Share your de-conversion story
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08-08-2015, 10:56 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
We're not judging you for your personal journey, Q... just for blatant dishonesty in facing evidence when it is clearly presented to you. If your religion makes you happy, then I am happy for you. Simple as that.

On the other hand, when the ideas of someone's faith are ones that combat scientific understanding and/or seek to impose the "will of God" (however that particular cult/sect chooses to define it) onto others, either through legislation, willful deception, or social pressure, then we have a combat situation.

Last thing: please don't claim to be "a former atheist"... from what I can see there, you were at best an "Ijustdontgiveafuckist", the faith-stance of my brother. Smile

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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11-08-2015, 09:40 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I was raised Roman Catholic, with a father who was nominally Lutheran (but when he had had a snort of alcohol, raised his doubts, but would back off if pressed). My mother was a devout Catholic; she even had four aunts who ended up as nuns. I ran the full gauntlet- baptism, catechism, 1st communion, confirmation- trying to be a good boy. I did ask questions in catechism class with less than forthright results (nun says, “Well that's one of the mysteries” when asked a straightforward question). At that young an age, I could detect BS, but in trying to be a good boy, I didn't question further. Quit church after I got a job that got me to work early on Sunday (age 15- we were poor, to the extent that my income helped support the family). Joined the US Navy a few years after HS, still a believer. After the Navy, I went to university, and was still offended when a prof would gig religious belief. It wasn't until I had children that I started to question my belief (early '90s). I really tried to keep drinking the kool-aid and be a good boy, but that logical training I had worked so hard to acquire at the university kept obtruding. I quit believing then, but put up the pretense for the sake of my family. I didn't have the negative stereotype of atheist staring me in the face at the time, it was just that if I didn't believe, something must be wrong with me. I just kept putting it in a little box where I didn't think about it but eventually, it got to the point where the cognitive dissonance was too overwhelming to ignore, and I admitted internally that I did not believe in a god, any god, and acknowledged in my mind that I was an atheist. I think that this is an important distinction. One can doubt, but until one actually acknowledges it, one can't be non-religious. That was about 2004. Not long after that, I went online and looked around, and discovered that there were millions like me in their non-belief. At first, I identified as agnostic, since nobody knows everything, and a god could be hiding where I might not be able to ferret it out. Since then, I've seen enough discussion and logical presentation with comparative religion (and have thought about it a lot, and reasoned it out) to understand that “god” as defined by humanity is a construct used for coercion to conform to someone elses requirements. Now, I am a strong atheist, based on the education that I have garnered. My story may seem pretty dry here compared to what some people have experienced, but the internal turmoil was pretty tough, I'll have to tell you, as I was no longer a “good boy”, by my own standards, even though I was in my 40s when it happened. Fucking kool-aid, anyway. Personal trauma, as I mentioned in my intro, is pretty local to the individual, and only people with a fair amount of empathy can feel it vicariously. I would have studied to be an MD, but my empathetic nature would have left me devastated had a patient died (and I really don't like the sight of blood, anyway).

Damn, what a wall of words. Maybe it will help some young person drink less kool-aid and experience less psychological trauma, if they see this.
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11-08-2015, 09:43 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(08-08-2015 10:56 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  We're not judging you for your personal journey, Q... just for blatant dishonesty in facing evidence when it is clearly presented to you. If your religion makes you happy, then I am happy for you. Simple as that.

On the other hand, when the ideas of someone's faith are ones that combat scientific understanding and/or seek to impose the "will of God" (however that particular cult/sect chooses to define it) onto others, either through legislation, willful deception, or social pressure, then we have a combat situation.

Last thing: please don't claim to be "a former atheist"... from what I can see there, you were at best an "Ijustdontgiveafuckist", the faith-stance of my brother. Smile

Fact of the matter is, once one has painfully reasoned their way through the religious minefield, I can't for the life of me understand why they would throw that hard-won effort out for the kool-aid ever again. I don't know Q's situation, but I can go look at posts. Just my 2 cents at this point.
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11-08-2015, 10:12 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Fireball - That's why I distinguish between "lapsed Christian" (the Ijustdontgiveafuckist) and an actual atheist, who has thought out the position and actively rejected religious dogma.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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12-08-2015, 10:27 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Basically threw a ball upwards and asked God to catch it.
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12-08-2015, 07:16 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(11-08-2015 10:12 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Fireball - That's why I distinguish between "lapsed Christian" (the Ijustdontgiveafuckist) and an actual atheist, who has thought out the position and actively rejected religious dogma.

This is why I have long asserted that the "I was an atheist and then lost my disbelief due to the glory of god" BS stories. You may have just 'not believed' in god, then maybe a personal experience tipped you over to the other team, but I have a really hard time accepting someone can be fully educated and knowledgeable on the fallacy, Fiction, forgery, and fantasy of religion, throw that all away, and embrace fabricated delusion. I just dont buy it....but it DOES make for a great story..."I used to be an atheist, then god spoke to me one day, and praise jesus I have seen the light!"....I imagine it would sell quite a few books and speaking engagements.....

"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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12-08-2015, 07:36 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
GwoG -

I was given a copy of C. S. Lewis' book, Mere Christianity, by my parents when they first found out I was now an active atheist (after five years of not even talking to them and basically being an "Ijustdontgiveafuckist", after they forced me to choose between continuing to attend their church, which I had realized was wrong, and moving out on my own at age 17)... when I got to his section about how he "used to be" (blah blah blah), I saw it for what it was--exactly what you just described--and was so angry that I literally threw the book across the room.

