Share your de-conversion story
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18-08-2017, 09:44 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(17-08-2017 12:43 PM)Deltabravo Wrote:  When you de-convert, what is it that you are de-converting from and why did you believe it in the first place, and what did you believe, because I can't conceive of believing in something which is not explained, anymore than how the Easter bunny gets hold of chocolate eggs or how Mickey Mouse walks and talks. Surely this is a mental problem of people who can't distinguish between reality and make believe?
Most people (not all, but definitely most) don't have highly developed bullshit detectors until later in life, so if you had been raised in a fundamentalist Christian home, the odds are that you would assume that your teachers / mentors / parents are more likely than not to be right, to know what they are doing, and to be not just competent but pretty damn near infallible. You would know nothing but the social support and belief systems you grew up in, nothing but the counsel received at your parent's knees. You would find this to be your anchor and security. You would also be very needy and vulnerable. You'd need your parent's approval and support and validation, and would be very vulnerable to rejection, criticism, punishment and/or ostracism from your parents and your social group.

So go right on patting yourself on the back for your brilliance but it really isn't rocket science to understand why one's upbringing and operant conditioning from the cradle would predispose them toward believing the same things as their family or origin and against not believing them.

I hope you would not diminish the usually high price we deconverts pay for breaking away from all we've ever known to face the choice of neutering our openly expressed opinions or else identifying with a minority group that in many parts of the world is hated and otherized, in others merely tolerated, and nearly always misunderstood.
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18-08-2017, 10:00 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(17-08-2017 12:43 PM)Deltabravo Wrote:  When you de-convert, what is it that you are de-converting from and why did you believe it in the first place, and what did you believe, because I can't conceive of believing in something which is not explained, anymore than how the Easter bunny gets hold of chocolate eggs or how Mickey Mouse walks and talks. Surely this is a mental problem of people who can't distinguish between reality and make believe?

I'm not sure what's hard to understand about how people who are indoctrinated with beliefs from birth believe those things. I'm glad you figured it out early but you're the exception not the rule.

I was raised in the church my entire life, and not only that it was a conservative church that told us other churces weren't really Christians. When you're constantly told by people you trust that you're the only group that really knows what god wants, that science lies to you about the bible and all, and that everything has been proven, and at the same time using passive aggression to subdue any questioning or rebellion along with the fear tactics of hell, you tend to not be very skeptical. Shaming and pressure is very real and let me tell you, it doesn't feel good at all. When your entire family and friends go along with it, and you're not exposed to anything outside your bubble, you tend not to be very skeptical.

I don't claim to be the smartest person in the world, and I can say all of that brought upon a lot of emotional baggage and maybe even some depression, but I in no way had any "mental problem". It wasn't until I got exposed to things outside the bubble that my skepticism was allowed to grow.
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25-08-2017, 07:36 AM (This post was last modified: 25-08-2017 08:10 AM by BikerDude.)
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Not much of a "process" really.
I was raised as a "bullshit" suburban catholic.
My mom felt the obligation to give me religion as a youth. I went to k through grade 3 at catholic school.
She took me out before fourth grade which was taught by that notorious Nun. (Kudos to Mom on that)
I got "religious instruction" at the same school for a year after that. We would be bused from public school to catholic school once a week.
I saw said Nun break a pointer across a kids face for talking in class. It was startling. You don't generally see that sort of thing.
Full on swing with a big whoosh and smack right in the face breaking a long wooden pointer.
Complete with deep red welts and tears. Needless to say nobody talked after that.
And needless to say religion never really "took" with me.
Mom identified as "Irish Catholic" and the feeling I had for that whole thing was a creepy dark depressing thing that smelled like sandlewood incense which to this day gives me a violent headache. She always wanted me to attend church which she outsourced to my Dad and that was in fact my best memories of religion. Dad and I would go to a different church every week. Mostly the "cathedrals". Dad had a great love for architechture and that would amount to about 99% of the experience. We NEVER spoke of God or anything about religion. Just about the cathedrals and how "they don't build em like that any more". After mass we would have a nice breakfast out and go for a ride in the country. Really great memories.
The only thing about my "faith" if I ever had any at all was a constant feeling that it was all bullshit and then a very quick sort of self censorship thing.
I would think how there is no god and then quickly sort of self censor it feeling like I just shouldn't go there.
After the entire issue passed by the time I was early in my teens religion played exactly zero in my life.
I still would pray some of the time out of a reflex that had been ingrained early on but it wasn't really accompanied by and confidence that it would amount to anything and to be honest I probably prayed that one girl or another would let me have sex with her. I was 13 or 14 years old and basically a walking hard on. I prayed. Often.
As time went by I just lost my patience for the bullshit and began to speak honestly about my lack of belief and admitted it to myself.
I did have that experience where once you step over that line you see the evils of even the most seemingly harmless types of faith.
The biggest thing I see is how it enables otherwise decent people to channel all of their base feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction toward whatever target they may identify as being "evil" or unchristian or whatever. Usually with a total misunderstanding of the target of their ire. In this way I see Christianity as playing a large role in, or at the least an amplifier of many of the most persistent difficulties that vex modern society, most notably racism. It is amazing how effective it is in allowing people to cling to wrong headed ideas in the face of any onslaught. A sort of infuriating arrogance. I know you all know the saying. "All things being equal good people will be good and bad people will be bad, but if you want good people to be bad, that takes religion". Amen. Pun intended.

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29-08-2017, 01:22 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
And praying to Jesus is somehow better, Propwash? Sounds rather like praying to Batman instead of Wonder Woman. *shrug*

I don't think I've told my deconversion/non-conversion story before, although I've alluded to it at various times.

I first became aware of religion around the age of 5 or 6, as my parents had "The Bible In Pictures" in their library and I was an early reader in search of stuff to read. I went through the whole thing several times and essentially had a grasp of all the major Bible stories by the time I was 7. What I saw in it was some ancient culture with some odd stories, but always felt detached from the stories and never felt they belonged to me. Neither of my parents was overtly religious and neither presented the Bible or any of its characters as true, so I missed early-childhood indoctrination altogether.

Somewhere in the middle of all this self-study I arrived at grade 1, where we had to mutter the Lord's Prayer and sing "God Save the Queen" at the beginning of the school day. (Quebec English school system, early 1960s - both practices ended before I got to high school). Just a dreary thing we did every morning, which I never liked doing.

Not that much later (grade 2 or early grade 3), I found myself talking to the older brother of the boy next door. I don't remember how we got onto the topic, but I remarked that the concept of hell would be a useful way for the rulers of a country to keep the population under control. (Do remember being temporarily insulted when called an "egghead," until I learned it was a compliment.)

Tried Sunday School the following fall, because a friend of mine had gotten some free books there. Got bored and dropped out.

A year or so after that, I actually did develop more of an interest in religion when I learned about Greek polytheism. Athena is still a favourite of mine. At the time, as an often-teased and excruciatingly shy girl, the idea of an intelligent woman kicking ass with a shield and a spear really appealed to me.

Teen years were a fascinating mixture of occultism, a bit of research into Hinduism for a history project, and even writing a Jesus-like character with stigmata into one of the many stories I was working on. By the time I was in my 20s the theistic element had gone into hibernation but my interest in the occult got cranked up to 11. I amassed a huge library of woo-woo books, most prized of all being a hardcover volume of Golden Dawn rituals.

I then slipped sideways into Buddhism because the character of Guan Shi Yin, Hearer of Cries of the World, provided me with a new role model. I went to a few services at a Jodo Shinshu church in town, tried to figure out Zen on my own, and eventually ended up spending nearly 10 years as a member of the Soka Gakkai, a Nichiren Buddhism organization.

Oddly enough, the path out of all this came via a series of fantasy books. I had been playing D&D for a good chunk of the 1980s and had a mild familiarity with the Dragonlance modules. Around 1996 a member of our D&D group donated his collection of modules and things to my daughter, who was 10. We discovered that there were Dragonlance novels, and I developed a fascination with a certain coughing, wheezing mage. Angel For all intents and purposes that became my religion for a while. This is also when I quit the Buddhist group in disgust, started studying runes, and ended up rediscovering my Scandinavian heritage.

My antitheism started in the first half of the 2000s, when I became increasingly upset with the way religion intruded into the lives of non-believers. This is when I got onto message boards like ExChristian.Net, Internet Infidels, and various other places. At first I presented as an agnostic polytheist, advocating for the Norse pantheon in particular, but one day around 2008 or 2009 I asked myself this question:

"If I was on the stand in a court of law, and someone asked me if Oðinn was real, what would I say?"

The answer came back as a clear "No." I had an instant alignment shift to agnostic atheist, and here I am.

