Share your de-conversion story
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01-05-2015, 06:49 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(01-05-2015 06:18 PM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  
(25-04-2015 01:16 PM)jennybee Wrote:  I was raised Irish Catholic--but never actually read the Bible. What I knew about God was through church and through my parents. I heard all the *good* passages--about how God and Jesus love you. My parents were very strict and extremely conservative due to their Catholic upbringing.

A little later on, I became friends with some pretty hard core Christians. I started reading the New Testament passages that my Christian friends told me about. Again, we were reading all the *good* passages about God and Jesus. I turned into a Jesus freak lol.

One day, I was looking through youtube and I saw a debate between Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron (yes, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I was that kind of Jesus freak lol) and a group of atheists. I remember thinking How can anyone be an atheist?? God is amazing. Jesus is amazing. These atheists must be some pretty awful people to not want God/Jesus in their lives. (Of course, the atheists annihilated Ray Comfort.)

Later on, I decided to do a little extra reading in the New Testament and found out about the dead saints that got up and walked out of their graves. I never remembered hearing about that in church or from my Christian friends! I then decided to read the entire Old Testament. It was then that I started to have some serious doubts about God's existence. Despite this, I felt extremely *guilty* for questioning God. I also felt extremely stupid for believing all this crap--I remember thinking I am college-educated with two degrees, I should have known better!! I slowly started identifying as agnostic (mostly out of fear of the Christian ingrained hell--the whole what if I am wrong and God really does exist sort of thing).

From there, I read everything I could get my hands on--books from both christian theologians and secular academic scholars. I couldn't deny it any more after that--I was an atheist. I now identify with the same people I thought were awful for not believing and loving God and Jesus. And you know what? Atheists are some of the best people I know.

ah, one of my favorite sticks with which I beat the theists with...the ridiculous zombie invasion story...

Matthew 27:51-53
King James Version (KJV)
51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Consider zombies...freaking ZOMBIES crawled out of the ground and "appeared unto many"...and yet...yet...not one literate person at the time thought this was noteworthy enough to write down...nope 50 years later voila! the story is written down after having had this urban legend passed down from person to person...or perhaps completely made up at the time the BS story was fabricated. hmmmmm now a thinking person would suspect that someone at the time would have, zombies! and put it into the written record...nope, ...contemporary history.

Perhaps Philo of alexandria who was a reknown and respected historian who resided in this area during the time of jesus?...nope...but then of course, he never even mentions jesus Gasp

The early years of the Roman Republic is one of the most historically documented times in history. One of the writers alive during the time of Jesus was Philo-Judaeus (sometimes known as Philo of Alexandria).

Philo was born before the beginning of the Christian era, and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ’s miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He was there when the crucifixion happened with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness and resurrection of the dead took place – when Christ himself rose from the dead and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven.

These amazing marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were all unknown to him. It was Philo who developed the doctrine of the Logos, or Word, and although this Word incarnate dwelt in that very land and in the presence of multitudes revealed himself and demonstrated his divine powers, Philo saw it not.

Philo might be considered the investigative reporter of his day. He was there on location during the early first century, talking with people who should have remembered or at least heard the stories, observed, taking notes, documenting. He reported nothing about Jesus.

Odd... Consider

Perhaps Justus..There was also a historian named Justus of Tiberius who was a native of Galilee, the homeland of Jesus. He wrote a history covering the time when Christ supposedly lived. This history is now lost, but a ninth century Christian scholar named Photius had read it and wrote: “he [Justus] makes not the least mention of the appearance of Christ, of what things happened to him, or other wonderful works that he did.”

hmmmmmmm give me a second...maybe it...was....all...made...up Blink

Big Grin

One of the first books I read during my deconversion (after Dawkins’ God Delusion) was Nailed by David Fitzgerald. He talks a lot about the points you mention in your post--how there is absolutely no evidence for a lot of the crazy things mentioned in the Bible. Christians that I know usually explain things away (the zombies) on God being all powerful. They say with God anything is possible. It is amazing how after you get out of all of that--you can see how crazy the whole thing is. Yet, when you are in the midst of christianity--it all seems to make perfect sense. My heart goes out to a lot of my christian friends who continue to live their lives for a magical sky god and are unwilling to weigh the evidence.
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04-05-2015, 11:39 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Sorry this is going to be a bit long winded going into the summary of my life as it adds background to the overall story

I was born into a very religious family, both my Mom and my Dad are deeply religious, I don't recall the denomination at that time anymore but it was one of the protestant Christian denominations and they continued to shift through different denominations over time as well.

