The past few days have brought on a surge of new inquiries about why I lost my faith in God. Some people wonder How could you love Jesus so passionately and with such zeal and not love him today? Some people call me to tell me they’re praying for me, or if I have a bad day or go through a surge of anger, they pray for me.
To be fair, I always prayed for people. But by always I mean a span in my life that lasted about 10 years or less. From age 15, when a very catastrophic family event occurred, to 25 when another catastrophic even occurred, I prayed. I believed. I loved God.
I really did love God and now I truly do not believe he exists. I am what’s called an antitheist which is actually one step further than atheism, if you will. Christopher Hitchens wrote, “I’m not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful.” This is closer to what I believe than atheism. Religious belief and churches are harmful.
In case you’re not following, theism is the belief that at least one god exists. I find that idea not just unrealistic, but dangerous. I think it’s wrong.
Yes, I think I was wrong for 10 years. But religion is a very powerful force. There’s the pull of group thinking, peer pressure, societal pressures and essentially the false confidence in “knowing the truth.” It’s very appealing.
Atheism was not appealing to me. For years I assumed atheists were hateful and doomed. Then, I started thinking for myself (That’s not an insult. There’s no other way to say it.), discarded all my Jesus beliefs and attempted to reevaluate them one by one.
I asked myself questions:
- Where did I first hear this belief? Was I born thinking this way?
- What did my first experiences in church influence me to think and do?
- How did my desire for a “perfect family life” (my childhood was very dysfunctional) make religion appealing?
- At age 15, when first entering church, I doubted the Bible. Where did I lose my ability to doubt? Who influenced me to do so?
These questions were some of the beginnings of what you see now. But that’s been several years, and many other questions have followed.
If I ask you to question and doubt and you’re still very religious, it falls on deaf ears. To doubt, as I was taught at 15, means you do not have faith.
But is that so? Perhaps that’s not true with liberal or progressive Christians, but in fundamentalist or evangelical circles, it’s true.
So, if I wanted to doubt, how could I claim to be a Christian? I couldn’t.
Many people I know have a LOT of questions for me. I’d like to give you the opportunity to ask me anything about why I lost my faith.
Put your questions in the comments or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.