Ex-Timony

So like I said, I really want to write all this down, its just that my emotions are…crazy right now…it happens to me about every 6 months or so I just have a few days or a few weeks where I feel like I cant function and I don’t enjoy anything…I am sure it will pass but it’s a little disturbing the whole time it goes on.

One thing that is rather overwhelming is that I have been through some pretty radical changes in the last couple of years…putting those changes and the emotions that accompany them is really difficult, because the rate at which my mind is having to process all this is insane…and trying to find the time to put those thoughts down is even more difficult. So , this is one more, likely feeble attempt at an essential extimony, as a remnant of my faith I guess I still have the innate need to share my experience and understanding…and even promote it for others…evangelical atheism-as odd as that sounds…I have been told by other atheists that the desire to deconvert others passes with time, I hope that is true, because I feel so weird undoing a lot of what I have already done…bringing people out of the faith I once had and actively brought others into.. I guess it is like making amends to humanity for the evil I did bringing people into a faith that I now see as a crock and a fallacy. My whole goal in my religious life seems to be centered on helping other people question this faith….because if you are a Christian already no one can tell you nor prove to you that your faith is in vain, you have to come to the realization of your own volition, but I feel that my goal is to just make the questions come up that you must ask in order to relieve yourself of your dependence on deity. Not everyone will or is capable of shedding the skin of religion and renouncing god, which is why so many do not…religion holds people that way, it is powerful in that way because the emotions connected with religion and Christianity in particular are incredibly strong, especially for the devoted follower.

Christianity, in the orthodox consideration, is build upon doctrines that require strong emotional relation to the doctrines: Jesus Loves You evokes the emotion of love and gratefulness for having a deity care for you. The thought of Hell invokes an insane amount of fear, as it did for me when I was younger and unsure of my “salvation”. The stories in the Bible either focus on g-ds wrath, g-ds greatness, g-ds sovereign nature, or g-ds providence…in some way almost all of the time….alot of the stories, the book of Job in particular, really make g-d look like a huge asshole if you think about it more critically…I used to think Job was a beautiful story by the way.

When anything has such strong ties to ones emotions it is hard to override that, fear and love are very hard to deny oneself. Emotions, even when based on superstition and fallacy become reality, because you can physically feel fear and love, I know I have multiple times been overwhelmed by the love of god, feeling the embrace of the divine. How does one experience that and then months or years later break free from the illusion that it is?

Religious ferver, or as some would have me say since, “Christianity is a relationship not a religion” therefore Christianity or Relationship with God is very much an emotional state, not a reality. I believe now that the emotions I felt, the things I saw (up to and including miracles and participating in exorcisms on extremely numerous occasions) were all results of my emotional status.

Thusly we begin our story: (dates and times are really fuzzy, its all kind of a blur but I am telling this to the best of my memory without stretching anything, if I say something happened in 2005…it could have happened in 2003…I cant keep years straight to save my life.

It must have been the winter of 2004 when I left Holy Ground Outreach…a church I loved very much and was very active in, I was probably at the church at least

3-4 times a week, doing church services, participating in youth, helping my mentor at the time, and we also prayed there on certain nights. It was a comparatively good church as far as that goes, they had a food ministry, and they went to the ghetto’s and places to give away free food and such…things that bigger churches rarely do for some reason…they did…worship services were active and somewhat charismatic. It did have the flaw of being very involved in the Word of Faith movement…which, even though I was big into it at one time, became a bit of an issue with me after a little while, I realized that prosperity was not the god I believed in from my understanding of the Bible…so Monica and I, we went together, discussed it, and we decided to just leave. It was near Christmas time…that was hard enough, but it was the only way we knew, we didn’t tell anybody, we just stopped showing up. At that point I decided to read the Bible, like I had done many times before, and seek God, to find out what was the ultimate Truth.. I pretty much didn’t talk to my wife actively about this from then until just about 6 or so months ago….

During those few years, I was still sure of God and Christ for a very long time, as a person whom had done a lot of study in apologetics I knew a lot of the Bible “difficulties” and could defend it pretty well…but what I decided whilst on this journey, was that I had to completely and totally take my own emotion out of it…which is what I spent the bulk of my time doing…just deciding not to allow the emotional self, which is what I now know as the easily duped self, get in the way of God and my understanding….I wanted my relationship with God to be entirely pure and unadulterated…I stopped praying for myself, I refused to pray for anything other than “Gods will”…I don’t remember the series of events after that, but there came a time, about a year ago…when I questioned hell, and the bible…

I am not going to point out specific areas in which the Bible contradicts itself…the only people that wont see that are fundamentalists and people that will continually lie to themselves…just know that at some point I had to make that admittance…The Skeptics Annotated Bible is a great resource if you are curious to know though (http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com) . If it doesn’t quash any idea that the bible is the perfect word of god then you aren’t reading it…but that is beside the point. The greatest conflict in that line of thought , for me, was regarding the sovereignty and kindness of god…is god benevolent?

