Question Everything
Subject: Former Christians: How did you gain then lose your faith?
A question for all Former Christians:

How did you become a Christian and how did you then become an ex-Christian? What religious beliefs do you now have, if any?

I'll begin with my story.

I was a born again Christian from my earliest memory (My parents told me that I sang "Yes, Jesus loves me" in front of a big audience when I was three years old, I have no memory of this.)

I went to a Christian school. I attended countless Bible camps. (Just like the one depicted in "Jesus Camp", boy did watching that film bring back memories!) I totally believed that God had a plan for my life and would tell me what it was. Never did so, in spite of all my pleading. I finally asked God to say something to me, anything at all. I even put down a pen and paper so that God could write me something. (That way I wouldn't think that I was a crazy person hearing voices.) Nothing happened, NOTHING!!!

This greatly alarmed me. I searched first century history to find out what Christianity was really based on. Not much, as it turned out. No record even of the Crucifixion, even though the Romans recorded every one. They also did not crucify without a trial, did not remove bodies from crosses until vultures picked the bones clean, only crucified people in extreme cases involving mass murder or overthrow of the government through violence, etc. They would never crucify someone simply because he said he was God. (This was not even against Roman law.) They would never crucify someone simply because the Jews wanted them to (Jews were not Roman citizens, and Jewish priests had very little influence over the actions of Roman soldiers.) or because a mob was shouting for it.

When i found out that the first gospels were not written until decades after the events they describe, and no one wrote about Jesus during the time he was allegedly alive, I felt lied to and betrayed. I was in total shock. It became clear that what happened was that after the Jewish revolt failed and the temple was destroyed in the year 70, a story was circulated saying that the long awaited Messiah actually came several decades earlier and fulfilled the OT prophecies about him. This story, a total fabrication made from old prophecies and a lot of wishful thinking, became the gospels found in the Bible today.

Wouldn't an all powerful God do a better job of carrying out his plan? Wouldn't he know that this plan needs to be better substantiated?

Another big shock came from studying evolution. It was not full of holes after all. It was totally rock solid. All the things Creationists said about it, including what was in "Biology, a search for order in complexity") published by the Institute for Creation Research, which was my high school biology textbook, ranged from being very misleading to out and out lies. Again I felt lied to and betrayed.

Would an all powerful God really require his followers to engage in mass deception to carry out his plan? Wouldn't he insist that it be based on truth?

Things that bothered me for a long time became clear. I knew about James Randi's million dollar challenge when I was a Christian (It was $10,000 then.) I prayed many times that either God or a representative of God would take the challenge on the condition that if the prize was awarded James Randi would need to publicly confess that Jesus Christ was Lord. I didn't understand why God would not do this.

And, what about all those healing services I went to, with people coming to them in wheelchairs and then leaving in those same wheelchairs. Something just wasn't right.

My faith collapsed like a building destroyed by explosives - BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM then everything was crashing down into rubble.

This was in 1985, the year I stopped believing in the Christian god, at least as I understood him. But, maybe it was just that my understanding of God was wrong. I looked into every religion and belief system I could find. It was not until 2003 that I finally gave up any possible hope of a god or spirit or whatever.

Hello questin everything,

I was raised as a catholic. I attended a catholic camp (CYO) as a child but other than two church meeting everyday we didn't have the same pressure as Jesus camp. In my 20's I converted to LDS and I was active for about a year. This was back in 1972. There was a Jesus movement going on then so I was saved back in 72.
I no longer consider myself a Christian because in a number of places in the OT it teaches that we are to look to only God for deliverance. I am presently a member, and have been for many years, of the Association for research and enlightenment (ARE). This was an organization founded on the Edgar Cayce readings.

I was brought up and confirmed Lutheran. My father never went to church and my mother, only occasionally. As a result my faith was never particularly strong. The turning point came when I read Bertrand Russell's essay Why I am not a Christian. (It can read in its entirety HERE.) After that Christianity and a belief in a supreme being simply seemed absurd, and has remained so ever since.

Subject: Former Christians: How did you gain then lose your faith?
Probably not what you wanted to hear about, but I did not exactly "lose my faith." I changed to another religion, specifically from liberal Protestantism, to wit, the United Methodist Church, to Conservative Judaism. Details can be found here.

A bit different, but perhaps you'll find it of interest.

I converted to evangelical christianity by myself (from a rather non-christian family and surroundings in France), then stayed there for years, and then painfully deconverted quite late (in my taste), based on my own thoughts and experience (missing the chance of having checked existing arguments earlier).

I always believed in the existence of life after death, naturally and as something obvious and intuitively just as undeniable as my own existence, from the first time the question was raised: namely, when I heard about Near Death Experiences during my teenage. After this, as I was a science lover, I read some popular science magazines, and found something disgusting there: articles denying in principle the possibility of afterlife in the name of science and reason. This pushed me to consider reason and the scientific method as corrupt and misleading practices inducing blindness of the mind, a sort of foolishness away from the deep truths in metaphysical issues.

Something else that went wrong for me, was the school system. I had the chance to develop my own understanding of maths and physics (up General Relativity at the age of 16) during my free time, but aside this, my experience with school (an ordinary one, that did no way adapt to my skills, where, as for mathematics, I had to "learn" things I already knew most of the time at the same speed as others) was so painfully boring. I think the academic system gives a quite terrible image of science.

In the way I peceived things at that time, one of the worst absurdities taught by school was the history of the so-called "social progress" consisting in the abolition of child labor. What ? They believed they did something good by "abolishing child labor", seriously ?
Indeed I was feeling like a convict in a penal colony, as a pupil in this school system. I even felt jealous of the working children of the past, as while they may have not been free of what they were materially doing, at least I imagined they could somehow be free of their mind while working; but I wasn't, persecuted as I was by both the bullying by my mates, and by the stupidity of the courses. I was forced to sacrifice the life of my mind to serve this Cult of Nonsense (the school system) that this world was serving without tolerating any question. So, this world was actually dominated by a reign of evil forces. And these evil forces were set up as they were by... the secular human intellect. How could I understand and find a voice, a way out or something, with whom I could share my desperate pain and observations of how corrupt this world is ?
When I met Christianity (ideas and humans), I found it innocent of these evils. It offered me "sense" to the terrible suffering I went through, and (implicitly through their theology) agreement on the fact that this world and its dominant "intellectual" voices were corrupt and evil. The environment of brotherhood and nice songs I found there sharply contrasted with the bullying and other absurd things I suffered until then in the secular world.
When I was Christian, I hardly ever seriously cared to know about the atheist arguments. Why ? First because they are atheists, that is, they think there is no God. How could this be ? The laws of physics are so conceptually wonderful, they can only be the expression of a wonderful divine mind. How could all parts of the universe be connected together (coexist), unless there was a sort of underlying unity of all existence ? How could I see a motivation to stay alive despite all the bad things I was going through and keep fighting for a better world in these desperately painful circumstances, unless there is a sort of divine justice, a sense of mission for my life, a hope to be rewarded and paid back for all these sufferings and efforts after I die ?

But Christianity did not keep its promises in my life. My feelings went from bad to worse. While I badly needed to find love in my life, God did not keep the promise (as told by Christians) of providing what I really needed to morally survive. It became physically more and more impossible for me to worship God. On the contrary I could not avoid cursing Him for what I suffered. But cursing God is the way to hell, isn't it ? Moreover, fellow Christians did not understand my troubles, and their preachings to keep trusting God went flat.
My faith crumbled as the Christian teachings and ideas that formed my view of life, turned out to seem more and more absurd, empty of meaning. So I could not stand my life and my faith anymore, but where could I go ? How can I dare to contradict God, if Christian teachings are from Him ? I seemed to be smashed in a dead end as I expected no understanding of life and no hope of a positive afterlife outside the Christian faith that I was in but where I could not stand anymore.
But at the moment when finally all my conceptual world collapsed, just one thing remained in my life, the only possible open way out of this nonsense: the presence of near death experiences, that I could readily get informed about, to check the truth about afterlife: is Christian faith and worship of God necessary for salvation ?
This is how I found the answer: no, Christianity is not true, and more refuted than supported by the information we have about afterlife from near death experiences. The chances to reach heaven are not affected by religious orientation or piety, and there are strong hints for the existence of reincarnation, contrary to what Christianity teaches.

