Leaving Christianity – Oh What A Relief It Is!

Oh What A Relief It Is!Although I left Christianity over 20 years ago, it took a long while for me to erase the doctrines that had been embedded within my consciousness for 15+ years. It was not an easy road.

As Stephen Van Eck wrote on the Deism.com website: “Once sucked into the parallel universe of Christianity, [a person] is too intimidated by threats and rationalizations to attempt escape. Even thinking along alternative lines will induce severe feelings of guilt.”

Writing my book helped tremendously because of all the research and reading I did. Learning how and why certain doctrines of the Christian faith (e.g., final judgment, burning fires of hell, Satan and his demons, the end-times) were introduced into the faith was extremely liberating … and removed a ton of guilt and fear.

I also found out some things about the Bible. As many others, I had been taught the Bible was “God’s Word” (even though the interpretation of what “He” said varies considerably among denominations). Through my studies, I discovered that much of what is in the bible is the result of stories, epics, myths, legends, proverbs, etc. that were passed by word of mouth from one generation to another. This is particularly true of the Hebrew Bible, but intrinsically typical of the New Testament scriptures as well. Can you imagine the burden that was lifted when I found out I wasn’t genetically inclined to sin and thus in need of someone to save me from being human??!?

Contrary to what one might think, the many discoveries I made did not turn me into an atheist. However, I definitely do not believe in a supernatural being who lives somewhere “up there,” who can be manipulated by prayer, or who has a “will.” Rather, my image of “God” is far more encompassing and has nothing to do with religious belief. In fact, I’m extremely reluctant to even use the word “god” because of all its connotations.

In any case, I find my life so much more fulfilling now. Truly, what a relief it has been!

TV Special About Atheists

Did anyone watch the CNN Special last night — “Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers”? I did and my considered opinion of it was “What a bunch of crock!”

Firstly, the interviewer was, at least to me, a believer. Her questions might have been legit, but it was often the tone in which she asked them that gave it away — at least to me.

And the time spent with the family of the first atheist. Awwww. Poor Christian family who has a son that identifies with atheism. What really galled me was their comment about how they feel they’re talking with a “dead person” when discussing his non-belief.

And the preacher-turned-atheist who still “holds church” (albeit an atheist church) made me think the guy really has an ego problem. He apparently loved the attention and adoration when he was preaching the Christian message so now he’s hoping for the same from his little group of non-believers. (Did anyone notice the collection plate?)

I was hoping for a more serious discussion of WHY people have turned to atheism, but all I got was a bunch of people who claim the title … along with a bunch of fluff.

This is not to say there weren’t a few good parts. But overall, I found it sorely lacking.

Maybe because I’m biased?

Patheos talks about it here. As the author said: “I’d love to say this was a comprehensive look at atheism, but it didn’t even come close to that.”

Your thoughts?

What If …

(For regular readers … I’m taking a break from my break because, well, you’ll see in a minute.)

Each night before I sink into my most comfortable sleeping position and pull the covers up to my chin, I look outside the window above my bed at the night sky. If it’s not foggy or overcast, I can see a fairly decent swath of stars among the pine trees. (Stars are very special to me, as you can tell if you look closely at my avatar.) On the nights when they’re hidden, I know they’re still there so I just use a little imagination.

Anyway, along with this visual sweep of the night sky, I also say a few words of thanks. Who am I thanking? I don’t know. Certainly not “God.” I guess maybe that Universal Presence that I talk about in my book. Anyway, I start out by expressing my appreciation for “life” … for simply being part of this magnificent universe. Then I add how thankful I am for my health (which, BTW, is very good. Thankfully. Winking smile).

Next, I express gratitude for my home. Not that it’s anything special, but it’s home. It’s a place that protects me from the elements and where I feel safe.

After that, I extend my appreciation for my overall happiness in life. No, my life is not perfect. I experience many of the same trials and tribulations as others, but overall I feel a peace and a general sense of well-being.

And last, I offer thanks for my little dog (Miniature Schnauzer) who brings me so much joy and happiness. Now for some, this may not be a big deal. But from the moment I laid eyes on her at the shelter, I felt a deep-down connection with this little mutt. And this feeling has grown even deeper after her injury last summer when she slipped and fell and severely injured her spine. She was unable to stand or walk at all and we wondered if she would ever return to normal. Without going into extensive detail, suffice it to say she was seen by two neurologists and the prognosis was that with time, physical therapy, lots of love and TLC, she had a 85-90% chance of walking again. I took on the challenge and guess what! She  recovered! Well … to a point. She’s crippled because her left side doesn’t work as it should, but she gets around. And her spirit is still as bright as ever and her tail wags just as fiercely!

Anyway, I’m telling you all this to share what happened a few nights ago.

I don’t recall what point I was in offering my nightly words of gratitude, but suddenly a very strong (and very unwelcome) thought pushed itself into my thoughts. WHAT IF … there really is a “God” and because I no longer believe in “him,” I might be destined for HELL!

Let me tell you. My chest seized up and my heart skipped a beat.

Yes, I know. I wrote about the non-existence of hell and eternal punishment in my book … and I’ve “preached” against it on several blogs. But the several years of BRAINWASHING while I was in church apparently is still roaming around in my amygdala. Even though I’ve been AWAY from it for over 20 years!

Fortunately, the thought only lasted a couple of seconds and I quickly regained my senses. Whew!

As I considered sharing this experience on my blog, I hesitated. I thought … what if I’m stirring up a hornet’s nest? The true-blue Christians will be coming out of the woodwork to tell me it was a MESSAGE FROM GOD! But then I thought, what the heck? I know … and most of my blog readers know … there is no What If. We live. We die. We return to the stars. And that’s all she wrote.

Review of Nan’s Book: “Things I Never Learned in Sunday School”

Nan:

Very much appreciated!!

Originally posted on My Journey - Questions & Observations of a Skeptic:

I recently read Nan‘s book, “Things I Never Learned in Sunday School: Facts about the Christian Faith That Will Surprise and Astound You.” (ordering options listed here; you can also get it via iBooks).

I wanted to write a review on Amazon. As I am anonymous, I created a new account for “charles” but found that Amazon will not let you write a review unless you have purchased something using that account. So instead I am writing my review here. Sorry, Nan!

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