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[–]avilsta 2530 points2531 points  (325 children)

I grew up in a low-key toxic environment, sounds weird but basically, it was all verbal abuse. Not anything crazy enough for social services to come in, well, except for that time my dad tried to slam my head in with the garage door.

I would say growing up, through elementary school all the way up to high school, everyone around me was all about voicing out things they hated. So I thought that was the norm.

Moving into my college dorm, meeting other people I realised that my behaviour was pretty toxic too. I would say that learning basic stuff like being kind, and caring for other people was eye-opening for me at that point.

The Parable of the Prodigal Son was probably the life-changing point for me. I felt like it was the willingness to finally accept myself for who I am, after years of being told I was worthless and horrible, that helped me the most. Eventually, after being able to accept myself, I was able to accept others and eventually let others into my life.

It's still only been 2 years-ish, so I still got a long way to go. But whenever people would mock how religion is a sham, I would just tell them, that even if it was a sham all along, everything I have gained from then has given me so much more than I could have ever begun to wish for in my life.

[–]ThatOneClassyRetard[S] 593 points594 points  (8 children)

Wow good answer thanks for sharing

[–]Tmaffa 206 points207 points  (7 children)

Thanks for not being that OP that's like "thanks for sharing but you're wrong".

Good OP.

[–]Lilacsinharlem 40 points41 points  (1 child)

What else would you expect from a classy retard?

[–]Tmaffa 45 points46 points  (0 children)

For a minute I thought that was a really aggressive insult, ha.

[–]snapcracklePOPPOP 40 points41 points  (3 children)

Great point, I personally went from being religious to more of an agnostic, but I still find the lessons taught to me as part of religion to be beautiful things that I will try to impart in my children. There are so many beautiful aspects of each religion, and it is a shame that bad people intentionally abuse religion for their own gain and ruin it for so many people

[–]RhombusRaddish 95 points96 points  (261 children)

The parable of the prodigal son is a great story, I am glad that you have taken comfort in it.

If you don't mind, can I just ask a bit more about your faith?

you say even if it is a sham all along, you have gained so much from it. I mean yes there are great parables and teachings in the Bible, however do you go further into that and believe in the creation story and the existence of a god? Why the Bible as opposed to other holy texts?

If you're not bothered to answer then by all means enjoy your day :)

[–]avilsta 101 points102 points  (131 children)

I went to a Catholic school for about 6 years, largely because it was near my place. Then proceeded to go onto an affiliated school that had lowered admission grades. So wasn't too far of a stretch for me, compared to someone else who would be flat out atheist.

I said the part about a sham, because I used to be a Science major, so a lot of people around me couldn't accept religion as they felt it didn't have any scientific backing to it. Even now, a lot of people are becoming more anti-religion due to the vocal minority that make the rest of us look ignorant.

So there's definitely a huge backlash to religion being anti-Science. However, even if scientifically, they somehow proved religion is entirely false - there's so much more to me in my faith. The community I've gained, the peace it has given, and etc.

Regarding why the Bible and not other holy texts - I personally am not well-versed enough to comment on it, so I feel like I will be incoherent if I tried commenting on it.

[–]anaraisa 223 points224 points  (108 children)

I am an atheist but my Biochemistry professor is religious and said something I always think about. She said that the more she learns about how perfect Nature is, the harder she finds not to believe in an Intelligent Design. For her, being a scientist was a way of understanding God's work. I disagree, but I always respected that sentiment

[–]DangerDoc 22 points23 points  (0 children)

I grew up in a fairly liberal Protestant family and I was always taught that science was the invisible hand of God making all things known

[–]ClefHanger 38 points39 points  (33 children)

Yea but nature is not perfect though. False premise. But I get that you like the idea.

[–]anaraisa 17 points18 points  (32 children)

Well, she tought Biochemistry and she explained how processes are connected and all... If she had to teach us how a platipus came to be, I guess her stance on Intelligent Design would not have been the same

[–]Rikiar 38 points39 points  (37 children)

She's probably never seen the nervous system in a giraffe then...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cO1a1Ek-HD0

[–]Myis 10 points11 points  (1 child)

An engineer might not make that mistake but an artist can see the poetry of the mouth being connected to the heart.

[–]Rikiar 3 points4 points  (0 children)

That's a cute way to see it. I approve of the optimism.

[–]think_lemons 78 points79 points  (8 children)

I'm a Catholic and I could readily accept evolution as a method of creation. It's not my place to say how God created life.

The whole "checkmate, religious people" attitude of that video was very juvenile.

[–]commandrix 10 points11 points  (1 child)

Indeed ... whoever said that religion is about the "who" and science is about the "how" probably got it at least partially right. Who are we to dictate not only what God can and can't do, but what He might or might not be willing to do. Why wouldn't He scrap an idea because He has another idea He wants to try? Why wouldn't He go back and make a few tweaks to this animal or that plant that He's already created? And would God be inclined to obsessively micromanage beyond making the occasional tweak or setting things to rights if they start going wrong once He's set things in motion? If so, what's the point of giving people free will?

[–]Rikiar 13 points14 points  (1 child)

I used to be Catholic, I can understand how you might perceive that to be the attitude of the video. Richard Dawkins tends to have that kind of attitude, but if you listen to everyone else in the video and take a few minutes to just digest the content presented near the end. It makes sense as a reason to support evolutionary theory.

As someone who agrees with evolutionary theory, you can see how this is aimed specifically as support for that theory and how it raises questions about the new Earth creationist myth.

Now if you want to argue about the existence of an all knowing, all seeing, all benevolent creator that initiated evolution as a means of creating humans, and by extension, all life on Earth... that's a different discussion entirely. I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on that if you feel like sharing.

[–]Rayl33n 2 points3 points  (1 child)

That's super interesting.

[–]Rikiar 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I thought so. The routing makes total sense in an aquatic animal with no neck. Necks really messed with this nerve's history.

[–]dirtypawscub 45 points46 points  (115 children)

Not to speak for the OP, but just in general - being a Christian by no means require one to take the bible at its word. I don't know if I qualify myself as a christian at this point, but even when I was considering entering the priesthood, I didn't believe in the creation story or most of the "historical" events of the bible.

[–]commandrix 12 points13 points  (3 children)

I can't disagree here. Remember, the Bible comes from documents that have been written down, copied, translated, copied again, translated again, copied, copied, and copied by humans long before we had the printing press. How do we know that there haven't been cumulative errors made by many generations of scribes along the way and never corrected? Even just putting a decimal point in the wrong place can change what we think the Bible is telling us in any particular story.

[–]usdaprime 18 points19 points  (9 children)

Speaking as a non-religious person, I thought being a Christian by definition meant having faith; I.e. believing in the core canon without scientific evidence. A person who enjoys the company of Christians and the feeling of participating in the ceremonies (sermons, etc) I would pedantically define as a “fan of Christianity”.

Kinda like the difference between liking Star Wars (which I totally understand) and having faith that The Force is a real thing and Luke Skywalker is/was a real person (which I wouldn’t understand).

Personally, I’m super interested in people who started believing the core unscientific claims of Christianity without being indoctrinated while they were children.

To me there’s no mystery as to why some people enjoy being around others who exude love, encourage generosity, welcome strangers, support community, etc. I do too. The faith part seems unnecessary.

So for me, my question isn’t “why do you like Star Wars?” It’s “How did you go from thinking it’s fiction to being convicted that it’s non-fiction?”

[–]zookiethewookie 43 points44 points  (66 children)

I would disagree with you for the most part. I think that as a Christian you can choose to interpret some things differently, taking context into account, but Christians are certainly required to listen to what the bible has to say. It’s what Christians believe to be Gods very own word given to followers.

If you don’t mind me asking, what events in the bible do you not take as historical?

Not trying to call you out, I just find these sorts of discussions interesting.

[–]varro-reatinus 21 points22 points  (3 children)

It’s what Christians believe to be Gods very own word given to followers.

Not to the same extent; that could mean rather a lot of things, from "god held the pen," to "god inspired some people to write this over several centuries."

[–]hugehambone 30 points31 points  (46 children)

Actually, there are many, many interpretations of Christianity. Some don't even believe Jesus actually rose from the dead, and that his life is allegory. Some think it doesn't matter, as his life and message contain the power that can affect the world. Admittedly this type of thinking is in the minority but Christianity is still a spectrum of beliefs.

So in no way is any Christian beholden to do anything another Christian tells them. You have your own walk with God and sometimes you disagree with other Christians but you choose to support each other anyway.

Catholicism is more strict but there are also different sects of Catholicism that believe different things as well.

[–]StupidImbecileSlayer 5 points6 points  (2 children)

So if everyone manufacturers a personal brand of Christianity, and sees others do the same, can they really believe that the religion /God is real?

[–]bombmk 20 points21 points  (40 children)

So if your interpretation of christianity ends up matching the Quran you are still a Christian?

[–]DBAinBama 7 points8 points  (0 children)

After decades of living in a theocratic patriarchy when I left the religious and spiritual world behind I would wax on and on about how it was a sham. Slowly I realized that for large swaths of the population religion is the main thing that teaches and holds them accountable for being not only good people but happy people. That changed everything for me and I would just like to send a "good on you" from me to you for finding a way to be happy.

