Below is an email from an ALMOST unbeliever who I attempt to help along the path to disbelief. I’ve always thought it’d be wonderful to have collection of unrepentance stories detailing the exact moment, realization or epiphany that caused a believer to declare their atheism. I realize it’s generally a long process, but usually there’s a moment when the lightbulb finally sparks to full glow and there’s no turning back. What was your Moment of Deconversion? Please share. I plan to use your stories for a new page of fan mail.
Now to Lauren’s letter….
I sort of just stumbled onto your site through Dress Up Jesus. When I first saw dress up Jesus I laughed to myself a little bit haha. But this is kind of long, and I don’t even know if you check this or will respond, but i just wanted your opinion on some stuff I have been wondering.
Anyways, i looked around on your site and read some of the mail you have gotten. And reading through a few of your responses I saw a few things you stated about what you did or didn’t believe and specifically that you don’t believe in God. Now I am from a Christian family, grew up in church, and now attend a Christian university. ‘Religion’ has been bred into pretty me even though I hate that term. But this last summer, while trying to explain Jesus and God and Christianity to a friend of mine I realized that I don’t even know if I believe what I am trying to convince my friend of. I mean how can some Being that I am told I will never understand create this earth which is huge and create all life and then because some ancestor of mine ate the wrong fruit, separate Himself from me and then love me still so much that He sends His son to earth who performs all these inexplicable miracles and heals people and then the people kill him and then he rises from the dead and goes to heaven and for some reason that saves my soul and I get to go some place up in the clouds when I die? Sounds kind of weird when you think about it. And so long story short, for the first time in my life, I don’t know. I can’t look you straight in the face and say that I believe God exists and in everything that Jesus did. I am doing some spiritual counseling with a mentor at my school but I am looking for some little piece of absolute proof of God’s existence so I can grab onto that and rebuild my belief system but it isn’t there. It is said God is God because He is unfathomable, but thats not working for me right now.
Anyways, what I wanted to ask you: since summer and all the questions, i have thought a lot about what life means now if I don’t believe in God. And if i take that thought and follow it through to what that means for me, it means life has no purpose. I can drop out of college or be valedictorian, fail my classes or ace them all, live homeless the rest of my life or make lots of money, be a jerk to everyone in my life or nice, go kill someone or save someone’s life, start a war or stop one…idk it doesn’t really matter. Because one day I am going to die and all the things i did in my lifetime won’t do anything for me when i am dead. And what about death? If there is no God, no heaven or hell, no redemption or damnation, then what happens when I die? Is it just eternal dark nothingness? I have been living in that mentality and it is depressing. Part of this is me venting thoughts, but I also want your opinion. Some Christian people in my life have given me sugar coated ‘o well you aren’t really doubting and Jesus is real you just have to believe’ answers and other Christian people have really been an encouragement to me despite how what they say still solves nothing. I have come to the conclusion that rejecting God for me is not an option because, well to be honest I can’t really deal with the idea of rejecting God any better than the idea of believing in God.
In my searching, I have come to find that if I could say I believed in God, He would be good, loving, and relational. I used to think I was better than people because I was a Christian and followed this moral code that somehow got me some special attention because I was good. But what I am finding is that this Jesus hung out with the rejects, the sluts, the diseased, the homeless and the needy. In fact, he would have been rejected by today’s mega churches, televangelists and ultra conservative bible-thumpers. But I still can’t grasp Jesus or grasp the idea of God. This was a little longer than I expected, so if you are still reading sorry. But I would like your honest ideas, especially on the after-life and if God exists. Just stuff I am wrestling with currently, and I don’t know, you just seemed like a guy who would give me your ideas straight. Anyways, thanks!
P.S. – hey, also reading your hate mail, I still consider myself to be a Christian despite doubting pretty much everything (i think i am allowed to do that haha). but i am embarrassed to be put in the same category as those people who have been sending you terrible hate mail. i am no theologian, scholar, or even that religious, but if those people are supposedly following someone who’s ultimate message was just love everyone, they are doing a poor job of it. you are obviously stirring up the pot and getting under someone’s skin but someone is learning to love from what you are doing so good job i think.
Let me first say I know right where you’re at. I was there once and the answers that are so obvious to me now seemed like faint shadows of mystery then.
The most standout issue in your letter here, the thing that was simultaneously shoveled into your brain with God, is the “no purpose without God” idea. An idea that seems outright perverse when I consider it now. Would failing all your classes, dropping out of college, being a jerk to everyone and living a life of homelessness make your life better & more enjoyable? Forget whether or not it’d please the maker of the universe. Would it please you? Are you only living this life so you can hurry up and claim the prize someone promised waits for you after the grave? Do you honestly see no other reason to put effort into being good, expanding your mind, working towards the things that make you proud, and in general pursuing happiness as it applies to you?
Has the belief in God really taught you that your own goals, aspirations, pleasures and values aren’t important if it’s for yourself and yourself alone? Has your belief really encouraged this downgrading of your value and judgement? In my mind those sort of lessons are nothing short of mental abuse.
Obviously you have value without whatever god you pretend exists, and your well being matters, and doing things that give you meaning and purpose not only helps you but those around you as well. Treating others well inspires them to treat you well, which obviously adds to your own fulfillment. Failing all your classes, dropping out of school and living on the streets doesn’t sound like anything that’d make life more enjoyable or purposeful and help anyone you care about. On the other hand, expanding your mind, searching out intelligence, asking questions, and finding your own life’s purpose may not please this god-being at every turn, but it could sure put a smile on your face, and clear the cobwebs away from the purpose you’re seeking. Do you have a couple ideas bouncing around in your head that you could set your sights on that’d make for an enjoyable and interesting purpose in your life? Would throwing a brick through the window of a liquor store then stealing everything you could get your hands on and drinking yourself into oblivion help you acquire that fulfilling enjoyable purpose? Or would you instead be able to do something else to add value to your life so you can be someone you’re proud to be who, when she discusses what she believes, is proud of what she says because it makes sense?
My belief is that when I die it’s done. I didn’t exist before I was born, and I’m going to the same place afterwords. It wasn’t a scary world of darkness and nothingness or an eternal void, or anything at all. Before I was born I just wasn’t. I didn’t exist. And as I remember it wasn’t the least bit of an inconvenience. I suspect that nonexistence after life will be similarly uneventful. This immediately places FAR more value on the process of living this life. When I finally came to the conclusion that I was in fact an atheist, my life began to brim over with meaning and purpose. Much of which is trumpeted on my website for the world to scoff.
It became abundantly clear that living my life for an eternal super being who loved the speck of dust named Bob did very little to add meaning and value to my life. It’s impossible for me now not to see that concept as uninspiring, wasteful, and degrading. When I get emails like yours I tend to want to speed you along the path of unbelief so you can get started on REAL life. One that has you telling people about beliefs that make sense, have a basis, and encourage thought, study, and doubt.
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. I get ahead of myself and overly excited about seeing someone’s eyes opening up to reality.
If there’s any questions I didn’t answer let me know. I’ve got a head full of answers.