I'm sorry, but your beliefs are much too silly to take seriously. Got anything else we can discuss?
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29-08-2017, 03:07 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Sometimes I think that although it's probably more painful, deconverting from a hard-line Evangelical creationist stance is easier (from a logical point of view) in the modern world than deconverting from a relatively open-minded, non-creationist, moderate Catholic/mainline Protestant upbringing.

Let me explain.

It has taken me years to view the Catholic Church as horrific; after all, when I was growing up (in the 70s and 80s) there was no (longer any) cognitive dissonance between the RCC
stance on science and modern scientific consensus: evolution, Big Bang was all cool with the RCC, so really, what did I have to rebel against? I could be scientifically literate and still a believer. The "be good to other people" message was stressed and although the Church was still misogynistic, there was some hope for change, eventually. So, for the longest time, I experienced very little cognitive dissonance. I didn't get much out of going to church on Sunday, but what was the harm? There was no real reason to question my faith.

My deconversion came much later, in the past 10 years or so, when the RCC, especially in the US, started to take political, hard-line anti-contraception, anti-abortion, anti-LGBT anti-universal healthcare stances that conflicted deeply with what I felt were correct (even Christian) moral positions. It was this hypocrisy, this conflict between what they had taught me was moral and what they were espousing now, that truly led to my deconversion, not any questioning of the Bible, since Catholics are pretty loosy-goosy about scripture anyways, relying on "tradition" and "mysteries" to answer the tougher questions. And of course there was the hypocrisy of the repeated sexual abuse scandals.

I think that if I had had to face a completely creationist stance every Sunday, I might have started questioning my beliefs much sooner.

Your faith is not evidence, your opinion is not fact, and your bias is not wisdom
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29-08-2017, 03:16 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Propwash Stay out of that thread, it's for Atheists only who wish to share their process in de-converting.

This is your only warning for this.

But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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06-09-2017, 08:40 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
So this will also be my introduction post since it feels relevant.

Secular Roots
My mother would not allow me or my sister to study religion until we were older. For her, it was a matter of making a choice free of indoctrination. I honestly never even knew religion existed. My life was secular.

That was until my family divorced. After seeing my father kiss another woman, I asked my mother why he'd done that. We moved to Utah to be with our whole family after the divorce. I learned what religion was by my father's dislike and mistrust of mormans. One day after science class in 6th grade (13 years old at the time) I came home and informed my family that I was an atheist. I can't remember exactly what it was in science class that sparked it, but I realized that science was enough to understand the world around me.

Rejecting Christianity
My father got very angry. He asked me why I knew god didn't exist and I told him that god was just like Santa Claus, little more than enchanting fairy tale. He threw a bible at me and told me to read it front to back. After I did, he asked me I believed god's word; I told him no. The bible to me was a fairy tale. Genesis and revelations honestly read like a fantasy novel. My father was convinced that we needed to see god's light. After that we read the bible everyday at dinner and said prayer. I never recanted my disbelief in Christianity. I also became the only one that wasn't religious in my family and, as a result, the family black sheep. My dad's side of the family would ridicule me and call me arrogant almost daily. After an attempted suicide, failing grades, and a complete stubbornness to do anything my father asked, I was kicked out of the house at 17. I moved in with my mom.

Unlike my dad, my mother was a pantheist wiccan. At a height of depression, I began to read her books. I fell prey to woo Weeping. I had never really known the community that christianity offered me, so I had no pressure to accept it. But woo, woo felt as methodical and intricate as science. Wiccans only have one rule that I'm aware of, the rule of 3 (what you do comes back you 3 fold). I casted spells and did some crazy Censored. An example of which is this: a friend of mine was going to get married, but he cheated on her and canceled. She came to me for help. I told her to give me her ring. I returned it back to her enchanted encased in wax so that she wouldn't look at it. $300 ring, and I encased it in wax because woo told me that's what I should do. I believed magic worked.
I joined the Navy to escape my family. After serving my time I returned home 4 years later with the intention of using my GI bill and going to college. Depression took hold of me and prevented me from believing I could make it through college. The loneliness from it crippled me, and I tried to cast spell after spell to cure it but to no avail. My belief started to shake at this point, but it didn't go away. I felt so powerless.
My suicidal thoughts became increasingly more difficult to bat away. I went to my dad, had a mental breakdown, and asked them to take me to the VA for treatment. After the medication started to take effect, I summoned the strength to quit smoking, lose a hundred pounds, and start college. I had done these things, and it was at this point I realized the magic wasn't real. I had deluded myself. However, my belief in karma still existed and I held onto a belief that supernatural things were real (ghosts, angels, energy etc).
Understanding Woo
About four years ago I began to watch Thunderf00t. I enjoyed his videos and his mocking of creationists. By watching these videos I began to understand how religion tricks people. After some research I began to understand cognitive bias and the various ways we trick ourselves. The final nail in the coffin for supernatural phenomenon was James Randi. In his videos I learned that the people proclaiming supernatural abilities were just dishonest magicians or self-deluded people much like I was.