Here was my approach, and still is; Assuming God exists and is the creator of all things…then 1: God must have created evil, simple yes, but none the less conflicting as to the contention that “God is love” 2: God tempted man in the garden by proxy by having created Lucifer and via permission (as was required in

Job) 3: God created Hell 4: God created the nature of man to be fallen and 5:

God by creating man in such a way that he thinks logically and processes information the way we do knew that eventually science would come in to play to cast doubt upon his existence, not to mention the fact that god has allowed thousands upon thousands of unique and salvation (in some way) providing religions most of which claim to be the sole connection with god…by allowing that god proves that he is cynical and cruel and NOT loving, and thereby a contradiction in his own terms…any terms that contradict, mathematically, are null and zero…and thereby the only logical conclusion my mind is capable of coming to is that god does not exist.

This is the realization I came to…I don’t remember the day, it really took months to say out loud and to come to the conclusion in a definitive way. Whilst doing this it was as if both my Father and my Best friend were dying slow and painful deaths. I cried a lot for these months in my quiet drives to work in the morning, a lot of the time I put on some MewithoutYou to see if I could still feel him and commune like I remember.. It was devastating. I hid it pretty well I think…but it was both the darkest and most enlightening time in my life…only recently, within the last few months, have I come to terms with a dead god. I stopped feeling god in me and around me

The aftermath is deciding, that since there is no reason to believe in heaven, hell, or any proof of an afterlife…what does one live for…I have made the decision to live for myself, my wife, and for humanity over all. I feel that I can serve mankind much better without being tied to a deity of any kind, my old god was a jealous god full of wrath, my new god is my own ability and engineering, my old god refused to change, I change readily when it is necessary. I think I am doing a much better job than he ever did.

Overall, despite the last couple of days and the depression that hit, I can say that this writing has taken a load off of my chest…I hope to be able to keep it up and use this LJ account as a way to express my thoughts and connect with other people that are going through similar things. I also welcome anyone that is willing or able to present your ideas, from any religion or background…including Christians. I am very open to a kind debate of myself vs. believers at any time.

  • monolithtma

    Great post. Well written! Thank you for sharing. I see quite a bit of what I went through in it.

  • xdd

    I know you don’t know me, but I just wanted to say keep going strong with your critical analysis. It gets easier as time goes on I think. I’ve come to realize that humanity and human interaction is my true God, and that all religions are shit and fake if you don’t mind me cursing a little. Good luck.

  • revoxley501

    Thanks for the encouragement, i wish the same for you.

  • youreperfect

    this makes me happy for you. don’t be depressed. it’ll get easier.

    also, i still like mewithoutyou…hmm
    have you seen them live?

  • revoxley501

    its getting easier everyday, thanks for the encouragement though…when i finally posted this thing it was like i was telling the world the truth about me and being honest with myself…it was a huge event for me even if not many people see it that way…and tyler durden is punching himself in the face…distracting my thoughts LOL

    i havent seen mwY live yet…i dont know if i could handle it…the last few times i felt god was with their music playing…me trying to figure out why the gospel of thomas was used in their songs and what i was getting ready to admit to myself….but the music and the lyrics are so breathtaking and deep…far deeper than i have ever seen in traditional Christianity……it would be an experience and the emotions might be overwhelming..

  • revoxley501

    oh and i just realized who this was…hey kelly…how you been?

  • youreperfect

    doing good. just moved to atlanta last month so still getting settled in and all that junk. doing an internship for school up here. and not making much money. sucks.
    but it’s still fun being up here.

    i saw mewithoutyou in like 03 or 04. it was probably the most memorable show i’ve been to simply because it was different. tom’s seen them since and he didn’t really say much besides that they were good. but he saw them at big shows and i saw them at the masquerade. it was nuts. the singer was throwing flowers and crazy stuff.

    how ya’ll been?
    tell monica i said hi.

  • revoxley501

    yea we need to get out of Eastman…nothing to do in this shithole… Atlanta broke is probably better than Eastman and less

    and yea, Aaron from mwY is pretty crazy…alot of his lyrics get into gnosticism…which means at the very least that he is open minded enough to consider universalist ideas…

    and monica says hi also…she says we should do something together sometime if the opportunity ever comes up…(maybe a Pillar concert LOL). But we have been doing well, Monica is working at Dodge Pre-K , taking care of 4 year old hellions..im working at the VA in Dublin doing tech support and i run a business from home doing computer repair/upgrades/custom builds etc…and october 7th is our 2 year anniversary!

    anyway ttyl

  • youreperfect

    wow 2 years already. that’s awesome!

    yeah we should definitely get together sometime. i’m totally up for that pillar show! haha

  • Congratulations!

    I came here via your add on Lee Doyles site.

    What an interesting read. My conclusions on atheism came after listening to a lot of George Carlin and reading Why people believe weird things by Michael Shermer.

    Another point is to look at animals and question if & why we are any better than them. The idea of a God, heaven, hell etc doesn’t apply to them because they don’t have the creativity to make that stuff up.

    It must have been very difficult for you, as a minister, to give up. But thanks for posting this on the interweb.

    Contamination.

  • I can’t help but think that your grieving your lost relationship with God shows that you had something to lose. You severed yourself from God and experienced the pain of that loss. I don’t say that harshly, I know tone isn’t communicated through written words so well. We don’t approach God on a solely intellectual basis. What we believe in our hearts must makes sense in our minds, but it’s our whole self that processes relating to God, not just our minds. If we operate with our minds alone we are off balance. If we operate with emotions alone we are also off balance. There is nothing wrong with an emotive aspect of natural relationships and yet our minds are engaged in those simultaneously. When you love your wife you don’t only love her with your mind, but with your heart and your soul. If you pull your heart back from God and only process Him with your mind, don’t you think you might be missing something since you are denying part of your humanity in this quest?

    I am by no means suggesting that we not have an mentally sound understanding of God as much as humanly possible, but we can’t deny our heart in the process. They both need to flow in the same direction simultaneously.

    If you feed skepticism you will only reap skepticism. I hope you’ll keep your heart and mind and soul open to a return to your relationship with God.

    It may need adjusting as He is a good God and yet Holy. Perfect love cast out fear. The more we come to understand the goodness of God and experience the goodness of God the less fear can grip us for any reason. My heart goes out to you and I am praying for you and the others who I have met in the blog community.

  • @ Contamination, thank you so much for the words of encouragement…it was incredibly difficult to go through this process….when god is your life and everything you live for, and all of a sudden he ceases to exist—everything crashes down on you

  • Thank you for pointing me to your story. I don’t know what to say except that I am heartbroken.

    I am reminded of this quote from John Piper..

    “The rules of humility that belong to a creature cannot apply in the same way to its Creator. Ultimate self-denial would be idolatry in God. By upholding HIs own glory, He upholds the ground of our joy. And that is love.”

    And also the words of Jonathan Edwards when considering much the same questions you have..

    “How can God be happy and decree calamity? Consider that He has the capacity to view the world through two lenses. Through the narrow one He is grieved and angered at sin and pain. Through the wide one, He sees evil in relation to its eternal purposes. Reality is like a mosaic. The parts may be ugly in themselves, but the whole is beautiful.”

    Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not a raving lunatic Christian who is easily shocked by your position. I’ve heard all this before. I’m not here to “win you back” though I would be happy if that happened. I guess I wonder if somewhere deep down you still enjoy speaking about God since you actively spend time on Christian websites engaging in conversations with people (such as me) who will never, ever turn from Christ? Not that I haven’t enjoyed it mind you. I’m just thinking if you believe you serve humanity best by being your own god, then there would be a point when you quit using all your energy tangling up with the other team.

  • I believe open discussion and debate is the best way for myself and anyone to learn from their positions. Thats why i do this….I also want to be here to make myself available to any one else that is hurting through their own episode of doubt….i know how much it hurts and i know that it could have been ever so slightly easier with someone to go through it with. I guess that is part of my background in Exit counseling—why not transfer that to my new life?

  • Understood.

    Then my only other question would be: What if you are wrong? Surely that thought lives somewhere in the depths of your heart? And if you are, do you really want the blood of those whose ‘exits’ you have encouraged on your hands? Again, no condemnation. Just an honest question.

    And only a 2 1/2 rating on my last comment? Geesh. Cut a girl a break…:))

  • Matt

    hi lisa, the default rating is 2.5, i didnt rate you, it just starts off that way.

    im gonna do a full entry about what if i am wrong shortly…i will let you know when

  • Matt

    hi lisa, just posted that blog entry as promised, its on the front page

  • Matt, I knew when I first encountered you that you were a kindred spirit. I love the thoughful, considered gentleness of your approach, which is in contrast to the vehement hatred of many atheists I have encountered.

    Tempting as it is to wade in and offer you lots of “helpful” resources, christian-thinktank being top of my list, I won’t, apart from the aforementioned. These questions you ask are not new, and even though they have not destroyed the faith of greater thinkers than either of us, like C.S.Lewis, they are very valid nonetheless.

    I respect your courage for sticking to your convictions and making what must have been a very tough move.

    G-d bless. 😉

  • Matt, Thanks for posting your story. I have not yet posted mine as it is so long and convoluted that it should be a novel. Unfortunately, I had to have a complete breakdown before I got wise and left the church.

    One of the biggest problems I have with Christianity is the complete lack of personal responsibility. If you do something good, it's because God led you to do it. If you do something bad it's because you let Satan get to you. What happened to taking responsibility for yourself…the good and the bad.

    You are a beautiful and worthy person. Contrary to what others may tell you, you are NOT nothing without god.

  • Matt

    Hi Jen, thanks so much for the comment…actually i started writing the story of my deconversion about a year ago, before i actually came to terms with it—before i stopped i was heading toward 10 pages of text and i hadn't gotten past the age of 8 in my story (it all kind of culminates i guess). I don't know if I will ever complete that text but, needless to say—i had a few breakdowns, i kept them private and secret, most of them occurred whilst in the car on my way to work or on the way home—then i would cover it up until it was time to drive again-this went on for many months.

    When you make something as powerful as religion your LIFE and everything that is important to you, the loss of it is intensely painful…i didn't ask to lose god, and didn't want it or appreciate it at the time.

