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If you were atheist/agnostic but converted...


Epicurean
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...what caused you to make the change?

 

My DH and I are atheists. We aren't anti-religion; there are many things about religion we admire (the history, ritual, community, etc.), but we can't see ourselves ever being truly religious without basically lying to ourselves just to make ourselves feel better about the harshness of reality. We'd love it if there was an afterlife and a god of some sort, but the likelihood of that seems so remote. A religious friend of mine recently asked what it would take for me to have a conversion, and I'm not sure there's even anything that could. I mean, if I had some sort of emotional or personal "God is talking to me" sort of experience, I would think I was having a bout of mental illness. I can't imagine reading or hearing an argument for religion that I haven't encountered already.

 

So I'm just curious, if you used to be atheist or agnostic but you had a "Ah-ha!" moment of conversion, what prompted it?

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I was an atheist and became what you might call a believer - not in a particular religion, or in a literal interpretation of what I consider a metaphorical story (that is to say,  I don't see a literal God sitting in the sky, etc.) - but in Spinoza's idea of god, and esp. Einstein's explanation of that idea ("I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world...")

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I found the religion I actually do believe in. Buddha and I came to a lot of the same conclusions without really knowing each other at all. So once I opened myself up to the idea, it became clear to me that I had been Buddhist all along, I just didn't know it. 

I had always struggled with the mystical side faith. Any faith. I was raised Deist, so there wasn't a whole lot of magic involved, but still too much for me. But Buddhism IMO is more fact based-if you stick to what Buddha himself said, and avoid all the other stuff that was added by various cultures later. I don't much care about the afterlife, if there is one. Buddha's teaching improve my existence right here today.

Maybe look into other faiths outside of the big three? There are lots, you might find one that speaks to you. 

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Homeschooling. I was a firm atheist from the age of 10. When we started homeschooling, most materials were written from a Christian perspective. I really connected with books like Educating the Whole Hearted Child. I skimmed through any "religious" stuff, but the more I learned the more I found myself wanting to learn. Dh had grown up going to church so we started going to church - the first church we attended was a United Church, so a nice gentle introduction. When we moved, the only other Canadian in the area was the wife of the pastor of the Baptist church. We ended up being good friends and I did a bible study for new believers with her. I found myself learning more - through the Bible, but also through various history resources and eventually I became a Christian. 

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I got over my fear of not being "truly religious." I wanted church, I wanted community, I wanted tradition. Over the course of several years, I realized it didn't matter to me if it was "true" or not. Christianity is my faith tradition and my heritage. I'm allowed to be a part of it without worrying about it what it all means. And for me it has been a deeply spiritual transition that had brought me great comfort and joy.

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I was raised agnostic with a HEAVY Jehovah's Witness slant  (overbearing aunt) and with a father that I was VERY close with saying "If you join Jehovah's Witnesses I will disown you!". Talk about being mixed up as a child!

 

When I became an adult I decided that I wanted to be something. Growing up and seeing my aunt, uncle and cousins all so happy in their Jehovah's Witness world (which by the way isn't like that anymore) made me want that for my future family and children. I also felt that there were times that it would have been nice to turn to SOMETHING growing up when things got rough and I didn't want to have children that were "nothing" like I was. 

 

So I went church shopping when I was 24 and went looking for a good fit. To be quite honest I wasn't sure exactly what I was looking for. I could have went to the Roman Catholic Church just as easily as going to the Jewish Synagogue, and all the others in between. However, looking back on it now, I was walking with Jesus and He was telling me where to go. I ended up being baptized LCMS Lutheran and found out shortly there after that my mom's family (where there is mostly JW now) was originally Lutheran. So that reinforced it.

 

Since that time, I have looked back on my life before I converted and I realize this was God's plan for me all along. He was with me, I just was too blind to see it. 

 

So I didn't have an "a-ha" moment. I think I have had a few since then, but not at the time. I just wanted to be Ned Flanders if nothing else. I guess we are sort of like that now... at least I think that is how our neighbors see us. 

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I grew up in a non-religious household. In fact, my brothers are atheists, I believe.  I really couldn't tell you because once I became a Christian, they pretty much disowned me. (I am working on rebuilding our relationships.) However, from the age of four I've been immersed in the supernatural world - not of my own choosing.  I just seem to have a predisposition for it.  It is not pleasant, and I wouldn't wish it upon anyone.  As a child, my "stories" would be explained away as a child's fantasies.  That was devastating to me... not believed by my own parents.  It left me alone at a young age to deal with such a complex and frightening reality.  

