Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

My Deconversion

My De-conversion.

An atheist is person who does not find compelling reason to accept the God hypothesis.  De-converts are special, I think, because most of us became atheists not because we disbelieved in God, but because we believed so much.  One cannot be disappointed by a fictional character.  The God hypothesis broke our hearts because we believed it, not because we doubted it.   I searched out God.  I looked for him desperately, searched the Scriptures, searched the great works of Christian literature, searched everything, everywhere for God.   Because I believed God to be real, his enormous contradictions of character and schizophrenic mood swings terrified me.  I began to increasingly doubt that God was real.  There didn’t seem to be objective evidence for him.  With all the blessings of God which relate to material things, (healing for instance) there should be objective measures of Christian health which would prove this blessing, and thus serve as objective proof of God.  Yet there was none.  If fact, the more I thought about it, the more Christians were just like everyone else, showing no blessing that made them special.

I decided that to heal my flagging faith I would read the Bible again, cover to cover.  I wanted to do it in a short time, so that I could remember my thoughts  from the beginning when I got to end.  I read  it in 3 months.  But instead of healing my faith, it shredded it.  When the Bible is read as a continuous narrative, not dissected bit by bit into numerous sermons, the full humanity and the total lack of the divine cries out in every page.   The Bible, when read like a book, instead of read with the assumption that it is the book of God, it is indeed just another book.   Desperate to believe in God, I decided that perhaps the Bible had been corrupted. I began to search out the history of the Bible itself.  Again, nothing relating to the canonicity of the Bible gave me any compelling reason to believe in God.  I told myself this was because of God’s deep seated love of freewill.  He allowed errors in because he loved freewill so much he would let his perfect message get lost.  I began to search out the history of the early church, hoping that maybe God had revealed himself to those people, given them something special, only the message had been twisted.  Tragically, a search of the early Church did not yield the results I’d hopped.

Reading the Bible cover to cover had revealed gaps in doctrine I was unaware off.  Studying the history of its translation revealed ghastly, purposeful mistranslations.  Studying the canonicity had revealed a far deeper commitment to contemporary orthodoxy than to truth.   So, for the first time, I no longer implicitly trusted Christian authors.  They were, as Acts said, “men of like passions”, and had no more guarantee to be right than I.  Everything I read about early church history, I source checked.  I went through the bibliographies of the books, and read the oldest books that came up the most often.  Or, I did as long as I could stand it.  Church history, not properly sanitized to fit post Victorian Christian norms, was appalling.

Oh, I knew about the Crusades and the Inquisition. What shocked me was the total fluidity of doctrine.   Church doctrine was not a solid thing, but a sickly, taffy like mass.  The early Church was the measuring stick of Christianity, the Holy standard which all churches tried to adhere too, and their doctrine was not, by any normal sense of the word, Christian.  I didn’t know this because I had never read Church history from any perspective other than supporting an argument for doing church a certain way.  Pre-Constantine Christianity is a lot like pre-Ford automobile manufacture.  Before the Model T, cars could have 3 wheels or 4, levers or steering wheels, engines could be anywhere.  Ford created the standard, what we think of as “car”.   Before Constantine, Christian doctrine could be whatever you wanted.  The Gospel could be whatever good news you liked.   You didn’t like a trinity? No problem.  Open marriage? We’ve got that.  Nudism? Go for it. Communism? Why not?  Jesus was purely spirit? Got that too.  Heresy did not exist. It was not until the Church had political power to harm heretics that suddenly it had the will.  Heresy suddenly became very important, because it made it acceptable to kill people and take their stuff.   The road to orthodoxy is apparently paved with tombstones.

I studied more, hoping desperately to find God.  The church had lied.  Over and over again.  She had claimed things as truth which were wrong. Unbiblical organizations, unbiblical norms, based in unbiblical doctrine, based on imaginary standards of canon.  I got mad at God.  He didn’t seem to do anything about the atrocities committed in his name, and didn’t even seem to have much a hand  in witting the Bible.  God just didn’t seem to give a damn.  I  wanted to be wrong. I wanted to believe.  I wanted every hurt I had ever been given in Christ’s name to have been a mistake.  So I told my Christian friends what was going on in my heart.  How hurt I’d been by God and by the Church for lying to me about him. It seemed as if I was an abused wife, finally finding the courage to talk with the police, expecting help, but horribly wrong.  They would look sympathetically at each bruise and gently explain, as if to a child, that it really was my fault and didn’t I know, if I would just do what he told me, this wouldn’t happen anymore?  It was terribly painful.

And then I got it.  I didn’t matter what evidence I had.   To Christians, the sickness of the things that surround God could never be God’s fault.  Christianity was not at fault, I was. It was all my fault.  God is not accountable to anyone, that’s Christian Doctrine 101.   No evidence, no source, no study, nothing would change their minds because nothing bad is God’s fault.  “Blameless” is not beautiful; “blameless” is as ugly as death.  When I was a Pizza Hut shift manager, if a cashier’s drawer was off by a dollar, I was accountable.  It was on my watch, I had the power to do something about it, I did nothing, and I was responsible.  Yet, the immortal, all knowing, all powerful master of the universe was “the blameless one” who stood watching every atrocity, or worse, stood by wanting to stop it, but waiting for more prayer.  That was Holiness and if I didn’t like, well I could just burn in Hell.

I used to tell the people I was evangelizing to,  trying to convince them of the personal nature of a relationship with God, “There is no difference between a God who will not act and cannot act because he isn’t real.”  I swallowed the bitterest pill of my own advice I had ever given: I reluctantly accepted the fact that I was an atheist.   Surprisingly, the world did not end.  I was pleasantly surprised to find I was still capable of basic acts of morality.  I didn’t cheat on my wife.  If fact, I loved her more.  Without the pressure to be “Christ to the Church” to her, I enjoyed spending time with her more.  Without wondering if I was enjoying sex from fleshly desire instead of Holy love, martial relations were delightful.  Between wanting to spend more time talking to her and wanting to spend more time with her in bed, our relationship blossomed.

Not believing in Hell changed how I treat people.  Never realizing I was afraid to truly love non-believers because it would hurt so much to know they were burning in hell, I’d never had a non-Christian friend in my adult life.   Now, I had non-christian friends.  Because I didn’t spend half an hour in prayer for them before they came over, I invited them over more often. Since I no longer looked in the mirror and saw a filthy disgusting sinner, I had a lot more confidence.   I made new friends quicker.   Because I didn’t think I had to “life style evangelize” them, I was free to be myself when they were around, something I had never felt with most Christians.

I no longer constantly questioned whether or not I was “pursing God’s will” in my education, which made me stress less about college, and in turn,  get better grades.  In fact, the lack of worrying about God’s will allowed me to effectively plan my life for the first time.  I’d never been able to make long term plans out of the terror I would do so out of God’s will and derail my life.  Believing that perhaps I didn’t know everything I needed to know about parenting from a few sentences in a very old book, I read books on parenting, and became a better father.

After my marriage and my daughter, atheism is the single greatest thing that has ever happened to me.  I have done more to achieve my dreams and experienced more joy and peace in the year or so that I’ve been an atheist than the prior twenty-seven.   I love more deeply. I make better decisions. I have better friends.  My only regret is that I waited so long.  I feel like a grown man who finally realizes that there is no Santa.  I’m a little embarrassed that my disbelief in an imaginary character was this healing, because it only reveals how emotionally, morally, and intellectually bankrupt I was before, a fault I cannot place on Christianity, but rather my adherence to it.

Advertisements

January 4, 2009 - Posted by | atheism, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , ,

15 Comments »

  1. My husband is Irish-American. He was born Catholic and later protestant. He was a silent ateist for about 15 years and then found out about Islam. Sure he had heard of it before and all the negative talk that surrounds it, but once he actually took the time to look ito it he found it undisputable. I invite you to Islam. Study it and think deeply about what you read, putting aside your background, any pre-conceived ideas, your own desires and feelings of attachment to your current beliefs, and to seek guidance sincerely from Allah.

    Comment by ummadam | January 4, 2009 | Reply

    • Actually, I’ve read the Qur’an both in totality, and several moderate and conservative commentaries on it. Thank you, but no.

      Comment by truthwalker | January 4, 2009 | Reply

  2. O.K but if you’d like to further discuss this with someone who would completely understand you and have been in your shoes, I can oput you in contact with my husband. Your post brok my heart because my husband and I just discussed the exact same thing last night concerning him going from Christianity to Atheism and then to Islam. You dn’t sound completely atheist to me, you sound like you still know that their is a Creator. I have a few recent Christian -Muslim discussins on my blog that I would like you to comment on if you get a chance.

    Comment by ummadam | January 4, 2009 | Reply

  3. de-conversion. I like it.

    Comment by A. Woz | January 5, 2009 | Reply

  4. Israel,

    May I suggest you try sincerely PRAISING THE LORD!

    It really works, try it, say “Praise the Lord”

    Then Say I Praise you Lord, Just keep sincerely Praising Him without skepticism. (After your done you can be skeptical again)

    You can be skeptical all you want about man made religion, but If you want to know Jesus just start Praising Him, hell come.

