STORIES OF DE-CONVERSIONS

Skepticus
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STORIES OF DE-CONVERSIONS

Hi, all.

I'd like to hear from ex-believers. What led to your de-conversion? Also, do you guys have any observations regarding the process that leads to de-conversion? Do you find any patterns emerging?

In my case, the process was triggered by anger towards the church where I worshiped at. I couldn't understand how they could spend lots of money building a new youth center when it could be used to help those in need. This resulted in me leaving this church to look for another. I became disillusioned when I came to the conclusion that most churches are self-centered and run like businesses.

I couldn't understand how god could allow this to happen!

Initially, I reacted like a child who rebels against a parent, by looking for answers in other religions. When I saw how Muslims take care of the needy and pray five times a day, I wondered how it could be that these people were (according to Christians) going to hell?

At that point, I started to question the existence of god. So, first came emotional independence, then disillusionment and finally de-conversion.

I feel that religion holds believers to ransom. If you question god or church, you are labelled a doubter or back-slider.

Any comments by any-one welcome!

 

 


Brian37
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Looking back at my childhood

Looking back at my childhood now, I can say that I was a skeptic without knowing what that was, and most certainly didn't apply that to religion. I debunked Santa when I was 6. I always questioned(at least in my mind) my parents when they told me, or demanded I do something. They always confused that questioning as an act of defiance and neither they or I understood what I was really doing was asking for clarification.

In all aspects of my life back then, I desperately wanted to fit in. Looking back at it, that was a huge mistake, but I didn't know better. I saw other people being happy with everything from being popular, to being religious.

But as I got older I started to run into other oddballs. My best friend in high school really was the first to SHOW me that being yourself was ok and questioning others was ok. I was still a believer at that point, but feeling comfortable in my own skin was finally slowly kicking in.

After I graduated, I wasn't a church goer but still wanted to believe. But one day at work a co-worker asked me 'What if Jesus was just a man". Somehow that made sense, because in the back of my mind the virgin birth stories and death story never made any sense, but I took it on faith because thats what everyone around me did.

That crack slowly grew over a decade. I went from being a Christian, to saying, there must be a god but I don't know what to call it, to even that didn't make sense, to finally in my first years in collage finally calling myself an atheist.

One of the HUGE linchpins after that initial question my co-worker asked me, was a trip to the Smithsonian Museum in DC. I saw an exhibit on the Ankor Watt Cambodian temple sandstone statues. At the beginning of the 1,000 year period of it's existence, the statues were strictly Buddhist in features. About half way through that period Hindus mixed in with that culture and the Buddhists mixed with their religious culture. The statues started reflecting BOTH religion's features. THAT'S when I knew it was perfectly reasonable to hold the position that religions come from prior religions and can and do change, or die out.

But it still took several years before I finally called myself an atheist. In college I only discussed it on campus and to a large extent kept it to myself.

Fast forward to 9/11. That's when I got off my ass and stopped being afraid of publicly saying I was an atheist. It was because of an AP opinion originating out of Chicago from an atheist nurse who was concerned with all the religious talk after that day. She said there were more than Christians that died and she too felt mourning for the loss of life.

SHE is the reason I lost my fear.

I will say this though, upon my first search on the net for atheists, the first website I went to was American atheist. When I clicked on it, the deep seeded indoctrination was still there. I was thinking "What am I getting myself into? What if I am joining a blood cult, "(not literaly, but it was that lingering fear that had been sold to me that atheist were all bad)

But the second site, was where all that fear disappeared within days. The Atheist Network was the first website I joined. It was where I met Jake and Reggie, who went on to spawn Infidel Guy, where I met Brian Sapient who spawned this website. I have not looked back since, other than to say WOW, look how much the atheist voice has grown.

If anyone has doubts about the future, while not set in stone, to say nothing is to do nothing. I still see impatient atheists who want it all now. Life never works that way for minorities of any label. The atheist movement is a marathon, not a sprint. When I first got on atheist were far more demonized and marginalized than today. It  has been because of other movements, the movement of women, blacks and gays, that we have relatively had it much easier.

I know the difference of the past 10 years back then, vs now. I cannot click on "atheist" and "news" in google today without seeing some story somewhere in the world about atheists. Reggie(Infidel Guy) was on Wife Swap. Brian Sapient was on Nightline kicking Ray Comfort's ass. Neil Degrees Tyson has been on Cobert several times, and one in particular where he poked fun of O'Reily's "Tide goes in, tide goes out" bullshit.

Not to mention ALL the best selling atheist authors like Hitchens, Dawkins, Ali, Harris ect ect ect. And all the atheist bus adds and billboards constantly popping up all over the country. None of that would have been possible 11 or 15 years ago on such a mass scale.

But it takes all of us, not just the website owners, or the famous authors. WE can post all over the net on religious websites and atheist websites. We can post on newspaper websites when the atheist issue comes up. We can write letters to local papers to be put in actual print. We can write/e-mail our elected officials.

Thats my story. Now enough with this love fest, I have kittens to barbecue.

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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Vastet
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I've only witnessed

I've only witnessed deconversions a couple of times, and only parts of the deconversion. From my limited experience, it isn't something that happens all at once. It's a journey. And since everyone is different, so too is the "map" used to arrive at the "destination".

The only part of the "map" that I know without doubt holds a key to finding the "destination" is critical thinking skills. But those skills can be ignored or marginalised in certain topics by personal bias, so getting theists to use those skills across the board isn't always easy. Nor is it always easy teaching the skills in the first place.

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Brian37
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Vastet wrote:I've only

Vastet wrote:
I've only witnessed deconversions a couple of times, and only parts of the deconversion. From my limited experience, it isn't something that happens all at once. It's a journey. And since everyone is different, so too is the "map" used to arrive at the "destination". The only part of the "map" that I know without doubt holds a key to finding the "destination" is critical thinking skills. But those skills can be ignored or marginalised in certain topics by personal bias, so getting theists to use those skills across the board isn't always easy. Nor is it always easy teaching the skills in the first place.

It isn't always a slow journey. The way Ricky Gevaris(sp) the comedian tells his story is that he was studying the bible and his brother and mom were in the room and his brother said(but didn't get all the way through his sentance) something like "Mom you know all that is a bunch of,,,,," And his mom "Shushed" his brother. He had a sudden epiphany that his mother was hiding something and his brother was onto something.

But it is true for most that going from believing to not believing is not sudden and most of the time takes time.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


Vastet
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I would suggest the

I would suggest the probability that Gervais already had doubts or was otherwise hampered in believing before the discussion happened in the first place.
He was also in the process of being indoctrinated, it hadn't been completed yet.
So I don't accept that he deconverted on the spot from being a full fledged christian with faith in god to being an atheist. I don't think he qualified as a full fledged christian. And I'd be surprised to hear him say otherwise.

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Brian37
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Vastet wrote:I would suggest

Vastet wrote:
I would suggest the probability that Gervais already had doubts or was otherwise hampered in believing before the discussion happened in the first place. He was also in the process of being indoctrinated, it hadn't been completed yet. So I don't accept that he deconverted on the spot from being a full fledged christian with faith in god to being an atheist. I don't think he qualified as a full fledged christian. And I'd be surprised to hear him say otherwise.

Speaking for myself, if you read my story, it IS similar. But the "ding, lighbulb" going off was sudden. It's more like you thing "something is amiss, I cant put my finger on it" then someone triggers that switch.

Before that guy on the job asked me "What if Jesus was just a man". I was a full fledged Christian. I truly believed in the virgin birth and death of Jesus, even though it didn't make sense to me. 'Faith" is how you ignore the doubts while truly believing.

But that question was most certainly a LOUD AND SUDDEN "DING". What doubts my faith was holding hostage were ripped from the hostage takers(indoctrination) and shot by reason. That was for me, a sudden jarring moment. Even though all the pieces weren't in place yet.

I remember that guy and that question clearly to this day. It was sudden. I literally went from believing to allowing doubt to compete with my belief in that one question. It was as loud as a bullhorn. The doubt was suppressed by indoctrination and willful ignorance and I didn't realize that I even had doubts because I had no Idea that I was a skeptic.

It's just like a symphony. The music starts out subtle and you don't always pick up on all the notes and then SUDDENLY, it gets LOUD, then quiet then LOUD again, then quiet again, THEN LOUD then either fades or duddenly the song ends.

It is true I didn't suddenly call myself an atheist at that point, But I did SUDDENLY think "why cant I consider things like this"?

And with the Museum same thing, a LOUD "DING DING DING" making those tiny cracks I was unaware of get bigger and bigger and bigger, until I could no longer fill them in with my own fantasies.

 

 

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


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Kapkao
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Read: Jeffrick's story and

Read: Jeffrick's story and my story of childhood de-conversion.

Every now and then some kids are in a unique, highly opprotune position to realize that "WOW! This religion stuff is a total load of bull. How many people can the (Abrahamic) religions claim to help anyways? Does religion really help anyone when they walk out of the soup kitchens?" all by ourselves. (My sentiments, not Jeff's)

Later on, as we (or I at least) experiment in our teens, we may begin to realize that the less mainstream religions have significant problems as well. As Sagan said about them "the major religions on the Earth contradict each other left and right. You can't all be correct. And what if all of you are wrong?". When you look at religion from that perspective, and from the perspective of where I live (the buckle of the Bible Belt), it becomes only inevitable to see theism and religions mostly as "(all) wrong" with soup kitchens and other highly efficient, nonsecular charities as the only means of achieving a measure of 'good'.

I also think whatever Jeffrick has to say about how he deconverted and, in particular, the age at which he had done so would be relevant here.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


Jeffrick
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I get the hint Kapkao.

I don't think I ever had truely religious feelings. I attended catholic school for my first four years, [central Maine] in school we heard bible storys' along with tales of the brothers Grimm, plus Dick & Jane and Santa. I never seperated any of that as "some real, some fairy tales". About age 5 or 6 I recognized my mother's handwriting on the christmass presents from Santa. I didn't say anything because I like'd getting the presents. I simply extended that little game into the jesus belief, I was maybe 8 when I realized adults expected me to believe THAT fairy tale, just Not the other fairy tales.

Mommy dearest got pissed at a nun for some reason so grade four to grade eight I was in public school. Mom had a medical degree but I think her true calling was Marine Corps drill Sgt. Half way through grade eight Mom got pissed at me and 2 junior high teachers, not sure why. I'm back in a catholic grade 8 for the rest of the year. Weird half year, the other students were true believers and had always been in parochial school all I did was pay lip service to the rituals I could answer all the questions in catchisim class but it was clear I didn't believe it. The head nun wanted a parent conference, If that nun is still alive I bet she still regrets it.

The nun wanted mom after school, mom's ICU shift started at three. At 2:30 mom walks into the classroom in full hospital uniform. If you people think I have a big voice you should hear Mom when she's got her full Irish up. "I have people to keep alive at 3:00, your prayers aren't helping now what do you want!!!!!!!!!". The nun starts in right in front of the other students about my spiritual well being and how I don't seem to be taking my religion seriously. My mother in her best drill Sgt voice says, "NO SHIT!!! He's an atheist, he's here as a punishment, your stuck with him till June, pray for him if you think it'll do any good. Now I have to keep my patients alive." She left.

It was the first time I heard myself described as an atheist, I had to look it up in a dictionary. Since January 1970, age 14 I am an official atheist. Mother was religious but she had a real love/hate relationship with the church and the nuns. It came from the fact that a large number of her patients died on her, she was an ICU specialist for 20+ years, The ICU is where you go when medical science has done all it can for you and NOW we'll see if it works. When most of your patients are seniors recovering from heart attacks, cancer treatments, and strokes, you get a very high death rate. Mom noticed back in the 1960's that when patients are prayed for, they don't recover has fast as the "non-church people". She told me and her other six children not to do prayers if she ended up as a patient at her work place since she wanted to walk out. We didn't. In her 70's she ended up in an ICU 4 times, she walked out 3 times. At age 75 she passed away in her old work place.

 

## mod format fix per request

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Jeffrick
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help!!!!!!!!!!

                                    Can I get a MOD to fix that blob of text into a readable seperate paragraphs,  the way I wrote it.  Thanks.

 

"Very funny Scotty; now beam down our clothes."

