Don’t you worry… ‘bout a thing

October 4, 2008 at 7:20 pm 41 comments

This is for any of you de-converting folks out there.

If you’ve seen the rather silly movie, “I Am Legend”, you might make the connection between the title and body of this article. And believe it or not, I’m gonna use the silly movie for a bit of an analogy. (Though some preachers have already beaten me to it.)

If you haven’t seen the flick, “I Am Legend”, here’s the situation. Will Smith is the only living human left in New York City. A virus wiped out the rest of the population of the world except for some whom the virus turned into rabid, killer zombies. (Hey, I didn’t write it, I’m just recapping.) So Will’s trying to survive in this rather empty, scary world.

Those of us who’ve been through de-conversion, know how it looks when you’re right in the middle of the process. It’s upsetting, and frankly scary. Familiar beliefs, touch points, and in many cases even people that you knew are gone. It’s a bit like the I Am Legend world.

In I Am Legend, Will occasionally plays “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. The song has the chorus, “Don’t you worry ‘bout a thing, ‘cause every little thing’s gonna be all right.” The song seems quite out of place in a lonely world where rabid, killer zombies are on the rampage.

So how does this tie in for the de-converting folks out there?

If you’re in the midst of feeling your faith slipping, or you’re in the middle of giving it up, or you have just given it up, then you’re world is changing/will change/has changed. Right now your world looks lonely, it looks scary, it may even look monstrous.

Along the de-conversion way, you will encounter troubles, and feel the uncertainly of a world now bereft of the faith that has probably defined your very existence, and you may face animosity, or even lose touch with friends or family members.

But from the vantage point of a year to two or more post de-conversion, many of us on this blog can tell you that it’s not so bad in the end. From the far side of the whole process we can tell you that it will be OK. You will rebuild your life. What we on this blog can say to you is, “don’t you worry”, “everything’s gonna be all right”.

I can’t tell you what a wonderfully clear view of the world, and of life, one has from a ‘no deity’ perspective. It’s, well … to borrow a line from a different song, a familiar hymn, it’s as if, “I once was blind, but now I see”. De-converting may not be easy or pleasant to go through, but for me, and for many others, it’s well worth it.

Take it away Bob…

- LeoPardus

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The Flight of Peter Fromm Is Science just another religion?

41 Comments Add your own

  • 1. orDover  |  October 4, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    What a very sweet post, LeoPardus.

    It’s interesting that you should write it for two reasons. First, last weekend I tried to watch I Am Legend but had to turn it off after about half an hour because it got too scary. (I’m a serious scary movie lightweight). But more importantly, because one of they keywords who have been bringing people to my person blog is “I am scared apostatizing.”

    Until I saw that keyword I never really realized how scary de-conversion could be. I can’t say that I really experienced much fear because the process was so gradual for me that by the time I realized it was happening it was already over. But I definitely can understand why people would be scared, and I do think they need to hear that it will be alright.

  • 2. Digital Dame  |  October 4, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    I think one of the things people miss, or fear they will miss, are the holidays which are so wrapped up in church and their belief systems. Especially now with the holiday season looming, it may all seem very empty and hollow and pointless at first, and that’s really scary. You can still enjoy the traditions of gathering with family and friends and just being together, sharing a meal and whatever else you do, and enjoy it for what it is. I haven’t set foot in a church since … ummm… 1992? But I still go all out for the holidays, decorating, baking, cooking. I love it. I do a great tree (I call it a Yule tree now), exchange gifts, listen to Christmas music (mostly classical because it’s just fabulous anyway). Don’t feel bad about wanting to hang onto those things that you enjoy, you can do the holidays any way you want.

    I haven’t seen I Am Legend and don’t plan to, I remember the Charlton Heston version, The Omega Man, and that was enough of that for me.

  • 3. Samanthamj  |  October 5, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Nice post. I think I am one of the few who have made it to the other side of my deconversion. I’ve finally accepted that I am a non-believer – and while this may bother everyone around me – to me, it IS a peaceful easy feeling (another good tune from the Eagles, there). II’m so glad ot be rid of all the fear and confusion from religion that was so much a part of my life for so long.