[–]RokuNervantho 89 points90 points  (45 children)

I was raised atheist, and while religion had never been taboo in my home, it was never really discussed (parents had chosen not to go because of my grandparents, who can be pretty toxic about it).
Growing up in the Bible Belt, most of my friends were of one faith or another, and I gradually just started reading up on the different faiths. Wasn't until after college that I joined a Bible Study, just looking to understand it better.
Overall I'd say I'm not entirely religious, but it's been a work in progress. I've started going to church, I'm properly trying to read through and study the Bible (going to read the Quran after I finish it, too), and starting to actually ask questions. It's a process.

[–]Taxtro1 13 points14 points  (28 children)

So what do you find convincing about Christianity / Islam?

[–]RokuNervantho 13 points14 points  (5 children)

It's complicated, in part because I'm not completely convinced yet myself.
For me, a lot of the sermons I've gone to so far have very much felt like messages I've already heard before sans God; they're familiar. On the one hand, that makes me more open to the idea of a God and everything; on the other hand, it makes me feel like I don't need to believe in a God because the teachings are all the same.

[–]Miztahfrawg 602 points603 points  (30 children)

It occurred to me that if you look at religion as a personal quest for emotional and spiritual fitness rather then a literal explanation for how the universe works, it's a lot more rational and accessible.

Taoist here. The idea that god isn't a consciousness but rather a force that keeps the universe moving and flowing at its own whim is a lot easier to swallow for me then what the abrahamic religions would have you believe.

[–]rsqejfwflqkj 72 points73 points  (13 children)

I'm curious, though. Why do you need theism to embark on a quest for emotional and spiritual fitness? Why can't you have that while remaining an atheist and just saying "I don't know" about the existence of a higher power?

So many times in this thread, I see people making positive steps, but attributing to religion and theism things that seem to me to be completely decoupled, primarily around personal development and community.

[–]Miztahfrawg 100 points101 points  (4 children)

You don't need it, a lot of people find that same fulfillment from all sorts of things.

Taoism appeals to me because instead of saying "There is a god" it says "Here is the universe, it's doing what it's doing, go along with it and you can't go wrong." It's rallying cry is "So what? Shit happens, don't let it get you down." It's a good philosophy and it helps me function. I won't say it's completely responsible but it sure does help to be able to say "Fuck it" and have that be the thesis of your religion.

[–]xix_le_soleil 28 points29 points  (4 children)

Taoism isn't theistic, though, it's naturalistic?

Buddhism, particularly the flavors commonly practiced in the West, is not theistic either. Religion and theism are two very different things.

[–]Seethruvinyl 14 points15 points  (2 children)

By no means an expert on Taoism or Buddhism here, but reading that original comment, there was quite a bit of personification of the laws of physics (known and unknown). It seems to me that that serves a very similar purpose to having an actual deity in control. I guess I'm curious if this personification is standard in those religions.

Edit: Fixed an auto-correction

[–]pizzastiks 793 points794 points  (103 children)

I was raised religious, as I grew up I found fault in that religion and became atheist, then I traveled and spent more time away from society and realized it wasn't about me.

I am not back where I started, I don't believe the same things my parents did, but I have grown out of thinking that I had the whole picture figured out.

[–]LSUTigerFan15 120 points121 points  (17 children)

This is pretty much where I am at right now. Grew up with a very Catholic mother and I think I was forced fed the stuff too much and ended up hating the idea of religion. Throughout high school I was very atheist but now that I am in college and have experienced losing a best friend to suicide the idea of nothingness is starting to close in on me. Basically my logical side wants me to believe that there is nothing after life and my emotional side is working on accepting that again and being okay with it. Either that will happen or I'll find solace in some kind of afterlife.

[–]Rheklr 71 points72 points  (13 children)

The best response to this is to realise that if there is nothing after death you don't have to worry about it. Just live your life as best and well as you know how.

It's quite a freeing realisation - you can do things because of real consequences, not some nebulous post-death judgement. It also means all the good you do in this world is solely because you wanted to do it - with no promise of reward, even in death.

[–]AbstractTherapy 30 points31 points  (9 children)

This is why I respect the atheist position of being kind. There’s nothing in it for them in the afterlife, at least in their minds. Religious people who are certain in specific tenets of a religion, and atheists who are certain there can be no God are equally off-putting to me. I believe in something, I just haven’t figured out what that something is yet. At the minimum, I can’t let myself decide that I know for sure. If there is a God, it is much more abstract than what we’ve decided to ascribe in our many holy texts.

[–]thegimboid 9 points10 points  (1 child)

I believe in humanity - the core ability to be good to each other without needing a reason, and an optimism that over time humanity only gets better.

[–]thudly 10 points11 points  (0 children)

I had the whole picture figured out

I went the opposite way and arrived at the same place. I used to be a religious nerd. I was told the Bible was the absolute, unquestionable truth and I believed it.

Later, I realized that God is too big for anybody to claim to have figured it all out or whatever. I'm kind of semi-agnostic now. I believe there is some sort of spiritual embodiment of highest understanding and love, but who or what he/she/it is, I don't presume to say, and I tend to ignore anybody, believer or atheist, who claims to have the absolute unquestionable answers to these debates. I've been there myself, and I know that for those people, being "right" is more important than finding truth.

[–]NotAPimecone 204 points205 points  (51 children)

I'm an atheist but I know damn well I don't have everything figured out, and I'm ok with that :)

[–]tacknosaddle 40 points41 points  (11 children)

"I don't know" and "We don't know" are not just acceptable answers, they are the honest answers.

[–]SnatchAddict 129 points130 points  (32 children)

I'm an atheist because there's no proof. It doesn't define me though.

My 12 year old daughter said to me, how do people know there is a God? I said, it's called Faith. I told her she needs to come to her own conclusions but I'm available to answer any questions. I expressed I don't have all the answers.

[–]ThermalFlask 38 points39 points  (1 child)

That's a great attitude to have towards it. Not herding her one way or another and letting her figure things out her own way

[–]apathyontheeast 9 points10 points  (5 children)

Same here; religion is constantly saying they gave answers - what morality is, what happens after death, what right and wrong should be - when the reality and the unknown are so much more beautiful.

[–]BlackHeeb 26 points27 points  (10 children)

I would contend that being an atheist is admitting that you don't have the whole picture figured out. At least it is for me. Glad you found something that works for you though! That's really all that matters.

[–]fairly_bookish 18 points19 points  (0 children)

Exactly. I have nothing figured out, and I'm suspicious of people who claim otherwise.

[–]OddFeature 5 points6 points  (5 children)

Thank you. The idea of religion is believing in a “whole picture” that explains why everything is the way it is.

[–]jetlagged_potato 3 points4 points  (3 children)

Don't religious scholars debate constantly?

[–]rsqejfwflqkj 7 points8 points  (2 children)

Along fairly narrow avenues that don't change the overarching story they've been told.

[–]rsqejfwflqkj 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Interesting. To me, becoming an atheist was the process of realizing that I didn't have the whole picture figured out.

It was a very difficult process to go from "this is how the universe works" to "I don't know how the universe works", but overall I think that the latter statement is far more truthful. And that makes me an atheist.

[–]curbyourmouth 17 points18 points  (4 children)

Atheists who think they have everything figured out are just as bad in my book as they most intolerant religious folks.

I think a lot of good could come religion even of we know it's false. The social and charitable aspects just seem to function better.

The problem is that it's so easily corrupted, either to persecute others, or or be leaders to defraud followers. I've yet to see one instance where this didn't take place as a general general rule

[–]ThatOneClassyRetard[S] 11 points12 points  (2 children)

My story is pretty similar. Thanks for sharing!

[–]morevinopls 148 points149 points  (24 children)

I grew up in the Church, but left after watching my sister suffer with a debilitating illness. Shuttling to and from the hospital was so normal for us, and seeing her suffer made me wonder why a "loving" and "good" God could let that happen to a child. My parents never really brought a lot of religious instruction into the house, so when I had these types of questions, there wasn't anyone to ask. Throughout my teenage years, I was agnostic.

The turning point for me came in college. I was walking down a narrow, one-way street with some friends, when one of them accidentally shoved me. I went flying. I remember landing flat on my hands and knees, in the middle of the road, and looking up to see that the front bumper of an oncoming car was exactly in line with my head. I didn't have enough time to get up, but luckily my friends were able to haul me out of the street--I mean, pulling on my shirt, hauling me up by my armpits, just before the car hit me. We always joke, "Oh, I could get hit by a bus" but I was literally almost roadkill. And I'd done nothing wrong. I was just walking down the street.

At that point, I wasn't willing to be Agnostic anymore. I knew that I needed to find out one way or another if any of the world religions were real, or if I'd be an Atheist after all. Life was too short to not know. I decided to start with Christianity since I thought I could poke the most holes in it.

For me, the key was that I was willing to seek the truth, whatever that truth was. I was willing for Christianity to be true, or Islam, or Atheism. And I put aside all the hurt from my past, and all the questions, to give it a real shot.

I had some Christian friends at the time, and they encouraged me to start praying. At first, it felt like I was talking to an empty room, but at the same time, it felt good. I remember during my research phase, someone saying "It's OK to pray to God and tell him you don't think He exists. He knows He exists and won't be offended." So I did a lot of that. Just getting on my knees and praying that He reveal himself to me, show me a sign, etc.

I also did a lot of research on C.S. Lewis's arguments for Christianity, and really tried to look at it from his perspective. Ultimately, after a couple of weeks of praying and researching, I was ready to look at the Bible itself. I found this "30 Day Challenge" where you read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and I thought, "OK, I can give 30 more days to this."

