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53. You may not vote on this poll
  • I believe in God

    17 32.08%
  • n/a

    15 28.30%
  • I don't believe in God

    21 39.62%
  • I believe in afterlife

    16 30.19%
  • n/a

    15 28.30%
  • I don't believe in afterlife

    18 33.96%
  • I am religious

    8 15.09%
  • n/a

    7 13.21%
  • I am not religious

    32 60.38%
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Thread: Survey

  1. #51
    Doesn't Read Your Posts Haight's Avatar
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    Can you add, "I believe I'm God" to the poll?
    "The only time I'm wrong is when I'm questioning myself."
    Haight

  2. #52
    Senior Member Lightyear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
    This is a very accurate and insightful post.

    I like your style.

    Why am I not more familiar with you?
    Because I am just so gloriously elusive, baha!

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Would you mind sharing it if I promise not to try to take it away from you? I am simply curious what counts as a miracle.
    Quote Originally Posted by AphroditeGoneAwry View Post
    Awww.... I think it's pertinent to the thread, and I'm interested too.
    Okay, since there seems to be an interest I will post about my conversion in this thread. In return I ask you to simply respect it instead of trying to take it apart just to prove to me that I am delusional. It just is what it is.

    Short background info: I now live in the UK but am originally from East Germany and was brought up in an environment which following 40 years of Socialism/Communism is very atheistic, people simply assume it to be the evident truth that there is no God (I remember my mum telling me when I was ten years old that God didn't create man but man created God). So as a result people have no concept of heaven and hell, sin, needing God's redemption etc, it's just not part of the mental framework they have been brought up with, they simply assume Christianity to be irrelevant and something that no reasonable person would believe in. So before I became a Christian I wasn't against God, I just simply never thought about him since I was 100% convinced that atheism is the truth and that there is no God.

    In 1999 a friend of mine called Antje went for a high-school exchange year to Florida and she was the kind of person who would always argue fiercely against religion. But lo and behold, two months after she arrived in the States I heard that she had gotten baptised, she had become a Christian. Us friends back home were making fun of her for sending us Christmas cards with Bible scriptures and we thought that she had been brainwashed.

    She returned to East Germany in September 2000, she still seemed normal to me (I had genuinely been wondering if she had somehow radically changed) and in October 2000 she invited me to an evangelistic meeting held by a Swiss missionary. I went with her simply out of curiosity, I had no idea what to expect. The Swiss missionary preached and he told us how he had prayed for disabled people in India and they had been miraculously healed and I remember sitting in the congregation and getting very angry, because I just couldn't believe that anyone could still believe in any of this God-stuff in the 21st century.

    After the service I was so upset that I immediately wanted to go home, I started having an argument with Antje, asking her agressive questions about Christianity, telling her that Christians oppress their women etc, and in the end she told me to talk to the missionary if I so desperately wanted answers. So I started asking the Swiss missionary questions about homosexuality, Christians claiming to have the one true religion etc and though I didn't agree with all his answers he seemed like a genuinely nice guy whom I could talk to. He asked me to sit down with him if I had any more questions about Christianity, I expected to talk to him for no more than 5 minutes, however we ended up talking for two hours.

    He told me about Jesus' death on the cross and how he had died for mankind's sin as an exchange, something that didn't make sense to me at all (I just smiled and nodded), as I said with my kind of upbringing I had no framework to understand a story of God dying on the cross for our sins (I didn't even know what Easter was about). The missionary then also told me about his conversion, how God speaks to him through the Bible etc and though not all of these things made sense to me this man had something about him, a certain light and warmth and kindness, that I wanted to have too. Something happened inside of me during that evening (it was the 26th of October 2000 and I consider it the day I was born again), suddenly I was open to Christianity and I had this strong sense that there is a spiritual dimension, that the visible world is not all there is. I went home that evening smiling from ear to ear because I was genuinely overflowing with joy, I called my perplexed best friend to tell her that I had met this guy who had talked to me about "Christianity!!" and I wrote in my diary that something life-changing had happened (I instinctively knew this though it took my rational brain weeks to catch up with what the heck was going on, why I suddenly wanted to become a Christian)

    That evening I prayed my very first prayer ever, saying something along the lines of "When I talk to myself maybe someone out there actually listens...". Also I had been given a small Gideon New Testament but no one had taught me how to read it (Where does one start?) so in the next few days I just learnt the Lord's Prayer by heart (I knew that this prayer was important to Christians) and repeated it again and again while sitting on the washing machine in my bathroom.

