Post your de-conversion stories as a comment here.
I left Christianity for several reasons. I have always been a lover of science so the whole ‘science vs. religion’ debate always had me torn between the two. Something that I would learn later in the novel 1984 is a term called ‘doublethink’. It is the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts. I believe God created everything as described in the bible. When I was reading a science textbook, I would believe the earth was old, and the universe was even older. Another reason was the fairness factor. How some people were saved by choice, some lost by choice, and some lost because they had no way to GET saved. Think about the people of Peru in 400 AD. It was totally unfair! I didn’t think a perfect, just and loving God would allow that as part of his master plan. I also found some biblical inconsistencies in a book that should have been God’s inspired word, every word of it. 20 years later and my list of issues with Christianity has grown: God’s Favoritism, Technology answers questions the bible says correct morality would give us, If you think God is illogical the devil is even MORE illogical, God never deals with the problem of sin just pushes it to the side and forgets it forever, Why would God have the evolutional traits of emotion, etc. I could go on and on.
there are no posts here ?
i deconverted because i finally applied the idea that “because i said so” wasn’t a good reason, i deconverted because Santa Claus showed me people where liars and magic wasn’t real(and how would Santa deliver all the presents so fast,how would jesus make all them fish), i deconverted because church was boring,i deconverted because questions weren’t okay you should just obey and believe(remember Santa Claus),i deconverted because religion said my friends were evil and they would burn in hell, i deconverted because ITS NOT TRUE IT DOESN’T MACH REALITY
My story is short, so I’ll play. I was a big fan of Disney movies as a young child, and my parents always made me understand that magic wasn’t real. I applied this same thinking in Sunday school, and at age 7, our church asked my parents to keep me out of Sunday School. They never made me go to church again, and they never went for the next 11 years. When I left home, they returned to going to church (even though they were divorced by then).
TL;DR – Disney made me an Atheist…and good Christian parents.
Did you know Walt Disney was a non believer..
I did not. Sweet.
I was raised in a very strict Wesleyan ( off shoot of baptist ) household. I was told that Santa wasn’t real before I could even begin to believe, this was so I wouldn’t have faith in anything but god. My father credulously listened to everything Pat Robinson,or any other evangelical leader, said was “of satan”.
So, I was not allowed to watch He-man, Smurfs, Thundercats, or much of anything mainstream. I was always terrified of going to Hell, so much so that I told my parents, at age four, I was going to kill my self as soon as I was able to get a gun, thus ensuring I wouldn’t accidentally sin and get immediately hit by a bus as was Satan’s plan. They told me that suicides go to hell. So I tried as hard as I could to be right with my merciless, loving, genocidal, peace loving God. Unfortunately, I had clinical depression, all I knew was I felt bad because I wasn’t right with God. No matter how hard I prayed, how much I believed, how righteously I hated. I couldn’t convince jesus to take me and fill my with the happiness and self esteem everyone else had. When I talked to my pastors or Sunday school teachers about it I was told ” you have to really want god into your heart” so I had to be the problem. Eventually my father became the pastor of a small church in another state, this coincided with the onset of puberty. My depression worsened and I became very introverted. At the same time I found out how much scrutiny the pastor’s family went through. I watched my father be torn apart by the same people, that had just elected him. I witnessed the petty and nasty comments directed at my mother. I say the same people that came to my dad in private, weeping, seeking his knowledge and understanding, belittle him behind his back. My father virtually abandoned his family, I seemed to be an embarrassment. Eventually I decided fuck god and to hell with his church. So I went a long process of trying other religions, flirted with mysticism, experimented with drugs. Finally I found rationality. It’s been a struggle to deprogram myself and embrace critical thinking. I’m 33 and I still find irrational beliefs lurking in the darkened corners of my mind.
Please forgive my poor grammar, it still stymies me.
Your story is so sad and what makes it even more sad is that many people came to “rational” thinking through this process. I must say that I was not one of them, but I do remember the fear of a “hell”. Religion is child abuse. I do hope you find happiness.
Check on the internet about any groups in your area. There are so many Freethinker Groups and other Atheist/Humanist groups that are awesome! I know there are in my area (Cleveland, Ohio).
Mine might seem rather long..
I grew up in an agnostic/atheist household. Father atheist, mother didn’t care. Father left, mom started to care. My aunt would take my sisters and I to church every Sunday. All I could see was the hypocrisy. Did not believe, though I was ‘saved’ at 12 years old.
At 16, I was playing in a contemporary christian rock band, dating the pastors daughter, and being wooed by christian colleges. Still did not believe.
Joined the Army at 18, began to be vocal about my non belief. A real “atheist in a foxhole’. Called myself an atheist, or an agnostic, depending upon who I was talking to. My problem at that time, was that I just thought it was stupid. I didn’t have the knowledge to rebut any claims made by theists, just didn’t care.
