Share your de-conversion story
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14-08-2013, 10:37 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I was born into a very religious but not fundamental christian household. My mother's side was Presbyterian and my father's side was Assembly of God while our house was baptist. One grandfather was a preacher, the other was a leader in the church, and my brother became a preacher. The exposure to these differing but similar ideologies was what first led me to start asking questions.

If I remember correctly, one of the questions I asked during a Presbyterian summer camp involved who got saved. While both agreed that it was through belief in the Christ, they differed in that one side believed everyone knew of Christ in one way or another and had to make a choice while the other believed that if you had never heard the message then you are automatically accepted into heaven.

I thought on this question more and came to the conclusion that if everyone is offered an equal chance throughout the world of accepting Jesus(which according to my beliefs at the time, it was) and accepting Jesus is not a social choice but a personal one(according to the bible) then the statistical spread of Christianity across the globe would be roughly even. The spread is not even so I went a couple years of thinking of what else I was told that didn't make sense.

I wish I could remember when I first started recognizing what atheism was and where I heard about it from. I know it was approximately when I was a junior in high school. I remember the book Eragon where the elves ridicule the dwarves for believing in made up gods, where they believe in none. Or maybe I ran across a Hitchens debate. Once college hit I dove headfirst into atheism. I watched debates, listened to podcasts (thinking atheist included), read books, found online communities who understood what it was to be a nonbeliever in a believing world.

Told my family about it my senior year of college when they asked me directly while on a family vacation during a break. They didn't take it too well then and now we just don't talk about it. Other than a little argument about kicking me out of the house during a summer break for not believing(didn't happen but got close) there is not too much to tell.

TLDR: Answers to questions were not satisfactory so I kept questioning. You know the rest.
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15-08-2013, 10:29 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I have no story ( the whole idea of deconversion is so outside my idea of reality I am only just coming to terms with it) but I have a question.. I started reading Seth Andrews book because, well, it's an insight to a world I have never really had much dealing with. My older sister did have this sudden dive in to religion and has stayed involved ever since, but not in one of the mainstream churches. I thunk she has hopped around amongst what we generally referred to as happy clappers before settling on more or lest babtist, but we knew she liked to feel part of a community and she had never worked since having children so these micro congregations were a new little family for her. As long as she didn't try and convert us it wasnt harming anyone. I digress. My question is why does Seth, and others, refer to Catholics and Christians as separate? Catholics were the earliest major Christian faith, before splitting into what we now call catholic and greek orthodox, then we had the Protestant split, including dear old Henry who couldn't get an annulment . High churchband low church and all the little offshoots like methodist, baptist, presbyterian. What ever they called themselves, no matter if they had a predilection for insence or not, garish gowns or plain clothes, still all Christian.
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15-08-2013, 11:28 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I wouldn't say I was "brought up" as a believer... because that would be unfair to my Mum. She was left scarred by indoctrination and refused to force any beliefs upon me, but she was pressured by her family to at least introduce me to the teachings of the 'Watchtower & Bible Tract Society', better known as the "Jehovah's Witnesses". But being an impressionable child, without critical faculties I became a believer none the less.

Unlike most Christians, they don't believe that sinners go to hell, and the righteous go to heaven. Instead they believe that after Armageddon, God will raise the dead for judgement... those deemed "sheep" will be allowed to live forever on Earth, while those judged to be "goats" will be destroyed.

Since my Dad has always been an atheist, various members of the congregation took great delight in telling me not to get too attached to my Dad, as he was going to be destroyed at Armageddon. As I'm sure anyone can imagine, this is terrifying to a child. I remember being distraught, and terrified after my grandmother caught me playing with toy soldiers, and told me that God would destroy me for playing war games.

The JWs are creationists with a slight twist, believing that the 7 days of creation represent 7 thousand years rather than 7 literal days. But otherwise they believe the same claptrap as Ray Comfort. This is what made me begin to have doubts... questions about why there were no dinosaurs on Noah's Ark went unanswered, as did how I could see the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.5 million light years away in a universe just 14,000 years old.

So I did some research online, and worked it all out for myself.

By reading scientific material, I realized that God was in full retreat... we had better and better explanations for everything, without the need for him. So I began to doubt his existence... I read Richard Dawkins' book 'The God Delusion', and watched maybe 30 or 40 debates with the much missed Christopher Hitchens on YouTube. Within maybe 6 months I was more or less an atheist, although some of those fears held on.

I think the final push from basic atheism to anti-theism was watching a very moving film called 'God On Trial'. There's a very powerful moment where a Rabbi, lists God's atrocities from the Torah, and Old Testament, exposing the hypocrisy and evil of the whole thing. Declaring that "God is not good!"

