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I Lost (faith) and Found (reality)


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Initial post: Jun 11, 2012 12:48:11 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 11, 2012 1:11:36 PM PDT
On another forum, a drive-by Christian posted his witnessing for his faith, called Lost and Found. Amazon has since deleted those presumably due to the spamming nature of his posting (~10 identical posts in 3 forums).

Budgie responded with his story of how he lost his faith. I liked the juxtaposition. While we are inundated with witnessing stories, the story of how we unbelievers lost our faith has been largely untold. Brunumb suggested we move the discussion here, probably for the higher traffic. So here it is. I'll go first. Here's a condensed version of my story. Keep in mind that the entire process started around age 15 and lasted about 10 years.

I didn't know anything at all about God or what a church was or who Jesus was until age 7. My mom had gone back to work when I started school and the daycare was run by a bunch of Bible bangers. So we had little mini-Sunday School lessons after real school every day. They were just stories but they kept harping on this "you're all going to hell because you're all filthy sinners." I also didn't know what the heck a "sin" was.

So at age 7, they import this youth minister to baptize us. Keep in mind that our parents had no idea this was going on. So the minister explains the whole procedure to us and I'm thinking that they might as well be speaking a foreign language. I had no idea what the heck they were talking about. A couple of kids ask questions and I'm trying to follow all this stuff. It just seems like alien-speak. At one point the minister says that we have to bow our heads, close our eyes, and pray. One little boy asked why we had to close our eyes and the minister says that during the baptism, an angel comes down and puts a mark on us. Now, THIS was something I could latch onto. I thought that was pretty cool! I wanted to see the angel, so while most of the other kids were praying, I was watching for the angel. What a disappointment, the first of many.

Later, when my mom got sick, I prayed a lot for her but she just kept getting sicker and sicker until she finally died. But I kept going to church and youth group. My best friend and I would walk to church, since it was only a few blocks away. We were a strange pair: she was always tiny and I was always tall. One night I was just sicker than sick, so I called her and told her I wasn't going to youth group. She went anyway and after all the kids left, she was helping to clean up. Then in the privacy of the church meeting hall, she was raped by our youth minister (not the same guy who baptized us). She went to the hospital and that's where she called me from. I completely forgot about being sick and had my dad drive me to the hospital. I felt so guilty. If only I had been there, she would have been alright. (Truth time: I still feel guilty about it all these years later). So I held her and told her that it would be alright. And she told me it would, as soon as she *made* it right. She pressed charges against the minister and a lot of drama played out in the local papers, even with some of our "friends" claiming that my friend had been enticing the minister with her provocative dress and other such nonsense.

The final straw for me really was when the head minister showed up to "comfort" my friend and her family. He actually had the gall to say it was all part of God's plan! I could hardly believe it! Later he mentioned something incoherent about free will. I remember asking him why the free will of the other minister to rape was more important to God than my friend's free will not to be raped. There was just no satisfactory answer then or ever.

The people of the church all rallied around the minister and were busy demonizing my friend. But she taught me what real strength is. She stood up in court and told the world what had happened. The public pressure to acquit the minister was intense and caused her dad to have to relocate his business. But in the end, the minister was convicted.

After that, I started reading about the problem of evil and that convinced me, more than anything, that there couldn't be a God. I read Epicurus on this and still think he has excellent points:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

Actually questioning what I had previously just accepted liberated from the tyranny of religion, which had been enslaving my mind. I never looked back.

Today I am a well-adjusted, married mother of 2 and am raising my children without God. My daughter, who is old enough to know, is happy, moral, empathetic, and decent. She can tell right from wrong and good from evil without the help from an imaginary supernatural entity. I'm very proud of her. If she represents my legacy, I'm satisfied. My son is much too young to know these kinds of things (he's 4 months at the time of this writing), but I hope and trust that he will follow in his sister's footsteps.
Your reply to Rachel Rebecca Riordan's post:
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Posted on Jun 11, 2012 12:56:21 PM PDT
Brian Curtis says:
Thanks for sharing your story, Rachel. Quite inspiring.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 1:09:29 PM PDT
Thank you, Brian. I hope others will share as well.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 2:03:17 PM PDT
Jeff Marzano says:
Well I don't imagine these pedophile priests in the Catholic Church have inspired too many people to become Catholic and I suspect some people have have left the Church as a result. That is probably most likely to be true if they were directly affected by those guys. I heard Catholics in Ireland are fed up with the Catholic Church right now.

