As I began to give my Christian friends notification that I was no longer a member of the club, I found that they didn’t really believe me. They would say things like, “It’s perfectly normal to doubt or question.” And, “I know exactly where you’re coming from, I feel unworthy at times, too.” On top of that, the invitations to come to this meeting and that outing were relentless. I didn’t realize how deep in I was, and that I had to be pulled out by the roots. I could see that a more forceful approach would be required. One friend heard of my “faith issue” and wanted to talk about it over lunch. After an hour, I was no where near finishing my explanation. I saw that it would be logistically impossible to meet individually with all the people I needed to tell for three hours each.
As much as I don’t like the impersonal approach of e-mail, I decided to write a letter explaining my deconversion. I understand that I could just say, “Adios! The rest is none of your damn business!” but I really did develop friendships and I thought I owed some sort of explanation. On top of that, several recent articles on this website invoked the idea of what I call “anti-evangelism”, a way of trying to help others out of the oppressive religious system from which we have escaped. So, I included in the letter an offer to help others deconvert if they so desired. I sent e-mails out, blind copying each person so replies would be personal. The e-mail read:
“I think I should let you know that I no longer believe - that I am not a Christian. While this may appear sudden, it has been coming on for years. I have a letter prepared to explain this, but will not force it on you. If you want an explanation, let me know.”I only sent my explanation letter to those who specifically replied to the e-mail and asked to read it. The letter request rate was 70%. I am bit puzzled at the other 30% who did not respond at all. As I said, I only sent this email out to those I considered friends, or at the very least, close Christian acquaintances – but their non-response was in essence saying, “I don’t give a rat’s ass whether you’re a Christian or not!” (?)
I won’t include the letter in this blog submission, since it is quite long, and contains many of the same elements that have been published in my recent articles. Nevertheless, here is a link to the letter if the reader is not familiar with the content I refer to:
The responses I received ranged from loving to defensive to arrogant. I decided to not engage in any e-mail battles over a believe system, so I did not respond to any of the responses, save one. I had already said in the letter that I was willing to meet with anyone personally to discuss it. I compiled a few common themes in the responses to present here:
“I still love you and will be praying for you.” – I am reminded of the extimonial by Sarah R. published here on 6/27/13, “A Complete Waste of Brain Power…” with the graphic of a woman saying, “What makes you think I want you to pray for me; or even care what you talk to yourself about?” A non-believing friend of mine states that when a Christian says they will pray for you, it’s the ultimate arrogant statement, implying that they have a special connection to the Creator of the Universe that you do not have. So they will do you a favor and pull a few strings (like Commissioner Gordon picking up the Bat Phone) and get the Almighty to intervene in the lives of us mortals by giving me a shot in the arm with His special antidote for faith restoration. Thanks, but no thanks.
“Is this a joke? I do not understand.” – April Fools! Yes, I just agonized over my eternal fate (or lack thereof) for the last two years, enduring anxiety attacks, risking my 30-year marriage and spending countless hours of research to compile a seven-page thesis – just as a joke. I actually had to tell people that it was not a joke and to take it at face value.
“These are the same arguments that atheists have been making for centuries.” – Well then, GOOD! That is certainly affirmation that I am on the right track. For the most part, I came up with the arguments using my own rational thought, then strengthened them with supplemental reading. I’d like to think that my ideas have some originality, but if Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins or their predecessors thought of them first, I’m fine with that.
“I know God is real because I can feel it. He has changed my life.” – If you want to base your beliefs of how the universe and humans came to be, and whether we have eternal souls, on how you feel, I won’t try to stop you… but don’t expect me or any other rationally thinking person to follow your feelings. To quote Richard Dawkins, you can’t wish something into truth.
“You are still my brother and I will see you in heaven. You’ll be back.” – I get it: once saved, always saved. The one regret I have relative to my new cosmic view is that once we have all passed from this world, I won’t be able to tell them, “AH-HA! I WAS RIGHT!” How arrogant is it to proclaim that I will be back? That in the final analysis, I will see the error of my ways and come crawling back to YAHWEH in tears, begging His mercy and forgiveness? No, I won’t be back.
“Your arguments are well researched and thought out, but they’re just head arguments.” – Yes, I tend to think with my brain, which happens to be located in my head. You may want to think with your heart, but the last time I checked, the purpose of your heart is to pump oxygenated-blood to your brain, so it can continue to think. And it’s your brain that sends pulses of electrical current to your heart in order for it to function. So please, stop thinking with your heart, it’s just a muscle.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I did respond to one e-mail, since it was just so insulting that I didn’t want him to have the last word. To summarize, his e-mail contained statements like:
“Your loss of faith was caused by your anxiety… The spiritual world cannot be measured and analyzed by science… Jesus doesn’t tell us too hate our family, but to love him so much that our attitudes towards our family are like hate by comparison... You have never truly understood Christianity… There is no morality if there is no God. You ought to be living it up then. You have no reason to be good.”
To conclude, I’ll leave you with my response to this guy, who happens to be a CRU director:
My anxiety was caused by my “hatching out of the shell” of Christianity, since I have been brainwashed these 30-40 years to believe an untrue system or belief, and needed to reprogram my brain to think in rational terms. It wasn’t that I was having anxiety, and that caused me to lose faith. Losing faith came first, then anxious feeling followed as I came to terms with the truth.
Concerning the spiritual world, I’m of the opinion that the Christian belief in Yahweh, the resurrected Jesus, Satan, angels, demons, souls, Heaven and Hell is absolutely no different than the ancient Greeks believing in Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Mount Olympus and the Underworld. No difference. Christians are brainwashed, in every sense of the word, to believe in all that, and the religious system you are in has set up obstacles to prevent your escape in the form of guilt and fear.
Your response to my commentary on Luke 14:26 [where Jesus tells us to hate our families] supports my point exactly. You need to add and edit the words of Jesus to make them congruent with your belief. I know because I have done the same thing for 30 years. The quote from the Bible does not say what you interpret it to say. This is your apologetics. I have grown weary of “apologizing” for God.
Your argument on morality is myopic to say the least, and makes no sense outside what I call the Dome of Christianity. Is something moral because God says it is moral, or is it moral because it is inherently moral regardless of Christianity hijacking it as their own? According to your definition, none of the billions of people above the magenta color on my graph (page 4 of my letter) can possibly be moral. This goes to the question posed in every school – Do you agree with Ann Frank when she writes, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”? The Christian answer is “No”. To believe people are good would undermine the need for Jesus. I used to believe that. Now I believe that morality, acting good or bad, falls on a spectrum, and since it is to our advantage to act good, we do so as a result of Darwinian Natural Selection. We benefit from being good. To answer your question, “If there is no God, then why be good?” I am reminded of Richard Dawkins’ response to this common question:
“Do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God's approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment? That's not morality, that's just sucking up, apple-polishing, looking over your shoulder at the great surveillance camera in the sky, or the still small wiretap inside your head, monitoring your every move, even your every base thought.” (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion)