Share your de-conversion story
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12-09-2013, 08:19 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
My de-conversion was very gradual.

I had a multitude of doubts (watching a processional with a Mary statue with a sash with dollars attached to it tends to do that), but I didn't really start to actively think about them much until I started watching Penn & Teller hit show Bullshit and a rather infamous bit from George Carlin on god and religion. That, coupled with regular conversations with my wife (at the time girlfriend) regarding religion helped to drift me away gradually. From there, I went on to listen to discussions on Youtube from the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, thunderf00t, and Sam Harris, among others.

It's funny, because I never really had any heroes growing up. I never had any celebrities to look up to, because frankly I didn't respect the most vocal ones (for obvious reasons). I did respect Penn & Teller even when I was younger, but I frankly didn't know much about them beyond the fact that they were very talented magicians. But then, suddenly there was an explosion of reasonably famous people I could actually identify with. Finally, there were people that actually made some sense. I was starting to feel a bit crazy - but now I know I'm finally escaping crazy. Smile
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12-09-2013, 10:12 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
As I was growing up religion in my family seemed like a bit of just a cultural norm. We went to church most Sundays and I went to Sunday school and was in the youth group there. It was never pushed but it was always there. Outside of that it wasn't a part of our lives. When I was in high school things ramped up for me a bit religion wise. All of my friends were devoutly religious and I was pulled into their world. I joined an organization called Young Life and began to go to the teen friendly worship services they had. I really started to believe. I really wanted to believe. Like all teenagers there is that need to be in a group to be accepted and loved.
When I went to college and left those friends behind I was able to get some perspective. This was probably the start of my deconversion back to the athiest I was when I was born. I was lucky. I did not com from a strongly religious family, my parents believe, but they always allowed us to find our own way, and my first love was science. I studied chemistry and anthropology. I majored in history and learned about the different cultures and religions throughout time.
After college my life took another turn where I started spending most of my time with new agers, conspiracy theorists, etc. I saw their perspective on things and saw how they lived with a lot of ignorance. I didn't know it, but looking into and rejecting their thoughts of govt. conspiracy's and energy healing made me start looking into my own beliefs. I was a VERY superstitious. I wouldn't stop a book in the 13th chapter. I was afraid to think about bad things in case I made them happen. All sorts of things. I started to question these superstitions. I still had them, but I started to understand that they weren't real.
Then life changed again. I got out of the relationship that had me in with those friends. It was a devastating break up. I was very depressed and very kind hearted christians asked to pray for me. One lady asked to pray with me and for me to give my life back to Jesus. This just really annoyed me instead of giving comfort. They didn't seem to be wanting to help me they just wanted another life for Jesus. They probably didn't see it as preying on the weak, but that is really what it is and what it felt like to me at the time. I made a pact with God...I still believed or more to the point I was afraid not to. I told God that I would be happy if he stopped sending all of these people to try to save me I would leave him alone to. This was my first step away that I actually knew was a step away. Not like the time I didn't understand why we weren't allowed to like the gay kid in high school. That was a step away, I just didn't know it.
It went from there. The religion wasn't drilled in as a child and what tried to take hold during those important teenage years never got as firm of a grip as I thought at the time. I started to work for a private company that was religious to the core. It's business had nothing to do with religion...they collected hospital debts. We prayed before meetings....religion was the topic of choice all the time. I came to realize that I did not agree with these people. I did not agree with them at all.
Another way that I am lucky is my wife. She was born into a household of non christians. She is an athiest by default. She doesn't even get Bible references and doesn't really know any of the stories that were told in Sunday school. By the time we met religion was really in its death throws in my mind but I wasn't comfortable letting them go....what about HELL????? But here not having the christian background her thinking was a bit different from what I was used to. She didn't have a dogma to hold her down. She just learned about things and made up her mind. She wouldn't tolerate my superstitions.
The final blow to it all was my brother...although he doesn't know it. He asked one day at a family reunion. He leaned in close and quiet and asked....don't you just think all of this God stuff is BS? It was the first time I finally asked myself the question....I had left most of my superstition.....I was never really religious....I was superstitious.....behind me. I had looked at the religious people around me and I didn't like what I saw. I saw the growth of the religious right and their spewing of that one question I finally asked myself I answered...yes I think all of this God stuff is BS.
It was amazing. At 39 years old I finally felt comfortable. I finally really felt free. I finally really felt like I could live a life that was just as amazing as it really is without fear. I live without fear of death because I know I wont be punished for my life. I now appreciate so much more about my life and the time I have left here. I can stop reading a book in the middle of the 13th chapter.
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14-09-2013, 11:56 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I didn't really have a deconversion. My parents were raised Methodist and Baptist, but they left their respective churches in high school. They were introduced to a meditation practice called Knowledge in the early 70s and even spent 6 weeks in India. So, we had a picture of an Indian guy in a white linen suit in our kitchen instead of a cross - no joke! Throughout my entire childhood, I went to church once and all I remember is that everyone gave me candy. My parents had a rocky marriage and my mom finally left my dad in 1993. I remember going to a youth group event with a friend of mine around that time and being totally caught up in the idea of Eternal Life with a Savior who loved me no matter what. I answered the altar call and accepted Jesus Christ into my heart as my Lord and Personal Savior ... but never told anyone because even then I thought it all sounded weird. After the divorce, my mom returned to the church and I went with her every Sunday for almost a year when I was a freshman. I was on the verge of joining, but even with the weekly attendance there was still something within me that resisted and just couldn't quite do it. Since then, I've just sort of not believed in anything. I got married in a mostly secular ceremony ... there were a few references to god, but mostly just because I wasn't sure what my husband believed and it sounded good, you know? "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder." That's powerful and deep, right? Honestly we never really had serious religious conversations during our whirlwind romance. It just never came up. We didn't go to church and it was never a big issue. After we had kids, we had to talk about what we were going to teach them ... how we were going to raise them. Our oldest son has autism, and doesn't really buy into anything that's abstract or pretend or not real - a scientist at heart. ;-) So we just explained to him that some people believe XYZ and other people believe ABC but we prefer to accept science and things with factual evidence. He took to it like a duck to water. Now we are both more open and outspoken about our worldview.
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18-09-2013, 04:56 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
OK, let me bring this thread back on topic with my deconversion story:

I spent the first 19 years of my life not knowing (or caring) much about religion. I was a cultural Catholic, but that's about it. I never thought too much about it – I had other preoccupations on my mind. I sometimes miss those times, as it was simpler to live that way. Then, I came into contact with Protestantism (the „grace through faith“ type), which seemed simpler and more straight-forward than the „complicated“ Catholicism, with its hierarchy, intermediaries, sacraments etc. – big mistake. I started asking the key questions about life. For some reason, I wanted a greater meaning to my life at that time, so I started believing in Biblical inerrancy, creationism etc. I don't know how exactly it happened, but I willfully ignored all the problems with that view, because I wanted it to be true.

At first I was satisfied with my „spiritual progress,“ although I never felt completely dedicated to it, as other Christians seemed to be. I mean come on, praying for trivial stuff? Saying grace before eating? Praising God for anything and everything? I never did that. Christians were always saying to people „I'll pray for you,“ so I was asking myself, do they tell the truth? Do they really think that thoughts in their mind can help someone? Isn't there a better way to spend your time, like actually helping someone? So I remained an „intellectual Christian“ for some time, although, as I've said, I felt something was lacking.

As the time was passing, things started to go wrong. More or less the only "fruits" that I got from my „walk with Jesus,“ or whatever that's called, were guilt, and consequently, fear. Guilt and fear over things that hadn't concerned me before. I'm a young man in his early 20s – I don't think I need to elaborate on what the guilt was about.

As a result, I was told to consult the Bible, but all I found there were contradictions. Why are there so many Christian denominations that teach different doctrines? Was the Law abolished or is it still binding? Do I have free will? And most importantly, what must I do to be saved? I couldn't find a conclusive answer to the most important question I could ask. I thought, and I still do, that if God put so much effort into creating this world so complex as it is, that he would bother to properly reveal himself, and his will, to his creation. The stakes are too high.

The last straw was in July 2013. I was reading a debate between the „traditional“ view on hell and annihilationism. I was shocked by with how much passion some Christians (I knew many of those individuals, and I had great respect for them until then) were defending the doctrine of eternal torment. They weren't just quoting the Bible to prove their case – they wanted it to be true! I wondered how sick in the head one must be to say that eternal torment in hell is necessary for something, or to rejoice over it. It was then when I realized how religion can completely alter the personality of an otherwise good person, and completely numb his/her compassion towards fellow human beings, just because of something written in a 2,000-year-old book. I knew I could never become like that. I wanted out of there.

My "deconversion" was surprisingly quick - it took merely a few hours. Apparently, my opposition to Christian doctrines and ideas grew gradually within me, and finally escalated with a simple "enough," which was what I said to myself when my rational self finally prevailed. It happened on August 2nd, 2013. After reading some books (by R. Dawkins, T. Paine, S. Harris...), I joined this forum on August 30th.

As for the meaning of life? Well most of all, if there really were a god and an afterlife, would that make our lives more meaningful? No, it wouldn't. It would only mean that this life is a show set up by God, with no ultimate point, because we wouldn't be able either to hurt or to glorify God. We also wouldn't be able to do anything of permanent significance to the grand scheme of things, as God could do the same (or whatever else he wants) in a blink of an eye. Indeed, "doing God's will" now seems to me like a very silly concept. If there were a god, he wouldn't have created anything. He'd be enjoying his own self-sufficience, forever.

An eternal life would be meaningless. What would we do for an eternity? What would be our meaning in such a dimension of existence? Now that would be a meaningless life. I think the idea of heaven, apart from being an instrument of control, was conceived as some sort of a nostalgic feeling over the transience of temporal things. Like, "I wish this vacation lasted longer." So we imagine an eternal vacation. But we skip the fact that temporality is necessary, because it drives us forward. Novelty and challenge are important aspects of our appreciation of things.

Therefore, I don't fear death in the naturalistic sense - I see it as a natural part of the cycle of life. Our ancestors leave this world to us, we live to make it better, and then we leave it to our posterity. I don't need a better purpose in life. In fact, eternity would make life meaningless - what makes life valuable is its transience. Every moment is precious, and that's why we need to make the best out of it.

References – my posts and threads:
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18-09-2013, 08:30 AM
Re: Share your de-conversion story
My background is similar to many of your's I'm sure - grew up in a Christian home, back-slid after high school, went back because "that's what I was supposed to do", got burned out a little, then eventually found information that challenged my deeply held beliefs.
My journey started with Penn and Teller's Bullshit show about the Bible. It was humorous, but not very compelling. However, thanks to Youtube's recommendation feature, I started watching The Atheist Experience. That's where my religion and faith started to die. I started seriously investigating what I believed and why. I'm still surprised how quickly the foundations of my faith crumbled.
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21-09-2013, 09:33 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I don't have a de-conversion story , should I feel bad about it? Big Grin

No, seriously, I admire people who managed to brake the chains of indoctrination. I wonder if I would've been able to do it.

. . . ................................ ......................................... . [Image: 2dsmnow.gif] Eat at Joe's
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01-10-2013, 07:47 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
For me, it was fairly gradual. There was a period in my life when I wouldn't even consider any idea that might lead to the conclusion of God not being real. After a while, I realized that I didn't really believe it, yet I still wanted to. This started a two year path of me trying to make myself believe something that made no sense, and involved a lot of cognitive dissonance and borderline depression. The more I thought about it, the less and less I saw an all loving god in the world around me or in the Bible.

Eventually, I got to the point where I flat-out didn't believe, but it was still another six months from that point until I could even admit it to myself. Fear of hell and being wrong about something non-falsifiable kept me in line for quite a while.

I guess none of this should be surprising to me. When you think about it, Christianity has a lot of pretty good safeguards built into it:
  • Teach kids when they're young enough to believe in Santa.
  • Tell adults that doubt is normal, and everyone experiences it.
  • Tell them that any dissenting point of view is just another lie from The Deceiver. Even (no, especially) if it sounds reasonable.
  • Threaten them with a super-scary, non-falsifiable punishment system.
  • Also, for good measure, strongly encourage them to primarily hang around people with similar points of view.
I mean, you have to break free of all of those to stop believing. Even if you get through several layers, any one of them can pull you right back in in such a way that you have to break through them all again.
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02-10-2013, 04:26 PM (This post was last modified: 02-10-2013 04:35 PM by BiffWellington.)
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I don't know if I really "de-converted" I think I never really dug that whole religion thing. I tried it out a few times when I was 13 or so but I didn't care for it. It didn't make much sense to me due to it's rampant hypocrisies. I did however go into a period of time where I was subject to believe insane Pseudosciences. I was at the time married to a woman that worked (& still does) in a pseudo-hippie-health & Wellness store. I believed in a strong possibility of ghosts, conspiracies, occult, etc. & the more & more I studied this trash, the more I stepped into the mental illness realm. I had never shown any signs of mental illness within my life until I started looking into this cesspool of misinformation. Luckily two things happened. 1. I realized how insane I was becoming & 2., the most important one, that community of people that actually believed this stuff demonstrated on infinite occasions, how wrong they were. First I moved into a home with some chick that was a hippie, vegan, eco-freak. She was absolutely disgusting. She had a cat that she didn't believe in spaying so it ran around having kittens all the time, that would in turn, piss all over her living room furniture and "drapes" (rags of loose fabric). The window coverings had a waterline at the base from all the piss *shudders*. She "cleaned" her house & cloths with excessive amounts of vinegar & it smelled horrible. She had an at home water birth with her first child, but get this....are you ready for this.... here we go.... SHE FIRED THE MIDWIFE!!! Because she believed she knew better than the woman who made a career out of delivering children at home. All because of information regurgitated by morons on the internet. She didn't even end up giving birth in the pool because she & her husband were too lazy to set it up. So she gave birth in their bed ( that they used for months afterwards ), but ended up in the hospital afterwards under the care of real doctors & real nurses because she was hemorrhaging. Go figure. She kept the placenta & made some weird hippie jerky Confused This was 4 years ago & from what I understand she is still breast feeding that child & it's sickly pale & skinny & constantly sick. I also joined a forum of people that believed in the pseudo-spectrum. Almost everyone of the "believers" would come across a loonies. I'm realizing that I'm ranting & I'll say that this was my de-conversion from the world of Misinformation.
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06-10-2013, 11:45 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(10-06-2013 08:35 PM)Hughsie Wrote:  It's been suggested that we have a stickied thread for everyone to post their de-conversion stories in and I think it's a fantastic idea, so here it is.

My own de-conversion was rather boring. I gradually realised it was all bullshit, didn't have a big coming out moment but my family became aware, some of them were disappointed while others weren't bothered, there's the odd argument about religion in my house but nothing major.

I know others here have far more interesting stories though so please, begin sharing.
Seems like a good place to start.
My deconversion came after 25 years as a born-again christian.
I frequently inhabit the CARM forums and that is where I started really learning the truth about the Theory of Evolution. It took about 3 years, but eventually the facts started to get through.
There was no real point or date I can put my finger on, I just realized that I no longer believed the Hebrew god.
I can absolutely say that I have never been happier and it is so great to be the master of my own thought life again. No more guilt, no more wasted time.
The truth really does set you free!

Floggings to continue until morale improves.
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09-10-2013, 08:34 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
My story of my de-conversion is pretty common but I will tell you anyway.

I was born and raised in the south, southern Alabama to be exact.
Almost my entire family is independent fundamental southern baptists. I went to a private baptist school for highschool. When I started this school I was on the road to go to preacher school. As I started my freshman year, we started reading the bible, 2 books a week. By the end of freshman year I had read the bible cover to cover. That is when I started to think about all of the contradictions that I had read. By the time I had reached my senior year I had read not only the bible again but the origin of species, the god delusion and god is not great. I finally came to the conclusion that the bible was just another fairy tale and that the god of today was the same as the gods of ancient Greece and Egypt. My problem when I came to this conclusion was that I was afraid of coming out as an atheist because of the backlash. I stayed in the closet up until last year. Upon coming out of the closet I was disowned by almost my entire family. My wife was ok with it but to this day is still a christian. My experiences have led me to start my non-profit, Atheists of Northern Indiana. My life as an atheist has just started but its going to be lived making a difference and advancing the atheist movement.

To check out my group just visit my group website or Facebook page!!

Atheists of Northern Indiana home page

Atheists of Northern Indiana Facebook page

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