I concluded that even if someone proved God's existence conclusively, I wouldn't want to have anything to do with him... and I would accept the consequences.

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17-08-2013, 09:36 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I was baptized into the Catholic faith when I was four, after my mother had gone through all the steps to become a full Catholic (she converted when she married my father) and could therefore have my younger brother and myself baptized without shame (my older sister had been baptized some years earlier in a different Christian sect.) My father was never a very involved Catholic, went to church by himself early on Sundays and otherwise never said anything about religion. On the rare occasion that I would go to church with him, I noticed he never said the words or kneeled along with the rest of the congregation. Years later he came out as being agnostic.

Starting when I was in first grade, I attended Mass on Fridays with my mother and siblings, as well as Mass again on Sundays. My mother took me to nursing homes to befriend the elderly religious residents and take them to church. Often I'd go to church on Fridays and Sundays as usual, and on Saturday evenings as well when the old people wanted to go. We prayed the Rosary every Friday, went to confession, and Halloween was forbidden because it was “satanic.” Instead my mom called it “All Saints' Eve” and wouldn't let us go trick-or-treating, having us stay at home and play little games to win candy instead.

When I finished third grade, my mother decided to religiously homeschool my siblings and myself. My entire school day revolved around religion and God and church. I didn't have friends, even though I took horseback riding and did gymnastics for several years. It was just me, my family, and religion. I believed all the Catholic teachings and never analyzed them or considered if they really made sense. I didn't know what sex was until I was 11 or 12 and read about the mechanics of it on the internet after overhearing a conversation about sex between some adults. I'd never asked my mom about what it was despite having heard the word before and also having wondered where babies came from when I was younger because I had an (in retrospect, freakish) amount of shame surrounding the topic. I used to feel sad when I thought about how all the non-Catholics I knew would burn in hell for not believing.

I believe my de-conversion process really began when I was about 14. When I was 12, my parents separated, which caused me to question the Catholic Church's stance on marriage and divorce. I had never been fervently religious. Despite my Catholic homeschooling, regular attendance of church, frequent prayer, and a generally religion-centric lifestyle, I had never felt like I had spoken with God or felt inspired by him like my family members claimed they had experienced. I found church boring and generally mouthed along during prayer time when I could get away with it. When I was 14 I made my first real friend who was from a Baptist family but was somewhat skeptical.

Since we were both interested in fantasy books, we spent a lot of time talking about fantastical creatures and magic and the like. Eventually, we stumbled upon Wicca and other pagan faiths in our research on the internet. For a while, we tested out these new faiths we'd previously never heard of, exploring them. My friend continued to dabble in various religions while I went through Confirmation training for my Catholic faith. I knew I'd get in trouble if I got caught having an interest in witchcraft or anything similar so gave it up while I prepared to be confirmed. Around that time, my grandfather, who had been living with my dad, went through multiple health crises and passed away shortly after my Confirmation. I was disgusted. I'd prayed in earnest for the first time in a long time for god to help him get better or at least ease his passing. This caused me to consider not only the actual “power” of prayer, but also caused me to question my beliefs on life after death. I realized I had come to not really believe that someone was in heaven or hell or purgatory. It was a concept that I considered, but I had no belief in it.

After that I went through a period of questioning everything I knew about my religion. I started to research other religions heavily, searching for something to believe in. I felt like I couldn't be complete without following SOME religion. During this time, my very strict mother became somewhat more lax and I made many new friends. After being exposed to their ways of thinking, I grew to realize even more the error of the beliefs I was raised with. I knew I could never be Catholic again, and my desire to search for a new faith lessened. I concluded that I was agnostic, but after further research and contemplation, realized I was an atheist and accepted it fully.
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21-08-2013, 08:34 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
The first time I ever questioned religion was the third grade during church. It's one of the clearest memories of my early childhood. I remember looking up at the lights hanging down from the ceiling while the preacher droned on and thinking to myself "What if none of this is true?" I immediately mentally chastised myself for having such horrible thoughts. From that moment forward, I began trying to convince myself of God's existence. I'd go back and forth battling between whether or not I believed in God. I went to a few church camps and none of them managed to convince me of God's existence. I think there might have been one that got me believing in God for a week before I returned to my nonreligious ways.

Then in 7th grade we had a month long religion lesson in History class. With me living in Mississippi, land of the "In God We Trust" signs in every classroom, I would have thought this lesson would have been extremely biased. However, my teacher had moved down from New York and was liberal and probably atheist herself so the unit was extremely interesting. We learned about Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. By the end of the lesson, I was questioning my religion even more. So much didn't make sense to me about religion.

I began asking my mom questions about Christianity that she didn't like. I wanted to remain Christian because it was easier, but eventual the lack of answers led me to agnosticism. My mom soon figured out from all of the questions that I wasn't Christian. I tried explaining to her that I was agnostic and not atheist, but she didn't care. She forced me to go to church more and go to youth group with a friend of mine. Unfortunately for her, the youth group had the exact opposite effect. There the youth director spent eight-weeks bashing other faiths explaining why exactly the other religions were wrong and that those who believed in them were idiotic. One day my dad helped me skip. My mom was furious. I soon began pretending to be Christian to appease her.

I still kept struggling with religion. I found out my dad was agnostic which ended up helping me feel more comfortable with not believe. Fast forward to last year. My grandpa passed away. Two days later, I found out my parents were getting divorced. A month and a half later my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. I started trying to believe in God because it was easier to say that he had a plan. It was easier for me to say that all of this was for a reason, even though I didn't really believe it myself. I knew it at the time, but pretending was easier. During this time, I became really good at discussing a religion I didn't believe in as if I did and defending and developing religious beliefs I didn't believe.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year. I had a few realizations that made me realize that religion doesn't make sense. It's something people created to fill the void in their knowledge. It was created as a means of comfort and control. It had it's time, but that time is not now. I'm now an atheist. No more "well there's an equal chance either way" crap that'd I'd been doing to make myself feel safe. I feel so liberated finally being able to come to terms with my lack of religion. Unfortunately, I can't share this with my friends. That's why I found this forum and it's been truly a blessing (heehee). It's helped me realize that being an atheist doesn't make me a bad person. Religion doesn't automatically make bad people good and lack of it doesn't make good people bad. It all comes down to who I am I almost feel now that I'm a better person if I do things because I feel that they're right and not because I fear hell.

So there's that. My extremely long de-conversion story. It probably could have been shorter, but I have a knack for writing a lot. Thanks to everyone here for being a support system when I have none in real life.
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03-09-2013, 11:38 PM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Born and raised catholic in Rome... never understood, never cared. Joined a cult in California. When you start believing you don't have a choice, when you stop believing you don't have a choice either. 15 years later I can laugh about it, it's the best therapy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLNUTKHXuEM
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05-09-2013, 01:05 AM (This post was last modified: 05-09-2013 10:10 PM by EvolutionKills.)
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I wasn't so much deconverted, as much as I resisted conversion.

My parents were nominally Catholic, and I was baptized mainly to placate my devout grandparents. Not that it helped much, as my parents divorced when I was very young. They also both remarried rather quickly. My mother has been happily remarried ever since, and I'm now the eldest of four siblings. I grew up with my mother and stepfather (who was also nominally raised a Catholic), but religion was never a thing. I spent a few years in a Catholic elementary school, mainly because my parents saw it as a better education opportunity than the inner city school I would have otherwise attended. Once we moved out into the suburbs, I was back in public school and spent most of my school life in that system.

My father's second marriage lasted a while, but it too ended in divorce after my step mother was found to have been cheating on him (among many other things). This shook him up really bad. He had always been relatively successful and very skilled sheet-metal fabricator who made a very comfortable living for himself. He managed to keep the same house through 2 divorces (the same one he still lives in), but the end of his second marriage and being laid off did a number on his confidence. He was vulnerable and looking for answers. Guess where he found them?

He jumped around to various churches and sects, eventually settling on a Southern Baptist church in the area. He got himself, and his third wife, dipped. He's been 'saved', and he thinks he's 'found Jesus' and did a lot to try and get me to buy into it. I didn't like it, religion had never been an important part of my life. I had grown up with a love of history and literature, and I had read the Bible before and I took it no more seriously than the Iliad, the Odyssey, Beowulf, or the Epic of Gilgamesh. But my father was really insistent, and I caved and attended church for about a month. I was entirely unconvinced by the church experience. But the one thing I always remember my father saying, was that you should always examine both sides of the argument. Fair enough, I knew what he believed (but not really why), but what about the opposition?

That's when I started my religious education, because before I was going to jump on this bandwagon, I wanted to hear from more than the people already on the wagon. I re-read the Bible, I was reading Greek and Roman mythology, I read the Koran and the Book of Mormon. I started to study history and anthropology. I followed the apologists arguments as they got more esoteric, and that lead to studying philosophy, ethics, the scientific method, and the burden of proof; this also lead to biological evolution and cosmology as the apologists arguments became even more strained. The more I learned, the more I felt that the Bible belonged on the same shelf as all of the other works of mythology that had ever been written. It simple didn't have anything close to the best answers for any of my questions, and I found the whole religion superfluous and not at all divinely inspired.

Needless to say my father did not share in my conclusions. But I quickly came to realize that I knew more about his Bible than he did. He didn't like the questions that I asked, and he didn't like the answers that I had found. He copes by dismissing my opinion out of hand, because he thinks that by attending church and being spoon fed by his pastor that he has somehow gained a knowledge that I am simply incapable of. He thinks his belief is built upon reason and evidence, and he ignores everything I do to show him that he simply does not have a firm understanding on what either of those mean and that he is not applying them accurately. He's so ignorant of the state of the debate that I've had to repeatedly explain to him what the field of apologetics is. That's how ignorant he is; he doesn't even know the name of the team representing his side.

I've come to learn that the only thing worse than not hearing any side of an argument is only hearing one side of it. I've also learned that while my father claimed to value listening to both sides of an argument when he was trying to defend himself in front of his kids in fights with his ex-wife, that value quickly disappears when it comes to his faith. He never questioned his faith, he just got lazy. When things were good he didn't attend church, when shit hit the fan he found Jesus; not Muhammad, or Smith, or Buddha, or Krishna, or Thor, or Zeus. He 'found' the one god he had be brought up with, even if he subjectively choose another flavor. The one god believed by most of his friends and neighbors, the one his parents believed in; so fortunate for him to have been born in the right time and place to find the one true religion that he now holds.

He doesn't like it when I point that out.

Simply put, my born again Southern Baptist father did more than anyone else to make me the atheist that I am today.

He doesn't like it when I point that out either.

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05-09-2013, 07:18 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
Beautiful story - simple and rational.
That nauseating Christian refrain sounds so much better when quoted the right way round: Man created god in his image.
(17-06-2013 07:56 PM)Lightvader Wrote:  Mine is kinda weird lol.
It has always bothered me why hindu's dont eat cow but they do eat pork,and that muslims dont eat pork but eat cow. I have always learned that there is only one god,so i thought that if allah and the hindu gods are the same,why doesnt god punish them?
And one day,i had a small argument with a muslim kid in my class,so when i went home,i searched "why muslims eat cow and hindus dont" and that ofcourse had no relevant results,so i tried "muslim vs hindu" and i found a debate between them.
They both made great points of wich i really had to think trough.
After a few weeks of trying to find the answer to the questions the muslim made, i had my doubts and still no answer. So i decided i should watch the movies again(i had a whole collection of dvd's explaining the holy books and showing the red lines) i began to ask questions like 'if god was great,why didnt he just change the evil into good?" and "if god does exist,why didnt he ever answer all prayers?" so i was left with more doubts. And then i decided to watch informatical programs about this. It was then i realized why god made the same mistakes as mankind. It was not god who created mankind,it was mankind who created god. Since then,i kinda was an atheist..
And thats my story folks.
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06-09-2013, 06:42 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I love your description of the circular reasoning defence mechanism that perpetually justifies the believer's beliefs, no matter how irrational they are. The only way I'd consider debating a 'fundie' would be to open by asking if they had nagging questions or doubts, the same as you had. If they replied honestly (unlikely) I might have a toe-hold from which to add more substance to those doubts. Other than that, not much point.
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08-09-2013, 09:05 AM
RE: Share your de-conversion story
I was raised as a Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal. My dad was a preacher and Mom was always invoved with the support of the church in the background (church treasurer, administrative stuff, etc.). I was deeply involved in church as long as I can remember. I am from a musical family so I naturally was involved in the music ministry from the time I could pick up an instrument. As I got older I became a teacher and worship leader and preached on occasion as well. I was a young earth creationist who rejected outright the notion of evolution, though I knew nothing about it. For me God and demons and principalities and the like were very real things. We would pray against the spirit sickness (though we went to the doctor as well). The norm of my life was church services where we ran the aisles, spoke in tongues and acted pretty crazy and that intensity of faith touched and influenced every aspect of my life.

My deconversion started in my teens but I did not fully emerge until my mid twenties. It was my early thirties before I was completely comfortable openly claiming to be an atheist. THe story is long and convoluted but it begins with a simple idea. Truth really was important to me. I wanted to get it right. I genuinely desired to have the full understanding of things and I made myself ask the hard questions. The drip that undermined the damn ultimately was a loss of confindence that the Bible was inerrant. Once Biblical Literalism falls, the entire thing comes into question. At that point the inconsitancies and contradictions are no longer glossed over by the need for it to be absolutely true and one can begin looking at it with a critical eye. And once you start asking questions, you run the terrible risk of getting answers...

The transtion was the single most ersonally traumatic event in my life. It was a crucible. Everything that had intimately defined me for my entire life was being stripped away and I felt as if I was left cold, naked and alone. It took years to rebuild myself internally. I was angry at religion and its practicioners for a long time. I have moved past that now. I think most folks are good people just trying to live their lives. I tend to hold back as a rule, though if someone engages they are often taken quite by surprise by the level of returning fire! Spending most of your life with nothing to do but study the bible makes you a rather difficult sparring match!
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