    I haven’t seen this movie yet. I use to love scary movies, but, over the years I realized I didn’t reallly like those either… I do like Will Smith, though… so, maybe I could take it. ;)

    ~smj

  • 4. Marie  |  October 5, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    Like Samantha, I am on the other side too! 2 years and counting! I still haven’t “come out” to my family, and I don’t know if I ever will (So I guess I am not totally free). But essentially there is no more fear!

    During de-conversion, fear is present I think because your whole foundation for existence is gone. I became afraid once I realized that the “comforter” I thought I had, was gone. No more God to talk to in the dead of night. No more easy answers. No more allowing sin to take responsibility for the fuck-ups in my life. Also, the fear of hell. What if I AM wrong? I really really don’t want to burn for eternity…

    It’s amazing how the fear just eventually evaporates and you feel free. I do admit that I am more afraid now of dying young than I was when I was Christian. But I would rather be afraid of things that are realistic – than fearful of stuff that is total myth.

    Another thing I felt in the midst of my deconversion besides fear, was that I felt pathetic. I felt duped. I distinctly remember one night, about 2 months into my de-conversion process(which eventually amounted to about 8 months in length), I was kneeling on the floor asking God to reveal himself to me. I asked, ‘why me?! Why was I destined to have a hardened heart?! Was I chosen to be condemned to hell?’ And I was crying, and I felt so stupid because all that I received in that moment was silence and the unwavering sense of being alone. I cried more because I envisioned myself from the outside looking so pathetic. I envisioned people around the world – victims of rape, torture, starving people, poor children, grieving mothers CRYING out into the moonlight for God’s protection, and just getting silence and loneliness in return.

    The De-conversion process can be fearful, painful, cruel, lonely. But it is worth it. The real freedom does come.

  • 5. gracesong815  |  October 6, 2008 at 9:19 am

    I cannot stress just how much I echo the above poster’s sentiments. I’m in the midst of this process, and the fear of burning in Hell terrifies me.
    There have been countless times where I’ve just thought “Well, this isn’t worth it. Why don’t I just leave all this and go back to where I was in the Christian faith?” However, just when I’m ready to surrender to the pull, I am accutely aware of the cognotive disonance that would result.
    I’m still not quite on the other side and still plan to adhere to a belief system, i.e. Buddhism etc. but fear and frustration and a burning desire to know the truth of the whole matter still plagues me.
    I know that you guys have written this on other posts, but just for the sake of summary, what was the last straw for you?
    Thank you so much for having the courage to contribute to this blog!
    Iris

  • 6. orDover  |  October 6, 2008 at 10:34 am

    For me, the last straw was the Job complex: the idea that God would purposefully hurt you to test your faith.

  • 7. LeoPardus  |  October 6, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Marie:

    Your story sounds a lot like mine and others hereabouts. The feeling duped part was quite unhappy to me. I now look back and have the damnedest time trying to understand how I was able, for so many years, to keep believing what is so OBVIOUSLY silly and wrong.

    Gracesong:

    Yes’m, I remember thinking about going back. But of course that’s impossible. Once your eyes are opened, you can shut them again, but you can’t forget what you’ve seen.

    Take your time in the exit process, weigh your options, and don’t get too hitched to the thought any belief system. I think most of us here hold personal philosophies (about morality, purpose, etc) but not any formal faith. (If I did pick one, I’d probably go for Taoism though.)

    As for the last straw: for me there wasn’t one. There were a whole bunch of them that all piled on is short order. Actually I’d use a different analogy: It was more like a door was opened just a crack and I saw something. Then it opened just a touch more and I saw a little more. Once opened, that door could never be shut and I could never forget what was seen beyond it. I had to go through it and see all that was out there.
    [I think it interesting that I am using analogies that are so often used by Christians.... eyes opened, doors opened...]

    If you look in the archives for the articles, “From Fundy, to Orthodox, to Apostate” and “Praying my way to losing faith” you can get my de-con story and see some of the things that pried that door open.

  • 8. Digital Dame  |  October 6, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Gracesong:

    I think the thing that finally put the fear to rest for me was when I read “When God Was A Woman” by Merlin Stone. I understand there are some criticisms of her scholarship, but learning about the ancient goddess religions (relax, I’m not going off on a goddess rant here ;) ) and how religions evolve was I think the big turning point for me. I read it a long time ago so I can’t tell you anything specific (it’s a dense read, too) but I remember having one of those “AHA!” moments while reading it.