An understanding of Morality
Like most people, I aspired to be knowledgeable, truthful, and good. I still clang to karma. Justice will always be important to me. The death of a belief in karma was actually the easiest. I came to a Euthyphro dilemma. I wanted to be an intrinsically good person, good because I was good. I asked myself a difficult question. Was my goodness because I wanted the rewards and didn't want the consequences, or was it because I was a good person? It was at the point I realized that karma wasn't needed. I thought about it for a week and came to the conclusion that people generally get what they deserved because injustice usually incurs a serious risk in modern civilization. Eventually it was likely their luck would run out. It was cognitive bias at work again.

And here I am, still trying to dodge the landmines of shotty reasoning, but hopefully I can become wiser along the way. Thanks.

For those who seek truth, superstition falls just as easy as a house of cards.
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06-09-2017, 09:09 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
(06-09-2017 08:40 AM)Ixlandis Wrote:  And here I am, still trying to dodge the landmines of shotty reasoning, but hopefully I can become wiser along the way. Thanks.

Thanks for your interesting story. Like you, I rejected Christianity early on. But also like you I got diverted into unlikely beliefs, in my case Sufi mysticism. So good luck. You should find some interesting and relevant discussions in this forum.
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06-09-2017, 09:34 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Not much to tell in my case. My parents just weren't very good at indoctrinating me into the cult. I remember going to church before school started but I'm pretty sure we stopped going before I started school. My father was in the navy and they had 7 of us. I think my mother balked at dragging us all in when he'd be away at sea.

My mother wasn't as keen on it as my father anyhow. I'm sure she was a believer, but she just didn't dwell on it. (I liked her for that.) My father was an unthinking authoritarian about it and socially inept. So basically, I got off easy. I was an atheist by age 11 but I kept that shit to myself. I knew well enough that plenty of people really did believe this shit and took it personally.

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?'
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

― Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle
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07-09-2017, 01:28 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
So here goes. I'm a new "convert" to atheism, although I've long sought out something that is other-than-Christianity.

I was raised a Methodist (mother's side of the divorced family), converted to Catholicism when I was 16 (father's side of the family, and best friend's POV). Then in the mid-1980s fell in love with long vacations in Thailand, and was a semi-convert to Theravada Buddhism (which doesn't take a position on "God"). I spent the last 30 years trying to reconcile a Christian viewpoint with a Buddhist viewpoint, and found myself someplace in the middle.

Then, about 3 months ago something happened in my personal life, at the age of 67. If I ever needed God, I needed him them. Where was he? Nowhere to be found. I think you could say that I had a mini-nervous breakdown. I ranted. I raved. Of course, it did no good.

That's when I began thinking more intensely about God. First I came to the conclusion that there were 3 possibilities: God, a non-micromanager God, or no God. Theist, Deist, or Atheist.

In reviewing my 67 years of being a Theist, I could see not one iota of evidence for a God in my life (although there are good moral points to many of the teachings of Jesus, and I prefer to look at them through the eyes of Thomas Jefferson's Jefferson Bible...and leave out the miracles...after all, when I needed a miracle, one was nowhere to be found...all the miracles took place 2,000 years ago...yeah, right. That eliminated Theism.

Next I began looking at Deism. That's the non-micromanager God. Could be. But seems odd.

And since then I have been doing more reading on, and considering, Atheism. Kind of reminds me, though, of Gandhi's quote about Christians -- "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." I keep running into SOME atheists who seem to be on a crusade (which seems sorta religious), or seem very bitter, or are preaching (again, seems kinda religious), or who want to hurl insults at Christians (as if that does any good).

Where I am now is that as a person with 2 degrees in the natural sciences, I have to conclude that based on the evidence, the Christian view of an "all powerful" and "ever-loving" God is hogwash. I just don't see the evidence. And so, to me, the most likely conclusion is that atheism is realistic (which does not interfere with my Buddhism, since Buddhism does not assume a God).
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