The Catholic Church is more laid back than many other Churches. The bible is part of the Catholic religion but Catholicism also includes a lot of symbolism, tradition, and what some people might even call mysticism like with their belief in the Eucharist.

As far as God allowing evil in the world, you might find this book interesting:

Ufo...Contact from Planet Iarga

That book (if you believe it) contains information provided by beings from another planet called Iarga which is 14 light years from Earth.

They say God allows three different levels of evil on the different planets. Our planet Earth follows what they call the 'own boss' system where God allows a very high level of evil. I assume these are the planets where God's son is killed.

On the last few pages of The Republic the philosopher Plato talks about what happens at the beginning of the different ages.

When a new cycle of mortality begins we all choose from a pool of possible destinies. Those who are blinded by greed and lust choose to become tyrants in this world. But the true philosophers choose more wisely and with more restraint.

The great adventurer Odysseus knew he would become disillusioned with adventure and danger and chose simpler and quieter experiences for his later incarnations.

Then the Sisters Of Fate take all of our choices and weave them on their loom into the fabric of destiny.

This gets into the idea that before we are born we see our life's plan laid out in front of us. Consciously we don't remember this plan. But the super conscious does remember and it gives us glimpses of this plan in the form of intuition.

I think many people have had the experience of meeting someone for the first time and feeling like they have known them forever.

All of this implies that there is much less randomness and chance in life than some people may think.

"God knows everything that will happen, and more importantly everything that could happen."

Jeff Marzano

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 2:13:41 PM PDT
Jeff Marzano: Well I don't imagine these pedophile priests in the Catholic Church have inspired too many people to become Catholic and I suspect some people have have left the Church as a result. That is probably most likely to be true if they were directly affected by those guys. I heard Catholics in Ireland are fed up with the Catholic Church right now.

Rachel: I don't know how to find out about this, but I suspect that the child molesting priests are a small factor. The coverup always seems to be worse. The appearance of the church looking the other way and transferring priests accused of questionable actions are probably more decisive factors, but that's just my opinion. In my own case, the loving Christians of my church were certainly quick to circle the wagons around a child raping minister and throw us under the bus.

Posted on Jun 11, 2012 2:21:53 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 13, 2012 12:54:59 AM PDT
tokolosi says:
I've posted a similar version of this a while back, but again, here's my "testimony":

I was raised in a mainstream evangelical Christian church; spent my entire childhood schooling at the mainstream evangelical Christian school associated with the church. I became "born-again" (i.e., "accepted Jesus into my heart") at age 8 (reconfirmed a few times over the years) and was baptized at age 12. I was significantly involved in both the school and church, and fully embraced the teachings. (On the other hand of course, what real choice did I have...)

After graduation from high school I eventually got out from under the very sheltered scrutiny of The Church and Family. I spent the next 10-15 years sorting out what I'd been taught to believe, before finally coming to the conclusion I had been fed a lie. This wasn't a trivial overnight knee-jerk decision, and I *really* tried to believe. It just couldn't hold up to any real scrutiny. I've heard all the explanations, all the manipulations of scripture, all the "apologetics" to justify the discrepancies. It simply doesn't add up.

I did not leave the faith due to anger or some traumatic experience. (EDIT: Though I must admit I did have some s.e.r.i.o.u.s. issues to work through during the transition...) All along I strived to maintain a balanced neutrality towards Christianity and religion in general. I know many ex-believers who seem very angry or bitter towards their religious past. My goal has been one of "peaceful indifference." That hasn't always been easy, given the idiocy that many outspoken Christians display towards secular laws and the desire to inflict their "truth" on the rest of us. But I'm trying...

I've since spent a *reasonable* amount of time mulling over the other "great" religions and have come to the conclusion that each is, in its entirety, without any merit not easily attributable to some human construct (including the "misty-swirly" stuff). So I consider myself a "religious atheist" -- religion does *not* lead one to, or in any way explain, "God."