    I think the human race is the most beautiful existence we can fathom thus far—and also the ugliest. Religion is often the catalyst for the more disastrous part of our species—I think the loss of religion is one evolutionary step toward the next Man. Sadly, i think we will find that fervency will exist in the next aeon and thoughtfulness and skepticism will be pushed down by the status quo—this may continue for thousands and thousands of years after the last of us let go of the mythos of god. anyway—how the hell did i make that segue?

    Jen, I encourage you to post your story when you get the chance—its very freeing, although it sounds like you are quite free already—for that I congratulate you.

  • jen

    Matt,

    I just let my finance read this after a discussion we had tonight about faiths. He wants to sit down and read it in detail and is impressed by how intelligent and sincere you are. I’ll get my story out there one day. For now, I do have a short bio posted that briefly touches on the religious aspect: http://www.trappedintheoffice.blogspot.com

    Oh..and I’m going to touch on this and link to you in my Hedonist Adventure blog, too.

    Good luck!

  • Check out this site:

    http://www.MartinZender.com

    I have read through all it, bought his books, and it did me a world of good.

    Thank God.

  • It's a touching story and one that is very human. If it had been the basic plot of a work of fiction it would be a world class and iconic piece of literature. Well, I think so anyway.

    Logic wise I was with you all the way up to point 5 which seemed to have a confused middle. You had argued up to this point from the (mainly orthodox) Christian deity but in point five a transference seemed to happen that placed the emotional weight of the first four points onto all deities as if they we typified by the Christian one. The result was that if Argument A of set #1 is invalid all Arguments in set #1 are likewise invalid. This does not follow for me.

    That's not to invalidate you story in any way it's just that I'm extremely fussy about logic.

    You are not alone in realising that what is preached by modern mainstream Christianity is basically BS. There are many breakaway groups seeking to question things.

    I studied the history of the church somewhat and I see the same pattern today as in the middle ages in Britain. A group would pull away and seek to be "more" whatever it was they want to be "more" of "more holy" on the whole and this attracted money. Lots of it and these groups became big and very powerful. Just like the "mega-church" of today.

    I suspect that the truth never did reside with such groups. I'm not going to qualify that by saying what "the truth" is because with the best intentions the perception of one person and any other will always differ.

    In that way these organised groups of money makers are little different to the very similar groups that the historic person of Jesus the carpenters son had such issues with.

    I think that maybe this using religion for power and money thing is a human constant and where-ever truth may be found it is not there.

    I wish you well on your journey.

  • “4: God created the nature of man to be fallen”

    God created the man’s character,but the decision he takes is in his own hands(man is not a robot to do only what he is programmed to do).A man has sufferings because he should have done something wrong before.I am just going to tell you 2 stories which are arguments about God’s existence(you may have already read them)

    Story 1:http://ajaydsouza.com/archives/2007/01/07/god/

    Story 2:

    A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: “I don’t believe that God exists.”
    “Why do you say that?” asked the customer.
    “Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can’t imagine loving a God who would allow all of these things.”
    The customer thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and un-kept. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: “You know what? Barbers do not exist.”
    “How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber. “I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!”
    “No!” the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don’t exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.”
    “Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens is, people do not come to me.”
    “Exactly!” affirmed the customer. “That’s the point! God, too, DOES exist! What happens is, people don’t go to Him.”

  • Jen

    I really should have commented before I read all the other comments because I’m actively trying not to giggle at the barbershop story. (Can’t wake up hubby at 6:45 on a Saturday) Loved that.

    Anyway…I appreciate the tolerant nature of your site. I’ve had enough of trying to ask people questions only to have everyone begin to shout at me about my “imaginary friend” and “fairy tale world” or whatever the hate term of the day is. You know, if I’m not actively out there telling people they’re stupid for their beliefs and they should come over onto my side of the fence then I tend to expect the same from them. Of course, I still think it’s funny when I get lumped in with the “Religious Right”…

    But I digress. I only meant to comment in order to make and observation and ask a question.

    Observation: Your logic seems very similar to the Gnostic beliefs. Not totally, of course, but there are many parallels.

    Question: I get that you deny the existence of God, Heaven, Hell, etc and discount the “religious” experiences you had as a result of your own emotional state – and we’ll have to agree to stick a pin into it because it would be out of the scope of what I’m asking. So my question is this: Would you also lump in all supernatural/paranormal occurrences into the emotional state boat or is there something more to it? Is it possible our understanding/logic simply hasn’t evolved to the point where we can see the logic/science behind what we currently see as paranormal phenomena?

    Did that even make sense? It sounded convoluted in my head…

    Jen

    Oh…there was a comment up there somewhere – might have been made by a different Jen – about their frustration with the lack of accountability for Christians (Good deeds=God; Bad deeds=Satan) and I just wanted to say Christians have that same complaint about other Christians. I’ve had that argument with my hubby many, many times about how he was using his faith as a cop-out. So not all of us do that; some hold ourselves accountable for our actions. 🙂

    • Matt

      @ Jen:

      The barbershop story is ridiculous…which is why it did not justify a reply from me…silly analogous anecdotes that make no valid points whatsoever…ugh..despicable…

      As far as tolerance goes, I try…i know i can be a real ass sometimes…it must be a genetic thing. Truly though, I want to mend these relationships between Theist and Non-Theist…to be completely honest I see the Atheist elite becoming more and more like the Christian elite…at what point to we stop and say “hey, we cant do this!”, does it occur after we are holding Inquisitions against those that believe in a deity? I certainly hope we embrace the thought of intelligent discussion long before that point.

      Re: Observation… My logic in this post is almost entirely about the death of emotion…which is in itself quite Gnostic as i understand Gnosticism…however the epiphinous (add that to your dictionary) nature of realizing that there is no god is less like gnosticism than the death of carnality and emotion. Gnosticism asserts that we still need to KNOW something to be saved from SOMETHING….I attest that there is nothing to save ourselves from—except for maybe one another! I see what you are getting at though

      Re: Question: I actually just wrote an entry about something similar to this. I can’t dismiss everything just because Science doesn’t explain it or I can’t understand it….There are many fields of science yet unexplored, metaphysics, string theory, negative energy etc…just loads of things that we don’t understand about the things we CAN see…to dismiss ghosts and such is a little premature at this point….i will say this though, I won’t spend much time trying to prove for or against it either way…we might get there one day.

  • @Rev
    Great blog. I definitely am interested in what you have to say. A long time ago, I “considered” atheism… I have been “studying” it for a short time… But the funny thing is, the more I learn, the stronger it makes my Christian Faith.

    Your Job (for the lack of a better word) as a preacher reminded me of a song… If you are interested, let me know… It isn’t a horrible song… You might even like it… Even if it is from a “Christian Rock” band.

  • Matt

    @ Oscar

    hmm..not sure If i know how to “study” Atheism…perhaps the varying philosophies of Atheism..but believe it or not I understand exactly what you are saying… I was big into apologetics so I spent a good deal of time trying to understand the atheistic mindset…alas, now i understand it a bit better. for a long time though, studying other faiths, and non-theism, helped strengthen my faith as well…

    …i would love to hear the song, i still listen to a ton of Christian bands…i probably know the band…email me

  • Matt

    wow…what an insulting set of lyrics to compare me too… I wonder how literal you are being or if you have bothered to read into my background

    1: My Christianity was not for show…it was as real to me as my right hand, and it was private and personal

    2: I NEVER took money for my time…and I only actually did a preaching gig one time, that time a love offereing was made of maybe 50 dollars…which was a lot of money
    to me…still is in fact. I wasn’t that kind of minister…

    3: my Christianity never changed from who i was in private vs who i was in public or at church…God was on my mind or “heart” constantly and despite my flaws of the time i certainly lived it to the best of my ability

    i hope you weren’t implying any of those things of me

  • No, not meant as an insult. It reminded me of that song. I just started reading your blog and guess I have much more to read.

    It was more in the line of this… sometimes preachers will get into a mode of showmanship. Their intentions are for good… their desires are good… but it is “their” intentions and “their” desires.

    Let me give you an example… My mom. She never approved of my then girlfriend (now wife). She tried everything she could think of to drive a wedge between us. And it worked. It took a miracle for us to get back together. But I could write a book on that.

    Anyways, my mom’s intentions we well. It was more about what my mom thought was best for me. Mom knows best. But she forgot about my feelings.

    • Matt

      @ oscar

      glad to hear you weren’t leaving this all up to your assumptions or anything…the lyrics in question are rather dubious but i understand the mindset.

      it is hard to get back into the state of mind necessary to consider ideas like “pursuing the desire and will of god” at this point in my life…so when i write , as much as i try, i can’t always go back into that thought pattern to verbalize things in the same way.

  • Now that I have read the post and understand a little more about you- I have even more respect.

    I wasn’t raised in the church-as in going every Sunday morning, night and Wednesday night, but I was raised with some of the beliefs. A very conservative church, (Church of Christ), the older I became, the more I disagreed. I think we all have doubts, even die-hard Christians. Do I believe there is a God? I believe there is a power, whether it’s a God, or the power within ourselves, I don’t know. Do I believe Jesus Christ was a man? Yes. I see the Bible as a guide, not something one should take in the literal sense, as too many Christians do, but should read it and question. I also believe Faith exists in all of us. Not Faith in one particular religion, or deity, but in our own hearts and minds. The Faith in ourselves. Look at it like this-you opened your heart and mind to write this post. That took Faith in yourself and how you felt in your own heart/mind.

    The main reason I left the church- the whole “Fallen from Grace,” idea. The Bible itself shows humans aren’t perfect, we sin and will always sin, so how can we fall from the graces of a God, if he’s supposed to love us no matter what?

