Skip to main content

Unlearning God

By Ben Love ~

I think the biggest mistake I ever made in life was choosing to believe in a personal God. From this one choice, so many other wrong choices followed. Because I took part in the God delusion, I went through roughly the first third of my life believing a lie, a lie that led me to think there was a benevolent force in the Universe who cared about me, knew me personally, and was involved the minutiae of my daily life. When a person believes such things as these, he is liable to make choices based on those beliefs. Since I now know there is no personal God in existence, I must reflect on my life thus far and realize, with some sadness and regret, that I made the wrong choices for the wrong reasons.

There is also the unfortunate fact that my development as a human being was stunted. Rather than learn to depend upon myself and, in so doing, learn to cultivate my own resourcefulness, I turned instead to an imaginary being in times of hardship or sadness. Based on my beliefs at the time (reflected in the oft-quoted cliché so popular among believers: “Let go, and let God”), I felt it would have been wrong and prideful—even sinful—to solve my own problems without taking them instead to God, where apparently they belonged. And so, compelled as I was through the expectations of my religion, I chose not to learn any kind self-reliance and chose instead to learn what might be called “faith-reliance-in-God.” Now, if this God were real and actively involved in my daily affairs, perhaps this would be the right way to go. Since he is not real, however, and thus not involved in my affairs or in anyone’s affairs, what can be said about my approach to the living of life other than that it was the height of absurdity, bordering on the insane?

This willingness to embrace the help of an invisible God rather than learn to help myself also had its roots in the most basic tenets of my religion’s theology. I was, after all, worthless on my own. I was wayward, fallen, undesirable to God the way I was, and so steeped in sinfulness that trusting my own instincts and insights, even for a moment, would have sent me into a dark chasm of destruction and doom. Right? This implication, spoken loudly in some churches and cleverly unspoken in others, is at the heart of all Christian theology. Without this doctrine, the human has no need of the God Christianity wants to sell you. So, before selling him, we must all be convinced of our need for him. This is done as our mental reconditioning drills into us a lie which is accepted as a truth, a lie which says you were born bad, born wrong, born sinful, born displeasing, and born wayward. If you truly believe these things, then it is no wonder that you would hasten to trust an imaginary God rather than yourself. After all, if you truly believe you’re worthless and prone to the most awful decisions possible, why would you ever want to learn to depend on yourself?

And so the believers, the subscribers to the God delusion, prefer to lay their own instincts and insights aside as they come to the pages of their scriptures, wherein they apparently hear from this imaginary God regarding which choices to make, which path to follow, which method of problem solving is best for them, and what they need to do with their lives. However, since none of these believers knows for a certainty that this God is in fact real (if they knew, their faith would be superfluous), they are banking their entire lives and all the decisions they make on a “maybe.” If they are indeed wrong about their God, if they actually are on the wrong side of “maybe,” what does that say about the totality of their life choices?

This is why maintain that believing in God was the worst thing I ever did. It was the mother-choice that spawned all the other choices. When I became an atheist at the age of 36, my life was a mess. Nearly two decades worth of “following Christ” had not given me any semblance of the “abundant life” to which Jesus refers. My life was a collection of fragments strewn together in the most awkward of fashions, being held together by the ever-weakening sinews of my faith. One wrong choice led to so many more wrong choices. By the time of my deconversion, I was able to look back on the first third of my life and see that it was almost a total waste.

But now, as an atheist, as a man whose life is characterized by a total absence of faith where it once was characterized by the prevailing presence of faith, I have a chance to start living correctly, to start living well, to start making good choices, choices that reflect good logic and solid reasoning, choices that reflect who I am rather than who this imaginary God is. Yes. Now, as an atheist, I am unlearning God. But how is that to be done? After all, it is one thing to agree mentally that there is no God; it is quite another thing to truly live your life as though this was so. My atheism is still quite young (not even a year old at the moment I write this), and I thus still have so much unlearning to do. I know certain things with my mind; namely, the reason for which my atheism exists in the first place. But unlearning those habits I adopted as a believer? That takes time. Learning to trust myself, to lean on myself, to shed the need for some sort of “outside helper,” to see myself as worthy and good and perfectly capable of figuring life out for myself—this could take years. And it’s not easy. But the difficulty is not a deterrent. Indeed, it only drives me on more and more toward my goal. What is my goal? To unlearn God as fully as I possibly can and, in the place of God, to discover my own strengths and resources. Christians will call this pride. They will say, “God’s not on the throne of your life; you are.” I say, in response, that there is no throne. It is not self-worship to get as mentally healthy as you can. But it is self-destruction and self-loathing to not get as mentally healthy as you can. For my money, the best way forward is to unlearn God. After all, he’s not even there to begin with. 


Popular posts from this blog

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our

So Just How Dumb Were Jesus’ Disciples? The Resurrection, Part VII.

By Robert Conner ~ T he first mention of Jesus’ resurrection comes from a letter written by Paul of Tarsus. Paul appears to have had no interest whatsoever in the “historical” Jesus: “even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know him so no longer.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:16 ) Paul’s surviving letters never once mention any of Jesus’ many exorcisms and healings, the raising of Lazarus, or Jesus’ virgin birth, and barely allude to Jesus’ teaching. For Paul, Jesus only gets interesting after he’s dead, but even here Paul’s attention to detail is sketchy at best. For instance, Paul says Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4 ), but there are no scriptures that foretell the Jewish Messiah would at long last appear only to die at the hands of Gentiles, much less that the Messiah would then be raised from the dead after three days. After his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus—an event Paul never mentions in his lette

Christian TV presenter reads out Star Wars plot as story of salvation

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Star Wars in the belief they were stories of personal salvation. The unsuspecting host read out most of the opening rap to The Fresh Prince, a 1990s US sitcom starring Will Smith , apparently unaware that it was not a genuine testimony of faith. The prankster had slightly adapted the lyrics but the references to a misspent youth playing basketball in West Philadelphia would have been instantly familiar to most viewers. The lines read out by the DJ included: "One day a couple of guys who were up to no good starting making trouble in my living area. I ended up getting into a fight, which terrified my mother." The presenter on Genesis TV , a British Christian channel, eventually realised that he was being pranked and cut the story short – only to move on to another spoof email based on the plot of the Star Wars films. It began: &quo


By David Andrew Dugle ~   S ettle down now children, here's the story from the Book of David called The Parable of the Bent Cross. In the land Southeast of Eden –  Eden, Minnesota that is – between two rivers called the Big Miami and the Little Miami, in the name of Saint Gertrude there was once built a church. Here next to it was also built a fine parochial school. The congregation thrived and after a multitude of years, a new, bigger church was erected, well made with clean straight lines and a high steeple topped with a tall, thin cross of gold. The faithful felt proud, but now very low was their money. Their Sunday offerings and school fees did not suffice. Anon, they decided to raise money in an unclean way. One fine summer day the faithful erected tents in the chariot lot between the two buildings. In the tents they set up all manner of games – ring toss, bingo, little mechanical racing horses and roulette wheels – then all who lived in the land between the two rivers we

Why I left the Canadian Reformed Church

By Chuck Eelhart ~ I was born into a believing family. The denomination is called Canadian Reformed Church . It is a Dutch Calvinistic Christian Church. My parents were Dutch immigrants to Canada in 1951. They had come from two slightly differing factions of the same Reformed faith in the Netherlands . Arriving unmarried in Canada they joined the slightly more conservative of the factions. It was a small group at first. Being far from Holland and strangers in a new country these young families found a strong bonding point in their church. Deutsch: Heidelberger Katechismus, Druck 1563 (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I was born in 1955 the third of eventually 9 children. We lived in a small southern Ontario farming community of Fergus. Being young conservative and industrious the community of immigrants prospered. While they did mix and work in the community almost all of the social bonding was within the church group. Being of the first generation born here we had a foot in two

Morality is not a Good Argument for Christianity

By austinrohm ~ I wrote this article as I was deconverting in my own head: I never talked with anyone about it, but it was a letter I wrote as if I was writing to all the Christians in my life who constantly brought up how morality was the best argument for Christianity. No Christian has read this so far, but it is written from the point of view of a frustrated closeted atheist whose only outlet was organizing his thoughts on the keyboard. A common phrase used with non-Christians is: “Well without God, there isn’t a foundation of morality. If God is not real, then you could go around killing and raping.” There are a few things which must be addressed. 1. Show me objective morality. Define it and show me an example. Different Christians have different moral standards depending on how they interpret the Bible. Often times, they will just find what they believe, then go back into scripture and find a way to validate it. Conversely, many feel a particular action is not