On the other hand, I have experienced profound spiritual epiphanies and "encounters" during my life that aren't readily explainable through materialistic scientific reasoning (though I'm leaning toward a "human" explanation). However, I am equally certain that these experiences are in no way explained by one or another religion. So I consider myself a "spiritual agnostic" -- if there is anything "out there," it cannot be reached or explained by other than totally subjective personal experience (and *not* the totally subjective experience of another person either -- that's where religion came from).

Personally, I am now infinitely more at peace spiritually than I ever was when I was a "believer." Within the roller-coaster ride that is the human experience, my adult life has been incredibly interesting, fulfilling, and at times truly magical. I have even managed to somehow get through unspeakable despair, physical calamity and other negative experiences -- all without Jesus; all without *any* "God."

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 2:28:06 PM PDT
Thank you for sharing your story, tokolosi. I would imagine you felt stronger when you found you really COULD cope without God.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 2:35:11 PM PDT
Jeff Marzano says:
Yes it's been unfortunate with the child molesting issue in the Catholic Church. The problem seems to have been very pervasive and widespread.

I'm no expert on it but I used to watch the evening news and just from that I got the impression that this wasn't handled correctly and the mismanagement of the problem went all the way up to the Vatican.

Catholic priests make a big sacrifice to serve the spiritual needs of others. I guess it's possible that the child molestation problem has made people appreciate the priests they have left. And there aren't too many left. The average age for a Catholic priest today is probably about 80.

The sexual abuse of children can be a complex problem to deal with. Many people don't really understand the seriousness of the issue, even if it happens within their own families. I guess people shouldn't be surprised that the issue was mismanaged and misunderstood within the Church also. They forgot that Church law does not supersede civil laws.

I like that TV show Intervention where people can no longer deal with the addictions of a family member so they seek assistance from professionals. Quite a few of those addiction cases have their root causes in childhood sadness and trauma including sexual abuse. When somebody harms a child they are responsible for the affects of that abuse for as long as the abused person lives and far, far beyond.

I guess you must have realized at some point with your story that if you hadn't been sick that night you yourself may have been harmed.

It's a strange story. You have a feeling that it was you, your friend, and her family against this gigantic, corrupt, hypocritical system.

Jeff Marzano

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 2:35:24 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 11, 2012 2:46:59 PM PDT
tokolosi says:
Yep...

-- No one watching over me and protecting me, however...
-- No one watching my every move and condemning me.
-- Everything that happens to me is the result of my own decisions or random chance. (Or an interactive combination of the two, which is why it can be so attractive to invoke "divine intervention" to explain what seems to be inexplicable.)

Posted on Jun 11, 2012 2:35:40 PM PDT
Budgie says:
Here's my rebuttal testimony to "drive-by" witnesser Steve who was so consumed with sin by the age of NINE, he had to find Jesus.

>>Here's my testimony:

I LOST, or I should say had suppressed, my ability to rationalize and apply reason to evaluate what I was being told when my mother indoctrinated me with Christian dogma. Being a trusting child, I believed the nonsense spouted by men in their glittery robes. Watching one's omnipotent parents obey the commands of these men ("all kneel", "all rise", "let us pray", etc) drives the indoctrination in even deeper. Add to that being told you are all sinners and need forgiveness, does a number on anyone's self esteem, especially children.

I FOUND my lost (or suppressed) cognitive abilities after studying other religions and their commonalities (fantastic claims, suppression of analytic thought, denying scientific evidence that refutes their assertions, etc), plus entering a career in the medical field where I treated infants born with cancer, (what all-loving god would do that?), and reading ALL the Bible,(not just the selected nice bits), I reached the obvious conclusion that all religions are man-made hooey. Having believed in the myths of a primitive tribal people who lived in the Middle East thousands of years ago made me feel foolish.

I'm so glad I had the mental fortitude to rid myself of the silliness that is religious faith and belief.<<

I want to add the mental relief that I felt when broke free of religious indoctrination. The uncomfortable cognitive dissonance was silenced. The problem of evil that RRR mentioned above was solved.

We are moral, community-minded citizens with many friends and a loving family. We just don't believe in gods.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:00:46 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 20, 2013 2:57:17 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:08:20 PM PDT
Jeff: I guess you must have realized at some point with your story that if you hadn't been sick that night you yourself may have been harmed.