  • You are one brave guy! Thinking critically in the face of the kind of social pressure you must deal with everyday is an incredible achievement. Best wishes to you! 🙂

  • Great post as usual. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • SSAAS

    I found your posting for your search of a Bible on Amazon. I've read most of your testimony and heartache separation from God in your life and the journey that you took to stray away from Him. I wanted to take some time and answer, if you're willing, the concerns you have about the Bible.
    1. God cannot be evil. As your logical chain concludes, God is not worthy of admiration if He is cruel and unjust. However, the Bible states repeatedly that God is light, good, perfect, holy, just, merciful, and all those attributes that are good and praiseworthy. When God creates (Gen1, 2), it is within His great joy and declares all these things to be good, noting that with the creation of mankind being very good. When God creates man He does so in joy and love, blessing them, and walking amongst them.
    2. God did endure Adam and Eve through trials. Trials are not necessarily bad as they are not bad things (Jesus was tried yet did not sin) and when trials are endured they are praiseworthy. Why test tho? We are left in the dark. Many have suggested that this trial was needed of God, else He would have created emotional robots, required to love God, and not free to do else. If they are not given free choosing, then their love was not genuine of God. God loved them but would they return back to Him?

    The answer is no and their motivation was desiring to be gods themselves. A/E rejected the true God in order to establish themselves as gods. The reality is that while God is infinite in wisdom, knowledge, love, more that A/E was disillustioned into desiring self thinking they could replace God. They were created for God but rather turned out to reject the God that made them. Sin enters the world here, that is, choosing to reject God.
    3. Yes, God did create Hell.
    4. This is view isn't found anywhere in the Bible. God created man to be perfect in His image. Loved, cared, directed, had fellowship with A/E. A/E rejected God, He didn't create them to be that way. Rom 5:12, death and sin entered the world/mankind through Adam's sins. IHe was responsible for his own choosing, that is, to believe the lie of Satan over the truth of God. Sin then is like a gene passed down from generation to generation. All mankind now lives in the way of their father, Adam, who disobeyed and hated God. All mankind is sinful by their birth, by their nature, by their choosing. God did not create mankind like this, it was a self inflicted wound.
    5. Is too long to address shortly. But God still reigns and is shown in all the world. Ps19 and Romans 1:18-20 both state that God is easily seen by all men, through creation and through their consciouses.

    The reality from these passages is that no man can be an atheist. This is why there are so many world religions. They know there is a God but they don't know what He looks like. The Bible makes clear that to behold Jesus, is to know the true God…not the conclusions of the minds of men. Jesus declares of Himself that He is the way, the truth, and the life, no one can come to the Father except through me.

    • Mallory

      Not that anyone cares, since this post was written almost four years ago, but I need to do this. These are the arguments people in my life try to use against me. The same exact ones. The ones used to discredit my world view, which seems blatantly obvious to anybody who has thought over it without letting feelings get in the way.

      And further, about needing emotions to believe in god… that’s such bull. If something I believe can’t stand up without emotions, then it isn’t anything I should believe in. If god is so real, he should be rooted in fact. Every time I say this… it’s like I slam a fist into my own face, since I used to be the one exhorting those who needed facts to believe. Story of my life.

      1) God is omnipotent. If he couldn’t be evil, then he isn’t omnipotent. Besides, evil is awfully subjective. An omniscient god would know better than to even use these sorts of labels, as it would know the relativity of the concept intimately.

      2) Apparently Adam and Eve had free will and loved god, without sin. If god hadn’t tempted them via satan, then it could’ve continued that way. See, that’s the thing about being all powerful : an all powerful god could create humans perfectly, to where we could have both free will (if that even exists) and love him simultaneously. To say otherwise is to take away his omnipotence, which makes me wonder why I should worship such a thing in the first place?

      3) Now you’ve conceded that god created hell… ouch. You’ve done yourself in on this point. God made a place where he could send those he loves as far away from him as possible? That’s loving… and benevolent. Why would you create such a place unless you truly didn’t care and / or hated your creation? That would be like me building a torture chamber in my house for my children. Why would a build such a thing? I wouldn’t unless I planned on using it later. And if not using it directly, using it as a threat? That’s just… crazy. I mean think about it.

      4) And by conceding that last point, you’ve given up this one too. By creating a hell, god knew that men would be fallen. He even made a place for them to go. You’re covering your ears and shutting your eyes if you can’t see that. He knew we would screw up and that billions would never even know of him. If that isn’t a terrible thing, I really don’t know what is.

      5) We were made in such a way that we question. We aren’t machines who do everything and think everything we’re told. Children are naturally curious. By allowing us to question, god has allowed us to call him into doubt. He did this knowingly (omniscience), and thus he must not be benevolent. The odds are against us a species. Again too, if this god were truly omnipotent, he could fix this easily. Yet he chooses not to.

      And so a god that is supposed to be loving is shown to be malevolent through this argument. Yet we’re required to love and worship this god without questioning any of this, lest he throws us into a terrible place where we’ll be tortured for eternity? I don’t know about you, but that… that broke me. It broke my heart into so many tiny little pieces. I couldn’t believe it – I can’t believe in a god that could do this to those it “loves.”

      When I took god apart for the first time, I couldn’t do it like this. I couldn’t fathom doing it. I had to do it without the idea of evil. And I managed that. However, I still realized that this god was nothing worth my worship. That the only thing that made sense was that this god was created by imperfect beings. It was inspired by the bible, cultivated by the church and ultimately created by me. And I loved it. And it hurt so bad to realize things weren’t as I thought.

