I'll be brief.  I'm so new to this, I don't really believe it myself.  I really mean that.  All my [adult] life, I have been obsessed with the pursuit of God, or with God's pursuit of me.  Every decision I have every made, I have made as if I knew I was being watched and tested by a cosmic deity.  Every single decision somehow had to account for this awareness.  Even simple decisions that God certainly wouldn't care about, I had to believe that God didn't actually care about them, for me to freely make them, because he really might care.  

I used to be a Pentecostal.  When I finally broke myself free from that, seeing it for the craziness it is, I tried other forms of Christianity, and also Judaism.  Even though it got pretty weird, especially to my family, it was okay because God was bringing this special plan he had for me into fruition, you see.  God wanted me to be Jewish!  Of, course!  Now I see it perfectly!....No, wait, he's not, it's Pentecostal after all, but he was testing me, "doing something in me", you see.  Hey, it's really Catholicism!  Makes perfect sense now!  I see it all.  God had a plan all along!...Okay, never mind.  Nothing's changed.  I'll be Pentecostal again.  But, THIS time, it's really going to happen for me.

Is there anyone else who has gone through these sorts of mental gymnastics, trying to make sense out of the senseless.  Trying so hard to "follow" a path in the dark with a very dim flashlight, or no light at all?  So hard to break free from all that stuff.  Learning things every day.  As Dan Barker wrote, I feel like I am emerging from the womb.  It's cold.  The light is bright.  But I'm alive!   

Would love to hear from others who have a similar story.  I know I can use the support.  I feel pretty alone, but I know what I'm doing is right.  

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Welcome to the site levi, & some sensible people to chat with. Lots of terrific groups to join here, & plenty of comments about reality.

I'm an ex Pentecostal. Trust me. God is imaginary!

God wanted me to be Jewish!  Of, course!  Now I see it perfectly!....No, wait, he's not, it's Pentecostal after all, but he was testing me, "doing something in me", you see.  Hey, it's really Catholicism!  Makes perfect sense now!  I see it all.  God had a plan all along!...Okay, never mind.  Nothing's changed.  I'll be Pentecostal again.  But, THIS time, it's really going to happen for me.

It sounds like after so many changes, it became clear that it was your mind doing all this, not "God". 

Pentecostal service 1.   Ho see con didli eyeah-- God says beware of a white car.

Pentecostal service 2.   Ho see con didli eyeah -- God says you are special.

Pentecostal service 3.   Ho see con didli eyeah -- God says he will save your brother.

Pentecostal service 4.   Ho see con didli eyeah -- God says you will see the promised land.

Pentecostal service 5.   Ho see con didli eyeah -- God says he will heal your cancer.

Same tongue talking and different things it meant. You get the idea.

When I was a child I lived with a range of mountains visible in the distance.  I used to try to make them disappear with faith, as in "if you had faith like a mustard seed, you could move a mountain".

Nothing ever happened to the mountains. 

And I did have faith so far as I knew.  I was a child, anything could have happened, so far as I could tell. 

Something like this might be a good exercise for Christians :) 

That's Matt. 17:14-20 and we wonder if the tiny mustard seed had "faith?" Did it have faith in god, or the "faith" that it would grow into a big plant? Since most seeds are going to grow it just sems like a done deal, so not much of an example here. Enter the apologists to claim that none of it means you can literally move moutains into the sea, so what are they talking about?

When I was a kid we had tiny mustard seed necklaces and thought the scripture said "faith in a mustard seed" and then the tiny mustard seed became a mighty power onto itself and it could do magical things.For the mustard seed to have "faith" of any kind wouldn't it have to have consciousness similar to that of a person?

Owh Ohhh. Here we go again starting more supernatural bullshit!

Welcome levi. Glad you found us. A small island of sanity in an insane theistic world. I can't say I've had your experience. Raised Catholic, and by the time I was a teenager, I realized I was being lied to about the whole god/jesus/spirit world crap. I guess what can make it difficult is living in the context of a family and community that constantly reinforce their superstitious beliefs as a form of acceptance into the group. There may be some wiggle room, as going for one sect or cult over another. But even there, the bottom line for acceptance is that you still believe. 

Now that you've shed the vestiges of magic thinking, it can be frightening. The universe owes us absolutely nothing. What is important is how we choose to lead the only life we have.

Again, welcome.

Welcome, levi.  I can feel some of your pain, and partially understand your search.  I was raised Methodist -- much less all-consuming than Pentecostal.  But it was in Oklahoma, in the 1940s and 1950s, so it was pretty conservative.  But you really aren't alone.  Most of us on this site have gone through a version of your experience, if less extreme and less dramatic.  I went to a Methodist college (OCU) and met my wife there.  At one point I considered the ministry, but fortunately she said that, if I went that way, it would be without her (this was before we married) as she wouldn't be a preacher's wife.  That saved me from a mammoth mistake.  Walking away from religion took me decades.  But the second way you're not alone is, no matter where you live, there are non-theists around you!  If you're in a red state/bible belt area, they may be deeply in the closet, for survival.  If you have a smart friend who doesn't go to church, or attends sporadically, you could have an ally.  It's hard to sound out people without coming out fully, but over time some who reject the ridiculous can find each other.  You've done the hardest change; enjoy your freedom and, again, welcome.

Welcome Levi
I can understand your indecision quite well, for I also spent a large portion of my life searching for a higher power in my life. My journey into spirituality didn’t begin with a religious indoctrination from my parents, for although I was baptized Roman Catholic, we never really attended church as such. This was because my mother didn’t like her religious upbringing but she wasn’t all that convinced that her religion didn’t pose some grains of truth to it, especially when it came to matters of eternal salvation, hence my baptism.

Throughout my teenage years I never really “sought out” a God as such, but I had very little doubt God existed. I also had a fairly well constructed idea of what God consisted of, in so far as that I knew that God loved unconditionally and without judgement. I’ve often said that my spiritual ideology could easily have been described in any of the Moody Blues albums between the years 1967 to 72. Of course it’s little wonder, I mean, being a child of that era and all...

In my adult years, armed with my ideology, I began my life on my own. Traveling across the country, going to college, getting my NEC electricians license I first moved to Baton Rouge where I landed a job as an electrician‘s apprentice. It was also there that I found my faith throughly shaken, when a high power transformer blew killing a couple people I was working with right in front of me. One of them was a friend who had brought me to a few Sunday masses at a local Baptist church. It was after he died and at the funeral that his priest asked me if I was “saved”, after all I Was the only one spared in the explosion. I told him I wasn’t and he said it “was a sign and that to walk away from it without realizing that God had intervened would be an insult unto the lord”. He also told me that it would be an insult to my friend’s memory , as it would mean that he had failed for not bringing me to the light. In short I realized I was in the presence of some serious Bullshit, but it did mess with my head enough that several months later I found myself in Ethiopia working for the Peace Corp.

My time there was not by any measure “easy”, seeing all these sick and dying people and people who were cast out from society because of their religion. Women being raped and then being killed by their government for even mentioning that they were raped. Police who were more like well armed thugs than protectors of the peace or upholders of the law. Bribery, black market dealings, sex trade abductions - God Did Not  Exist Here. This was a most heinous and backward country built of greed, oppression, ignorance and a tradition contempt. It was also then that I started to realize that maybe God wasn’t all that powerful or maybe even real.

I came back to the states and continued to travel across the country, no longer and electrician but as a chef/baker. I went back to school again and studied Literature and Western Philosophy. I also got a culinary arts degree and eventually got married (to a reformed rabbi’s daughter of all people). But we were in love and I began to embrace the Yiddish culture. This lasted for several years until 2004 when I found her in bed with another man. It would be fairly obvious to say that my marriage was over and my idea of God was completely destroyed, although I still had some doubts.

A year later I applied for and received a work visa, moved to a small town in Western Australia and worked as a baker. It was a wonderful 2 year stint and when I finally came back stateside I moved up to the northwestern part of Wisconsin and finally discovered my atheism. The funny part of my discovery was the reaction my family had when I decided to “come out” and tell them. They disowned me! They told me I was the most evil form of life that dwelled on the planet. I was shocked by this, considering the amount of non-religiosity my family seemed to display. My mother felt that it was okay to have “doubts” of the existence of God, just so long as I made no “conclusions” that God didn’t exist. My brother took the news to what I call a “Jihadist extreme” and told me I should be killed for turning my back on God. My sister (a Christian conservative and member of the Tea Party) was also taken aback and told me she would “pray for me”.

Anyway, I no longer have anything to do with my family now, but I’ve managed to make many new friends, many are of different faiths and are able to see me as a good person despite my secular views. All I can say is that you need to hang in there. Atheism may not offer all the cozy, nicey nice answers religion does because it deals in truth and fact and reason, but you can take comfort in knowing that it won't delude you with false promises and tell you that prayer will heal the ills of the Earth. It will tell you that if you want to make the world a better place you'll need to work on building it with your own sweat. You may never actually complete the task it but it'll be a heck of a lot more real than anything prayer can ever hold a candle to.

As for the “cold” feeling, it does go away after awhile, just give it some time. I’m suddenly thinking about a poem by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson called The Lonely Road. If you get a chance you should look it up, it’s pretty good.

While reading your comments I felt like I was reading my thoughts, thoughts I have been afraid to express, especially on a public forum.  I too wandered from religion to religion - baptist, methodist, catholic, mormon, judaism, back to baptist. It was a never ending search for the avenue that would bring me peace with a so-called perfect god. This god was suppose to control everything, my thoughts, my actions, the outcome of everything I did, but I never really honestly thought he was in charge especially when I made poor choices. Throughout the years I've had doubts, questioned everything about religion and always came back to that question of "What if I'm wrong?"

I stopped going to church first. The guilt was all consuming at times. One day I decided maybe I am right, maybe some of the other people who say there was no god controlling everything were right too. Slowly I cleaned my house and my life of everything that represented any kind of dieity.  Wow! My world didn't come crashing down.  Who knew!  I began to understand that the choices I made determined the outcome - good and bad.  I began to read about atheism and I have to admit that most atheists are heavy thinkers :) and reading and listening to them made my head hurt. I clung to the idea that although I may not have a college education, and I may not have an above ager IQ, I could still think for myself on a very basic level, and my gut was telling me I was right. 

I'm still learning, reading and developing my own opinion about atheism. I'm slowly learning the buzz words of atheism and often am at loss for words to try and explain to a relgious person how I feel.  Most of the time I don't say anything as I feel it would be a waste of breath to the very deeply indoctrinated.

One thing I have discovered is a new sense of wonder about our world. Cosmology now fascinates me. I love to fish and recently went to the Texas coast to do so.  Sitting at the shoreline at sunset was completely different this time. I watched the fish jumping, the gulls calling, the sun set and was free of that feeling that some diety had created it. The lingering thought was, "Wow"! how many years it has taken for our world to arrive at its current state, and a feeling of such minuteness when I looked up and saw all the stars, knowing there were millions more I couldn't see.  Such a sense of freedom and wonder for the first time in my life.

I'm choosing to not 'evangelize' my atheism as I spent a lifetime having christianity stuffed down my throat. Rather I'm choosing to live my life learning, avoiding situations where there may be conflict about my non-faith in a deity and simply enjoying each day I have left here on earth. 

You are definitely not alone, as I'm happily discovering.  It is a slow process to un-do what we have been taught since we were old enough to understand.  I'm grateful for this site and the opportunity to talk with people who are helping me understand this new way of thinking. 

Les règlements sont faits pour les médiocres et les indécis ; rien de grand ne se fait sans l'imagination.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Site Web : http://www.youtube.com/user/pdrquay

Tim,

God does not exist, challenge yourself to put scientific fact against your own "gut feeling or faith"! 

For those of us who were raised within religion there was never any question if there was a god. Of course there was a god.  So many of us began not with questioning if there was a god, but more likely questioning the why and the how  he did things.  Not so much questioning how old the earth is or whether I originally came from a fish or the rib of a man, but why  doesn't god answer my prayers?  Why do some people have a seemingly direct line to him and I don't?   Why are some people so wealthy and some people starving to death?  What purpose does that serve?  

I assume there are alot of people like me.  We kept our heads down, tried harder at being good, lived with what seem to be injustices and accepted the miserable results, and prayed for most of our lives. 

Until one day we began to realize that we were not bad humans. It began very small ... and maybe "gut feeling" is a poor choice of words on my part. However, it was a small niggling thought that maybe, just maybe there is a logical answer for all this.  Maybe the religious people are moving the goal posts everytime I think I'm playing the game right. Just maybe things are not what they seem.  Do I dare to step out of line? Do I dare consider giving up the thought of heaven?  What if I'm wrong and end up in hell?  Then, there comes the glorious day when you truly begin to consider the possibility of the real truth.  And the possibility didn't begin with reading facts in a scientific journal one morning over coffee.  It began with my 'gut feeling' that something is terribly wrong with this whole system. When I first began to act on my small 'gut feeling' I had no idea who Richard Dawkins was.  Golly, I didn't even know who Neil degrass Tyson was until last year. Hitchens?  I live in Texas and remember how everyone knew Madalyn Murray O'hair was that evil person who didn't believe in god. I had no clue why she thought that way.  Scientific fact, critical thinking and calm logic is not often easy life jacket when you are swimming upstream in a river of religious rhetoric.  

The day finally arrives and you type into the Google search engine various questions;  When Did God Begin, How Old Is Earth, Who Created The Universe, Is There A Heaven, Is There A Hell.  What began as a niggling thought is now a deluge of information and all I asked was a few simple questions.  

I'm still sifting, reading, and learning.  Luckily, I'm an old lady with plenty of time to read and contemplate. Each day brings new information which I gladly peruse. My choice of books on my weekly trip to the library has changed radically. 

Today I know one thing: there is no diety who is/was the creator of the universe. With that proveable fact I can readily dismiss all the remaining religious rhetoric.

Life is good.  

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