Share your de-conversion story
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21-11-2014, 02:45 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I've previously said that my de-conversion was rather gradual, and to an extent it still was. But now that I think about it more carefully, I was still a fairly weak skeptical, before watching this video (part of Harris' debate vs WLC) - which convinced me to abandon the idea of God completely.



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23-11-2014, 08:37 PM
Deconversion Story
Hi everyone. I've been binge listening to the podcast and just absolutely love it. It has been a long time since I believed in Christianity, but I find the discussions to be very therapeutic. This is mainly because of the alienation I feel in having to live amongst so many evangelical Christians in the workplace and in society at large. And I don't even live in the South ( I can't imagine).

I was an extremely religious kid. An introvert. I wanted to find god. I felt connected to god. This was not forced onto me. Fortunately, my parents did not go to church or push it at all. I sought out religion for myself because I am naturally drawn to it.

At 16, I took myself to church. I got what I knew of of Christianity from Christian broadcasting and cherry picking scriptures. I felt very connected with god. I hoped for the rapture. I tried to pursuade friends and family. I wanted the world to ends soon. I was a Conservative.

Then something interesting happened that changed everything. I decided to actually read the Bible at 16. All of it. In written context. I was a blank slate with nobody really pushing religion on me. I had a certain expectation of what was in the Bible based on what Christian leaders were saying. Take a wild guess what happens when you read the bible without someone telling you what to think about it, lol. Well, By the time I finished the entire Bible I was in a state of shock. I simply could not imagine how what I just read had much to do with what Christians taught. There was nobody around to perform the mental gymnastics required to make sense of it. I just read it plainly. I just soaked in the utter ridiculousness of the endless cruelty and childishness of the Biblical god. I realized that I had higher morals and values than this god.

I realized that typical Christians simply didn't read the Bible, and that Christian leaders had a wide assortment of bizarre rationalizations prepared to stop thought in its tracks. Having read the bible *before* hearing these rationalizations made them more transparently ridiculous.

My Father was really great growing up. He took me fossil hunting and we watched Nova and PBS almost every night. I was not simply told that evolution was true, I watched it work on TV and it was obvious that it was true. The praying mantis that looks like a leaf, the nomad lion that murders the offspring of a Lioness so his own genes will propagate, and the bird who purposely drops her eggs into the nest of another bird to take care of. The parasites, the diseases, the cilia of the single celled life so beautifully and wonderfully designed to burrow into an animal and infect it and destroy it ...slowly. Maybe the devil made these creatures? Maybe it was caused by the fall?

My dad believed that the Christian god created the world through evolution. But he didn't push this on me. I nodded, but knew that such an idea was incompatible with Genesis. I continued believing in Christianity, accepting this god as some sort of incomprehensible loving dictator who was ready to utterly destroy everything and anything for the most trivial of reasons. Who loves the smell of burnt flesh. Who is jealous. Who needs to be loved. And who claims to love you at the same time, as long as he decides not to torture you. Who incarnates as a sacrifice to himself to amend for the sins of two people whom he created a thousand years after the Sumerians invented glue.

Of course, I noticed all sorts of inconsistencies and contradictions as I read the bible, but nowhere near all of them. The kicker was when I saw a documentary on the bible when I was 19. It was a TV special, but with a scholarly angle. I learned something I faintly already realized- that the accounts of the events of the resurrection did not jibe. I grabbed my bible and checked the passages referenced. Hot damn, why did nobody tell me of this? It was pre-internet. Sure enough, the commentator was right. And there were many more. Then I learned that the disciples did not write the gospels, and that the writers did not even know Jesus during his lifetime.

Frankly, I was never an expert in the details of biblical errors. Truth is, these simple facts were all it took to absolutely destroy the credibility of the bible for me. Permanently. I had little interest in further details. Bullshit is bullshit. Later, I heard all of the other obvious problems with the bible, and marvelled at how a grown educated adult could or would POSSIBLY believe it, knowing of all of the nonsense. How many excuses do you have to make before you throw up your hands? For me it wasn't very many. I was never indoctrinated by friends or family. I got out easily, in my own time.

The other thing that helped was that I already knew evolution was true. I didn't “believe" it. I *saw* it. I dug the fossils and watched the endless shows on PBS that showed it ad nauseum night after night. I wanted to believe in Christianity. I wanted to believe in creationism. I sought out material that defended creationism. I tried to believe it. But alas, It wasn't a choice. It was simply not possible to believe in creationism. When I read the arguments Christian authorities gave against evolution, they were so idiotic and so full of sheer deception and misrepresentation that it made the case even further against Christianity, and I knew it in my bones.

But I am by nature a very spiritually oriented person. It is strong in me. I may have jettisoned Christianity while still a teenager, but I continued to believe that Jesus was still some avatar-like figure sent by God to teach love for years. This went on until I was 27. By 27 I decided that there was absolutely nothing compelling about the Jesus story, and it was quite possible that the man either never existed at all or was an amalgamation of multiple people.

I am surrounded daily by intelligent religious people. Intelligence has nothing to do with their decision to believe. They are often utterly ignorant about evolution, and virtually always ignorant of the biological origins of human nature. This is how they can believe. But this is only because they choose to not know. They don't allow themselves to understand it. They keep themselves safely isolated and insulated from scientific realities inside their social circles. You can't get to most of them. But you *can* get to their children.

I am now 40. I cannot really remember what it was like to believe in Christianity, but I am still continuously blown away that so many people still believe in it. It still directs and motivates our political and social discussions year after year.

I am extremely impressed by what Seth is doing. This is important work, and I really believe we can crack this thing in the coming years.
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03-12-2014, 10:54 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I had doubts for many years before I finally de-converted. I think what finally convinced me of the fallacy of God's existence was the realization that if there were a genuine God, he (she, it) would not hide from humankind. God would both want us to know he/she/it was God and would know exactly what it would take to convince us of that. I came to realize that anything that falls short of this is a "false" god and does not deserve serious attention.

If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.--Voltaire.

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." --Thomas Paine.
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09-12-2014, 08:06 AM
Beginnings of my Doubts
When I was in my very early teen years (I am now 63), I was sitting in my back yard and began noticing the activity going on on an anthill. All of these little creatures were busily going about their business (probably, more efficiently than do human creatures), and all this completely without direction from a great ant-god in the sky (I have never heard of such a god, anyway). It was then that my pubescent brain began to wonder, "If these creatures did not need direction from a supernatural being, why did we humans? Is not our intelligence greater than an ant's?

It was not, however, after many years and much confusion that I finally realized that I had hit upon a great truth that showed the utter ridiculousness of belief in a sky-daddy.

If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.--Voltaire.

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." --Thomas Paine.
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09-12-2014, 08:22 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(09-12-2014 08:06 AM)666wannabe Wrote:  When I was in my very early teen years (I am now 63), I was sitting in my back yard and began noticing the activity going on on an anthill. All of these little creatures were busily going about their business (probably, more efficiently than do human creatures), and all this completely without direction from a great ant-god in the sky (I have never heard of such a god, anyway). It was then that my pubescent brain began to wonder, "If these creatures did not need direction from a supernatural being, why did we humans? Is not our intelligence greater than an ant's?

It was not, however, after many years and much confusion that I finally realized that I had hit upon a great truth that showed the utter ridiculousness of belief in a sky-daddy.

That’s interesting how you came about finding your “great truth”.
Speaking of ants have you read anything by E.O.Wilson? I highly recommend his writings.

“The work on ants has profoundly affected the way I think about humans."
E. O. Wilson

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cros...-on-earth/

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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09-12-2014, 08:31 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(09-12-2014 08:22 AM)Full Circle Wrote:  
(09-12-2014 08:06 AM)666wannabe Wrote:  When I was in my very early teen years (I am now 63), I was sitting in my back yard and began noticing the activity going on on an anthill. All of these little creatures were busily going about their business (probably, more efficiently than do human creatures), and all this completely without direction from a great ant-god in the sky (I have never heard of such a god, anyway). It was then that my pubescent brain began to wonder, "If these creatures did not need direction from a supernatural being, why did we humans? Is not our intelligence greater than an ant's?

It was not, however, after many years and much confusion that I finally realized that I had hit upon a great truth that showed the utter ridiculousness of belief in a sky-daddy.

That’s interesting how you came about finding your “great truth”.
Speaking of ants have you read anything by E.O.Wilson? I highly recommend his writings.

“The work on ants has profoundly affected the way I think about humans."
E. O. Wilson

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cros...-on-earth/

I remember reading something by E.O. Wilson many years ago, but for the life of me, I can't remember what it was.

If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.--Voltaire.

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." --Thomas Paine.
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10-12-2014, 04:23 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I believed nothing, had no imaginative ideas, from the time my lifelong memories began to form (almost 3) until I was about 6 years old. I understood what death was by the age of 4 and had no concept of after-life or soul or God. I knew Santa Claus wasn't real by age 5. When I was about 6, my mother started taking us to a Mormon church. She was raised LDS. We went for about 2 years. On Sundays I'd wear dresses and tights, listen dutifully to the talking, take the sacrament, watch cartoons about events in the Book of Mormon (those Hanna-Barbera ones - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Greates...the_Bible) and Bible, do activities, say prayers. I earned a CTR ring, but I don't remember what that means. Mormon children are baptized at age 8, but my mother never had that done to me and I never asked for it.

When I was 8, my sociopathic stepfather was ranting, once again, about religion. He thought it was stupid, but at the same time he was oddly superstitious about the Book of Revelations and the apocalypse. Anyway, one day he was ranting about how improbable many of the events are in the Bible. As a child I liked to read about nature, so the ranting made sense. I had never experienced anything to demonstrate God's existence. I had just been praying and going to church. So I very suddenly stopped believing. I was never so emotionally invested in the religion that it was difficult for me. My brother continued to believe. My mother didn't make me keep going to church. We moved that summer, which meant we were farther from the church and it was difficult for my mother to drive that far every week with three children. She stopped going as well and a few time a pair of young missionaries visited.

Since then I have kept my mind open. However, I continue to place my bet on atheism. I perceive greater and much more indicators that no god exists than that one or many do. I also do not agree 100% with any religion, so why become a member.

In 2010, a woman from the church I used to attend somehow got my number and called me. I think someone in my maternal family gave it to her. My grandparents on that side constantly wrote to me asking me to try the church again. I asked that she put me on a no-call list and then asked how I can go about never being bothered by them again. I had to set up an appointment with the bishop. It took a little time for him to get things in order. From what I understand, he had to make inquiries up the hierarchy and make sure I wasn't lying about never being baptized. I met him expecting to be interrogated about my reasons for officially wanting to leave the church, but he didn't do that. He asked me again if I had ever been baptized. I said no. He looked up my record (apparently they keep records) again. Apparently, if you are baptized they will never stop bothering you. They can take you off a no-call list, but they can never remove your record. They own you. He approved my request and that is how I officially left the LDS church, after not attending for 15 years.

One of my uncles asked me via Facebook why and urged me to try it out again. I said I could never join a religion that requires homosexuals to live celibate lives. To me, it is a bigoted religion, as well as a sexist one (there can never be a female Mormon president), on top of not making any damn sense (the notion that Native Americans derived from Israelites and refusing to own up to this nonsense even after DNA research), and selling out on polygamy to join the U.S. Don't pretend to have integrity when you sacrificed a major tenet of your religion. A recent Mormon president identified free-thinkers, homosexuals, and feminists as enemies. I am heterosexual, but I am LGBT-supportive and identify as the other two. Joining such a church, even on a trial basis, would be completely turning against myself. Why would I do that? To stop my grandmother from crying? Fuck that.

It is self-evident that I do not need religion or God to be a moral, happy, productive human being.
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16-12-2014, 01:40 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I will understand if my deconversion story is rejected because of length, but once I got going, I realized I wanted to think/write it all through for myself. If there is anything notable in it, it may be the power a "religion lite" upbringing still managed to have over my life (IMO).

So it's long ... really long, and I understand those who react with TL;DR. But I appreciate the opportunity to think and write about it all.

Deconversion of a Catholic-lite

My de-conversion story

I grew up in a Catholic-lite home. We were baptized, confirmed and attended Mass and CCD but my parents never talked about religion, to my recollection, and I don’t recall ever going to confession. My mother, from an upper-class background, seemed to think it was socially “proper” to participate, but my father attended only on Easter and Christmas when we children were younger.

Looking back, I doubt I was ever a true believer. Like my father, I simply couldn’t accept that the fanciful stories were real.

That said, simply being immersed in Catholic culture, going to church and hearing sermons left some indelible impressions on me, including: the idea that I was flawed, a sinner, a bad person by nature and I always felt that I could never surmount that; a genuine fear of hell, the devil and demons—I didn’t really accept that these things existed, but a part of me was terrified that they might; and a persistent uneasiness at my essential agnostic nature (shared with my father, though I didn’t really realize that as a kid).

In short, I came out of my Catholic childhood feeling like an outsider, fearful of punishment for simply being who I was — curious, skeptical, a rebel.

Weirdly, I was quite the little Puritan right up through 6th grade, eschewing rock and pop music because, as I informed my parents, “rock musicians all take drugs.” They were Chubby Checker-Buddy Holly-type rock fans, but I listened mostly to my father’s Russian folk records (he had monitored Russian missile networks in Turkey while serving in the Air Force) and, hilariously, jazz by Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck and others—because no jazz musicians took drugs, ever. The first record I ever owned was “Louisiana Lady” by Jim Nabors, which I traded for a pair of socks during an inexplicable “promotion” at the Esso gas station down the street.

Although I secretly “loved” different girls on my swim team, going so far as to concoct elaborate ceremonies to “let them into my heart” while lying in the dark in bed, I publicly pronounced what I now call my Five Vows: I would never a) like girls, b) swear, c) drink or use drugs, d) smoke and e) litter. And I don’t litter to this day.

At age 11 or 12 I joined Boy Scouts. I loved it, especially the fact that our troop took monthly campouts, rain, snow or shine. I also responded to the achievement aspect of merit badges and even to some extent the military order. Religion was actually a significant part of the experience and we were required to do God stuff all the time, but I didn’t take it that seriously. Our Scoutmaster was a devout Lutheran who sang in his church choir.

Eventually, when this man of God began propositioning me for sex, it all fell apart. It was confusing, at age 12, but I knew I didn’t want any part of that. I blew the whistle on him, only to have the troop “leaders” call me a liar. I quit, and a year later, the guy was arrested for raping a kid; he was sentenced, served time, released, promptly reoffended and convicted of dozens of counts and is now serving a sentence that will keep him in jail through 2035. He was one of four poster boys for a Los Angeles Times series on how the Scouts had covered up and shuffled abusers around—just like the Catholics! Yay!

At 14, my mother abandoned the church of her upbringing for a “high Episcopal” church, where she could continue to have all the pomp and ceremony and color without the distinctly anti-woman dogma of the Catholics. My sister had already fallen in with Young Life at a hyper-conservative local Presbyterian church through her high-school friends, but we lived in a town where kids ran wild—sex, drugs, booze and rock and roll (and in her case, disco)—and the youth group didn’t seem to slow any of them down. But my much younger brother and I went along for my mother’s Episcopal ride.

I soon would have bailed out in favor of sleeping in on Sundays, if nothing else, if not for the fact that I fell for a girl in my confirmation class. Quite literally, my passion, romantic imagination and, it must be said, lust, kept me going to church. We never did more than chastely kiss, and lasted just a few months under the pressure of junior high friends who mocked me because she was a year younger and not in the “cool group.”

Once that little affair ended, I was done, and while my mother seemed a little disappointed, nobody made a big fuss. I remember my physician father standing up for my right to choose.

By 7th grade, I grudgingly admitted to liking girls and rock and roll—my first two rock album buys were Jethro Tull, “Too Old to Rock and Roll….” And Led Zep IV, which prompted one friend to pronounce me a “freak.”

I had a massive crush on my Boy Scout patrol leader’s little sister, and we started “going together.” In my case, that meant obsessing about her all the time, but generally running the other way when I saw her coming down the hall. At the end of 7th grade, two cute sisters accosted me by the bike racks and forced me to kiss their friend Barbara Ann (my first in a string of Beach Boys girls—Wendy, Rhonda and Mona) and in that instant I blew my First Vow to smithereens, making it my mission to score. By the end of 8th grade I’d crossed home plate.

None of this troubled my conscience in the slightest, that I recall. I even concluded that making it with girls came as close to a “purpose” in life as I could expect. High school was a hedonistic bash from start to finish. I got a job at a barbecue restaurant where the college-age employees reveled in giving the teens booze and drugs of all kinds. I never turned anything down and by age 17 I’d tried most everything, though I was partial to booze. I never smoked, but I took up Skoal, then Copenhagen, at 15.

When it came to girls, I was a sexual adventurer, always trying new things and, to my teenage credit, always concerned that my girlfriends had a good time. But I was also monstrously jealous and despite thinking of myself as a super-swell boyfriend—any girl would by lucky to have me, I told myself and my girlfriends—I was not above cheating if the opportunity presented itself. Then I would tearfully confess and somehow manage to talk my bewildered teen gal into make-up sex. Nice.

One high-school girlfriend came from a large, liberal, intellectual Catholic family that I practically adopted as my own. They hosted people from all walks of life and continents for gatherings almost every weekend, played everything from Beethoven to Yes and Joan Baez, and I was considered an equal participant in late-night talks of politics, religion, sex; we drank a lot and my girlfriend’s older sister and I indulged a years-long secret flirtation.

I attended church with this family at the liberal Catholic parish in town. More important, I traveled with them to an amazing Benedictine monastery in New Mexico, where I was overwhelmed by the sere beauty of the desert and drawn to the mystical, medieval traditions of the monks. That was, perhaps, as close as I ever came to really wanting to embrace religion and truly believe. (I was shocked, a couple of years after my first visit, when a former monk from the place pulled up in a Mercedes and not-so-subtly propositioned my friends and I, implying that he’d be happy to do us up right. It horrified me to think that a monk or priest could succumb to such impulses. That was the first time I had to face that religion provided no shield from human foibles and recognized the deep repression and hypocrisy of the Catholic church that would play out in pedophile priest scandals).

My drinking and drugging accelerated during my first college year, in distant New York City. I was drunk, stoned or tripping at least 3-4 times a week, yet somehow managed to maintain a B+ average. Stupidly, I was still “together” with my girlfriend in Colorado, and often very lonely. And though I developed mad crushes on young women from the women’s college associated with my school, I also seemed to be losing the confidence that led me to “score” almost at will and awe my friends (I was not a particularly great specimen, looks-wise, but I was … persuasive).

I rejected city life, college and my upper-middle-class upbringing all at once after a year, deciding to become, of all things, a cowboy. In hindsight, that was tied to subconscious efforts to live up to the standards of my military-hero grandfather, a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions at Tarawa in WWII, and my father’s criticism of me as too flamboyant, loud, opinionated, selfish, and not athletic or “man” enough.
Self-exiled to the remotest parts of the West over the next 6+ years, I temporarily dropped the drugs, but not the drinking and chewing, and for reasons I still don’t understand, my confidence with girls continued to plummet. I visited whorehouses in Nevada—far from tawdry, I came to see those places as almost charming—and had the periodic unsatisfying drunken roll in a pickup seat. But I was depressed and sure I would never again have a girlfriend.

That’s when I fell in love with my second cousin. We had met years earlier, and despite our age difference, had always felt a powerful connection. Now she was old enough (well, according to us, if not our parents) and we found each other while I was working on her father’s cattle ranch.

But this family was extremely Catholic. In fact, they were “charismatic” Catholics who spoke in tongues, claimed healing and other Pentecostal powers. The house dripped with Catholic intensity and weirdness. The mother could veer terrifyingly from being a gentle, creative type to a wide-eyed monster screaming about her children’s sins, once parading down the stairs with a blood-stained underwear of a younger daughter who, upon reaching menses, was so ashamed that she tried to hide them; the mother portentously thundered to everyone, “Do you see what she’s DONE?”

I attended church weekly and said the Rosary with this huge family several times a week. Mostly it was to stay in their good graces, and because my beloved cousin truly believed. I probably tried harder at this time to “feel” or “contact” God, Mary or Jesus, but never did.

Meanwhile, she and I were a great sexual match. She was incredibly sophisticated and daring, especially given that she’d never had a boyfriend. It wasn’t until several years in that she tearfully told me about the regular sex she’d had—willingly—with her brothers throughout her pre-teen years. What a shock: it turned out that these boys had been horrifically raped by a “tutor” hired by the family. When they tried to tell their parents, they were accused of lying, and told that “Tony” couldn’t possibly do such a thing … because he was such a good Catholic. That the boys immediately turned around and began having full-penetration sex with their sister was no surprise.

Sadly, I was too self-centered to recognize that this trauma was still affecting her, wanting only to keep having sex. I cannot regret our relationship, which was based on real love. But I am sorry that I was such an insensitive cad who didn’t understand her real distress and how our relationship was contributing to it.

This household was incredibly turbulent, largely driven by the moods of the mother, who would sometimes become violent. I once caught her pinning her youngest daughter behind the refrigerator door, brandishing a scissors like a dagger, shouting about how the 11-year-old was a “slut.” Incredibly chaotic battles broke out on a regular basis, and on one occasion one son busted out a gun and threatened to kill himself. The father frantically tried to hold his mob together, with little success. Weirdly, despite the violence and vicious cruelty of these fights, once things cooled down, they always came back together in tears to pronounce their great love for one another.

Throughout all this, we went to church, confession and prayer group, and said the Rosary constantly. I came to believe that her mother, clearly mentally ill, had probably been molested herself, and gradually recognized the creepy, poisonous repression of that house. For the first time I made the connection between the God-belief and the trauma that was constantly playing out in sex and violence.

I returned to college, continuing to date my second cousin off and on over the next many years, and eventually began working in journalism. When not with her, I didn’t bother with church, but I was always reading about religion, wrestling with those early, negative Catholic messages and fears and, to the extent I believed in such a thing, I “hated” God.

I eventually returned to my home town, and started attending that very liberal Catholic parish, which hosted pro-choice and gay-rights groups. I befriended the priests and made the only confession I can recall to Father George, who scoffed at my sexual peccadilloes and said I was too hard on myself. No “Hail Marys” or “Our Fathers,” no penance of any kind. Alas, a conservative archbishop came in and ejected the liberal priestly order that had run the parish, and once the priests I had befriended left, I was out of there.

Not long after, a friend staged a sort of one-on-one intervention, saying that unless I got into recovery for my obvious addiction to prescription drugs, opiates and benzodiazepines, our relationships was over. I took her seriously, and began attending 12-step meetings.

Rather to my surprise, I really liked it. I wasn’t sure about all the God stuff, but in my fellowship there seemed to be wide latitude about what “higher power” could mean. I developed an understanding I thought of as a “literary higher power”: Just as you can read a book for the plot alone or seek deeper meanings in similes, metaphors and the like, I decided that I could either simply experience life (the “plot”) or pay attention to what it had to “teach” me. That taught me to slow down, think, consider consequences and most importantly, choose my behavior rather than simply react. Ironically, despite the 12-step emphasis on “higher power,” confession, prayer and so on, it was only through this process that I finally gained the courage to call myself what I think I’d always been, an agnostic atheist.

Despite the freedom to believe as one wished, I could not escape the more traditional ideas of God I encountered in meetings. People frequently talked about God as an active director of their lives, insisted that prayer worked, and sometimes criticized those who didn’t share their beliefs. I also became increasingly uncomfortable with the way 12-step philosophy closely resembled a religion: we addicts were flawed, damaged, and we could not ever be cured; but we could “recover” if we stuck with the “church”; if we left, we would surely fall into disaster and death. Despite knowing that I didn’t have an alcohol problem, and following the tenets of total abstinence for my 10 years of active participation, I always rolled my eyes at the dogma that having a beer would somehow “taint” my recovery and mean I wasn’t clean—the clear implication being that “God” was watching. I had a drug problem, for sure, and the program was a great help to me, but I hated the way people insisted that even a sip of beer would somehow render me into another “spiritual” state, even if nobody knew. I objected strenuously to people who took it upon themselves to encourage people with real illnesses to stop taking their medication (though the literature was clear that this was business between a doctor and patient) and just pray. I grew tired of the people chortling knowingly over the idea that one could leave and live a good life, despite numerous examples of people who had done just that. Bizarrely, such apostates were looked on as “failures.” They looked like successes to me, people who used the program to control their destructive using and were now living productive lives even though—the horror—they drank wine or perhaps even smoked marijuana.

Through all that, I gradually became more clear that the program was superstitious at heart, and that I simply didn’t believe in anything superstitious—gods, the efficacy of prayer, the magic pixie dust through which some entity or force “knew” you “weren’t clean” if you secretly drank a beer.

When I decided, quietly, to give it a break for a few months, I saw another “churchy” aspect: A surprising number of people I had considered friends for years simply shunned me. I was gossiped about, and people whispered that I was “using” because, yes, I was interested in and consumed craft beer, though had no desire to drink to excess or be drunk. They simply could not allow themselves to think I had not gone off the rails. I left, therefore I was doomed.

I never went back. Having left, I felt the burden of “brokenness” that I’d born since my Catholic youth begin to lift. I realized that the 12-step way simply reinforced, for me, the Christian message of sinners in need of redemption. I began voraciously reading atheist literature, listening to podcasts such as Seth’s and “The Atheist Experience,” no doubt to excess. But all this investigation has only confirmed my rational brain’s understanding of the universe, and the utter lunacy of religious beliefs and practices.

Although publicly polite, and extremely well-versed in the Bible and other religious subjects, I still find myself furious about religionists, especially Christians. I admit to being somewhat obsessed with “proving to myself” that it’s invalid—a vestige of religion itself, an echo that I may live with for a long, long time. And while I know I am truly an atheist, perhaps always have been, I still harbor doubts—what if I’m wrong?—and embarrassingly, the fear of “hell” still rattles around in the deepest recesses of my brain.

What they say about no such thing as “ex Catholics, only recovering Catholics,” may well be true in my case. Despite the fact that I never had my knuckles rapped by a nun, that stuff sticks with me. I’m astonished at how much power even my mild upbringing has had over my life.

As an atheist, I feel more myself, and more forgiving toward myself, than ever. I have been married to an utterly secular Jewish woman for many years and in recent years have been much more public about my lack of belief.

This amazing essay, “172 reasons to Reject Christianity,” says it all better than I ever will (http://www.kyroot.com/), but if I had to offer my Top 5 reasons:

1) The basic story is over-the-top ridiculous — You know, all powerful “perfect” god has to create subservient companions, whom he sets up to fail, then has to “sacrifice” himself to make up for own maliciousness/idiocy, etc. etc.
2) Sex — Christianity is obsessed with a subject its namesake spent little time on (and most American Xtians think much about this than their savior’s clear, persistent message about materialism and the poor).
3) DNA — There was no Adam, no “fall,” no original sin, thus nothing for Jesus to “redeem.”
4) Jesus was an idiot — This “god” (the trinity is absurd, too) had no knowledge of microorganisms, mental illness, DNA, geography, botany, or anything else except what any peasant of his time had.
5) Peekaboo God — Why would it put on routine, mighty demonstrations of power to illiterate, gullible peasants, yet refuse to offer clear-cut evidence to people in a modern, technological, scientific world of ever-shrinking “gaps”—who are justifiably, understandably more skeptical? Is it stupid, or just an asshole?
6) Apologetic contortions — The insane mental gymnastics required to “explain” the inconsistencies, falsehoods, illogic, etc. beggar belief. If a god requires this kind of hyper-Byzantine “interpretation” to make its case, it’s cruel, insane, capricious and worse. Better yet, it doesn’t exist.

God does not work in mysterious ways — he works in ways that are indistinguishable from his non-existence.
Jesus had a pretty rough weekend for your sins.
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16-12-2014, 03:54 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Thanks for sharing, welcome to the rational logic based side of the world.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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17-12-2014, 02:28 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(16-12-2014 01:40 PM)claywise Wrote:  I still find myself furious about religionists, especially Christians. I admit to being somewhat obsessed with “proving to myself” that it’s invalid—a vestige of religion itself

I feel the same way, I made the final break with Christianity a little more than two years ago. I found science as a means of debunking religion, the creation and flood narratives become so ridiculous, my intellect never doubts the impossibility of these myths anymore.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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