Once I was out in this way, I could rebuild a worldview, finally acknowledging and formalizing a big lot of evidences against Christianity that had more or less silently formed in me before.
And then I was surprised to see, both that Christians refused to understand but instead condemned me for my new understanding, and that I turned out to have a lot of agreement with atheist views. While I still believe in the existence of afterlife and the supernatural, I finally agree with them on most of their arguments against religions, and the value of science and reason.

The simplest reply I can conceive of is that I changed my beliefs...It took me a long time to lose my belief in Christianity completely. I was challenged to change my beliefs regarding the divinity of Jesus and the afterlife (reincarnation in the bible).

This lead to my interest in Buddhism, which I thought at the time was quite similar to Christianity. Eventually I started seeing the problems/contradictions in the bible, this occurred as my faith weakened and my individual beliefs about the bible/god denigrated slowly. With each belief that was shown wrong, another was shown to be wrong as well. I then questioned the entirety of Christian doctrine and dogma. I then decided that I couldn't be a Christian because of all of the holes within the doctrines and in the bible itself.

I then began to search into the occult realm, mostly really old occult writings. So I actually inadvertently avoided the "new agey stuff". At this point, I would read occult literature until about 2 am and then go to bed and get up at 7 am to go to my Christian school. As I began to search more and more, I felt more and more separated from my school/friends. Eventually I researched Wicca and Satanism. To which I realized how Satanism had been demonized by Christians, and how it was not what they said it was. Around the time I got into satanism I started listening to Marilyn Manson. I then briefly skipped over to atheism, which I enjoyed for a time (as with every other phase).

Atheism gave me a sense of logic and reason, it greatly helped me consider what I should believe; because throughout my searches I had no clue what to believe.

Currently I am into Esoteric/Symbolic/Metaphysical philosophy, and I feel that this is where I will stay. I am also an occultist/pagan/wiccan, not relying upon faith but in fact reason to believe what I do. I don't claim that what I believe is absolutely right, but I do believe I am onto something far deeper than I have found so far.

I consider all sides and positions, and I will defend whichever side is the most reasonable. I am not strictly one thing or another, I don't believe one thing or another. I am both an Ignostic and a pagan/wiccan/philosopher.

*Much of my story has been left out, due to a lack of time/patience of writing it all*

Mr. Splib
I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school from grades 7 - 12. Even though we went to church even Sunday and I went through catechism, I was a skeptic from a very early age. I always questioned beliefs, but never was able to get answers to my questions. I am a very logical person by nature and came to the realization that "faith" can be defined as the absence of logic and reason. Everything good that happened was due to god and everything bad that happened was either due to Satan or was "God's will." Kids die of cancer, wars raged all over the world, and on and on were all part of "God's plan" and we couldn't possibly understand it. That answer, to me, was a load of crap coming from someone who was too simpleminded to try and figure it out.

I believe in some kind of entity that created the universe, but do not believe that entity is in any way actively involved in our daily lives. I believe that our conscience is "God's" energy (some call it your spirit) within us. We inherently know what is right and wrong and should live our lives according to that voice inside of us.

I raised Southern Baptist from a pup and was active in all the programs such as AWANAS. I was saved at 7 when I told my dad I wanted to be saved. I think it was out of fear of fire and damnation. When I grew into my teens I gave up on church and got into drugs and hot chicks, and skateboarding. One day when I was 19 I was hungover and strung out and I decided i didn't want that life anymore. I gave up on my friends and the drugs and everything, even sex (how stupid) and came crawling back to my faith. I graduated high school and went to college and started drinking again on the weekends and forgot about my faith again. After college I joined the Air Force and started to be a backrow baptist again. I met an LDS member who was hot and all I wanted to do was put it in her butt and she let me so we got married. I switched to the LDS faith for her and our small family. I went to the desert for 6 months and had a lot of reflection time. I saw the Rational Response debate against the famous Kirk Cameron and that really started my atheist curiosity off the scale. Needless to say I came home from my deployment an atheist. I got divorced because we were incompatible and obviously never in love. Now I am in a great relationship and my atheism is not a problem.

Divine Insight
I was born into Christianity. I accepted it because my extended family were all Christians and they all believe in the religion. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Who wouldn't I thought? You'd have to be crazy to reject God. I was even so devoted to Jesus that I wanted to become a preacher and preach "The Word of God".

I was young and naive at the time. I believe that the Bible contained "Answers to every question" because that's what I was taught. Just the same, I did vividly notice that even preachers were not always in agreement with what God expects from us. So in order to preach the "Word of God" I figured I had better read it and understand it thoroughly first.

Well, do I really need to explain that it wasn't long after that I realized that the biblical stories could not possibly be true? And that it's an absolute lie that the Bible contains "answers to everything". It not only doesn't contain answers, but it introduces endless contradictions and absurdities.

It also became increasingly clear to me that nobody understand the silly book, and that's why there are so many Abraham Religions at each other's throats each proclaiming that their stupid version is right and everyone else is wrong.

So I rejected the religion as having no more merit than Greek Mythology.

This didn't cause me to reject the idea that we are spiritual beings though. I've always felt that I am eternal since a very young age, even before I was old enough to know what religion even was. So for me, the concept of "God" and spirit were innate.

As a career I become a physicist and I accept (and understand) most of the sciences including some biology and genetics. I fully accept that we have evolved from primates and ultimately from rodents and slime mold. I firmly believe that all life on Earth is indeed directly related. In fact, today I realize that I am more closely related to things like trees than I had ever realized before.

I studied the Eastern Mystical philosophies, mostly the many forms of Buddhism and Taoism. Not "searching" for religion or spirituality, but just to see how these mystics view what I already felt to be innate. My conclusion on that is that Taoism is absolutely true, no question about it. Even science confirms it.

Still I wouldn't call myself a "Taoist", in fact from Taoism I finally moved to embrace "Wicca" and "Faery Lore". I realize that most people will not understand this at all. They probably figure that I just went from one absurd religion to another, but I don't view "Wicca" in that way. In fact, I should clarify that what I'm actually speaking of technically is "Solitary Wicca" as opposed to a "Coven-oriented Wicca". I'm in total disagreement with Coven-oriented Wiccans. I don't view the "craft" in the same way that they do at all.

For me, it is a "Psychological Paradigm" that romantically allows me to practice my understanding of Taoism. If people wish to refer to my "spiritual practices" as nothing more than an artistic expression of spiritual mythologies, please feel free to do so. I will even AGREE with you, and proclaim that you have actually understood where I'm coming from.

I view it as a psychological paradigm that artistically and romantically expresses my connection with the universe as a whole.

If you ask me what I believe (both on a scientific level as well as a spiritual level) I will simply say, "Tat T'vam Asi" which on the deepest philosophical level can be taken to mean, "I am this universe".

From my perspective this is true both scientifically as well as spiritually.

Like Jesus often said, "I and the Father are One".

Because the "Father" is the universe and I am this universe, at least in part.

But then again, modern physics has shown us that there are no parts: E=mc².

Matter is nothing more than an illusion brought about by energy becoming manifest in form. I am that energy. Always have been, and always will be.

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