cease to amaze me."

Offline freakygin

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2014, 02:44:21 AM »
This is not to argue nor belittle nor to bait you.  Just a question which popped into my mind and so decided to act on it. 

When you were a theist, was there a specific teaching, or verse or book of the Bible or individual in the church or event that tipped the scales for you in deciding to leave theism?  If so, would you mind sharing it? 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy

The contradictions of course.
Here's an example of inconsistencies on Jesus trial

(Matt 27:12)
Jesus gave no answer, no reply at all

(John 18:33 - 37)
Jesus answered charges, answered questions, spoke much

That got me start thinking... One of them gotta be a liar, or maybe both of them...
If you argue correctly, you're never wrong..

Offline Fiji

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2014, 02:50:58 AM »
Gradual process, which started at age 5 and lasted until age 14. The thing that got me started was the realisation that parents sometimes lie.[1]
 1. and by extension, other authority figures ... such as ... priests
Science: I'll believe it when I see it
Faith: I'll see it when I believe it

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Without life, god has no meaning.

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2014, 10:54:15 AM »
When you were a theist, was there a specific teaching, or verse or book of the Bible or individual in the church or event that tipped the scales for you in deciding to leave theism?  If so, would you mind sharing it? 
Like others, it is difficult to pin-point an isolated turning doctrine or event.

But if I had to pick something, it'd have been the doctrine of hell.  I eventually got to the point where I simply could not wrap my head around the concept.  Made no sense.  Eternal damnation?  Loving god?  Double-u tee eff?

It was that thinking that made me want to get more serious with my religion[1].

Taking my religion more seriously is what made me decide it wasn't true and allowed me to let it go.
 1. Catholicism
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Offline neopagan

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2014, 11:10:52 AM »
Great question, OCG

I was a theist/christian/believer/fundie-lite/sheep for 35 years, up until about a year and a half ago. Despite questions that came up, I hung on and tried to read and study more - assuming it was all my fault none of it really ("in my heart of hearts" - fundie talk) made sense.  I was told by religious folk, I needed to listen to god speak to me. It was rough - god was as silent as he had always been (aside from when he sounded exactly like I did).

Finally, I made up my mind to try and read through the Bible (again) and meditate/pray on it... I made it through Genesis and was convinced it was complete and total BS.  It was all over.  As a one time Presbyterian-PCA, I'd always liked the phrase "come to faith," since it implied some magical bond between you and god.  Now I embrace the term "lost the faith" since it means I lost the ability to pretend to believe in magic.  My house had been built on sand; I knew I had been duped.  It has been rough - losing friends, family, respect, you name it - but I'm no longer holding on to a myth - and oddly enough, happier.
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline JoeNobody

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #22 on: January 27, 2014, 04:54:53 PM »
I don't know. I remember my parents bringing me to many different churches, each one preaching something different. This always struck me as weird.

But, I don't know if I was ever really a theist. Certainly, if you had asked 8 or 12 year old Joe "what is your religion?", I would have said "christian". It was just that whole belief thing was something that happened to other people.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #23 on: January 27, 2014, 09:07:08 PM »
This is not to argue nor belittle nor to bait you.  Just a question which popped into my mind and so decided to act on it. 

When you were a theist, was there a specific teaching, or verse or book of the Bible or individual in the church or event that tipped the scales for you in deciding to leave theism?  If so, would you mind sharing it? 

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy


I was taking a bible as literature course.  It put me on shakey ground right away with 2 different versions of creation and the whole ugly affair in Eden made yhwh look like a first rate douche.  But what put a bullet in my faith was the sons of gods mating with the daughters of men and giving birth to a race of giant heroes called the nephilim.  It was obvious to me this was pure mythology.  And if the OT was mythology, the NT was built on quicksand and also false.
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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #24 on: January 27, 2014, 09:25:23 PM »
I don't know. I remember my parents bringing me to many different churches, each one preaching something different. This always struck me as weird.

But, I don't know if I was ever really a theist. Certainly, if you had asked 8 or 12 year old Joe "what is your religion?", I would have said "christian". It was just that whole belief thing was something that happened to other people.

Welcome JoeNobody. I'm saying this because usually nobody listens to me.  ;D

Stick around. We had fun that one time and we're hoping for a repeat!
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Offline lotanddaughters

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #25 on: January 27, 2014, 10:12:27 PM »
And if the OT was mythology, the NT was built on quicksand and also false.

I've tried to explain this too many times with too many words. Great sentence.
Enough with your bullshit.
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Offline JoeNobody

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #26 on: January 28, 2014, 11:57:42 AM »
Welcome JoeNobody. I'm saying this because usually nobody listens to me.  ;D

Stick around. We had fun that one time and we're hoping for a repeat!

 :laugh:

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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2014, 12:53:57 PM »
three-step process for me, the latter two of which had definite Moments.

first step: going from RC contemplating priesthood, to almost completely falling from the RC faith and into deism and toward atheism, was a gradual process through and after college, due to education and simple self-reflection.  My main issue was the intolerance inherent in all religions (Us vs. Them), at least that I was aware of (I don't pretend to know ALL religions)

Second step: as a 20something, a Baptist friend of mine invited me to a bible study.  I was teetering away from the faith, and decided that I'd give it an honest shot.  I was already fairly familiar with the bible and wanted to be open to God's Word speaking to me, maybe pulling me back.  Heh.  They picked the absolute worst verse possible for me: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live"  Talk about intolerant...what is unwritten here for those who DON'T believe?!?!  This was the Moment I closed the book on xianity--but not yet completely eschewing spirituality/god of some flavor.

Third step: after reading Dawkins and Hitchins and participating on this site for a good 2 years or so, I still had lingering thoughts re: existance of a godlike being.  I'd been Touched, I believed, as a high schooler and that experience was something I could not just put aside.  So I experiemented and tried to replicate that feeling in a secular manner.  I was able to achieve a state that, while not exaclty the same as my previous experience, convinced me that such states are possible to achieve sans religion.  That was the Moment I was courageous enough to call my self 'atheist'
It's one of the reasons I'm an atheist today.  I decided to take my religion seriously, and that's when it started to fall apart for me.
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Re: Question for former theists
« Reply #28 on: January 28, 2014, 01:08:05 PM »
Well one of the teachings of the Christianity I grew up in was a very young earth creationist sort of background. We were taught YEC was not only the Christian way but it was also solid truth. So there was a lesson taught and internalized very early that truth and reason are important. Later as I grew more interested in science, finding the conflicts between an inerrant Bible and the real world ran into that whole truth being important thing.

The teaching that really started me on questioning the ethical integrity of Christianity and then finally Christianity and theism at large though was Calvinism.

Neat question, I'm enjoying the responses.
There’s no difference between a bunch of theologians sitting around debating scripture than a bunch of D&D nerds sitting around debating which version of the Player’s Handbook to use.