    I became involved with this small group of Christians in my hometown, most of whom had recently converted from atheism to Christianity too, through whom I learnt a little bit more about Christianity and who suggested that I should get baptised and so publicly profess my faith. I knew that I considered myself a Christian now and really wanted this Christian thing so on 30 January 2001 I got baptised in someone's bathtub (since we didn't have any churches in my hometown that did full-body-baptism and it was too cold to baptise me in a lake) No one of my family attended my baptism since the whole thing was too alien for them. Four days after my baptism I moved to London and my dad still didn't know that I had become a Christian and since I didn't know how to explain it to him (it didn't even make sense to me) I simply wrote him a postcard saying, "London is great... blah, blah... by the way I have become a Christian and gotten baptised, All the best...".

    I think the truly miraculous aspect of my story is the sudden change in my heart, if you would have told me 3 days before my conversion that I would ever become religious I would have laughed in your face and considered you out of your mind. A year before my conversion a friend gave me a book about Buddhism, I remember reading it and thinking, "That's interesting but I am very happy being an atheist, why should I follow all these rules?" There is a Bible scripture where God says, "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me, I was found by those who did not seek me." and that was totally true for me, I didn't give a damn about God but he just burst into my life. In an incredibly short amount of time I turned from a fully convinced atheist into someone who decided to throw off 19 years of atheistic upbringing like it was some old cloak and who never looked back but instead wholeheartedly embraced Christianity. It is as if during that evening when I spoke with the Swiss missionary a little flame of faith was planted in my heart and it has been there ever since. (My conversion experience is also one of the reasons why you can't talk me out of my faith with rational arguments, I didn't become a Christian through means of rational reasoning, the whole thing actually doesnt make a whole lot of sense.)

    That's my story, morning glory, I don't mean to sound preachy but that's what happened.

  3. #53
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal+ View Post
    "Superbeing"? Are you actually saying you don't believe in Cthulhu?

    Cthulu?? That looks more like the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightyear View Post
    Short background info: I now live in the UK but am originally from East Germany and was brought up in an environment which following 40 years of Socialism/Communism is very atheistic, people simply assume it to be the evident truth that there is no God (I remember my mum telling me when I was ten years old that God didn't create man but man created God). So as a result people have no concept of heaven and hell, sin, needing God's redemption etc, it's just not part of the mental framework they have been brought up with,
    Wouldn't your grandparents' generation have had a religious upbringing and retained the usual Christian ideas? At least after the end of Soviet influence, they could have been more open about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightyear View Post
    I had this strong sense that there is a spiritual dimension, that the visible world is not all there is.

    I instinctively knew this though it took my rational brain weeks to catch up with what the heck was going on

    I think the truly miraculous aspect of my story is the sudden change in my heart, if you would have told me 3 days before my conversion that I would ever become religious I would have laughed in your face and considered you out of your mind.
    I cannot relate to much in your account except what I have quoted above, but these may be the most significant and universal elements. Don't worry: though my spirituality has evolved much differently than yours, I am not about to accuse you of being delusional. I appreciate your sharing this account.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lightyear View Post
    It almost feels as if by me having been brought up as an atheist I could start with a clean slate once I converted, I didn't have to fight through all the crap that "church culture" and annoyingly churchy people can instill in you since I had never been exposed to that for the first 19 years of my life. (In contrast I have a Northern Irish friend who has been brought up in church and now has left the faith and is trying to find out what she really believes, to her a lot of the Christian beliefs are just a cultural thing that have been pushed on her as a child.)
    I experienced some of this. I had to put some distance between myself and the religion in which I was raised (Roman Catholicism) before I could seriously consider alternatives. For a time, I could see no viable alternatives, and rejected religion altogether, though I could never shake the idea that there was something greater, transcendent, more primal than ourselves. Discovering how and why to relate to it was another matter, which I have discussed elsewhere.