 

As I grew older, I refused to discuss what was happening with me for fear of  being committed somewhere (no I do not have any mental illnesses and never have had any).  Unfortunately, I chose to dig into certain alternative religions that really opened the floodgates to evil (don't care if anyone believes it or not and not up for discussion, but it is real).  I suffered those affects for three years until I was 16.  The worse part is my parent's, like most, were so busy with working, keeping bills paid and two teen-aged sons out of trouble that I flew completely under their radar.  I was the "good" kid.  They didn't have to worry about me. What they didn't see was my total withdrawal from society; the fact I would turn on every.single.light I could before entering a room and then turn on every.single.light in that room. Walking into darkness was to invite evil.

 

Our dog of the time stuck by my side like glue. It amused my parents. If I went to take a bath, he would howl unless I let him in to lay alongside the tub.  That dog saw what I saw.  His hackles would rise, and he would growl at "nothing" according to my parents.  He was the only one to acknowledge what was happening to and with me.

 

Out of desperation one night, after three years of torment, I just suddenly called out to God.  I begged for deliverance.  From that moment, I felt peace.  I had no more visitations; no more voices; no more faceless heads popping out of hallway walls.......for a time.

 

At the age of 35, I met my current DH on a blind date.  He was the very first sincere and honest Christian I had come across; full of humility.  I was intrigued by him from the very start.  We agreed, at first, to be just friends.  I was going through a nasty divorce and didn't want complications, especially where my eldest DD was concerned.  So, we casually dated and did lots of talking.  Never once did he proselytize to me or start up a religious conversation, although he silently wore his Christianity on his sleeve.  

 

By the fourth date, on a long walk, all my old scars bubbled up and before I knew it, for the very first time since being that little girl, I was relating to him what I had never told anyone else.  He was silent while I talked and never interrupted.  When I was done, he told me he had had some similar encounters and began explaining spiritual warfare to me.  He was the first person who took me seriously, something my own family couldn't do.  That's when he told me about Christ.  I had always, for some reason, believed in God, but didn't know anything about Jesus.  I found the discussion fascinating.  I finally had real answers that made sense.  Christ filled in the missing puzzle piece and the hole in my soul.  I felt complete in that moment.  That summer, I gave my life to Christ and the following winter we were married.

 

Both DH and I still have random supernatural encounters (we balance each other out: I have the bad ones; he has the good ones), as well as both DDs (even before I ever revealed anything to them.  In fact, both girls were in their teens before we began relating bits and pieces to them.  It was hardly necessary with all they have witnessed growing up.  You'd have to be deaf, mute, and blind not to have noticed. However, after what DH and I went through as kids, we wanted to make sure our DC knew they could always talk with us about anything, and we wouldn't dismiss them.

 

Within the last year, DD2 has been having increased incidences of voices and an evil man without a face who stays within the fringes of her dreams.  Because she knows she can trust us, she has told us about them. That's when I revealed my entire history and how she can help silence those voices for periods of time.  When she went to our Christian camp this summer, she related a serious problem that is deeply troubling to me.  She said a bunch of her friends were talking and one of the kids just happened to let slip that he heard voices sometimes and they weren't nice at all. He also experienced nightmares that felt real where a sinister entity all in black, without a face, was menacing him. Everybody froze.  Then one by one, five of them stated they had the same issue with the voices and the man figure in the dream, but thought they were the only ones.  DD then spoke up and talked about her experiences, my history, explained more about spiritual warfare, and how she was taught to deal with it.  They all sat and talked for a long time, feeling relieved they were not alone.  They were getting answers and being told they were not crazy. That's the biggest fear of each of the kids (and myself at that age).  What did each of these kids have in common?  They were all afraid to tell their "Christian" parents for fear of not being believed and being told they were crazy and having delusions, or "it's just a bad dream", so they stayed silent; just like me.

 

Our strictly materialistic and science-only world of today has made any discussion about the supernatural taboo.  Even many Christians, while saying they believe in a supernatural God, will conversely deny the existence of a supernatural world or entities.  This makes those who experience such an alternate world afraid to speak out. They are made to feel inferior, delusional, and crazy.  This can produce disastrous results: suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse, seemingly random acts of violence.  Anything to stop the experiences from happening.  I can tell you I toyed with suicide.  My "voices" constantly told me to kill students in my middle and high schools.  It was a constant, relentless litany prodding me to act.  I would have visions of doing so.  I would write about doing so in my journal.  Yet, on the outside, I was considered a good, polite kid who got A's and B's; an honor student.  Sound familiar?  Research school shootings and see how many of those kids complained or boasted about hearing voices.  If not for Jesus, I could have been one of those statistics.  

 

So, while I was not born into a religious household, I had no opportunity to deny the existence of the supernatural--both the bad and the good.  We live knowing something could show up anytime.  So, to not believe in God, for us, would be to deny what we experience in reality.

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I was raised agnostic with a HEAVY Jehovah's Witness slant  (overbearing aunt) and with a father that I was VERY close with saying "If you join Jehovah's Witnesses I will disown you!". Talk about being mixed up as a child!

 

When I became an adult I decided that I wanted to be something. Growing up and seeing my aunt, uncle and cousins all so happy in their Jehovah's Witness world (which by the way isn't like that anymore) made me want that for my future family and children. I also felt that there were times that it would have been nice to turn to SOMETHING growing up when things got rough and I didn't want to have children that were "nothing" like I was. 

 

So I went church shopping when I was 24 and went looking for a good fit. To be quite honest I wasn't sure exactly what I was looking for. I could have went to the Roman Catholic Church just as easily as going to the Jewish Synagogue, and all the others in between. However, looking back on it now, I was walking with Jesus and He was telling me where to go. I ended up being baptized LCMS Lutheran and found out shortly there after that my mom's family (where there is mostly JW now) was originally Lutheran. So that reinforced it.

 

Since that time, I have looked back on my life before I converted and I realize this was God's plan for me all along. He was with me, I just was too blind to see it. 

 

So I didn't have an "a-ha" moment. I think I have had a few since then, but not at the time. I just wanted to be Ned Flanders if nothing else. I guess we are sort of like that now... at least I think that is how our neighbors see us. 

 

 

LOL.....lots of us still are so happy in our JW world.

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You are who my DH and I were. We LITERALLY thought anyone who believed had to be three sheets from crazy. We snickered at the guys handing out bibles at college. We rolled our eyes when we were forced to attend any church event. For example, my little cousin sang in her church and went to a Christian school. Any of her events made me squirm. I would have been the last person on the planet anyone who knew me could picture being Christian. I grew up in an atheist home and it was just never anything I wanted. I thought I would have to seriously lie to myself to ever believe that "craziness".

 

Fast forward to half way through grad school on the sciences. I could never describe my testamony online and do it justice. It was a flat out miracle. It was a smack me in the face, nothing could be truer, take the green pill, lift the veil, never could go back to not believing even if I wanted to.

 

My husband almost divorced me. He thought I was betraying him. Then it happened to him.

 

Then my two atheist teens at the time got saved one after the other.

 

We all have this conversation alot as we look at the transformation of us and our family. My husband is also a scientist in neurobiology and the lab he works in is predominately Christian outside of one person. Almost everyone there had a similar experience to us.

 

Until it happens to you, there is no way to describe it but the truth of it hits you like a ton of bricks.

 

I know this will sound bs crazy to anyone who isn't a Christian. I would have made fun of myself at some point in history.

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Curious - why do you guys (who had the miracle, the flat out 'can't deny this' experience) think that only some people experience such a thing, even if many are seeking ?

 

I think mostly God shows Himself in His Word (and preaching) and His Sacraments.

I don't rule out the possibility of direct revelation, but don't expect it either, since His marching orders are to teach and baptize, so that implies that that's what He generally works through.

 

So when He breaks into our world directly and miraculously in a non-natural way, I'm very grateful, but also when things work out the way they are designed to (the miracle of life, so to speak) I'm very grateful, and either way, I look at the miraculous as gravy and the Word and Sacrament as the nutrition. 

 

YMMV.  There are a lot of points of view on this, and that is the Confessional Lutheran one, which strikes me as the truest.

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I wasn't raised with any faith.

 

My experience was, it was like coming home. Like a key turning in a lock, it fit and changed me, I had heard it before but this time it was just self-evidently and undeniably true.

 

A short time later I received confirmation in the form of a very personal minor miracle. It wasn't so much what happened, but the assurance that came with it.

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You are who my DH and I were. We LITERALLY thought anyone who believed had to be three sheets from crazy. We snickered at the guys handing out bibles at college. We rolled our eyes when we were forced to attend any church event. For example, my little cousin sang in her church and went to a Christian school. Any of her events made me squirm. I would have been the last person on the planet anyone who knew me could picture being Christian. I grew up in an atheist home and it was just never anything I wanted. I thought I would have to seriously lie to myself to ever believe that "craziness".

 

Fast forward to half way through grad school on the sciences. I could never describe my testamony online and do it justice. It was a flat out miracle. It was a smack me in the face, nothing could be truer, take the green pill, lift the veil, never could go back to not believing even if I wanted to.

 

My husband almost divorced me. He thought I was betraying him. Then it happened to him.

 

Then my two atheist teens at the time got saved one after the other.

 

We all have this conversation alot as we look at the transformation of us and our family. My husband is also a scientist in neurobiology and the lab he works in is predominately Christian outside of one person. Almost everyone there had a similar experience to us.