    Comment by xpharissee | January 7, 2009 | Reply

  5. xpharisse, that’s why he stopped believing in god in th first place because ppl like you tell him to sincerely praise the lord and then slide in there that a man jesus is the lord. you would have been better off just tadvicing him to praise the lord the one true god and ask for guidance, but now he doesn’t even believe in god no thanks to people associating parnters with him and the nonsensical trinity.

    Comment by ummadam | January 7, 2009 | Reply

  6. The last thing Israel needs is to move from one cult to another. I’ve said it before on my blog, it’s like moving from a heroin addiction to a morphine addiction.

    I was never socialized into religion. I sought it out as a cultural interest, but that’s all. It’s never been more than an artifact of human culture. Our creation, not a creator’s creation.

    Israel, I agree that “De-converts” are special; you’ve certainly achieved atheism the hard way.

    Congratulations on thinking for yourself, and using critical thinking, rather than emotion, to understand the world around you. 🙂

    You know that you don’t need religion to have love, friendship, honesty, ethics, morals, and most of all, truth.

    Comment by skepbitch | January 10, 2009 | Reply

  7. Oh Taste and see that the Lord is good. You do that by praising Him. If he would just read the word for himself he would know.

    Comment by xpharissee | January 16, 2009 | Reply

    • Ok, seriously dude, did you even read the blog?

      Like the part where I said I read his word once through in 3 months? Instead of reading bit by bit like I had 9 times before?

      Comment by truthwalker | January 16, 2009 | Reply

  8. SOrry truth I missed that part. My point is that you can learn ABOUT God, and not KNOW Him. Jesus said depart from me I dont KNOW you to people doing religous things.

    If you are De-converted from From Religion Great. However if you have given up trying to KNOW God, or have a relationship, that is another.

    which is it?

    Comment by xpharissee | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  9. *sigh* Ok, perhaps you don’t realize you are doing this. You are using the world “religion” wrongly. The word religion had a fairly narrow definition until the 1970’s when the Jesus People, as part of the over-all counter culture movement, began to call anything method of practicing Christianity that they didn’t like “religion.” Religion was “the man”, orthodoxy for the sake of orthodoxy, white bread-ism, a sort of psudeo spiritual gestapo. The problem is that non-evangelical Christians have no idea that Christians have changed the meaning of the word religion.

    Secondly this isn’t biblical. James 1:27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” To make this information age declaration that being delivered from religion is just great, is to say say James 1:27 is wrong, which as a Christian, you can’t do.

    Further, I haven’t given up trying to know God, because the statement presupposes that God exists. Have you given up trying to know the Easter bunny?

    Comment by truthwalker | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  10. Yes I have quit trying to Know the Easter bunny. I shot too many bunnies on my grandmothers ranch with my 4-10 shot gun. The unpardonable.

    Anyhow Religion is man creating rules to get to God. True Christianity is God comeing down to man. It is about a relationship. You cant get away from the word religion, but I know people that have a relationship with God, and are committed Christians, yet dont attend a church. When you take a person that just follows the edicts and cannons set forth by the church, and compares that relationship with someone that reads there bible, and prays to God as talking to someone they know you have to come up with a different word than religion to describe both. People use religion to pump up their own agenda. Yes there can be sin in sincere.

    Comment by xpharissee | February 3, 2009 | Reply

  11. Ok, no. TO be a Christian you must believe the Bible. If you believe the Bible you can’t write off James 1:27, so can’t take an anti-religion stance. Further, you can be a committed Christian and not be in a community with other believers. Hebrews 10:25 does not say “Forsake not the sect” it says “Forsake not the assembly.” You can’t call yourself a Christian and not have some sort of regular community, either in a church or in a living room with other believers. A relationship with God would not involve disobeying his commands and He commands that you assemble with other believers.

    Comment by truthwalker | February 3, 2009 | Reply

  12. Do I have the wrong blog here? I thought you didnt believe it. Dont get how you would argue, (and badly at that) I think I found your problem, you were, maybe still are a religous jerk that just wanted to argue semantics. Always learning but never comeing to the knowledge of the truth.

    Comment by xpharissee | February 9, 2009 | Reply

  13. By definition, a Christian is a follower of Christ. Which Christ? The Christ revealed by canon. Which canon? The canon decided by the early church fathers. To say “I am a Christian” is to say “I follow the canon.” If you follow the canon, you cannot claim to be a Christian and not belong to a community of believers any more than you can claim to be a Marxist who is a also an exploitative capitalist.

    I’m not Christian. I’m an atheist. But terms do have meanings, and the meanings have to be understood by both parties in a discussion.

    Um…We seem to fighting and I’m not really sure about what. A little help here?

    Comment by truthwalker | February 9, 2009 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: