People often ask me, “How did you get out of Christianity/Fundamentalism/the Quiverfull movement’ – that’s how the Atheists and Agnostics word it. The Christians tend to word it ‘why?’
I’ve mentioned reasons here and there, but never written a comprehensive blog post. Note: it would take way too long to hash out the complete reasons and journey to where I am now, because in a sense, the trajectory of my whole life has been leading to where i am now, and the journey isn’t finished yet. Still, here are the main reasons I began to question Christianity, both the fundamentalism version and Christianity as a whole.
– The idea of a loving God sending everyone who didn’t follow Jesus (and follow him the right way) to hell bothered me a great deal. It didn’t make sense. I know the arguments but they didn’t satisfy me. Now, I believe that the doctrine of hell as a place of eternal suffering isn’t even Biblical, and respect Christians like Rob Bell who hold that belief, but for me it was one place that questioning started. Hell has always bothered me, and when I was around 24 I was finally in a safe enough place emotionally where I could honestly question it. Also, I had to children by this point, and in a sense I NEEDED to question it. I couldn’t raise my kids in fear of hell if there was no hell, and if there was a hell, if in fact there NEEDED to be a hell, like i was taught, I felt God could not be a good god.
– If God is not good, and there are a lot of old testament passages and even some new testament passages that make me question his goodness, then he is not worth my worship no matter how Almighty he is. I set out to reconcile God’s goodness with the entire Bible, and that was another beginning of the end.
– As I mentioned in point one, I had children, and that led to questioning things. I wanted to be sure I was teaching them the truth, and that I was raising them with the truth in mind. We had already decided not to spank. That was widely frowned upon in our circles, but I was convinced that spanking was harmful to children (and that it wasn’t even Biblical). If that was harmful, what else was harmful, I wondered.
– I studied evolution a little, and soon found that some of the ‘proofs’ for Young Earth Creationism were in fact misrepresentations or downright lies. (see these posts http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/top-5-lies-told-by-accelerated-christian-education/ http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/5-even-worse-lies-from-accelerated-christian-education/ ) This was one of my achilles’ heels. I had been taught that the Bible, uniquely among holy books, was historically and scientifically accurate, (even that it needed to be accurate in those ways for it to be valuable) and my studies of science and reading about evolution was calling that into question, so what reasons would I have to believe in Jesus and God and all of it?
– I learned things about the Bible, like when it was actually written and how likely it is that several books were forgeries, that called into question the so-called eyewitness accounts. Again, the perfection of the Bible was a major part of my faith. People can be Christians without believing the Bible is inerrant, but for me questioning innerancy put a huge hole in the wall of my faith.
– There were scandals, stories of pastors who molested children and slept with women they counseled. Not to mention, there were plenty of Christians I knew or heard of who were plain old mean people. There were nice Christians, but there were nasty ones…. just like in the world. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if it Christianity didn’t claim to change lives and fill believers with the very spirit of the perfect divine. Further, I was taught that non-Christians were incapable of being good, because they didn’t have the Holy Spirit, and my experience showed otherwise. I just didn’t see the difference between ‘the church’ and ‘the world’ that I was taught to expect.
– Nothing had ever happened in my walk with God that there couldn’t have been another explanation for. the small miracles, the answered prayers, the spiritual feelings i had felt, all had logical, non supernatural explanations. All my personal proofs of God weren’t really proof.
– There was a question in my mind — i’m not sure where it came from — ‘What would i believe if I hadn’t been raised Christian from birth. If I had grown up Muslim, taught that THAT was truth and unbelievers would go to hell if they didn’t follow Allah, would I have any reason for becoming a Christian?’
In the end, all I had to go on was faith, and I became convinced that I never would have had faith in this particular religion, had I not been raised the way I had been.
I read and searched for reasons to believe, both in God’s goodness and his existence.
In the end, I didn’t just give up the fight, I changed my mind.
I didn’t want to leave the religion that kept me in good standing among my friends and family, and I certainly didn’t want to give up the faith that meant I was loved by the Maker of the universe, but I looked at the evidence and arguments I had accumulated – and I accumulated a lot – and decided that the evidence for God was not substantial. The only thing worse than leaving was following after a lie.
I had lived my entire life centered around God, trying to please God, trying to get other people to follow God, and now I wasn’t sure He existed. That soon morphed into being inclined to think he didn’t.
I identified as an agnostic for awhile, and now identify as an agnostic atheist.
I don’t believe in God any more. And I’m okay with it.