When I tell people I used to be a Christian there is a temptation to assume that it was caused by a traumatic or horrible event that turned them away from God, but this is far from the truth for most people. So I thought I’d share my story of what it was like. But first some background.
I was raised as a Christian for my entire life, where I went to Church and a Christian primary school. This meant that I prayed and worshipped God 6 times a week until the age of 11, and then once a week at least from the ages of 12-18. So essentially I was strongly religious, and cared a lot about God.
It was not a thing where I never believed strongly, at the time as was just as convinced as any other Christian you may find in Church today? So what happened?
Well it began with a strong faith, that gradually was taken away, without me even really realising it as it happened.
Maybe the first major thing was the acceptance of science, which is a really normal thing, however we’re going back to the start. I studied physics before going to university so I cared a lot about science, but even before then I respected it as fact. Essentially I was not going to let my faith contradict science, if it contradicted with science, that section of the bible was wrong.
So when I learned about all the stories that were incorrect and wrong, I had no problems accepting it. After all, these books were written by men who could make mistakes.
This obviously made me see the bible as not perfect, and fallible. I remember even years before the bible thinking that the bible is so big, and vague at times that you could use it to justify anything, and I was fully aware of contradictions.
How was this? I had small groups and meetings where we would discuss the bible and learn about God, at many occasions we might have disagreements, and how would we resolve these? With bible passages. This meant that we were comparing one verse against another and they clearly stated very different things, contradicting.
Then it’s strange, because past a certain point in my life the teaching stopped being “God is” and changed a lot to “God wants a relationship with you” which is something that I had never heard before previously. This was when I was like 12, then past that point it was reinforced heavily.
Having a relationship with God was something that I tried really hard to have. But it just wasn’t happening. Part of the nail in the coffin was reaching that point after 17 years of realising that my relationship with God just wasn’t there.
Reading the bible was a way that it was told God communicates with you. But most times I read it, there would be problems. The most common one was that it just wasn’t useful at all, and it felt like God wasn’t communicating in any way whatsoever despite opening my heart and praying. There was no chance for anything to happen. Considering that God had to write this for absolutely everyone, it would have been impossible for him to write anything specific and useful to me.
You hear of stories as a Christian, of opening bible pages to a random point and reading a random verse, and it having some huge significance and help. The issue is, every time I did that it was something absolutely crazy, and I did this a lot.
The next thing would be that some parts would be straight up just bad. And I would then have to justify it or willingly ignore it. There was so much I had to just pass and skip through without really thinking about it.
I never did end up reading the full bible as a Christian, but I read a large chunk of it, including nearly all the historical books. Those books now make me sick with how immoral they are, but at the time of reading, I simply didn’t think about it, and just ignored it. Which is just crazy to me. All of these immoral things were in front of me right on the page yet I could not acknowledge them.
So it felt like God had no real way to have a relationship with me using the bible. It just didn’t work for me. At the time it felt like the God of the bible was different to the one in real life.
Obviously the God of the bible physically talked and communicated with people. In my life God did no such thing. Then God became more the God that was preached to you by other people, than what the bible actually said. If they did preach what the bible actually said, I don’t think I would have been a Christian for as long.
So the bible didn’t work. What was left? Well prayer.
I prayed a lot, yet it always felt like I was talking to a brick wall. Any answer would just be a feeling, or one of my own ideas which I would then attribute to God. Never once did he communicate back to me. Which was ridiculously unfair.
Prayer didn’t develop my relationship with God either, when the communication is only one way it cannot possibly develop. People will say that he does answer prayers through feelings and giving you things that you ask for, however even if you take that outlook on life, events like that were still kind of rare.
Then I was asked to make a testimony, for why I became a Christian and why I believe the things that I believe. The issue was, when I really thought about it I didn’t have a lot to say, I believed, because I always had believed.
There were two reasons that I came up with. The first was the historical reliability that Jesus rose from the dead (which I believed to be true because I had done zero research on my own into that idea) was the best explanation for what happened. The second was the miracles that God had done in my life, and the prayers that he answered.
I did get some prayers answered, albeit at the same rate as chance, or at the same rate as things that would have happened anyway. This isn’t something I’m retroactively saying now, it’s something that I thought at the time. In fact I remember telling people stories of miracles that had happened to me knowing that it was likely to have been exactly what happened just to make me look good.
So essentially up until this point it had been observing what happened, and then changing my world view, and view of God accordingly based on what happened in my life. This meant that this vision of an all mighty creator had been replaced with a God who kind of didn’t really do much, and worked in mysterious, and rather stupid (from my perspective) ways. Regardless I did trust that he had all the right answers.
In this way, my faith had changed and deteriorated in rather natural and normal ways. I wasn’t about to start believing that God talks to everyone and is always having a relationship with them when in the past 17 years of my life everything I had done pointed towards the opposite.
However there was still one thing that kept my faith, and it was the only real thing that kept it going for a long time. And that is the miracles that I had seen at events like soul survivor.
I would go to this Christian festival every year for many years in a row, I think I went at least 7 times. And every time there would be prayer, healing, amazing things taking place, and an amazing feeling of the holy spirit.
Due to the way God worked in places like that I clung on to my belief. As I had no explanation other than God for why these amazing things happened.
But I bet that you can tell where this is going. When I found much better explanations for this, I of course seriously started to doubt how genuine these miracles were. I learned about how stuff like this could happen.
In fact this information was something that I never searched for myself, and if my particular interests didn’t take me in a certain direction I would still be a Christian even now.
I became really interested in cults when I was coming towards my deconversion. I learned unwittingly about the techniques they used and all the horrible things that they had involved in them, and slowly started to see them creep into my own religion. Most of this came from a YouTube channel called TellTale who used to be a Jehovah’s witness and had a really interesting perspective.
The stuff I learned about cults were interesting, and allowed me to identify problems with my religion. It also gave me an atheist voice I was a fan of to listen too. This was somebody who I respectively disagreed with, and though his videos were about cults only, his podcasts sometimes made me really think, and I often came to the conclusion that he was right, removing my strong God belief even further.
Then I came across all the religious videos by Derren Brown. It started with his fascinating documentary about psychics, which taught me about cold reading, and how amazing techniques like seeming to know absolutely everything about a person could be easily done. His documentary’s are just fascinating to learn about how the mind works, and they had another one about religious faith healers, exposing their tricks, and how they could artificially produce miracles.
This led me to question the miracles I had seen at soul survivor greatly, and then learn more about them further. I researched how stuff like this could happen, and it almost entirely deconverted me right there. However not completely, because I still had the chance to go to the festival again and think about it for myself.
When I got there it was easy to see how these miracles could happen so easily. They were practically using the techniques I had learned about to mass produce them, knowingly or unknowingly.
I consider myself quite lucky. Because this time they didn’t have quite the success they had had previously, or that was what I thought. Perhaps it was just because I was more aware of what was going on, as I was always looking for these things.
But when it didn’t go well, I saw what they used to try to make it happen. It was so clear to me that I was surprised I didn’t see it sooner.
Another lucky thing happened to me as well, as one of the people I was actually with experienced one of these miracles. I got to ask questions and see what he was like, and quite honestly it was what I would expect to have found.
Essentially it works by instilling the person with a hyper vulnerable and hyper emotional state, and then giving them quick, immediate and overwhelming feelings of love. If this is done in the right way, in situations of high crowd manipulation it can produce serious results, with people who are already really emotionally vulnerable beforehand. If you’re life has been horrible and difficult, and you just really want everything to change, or theirs just one thing that’s always really troubling you, then I honestly consider you a victim of things like this.
But the final nail that really made me stop believing fully was the phrase of the speaker: “We will now pray for physical healing” – for many, many reasons.
This day was the last day, and the last meeting before anybody went home. It was not the first, when you should ideally pray for physical healing.
Essentially there has never been any proof at all of even one time a person has been physically healed through prayer. It also works by dramatically abusing the techniques used earlier, but it’s even worse as they will have a genuine impact on people’s life’s.
If people will throw their medicine away, or do things that they physically cannot do then it will lead to very bad consequences.
It’s an ultimate false hope, as it works by using adrenaline and similar techniques earlier to give the false feeling of being well. The documentary miracles for sale is a good start to learning about things like this.
This happened before at soul survivor, and it had happened to my friends. The people who were healed only went back to the same state they were in previously the next day. It doesn’t work. It’s false hope.
By doing it on the last day of the meeting, they are essentially hoping that these people will go home and have very little contact with these people for as long as possible, without realising that they haven’t been healed.
What makes me feel slightly aware of them knowing about this is that it’s always been on the last day every time they have said this. It really makes me very suspicious of the false hope that this instils.
If they believed that these cures genuinely worked, why not ask for it on the first day? Wouldn’t it be amazing if a person came on crutches and didn’t need them for an entire five days!
The reason why they don’t do this is because it causes problems. The first is everyone realising that these prayers and healing’s didn’t work. The second is people genuinely suffering due to false belief of them being cured.
Anyway after this there was nothing left of my faith really. The relationship with God was dead, and the physical impact that he had in my life was just not there. He was nothing, like a God so absent that he may as well not exist.
So what happened? I continued doing research and found more and more things that were problematic. I looked at both sides as well as many, many debates, and only found myself going the opposite way.
And that’s how it happened.
Thank you for reading.