The tipping point for me was really reading what Jesus said, and understanding who He is. He said some pretty incredible things, and His wisdom was so apparent to me when I was reading. It was just clear to me that He really was divine. It made all of those misconceptions I had about Christianity fall away. Really seeing who He is and what He stands for made me want to walk this path with him. I remember praying, "I don't know where this path leads, but I want to walk down it with you." I know Atheists will find this part of my story unsatisfying, but really, it was God answering my call for help, and letting me see what was right in front of me.

From there, my faith journey has progressed slowly. I had to relearn all the things I thought were the tenets of faith, and really understand how to have a relationship with God. (For example, before, I thought that Christianity was about following these rules and being a good person, and Heaven was the bonus at the end. I didn't realize that salvation was the whole point, and that there's nothing we can do to "earn" our way into God's good graces. It's a free gift. We ask God into our lives and He accepts us, just as we are. And we're saved, just like that. And all the "good deeds" and "rule following" is moreso our desire to act more like Jesus here on earth, and let our faith enrich our lives, and the lives of others).

You may also be asking, "What about God letting your sister suffer?" and I can definitely answer that, but it's something that came to me much later. For me, my baby step was just believing in Jesus, and those questions I'd had as a child were resolved when I better understood my own faith.

[–]minzyxo 15 points16 points  (1 child)

This was absolutely beautiful.

[–]WyYouAlwaysThinkThat 6 points7 points  (2 children)

great story, how did you find peace in light of your sister's suffering?

[–]morevinopls 2 points3 points  (1 child)

OK, so first, I'm going to say that this answer may feel to you like a lot of good advice you've gotten over the years, like, "Yeah, that's probably true." Like when you're told "don't drink too much in front of your coworkers" or "don't skip classes in college." You agree with those statements, but your understanding of them changes after you have a few too many and try pantsing your boss, or you end up with a D in a class you paid $2k for. The magnitude of that advice changes after you've experienced the depth of what they were talking about. It's no longer something you just take at face value.

To answer the question of suffering, we have to back up to the Garden of Eden. Now, you can either take this literally or not, but the message is the same: everything before the fall was perfect. When we are aligned with God, there is no suffering, no death, no disease, etc. But after the fall/free choice (which removes us from God and gives us the ability to choose if we want to be reconciled to Him), we now live in a world that is broken. Once we are reconciled to God fully after our deaths, we will once again live in a place of no suffering, death, disease (Heaven). So this is a temporary state we live in, that serves a purpose.

BUT LET'S GO DEEPER. I'm going to take you on tangent, but it serves a point. Did you know that in the Old Testament, God gives permission to a demon to tempt King Ahab, and this leads to his death because he believes the lying demon instead of the prophet of God (1 Kings 22:22)? (Ahab is way less sympathetic in this story than I'm making him out to be, he does this over and over again and basically pouts at his prophet of God and says he "hates" him because he never says what he wants to hear). The lesson here is that sometimes God uses the forces of evil to achieve his purpose. BUT WHY? Because it is better for someone to be driven to the brink, to know that they need to repent and to do so, than to perish. God sent the lying demon as the last chance for Ahab to turn back and come back to him, but he chose not to listen.

OK now we're ready for the verse that gives me peace, given the context I've shared above and my own journey: Romans 5:3-5 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Throughout the New Testament, there is a theme that suffering leads to Joy. Christ suffered for us (He was so stressed before His death that He literally sweated blood, which is a medical phenomenon for someone under extreme duress) but that leads to the Joy we have in eternal life. Suffering reminds us that we need God, it brings us closer to Him, and ultimately, is a temporary state that is for our benefit.

[–]ram0h 17 points18 points  (4 children)

I enjoyed your story. Just to comment on the perspective of a Muslim. A lot of people in this thread are discussing the idea of being christian, jewish, muslim, or atheist, etc. As you stated in your comment you had said you were willing for it to be "Christianity, or Islam, Or Atheism." From our (muslim) perspective I would just like to note that we dont look at the Abrahamic religions as really different or wrong. We believe in in Judaism and the Torah and that Moses and other prophets were sent to the Jews, we believe in Christianity and that Jesus was sent as well. Islam just means submission to God, and so in our point of view, Jews and Christians, and anybody else who believes in God are all believers. And so we dont really distinguish or look at Christianity as a different religion.

[–]morevinopls 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thats a great perspective, thank you for sharing. I was/am very ignorant to other world religions and am trying to learn more.

[–]justible 7 points8 points  (2 children)

Islam teaches that Jesus was not who he claims to be in the gospels. Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet, and not God. So by definition, Islam absolutely teaches that Christianity is wrong, though it shares an interest in similar figures. Islam also teaches that the much, much older accounts in the Hebrew Bible are either incorrect or incomplete, and that Muhammad's version of their lives from 1100 years after some of these events is the correct version. For example, Islam teaches that the proper heir to Abraham was Ishmael. The much older book of Genesis teaches that God selected Isaac. You're perfectly entitled to believe that the Jews got it wrong, but Islam absolutely teaches that Christianity and Judaism are wrong.

[–]AdeptusAstaraes 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Hoorah! Welcome to the family brother/sister! PM me if you want someone to reach out too :)

[–]morevinopls 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thank you! I lurk on r/christianity too!

[–]killer_reindeer 2 points3 points  (2 children)

First of all, I am very sorry about your sister. That sucks. I was very active in my church's ministry in high school, (I'm still religous) and one of the college students that helped run it had kind of a similar expierience with loss. His mother had breast cancer throughout his high school life, and he had a VERY close friend die in a car wreck.

I think he was basically agnostic after the accident. But his religous girlfriend now-wife still kept trying to help him cope, and sometimes bringing him to church as well. His philosophy after that whole mess, which was very humbling to hear after all that he'd been through, was basically this world is far from perfect, nobody really has a perfect life, and bad things happen because it is an imperfect world, and Christianity doesn't say that your life is going to be perfect if you believe in God.

Take this story as you will, maybe this story was absolutely useless to you, but that is kind of his story on going from atheism to Christianity despite all the bad that has happened to him.

You have an awesome story, and I'm sure, religion or not, are allot stronger after all that you have been through.

[–]morevinopls 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Thank you for your comment-- one thing I appreciate about the Christian community is our ability to be vulnerable and share our losses. I do think that everything has made me stronger, and it all works out for good because it led me to mentor High Schoolers through my church going through similar issues. I agree with your friend--Christianity doesn't guarantee you a perfect life on earth, but we can look forward to Heaven where we will be at peace with God.

[–]kittychiwawa 488 points489 points  (204 children)

Was at a low point in my life and needed something to believe in just to keep me going.

[–]OddFeature 173 points174 points  (122 children)

How does that work though? Like for me, I’m an atheist and have seriously considered rejoining the church during some low points in my life. However, it’s just not possible for me to decide to genuinely believe in all the stuff in the Bible that I currently don’t believe in for various reasons gathered from research when I first left the faith. Me joining the church again because I needed something to believe in would either involve me acting like a Christian but secretly not believing in any of it or me willfully deluding myself by choosing to believe those things.

Like even if I were to have some experience that I couldn’t explain and had to attribute to a God, I still wouldn’t be able to believe that Jesus is the son of God who performed miracles and rose from the dead. The lack of evidence supporting those things hasn’t changed and there’s generally nothing specific about people’s “encounter with God” experiences that ties them to any existing religion. Unless new evidence supporting the specific beliefs of Christianity is discovered, it’s just not possible for me to ever be a Christian again, no matter how much I might want to.

Sorry if any of this comes across as rude, I’ve just never been able to understand how someone who is an Atheist can become a Christian to fill an emotional need and have that be sufficient to make them believe all the things they didn’t before.

[–]hugehambone 103 points104 points  (37 children)

There are Christians that take the supernatural aspects of Christ's life as allegory but still view the story as having a holy, transformative power in the world. Meaning, the miraculous elements of the bible aren't necessary for the power of the gospels to be real. It's probably not as common but it is a legit standpoint to take.

[–]UndomestlcatedEqulne 33 points34 points  (2 children)

That's not actually a legitimate Christian stance. It spunds more like somebody who is "just spiritual."

[–]Schwertmeisterin 20 points21 points  (0 children)

It's a deist stance. Most of the founding fathers of the USA were deists. For example, Thomas Jefferson had his own Bible where he cut out all the supernatural elements from the Gospels.

[–]TheMeisterOfThings 51 points52 points  (28 children)

That's kinda moving the goalposts, isn't it?

[–]NinjaNorris110 71 points72 points  (11 children)

There isn't any goal posts to move. Religion is a very personal thing and frankly people should do what works for them rather than trying to fit within prescribed beliefs.

[–]Mend1cant 18 points19 points  (2 children)

I mean, shit, the bible itself talks about the relationship being entirely 1-to-1 with god. Your relationship with god has nothing to do with others.

[–]mattxmortigan 44 points45 points  (10 children)

I’ve been atheist basically all of my life. I’ve rejoined a church because my girlfriend likes me to go with her.

Last Sunday I had some sort of weird connection with the people around me. I could feel and almost see the love that was being poured out from all of the people. It was truly amazing. Im not sure if I believe in Christ, but these people are so happy and so at peace with themselves and death. I want that.

Sometimes people just need something to believe in and I think that I’m kind of forcing myself to believe in something. Which sucks in a way because it’s hard to do that, but I’m trying. Being around happy people and feeling the love in a room is contagious.

[–]TheObstruction 14 points15 points  (0 children)

Being a part of a like-thinking group isn't exclusive to worship or religion. Just go to a sportsball match, even if you aren't a fan of either team, if the home team is winning, it's hard not to get caught up in the fun. It's really just mob psychology, people get caught up in collective emotions.

[–]Twasnow 22 points23 points  (14 children)

So, I have been a Christian my whole life. But I am a very unlikely Christian. I am extremely logical and deductive in my everyday life. I am an engineer who is very in to science and I read everything. At the age of 4 in the middle of July I explained to my mother why santa couldn't possibly be real because there is no way one man could get around the whole world and deliver presents to everyone in one night.. At the same time God could do anything. But God is not a Man.

And that is the property through which belief becomes possible. God is so much more than omnipotent, as most people view omnipotence, God existing completely seperate from our universe including time, this allows for paradoxical outcomes, for instance: creating a universe knowing exactly what would happen while at the same time allowing free will and not fully controlling what will happen. By classical understanding this is quite impossible. Even with our understanding of quantum mechanics and quantum states we still do not have a proper grasp on this. Including time independant information transfer. We know it happens but can't really transmit anything useful classically faster than light (in to the future), or "back in time". On the other hand we can do similar feats. Consoder the double split experiment allowing us to create the conditions under which photons will be created, travel a path and make a uncontrolled choice on which slit to travel through (effectively traveling through both) and knowing that the outcome after repeating a few billion times will be a wave pattern.

In the same way God during times of active participation is collapsing the quantum possibilities in to a classical path. If not for manipulation than for viewing. (ie. the denials)

With stories of Jesus and miracles or other more super natural occurrences in the Bible. There are three very different ways of taking them. All of which in IMO are used and needed for correct interpretation either individually or combined)

A) it really did happen as or close to as described and B) they are explained as understood at the time. C) they are parable meant to be metaphors or analogous in order for some point to be made.

Now to really mess with science based dogma. And without even invoking unknown realms in, or outside our universe.

Assumptions: 1) the universe is infinite 2.) The universe has one set of physical rules. 3.) The universe is very close to evenly distributed.

Deductions:

Due to mass limitations/gravitational limitations and thermodynamics, and planks constant there are a finite number of ways to generate a solar system, or even a galaxy.

Therefore with an infinite universe not only are there aliens but there are alien world's identical to our own. Infact there are an infinite number alive right now with a second version of me writing this Reddit post. Where there is no difference between our world's in any way. There are also an infinite number of the smallest variations.

Which means there are an infinite number of world's where "miracles" have occurred by pure random chance. One of those worlds could be ours.

Oddly enough even with free will and quantum mechanical understanding intact all of this is possible. So long as there are infinite physical copies.

Amazing things happen and have happened in the past, it is up to you how you wish to explain them pure unbeleiveable chance in a finite world, inevitable in an infinite world, or sometimes with a little help from God.

Makes no difference which you choose, no matter what you are picking a belief the least likely of which is how most atheists view the world. Finite and purely by chance.

But there is no hard evidence for any of the possibilities.

(I did this on mobile as such there maybe be incompletions, mistakes, or insufficient argument) if it's unclear I would gladly clarify what I am saying.)

[–]fumblebuck 6 points7 points  (0 children)

How're you doing now?

[–]Asmaedus 18 points19 points  (18 children)

same here. I'm still pretty sure that it's just my brain coming up with an elaborate coping mechanism to stop myself from offing myself when I was in a virtually hopeless situation but I believe in something when I used to be CERTAIN that there was nothing, so it is what it is

[–]raslilay 26 points27 points  (7 children)

How does that work? You believe something to be true, but you know with almost certainty that you only believe that not because it's true but because you'd prefer it to be true.

[–]OddFeature 21 points22 points  (1 child)

Seriously. I’ve had plenty of people say that line “why not just believe in case you’re wrong?” The thing is, that’s not how belief works. If I don’t believe in something due to lack of evidence, I can’t just decide to genuinely believe in it without new evidence. I would just be deluding myself.

[–]fuck-dat-shit-up 26 points27 points  (19 children)

Similarly, I too have hit a low point in my life and needed something to believe in just to keep me going, and I found it in the MCU.

Whenever I feel low and wanting to die I remember that there is some new marvel movie coming out that I know I'll enjoy seeing.

[–]User-64 14 points15 points  (0 children)

I was gonna make a joke “what does mcu stand for, Marvel Cinematic Universe?” Then I read the rest of the comment...

[–]UNITBlackArchive 18 points19 points  (2 children)

Fuck the downvoters for this. When I was an angsty teen and got low, I would think about suicide but decide I wanted to see the next and future episodes of Star Trek more than dying.

As an adult, just under two years ago, I had some extremely serious medical issues hit all at once. Heart surgery, coma, basically a stroke. I really should have died a few times over. My brain had a full-on reboot and needed time to relearn everything. My leg didn't work at all.

The Doctors asked me to come up with goals as a way to encourage me to work through the physical therapy to be able to leave the hospital. I wanted to go home and be with my wife, I wanted to be able to see my dogs and be physically able to feed them and take care of them, and I wanted to see Captain America Civil War on opening night as I had with all other Marvel films.

The doctor rolled his eyes and pulled my wife aside. He said I wasn't taking the exercise seriously. She stopped him and assured him it was a valid goal for me. I missed it by about a week, but the day I got out of the hospital, my wife took the day off of work, we got my prescriptions at the pharmacy and she took me to go see Civil War.

Escapist shows can be powerful stuff. The MCU especially. It shows you a world where heroes act like heroes and gives us all role models to aspire to. Stay strong, /u/fuck-dat-shit-up. I hope things get better for you.

[–]RingGiver 150 points151 points  (37 children)

I started studying philosophy.

[–]kaoru17 69 points70 points  (8 children)

yea this was me too. Kierkegaard convinced me more than anyone.

[–]varro-reatinus 35 points36 points  (1 child)

K. didn't persuade me, but I did find it interesting that when I was going through my edgy atheist phase in my teens, my dad left his collection of K. sitting on my desk. He's a heathen as well, but had the good sense to know that I needed to come by it honestly either way, and that meant wrestling with K.

[–]815493001932 12 points13 points  (1 child)

I dont know what or who kierkegaard is, but its "graveyard" in norwegian and thats surprisingly ironic.

[–]Magmaniac 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Kierkegaard was an influential existentialist philosopher.

[–]sorenwilde 4 points5 points  (0 children)

How? His whole point is that faith is incommunicable?

[–]Hubers57 41 points42 points  (10 children)

Philosophy took away my faith and then gave it back. Doesn't help when you are 14 and starting with Marx with no context or teachers or philosophical vocabulary. But I got over it by the time I got to plato haha

[–]varro-reatinus 26 points27 points  (3 children)

Doesn't help when you are 14 and starting with Marx with no context or teachers or philosophical vocabulary.

Ouch.

But I got over it by the time I got to plato haha

Didn't Heidegger say something similar about the liberating effect of returning to Plato?

[–]jackmack786 6 points7 points  (1 child)

What philosophy/philosopher made you return to your faith?

[–]Hubers57 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I mean Plato is too idealistic but he got me back to some sense of a world outside of the material realm. Past that, while I don't necessarily agree with all of these men, Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, and Kant were some of the big names I read that I think influenced me gradually.

[–]starggg 237 points238 points  (45 children)

I grew up with parents who hated religion (although I couldn't tell you if they are atheist or agnostic), so I never believed in God until I was in high school. I felt like I was missing something, so I started out trying to pick a more trendy religion, which led to about a year of being Wiccan when I was 15 or so. But that didn't really fit for me.

A friend invited me to her church many times, and I finally said yes when I was 16. From that point on, I believed in the Christian God, although I wouldn't say that my faith was very strong. It didn't help that my parents were very upset about my beliefs, because they hate Christianity more than other religions (both had bad experiences as kids with Christians).

In college, I had my first manic episode (didn't know I was bipolar until then, just thought I was depressed a lot), and ended up in the psych ward for being suicidal when the mania started to go away. Having (what I consider to be) a near death experience pulled me closer to God, and I've had strong faith since then.

[–]LuckyFourFingers 70 points71 points  (1 child)

I think that people who turn to religion after being a non-believer while they were young end up having the strongest faith. Just like st.Paul who prosecuted Christians before he had his vision and turned religious.

[–]AdeptusAstaraes 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Once thing about Christianity: it is not religion. It is a relationship. PM me if you want more in-depth stuff :).

Historical note, Paul didn't just become religious, he literally became one of (if not THE) most influential Christian(s) ever to walk the planet.

[–]ThatOneClassyRetard[S] 52 points53 points  (9 children)

Nice story. Sucks about your parents though, thats not right.

[–]starggg 35 points36 points  (8 children)

Yeah, it definitely makes things awkward. We just can't talk about it. I understand though, some people who call themselves Christians can be really horrible. My dad's brother is one of the crazy, beat-you-over-the-head-with-it kinds, so I can see why he might not want that for his daughter. But still, tolerance would be nice too.

[–]vociferouswad 40 points41 points  (5 children)

There's assholes in every group I wish more people would understand that. Just because you call yourself something doesn't make it so.

Actions not words.

I've met cool atheists and jerk theists, just like I've met the opposite can't pay the jerks any mind.