 

Until it happens to you, there is no way to describe it but the truth of it hits you like a ton of bricks.

 

I know this will sound bs crazy to anyone who isn't a Christian. I would have made fun of myself at some point in history.

Have you seen "A Case for Christ"? I watched it this weekend. Lee Strobel's (sp) story reminds me of yours.

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Curious - why do you guys (who had the miracle, the flat out 'can't deny this' experience) think that only some people experience such a thing, even if many are seeking ?

 

I literally can't count the hours I spent between 20 - 35, trying to be of faith. I didn't even have a mustard seed to go on. I could have used a sign :)

 

Nada. Life with God was so very difficult. I felt in mental pain all the time. No signs, no revelations, no sense of internal comfort, nothing.

I wish I knew the answer to this. After I became a Christian I ended up going back to school to get my masters in mental health counseling. I worked at a small Christian school for at risk teens. They were a mix of kids on drugs, kids who had been bullied, kids with varying mental illness, and kids that were undocumented and didn't feel safe in a public school. I was asked this very question more times than I can count. Some teens ended up having the "hit you upside the head" experience and many now are leading amazing lives in their adulthood. Many sat in tears wanting a miraculous change in their life. It was heart wrenching. Some just didn't care and thought we were all crazy but loved the staff anyway :)

 

My favorite story was a girl with a really bad addiction to smoking oxy. She was stealing from family and prostituting herself. She begged me to tell her how to be Christian and then got furious and stormed out of chapel every Wednesday saying it was insane. This went on for all 4 years she was there. A year after she graduated she found a church that she liked and had a profound experience. She was suddenly drug free, enrolled in college, had a steady boyfriend and you never could have guessed her past. She is now married and a devout Christian working on her own masters in counseling right now.

 

She told me years later how angry she was that God didn't just do what he says he will do yet she believes that she needed the journey she had to fully get it.

 

I saw these things happen alot. Some it was instant, some it took years. Some had been wounded by their own Christian families and couldn't separate their families sin from God. I too wish that when people were seeking it happened profoundly for them.

 

For me I wasn't seeking AT ALL. Quite the opposite in fact. One of my sons was seeking and it took him a while after the rest of us. His life was transformed in profound ways.

 

I wish I understood it. All I can compare it to is...have you ever had a really hard problem...let's say in calculus or physics. You are wrestling with it and while you might know how to solve it, you don't get why it works that way or is solved that way. Then suddenly it is the dawning moment. The problem makes perfect sense and you totally get it. You feel instantly smarter because you can comprehend it on such a deeper level. That was it for me. All of science clicked into place and made perfect sense. All human behaviors made perfect sense. All the laws of the universe seemed applicable to every situation and made perfect sense. The bible was crystal clear to me and matched up so well. I could suddenly see things I didn't before. It was amazing to me.

 

One thing I do believe is those that truly want it will eventually get it. It may not be on their timeline but it happens for them. I always tell teens that it is like asking a dog to understand algebra. A dog has no idea algebra exists and couldn't comprehend it even if we explained it to them. Yet, algebra exists. It does. We can easily do it and understand it. Dogs have an upper limit to their cognitive capabilities and so do we. Some things we will never be able to comprehend I believe. That, I guess, is where faith comes in and trusting we don't know it all.

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I was raised in a nominally Christian household, so no experience here myself, but Jennifer Fulwiler's experience might be of interest. She was a hard core atheist and is now a popular Catholic speaker. http://www.whyimcatholic.com/index.php/conversion-stories/atheist-converts/103-atheist-convert-jennifer-fulwiler

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Genuine question - so from this pov, why would some people find nourishment in the Word and sacraments, and others find nothing, or, worse than nothing, pain ? It seems like a design flaw :)

 

Not a gotcha question, I'm not interested in disproving anything right now, just trying to nut out something from my past re God.

 

Sadie, before I answer that, I want to apologize.  I came back to the thread to do this.  I feel like I gave you a 'just the facts, Ma'am' type answer and failed to acknowledge the emotion behind your question, which must have been pretty yuck.  I am sorry that you experienced what you did.

 

OK, so now, in answer to your question, deep breath, OK, I don't think anyone necessarily 'feels' nourished all the time.  It's more along the lines of knowing that you ARE nourished, in reality, whether you feel it or not.  For me, personally, I have certainly flirted with a lot of questions and even some resentments over the years.  But, I can't make the leap to thinking there is no God--it just strains credulity to me to think that this complex universe all would 'just happen' rather than being made. 

 

I can honestly say that God has made Himself known to me in signs and wonders, very occasionally, but I can also honestly say that those are not why I believe in Him or love Him.  And I do not expect those of Him, not at all.

 

Also, I would say that although it's not a straightforward progressive reality to me, I do feel nourished most of the time now, but I didn't always, and if I didn't again I think I would accept that.  In this regard I feel very blessed, certainly not at all deserving.

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Not me, but a friend of mine. Raised Christian, became atheist after a very rough childhood (which was all tangled up in religion in bad, bad ways), eventually converted to a different Abrahamic faith. In his case, his original deconversion was less because the notion of deities didn't make sense to him than because he was still angry and upset over his religious-flavored abusive upbringing. When he found a new religion that spoke to him, it was very healing.

 

And I am very happy for him, of course! If this new conversion makes him happy, and gives him comfort, then that's the important thing.

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I wish I knew the answer to this. After I became a Christian I ended up going back to school to get my masters in mental health counseling. I worked at a small Christian school for at risk teens. They were a mix of kids on drugs, kids who had been bullied, kids with varying mental illness, and kids that were undocumented and didn't feel safe in a public school. I was asked this very question more times than I can count. Some teens ended up having the "hit you upside the head" experience and many now are leading amazing lives in their adulthood. Many sat in tears wanting a miraculous change in their life. It was heart wrenching. Some just didn't care and thought we were all crazy but loved the staff anyway :)

 

My favorite story was a girl with a really bad addiction to smoking oxy. She was stealing from family and prostituting herself. She begged me to tell her how to be Christian and then got furious and stormed out of chapel every Wednesday saying it was insane. This went on for all 4 years she was there. A year after she graduated she found a church that she liked and had a profound experience. She was suddenly drug free, enrolled in college, had a steady boyfriend and you never could have guessed her past. She is now married and a devout Christian working on her own masters in counseling right now.

 

She told me years later how angry she was that God didn't just do what he says he will do yet she believes that she needed the journey she had to fully get it.

 

I saw these things happen alot. Some it was instant, some it took years. Some had been wounded by their own Christian families and couldn't separate their families sin from God. I too wish that when people were seeking it happened profoundly for them.

 

For me I wasn't seeking AT ALL. Quite the opposite in fact. One of my sons was seeking and it took him a while after the rest of us. His life was transformed in profound ways.

 

I wish I understood it. All I can compare it to is...have you ever had a really hard problem...let's say in calculus or physics. You are wrestling with it and while you might know how to solve it, you don't get why it works that way or is solved that way. Then suddenly it is the dawning moment. The problem makes perfect sense and you totally get it. You feel instantly smarter because you can comprehend it on such a deeper level. That was it for me. All of science clicked into place and made perfect sense. All human behaviors made perfect sense. All the laws of the universe seemed applicable to every situation and made perfect sense. The bible was crystal clear to me and matched up so well. I could suddenly see things I didn't before. It was amazing to me.

 

One thing I do believe is those that truly want it will eventually get it. It may not be on their timeline but it happens for them. I always tell teens that it is like asking a dog to understand algebra. A dog has no idea algebra exists and couldn't comprehend it even if we explained it to them. Yet, algebra exists. It does. We can easily do it and understand it. Dogs have an upper limit to their cognitive capabilities and so do we. Some things we will never be able to comprehend I believe. That, I guess, is where faith comes in and trusting we don't know it all.

Love this!! I grew up in a Christian home and always have believed. I went through a VERY wild phase and the Lord drew me back. After I came back to Him, I could look backwards and see all of the ways He had worked to bring people into my path, to let me hear what I needed to hear and see what I needed to see.

 

One time, we had no money because my husband owned his own business and times were hard. Our washing machine broke. I prayed and we came home and there was one on our porch. I don't think I told anyone the need but friends prayed and felt led to give it. I used to say I loved our time of struggle because I saw God move in ways that could never be taken and never be excused away. â¤ï¸â¤ï¸â¤ï¸

 

Our church has a ministry that helps addicts become free through Christ then get back on their feet, training them in job skills, helping them start a savings account and buy a vehicle, guiding them in going back and reconciling with loved ones they had hurt. Listening to these men and seeing what Christ has done in them is amazing!! Their gratitude to Him is humbling!!

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I confess I have a hard time understanding how someone goes from atheist to believer. It seems most, though not all of those answering, grew up in either atheist/agnostic homes or only nominally Christian. I wonder if that has anything to do with it. Having been raised Catholic then becoming United Methodist before leaving belief, I can't imagine anything that would turn me back into a believer. Maybe if I was never a believer in the first place it would be different. I'm not trying to believe again, only trying to figure out how it could happen. 

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Curious - why do you guys (who had the miracle, the flat out 'can't deny this' experience) think that only some people experience such a thing, even if many are seeking ?

