Lee's Deconversion Story

I deliberately tried to keep this to under five minutes reading time. I hope it is adequate. Here is a link to all my Posts at Debunking Christinity.
I grew up in a more or less religious background. I Attended church occasionally and also at Christmas and Easter like a lot of other people. One of my grandfathers was a Baptist preacher. My other two grandparents formed a church about sixty years ago that has grown into something like a mega-church today. About fifteen years ago I got serious in the church and went Baptist Fundamentalist. My reasoning was that since God exists, and he wrote the book, then I should accept my responsibility to have a relationship and assumed the Bible must necessarily be the literal word of God. With this literal viewpoint in mind I got involved in all sorts of conundrums relating to theology and comparing my observations to the way I understood the world should and does work and the way god is described to work and the promises it allegedly made to us.

In an attempt to reconcile problems that I noticed, I started to study the Bible, apologetics and lexicons very hard. I became a staunch apologist, and I could quote chapter and verse like a pro. But I kept running into these people that had really good points about why I was wrong, but I just minimized it using 1 Corinthians 2:14 which supports the idea that because they don't have the holy spirit they can't understand. But even that poses a problem in logic that I didn't bother to reconcile. I just didn't know enough to deal with their questions so I kept studying deeper. I was told that I should go to seminary and seriously considered it, but I wasn't motivated to figure out how to do it.

The more I studied the harder it was to take the Bible literally, so I started sliding into the more metaphorical style of belief. At this point I reconciled the question of how do you know what is metaphor and what is not by believing that praying and the holy spirit would solve that problem. And to take my mind off those kinds of problems, I got involved in "Spiritual Warfare". Having read a book about Earl and Lorraine Warren in my youth called "The Demonologist" and "The Exorcist" I was sure that this kind of thing really went on, and I was going to get in the fray. I sought out Wiccans and people I was convinced were being bothered by an evil spirit and tried to "help" them. In the midst of all this I had some personal crises that convinced me that the demons were fighting back. I prayed and prayed to no avail, and started to try to think of a time when I could say that a prayer actually worked. I couldn't think of many and I started to think that maybe I was just being forsaken like Jesus in the last minutes. I heard from well meaning people that God won't give you anything you can't handle. Well, that meant that I was not devout enough for his tastes or that I was too weak. I didn't buy into either option. After I got to where I couldn’t take it anymore I made a deal with God that he should leave me alone, and I would leave him alone. I was betting it all on my acceptance of Jesus and my baptism to keep the door open, but my advocate days were over.

While I was 'floating through life' I saw the odd news story with the person saying "God saved he/she/me/it from dying or anything worse happening". From my perspective it made more sense for God to have prevented it if he was going to do anything about it all. Away from the Rhetoric of Church, some questions came to mind. Some of them from the church days and some from comparing my observations to how I understood the world was supposed to work with a God around. It didn't add up. Since I am an Engineer, I had some rudimentary critical thinking skills. I began to reflect back on my walk with God, and I realized that my experience in the Church and personal relationship with God was a lot like chance or luck. Not being interested in pursuing that line of reasoning seriously, I just let it go.

After Sep. 11, the Islamist fundamentalists started saying that God answered their prayers, I was wondering why he didn't answer the prayers of the people stuck in the WTC before they collapsed, or the people in the planes, or any reasonable prayer that I ever had in my life. This idea about prayer that "God answers in his own time, sometimes the answer is no, you can't test prayer or God" didn't fly with me anymore. So I decided to apply the same kind of logic, reasoning and research necessary to troubleshoot engineering problems to reconcile this question of "Why does it seem to me that my personal experience with God was so much like depending on Luck."

I went back to studying the Bible but this time I wanted to know where the Bible came from and this time I was going to use secular and academic texts. I wanted to resolve some obvious problems in the Bible that weren't adequately addressed in my mind and so I studied physics, biology, archeology, psychology, informal logic, and reasoning. My first milestone was to discover that God didn't work the way that everyone thought he did. Why was that? I stumbled onto Robert M. Price's Bible Geek podcast and he said something that sounded like "the Old Testament is a collection of Sumerian and Babylonian Myths". I decided that was a plausible hypothesis so I decided to validate it. I have concluded to my satisfaction that most likely the Bible is a compilation of Near Eastern myths. I am sure the Bible was put together over time through socio-political pressures in the near eastern region in an attempt to establish an identity for a community of people that wished to be unique. The implications are that it puts the Bible on equal footing with all the other scriptures in the world, which means that we don't really know anything about God including if it exists or not. Once I realized that I became interested to know how this could go on for so long. That is when I bought the book "Why People Believe Weird Things" and learned about "Skepticism".

Skepticism is a nice buzz word, but I don’t ascribe to being a member of the skeptical movement or a 'Bright' because I am not comfortable with what I consider oversimplified ideals of schemes of reasoning, persuasion and deception. I won't get into it here, but in looking into how people reason including how to influence, persuade and deceive them, it is easy to see how religious belief has gone on for so long. But now I am confident that I have an understanding of what went on with me and is going on with other people. I want to help them answer some of those questions that cause them cognitive dissonance and to be mentally uncomfortable.

Here is list of study material in an amazon.com list that represents what I have studied over the past fifteen years:

Here is link to a researcher that has assembled the information about the origins of Israel in a lay person friendly readable format in his series of Books. He's not the only one in this field, but he has done a good job putting the material in books that non-archaeologists can understand.

If you do a tiny bit of research on the Old Testament. You will find that it is the Hebrew Bible which came about from oral traditions and various historical documents. Now look up the definition of Folklore. Now click here and read this and think about it for a little while