    For me, it was not a single moment of "conversion", but more like a scavenger hunt that led surely, step by step to my current understanding. I didn't get there by rational reasoning either, but now that I'm "here", I find it does make sense. Only in retrospect can I appreciate how far I have come. I have come not exactly full circle, but rather seem to be passing by my origins in some inner (or outer) spiral, which affords me enough distance to see my childhood faith from a more balanced perspective. I cannot now return to it, but can now at least appreciate it better.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  4. #54
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Cthulu?? That looks more like the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
    No, this is the phony deity of the fraudulent church of the flying spaghetti monster.

    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
    “Culture?” says Paul McCartney. “This isn't culture. It's just a good laugh.”

  5. #55
    Senior Member Lightyear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Wouldn't your grandparents' generation have had a religious upbringing and retained the usual Christian ideas? At least after the end of Soviet influence, they could have been more open about it.
    No, my grandparents were all born in the mid- to late 1930s and the Soviet influence started with the end of the Second World War in 1945 so they didn't have much of a Christian upbringing. (My gran once told me that one of my great grandmothers or -aunts was very religious but I never met her and don't know what her being very religious looked like.) Though she doesn't believe in God or an afterlife my gran took me to our local Lutheran church once when I was a child, the only church service I ever attended before I became a Christian, but the whole thing didn't make much sense to me and I remember being so bored that I decided I would never go back to a church service again.

    Also though Germany's history is very much rooted in Christianity (it's the place of Martin Luther and the Reformation after all) it's not a Christian country, even as far back as my great grandparents' and grandparents' generation I doubt people took the Christian faith particularly seriously beyond Easter and Christmas and maybe the occasional Sunday service. As I said, I believe the 40 years of atheism in East Germany's history have removed any superficial religious behaviour and dead religious traditions, in some ways the spiritual ground is far more fertile because there are no weeds entangling us, when we East Germans convert it hits us hard and we start with a clean slate. From the about 25 people that used to be in my class at school four have completely independently from each other converted from atheism to Christianity since I finished school in 2000. One girl was trained as a police woman in Munich, her boyfriend died during a training accident and a Catholic couple helped her deal with her grief and that's how she converted to Catholicism. Another former classmate became baptised and joined a Lutheran church through the influence of her now-husband and after reading Herman Hesse's "Steppenwolf" and a third friend funnily enough first felt God in a Buddhist temple while travelling through South East Asia and is now a Baptist. And then there is of course me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    I have come not exactly full circle, but rather seem to be passing by my origins in some inner (or outer) spiral, which affords me enough distance to see my childhood faith from a more balanced perspective. I cannot now return to it, but can now at least appreciate it better.
    I like this picture, it makes me think of planets orbiting around the sun or each other. (I recently watched Danny Boyle's "Sunshine" so I might have been influenced by that. )

  6. #56
    Writing... Tamske's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Actually, if you "fit into the culture," church can offer a very strong family/community support structure; I think it's one reason why church has continued to thrive in some settings. It's far more than just a "one morning a week" thing.
    One of my most difficult aspects of my decision to leave church was losing that network of people, which was useful to me in some ways and also gave me a channel through which to contribute.
    This depends on how much a community it forms. In my experience, church was nothing but a weekly hour of boredom. There were enough alternatives, like choir or the board game club,... When I lived with my parents, I went to church with them. When I was in university, I went to church there, and I liked the modern approach and the community very much, until I converted to atheism... there was no bond except a common religion, so when that wasn't there any more, I left. Nowadays I almost don't go out any more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal+ View Post
    "Superbeing"? Are you actually saying you don't believe in Cthulhu?

    I always believe in strong characters.
    Got questions? Ask an ENTP!
    I'm female. I just can't draw women

  7. #57
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamske View Post
    This depends on how much a community it forms.
    Yes, that's why I qualified my statement (in the wording).

    In my experience, church was nothing but a weekly hour of boredom. There were enough alternatives, like choir or the board game club,... When I lived with my parents, I went to church with them. When I was in university, I went to church there, and I liked the modern approach and the community very much, until I converted to atheism... there was no bond except a common religion, so when that wasn't there any more, I left. Nowadays I almost don't go out any more.
    I remember the churches growing up, I had no connection with. The last time I left church, I actually left behind a few people who I really liked... but the reality is that they really spent all of their time with their own families and there wasn't a lot of hands-on connection.

    Part of me still longs in a way to be part of something where the members are actually integral to each other's daily lives. (something communal.) I never even had that with my family growing up.

    I always believe in strong characters.
    If you're lucky, you'll be eaten first.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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