My parents kept me very shielded from the outside world as I grew up, restricting what tv I could watch, what books I could read, and this was of course prior to the internet becoming a mainstream phenomenon. I remember specifically that I was able to watch a couple of episodes of bill nye the science guy before my parents no longer allowed it because I think they saw where it was going in terms of sowing the seeds of doubt in my young mind. And of course I was sent to Sunday school every single Sunday until just before my teenage years.

My parents originally sent me to a Private Christian school for my pre-school/kindergarten years before they pulled me out of that program and put me through a Christian based home-schooled education from grades 1 - 5 and entering public school in 6th grade. During these times I don't remember being taught anything beyond the most basic of science topics, but was at least taught all other areas well. I don't recall having any friends during this time either as I was kept mostly isolated from the outside world.

Starting in 6th grade I was sent to public school which was quite the shock to me as I lacked any skills on how to interact with anyone around my age, as I hadn't done so before, it resulted in bullying of course and references in conversations to go straight over my head. The bullying stopped as the years went on but social awkwardness has followed me to this day.

By 8th grade I had finally made a couple of friends but my lack of social skills and inability to read signals and overreact strained these friendships to almost the breaking point on more than one occasion. And on top of this both my parents didn't approve of the friends I had been making, I was never really told why explicitly, but now I think I have a fairly good idea. At the time I was merely told I don't like your friends and don't like you hanging out with them, however my parents were focused on my two sisters at this time and didn't put any real energy in preventing me from hanging out with them for the remainder of high school, for the most part at least.

Any new friendships that I attempted to make beyond that initial group was typically quashed quickly as it brought me back into focus for a brief period of time.

So that is kinda the super short early life background for me, now moving on to the meat and potatoes of my deconversion

During my middle and high school years I found that I took a rather fond liking to science especially chemistry, and would take as many of these courses as I could. I ended up taking an astronomy class as well and a biology class that I dreaded as I had been warned about the theory of evolution and that it was all hogwash and just a theory with tons of missing evidence and I almost ended up failing the class because of purposely not learning information that would contradict my faith.

In the astronomy class I brought up the holes in the big bang theory as a round about way to defend my faith and the teacher ended up backing down on it, when I looked around the classroom, my classmates had this look of disdain on their faces i'm not sure if it was because I wasted so much time on the argument or something else.

At this point my faith was still holding strong, as chemistry in high school doesn't really get into overly complex processes and focuses mostly on in-organic chemistry.

After high school at the behest of my parents I applied to and was accepted into a Christian University. Once I started is when the holes in my faith started to appear little by little. The first was a Life and teaching of Jesus class that I ended up taking, what I thought the class would be is a focus on the gospels that focused around Jesus's life and what he taught. What actually happened is the class was about gospels that were removed from the bible or just not added at all. And described Jesus as a child as a murderous and misbehaved child. Killing a man for bumping into him for example.

I of course initially rejected this as blasphemous and was why it wasn't included in the bible in the first place. I then learned that evolution was being taught in the science classes from what I heard from my peers and that it was a guided process. This also planted a seed that would lead to me starting to eventually question.

I think the biggest thing that really kicked off the process is how the people in the College acted, it was no different than anywhere else, where my expectation was nice god fearing people. What I encountered were some of the nastiest people I had ever had to deal with. In ways worse than the people at my secular high school, bullying, death threats for locking the door to the room. I eventually was placed into an on-campus apartment with one roommate who was there to become a youth pastor. He was extremely inconsiderate, wouldn't do any cleaning around the apartment, and would hog the only bathroom for well over an hour. I couldn't believe that they were going to become a youth pastor given what I had seen.

These events started the initial chain reaction that would take a decade before it culminated into the conversation process. I began to question why there was evil in the world and the answers I would get on this question were rather unsatisfactory. For example: evil exists as a test of faith, or it exists because we still need to spread the word to every nation on earth. To me this really didn't make sense If God was all knowing, all powerful, and all seeing how could evil exist? why would he let it exist?

These types of arguments set up a split reaction in my mind where I had my reasoning side saying this is non-sense. And the religious side of me going no you have to have faith and trust God's plan, the latter side is what most often won out.

This continued for years up to and even after my Fathers death, I took some comfort in that he was in heaven and in eternal bliss. And I ignored the reasoning side of my mind for four years.

It was recently that I started hearing of conflicts in the bible and what it actually condoned and I started to learn of all the violence and death that have been caused all in the name of god, all the hate I was seeing towards groups of people for no reason other than God said its bad type of deal.

After struggling with the bits and pieces of information for a while I did what seems unthinkable to the devout faithful. I started researching and trying to find my own answers to all the questions I had, I read of all the contradictions in the bible how two different sections referencing the same event had two totally different stories. How the first several books in the bible were written and changed by 5 different authors. The kind of evil that God condoned and I asked myself. How can I worship a god that condones such acts of violence? I then watched the arguments by Dawkins and how his arguments made sense. And how if I eliminate god from the picture events are more satisfactorily explained. Instead of God did it.

This actually gave me some comfort as it removed the fear of, if I do something wrong in the eyes of God ill go to hell forever. To God doesn't exist and I should be the best human being I can be. I still struggle with deconversion pains so to speak just because I was in the mindset for so long

Sorry if I sound a little rambling or incoherent, my writing skills are not as strong as they once were Sad
If there are parts you all feel need more explanation or better filled please let me know and I will do my best. My memory recall as of late has been a bit more scattered than usual.

“We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”
― Carl Sagan
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15-05-2015, 01:37 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I'm ashamed to admit it, but my deconversion came at the age of 54.

I grew up in a Mennonite home and we attended church regularly. Our faith was more about the new testament and how we should live our lives by Jesus' example. The sermon on the mount, the golden rule and the parable about the good samaritan were always the verses that Mennonites stressed over and over. We read scripture from the OT in Sunday school but it was always in the King James Version so, while I tried to make sense of it, it was like listening to a foreign language, and was impossible for a young kid to understand. So, I grew up believing that God was a loving and caring God who we should honor by serving others.

Throughout those years though, logical questions just kept coming up in my mind: Why would God answer a congregations prayer for rain but ignore thousands of starving children in Africa. Why would a loving God send people to eternal suffering in hell. Why would only Christians get to go to heaven given that there are so many other faiths on earth, etc. And since I didn't have the internet to get reasonable answers, I just kept them to myself and trusted that, if pastors, priests, ministers and theologians studied Christianity and the Bible in depth and still had faith, who was I to question.

Fast forward to my late 30s when I married a Catholic woman, and, wanting my kids to grow up in a consistent faith, I agreed to convert to Catholicism. What an eye-opener! I mean, just the idea of consubstantiation was a mind blower! The news about the priest child-abuse scandals were really revving up and I couldn't believe how the church explained it all away -- and yet, the masses still loved and revered their priests who they believe to be the living embodiment of Christ.

For the next decade, I went to mass religiously every Sunday (my wife and family are devout Catholics.) I had a hard time stomaching the conservative viewpoint of our particular church. The Mennonite church was all about service to the poor and caring for others. In this Catholic church, there wasn't a Sunday that didn't go by without mentioning the evils of abortion. Why were there such diverse understandings about what it meant to be a Christian. I was tired of trusting everyone else while burying my head in the sand. My doubts were so overwhelming that I needed to find my own answers.

I decided that, since the only base source of information about Chrisitanity had to be derived from only one place, the Bible, I would have to read the Bible from cover to cover. Thankfully there is so much brilliant technology that allows us to find answers at the click of a mouse. Why read it from a hardcopy book? I'll just download it and read it in digital form. I discovered that, even better than that, there were actual apps that read the Bible to you in any version you wanted. I didn't need to listen to that old boring King James version. Instead I listened to the easiest-to-listen-to version that the bible app "YouVersion" had to offer, the New Living Translation.

Well that did it! That was my tipping point. I was just blown away by how ridiculous, barbaric and absurd the Bible was. Where was my loving and caring God. He was no where to be found in the Bible. And what a nasty God he turned out to be: jealous, petty and cruel. I could not believe that so many people could read this and get anything of any value from it much less a moral code. Then the nagging question was, why do so many seemingly smart people believe such utter BS. That began a year and a half (until the present day) of pouring over hours of youtube videos of Harris, Dennet, Hitchens, 43Alley, George Carlin, Dan Barker and many more. And, of course Seth Andrews, the Thinking Atheist, who I couldn't thank enough for providing us with this website, podcasts and forum.

Well, that's my story. Cheers and well wishes to all!
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16-05-2015, 04:09 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Modified from another forum I visit where I shared things:

I was raised Mormon, even served a Mormon mission being one half of those sets of two guys walking or biking around in suits and knocking on doors to pester people. My deconversion started with the pursuit of a B.S. in Geology leading me to question what I was accepting as compelling evidence. What would my response be if I read a paper on plate tectonics and the supporting evidence for the hypothesis was:
  • The author feels that his hypothesis is correct when he reads and ponders it.
  • The author prayed about his hypothesis and felt convinced of it's correctness or even heard voices declaring it's correctness to him.
  • The beauty of a rainbow means the author's hypothesis is correct.
  • The author is a really neat and nice guy so his hypothesis is correct.
  • The last paper the author wrote made predictions he claims were accurate (but actually aren't) so I should trust him with this hypothesis.
  • I should accept his hypothesis because if I don't I risk burning in hell (or some variant thereof).

And so on, I'm hoping where I 'm going with the examples is clear. I gave the claim of god the benefit of special pleading in the past. When I stopped giving the claim the benefit of special pleading I found insufficient evidence to support it and defaulted to accepting the null hypothesis until such time as sufficient evidence comes along. Interestingly enough prior to this I was indifferent to the existence of a God, I just didn't think about it. When I informed my wife that I started drinking beer (a no-no for Mormons) she asked me if I even believed in god (rather than just specifically not believing in the Mormon faith) and it prompted me to analyze the situation (not something I'm inclined to point out to her as she'd probably be consumed with guilt over the thought she prompted my conclusion of atheism).

Hindsight is all well and good... until you trip.
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22-05-2015, 08:28 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Well, I grew up in the Church of Gawyud. We spoke in tongues (shummalummalummahummalummalumma), we danced in the spirit (imagine a dying chicken with arms outstretched to heaven and eyes closed in the power of pentacostal peer pressure), and homos were evil, demons were everywhere, rock music was of Satan, dancing was scandalous, evolution was heresy, and you had better be at Church on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, and whenever there was an event that involved fattening food and twenty-five minute long emotionally draining and liberal bashing prayers over the victuals.

My deconversion started in college. I was walking out of the building from a transportation engineering class. The two boys in front of me going down the stairs in front of me were talking about religion. One of them made a comment that went something like this. "Can you believe some people actually believe that evolution is not real". The other guy said, "yeah, I can't believe anybody taking course in this building would believe in God at all". I thought quietly to myself, "I believe in God. I don't believe in evolution." I didn't think much more of it right away, but it planted a seed.

Years later, I was serving in Iraq. I had the opportunity to meet a number of local Iraqi folks and they were all Muslim. I got to know these folks and wouldn't you know it, they were decent people. They were not evil. They talked about sports, and hunting, and fishing, and politics, and their family, and all the same stuff that good red-blooded American's only ever talked about. Could it be that they were actually good people, despite believing a religion that was diametrically opposed to my particular world view? Maybe? Hmmm.

Some short time later, a rocket impacted near me. Scared the bejeezus out of me... like almost literally. That rocket impact made me question fate versus faith. I wasn't hurt. But, why wasn't I hurt? Was I protected by God? Or was it just a matter of statistics that I wouldn't have been hurt? I began to suspect it was mathematically more possible that I wasn't hurt because of probability than God's protective hand.

A couple years later, while serving in Afghanistan, after hearing the gruesome story that my friend (the unit surgeon) told me about a young child being brought onto our base with severe burns on his legs (like feet gone severe burns) and that he couldn't save the boy, and that it was the result of his parents punishing him in accordance to what they believed their Muslim religion was telling them to do for insolent children, I couldn't rationalize religion any more. My deconversion had been happening slowly for almost a decade up to that point, but it was that event that increased the rate of deconversion for me.

I spent the next few months of my deployment in Afghanistan reading everything I could on the subject. Upon returning home, I started reading more and more. I found the Thinking Atheist videos on Youtube and watched all of them multiple times each. I was an atheist snowball that had finally reached critical mass and was hurling down the slippery slope toward the heathenville so fast that lightening couldn't have hit me if it struck three times. It was in April 2010 that I finally used the term, atheist, as a way to describe myself. I had known it for a long time, but I finally used the word.

Today, I'm secure and stable in my non-belief. Interestingly enough, I didn't start eating babies, or killing puppies. I still have yet to drown a kitten. For some unknown reason I have still not cheated on my wife, become a deranged serial killer, gotten addicted to drugs, or even so much as use unnecessary swear words. Guess I'm not real good at this infidel thing, huh? Or maybe, I never needed god to be good in the first place. In fact, I've made a conscious effort to go back and tell my old high school classmates who I openly judged for being gay that I am sorry for how I was and that I'm proud to know them. I've told my old friends who I tried to convert to Christianity that I'm sorry for wasting our time as friends proseletyzing to them.

At the end of the day, I'm satisfied with who I am today. I'm glad to not be who I was as a younger version of myself. I'm glad for the Thinking Atheist for being one of the foundational resources (those videos are super hilarious Seth) that helped me finally understand who I am and what I believe, or don't believe.
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25-05-2015, 07:47 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Wow... some really good stories here.

I was brought up Presbyterian, but not strict. I grew up believing in God. In year 10 I got involved with a Christian group in High School and after a few months had a conversion experience. In year 12, I did a year of theology, which is where I learned about the 2 creation stories in Genesis. I learned that, to tribesmen of the older world, spiritual truths trumped historical. To me, that meant there was no conflict between creation and evolution, and I held onto that idea for decades. But it sparked my inquiring mind to consider other assertions in the Bible, and by all religions.

I also made a point of arguing with literalists, especially of the tongue-speaking kind. That prompted further evaluation. I looked at the horrific treatment of people, and began to wonder about the religious justification for it. (In the wealthy west, it's easy to say it's all part of God's plan.)

One by one, all my paradigms came undone like old shoelaces. I have no doubt that some of my thinking came through osmosis, but mostly it came from thinking alone about the issues, the gaps, the contradictions and things like being born in the Christian west.

I began to see that the personal proofs I had were either wishful thinking or explained by more mundane reasons. I realized that I previously looked for evidence that supported my beliefs and rationalized the things that contradicted it.

Guilt was always a burden, imposed by Christianity, and I realized it was a default that I had adopted. Even when innocent, I still felt guilty. My first sexual experiences were wonderful, but they created a perpetual circle of spiritual anxiety.

Eventually I came to the position that the gods of religions were just human constructs. My God was not to be found in the Bible. Given the overwhelming nature of the universe, my God was not as tiny as the Bible portrayed. Some time after that, I made myself say the words. "I'm no longer a Christian." That was about the hardest thing I ever had to tell myself.

Atheism came sometime after that. There wasn't really a definite moment, except that one day I started using the word to describe myself. Reason had moved in, and piece by piece it rearranged the furniture, tossing out the couch of faith and the side table of superstition and replacing them with things that made more sense. Reason has not only removed religion, it has also given me tools for other parts of my life.

Age 57. Ex-Christian of over 35 years. Living in Melbourne Australia. Educator, writer, pilot, drone pilot and solitaire addict. My next sig-line will be more creative. ;-)
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29-05-2015, 03:59 PM (This post was last modified: 29-05-2015 06:04 PM by Anon.)
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I guess I should share my story as well.

I grew up Catholic. Not a devout catholic but catholic none the less. Went through the whole process, first communion, conformation and everything in between. I remember being in confession one day and instead of says what sins a 13 year old boy committed I started to ask questions and expressing my doubts about the vitiated of the stories in the bible. The priest finally got fed up with my questions and said I was wrong to doubt god and I was so because its written in the bible. Of course this didn't sit well with me and I knew then religion and the bible was bullshit. I spent the next few years of my life confused about religion and pretended to be a good little catholic. When I went to college I identified myself as an agnostic and that's where I remained until I joined the military. I traveled the world, I lived in Okinawa Japan for 3 years, I went to 17 different countries and did a tour in Iraq where I trained the Iraqi military. This was an amazing time in my life but it also came with a price. After I came back from Iraq I was not the same man that left. Something was different and I was in a dark place. It got so bad and I knew I needed help but did not want my leadership to look down at me so I went to see a Chaplin. As soon as my ass hit the pew I broke down and started to cry uncontrollably. Once he got me calm we talked for quite some time. He gave me a hug and set me up with a "small group" that met weekly. My wife and I started to go and we studied the bible and read David Platts book Radical. I felt welcome and really enjoyed the company but the warm and fuzzy wore off quickly. The stuff these people believed in just didn't make sense. These people were very nice and good hearted people but I couldn't go down the rabbit hole with them. When I got out of the military I became very self destructive and it came to the point that I knew I needed to get help. I was diagnosed with PTSD shortly after. You see, my relaps into religion was solely because I needed the comfort of a group but in reality I needed help working through what I went through because of combat. I recently found which was one of the most amazing excrescences in my life. I saw and realized that its OK to be open about being an atheist. That also pointed me to this amazing community of free thinkers here at the thinking atheist and has given me the courage to be open about me being a free thinker and it has been liberating.

I hope my story hasn't board anybody or if you did read it didn't take up to much of your time. Thank you!
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04-06-2015, 04:31 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Even though I was educated at a Church of England school, I always assumed religious belief was a conceit everyone brought into. It never occurred to me that people took it seriously.

I can't say I was born atheist, that would be a ridiculous thing to suggest, but I was certainly not born a Christian not did I ever really become one, despite people trying to indoctrinate me, it just simply never made any real sense to me.

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05-06-2015, 09:40 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
When I was young there were five persons who fed me data. Four of them did on believe in God, but one of them was a Christian and wanted to try to convince me that his religion was true. I had not considered the possibility that the data being given to me was false and believed what was being told to me until he began to present facts that were inconsistent with everything else I learned.

I began to question him about it and soon found that religious humans put religion in a 'special category' where it does not have to be consistent with anything else and is held to a much lower standard. I immediately recognized this as illogical and rejected it. From religion I learned about cognitive biases and also that humans are generally insincere about their thought processes, later going on to discover the actual logic that lead him to hold onto those beliefs.

I was eventually able to confirm that his religious beliefs were factually inaccurate using math when I gained access to a wider amount of data.
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05-07-2015, 04:08 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I was going to bed one day when I was about 13 and I was thinking about the noah story for some reason. Realized that it was all complete bullshit while at the same time realized that magic doesn't exist either. That made me realize that god doesn't exist and that there is no afterlife. I remember going to bed afraid and sad and then I completely forgot about any of it until a few years ago when I started getting so sick of all the stupid shit we let christians, cops and so many others get away with these days that I started thinking about it more and then one day I ran into some of Darkmatter2525's videos and then Cult of Dusty and then Amazing Atheist and Aron Ra and discovered who Christopher Hitchens was and then well...I pulled myself into this new atheism thing and love it since.!

My Youtube channel if anyone is interested.
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