It was deeply insulting to me, since I went through quite a bit of personal dilemma in the five years it took me to fully realize my atheistic worldview, slowly decompressing from all the nonsense I had been taught growing up and painfully trying to find my own way to reason and a personal system of morality not based on Bronze-Age tribal Patriarchy. It was an insult to me and every thinking, caring person in the world. I loathe C. S. Lewis with a passion, to this day, after that... and frankly, I resented my parents for thinking I was dumb enough to fall for it. (Now I just pity them for being too narrow-minded to realize what he was, and what I am, and my folks and I have a pretty good relationship.)

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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15-08-2015, 10:04 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(11-08-2015 10:12 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Fireball - That's why I distinguish between "lapsed Christian" (the Ijustdontgiveafuckist) and an actual atheist, who has thought out the position and actively rejected religious dogma.

Gotcha. Having wrestled the demon first hand, any other course back to religion for me would require stupefaction on my part. It would be logically dishonest.
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17-08-2015, 10:49 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Personally, I grew up in a devout evangelical family, went to church every Sunday, went to a private christian school from preschool to 12th grade, and am still attending the evangelical college that I enrolled at after high school (deconverted 6 months ago, only have a year left getting a non-religion major, so I'm toughing it out). Anyways, I was a pretty strong Christian growing up, and grew even strong when I went to college, as I was very involved in student leadership, which had a large roll in leading bible studies and such things for the students. Going into my third year of college, I was in charge of teaching the guys who then taught bible studies to the students, so as I said before, I was pretty sold into the whole Christian thing.

My deconversion came in stages, with the first stage having nothing to do with doubting Christianity in general. Upon going to college, which had a fairly large student population, I encountered many student who had different theological views that I did. The primary one being that I believed in free-will salvation, i.e. that anyone could accept Jesus as their savior and be saved, whereas many of the students I knew where Calvinists of some sort, where God had pre-determined a list of people who could and would be saved, and if you were not on that list, you couldn't accept Jesus, period. For three years, I stood my ground, using various bible passages to support my view, while ignoring or explaining away the passages that they used. Believing that the bible was inerrant, I knew that one of us HAD to be right, or more correct than the other, and that the other was simply misinterpreting the Bible.

One of the reasons that I personally could not accept Calvinism is that I couldn't accept the thought that a loving god would create people that had no chance of being saved, but were doomed to die and go to Hell for eternity. However, I rationalized that since everyone had the chance to be saved, and since God 'revealed' himself to all through creation (Romans 1), then everyone had a shot to get into heaven, and if you didn't, then you must have consciously rejected God at some point in your life. About a year or so ago, one of the other reasons that I thought that caused me to reject Calvinism was that I was raised to believe something else from birth, and that if I was raised a Calvinist, I would quite possible believe that instead. But wait a minute I thought, that sounds a heck of a lot like I was indoctrinated into believing a specific type of theology... After thinking about this possibility, along with other issues that I was having in regards to Christianity, such as why God would permit for such vastly different interpretations of his plan for humanity, why is there suffering in the world, etc, I realized that I had never critically evaluated many of my beliefs, but that I had rather taken them simply 'on faith'.

So, after wrestling with this for a time, I decided that I was going to reevaluate my beliefs, starting from scratch. I would dive into secular views on evolution (which I hardly understood), biblical criticism, morality, and whatever else I would find. My goal was to bring as little bias into this as possible, although I obviously would still have some Christian bias, since that was what I had known my entire life. Actually, I remember praying to God that I was going to investigate my faith, and that I should pretty quickly come to conclusion that everything I believes was correct, and for him to help me use my mind and reason to figure this stuff out. The first thing I wanted to decide upon was whether we could trust the bible (seemed like a good place to start) and I soon stumbled upon Bart Ehrman's books. They completely floored me. I had been told growing up that the Bible clearly had no internal contradictions, and that the Bible I read was the same as the Bible Christian's had 1500 years ago. Bart Ehrman's books proved me wrong so quickly I blew my mind. I remember crying while praying to God (Did I say I still had a little Christian bias?...) to help me understand what was going on. I had based so much of who I was and what I believed on the fact that the Bible was the inerrant word of God, that my faith just crumbled like a house of cards. As I read more into more of the moral outrages in the Bible, facts about evolution, physics, and other things, I simply could not believe in the God of the Bible anymore. What made this time even more difficult was that I was still in a high leadership position at my college, and was still teaching bible studies and leading church groups. In a way, having a look into the inner workings of the church with a different perspective pushed me away from the church and my faith even faster, as any attempt I made to discuss some of these issues with others was met with simple "oh, evolution is clearly ridiculous", or "of course the bible is inerrant, how could it not be?". I'm not sure exactly as to when I officially became an atheist, as my belief sort of just withered away.

As of now, I am still in the atheist closet. The only people that I've come out to are members of a secular humanist group in my college town that I found online (which was an awesome experience, they were the nicest people, and were extremely welcoming to a stranger seeking community). Both my parents and brothers are still extremely religious, as well as almost all of my friends and other family members. As of now, I'm not planning on coming out of the closet until after I graduate, and even then I'm not sure when/how I'm going to do it. My parents are so proud that their oldest son has grown up to be a christian man, graduated from college, etc, that I'm sure that it will break their hearts to believe that their son has thrown heaven away and has chosen to go to hell instead. Pretty much the rest of my family is devout as well, so I'm sure that they will not take the news well.

Sorry for the overly-long post, but I wanted to detail my whole story somewhat specifically for my own sake, since I find it helpful to reflect on how I've gotten to where I am now as an individual. Thank you all for the community that you have here! I've only been a part of it for a short time, but I already feel very welcome, and it is refreshing to be able to talk to people who don't view reason and critical thinking as 'tools of the devil'.
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17-08-2015, 11:31 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Hug
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