[–]ThatOneClassyRetard[S] 9 points10 points  (1 child)

Yeah i understand. But then they are generalizing a whole religion based off one person, making them just as closed-minded :p

[–]OrcaShaped 116 points117 points  (21 children)

The first girl I fell in love with broke up with me. Last night was the lowest night I've ever had. After telling her I was going to kill myself, looking up ways to do it, and truly believing I was actually going to, I prayed and asked for a sign to whether or not I should keep going and I shit you not, music that I had tried playing earlier on my phone finally loaded or something and started playing and the words I remember hearing said how can I pick you up if you never fail. I'm going to church today for the first time in a long time because I want to believe there's a reason for the hurt I felt and because I truly believe that something saved me last night.

[–]ManWithYourPlan 8 points9 points  (1 child)

I had something not nearly as intense as what you experienced probably 10 yrs ago now.

Was going through a rough time in my life. Graduated high-school and was experiencing heavy change. Heavy change can be pretty challenging, especially when you're changing almost your entire way of life.

I was frustrated to the point of essentially just giving up on everything, and went into my room. I had heard of people getting answers randomly through reading scripture. I grabbed my bible and flung it open and read the first thing that came up.

It essentially said "Be humble, you know what you're doing is right, and it's time to change your ways."

Hit me like a ton of bricks.

I can't even begin to imagine where your head is right now, but I just want to say that it'll all work out for you. Just keep going!

[–]StupidSTUPIDLogin 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Sometime hurt & pain happens for no great reason. You can't always control what's done to you...but how you react to it is entirely under your control.

Keep moving forward.

[–]Teacherofmice 53 points54 points  (15 children)

Well for me it started because of a girl. She was a Christian, I was not so for us to date I had to become one. That was just my motivation though.

Like many atheists I simply didn't want to hear any of the arguments Christians made. Doorknockers would come and I would be polite but it didn't matter what they said I didn't care. I had many interactions with many Christians and every time I was willing to sit there and listen but I wasn't personally concerned with what they told me, no matter how sincere they were. So basically finding a girl gave me the motivation to actually listen and care and once I heard the message I realised the truth of it.

I remember quite clearly one conversation I had with her in my car one night. She was trying to get me to believe and I was just firing question after question at her. Just the same cliche questions like 'if God is good why is there suffering?'. She had a good answer for every one and I was getting frustrated because she always had an answer. But then I kind of thought 'hey, wouldn't that make her right then?' I mean if she answers 50/50 questions correctly and they all make sense and I haven't got any real evidence to refute it then maybe she is right.

I now fully believe in creation, virgin birth, Jesus death and resurrection and everything else.

[–]TheNextGreatHacker 15 points16 points  (8 children)

just curious, what was her response to "if God is good why is there suffering?'

[–]ADHDpotatoes 17 points18 points  (3 children)

I can't speak for OP, but I've always thought of it as "If the sun gives off light, why is it dark?". The sun isn't responsible for the clouds that block its light, and it's still there, just blocked by something else.

[–]annafirtree 4 points5 points  (1 child)

Either the sun doesn't have the power to burn through the things casting shadows, or it chooses not to?

[–]HenryEV 4 points5 points  (0 children)

That doesn't really hold up, though. Like /u/annafirtree said, either the sun cannot shine through to the shadows or it chooses not to. So, to take the analogy back to god, either god is not omnipotent, or he can end suffering but chooses not to.

[–]dafruntlein 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I'm curious to what answers she gave. Also, have you looked up on arguments against your religious beliefs? It seems like having an answer to your questions is enough to get you to start thinking about the other side, and there are plenty of those against creation, virgin birth, etc. So I guess I'm wondering what made you stick with Christianity instead of flip-flopping between both sides or staying somewhere in the middle.

[–]Fiftywords4murder 66 points67 points  (35 children)

I wouldn’t say I’m religious now but I certainly believe in more than I did a few years ago. I was staunchly atheistic before my mom passed away. I grieved her death before it even happened when she was sick with lung cancer because I believed when you die, that’s it. After she passed away, so many things have happened that have lead me to believe that she is still around and that there is more than I what I previously believed. So I guess I would say I’m agnostic now but I’m certainly more spiritual than I ever was.

[–]taytermuffin 13 points14 points  (5 children)

Just curious, what kinds of things happened?

[–]AdAstra257 23 points24 points  (4 children)

Not OP, but I have a similar experience. Im still an atheist tho, blame visions as hallucinations and stuff like that. Also, I'm Mexican, so English is not my first language. And I'm on mobile.

My grandmother who lived in another state passed away due to an unknown respiratory illness. Mother took us to visit a month after my grandmother's funeral. Her house was a ranch, pretty good sights of mountains, everything greeen. The house was big, with many rooms. Anyways, I was a kid at the time, so I don't really undestood what her death meant. I knew she wouldn't ever come back, but it just never hit me as hard as the rest of the family. I don't remember many of the supposed visions I had, but mother swears I did some crazy stuff when I was little. Like talking to an old man dressed in gray that floated by our window in a room in the house, an hour before an aunt called us to tell that uncle Thomas just passed away. He was dressed in a grey suit when he died. And my description of him matched, even when I didn't knew him.

The one that I do remember on my own is that I saw what some people call my grandmother's ghost. Completely human, wearing a dress at midnight while everyone else was asleep. She opened our room's door and looked at me, my mother woke up and saw her too, and the ghost walked away and entered my grandfather's room, and whispers were heard the rest of the night. Grandfather was weird the next day, but claimed that nothing happened.

My aunts and uncles all saw things around that house all their lives. They say that my great great grandfather was a Brujo, a male witch, and did some kind of ritual in the house long ago, when it was still being built. They claim it was a human sacrifice to some African God. Also a "curse" runs in the family, all my uncles and aunts say that, around their 40th birthday, they dream of a beast they have to fight. Some kill the beast, and live long and plentiful lives. Some die at the fight, and are diagnosed with an illness, sometimes mortal. Around the dates they have the dream, sometimes a creature has been seen around the house. It is described as a monkey with coal black skin and fur, and eyes red as blood. It is apparently capable of speech, and has tried to lure children into the jungle by mimicking familiar voices.

Also strange lights have been observed in the area. I personally saw a slow lightning that ran horizontally until it reached a lake, then took off to the sky. And it's common ish to see some kind of fireballs that float around the house, sometimes even entering the house, in the Día de los Muertos eve.

As I said, I dont want to believe any of this, but it is the narrative that runs in the family. I witnessed personally some things, but I say I hallucinated, even when somebody else saw them along with me. It's pure anecdotal evidence, but the idea of any of this being true messes up with my rational self. There are other things that happened, but I'm tired of writing in my phone.

[–]Ganthamus_prime 35 points36 points  (6 children)

I once felt a presence randomly wash over me. That wasn't when I suddenly became a Christian, but when I started to search for who it was. It took me 14 years until I truly started learning about Christianity and who God and Jesus are. I studied and learned about who God was, and what he wants for us through his love. It is an amazing thing when you pray for something and it comes true, or you make it through a tough time you didn't think you could because you asked for help. I am a logical person by nature and I don't just believe things on a leap of faith, I need evidence and God has given that to me on multiple occasions so I need to accept that and use this knowledge. Last year I chose to be baptised as a Christian as I found God, and wanted to live my life in dedication to him. Having Jesus as an example on how to live has made me a much better person, I know people don't need Jesus to be a better person but it sure helped me.

[–]ThatOneClassyRetard[S] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Good answer thanks for sharing

[–]12345thrw 8 points9 points  (3 children)

Same. I have asked for evidence several times and God has given it to me.

God / Jesus / angelic forces / good once intervened to save me from a glass explosion in my kitchen about a year ago. Every part of the kitchen was completely covered in small vicious shards of glass, I was in the middle of the whole thing, but I was completely untouched apart from one tiny shard in my upper arm. Not a hallucination - my boyfriend saw it too. It was all around me, the only way it could have missed me was a miracle.

[–]pepel101 35 points36 points  (29 children)

This is one I can speak to. I was raised in an atheistic family, but recently I have become a theist. Still not religious in the strictest sense, as I want nothing to do with dogma and ritual, but through a combination of philosophic readings in my college major and several psychedelic experiences, I have come to the conslusion that some structuring entity (god, the divine, whatever) must exist. Still trying to come to terms with my religious experiences, but it provides me with an existential anchor that I feel was sorely lacking in my life. I am going through the process of trying to articulate my beliefs, and I have no idea where this will lead me, but I feel excited to find out. Let me know if you want me to expand on this story, as I feel it might help me understand myself more :)

[–]ThatOneClassyRetard[S] 17 points18 points  (23 children)

Go ahead we are all listening

[–]pepel101 31 points32 points  (22 children)

So I guess it started with reading Heidegger's On The Way To Language, which set up for me the experiential nature of Being and our use of language tp relate to existence. Heidegger in his ontology set's up a system of percieved beings, and the presence of those beings, or the potentiality inherent behind our perceptions of external reality. Then I read Hoff's The Tao of Pooh, which was my introduction to Daoism, and I started looking at the world as is, wothout necessarily making judgements. This kinda set my mindset for my further experiences.

Around the same time, I had my first "religious" experience on a couple of tabs of acid. I was looking into a bonfire, and I saw math. Like fractals, infinitely extending in a mathematical fashion. I looked around and noticed the sheer complexity of nature around me, which was the first push towards considering seriously the notion of the divine.

Now here I'll note that I have been repelled by the notion of an anthropomorphic deity such as in the Judeo-Christian tradition since I can remember, feeling that it was too simplistic and dogmatic (without going into further issues).
Further, I was engaging with Ancient Greek philosophers, and the idea of multiplicity in unity. Also, while reading Plato, I was struck by the notion of the pharmakon (in the Phaedrus dialogue), the idea of something being at once itself and its opposite. (An example being pharmaceuticals - at once a cure and a poison). I was beginning to think that perhaps a lot of human thought was structured be these seeming paradoxes, that we kind of just ignore? Having faith that something is, without being too concerned with contradictions.

The next chapter of my thought began with a rather large dose of shrooms, during which I encountered an "entity" I'll call the Pattern. It was a sort of wierd state of enlightenment, during which I got the impression that all of Being is a movement of actualizing potentials, and every separate being is a part of that movement. I had this inexplicable assurance that anything you can concieve of either in some way is, has been, or will be. During this state of enlightenment, I was suffused with an impression of boundless, infinite [love, satisfaction, meaning?], feeling content in my place in the world. The Pattern felt like the totality of all variables coming together in a grand weave, with conscious beings and their free will forming the main threads, Upon further reflection, it reminds me of the supercomputer in Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but not really set to discover an answer, if that makes sense.

Besides that, there were several more experiences that I am having trouble putting to languagr right now, but these have made it impossible for me to call myself an atheist again. I understand that this rambling account probably does not explain anything sufficiently, nor do I feel it could. Due to the pure experiential nature of both the psychedelic and religious experience, it is hard to convey them through words. Someday after college, I hope to be able to write a book or ten about the phenomenology of the psychedelic experience, but that might have to wait a bit. In the meantime, if you have any specific questions, I wpuld be more than happy to try and answer them, as I feel that would be easier than writing this semi-coherent rambling story :) Thanks for hearing me out!

Tl;dr: read philosphy, did shrooms. No more atheist.

[–]InterstellarRun 2 points3 points  (3 children)

I think the nature of religious/spiritual experiences is one of the things that makes the misunderstanding between believers and athiests hardest. Religious experiences can be so powerful in shaping your own view, but they are extremely difficult to explain to another person.

[–]TsukaiSutete1 42 points43 points  (11 children)

I've found that when my life is a wreck, just having an hour every Sunday that is consistent is important. I may not know if the power will still be on, if I'll have a job or if the car will run. But one thing in my chaotic life, Sunday service, will be the same.

Except it isn't.

This is why I don't go to church any more -- Sunday service is not the same because they are trying to attract younger people who do not value tradition, at the expense of the older people who have reached the stage in their life where tradition matters.

[–]ericswift 26 points27 points  (5 children)

Go find and Orthodox church - basically been the same service for at least a 1000 years.

[–]shrapnelasylum 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I find that a lot of Lutheran churches are similar

[–]gitta_wynant 5 points6 points  (1 child)

What has changed? Are you Catholic?

[–]TsukaiSutete1 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Was. Sometimes am.

Without the imagery and traditional hymns, churches seem too generic for me.

[–]kylebutler775 16 points17 points  (15 children)

Because I realized that I've always believed whole heartedly in evil, and by that course of thought, if evil exists good must have to as well.

By default, i can't believe in one and not the other....

[–]Hubers57 6 points7 points  (13 children)

Augustine would say evil is the privation or absence of goodness, as a shadow or darkness is an absence of light. That is its not a thing in its own right, it's merely the lack of a good.

[–]kylebutler775 2 points3 points  (4 children)

That's the thing, there wasn't an absence of goodness, I only focused on the negative or evil and refused to accept the goodness does exist.

I'm still confused as hell about everything, but I can't be a hypocrite and believe in one and not the other.

[–]maharanisaheba 28 points29 points  (9 children)

I wasn't a pure atheist but wasn't into religion either. I was 16/17 yo when I felt dead and everything looked meaningless. Have a successful career as an artist? My works will perish one day - either by war or time forgotten. My father left me when I was young, then there was a time I had no friends, so I had a good idea how people detach from each other so easily. All the images about happiness from media were a mocking lie.

Then on a New Year a young woman with a small daughter next door died. She was pregnant. Her family was preparing to party big. Then she suddenly had high blood pressure. At midnight they took her to the hospital. She wasn't breathing properly. The doctors somehow calmed it down. Then she threw up and the vomit got stuck in her windpipe. She kept choking. The doctors tried to operate the baby out but the woman would have definitely died then. So they tried to clear the passage. Her brother was holding her hand, everyone lurked helplessly, when she died. So did the baby. I heard crying at 2 a. m. after New Year. My theology teacher once said that this world is temporary, not even worth the wings on a fly. And our death is not within our control. I realized it then.

I started looking for answers. What is the truth? I'd been trying to know for a while now. Is there a mystery we need to solve before we get it? Are their puzzle pieces lying around? I had heard all kinds if religious preachings but started with Quran because most of my knowledge of a Truth came from Islam. Sure I'd find a clue here. I read it, the beginning, a strong realization came.

This is the book from God who created everything. He created all the knowledge we have, our consciences are exposed in the book. And created right and wrong to test us through it, even the happiest face trials. He is the wisest, he puts trial to a human according to his strengths and beliefs. He forgives if we make a mistake and is just when we hurt others. I realized our lives really IS divided in 2 phases - the pre death and the eternal after. Years now I observe the people and world and their unstable changing nature. Look at this world, its opposite is the nature of hereafter. Since everything is made in pair - right and wrong, male and female, rational and surreal. I gain knowledge on other religions too, have learned their basic concept and what they understand of reality. I like to know more of them. But this has stood strongest.

[–]UnshadedEurasia001 11 points12 points  (6 children)

I grew up in a conservative christian household. I was even sent to a private Christian school where I was taught that the earth was only 6,000 years old, Noah's flood actually happened, and Jesus was going to come back for the believers soon. I also went to church two, sometimes three times a week.

I hated it. When I got older and saw how scientific theories such as evolution contradicted the bible's story of creationism, my faith weakened. When I heard argument's against a loving god like the problem of suffering and the problem of hell, my faith pretty much fell apart. The fact that the bible contradicts itself was the icing on the cake, and I happily dropped my religious beliefs like a bunch of shitty baggage I no longer wanted. I was an atheist, maybe even an antitheist, for a long time.

My life was pretty dull and straightforward for years, so there was never any reason to address my faith (or lack thereof). However, I soon ran into some very difficult life circumstances, including some major health and mental illness problems. I was forced to confront my beliefs. I found that I felt empty and cynical without christianity; I had lost the sense of community that comes with a church, and lost the sense of hope that comes with the belief in a good God. But I could not just go back to those things after seeing how flawed christianity was, surely?

Around this time I met a man on an internet forum who seemed to be a garden variety Catholic. But I soon learned that he was pretty liberal, and he had an active spiritual life. We got to talking and he became my mentor, of sorts.

He was able to provide a counterpoint to every objection I had against the idea of God:

  • The universe doesn't need a creator, because evolution happened on its own. (Actually, Theistic evolution is the official doctrine of the Catholic church.)

  • The Bible is a flawed document containing violence and contradictions, it cannot possibly be the product of an infallible God. (The Bible never claims to be infallible, only useful for teaching.)

  • A loving God would never allow something like the Holocaust to happen. (This makes many assumptions about God-- that he exists on our timeline, that he has human faculties like 'consciousness' and a 'will,' and so on. We don't know these things about God.)

I could go on, but this man basically changed my views about God and what we can and can't know.

One interesting thing he said was that we can't know which holy texts were most useful, so it's best to read all of them! This coming from a man who went to mass every Sunday. He recommended Sri Ramana, A Course in Miracles, and The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.

He also recommended I start meditating. "If you want to know God, you have to reach out to Him." I didn't really know where to start, but the book on Sri Ramana recommended finding and eliminating the "I" thought, so that's what I started doing. If I had done some more reading, I would have found that there is a rich tradition of meditation in Christianity, starting with the Desert Fathers and Mothers.

At first, nothing happened. I just had racing thoughts and I couldn't sit still. But after a month or two something changed. It felt like my mind suddenly would be silenced by an outside force, then drawn into a state of deep quiet. I later learned that St. Theresa of Avila mapped out altered states of prayer, and one of the early states was what she called the prayer-of-quiet. I think that's what I was experiencing.

Then it felt like something BIG was about to happen. Like I was a tiny bug, and there was an ocean of love about to overwhelm me, held back by the flimsiest of dams. There were times when there were breaks in the dam and I would be overcome with emotion, I'd cry with joy or sometimes sadness. Sometimes I would see lights, and experience what I think the Eastern folks call "kundalini."

I've had my health issues flare up recently, so I haven't meditated as much as I'd like. But I know the ocean of love will be waiting for me when I do.

Wow, this turned out long. There's a line in A Course in Miracles that says, "Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?" I think that's a good way of summarizing my post. Even if atheism turns out being "right," though I don't think so, it's better to be technically wrong and happy.

[–]enslaved-by-machines 109 points110 points  (54 children)

Long story short... I was raised by a devout Catholic and an atheist.

I ended up on the atheist side with some reservations about it, but really convinced that religious people were mostly brain washed and only able hold such stupid ideas because they were indoctrinated as children.

Cut to my 20s, I traveled a lot around the world. I saw things, I experienced things. After alot of hard times, I found intense joy and love and learned to accept life as it comes including some very bad things.

But intellectually I still thought I was an atheist.

Then one day for no reason in particular..POP!

The delusion of my self vanished, along with all my beliefs and thoughts that informed it.

I saw myself and my life clearly for the first time.

My atheism was gone, in a blink, as was my narcissitic judgement of religious people.

I realized that my thoughts and beliefs and rigid self concepts were meaningless, and insubstantial, and that I really knew very little about myself and life much less bigger things like god or faith, and holding a hard opinion about almost anything usually means you are hung up on yourself.

[–]rsqejfwflqkj 15 points16 points  (1 child)

That doesn't sound like a transition from atheism to theism. It sounds like a transition from being judgmental to being open-minded.

Nothing in your comment says that you stopped being an atheist.

[–]Realistastic 34 points35 points  (5 children)

Your atheism was gone in a blink...and replaced by what exactly? Since atheism is simply the disbelief in gods (atheism is not some kind of life strategy), then not being an atheist would imply that you now believe in a god, or gods, and I was just curious as to which one you now subscribe to, or do you just consider yourself an enlightened deist?

[–]Pawn315 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Sounds like agnostic based on the story. They claim that anybody who is positive is too caught up on themselves, so they probably are open to the possibility, but don't feel it proven or disproven.

[–]vivaenmiriana 3 points4 points  (0 children)

agnostic what though?

you can be an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist.

[–]oceanlab_09 70 points71 points  (8 children)

Well, I grew up in a religious household went to church, prayed read the bible etc. In my teens, I turned my back on all of that being the rebellious jerk that I was. In my 20's thinking religion is stupid still, I turned to more spiritualism, Buddhism ideology. In my 30's realized that there is more going on in the text than meets the eye. I am adventuring back into it again with the internet there is so much information out there to help put a different view of the bible. If anyone has any time to listen to podcasts Jordan Peterson has a great series of the Bible. Something like 10 hours. I am on the 2nd podcast. he breaks everything down just for the setup for Genesis I. Truely gives a different perspective on the bible. Just use your own judgement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-wWBGo6a2w&t=3313s

[–]bmichellecat 25 points26 points  (6 children)

Had bad depression, lose a lot of friends. I started “praying” or talking out loud my thoughts and feelings. Crying, saying how i felt, wishing my life to get better. I started believing there was someone believing in me and wanting me to do better.

I don’t necessarily believe in a god, but i believe that there’s something or someone watching me, and someone that believes in me. I want to believe that, anyhow

[–]RepeatDickStrangler 58 points59 points  (53 children)

I realized Christianity laid the foundations for a society to build the modern world and religion actually does help many people in a way harmless way. But mostly, I absolutely despise atheists who have made it their defining trait, who must proclaim themselves proudly atheist and do battle with the religious zealots. I used to be one, grew up, and now cringe whenever I see it. You people are embarasing.

[–]Vissass 14 points15 points  (0 children)

I think anyone who feels the need to proverbially beat you over the head with their beliefs or not-beliefs is irritating... but it’s good to remember most of those people are on their own journey of self-discovery, just as you were and are, so please take them with a grain of salt and don’t just despise them.

[–]utsavman 5 points6 points  (6 children)

Several factors came into play for my change in perspective but the one which i really remember was questioning the after life. What if after your death you still remain? Like despite what you believed and whether you liked it or not you still remained, even if it went against everything you thought about the world. How would you deal with that situation? I became spiritual after all that.

[–]DreyaNova 5 points6 points  (3 children)

Was a militant atheist in high school, but then I graduated and studied philosophy in university. I learned that no-one really thought there was a man in the sky with ultimate power, that god can be defined in many different ways. I learned that religion and philosophy evolved together and that science grew out of philosophy. I just kinda realized that it’s stupid to put all my faith in science because there’s so much in my life I have experienced that can’t necessarily be proved of measured.

I’m not part of any religion now, but I’m certainly not atheist. I have a private relationship between myself and the powers that be, and I keep it to myself because religion only gets tricky when you try to force someone else to share your spiritual conclusions.

[–]XeniaPrincessWarrior 39 points40 points  (12 children)

I have a question. I literally posted this word by word and it didn't get to the main page. What did you do differently?

[–]ThatOneClassyRetard[S] 74 points75 points  (0 children)

Reddits just weird. Some things catch on others dont.

[–]snorlz 71 points72 points  (1 child)

he prayed

[–]Grunge_bob 10 points11 points  (0 children)

lol i knew someone was going to say this

[–]woodbetween 29 points30 points  (1 child)

It depends on who is looking at /new at the exact second you post it. If no one sees it and votes it, t passes on to oblivion. If someone upvotes it, it might get over to /rising, and then more people vote on it.

He who votes on the /new controls the sub

[–]RunnySnot 4 points5 points  (0 children)

It depends on who is looking at /new at the exact second you post it.

Also depends on what active bots are running

[–]honey-bees-knees 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Tis an act of God

[–]gregorio02 3 points4 points  (0 children)

it's all about when you post.

[–]bestica 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Nicole Cliffe (a writer I love and co-founder of the internet's former best site The Toast) recently wrote a piece about just this topic: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life.

[–]Hanschristiandick 25 points26 points  (7 children)

Here’s a book about Francis Collins’s (leader of the Human Genome Project) turn to religion: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Language_of_God

It does happen. People who say otherwise are mistaken.

[–]husstastic 13 points14 points  (7 children)

Mmkay, this is going to sound totally crazy. It blew mind spiritually, when before the experience, I prided myself on being a huge atheist. I was in my 20’s and getting intimate with my (now) ex-husband. So, at my moment of ...um, ahem... my pure bliss and ecstasy, a huge brilliant long cone of sparkly silver- white light shone out of the top of my head. It was so strong I felt the light must’ve shone through the ceiling and out the roof of our apartment. And at that moment I heard a clear loud monotone voice in my head say, “communion with god”. Then the light ceased. The room was pitch black before and after the event, and I was not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, nor was I prone to hearing voices before this. I asked my partner if he saw that amazing bright light, and he hadn’t. I was shocked by the experience for weeks afterwards. I later realized that the strange occurrence was likely some sort of a ‘kundalini rising’ experience. I will never forget it, and as a result I was an atheist no more.

[–]PM_me_GOODSHIT 40 points41 points  (44 children)

Opened my mind to different possibilities. Ended up a Mormon. Still kinda confused about it.

[–]VerbalCoffee 7 points8 points  (0 children)

It's good you found something to believe in. And I've had experience with Mormons and such growing up. (I live in Utah) I haven't had the bad fortune to meet any "bad" Mormons. So most of the ones I've met, and been around, were good people.

I decided to give it a try myself. But once I got into it, the more confused I was as well. Things didn't mesh and the 'politics' of the more serious things in the church was enough to push me out. After leaving I got some mean looks from old friends and their families. Didn't feel welcomed after that. haha

[–]vociferouswad 43 points44 points  (9 children)

No offense but that seems like it would be one of the first religions an atheist would call BS on. What led you to going there?

I can't get behind the whole needing to be a member to really find out what a church believes model. Maybe I just want magic underwear and I like handshakes through sheets?

[–]Herbivory 10 points11 points  (4 children)

I don't think Mormons are particularly secretive about their beliefs.

[–]vociferouswad 5 points6 points  (2 children)

I read some stuff about secret hand shakes and hugging through a sheet, bunch of odd stuff. Could be bs.

[–]filthyAthiest 12 points13 points  (1 child)

Definitely not bs. I was born and raised in the Mormon church, went through the temple, served a 2 year mission. Realized it was all a fraud in my early twenties, so I jumped out of that cult and have never been happier. Joseph Smith was a piece of shit con man and pedophile.

[–]excusemydust 10 points11 points  (1 child)

I don’t know if my story is exactly what you’re asking for but it falls within the scope of the question, so I decided to share.

I was raised by three generations of women—my great-grandmother was a woman of faith in the best sense of the term: she believed in love and hospitality and service. My grandmother is quite like some atheists’ strawman Christian: narrow-minded and ignorant of the world. My mother has wavered between atheism and agnosticism most of her life. As a child, my great-grandmother and grandmother took me to whatever church was closest to our home—first a United Methodist church, then a Baptist, then a Wesleyan. If you’re unfamiliar, you might not notice that this was a journey from the more progressive brand of Protestantism to the more conservative.

I’m gay. That realization dawned when we were attending the more conservative church. I grew to hate myself, begging God to change me on a daily basis, struggling with self-worth and feeling torn from what I perceived as God. Eventually I decided that being sane as a gay person and being a Christian were untenable together.

I explored all sorts of faith traditions, from Buddhism to Judaism to Wicca to non-structured new age spirituality. Ultimately I decided that nothing worked for me and I would have to carry on without any of it.

I lived for many years without any sort of religious faith. I experienced tremendous loss and fear and loneliness and none of that caused me to long for a God. I’ve never had any interest in an afterlife. I never had any ill-will toward believers except when they were intolerant people who used their beliefs to justify it.

As I close in on 30, I’ve found that as belief mattered less and less to me, the more that I’ve believed. It’s counterintuitive and sort of stupid and not totally explainable. I began attending a United Church of Christ about a year ago for a sense of community and found their progressive brand of Christianity charming, particularly its willingness to acknowledge the wisdom present in all paths. I’ve enjoyed learning the insight of the ancients, the radical hospitality of Christ, and studying the Bible in its historical context and for its metaphors and literary value.

God, as both a personal and impersonal force, has wiggled its way into my mind or whatever one might call a soul. I don’t know if She hears my prayers or cares at all, but opening myself up to Spirit has given me a framework by which I can examine the world and explore potential meaning.

TL;DR - I was raised religious. I left religion. I stumbled back unintentionally. No great revelations, no particularly interesting plot lines.

[–]mjboyer98 9 points10 points  (1 child)

It’s kinda sad that the top comments under many of the attempts to answer this question are atheists trying to undermine the beliefs of those answering the question

[–]DoctorLaurdBalthazar 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Same old story, I was at a low point and I needed a God in my life.

[–]Milli63 3 points4 points  (9 children)

I grew up as a very religious kid. I started being very doubtful at the age of ~15. I thought Judaism seemed more plausible than Christianity but I was sick of trying to prove things to myself so I left religion. I've recently been pretty pre-ocupied with looking into religion for the past month or so and I'd say that yes, Judaism makes some sense to me.

[–]ericswift 2 points3 points  (7 children)

I find that interesting, do you mind explaining why you find Judaism more plausible?

[–]chingu_not_gogi 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I was raised in church. I left it when I read the bible and realized what a crock it is. A decade or so later I realize it's not about that, I feel more spirtually filled when I open myself up to believing in a greater power. Maybe not the Christian one, but just something out there, being a part of that circle is a nice feeling.

[–]CHUBBL3S 13 points14 points  (1 child)

A bit late but:

I'm still an atheistic agnostic. When I was 12 the thought popped into my head..... what if God isn't real? This meant, to me, that 1) maybe the universe wasn't created and 2) maybe there wasn't anyone watching over me, either to judge me or make sure I was safe. I was in the throes of teenage depression, I guess. I had gone a solid year feeling like... I could feel the bottom of the barrel. Like my heart was drenched in gasoline. Like my soul was a pile of glowing ashes about to burn out. It brought me a HUGE peace that it wasn't my caretaker being negligent. I found IMMENSE relief that I was going to die someday, and all evidence pointed to my neurons ceasing their communication and that "I" would cease to be. For ten years I consistently found comfort and purpose in that it'll all be over when I'm dead, that I'm the master of my own self, and moral compass. I still do.

I hated religion. I hated that there were houses where people went every week to have their children taken advantage of, and to threaten with eternal hellfire if they stepped out of line. I still do. I still know trans kids in the homeless circuit who aren't welcome in their families' homes. I still hear about the slap on the wrist pastors get when they abuse children. I can't believe that the abuse happens so often in that context. I think it might just be confirmation bias, no other group can be categorised like that to write news stories, but the fact is I still hear about it happening in church 8/10 times. And I can't forgive the reprecussions for it, public apologies from the vatican and months in jail, if any.

There were three things that made it slightly more palatable for me. First, I read the chronicles of Narnia. (Aside from being super racist) the way they describe Aslan is a personification of hope, love, happiness, all right in the world, and as a mighty lion, stonger and more powerful than anything else. Sometimes only one person sees him. But when he says he knew it was Him, people understand and believe him. It's not that everything that was good and right follows Aslan around, or that he can command it somehow. The Good in the world is a palpable force, and Aslan's face ia the face of that Good, and the presence of it. When the world finally ends, and everything is polarized into good and evil, top and bottom, dark and light, Aslan stands near a pearly gate and the demon lord (that the turbaned, brown, evil, obviously Arab race worships, and all the monkeys go there. It's Allah. Super fucking racist) who inspired the same amount of fear and idiocy in his followers that Aslan inspired hope and bravery, stands near a dark pit, and everything hurries into them, with one half of everything making good and the other bad. And a new universe can be created from this. It changed my perception of God. The sun shines, and the wind blows, and friends talk to each other. Instead of God being a bearded white man in the sky that commits adultery with married women, it took a more practical definition. That Good was god, and not the other way around. Immediately the worship made a whole lot more sense.

The second thing was a post about the age-old question, "if you don't believe in God, what stops you from raping and murdering people?" Apparently Christians are taught that their conscience is the voice of God speaking through them, and are jarred when people claim not to believe in, or follow the will of, that voice. Applying the logic found in my first point, I can respect God utterly.

The third thing was my boss. Well, not my boss, but his boss. I've never met a bigger Jesus freak (not that I've met a lot.) He is infinitely patient. He sets good goals, and reaches them without complaint. He assures everyone that they are a rockstar, no matter their rank or status. I can't describe him in words, but I love him. Everyone does. It's impossible not to. He is understanding of mistakes, and fixes the root of the problem before ever passing blame. He sets higher standards for himself at every turn, and expects everyone to do the same. He has faith in himself, and in Jesus, recognising that they're one and the same, and yet separate. He doesn't entertain notions of failure, because God is with him and will lead him down the right path.

I now admit that I do believe in God. I believe in good, that the wind is blowing and the sun is shining and that friends are talking. I believe that there are bad days, but there are lulls in music and commas in stories (or, semicolons. have you heard of that tattoo thing? I get that in full now) that give the whole thing shape and substance. I believe that power of the good things is unlimited. That if we trust the sun shining on us and our ability to be the sun for others, and more importantly just ourselves, we can accomplish spectacular feats. Like being comfortable in our own skin. Or leading a team to success. Or pushing ourselves through mighty ordeals. It's faith in the feeling that makes life worth living, to you. Faith in God?

[–]TrialsAndTrybulation 22 points23 points  (45 children)

OP is reading comments here, so I'll chime in. I was a serious, hardcore atheist for a good part of my life. I was brought into my mom's church when I was 14 and was deeply religious until I was about 19, but it had an effect that lasted a good part of my life, because when I left I was resentful and antagonistic of Christianity until recently.

From my 20s, I was publicly an atheist, so much so that I joined Madalyn O'Hair's organization American Atheists in 1985 and was literally a card carrying Atheist (they liked to spell it with a capital A). I wore that as a badge of honor. Even until several years ago, I was hostile to Christianity.

What changed my mind was reading a book by James P. Hogan, a science and science fiction writer, called "Kicking the Sacred Cow". In it, he explained why he held views that were in great, stark contrast with the mainstream. The man was a thinker after my own heart, in that he followed the evidence to the conclusion and didn't shy away if it was unpleasant.

He explained why he, too, started to believe in intelligent design -- not necessarily the creation of the Bible, but that there was a clear and identifiable pattern in nature, and that these are the marks of a creator. I began to read other books on intelligent design by writers he named and was persuaded by the evidence that, who or whatever it was, this all was made by a creator, an intelligent designer. It was particularly the obvious design of DNA and bacteria, and especially cell design, that brought me over.

This may not be religion per se, but I find a considerable amount of comfort that everything we experience is not accidental, and may not even be part of grand plan, but at least is part of a structure or a continuum that has a higher intelligence involved.

[–]StupidImbecileSlayer 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Interesting, it was the design of DNA that turned me away. I believe everybody in the USA should take a semester of introductory Bio (or AP Bio in high school if available that's where it started for me)

edit: away from Christian fundamentalism

edit2: to agnosticism

[–]Taxtro1 10 points11 points  (4 children)

So after reading a lot of pseudoscience you got convinced that everyone is wrong about biology?

[–]forthemame 19 points20 points  (2 children)

If you're using life and whatever "all this" means to show intelligent design, you are really going out of your way to ignore all the shitty designs in the process. That's got to be one of the weakest arguments in favor of intelligent design.

[–]beardlessclamlover 38 points39 points  (22 children)

Long story short from a first hand experience, evil spirits are real.

[–]Seanay-B 57 points58 points  (5 children)

Let's hear the long version

[–]HipHopSince88 10 points11 points  (0 children)

I second this.

[–]250kgWarMachine 20 points21 points  (1 child)

Slammed 3 tabs of acid at disney land I'd assume

[–]varro-reatinus 16 points17 points  (0 children)

Even without the acid, Disneyland is proof enough of evil in the world.

[–]StupidSTUPIDLogin 5 points6 points  (7 children)

That's...that's not a story at all. That's a statement. We want the story!

[–]Jules040400 4 points5 points  (2 children)

Please share, everyone here would love to hear it.

[–]overachievingovaries 6 points7 points  (1 child)

Weirdly enough, my husband became possessed by "something" in a house we rented, I had to call a priest. True story. I knew after that there was more to life than I had originally thought. I can't say I am especially religious now, but I am a believer.

[–]12345thrw 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Would you mind sharing your story? I'd be interested to hear.

[–]iamboredca 5 points6 points  (6 children)

Different story, atheist that wishes I could turn religious. I tend to overthink... everything. My family is a mix of believing because they can’t imagine not (mother) and choosing to believe because they want to/don’t put much thought into it (brothers/sisters)

I find religion fascinating the way I find science fiction and fantasy fascinating. When I lost my father I suddenly understood the desire to believe in god, afterlife, and all the other good stuff. But wanting it to be true doesn’t make it so, anymore than wanting to stroll the Elysian Fields or sail to the land of Valinor. Or, in slightly more contemporary terms, receive a letter from Hogwarts.

I have yet to hear of a person, and I’ll admit I didn’t read all the responses to this, who became religious after a reasoned examination of facts. If that person is reading, and chooses to extend their perspective, I’m happy to read/listen.