      The foundation of my life was injured. All I’d built on was essentially demolished. My heart was bruised. And still I’ve found my way. You don’t need a god. You really don’t. I thought I couldn’t live without one and luckily, I was wrong.

      • Mallory, thank you very much for sharing. And yes indeed, you were wrong. You can live without a god, and quite well at that.

  • Ruben Z.

    I truly regret you have gone through all this. God said in Hosea 4:6 – "my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge". From what I see, you have been tricked by the devil. You need to understand that you cannot please God without faith (Heb 11:6). This basically means that emotions may go and come, but the faith has to remain whatever the circumstances are. Also, it is crucial to understand that there is no other way of accepting and understanding God and the Bible but through faith. So, every attempt to get it logically will fail without a believe.

    Regarding the point you mentioned above for the "creation of evil" I will say this: God created Lucifer and every other creature here on Earth and above in Heaven in His image and likeness. And, this simply means that He wants everyone to have a free will. Lucifer had a choice of staying faithful to the Lord and continuing his ministry or rebelling. The same way, Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden with a choice to eat from EVERY tree, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And, I suppose you know the choice they made.

    I encourage you brother not to make wrong choices in life and return back to the One who really loves you. That is why He made me write you this message.

    The reason why God wants us to have choices in life is to be sure that our love is sincere. Otherwise we would be some programmed toys.

    God bless you! And, if you need to talk, I am open for a conversation (but with one condition: no arguments … just a brotherly conversation).

    Contact me @ rubo23@yahoo.com and we will stay in touch.

    Thank you!

  • Ah, I see why you got burn out. Dude, there are answers if that's the only thing you have questions about.

    I'll just put it this way, I adopted a kid from foster care, and driving him home, I forgot my other kid had left some scissors in the back seat. The new kid, with all the pent up energy of a 7 year old, cut up the seat covers and seat belt. The other kid wasn't along on the trip, but had outgrown the need to stab the car… Well, you can imagine later, I was mad at myself for leaving them there, and frustrated at him for doing it — at 7 he should "know better." It's behavior one might see in a 3-5 year old, or even 6… I repaired the seat belt ($150 and 2 hours of my time…) and told him it was wrong. I doubt he'll do it again.

    But coming away from this he might have thought I was an Ogre, just no fun at all. Or I might have been patient through the whole thing, expecting him to learn and make mistakes, and do similar things again.

    Yesterday, when he was beating us at BBall, 1/5 my size, but man he's fast, he was fine as long as he was winning, but then when we got the ball away, and told him he'd have to do rebounds, he moaned and cried, "You aren't playing fair!"

    We talked about that… his expectations.

    Are your questions serious, because the issues are all good ones, and solved thankfully in history, by a number of meetings and discussions, and we can use the more clear parts of the Bible to understand the harder to understand parts… and so forth.

    But if you were expecting a life where you were in charge, and God answers your questions, meets your demands… He's not like that, and you will be frustrated, find fault, and want to sit down and cry, and reject Him. I've been there!

    I think you had a toxic church experience 🙁 and I'm sorry to hear about that, but I wouldn't give up on God because of sinful humans.

    A Priori arguements are always going to get us, I'd recommend also reading Van Til, and R.C. Sproul, if you are looking for more answers, along with the Josh McDowell stuff.

    Drop me a line if I can be helpful, and I'll be thinking warm thoughts your way.

    Thanks!

    via Stumbleupon

    PS, I'm going to have my Indian Christian friend write ya 🙂

  • Larry C.

    Thanks for your post. The two other commenters here are doing what one is conditined to do in fundamentalist Xty: quote a bible verse and reference some supposed deep chrisitian thinker who has all the answers, and that makes eveything all right. Essentially, you are an honest person and intelligent enough to finally see through the fog of evangelial spin to realize that things don'[t add up or make sense. By the way, I am an ex-pentecostal preacher (though raised in the wild world of independent Baptists as a child and teen). I consider myself a mystical agnostic. You can read my story on Ex-Christian.net entitled: "My Evangelical Disaster". Peace, Larry

  • tabitha

    Wow Larry, you still have your hurting blinders on don't ya. Whereas with the first commentator I can see you saying is just quoting Bible verses, you really did not have an open mind or heart when you read the 2nd commentator. Instead, you just have to make sure this man who created this website and is a somewhat 'new convert' stays in your fold. Just to make sure, throw in the link to your own 'ex-timoney' even. No reason you can't share your own story, but to shoot down others you know nothing about- wow- you are not as 'enlightened' as you want to project.
    Like you can just dismiss what one says by labeling them 'fundamentalist.' Nice touch since you know 'ragingrev' came from a fundamentalist background- but too bad it has nothing to do with truth. Talk to SeekerDude and let me see you hang onto that uninformed 'fundamentalist' label you gave him. Go ahead and call his references 'supposed' deep thinkers and show your cleverness by calling whatever he says 'spin' and make sure you affirm 'raginrev' a lot with your platitudes about what an honest and intelligent person he is- but you miss the point that raginrev actually wants intelligent dialogue, not just to have 'club' members protect him from wading back into that scary dark unintelligible place that you are the see all and know all expert on.

