Nan posted the following questions at her blog (https://sayitnow.wordpress.com/2019/04/10/just-curious/), and I thought I’d also put them here as a mini-FAQ.
If you were once a believer but are now a non-believer/atheist/agnostic/deist — what denomination did you leave?
I was a Baptist (Evangelical) for 40 years. And not nominal; I’m the son and grandson of people whose faith is the central defining element of their identity, who regularly attend church not as a duty but because it’s who they are.
What was the FIRST inclination you had that things were not as they seemed? I realize that once you leave religion, you discover many things that were “off,” but if you can remember, what was that one thing that triggered your move in the “other” direction?
I don’t remember what the first issue was, and I really wish now I had taken better notes (I had no idea where the path was going to take me). All I remember is that I was reading a blog article written by a non-Christian, and I thought to myself: “Huh! That’s a good point; how would I answer that?” It turned out to be the first thread I pulled that ultimately led to the whole sweater unravelling. The first issue led to others, and I started to take notes to organize them all, and about two years later I was reading another article and I was suddenly struck by the realization: “I’m not a Christian any more. I no longer believe this is true.”
So if you’re a blogger or writer, never doubt that words have an effect! Many people are reading what you write, some are believers that lurk or use a pseudonym, and a few of them are starting to think seriously about what they believe. Some will deconvert.
Is there anything you miss about being a believer? Perhaps the regular get-togethers with people of like-mind? Singing in the choir? Getting up early on Sunday morning?
The music is a big one; I was very involved in music at church. Now I have this weird dualism: I love the music but completely disagree with the words.
The other one is being on the same page with my wife, kids, and virtually everyone in my life (who remain Christians). We’ve achieved a reasonable détente (mainly by not talking about the elephant) and everyone is friendly, no one is harassing or proselytizing obnoxiously. But the boundary is there, and it gets awkward and wearying at times.
Is there ANY event/circumstance/happening that might cause you to return (or consider returning) to your faith?
Yes, and this is a question every ex-believer should be prepared to answer. (1a) If God actually showed up; was seen by everyone, answered questions, demonstrated knowledge and power, and made it clear that Yahweh/JC/HS really is One True God. Or (1b) If I saw evidence and reasons sufficient to convince me that I’m wrong, and such a God really does exist.
That would be “necessary but not sufficient” however. Also required is (2) If I was convinced God was just and loving and worthy of worship and being followed. God’s hiddenness is a big obstacle, but also the Problem of Evil and many things in the Bible that contradict the notion of a perfectly just, perfectly loving God.
So I continue to read what Christians write (though I see fewer and fewer new arguments as time goes on). And I continue to keep an open mind (all knowledge/belief is provisional; we may be 99.999% certain but never 100% certain). But I’m not holding my breath; I’m living according to my current beliefs.