>mind presenting yourself to me
Sure, although it will be a long post deserving of a new thread. I’m now an atheist, or more precisely an apostate. I bounced between mainstream protestant denominations like Luthernism and Southern Baptist, but I also have Catholic relatives too.
Unlike most posters here, I had the cornerstones of my faith destroyed one by one by random chances over the years. I can’t even say there was a single thing that made me leave my faith more than any other. There could be too many to list, but I can try to chronologically list what shaped my views. They included….
Accepting evolution, accepting the rights of homosexuals, seeing the hypocrisy intolerance and self-righteousness of my family, watching my kindest and most Christian grandmother die alone and unloved with cancer (refutation of the rewards of unselfish love) and then the other intolerant Christian relatives swooped in to lay claim her inheritance. A trip to Japan (where people of a foreign belief system provided random kindness), a trip to Vietnam where I met friendly Atheists volunteering in Doctors without Borders who were courageously doing charity beyond what I was willing to do (better people than many Christians were going to hell.)
I also disliked going to church. All churches bored me, but especially the megachurches where a guy in a suit would smile and say the fakest things. I also thought my churches and their charities all tended to waste the tithe money. And I liked the humble and natural aesthetics of the Japanese garden shrines much better than the artificialness of Christian churches. I thought God’s house belonged in nature, and praying was more naturally done under the stars.
I also increasingly came to dislike the very religious fundamentalists who find signs of Armageddon and the occult in the newspaper. I thought they were irrational, and tended to be intolerant, xenophobic, and have unchristlike self-righteousness. Meanwhile I read frighteningly unloving passages in the bible, and couldn’t find a satisfactory explanation for some of God’s actions/genocides. Many parts of the OT (and NT) began to feel like fiction.
By this time I had many unspoken doubts, and my faith was holding on by a thread, even though I didn’t know it yet. I took 2 classes in Buddhism and Japanese religion. I already liked aspects of those religions, and wanted to see proof that my religion was more true than theirs, and possibly be able to convert those people. Instead, I didn’t find many arguments that couldn’t also be used against Christianity. And I liked Buddhism more, even though parts of it were boring.
I liked my professor (a white guy who had converted to Buddhism and studied in Japan), and paid close attention. What he taught about the history of Buddhism also demolished my remaining trust that Christianity was the true religion. The one that hit me the most was how later Buddhists would invent fake scriptures and then attribute the new scriptures to the disciples of Buddha. (I would come to realize that probably happened in the gospels of Judas or Peter.)
That night when I was at thinking about the lecture I had an epiphany where everything seemed to come together. It’s probably similar to what born again Christians have. I realized I would rather live an ephermal good life, and die beautifully than live forever, and it made more sense to me than to chase eternity.
I wouldn’t even have to change who I was if I left the religion, but instead would be much more free to become an individual, and could be whoever I wanted to be. I felt emancipated.
But there was also sadness, because I realized I would rather exist in the Buddhist cosmos than in the Christian one. Buddhism provides choices in your lives, second chances for those who are bound for hell, and a more colorful mythology. But I couldn’t become a real Buddhist knowing what I knew about its history.
I deconverted some years ago. Ever since then I’ve been agnostic, and as I continued to absorb information I eventually became a strong atheist. I’ve been an active poser on /atheism/ but we’re running out of things to discuss, which is why there’s been so many redundant thread about politics there recently. That’s my story.