Rachel: Actually, it never occurred to me. Predators tend to choose their victims based on their perceived vulnerability. She was always petite. Still is. But she showed a courage I didn't know she had. I still think he never would have struck if both of us had been there.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:11:08 PM PDT
tokolosi: which is why it can be so attractive to invoke "divine intervention" to explain what seems to be inexplicable.

The alternative is that they invoke the "God moves in mysterious ways" when asked to make sense of the nonsensical.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:11:51 PM PDT
Thank you, Budgie. That was a very eloquent explanation.

Posted on Jun 11, 2012 3:19:44 PM PDT
The Weasel says:
The only 'gift' we humans have beyond the animals is the ability to observe, to hypothsize to synthesize and to understand. Whem we give up our ability to test, reason, and confirm we give up what it means to be human.

Don't give up the only 'sacred' gift you have because someone else says so - even if they swear a book, or a gold plate, or a tea leaf backs them up.....

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:22:13 PM PDT
Ah, Macheath, I was wondering when you would poke your head out of your hole. So if you see your shadow, are there 6 more weeks of theist nonsense? You really should brush up on your obviously failing memory. I hear gingko biloba is good for memory issues unless, of course, you have Alzheimer's.

M: Btw, maybe I'm missing something but your whole line of reasoning seems like one big ad hominem; "I've known some reprehensible Christians, therefore there is no God". It's entirely "emotion based" in it's [sic] argument.

R: So you enjoy making your false dichotomies and answering them too? That's quite the time saver. No other person required. You post and tell yourself how brilliant you are. You then answer, thank yourself, and then tell your alternate self that he is brilliant too! No, Mac. Read for accuracy. It was after the assault that I questioned why God would allow something like that to happen to a good church-going, God-believing girl. It had nothing to do with "reprehensible Christians." It had everything to do with God's inactivity. Emotion had nothing to do with it, which you would have seen if you had read with an open mind instead of your usual judgmental mind.

M: It's like meeting some reprehensible mathematicians and then concluding that the field of mathematics is bogus. And you atheists are the ones who claim to be guided by "reason"?

R: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:25:49 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 20, 2013 2:57:36 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:26:55 PM PDT
Sorry to disappoint. No anger, just amusement at my very own troll/buffoon.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:29:31 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 20, 2013 2:57:51 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:29:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 11, 2012 3:31:07 PM PDT
The Weasel says:
Mac-Your synopsis of the argument "I've known some reprehensible Christians, therefore there is no God". - is actually a good one. you're right that it doesn't prove or disprove anything about the existence or lack of a or any God(s).

It is a valid reason for rejecting the concept of an organized Christianity as represented by the various churches though. Do you concede that this is a rational reaction? (edited for spelling -- why bother though I also typo)

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:33:12 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 20, 2013 2:58:07 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:38:30 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 11, 2012 3:40:39 PM PDT
Macheath,

You do appear to make a correct assessment that it does appear to be an entirely emotion based "argument". But to be fair, it was not an argument. It was a description of their past events.

The problem of evil, which Rachel brought up was the most convincing, appears to rely on some moral stance of what is good an evil, or how else could one say that "evil exists" in the problem of evil. And it appears that ideas of "good" and "evil" are based on emotions. It appears that it would come down to that there are actions to other people, or things, that I do not find emotionally satisfying. Because I do not find it emotionally satisfying, I do not believe in this being.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:40:30 PM PDT
Who says that trolls only have to insult?

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29

And, no, I'm not projecting, but you attempting to be a provocateur.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:42:47 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 20, 2013 2:58:28 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 3:46:21 PM PDT
SCL: And it appears that ideas of "good" and "evil" are based on emotions. It appears that it would come down to that there are actions to other people, or things, that I do not find emotionally satisfying.

RRR: I disagree. I think that perfectly satisfactory definitions can be found with no appeal to emotions.

How about for "good", "virtuous, right, commendable <a good person>"

And "evil": "causing harm : pernicious <the evil institution of slavery>"

Certainly a rape is evil by definition. Who knows, perhaps if one of you "good" men were to be raped, the definitions would seem a bit less important or maybe, just maybe, an emotional response wouldn't seem so "unsatisfying."
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
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Initial post:  Jun 11, 2012
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