 

I literally can't count the hours I spent between 20 - 35, trying to be of faith. I didn't even have a mustard seed to go on. I could have used a sign :)

 

Nada. Life with God was so very difficult. I felt in mental pain all the time. No signs, no revelations, no sense of internal comfort, nothing. 

 

Well I was an agnostic leaning spiritual/"all religious paths are good for society" person at one point in my late teens.  I had a couple miracle moments and joined a church that was too close to fundamentalist for a while.

 

My take on this is twofold - first, genetic.  I remember reading a long time ago that they found a spiritual gene.  People who have this gene are more likely to feel interconnection, and interpret things that might otherwise be coincidental, or the result of some other explainable factor as spiritual events. Note the gene is not about religion, just about a sense of interconnection and the way one interprets life events.

 

Secondly, as someone who is Christian because of those miracle moments, I don't necessarily think needing the miracle is a good thing. I admire the people who believe without having needed it, but I never would have believed without it. I think there are several moments in the Bible that imply that those who need a miracle have less faith than those who don't.  Doubting Thomas and others.  I don't think that God minds questions, no matter what fundamentalists say.  Neither did Thomas Jefferson, who in a letter to his nephew said,

 

"Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."

 

 

 

 

Thirdly, I would encourage someone who wants the community/ benefits of religion (in this life, whether or not there is life beyond death) to check out some of the liberal Christian churches in their area. Some have classes on exactly this sort of topic that you might find interesting.

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My take on this is twofold - first, genetic.  I remember reading a long time ago that they found a spiritual gene.  People who have this gene are more likely to feel interconnection, and interpret things that might otherwise be coincidental, or the result of some other explainable factor as spiritual events. Note the gene is not about religion, just about a sense of interconnection and the way one interprets life events.

 

 

 

Actually that's just a hypothesis based on one unreplicated, unpublished, non peer reviewed study, though he did write and sell a book on the subject. The author does admit it's not about religion, but his peers don't agree that it has anything to do with belief at all. Even the author admits it plays at most, a minor role in spirituality. But he sold a lot of books. 

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Curious - why do you guys (who had the miracle, the flat out 'can't deny this' experience) think that only some people experience such a thing, even if many are seeking ?

 

I literally can't count the hours I spent between 20 - 35, trying to be of faith. I didn't even have a mustard seed to go on. I could have used a sign :)

 

Nada. Life with God was so very difficult. I felt in mental pain all the time. No signs, no revelations, no sense of internal comfort, nothing. 

 

This rings so true to me.  

 

I was raised christian.  My family is still very faithful.  I began having significant doubts nearly 10 years ago (i might have always had doubts, but denied them).  I did a lot of studying, researching, praying, searching.  I BEGGED for God to help me find him...nothing.  It was soul crushing and painful, like you say.  I can't remember a more agonizing period of my life than that.

 

I'm still not really "okay".  I am beginning to accept my beliefs, but it has definitely not been easy.  Yet there is not even a tiny spec of God.  And it's not for lack of looking, I can promise you that.

 

I tend to be very skeptical of these miracle stories.  Perhaps out of jealousy?  I'm still unsure, but I too would love to hear any that people are willing to share.

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It would kinda explain a lot though. Weren't there studies about how the brain lights up more in one place in believers compared to non-believers ?

 

Idk. I guess I just find it endlessly fascinating, because I didn't become an atheist as some big choice, it just wasn't possible, in the end, for me to be anything but.

 

And yet other people can't do anything but have faith.

 

So it's head spinning, really. I have good friends, smart, smart women, for whom God is real. And they have me, for whom God is not real.

Does the beauty and diversity of the creation every make you thnk it must come from a creator?

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I don't know if I really count, but...

 

I was raised in a very sweet Christian home that never asked any difficult questions.  And then I started asking questions, a difficult event happened, my world began falling apart, and as a result I began questioning God's very existence for the very first time.  I begged God to show me a sign -- anything at all, and He never did.  Thinking God might not even exist afterall was life-shattering for me.  But, nothing persuaded me to think differently, so I stopped praying and decided to just live life as though He didn't exist.

 

That went on for a number of years.  

 

But as I continued looking for ways to define what mattered most to me, I kept coming back to the philosophy of Jesus.  I loved his example of love without boundaries or judgment, of humility, of forgiveness, of equality, of doing things outside the box -- often counter-culture.  I decided it was okay to follow Jesus as a philosopher even if I didn't think of him as divine.  

 

And so I did that, and over time, that led me back to God.

 

And no, I never did receive a miraculous sign!  Alas, I've always been such a skeptic of signs anyway.  But at least for myself, I came to the conclusion that I had been going about it backwards.  It wasn't really about what I expected to get or feel;  it was about how I could live out the philosophy of Jesus, which over time became pure beauty to me and really made more sense than anything else.  Over time, that and a couple of theologians I learned about who shined a new and radical light on Jesus' teachings made me rethink things, and I now look upon Jesus as divine and the Son of God.

 

 

Edited by J-rap
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<snip>

 

OK, so now, in answer to your question, deep breath, OK, I don't think anyone necessarily 'feels' nourished all the time.  It's more along the lines of knowing that you ARE nourished, in reality, whether you feel it or not.  For me, personally, I have certainly flirted with a lot of questions and even some resentments over the years.  But, I can't make the leap to thinking there is no God--it just strains credulity to me to think that this complex universe all would 'just happen' rather than being made. 

 

<snip>

 

 

I don't know if I really count, but...

 

I was raised in a very sweet Christian home that never asked any difficult questions.  And then I started asking questions, and then a horrible thing happened, my world began falling apart, and as a result I began questioning God's very existence for the very first time.  I begged God to show me a sign -- anything at all, and He never did.  Thinking God might not even exist afterall was life-shattering for me.  But, nothing persuaded me to think differently, so I stopped praying and decided to just live life as though He didn't exist.

 

That went on for a number of years.  

 

But as I continued looking for ways to define what mattered most to me, I kept coming back to the philosophy of Jesus.  I loved his example of love without boundaries or judgment, of humility, of forgiveness, of equality, of doing things outside the box -- often counter-culture.  I decided it was okay to follow Jesus as a philosopher even if I didn't think of him as divine.  

 

And so I did that, and over time, that led me back to God.

 

And no, I never did receive a miraculous sign!  Alas, I've always been such a skeptic of signs anyway.  But at least for myself, I came to the conclusion that I had been going about it backwards.  It wasn't really about what I expected to get or feel;  it was about how I could live out the philosophy of Jesus, which over time became pure beauty to me and really made more sense than anything else.  Over time, that and a couple of theologians I learned about who shined a new and radical light on Jesus' teachings made me rethink things, and I now look upon Jesus as divine and the Son of God.

 

Both of these posts reflect my own experience very well.

 

I have often had periods of serious doubt.  I spent years searching for God (after having been raised as a Christian, sort of). For a time after I got married I went through the motions of being a Christian, but I didn't feel anything. I had a basic belief that God existed and Christianity was true, but I couldn't connect it to my life.  Ultimately, I didn't have a big "scales fell off my eyes" moment but little things over the years have added up. I've never really experienced miracles, but rather little signs that God was watching out for me after all.  As an example, after a period of waiting for something I needed and being frustrated at not being able to get it despite my best efforts, it suddenly appeared in a completely different way than I expected.  I am impatient and don't like waiting, but sometimes it seems like God's main message to me is "shut up and wait."  :-)

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Reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Whom I now consider a heretic, lol. (Just my personal opinion. Not seeking to discuss.)

 

Interesting. I don't think I would go as far as calling him a heretic, but I think I understand where you are coming from.

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I didn't believe much. My outlook was that I didn't ask Jesus to do anything for me so the atonement and his sacrifice were zero for me.

As a teenager I had a couple of spiritual experiences and knew I was loved by God and Christ. I didn't follow through on it at all, for years.

 

Finally, after enough worldly experiences, I was scared and tired and was looking for answers. I was feeling the presence of the Holy Ghost, the assurance of the reality of what I was being taught, the peace I was able to feel even though some really sad things were happening in my life. 

(While before this, I was expecting signs and miracles to be shown to me without working for it. When it wouldn't happen, it disappointed me, discouraged me and made me think none of it was real anyway).

Curiosity was one thing, but having the deep, inner desire to know God, to have the desire to turn from the path I was on, was the direction I had to be heading. I have had too many experiences to deny there is a God and a Savior. 

I guess that's my story in a nutshell, not to minimize the changes, but this is a forum and I don't like to go into too much detail. 

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I didn't believe much. My outlook was that I didn't ask Jesus to do anything for me so the atonement and his sacrifice were zero for me.

I smiled when I read this because it always reminds me of the child and parent relationship. As kids we live in our parents home, eat their food, get loved, shuttled around, kept safe etc but we don't really see or feel any sacrifice in it because we aren't "asking for anything" it is just expected that all of those things are there. That dawning moment often comes later, that in the grand scheme of things our parents didn't really have to do that stuff for us. They loved us and provided stuff we took for granted.

They did it out of love for us.