  • 9. bigham  |  October 7, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    “The Most Outrageous Claim in the Bible”

  • 10. Yurka  |  October 8, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    Oh dear. LP using zombie movies, Bob Marley and his personal
    assurance to convince you that you are on the right path.

    Do you really think that’s trustworthy? Are you really willing to
    risk *everything* on that? Please dig into the matter more than
    just letting LP induce a *mood* in which you fall in with his
    unproven assertions, which would fall to bits if you analyzed
    them rigorously.

    (LP – if you have trouble understanding this, I’ll write a special one syllable version just for you. I know you’ve had trouble
    with my posts in the past)

  • 11. Jason  |  October 8, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    I struggling in the middle. I don’t know if I will deconvert. I guess that is up to God, right? But anyway, I am scared of hell, can’t get over it. But much much worse, I have two children, 6 and 4, and I am scared I will blow it and they will burn in hell. Frankly, those are two precious girls; I can’t imagine a God exists that would torture them eternally because their father had doubts. I am a bit in turmoil but trying to put myself at peace recognizing these options. If God doesn’t exist, I need not worry. If God does exist, then he loves me and my children, and I can trust Him to do what is right for us.

    I go to a fairly conservative church. Everyone else is all having a grand old time. Why does all the myth and fairy tales make sense to them and not me? Why don’t they notice that God doesn’t answer prayer beyond the coincidental?

    If I had to label one thing that is keeping me in the faith, it is reading the NT. Not to OT, that portion is whacked and I now feel in parts clearly fabricated. But in the NT, you got these guys who were with Jesus and they wrote with such incredible conviction about what happened. Are they flat our lying? Are they high on some good whiskey? They seem so compelling. So for now I still believe.

  • 12. bigham  |  October 8, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    The Bible tells us that you have it all wrong:

    “The Most Outrageous Claim in the Bible”

    If this “most outrageous claim” is true, then the reality is that you have convinced yourself that blindness is really sight and sight really is blindness (a.k.a. suppressing the truth, c.f. Romans 1:18).

    And, if so, then you are prophesying visions of peace for your fellow people when there is no peace (Ezekiel 13:16).

  • 13. Zoe  |  October 8, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I think it was Paige who pointed out on another post that you are spamming this site with the same link to your post on your blog bigham. You have already linked to your post on this thread, re: comment #9. Do you plan on linking to it on every single blog post or do you think you’re done now?

  • 14. BigHouse  |  October 8, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    And it’s not even effective spam as I still don’t know what the heck he is talking about…

  • 15. orDover  |  October 8, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Jason
    I guess that is up to God, right?

    Well, not if he doesn’t exist. There is nothing he can do in that case. But if he does exist, and he does what people to believe in him, then yes, he has the burden of proof.

    As for your concerns over your children, I’m not a parent yet, but remember that your kids will grow into independent adults. They will be able to make up their own minds about religion. Of course your beliefs will influence them, but in the end the decision is theirs alone to make. My parents are evangelical conservative Christians, they raised me in the faith, sent me to Christian school, and did everything they could to make sure I was a born again Christian, but in the end I made my own independent decision regarding my belief. Their belief in God affected my childhood years, but when I matured and learned to think on my own and form my own opinions, their beliefs no longer influenced me. If you decide to de-convert you can still tell your children about God, you can even send them to church, but you can also tell them that some people, including yourself, cannot find enough evidence to believe. In the end they are going to make up their own minds anyway, and it is always best to present them with ALL of the information, not just one narrow world view.

  • 16. Jason  |  October 8, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Lots of people grow up in the church and leave. If I do, that will be the case for me. The sad fact is that more people are raised into the faith then are converted. Lets look at the two options.

    1) Christianity if false. This then makes perfect sense. There is no real Holy Spirit convicted people so you are much more likely to accept it if you learn it very young from people you trust about everything. Every other religion would propagate the same way.

    2) Christianity is true. This is more of a head scratcher. Why would God want to work this way? It seems a bit arbitrary. But nevertheless, lets assume Christianity is true. Then given clear statistics on the matter, my own doubts risk my children’s eternity, for whatever reason God decides to work this way.

