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Losing Faith

Posted by RIP Joe Bloe , 03 June 2010 · 692 views

I found this on the Pharyngula Blog. It is an email from an ex-Christian to P.Z. Myers, explaining how he/she had lost his/her faith.

Over the last several years I have been "converting" from a once very strong evangelical faith to atheism. It was a long road and involved many different facets, one of which was a steady tide of atheist reason and thought I received online. And my main source, well none other then you, Dr. Myers. My first movement towards rationality came when I started researching evolution and what do you know, it was true. While I was still an evangelical, I started tracking the creation and evolution controversy, which often through a link landed me on you blog as you are very prominent in the discussion. I would read a post about evolution and learn something new and then stay awhile and read another post hear or there and cringe and you tore into my religion. I was threatened by you, most prominently because I often had no good answers for your criticisms. I won't write out my entire deconversion story but I'll summarize you're role in that over the last several years I have spent more and more time on your site, reading and thinking. You are now the only blog I follow and I read everything your write. I write this note as encouragement that your persistent defense of rationality and reason does make a difference.


It got me thinking about "deconversion". You see I was always an atheist and never had to be deconverted from religion. I was sent to Sunday School at the age of four and never believed anything they told me. Sure, I was as excited as all the other kids when I heard that Moses parted the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape from Egypt - but I always "knew" that it wasn't a true story; just another fairytale like Hansel and Gretel. The only thing that puzzled me - Why did the teacher tell the story as if she believed it? Surely she wasn't that stupid?

And I'm equally puzzled when religious people (like the person who emailed P.Z. Myers) have to first discover that science in general (and evolution in particular) is true before they can throw off the shackles of religion. Why do they feel they have to have an explanation for life on earth (or anything else for that matter) before the religious explanation can be discarded. Surely any adult living in the 21st century can look at any of the bible stories and realise that there is not a skerrick of proof for any of them: Talking snakes, burning bushes that talk, virgin births, Jesus walked on water - it's all so unbelievable.

My scientific knowledge is practically zero and what I know about evolution could be written on the back of an envelope, yet that lack of knowledge doesn't prevent me from recognising the mythical nature of religious stories, and it surprises me when others can't do the same.

Do you believe that God exists? No.
So how did life get started on Earth? I don't know!

Where's the problem? Why do so many people think that God cannot be discarded until the Theory of Evolution has been taken on board?

I'm not saying people shouldn't take an interest in evolution (and science in general), but the two things are not mutually exclusive. It is not an either/or situation - either believe in God or accept evolution. I am living proof that that is not the case. And think of the millions of atheists who lived before 1859 when Darwin published his theory for the first time. Not one of those earlier atheists knew a thing about evolution, yet they were still atheists.

Jun 12 2010 01:26 AM
I do have to ask...Where does the burning bush come in? I've heard it mentioned, but I haven't found it in my reading of the Bible yet.

And it was the same with me. I went to church and Sunday School, but I never cared for either. They were time wasters.
Cousin Ricky
Jul 06 2010 05:32 PM
The burning bush is in Exodus chapter 3.
True Christian
Jul 26 2010 11:15 AM

I do have to ask...Where does the burning bush come in? I've heard it mentioned, but I haven't found it in my reading of the Bible yet.

And it was the same with me. I went to church and Sunday School, but I never cared for either. They were time wasters.

tell me one thing wrong about christianity and i will defend it.
RIP Joe Bloe
Aug 27 2011 11:16 PM
It's more than a year since "Guest" posted the comment (above) but I didn't see it until today - sorry about that.

"Guest" will have no way of knowing that I have posted this comment more than a year after the challenge was issued, so I am not expecting a response - it would be unfair if I did. Nevertheless, just for the record, here are a few of the things I say are wrong with Christianity:

Censorship of speech, art, books, music, films, poetry, songs, and thought.

Exorcisms (some of them fatal) by priests who think the devil is residing in a human being.

Societies divided by differences in belief, often resulting in violence.

Mass suicides of cult-members (Jonestown, Solar Temple)

The discouragement of rational thought (Creationists against science)

Uncontrolled population growth caused by church teaching against birth control.

Allowing the spread of AIDS by prohibiting condom use

Believers whipping, impaling, or crucifying themselves during Easter festivals

Christians bombing and shooting doctors and nurses

Women treated as second-class citizens

Pentecostal snake-handlers

Persecution of homosexuals

Abuse of power by religious leaders for financial gain or sexual abuse of men, women and children

The Crusades.

The Inquisition.

Witch trials in Europe and America.

Missionaries destroying/converting "heathen" religions and cultures.

The demonization of other groups

Persecution of heretics - Galileo, Bruno, et al

Slavery supported by scripture (Ephesians 6:5 and elsewhere)