 

One thing that changed for me after becoming Christian was the way I viewed my children. Before, my kids were mine and I had hopes and dreams for them. I had anxiousness about everything. Now I see them not as mine but God's and I am entrusted to raise them. He made them exactly how he wanted them to be and bestowed certain gifts and affinities upon them. My job then is to grow them in the direction of their callings and remove any roadblocks as they go along toward that road. It makes parenting really peaceful and awe inspiring. I am sure plenty of non Christians raise their kids that way too, but for me it changed with my change and removed all of that worry and concern. Even my little guy with ASD, I have no worries at all. God made him that way, he is unique and looks at the world in really cool ways. I have learned alot from him and am so glad he is who he is.

Edited by nixpix5
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I wouldn't say I ever was an "atheist," and I wouldn't call myself a "believer" now either.  But the narrative arc of my adult life is very much characterized by an ever-deeper attachment to religion.  

 

For me the core insight of the transformation was the realization that "belief"did not have to be the center of my attachment, that there were other ways and reasons to attach.  That realization was my aha! (though it was gradual, not a one-off... epiphany.)

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You are who my DH and I were. We LITERALLY thought anyone who believed had to be three sheets from crazy. We snickered at the guys handing out bibles at college. We rolled our eyes when we were forced to attend any church event. For example, my little cousin sang in her church and went to a Christian school. Any of her events made me squirm. I would have been the last person on the planet anyone who knew me could picture being Christian. I grew up in an atheist home and it was just never anything I wanted. I thought I would have to seriously lie to myself to ever believe that "craziness".

 

Fast forward to half way through grad school on the sciences. I could never describe my testamony online and do it justice. It was a flat out miracle. It was a smack me in the face, nothing could be truer, take the green pill, lift the veil, never could go back to not believing even if I wanted to.

 

My husband almost divorced me. He thought I was betraying him. Then it happened to him.

 

Then my two atheist teens at the time got saved one after the other.

 

We all have this conversation alot as we look at the transformation of us and our family. My husband is also a scientist in neurobiology and the lab he works in is predominately Christian outside of one person. Almost everyone there had a similar experience to us.

 

Until it happens to you, there is no way to describe it but the truth of it hits you like a ton of bricks.

 

I know this will sound bs crazy to anyone who isn't a Christian. I would have made fun of myself at some point in history.

 

This describes me and to a lesser extent my husband, mocking, eye rolling, thinking anyone who believed was lacking majorly in some area of their life. We signed our oldest kid up for preschool at a nearby church (those were the only private local preschools), I asked if they had to pray, and did they actually use the name of Jesus. (You can laugh at that!)

 

I had a personal crisis/experience that left me no other option but to cry out to Jesus to help me--and He did. My life began to change. The miracle was that my husband followed in his beliefs shortly after. Nobody would have ever guessed that about us in a million years.

 

That was 20 years ago. My family (parents/siblings) still don't understand.

 

I wish I had something wise or comforting to say to those here who have sought and not seemed to find what they were looking for. My heart breaks for you. I wouldn't give up. It's there, and you will find it.

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I was raised in a nominally Christian household, so no experience here myself, but Jennifer Fulwiler's experience might be of interest. She was a hard core atheist and is now a popular Catholic speaker. http://www.whyimcatholic.com/index.php/conversion-stories/atheist-converts/103-atheist-convert-jennifer-fulwiler

Thanks for the recommendation, I'm reading her book now.

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My husband and I were where you are now except that I had experiences that meant I could not discount the supernatural completely out of hand.

We've been Catholics for a few years now. It's hard to pinpoint what changed. A very close friend died, and I began having a very specific dream again, which I now realize was Mary bringing me home. Bishop Barron's Word on Fire ministry started by countering my arguments intelligently, led me to Aquinas, and from there RCIA class with a very sharp sponsor brought me along the rest of they way. This is in no way doing what happened to me justice, but that's as close to I can get to it with mere words.

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Curious - why do you guys (who had the miracle, the flat out 'can't deny this' experience) think that only some people experience such a thing, even if many are seeking ?

 

 

 

Well I have extremely non traditional beliefs but this is the way I see it. I believe that God needs you to be where you are and who you are on your path right now. You are placed where you can spread your goodness and light to the people in your circle of influence. If you weren't given a sign or felt the comfort or have one iota of faith, I think it's because right now your mission doesn't require it and that God needs you where you are. I also believe that He loves your honesty and your refusal to fake belief when there is none.

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Well, that would be nice! I was rather under the impression he'd be sending me to the hot place.

 

Nope. Plenty of us Christians believe that heaven will have a large contingent of atheists. (well..I guess they wouldn't be atheist at that point). 

 

I don't usually say so, because it seems incredibly....inappropriate to say so, like I'm dismissing their atheism, but in the context of this thread I guess it's okay to say. 

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