  • 17. BigHouse  |  October 8, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Pascal’s wager returneth!

  • 18. orDover  |  October 8, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Exactly, BigHouse.

    Jason, do you feel scared or guilty for not believing in Islam or Hinduism? Are you afraid your disbelief in those religions might prevent your children from going to heaven or being reincarnated as higher beings?

  • 19. BigHouse  |  October 9, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    And by the way, Jason, this isn’t meant to trivialize your fear for your kids, which I’m sure is very real. It’s meant to help you examine WHY you hold THESE PARTICULAR fears and understajnd if they are valid pnes or not?

    Heck, I fear for my kids every day for a lot of reason!

  • 20. bigham  |  October 9, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    orDover,

    The Bible calls you a fool and a liar.

    “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” -Psalm 14:1

    “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” -Psalm 19:1-2

    “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” -Romans 1:19

    My experience attests to this. I became a “de-con” about halfway through my first year in college, and considered myself an atheist-then-agnostic for a little over 4 years. Throughout those 4+ years, I thought that there was a 0% chance that there was a God- or if there was a God, there was a 0% chance that it was the God of the Christian Bible.

    However, when I was “re-converted,” I realized that I knew the truth all along. Even though I thought to myself, “there’s a 0% chance,” the truth is that I was deceiving myself.

    The truth is that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. There will be no objections. On the great and terrible day of the Lord, you will realize that you knew the truth all along.

    God promises to punish your sins. Those who are “in Christ Jesus” (cf. Romans 8:1) will “enter into the joy of their master” (Matthew 25:21, 23) because Jesus paid the penalty for their sins. The rest will pay their own penalty by spending an eternity in hell.

    Nobody will cry injustice on that day, because we will all see the living God, in all of His infinite holiness. And we will all realize that we have all played the harlot after the desires of our eyes and our hearts, rather than seeking our Creator who made us to intimately know Him. Those who go to hell will receive what they deserve, and God will be glorified in them as a just judge is glorified in giving a criminal the punishment that fits the crime. Eternal punishment for rejecting the eternal God, who created us and will judge us.

    Christ will be exalted and glorified in the mercy of God on that day, because those who go to heaven deserve hell just as much as everybody else. They go to heaven for the sake of Jesus Christ, and because they are His. Because He paid with His death and His blood the price to have His bride, His church.

  • 21. Jason  |  October 9, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    It’s meant to help you examine WHY you hold THESE PARTICULAR fears and understand if they are valid pnes or not?

    Oh, I’m well aware why I have THESE PARTICULAR fears, they were the ones taught to me when I was a child. They were just taught very well and I am still surrounded in a community that seems to find this all makes perfect sense. That last post wasn’t supposed to be pascals wager, I was wondering why people tend to be raised in the faith and not converted, considering the two options that the faith is real or is imaginary. Clearly it makes more sense that it is more likely that our faith is not real if you will likely only believe in it if told it from a very young age. If the Holy Spirit really is running around convicting hearts we should see all manner of people being saved (at least on the same proportion as those who grow up in the faith).

    My first post, yes, that was a bit pascalish.

    My problem with Pascals wager is that it is not harmless to believe in God when he does not exist. Because we just don’t believe in Him, we attach some fairly specific commands along with it, such as homosexuality is bad. Pretending there is no God for a moment, telling homosexuals they can’t marry and have healthy relationships is terrible persecution.

    bigham,

    Every thing you are saying might very well be true. I just want to point out that within the Biblical narrative God wasn’t just relying on pretty stars and sunsets to convince everyone of His existence. In the OT, God often answered with supernatural acts to prove His existence, He outright declared that His acts to the Egyptians was to demonstrate that He was the only God. But even better, when it was all called into question again, He rained down Holy Fire on Elijah’s alter, burning the sacrifice, alter and water up completly. I would be thrilled if we could recreate this, down in the parking lot right now lets set something up and find out who is the true God. God saw it fit to do so then, so surely there would be no reason He wouldn’t want to validate His presence now.

  • 22. BigHouse  |  October 9, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Jason, it’s good to see you quesitoning Pascal’s wager. There are other good criticisms of it on wikipedia in addtion to the one one mention above.

    Good luck dealing with your fears and hopefully discussions here will help you with getting resolutions.

  • 23. Cooper  |  October 9, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Having thus shredded the trees of certainty, he then asks the reader to analyze our position. If reason is truly corrupt and cannot be relied upon to decide the matter of God’s existence, we are left with a coin toss. In Pascal’s assessment, placing a wager is unavoidable, and anyone who is on the fence like he is, incapable of trusting any evidence either for or against God’s existence, must at least face the prospect that infinite happiness is at risk. The “infinite” expected value of believing is always greater than the expected value of not believing.

    I had not studied “Pascal’s Wager” before. I really don’t need to be persuaded by his argument, but I think he is a very intelligent man for coming to the conclusion he does. What is to be lost by serving God and believing in him? More is lost by not believing—I agree totally.

  • 24. Cooper  |  October 9, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    The first paragraph was cut and pasted from an article about Pascal’s wager.

  • 25. The Apostate  |  October 9, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    What is to be lost by serving God and believing in him? More is lost by not believing—I agree totally.

    “Christianity – The Narcissistic Religion” by Cooper.

  • 26. Quester  |  October 9, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    My problem with Pascals wager is that it is not harmless to believe in God when he does not exist.

    Another problem with Pascal’s wager is that it presents a false dichotomy. Let’s look at the two options you present in post #16 again.


    1) Christianity if false. This then makes perfect sense. There is no real Holy Spirit convicted people so you are much more likely to accept it if you learn it very young from people you trust about everything. Every other religion would propagate the same way.

    2) Christianity is true. This is more of a head scratcher. Why would God want to work this way? It seems a bit arbitrary. But nevertheless, lets assume Christianity is true. Then given clear statistics on the matter, my own doubts risk my children’s eternity, for whatever reason God decides to work this way.

    3. One particular branch of Christianity (or another religion) is true, and it is not yours. God chooses a people to work through and bless, and you either are or are not among that number. Either way, what you choose to teach your children about God will not help them.

    When you propose “Christianity is true” you include a great deal of assumptions in that statement. One of the main assumptions you are making that I would question is that any given two people agree on what is meant by “Christianity”. The Bible does not give a clear or consistent set of guidelines as to God’s will. If you fear hell for your children, by what basis will you choose which branch of which religion to raise them in?

  • 27. Cooper  |  October 9, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    What is to be lost by serving God and believing in him? More is lost by not believing—I agree totally.

    “Christianity – The Narcissistic Religion” by Cooper.

    Apostate—

    Actually it appears the true author that book would be Blaise Pascal—-he says the same thing. :)

  • 28. Cooper  |  October 9, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    What is to be lost by serving God and believing in him? More is lost by not believing—I agree totally.

    “Christianity – The Narcissistic Religion” by Cooper.

    Apostate—

    Seriously though. Let’s say Christianity is false, and there is no God. That would mean I spent my life trying to be the best I could be and trying to help as many people as I can. I have also had great joy doing so. True—an unbeliever can do exactly the same—I am not questioning that.

    But what if it’s true? All of the above still applies, yet for the unbeliever there is a difference. He must now face all that the Bible says faces an unbeliever, and realize he could have had the very salvation he rejected.

    It just seems to me that Pascal was right. If you are not sure if there is a God or not, serving him is the best choice—you will live a moral life if you are sincere, help many people, and die knowing that you did the very best you could in uprightness. If no one is there then you go into obscurity and nothingness—no regrets—because there will be no regrets—you will be extinguished into nothingness. But if someone is there and what you beleived is true you will enter great joy—but the same can’t be said for the unbeliever.

    Is that narcissistic or a real consideration? Apparently Pascal thought a lot about it. Not saying he was right—just makes good sense.

  • 29. orDover  |  October 9, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Seriously though. Let’s say Christianity is false, and there is no God. That would mean I spent my life trying to be the best I could be and trying to help as many people as I can.

    You’re ignoring Quester’s third point in explaining how the wager is a false dichotomy. What if you spend your life trying to be the best, but then you die and find yourself in hell because Islam is the One True religion, or maybe the ancient Nordic tribes had it correct, or the Greeks, or maybe the Hindus.

    This also presupposes that religious rules are all positive things, intended to make people better and help other humans. Jason brought up the problem that if Christianity is not real, the persecution of homosexuals is a terrible injustice. What about Muslim terrorists? They’re just trying to be “good” according to their religion. And so are those non-violent Muslims who require their women to live in subjugation and want them to cover up their entire bodies, leaving only one eye unconcealed. Or the radical Jews who have taking to throwing rocks at women who wear immodest colors like red? Aren’t they just trying to be good, and even, in some cases, help others?

    The biggest problem with Pascal’s wager is that it assumes that whatever God you decided to believe in, just in case, is the right one. That’s why it falls short of a truly convincing argument for belief.

  • 30. Jason  |  October 10, 2008 at 11:36 am

    The Bible does not give a clear or consistent set of guidelines as to God’s will. If you fear hell for your children, by what basis will you choose which branch of which religion to raise them in?

    I am not trying to defend Pascal’s wager, though I admit I slip into it sometimes. And I admitted above my own particular fears and religious affiliation is based on what I learned as a child. But to answer your question specifically, salvation to me would be “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and Believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”. I don’t get much more specific than that, and am not hung up anymore of any of the myriad of protestant, roman catholic, or eastern orthodox faiths. Not to say I don’t agree or disagree on some biblical interpretation but I think trust in dependence on God is what would please God, not whether your really believe you metaphorical open hand is really empty to receive God grace…

    Yes, I am excluding consideration of Hinduism, Buddhism, Norse Gods, invisible dragons in my garage. And you are right that I don’t fear them because of where I came from. But I will say this, I have seen no evidence whatsoever that they have any merit. At least in Christianity, I have heard the testimony of people’s lives being changed. I wish I had more than that, I wish I could still get God to burn alters from the sky, but it is what it is. Maybe there are other reasons. I suspect there might be.

    I might be irrational. But how can I not fear hell for my children. There are the most precious things in the world. I heard second hand a quote that I believe Kant said, someone please correct me on this or find the real quote, “you have to lose your fear of damnation in order to think rationally about religion”. I want to know who and exactly what was said here because I think this statement is dead on. I can think rationally about other religions because I don’t fear them at all. As I begin to think rationally about my own, I stop short of carrying through because of the threats of Hebrews that are often repeated on this very forum. If Christianity were true, I shouldn’t have to fear hell to accept it. I should accept it because I thought about it rationally and it proved itself true.

  • 31. SnugglyBuffalo  |  October 10, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Jason-

    But I will say this, I have seen no evidence whatsoever that they have any merit. At least in Christianity, I have heard the testimony of people’s lives being changed.

    You might want to look a little closer, I’ve seen at least one muslim’s testimony that sounded almost exactly like what I’ve heard from Christians regarding changed lives. And then there’s all the stories of changed lives of people who get involved in New Age nonsense. I knew a guy who was really into Wicca who would talk about his answered prayers to some godess. I’ve seen the same evidence in other religions as I’ve seen in Christianity; I’ve just seen a lot more of it for Christianity, which is exactly what you’d expect with a large Christian majority especially when you’re raised in it.

    If Christianity were true, I shouldn’t have to fear hell to accept it. I should accept it because I thought about it rationally and it proved itself true.

    For all the logical problems with Pascal’s Wager, this is probably the main reason I reject it. I want to believe Christianity because it’s real, not to escape a hypothetical eternity of damnation.

  • 32. BigHouse  |  October 10, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Agreed, Snuggly. I also disllike the premise that belief can be conjoured up, as a result of contemplating the wager. You cannot fake or force belief, even if I were to accept that the belief side of the wager was the one to take..

  • 33. Quester  |  October 10, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    But I will say this, I have seen no evidence whatsoever that they have any merit. At least in Christianity, I have heard the testimony of people’s lives being changed.

    Jason, there have been at leat one Muslim and at least one Hindu to post on this blog, describing their life-changing experiences within their religious worldviews. If you spoke to members of these religions, you would likely hear more such stories.

    If you choose to believe, or pretend to believe, out of fear for your children, that is your choice. If you find anything within those beliefs that manages to meet and satisfy your fear, that is also your choice. I can neither talk you out of your choice, nor support you in it.

    Anything other that we can do for you?

  • 34. Phoesune  |  October 10, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    If you don’t like I am Legend…You could always watch the original Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price. Which is much better.

    I think this post highlights one of the greatest wrongs of religion. Fear. The fear does not come from the deconversion but the faith that was abandoned. You spend your whole life usually being told the Bogeyman man is gonna get ya if you don’t toe the line. That brainwashing is hard to overcome. It plays on primal biological fears of the unknown monster in the cave. This invisible being that controls the universe, sees everything you do, and also controls you is gonna torture you forever unless you choose to submit. It is hard to shake that.

    Actually it reminds me of the old twilight zone with the kid that had the power of god. That did horrible things when he didn’t get his way. It takes a certain level of confidence in your conclusions. There is a need to continue to think and question. When you rest on your laurels and become satisfied with your condition you have done nothing more than replace a faith with another worldview.

    The nice thing about atheism is that its not dogmatic. You can go to church with your family and celebrate holidays. Your motives are different than theirs. They may be going to perform the rites of their religion. You can go to be with your family and perhaps learn something else that is ridiculous about religion.

  • 35. Aussie Ali  |  October 11, 2008 at 12:03 am

    Jason
    “But I will say this, I have seen no evidence whatsoever that they have any merit. At least in Christianity, I have heard the testimony of people’s lives being changed.”

    One of the main reasons my husband and I began to question Christianity was that we kept seeing people claiming answered prayer who were not (evangelical) Christians ie a Muslim’s pilgrimage to Mecca, a friend who was a Jehovah’s witness, another friend who was some kind of witch.

    I was asked by a Christian friend how I could explain how someone with a violent, drug filled background could change so suddenly ie surely God must be the cause
    My thoughts are that strong belief in something can make people change in all sorts of ways. Combine belief with an emotionally charged atmosphere and a lot can happen.

    What are other people’s thoughts?

  • 36. bigham  |  October 11, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Jason,

    We now have way more than they had in the Old Testament. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus (the other Lazarus), the rich man dies and goes to hell. He asks that somebody be sent to his loved ones so that they do not follow his fate.

    He is told that they have the books of Moses, and if they don’t believe Moses, then they wouldn’t believe even if they saw a person raised from the dead.

    If you don’t believe the Bible, then you wouldn’t believe even if somebody came back from the dead and spoke the truth to you.

    You act as if the burden of proof is on God, but the truth is that God has revealed Himself both in creation and in the heart of every human (Romans 1:18-23).

    Therefore, you are without excuse. Your knee will bow and your tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord on the day of judgment, because you will see Him and know then that you knew it all along.

    God has gone above and beyond any demand that you could place on Him to reveal Himself to you. You refuse to believe.

    “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God, but encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.’”

    Your hearts have been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, but it is not too late. Believe in Christ Jesus and repent of your sins, and you will be saved! Today!

  • 37. BigHouse  |  October 11, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    bigham, your fearmongering is pathetic. And this:

    If you don’t believe the Bible, then you wouldn’t believe even if somebody came back from the dead and spoke the truth to you.

    …doesn’t make any sense. The Bible and a resurrected dead witness are pretty different forms of evidence.

    Maybe it’s time you take your fear and spam and head on home..

  • 38. LeoPardus  |  October 14, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Jason:

    I definitely understand your fears. I well remember the fear and anguish at the time I saw that I was moving toward giving up the faith. It was most distressing.
    In the end, I reached the point where I had to give it up or else engage in a huge amount of dishonesty with myself.

    The “de-conversion wager” near the top of the site may be of some help to you as you think through this process.
    Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

    Take your time man. It’s no process to rush through.

  • 39. ThomasJefferson  |  October 23, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    Marie,
    I found your anecdote of praying and only hearing silence to be touching.

    I was an atheist/agnostic for five years before relapsing into theism. Thankfully I’m back on the right side now. I’m new to this blog but have really enjoyed what i’ve read so far.

  • 40. BigHouse  |  October 24, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Which side is the “right side” Mr. President?

  • 41. gracesong815  |  October 24, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Yeah, before I de-converted, I prayed and begged God to show me His face. It’s really kind of lonely to be in that position and get nothing but silence.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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