  • Larry C.

    Dear Tabitha, having spent years in the evangelical subculture as a youth minister, evangelist and chaplain, it's not about knowing the others who commented as individuals. I don't them, but their responses are the basic canned sermonic materials that is preached in evangelical/fundy churches and Bible studies all over the country. I am sure you – and they – are sincere and well meaning in your efforts to get Raginrev back into the Christian fold, but I wished to support RaginRev in the path he has allowed Reason to take him. If others are going to urge him to reconsider his atheism, I can urge him to keep on thinking and using his "God-given" brains of looking at the evidence . Can I get an "Amen" somebody!?

  • Slg

    RagingRev,
    I went through a Christian program based out of a "fundamentalist" church (Master's Commission) and your hurt and confusion resound big time. It's been over a decade since I left the program and I still ask myself these questions.
    I will say, as time passes, I less vehemently dismiss religion. As I just told a friend, I had to reject everything I'd been taught to learn how to think for myself again. If that means I'm back on the road to becoming a "fundy" then at least I will get there by my own choices.
    One thing I can say with certainty is: I don't know much. That means, for me, completely disregarding God would be as foolish as blindly accepting Him. I can certainly assume if there is a Being complex enough to mastermind the universe, I'm probably not going to understand His every move. However, the idea of handing myself over to something I can't fully understand produces a knee-jerk heck-no reaction.
    My friends say I should just accept it and the peace that comes with putting those worries on God. I appreciate that logic after spending over a decade exhausting myself with unanswerable questions. However, I struggle with handing my life over with no guarantee. When they ask, "What would you lose?" I can honestly answer, "Myself." While that might be a relief on some level, I lost myself in Master's Commission and it almost cost more than I could bear.
    One piece of advice I can give, from my own deliberations: Avoid the angry on either side. If someone is out to absolutely prove or absolutely annihilate God, they have ulterior motives. Personal experience is the only absolute proof for a Christian (and, frankly, it would be plenty for me–if I could trust it), but it only works on an individual basis. Omniscience is the only way someone can absolutely destroy God (unless there is some hubris involved) and even that would be an instance of personal experience since the rest of us don't tend to carry that super-power. 😉
    Maybe you and I will end up in church again. Maybe we will never go back. I think it's good we find it important enough to think about.

  • Your story has been haunting me since I read "Did I Give Up on my Faith?" on the website, My Cult Life." I am a former Southern Baptist with a masters from a conservative theological seminary who became involved in a Bible-based cult (long story which I wrote about in my book, I Can't Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult).

    The period after my husband and I left this group was the worst in my life. I can identify with your experience and understand the pain of spiritual and/or cultic abuse.

    Just wanted you to know you and your wife are in my thoughts.

    • Thank you Wendy, I appreciate that…sorry I didn’t respond prior to now.

  • Dario

    It is nonsense to believe God has not have his mind, life, and spirit, just because it's not milk and honey on Earth. And certanly, it is nonsense to believe that one Creator of time, space and universe (whatever you call it/him) gave privilage of LIFE ONLY to beings lower than him. That is what doesen't make sense.
    Best regards; Dario, Croatia

  • The best thing to do is pray for these people that claim to be gay. Also the owner of this site Matt? I am going to pray for you also. We as Christians are just bringing out what's in the Bible. God has some plan for us all. There is a reason this all came up. This has gotten more attention than the shootings what state was it? IDK because this got more from the media and maybe that's sad or mabe it's not? Maybe people woll learn the real trueth from all this and it bring a Holy Ghost revival AMEN!

  • nosuchthingasevil

    Hi, I’m sorry about your experiences with Christianity. I want to suggest to you that there is still a need for faith in a higher power to set a moral foundation of what is good or evil.

    prominent atheist Richard Dawkins states that if we are to accept that there is no such thing as God then there is no such thing as evil. Thus everyone can be ‘their own god’ and good/evil becomes purely subjective per person. Serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer qualified his actions in his statement “If it all happens naturalistically, what’s the need for a God? Can’t I set my own rules? Who owns me? I own myself.” ie. he decided for himself what is morally acceptable.

    The age old argument of ‘evil exists therefore God created evil’ fails when you realize that evil is actually the total absence of love and thus total absence of God.

    My faith in Jesus Christ has saved my life literally countless times, He has never abandoned me, not to say that my life is peachy and plain sailing. He has given me the strength to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds and even the opportunity to help others in their time of darkness. God bless you, I pray that you will find your faith again one day.

    • Thank you for your comment,

      I believe that were your assertion for a need of a moral guide true that I would likely be a less moral person now, without god in my life…as it stands my morals have changed very little.

      Regardless of the argument from morality it’s important to separate what is convenient (That god is necessary for an ultimate morality) with what is true (a claim I’m not going to be making) – in other words, does your moral argument make the existence of a god (your claim) any more or less true? In the end, even if no objective morality exists, it doesn’t lend in any way to proving that your god does indeed exist.

      Thank you again for your comment,

      Matt Oxley
      RagingRev.com.