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  1. #31
    Senior Member Into It's Avatar
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    1. What prompted you to make such a drastic change and how old were you?

    2. a) Do you think that if your faith had been presented in a different manner by your family or your church/synagogue/political system/science/etc it would have prevented you from choosing to leave? b) If you didn't buy it yourself, why do you think it didn't "take"? c) Was how you were treated a factor?

    3. How do you feel about it now? Are there any regrets? What have you gained?

    4. How did it affect your relationship to your family and also impact the social circle you had?

    5. Has anything replaced your old faith?



    1. I was probably about 14 or 15 when I finally broke out of the trap of not looking critically at the God Problem for fear of angering him. It was prompted by the realizations that questions adults had always deemed 'silly' or 'unaskable' were usually the most valid and important.

    A good example is "When are we ever going to have to use this?" I now wish I could have read books about subjects of my choosing all day rather than listening (or rather not listening) to lectures of a standardized curriculum, then going home and doing (or rather not doing) related homework. No one wants to sit and listen to inanities - we just draw the threshhold at different places.

    A better example is "Who created God?" As a child, I was apprehensive about asking this question even to myself because it was such an obvious hole in the God hypothesis that God must not want me to think, much less talk about it. When I did bring it up, no answer I got was satisfactory (for the obvious reason). The three answers I got were
    a)He created himself.
    b)He's always been there.
    c)You'll know when you're dead.

    I wound up believing that I was the silly one for asking the question. Confidence can be deceiving, especially to a child.

    Other questions were not so simple, and dealt with the whole set-up of things, for instance: Why did Jesus have to die to save us from our sins? Couldn't he just...do it?

    To which I was answered, "because a payment must be made for the crimes that were committed against God." This made sense at first, until I realized that it was utterly backward. If I steal the judge's car, is it justice if the judge burns down his own house?

    I just got fed up with making excuses for why countless contradictions and paradoxes must be so.

    2. a) Nothing short of a strong bonk on the noggin would have kept me from reasoning my way out of that spiderweb.

    b) The very essence of Christianity is that it deals with phenomena that cannot be tested much less proven by anyone anywhere anywhen in the universe. Even a Christian would laugh if I tried to get them to accept an argument of mine about any similar phenomena.

    Also, I realized that the question "What is?" is a scientific question, and that theologans were no more qualified to make assertions in this area than I was, and I was just some kid.

    c)I was treated very, very well. My parents always chalked up everything nice they did to God, and everything they did was nice! All of my friends have always been jealous of the love and kindness in my family. I've gotten many more compliments on my parents than I can remember I'm sure, so this was not a factor.

    3. I feel like being a Christian, or belonging to any other similar faith, (which is any faith that involves faith) is disgusting. If you're retarded or otherwise stupid, you are of course an exception. However, if you were born believing in a specific god via a priori processes, and grew up knowing of this god even though not a single person ever told you anything about it, that would not be unreasonable. Unfortunately, under these conditions, you would be considered psychotic, but I can't hold delusions against the delusional (so long as the delusions are involuntary).

    But to think that someone else has had the means to gain information about a substance the very nature of which denies that information can be gained about it, and then believe them when they empart this "knowledge" to you is the very definition of "the suicide of reason." Nevermind that legislation is heavily affected by this suicide of reason, I am upset on the personal level by this. I feel the same violent pity toward the religious as I do to a person on harmful drugs who wants desperately to quit but refuses to seek help - it is the drive to shake the other and yell, "How can you continue to do this to yourself!?"

    The only times that I am filled with regret that relates to religiousity is when I recount some of my words, actions, and thoughts that I had while Christian.

    I have gained the knowledge that I have solved a problem that many ponder until they die before I was sixteen. I don't claim a specific answer of course, but that is the solution - the rational understanding that no solution about these matters is possible. I have since pointed my interests in other directions.

    4. My family still loves me, although I have grown apart from them, my mother especially, since I came out and said, "The jury is still out on matters that can't be known." I have told my INTP father, as a semi-bluff, that I no longer believed that he believed in God. I told him that he is too logical and clear-headed to accept this rubbish, and that while it may be good for the family and for his name that he appear to be a devout Christian, I know he doesn't really buy it, and at the most is taking part in Pascal's Wager. ("I can't know there is and I can't know there isn't, but isn't the penalty of not believing bad enough to where I should be a Christian?")

    To me, a religious INTP looks like a flaming icecube. I just keep blinking and tilting my head, slackjawed and incredulous. They're like a man who wears floaties in the bathtub and drowns - they have every tool and advantage, but they still manage to fail.

    As far as my social circle goes, our dynamic changed dramatically. First, I changed from being a Christian and there was tension between my Christian friends (my closest friends) and I. With love and patience, I was able to pull my now ex-Christian friends out of that vile state of self-deception. Some of them chose never to abandon their prejudice of course, but those who I was closest to have since become atheist, or at least disbelievers of any sort of personal god. I count these conversions among my finest accomplishments.

    5. I have gained the incomparably valuable realization that I am not evil, and I have gained empericism.
    An inscription above the gate to Hell:
    "Eternal Love also created me"

  2. #32
    HAHHAHHAH! INTJ123's Avatar
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    I changed belief almost on a daily basis growing up, last major shift was probably 2 years ago. Right now I'm fairly steady, until they figure out what universe those pesky electrons are dissapearing to and reapearing into our universe.

  3. #33
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Thanks all of you for taking time to write your experiences. It's quite a diverse collection! Keep on!

  4. #34
    Dreaming the life onemoretime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    1. What prompted you to make such a drastic change and how old were you?
    Twenty. I realized that my old worldviews didn't work, and thus weren't valid. I became interested in the pragmatic, and that's where I am today.

    2. Do you think that if your faith had been presented in a different manner by your family or your church/synagogue/political system/science/etc it would have prevented you from choosing to leave? If you didn't buy it yourself, why do you think it didn't "take"? Was how you were treated a factor?
    No. I wasn't going to get over the bullshit factor no matter what, and the intent I found to be personally insulting. It wasn't how I was treated - I was really good at espousing the viewpoints, and celebrated for it. It didn't take because I eventually began to see what the actual consequences of those views were - and they were unacceptable to me.

    3. How do you feel about it now? Are there any regrets? What have you gained?
    Nope. I feel much more confident and at ease in my views, as they follow logically from what I see to be the world. I've gained a greater sense of optimism about what humanity's capable of.

    4. How did it affect your relationship to your family and also impact the social circle you had?
    Well, dinner conversations are a little more tense. The parents wonder out loud where that old kid went, without realizing that they are stuck in a childish vision of the world.

    5. Has anything replaced your old faith?
    No. If you could say anything, acceptance of the means by which probability interacts with the universe.

  5. #35
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    1. What prompted you to make such a drastic change and how old were you?

    I was 26. My entire life revolved around church up until the time I had a baby. During such a huge adjustment paired with some medical complications, I was more disconnected from my church friends and activities than I'd ever been. During that time, I helped ease my depression and loneliness by chatting with long distance friends online, often throughout the night. We had a lot of philosophical discussions, and I was especially interested because I wanted to have a firm set of beliefs in order to raise my son the best way possible. After a lot of patience in conversation from one particular non-Christian friend, over the course of a year or so I decided my previous beliefs had been in error, and realized that I could not claim to know anything with 100% certainty, as I had in the past. After that point, big issues for me personally were evolution (I used to believe in "Creationism") -- If the Biblical creation story is not literal, then the need for Jesus is not literal, etc. Also the problem of pain and suffering in the world has been a hurdle I can't seem to get past.

    2. Do you think that if your faith had been presented in a different manner by your family or your church/synagogue/political system/science/etc it would have prevented you from choosing to leave? If you didn't buy it yourself, why do you think it didn't "take"? Was how you were treated a factor?

    Though I do feel my religious environment was manipulative, coercive, etc. and an abuse of human rights, I do believe the majority of Christians I knew had very good intentions. I was always loved by my parents and church friends, treated fairly, kindly, etc. I always thought my own church was full of a lot of healthy people, and a lot better of an environment than many churches I saw. The only thing that got me to leave was being disconnected long enough to step back, look at things from the outside, and begin thinking for myself.

    3. How do you feel about it now? Are there any regrets? What have you gained?

    I feel sad that I did not come to these conclusions sooner. I feel sad that my friends and family have such a difficult time with my current life choices, but I would not change it and don't regret it at all. I have gained my freedom. I have gained the power of using my own mind to navigate the world, and making my own decisions. I am released from the mounds of pressure and guilt under which I used to attempt to live. I am responsible for my own life and choices, and I answer to myself. I have never taken my life more seriously, and yet I feel uninhibited and excited about possibilities.

    4. How did it affect your relationship to your family and also impact the social circle you had?

    I lost almost all my friends, and a closeness with my family that I will never get back. It was very stressful to stand up to people's attempts at changing my mind or guilting me into submission. It is still also sad, and sometimes stressful, when friends and family are friendly but strained in the way they communicate and act around me. I would not have been able to make the change without finding a few new friends around me to keep me company.

    5. Has anything replaced your old faith?

    I consider myself a secular humanist and find some hope in those ideals. I also have replaced prayer with meditation, and I've drawn from some ideas of Buddhism rather than relying on the concept of God or a relationship with God. These things have also helped me tremendously, and I would not have made a successful transition without them.
    Last edited by Wiley45; 08-12-2009 at 07:23 AM.
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  6. #36
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    When I was a child, I thought as a child. And when I was an adult, I thought as an adult.

    And I am very happy to play Santa Claus for children at Christmas because I can see both through a child's eye and an adult eye.

    One does not preclude the other.

    So it seems a vulgar mistake to me to say you must choose one or the other. It seems as gross, vulgar and evil as going around and telling children there is no Santa Claus.

    It seems to me that as you widen your world view that you include what had gone before. You don't reject it, you integrate it into your worldview.

    Intellectual, moral and aesthetic integrity is difficult. Perhaps one of the most difficult things to do - but the most satisfying and fruitful.

    And by their fruits shall ye know them.

    However we are all overwhelmingly influenced by the culture we grew up in. And if we grew up in a revolutionary culture that devalues history and discards the past and makes a positive virtue of reinventing yourself, then we will not value integrity.

    We will not value social integrity, or intellectual integrity or personal integrity.

    Such a culture wears the mark of Cain. Such a culture parses its behaviour by the distinction between phony and authentic. Such a culture regards phony as bad and authentic as good and crucifies its members with the phony nail in one hand and the authentic nail in the other.

    Far better to take out the nails and join our hands together and pray for integrity.

    Far better to aim to be a whole person and say that nothing human is foreign to me.

    This is a life long quest as we must integrate every new thing we learn into what has gone before.

    And this is the quest of Parsifal for the Holy Grail. And as we integrate each new thing into our tradition, we are rewarded with satisfaction and our society reaps the fruits of our labours.

  7. #37
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    Sorry Victor, I'm not trying to be rude, but I have absolutely no idea what you're saying.
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  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jewelchild View Post
    Sorry Victor, I'm not trying to be rude, but I have absolutely no idea what you're saying.
    How interesting. I know what I am saying and you don't know what I am saying.

    So rather than me trying to explain by saying it in another way, let's stay with this potential.

    And the potential is large because the gap between us is large.

    This seems fascinating to me. And rather than short circuiting the potential, let it build.

    You keep breathing and you have absolutely no idea what I am saying. You are befuddled. But more you are a little angry at me 'cause I am not meeting your expectation that I make sense to you.

    You feel angry but you don't want me to think you are trying to be rude. Well, why not be rude to me. After all, it appears I am being rude to you.

    In other words, how does not knowing what I am saying make you feel?

    I suspect you will block your feeling because you don't want to be rude.

    So maybe the meaning is that you see me as not being polite and you don't want to follow you natural feelings and be rude.

    So how do you feel when you read my incomprehensible post?

  9. #39
    ⒺⓉⒷ Eric B's Avatar
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    I was raised in an agnostic household; but an StJ one in which many of the trappings of older culture were held onto, yet often not seen as authentic (tertiary F).

    So it was confusing at times. I was taught that there were really no moral absolutes (especially later, when it came to religion), but then, there were "rules" that must be followed in "life" in order to survive.

    So upon hearing Christian preaching (especially in the early 80's, when it was very prominent, and had become a voice in politics), I was put off by the moralizing, yet there was the sense that it could be true (Ne). When I found a version of it that was interesting (as it focused on prophecy), then, disillusioned with the double standards of the relativistic view, I basically accepted Christianity in general, though I was suspicious of all organized forms of it; keeping it arms length. I eventually found small evangelical groups to felowship with.

    There were always many questions, most of which no one could answer. It was always hard to try to evangelize others, so I spent most of my time debating other Christians on things, but then that just made it all seem ambiguous; like all was relative after all (which most Christians would reject). I more recently came to see a different view of prophecy focused around the destruction of the Temple in AD70, which seems to explain a lot of things better.
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  10. #40
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    NFP dad is "spiritual but not religious" (believes in reincarnation, yet a single theistic god... basically creates his own views from multiple sources). ISFJ mom was raised Catholic, appears to value some parts of it, but then entirely bypasses other core parts.

    My mom was annoyed when I read the Bible out of interest (as if I was trying to be pretentious). Even though my mom's the religious one, she is against prayer before meals, etc.

    When I was in my last year of high school, I was still very against everything but the message of love found in Christianity, and would often debate my peers (I went to a Christian high school for its private school/academic rep, so there were plenty of people to debate against). I suppose I was the kind of Christian who accepted the cultural label, but was against most of the beliefs in the faith because I perceived them to be self-righteous/exclusive/lacking intelligence.

    Then a few years went by...

    I read Augustine, C.S. Lewis, N.T. Wright, and began to understand what my problem was with the faith. There is a HUGE cultural overlay on top of the religion. (Huge.) Most of my problems were with the cultural overlay rather than the religion itself, and once I started reading respected intellectuals who were professing Christians, I began to understand and then later accept some of the things that I was against when I was younger.

    For instance, the religious texts and teachings from earlier centuries held women up to highest esteem, and I learned a lot of the treatment of women as second class humans was cultural overlay.

    (One might note N.T. Wright's (Anglican head bishop) YouTube clip picking the stereotype apart. (I love his line--If you're interested in Christianity, there's no basis. If you're interested in maintaining Christian culture, then I can see the lowering of women.) Catherine of Siena was an uneducated girl who learned to read as an adult, and became an intellectual advisor to the pope, and a renowned speaker to the masses, seen as a great thinker.

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaVVXleoAdU"]NT Wright[/YOUTUBE]

    I think a lot of my religion is holding onto something unresolved, until you read and pray a lot more about it (and distill out the erroneous information, which will come left right and centre... prayers for discernment!). There's still a lot of stuff I don't understand, but I do believe there's worth in investigating things.

    I recommend Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis) as a start for any curious readers.
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
    C.S. Lewis

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