4/01/2011 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Paul ~
My deconversion story is difficult to decipher because there is neither no one vent that lead my to disbelief nor a consistent pattern of my deconversion. Let's just say that while it was a long process, that long process was like a roller coaster. I believed, then I had doubts, I believed, then I had doubts, etc.
I was born into a very religious family, and since I was born I had to go to church with them. Going to church was an imperative, I had no choice not to go to church, and since then going to church was part of my life but it wasn't a life that I really loved. I didn't like the church because I struggled to fit in and gain attention.
I wasn't always religious, quite surprisingly, I just wanted to have fun with life. However I was still fairly religious, if not fanatical, and I use to listen to a lot of bible stories. I never asked questions and critical thinking was almost non-existing at the time. it was only when I grew up as I begin to ask questions.
When I decided to "give my life to Christ" (when I re-commited myself to Christian life) I decided to examine the theology of atonement straight from the bible. However as I did this I realize that there was something wrong. It did say that there was a salvation but it never specified how we are saved or how we know that we are saved. I thought that I was simply saved by "faith" alone, but then I realize that confession and repentance must follow. I had to experience genuine sorrow for my sins, so I could not simply declare that I believe.
I decided that I need to be more repentant, but the more I tried the more depressed I became. I eventually thought that I was a horrible person, and at some time I thought I committed sin against the holy spirit for not feeling repentant. I was driven to despair until I learn to calm down eventually. As I examine the beliefs of atonement it became absurd to me that I had to be repentant for not being repentant. I had to ask for "repentance" which was very awkward and strange, and I felt as if there was something disingenuous about it.
It was the fact that the concept of salvation was vague, and the account of the experience of salvation itself was vague because there does not seem to be any criterion the bible presented that characterized salvation. It was because of this that I find salvation hard to believe because how can I believe in it if there was no further explanation?
I left my faith and became a deist instead, and as years passed on I studied liberal theology that had a new look at Christianity, and my interest began to spark up again. I decided to read the bible again. When I became a deist I was 17 years old; when I became interested in Christianity again I was 20 years old. I begin to read the bible again, but as I continued reading it was became disturbed little by little. What first disturbed me was that the author in Psalms asked for revenge, and when he received his revenge he was delighted and praised God. This did not seem consistent with the teaching of Christ. As I read Ezekiel, it was disturbed because God took Ezekiel's wife away from him. I asked my dad about this and to my surprise my dad approved of what God did. I thought it was unfair because Ezekiel's wife was innocent. My dad said "If you decide to become a prophet you have responsibilities and consequences" and he made the argument that when God chose Hosea to become a prophet he had to marry a prostitute. At first I was some-what convinced but thinking back now I could have said it was unfair on both counts.
I continued to read the bible and I decided to read Leviticus. When I read Leviticus I was surprise as to how much details there is, but that's not what disturbed me. When I read about the part when a women's hands had to be chopped off because she accidentally touched the man's genital as she was trying to stop two men from fighting. This time I was furious, I threw the bible away with disgust, anger, and deep disappointment. I ran outside and I screamed my head of (literally). I went inside the cafeteria and threw my backpack someone's food and exclaimed "What the hell is wrong with God???"
I got into trouble, but eventually I wasn't really punished. Afterwards I was tired of it, I no longer see the bible as a reliable source for explaining God. I decided, after all, that maybe there is a God but perhaps much more greater than the God of the bible. Perhaps the bible is fallible, since it is written by man.
I decided to take the mystical and philosophical approach. In the mystical approach I read excerpts of Idea of the Holy by Rudolf Otto, and I was inspired that the true way of knowing God is to experience God as the transcendent being that overwhelms my entire being as if I encountered entire cosmos at once. I begin to study mysticism and I was really inspired by the notion that God is experienced as ineffable mystery that cannot be comprehended, as the infinite that is beyond the anthropomorphic notion of God. However when I became sober I realized that religious experience is unreliable grounds to prove the existence of God since it is entirely subjective. I read about Meister Eckhart and Saint John of the Cross, both of whom were inspiring. Later on I found out that religious experience can be easily explained by neuroscience (or neurotheology) and psychology.
I decided to approach God philosophically through philosophy. I tried to wrap my head around whether God can truly be proven through philosophizing, but as I read works of Immanuel Kant "Critique of Pure Reason" and other philosopehrs, I realized that the existence of God cannot be proven by reason. The theistic arguments for the existence of God has been undermined over and over again to the point when I begin to doubt whether God can truly be known through reason. Deep inside I knew that through reason we have no grounds to know or prove that there is a God. It was only when I had a discussion with my atheist friend that I found out I have no grounds to believe that there is God. My friend did no point this out to me, but when he said "Every time theists find an explanation for the universe, science always replaces it with something better", I didn't know what to say despite my training in philosophy.
I decided to be an Agnostic, but afterwards I eventually decided to be an Atheist since I eventually concluded that even the concept of God begins to sound ridiculous, unintelligible, incoherent, and inconsistent with our understanding of the Universe.
As you see, I had multiple approaches and right now I am 22 years old. While in some sense I find a religious life appealing, I find it to be insufficient because to live a religious life is to accept doctrines and beliefs that are either irrelevant to ethics or false. I no longer see how I can accept creationism, incarnation, trinity, virgin birth, etc. I saw these as primitive ideas that are even inconsistent with the philosophical notion of God (If God is timeless, then how can he incarnate if incarnation is a temporal process? If God is incorporeal, then how can he be both corporeal and incorporeal?). It is precisely because of these questions that suggested the absurdity of accepting the existence of God that I decided that it was untenable.
Right now I am just 22 years old and I have so much life ahead of me, and I am looking forward to gather as much knowledge as I can and to improve my mind through critical thinking and education.
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