VEGETARIAN: Ancient Hindu word for "lousy hunter"

If man was formed from dirt, why is there still dirt?


ex-minister
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de-conversion

 Hey FM,

It took me decades to become an ex-believer. From the time I could walk my grandmother took me to a fundie church. She would tell me to tell her daughter, my mother, that she should go to church. Of course I had no idea what I was doing. Eventually, my parents joined that church and told me to do so as well. By this time I was in high school. I resisted, but funny thing a mormom popped into my high school life. We were friends and he was out to convert me. I resisted and to prove him wrong I used the arguments of my fundie SDA church. Soon I joined my families church. I was quite burdened by guilt from my childhood, it was abusive and then a thick layer of icing of fundie christianity was lathered on top. I had major self-esteem issues in this world and for the world to come. I feared rejection particularly the eternal part. I threw myself into the church and went up the ranks. I became good friends with the minister and had long conversations about my future. I so feared eternal damnation that I asked him wouldn't I have a better chance of being saved by becoming a minister. He basically agreed with me and I set my course to become a minister and did so.

There were cracks in the armor but I always attributed them to my lack of faith and sinfulness (I was born this way). It was not god's fault, he loved me. He was always right and I was always wrong. Any doubt (read skeptical thinking) was a sin and if I continued to entertain it I would be ultimately thrown in the lake of fire. So, each round I had doubt I would double up my efforts to shore up my belief. Here we say I was stopping my thinking. On the faith side of the fence you don't feel like you have stopped thinking, but you certainly don't question God. I am was the problem. If I read the bible and saw something that made me wonder I would pass on it. I comforted myself that I will understand it some other day maybe with Jesus himself. I prayed all the time for god to "help my unbelief". It is the struggle of being a christian in a sinful world. Jesus taught you can sin even just by thinking a thought. The pressure was great. Being a minister didn't make it any easier. In many ways it made it harder. I was a ball of emotion canned up under pressure. And I pastored people who were that and more. Wacky intersects wacky. I have great empathy for those who carry around that burden. 

One of the most memorable incidents for me is a loving couple who allowed me into their home to try and convert them. The guy said he would convert if I could explain the problem of pain to him. How can an all-powerful loving god permit such suffering in the world. They were kind people and I did my homework and never convinced them, but that really cracked my armor and left me with a huge doubt that I could not shore up. The pressure of trying to act like I believed just exacerbated it. If I hadn't been a minister maybe I could have quickly passed it off. In time I began to talk to the church with my wife about me leaving the ministry but of course not the church. I had massive guilt over this and greatly disappointed my wife and family. It was more than a decade I carried that. In time my wife joined a different church that was truly out there. I joined as well. In time I had a disagreement with its leader on one doctrine and it took about a year but I was kicked out and my wife sided with them, left me taking the kids to a different state. It was truly the lowest point in my life and if I hadn't one desperate day threw open a phone book and randomly picked a therapist I would not be alive today. Religion would have killed me, the guilt and shame was way beyond what I could bear. The therapist was perfect for me and set me on a course of mental health. I couldn't possibly thank her enough. 

I don't believe you can spin on a dime when it comes to becoming religious or becoming a non-believer. It's about the cracks in the armor. If you can quickly shore it up you will survive as a believer otherwise you will become like me. When I could laugh at people telling me I was going to hell and even in time consider it a badge of honor I knew I was free. It is a slow process. Religion tells you to fight the forces of evil, particularly within yourself. It is a perfect web. You fight your own natural inclination. They call it a war against the flesh. The normal suffering of life becomes a cosmic struggle against and with supernatural beings. The normal dull life a being just one in 7 billion takes on great significance. This is the test. This is the game. If you succeed you will have infinite and eternal glory. If you fail you will have eternal sorrow and damnation. It is some crazy and powerful shit. No wonder there is the "fringe" groups that have so much animosity. I certainly empathize with it and fear it. 

So, prodding a christian to think is the best course of action, but remember it is like trying to pulling a bone from a rabid dog. People do not like it when others try to yank away their security blanket of denial. Who among us hates to be wrong especially after years of investment? But questioning them provides them with an opportunity to explain their faith. Should they come to see the holes in it the world only has to gain.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


ex-minister
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Jeffrik, Great story. I

Jeffrik,
Great story. I cracked up reading about your mom confronting the nun. Seems your mom was pretty cool, as i am the outsider. I imagine it would be different on the inside.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


JesusNEVERexisted
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Great site for de-converted

Great site for de-converted Christians:

www.ex-christian.net/

They even have a forum and good conversation. It seems ex-Christians join that site every day after regaining  their sanity and leaving ChristNUTTYism!

Click here to find out why Christianity is the biggest fairy tale ever created!! www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm www.JesusNEVERexisted.com