In my late 20’s to early 30’s, I was in a very low point of my life. Surrounded by Christmas Christians, that thought it was their life’s goal to turn me to god. Eventually, since I didn’t have the educational resources to learn why I shouldn’t believe, I succumbed. I threw myself into church with a vengeance. I taught Sunday school. I only dated church girls. I was at the church at least 3 days per week… And I tried to believe…
One day, as I was preparing my lesson for adult Sunday School, I realized that I hadn’t been given a topic. (We didn’t form our own lesson plans, just got them from a planner, which told us what verses to use, etc.) I decided to do the lesson on the Exodus, and read the chapters regarding Moses’ trip across the desert, over and over. And said “WTF?” I had never heard this crazy stuff before… Murdering, raping, pillaging, and the 10 commandments aren’t really the 10 commandments?
I made it my goal to REALLY read the bible. And then again. The third time I read it through, I left the church. I still called myself a Christian, because that is what I thought I was supposed to do. But I didn’t believe.
I married a southern Baptist girl, we went to church every Sunday, made the kids pray before dinner, etc.
One day we were driving, and I saw a billboard that said “Good without God”. Turned around, so I could read the website information. Looked it up, and was absolutely amazed at the amount of information out there, regarding atheism. I read websites, watched Youtube videos, bought books by Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens.. Eventually my wife caught on, we nearly divorced. After 3 days of her crying, we had a discussion about my “doubts”. She threw every argument in the book at me. I refuted each one, thanks to my new education, and with patience, and answering her questions in a non confrontational way, and above all, having her actually read the bible, she is no longer a Christian.
And we have never been happier. Her 18 year old son, who had no idea this was happening, confessed to us a month ago, that he doesn’t believe, and was afraid to tell us. It was a good day.
Sorry so long.
Just a couple of questions did you get into the pastor’s daughters pants and/or those church girls?
I grew up in a ELCA (lutheran) church. My parents took us to Sunday school, vacation bible school, and any other youth group event that seemed to fit. After attending a week long bible leadership camp, I was “saved” again, hooked on Jesus and dedicated to saving the poor lost souls (especially those less fortunate hell bound children born in countries like Africa, China or anywhere where Christianity isn’t king of all religions). I eventually went to college, took a world religion class and realized the vast number of commonalities amongst the religions of the world. I started doubting religion. Entering a PhD in psychology and neuroscience made matters worse but the nail in the coffin of my faith was watching my fundamentalist catholic sister and brother in-law indoctrinate their children with religious ideas. When my nephew asked me “why don’t you go to church, don’t you know you will go to hell and never see me again?” while crying, I realized that this crazy religious mumbo jumbo causes more harm than the good it may do. I am now an atheist. Despite the pressures to baptize and indoctrinate my child in religious nonsense, I’ve managed to keep my precious 2 year old son religion free. My hope is that he can grow up with a critical thinking, evidence based way of thinking and when he decides to learn about religion, he uses that science based thought.
My deconversion was chaotic and slow, so I’ll try and keep this terse.
I grew up in a liberal Methodist church, and attended a Catholic school due to crappy public schools. I never really doubted religion beyond the mild manner of most liberal Christians.
I was exposed to a wide variety of religion through my host families and in-laws, all of whom were happy and accepting of different beliefs. After reading the bible to understand my annoyingly evangelical bible-literalist brother, I came to the conclusion that the Judeo-Christian god was a bronze age sky god with the intelligence of circumcised foreskin.
During my Ph.D. research I came across an article on the topic of quantum relationalism. The general idea being that there is no such thing as objective value – i.e. one cannot know anything without interacting with it, thereby changing one’s own value. As it was the simplest and least assumptive interpretation of QM I ever discovered, it made sense to me. This put the nail in the coffin as it meant the sheer concept of god was not only definably nonsensical but physically impossible (as separate consciousnesses would by definition not exist).
Hello ignostic atheism.
Posters here may also be intrested in the Not Alone Project: where non-believers can share coming out stories.
I was raised Roman Catholic, by parents who were both Roman Catholic themselves. Both my parents came from very religious households, and we went to church every Sunday as well of all the holy days of obligation. In addition, I went to a private Catholic school for elementary and middle school that held obligatory mass on Fridays. The private Catholic school I attended for high school did not have weekly church attendance, but we did have prayer services and mass on special occasions. I had mandatory religion classes every year, and in high school we were actually forced to read the King James Bible in full, cover to cover. Ironically, this is probably when I became an atheist. Before that point, all I knew of religion was the ‘Jesus loves you and died for your sins’ rubbish. Reading the bible introduced me to what the Catholic church actually bases their doctrine off of. And it is batshit crazy. All I could think was, people actually believe this? Seriously? Thus, after almost ten years of Catholic schooling, I became an agnostic somewhere through Leviticus and was an atheist by the time I hit Job.
Since I was only a freshman in high school at the time, I spent the rest of my high school career eagerly awaiting the school-mandated prayer services for my chance to debate the pastor during confession. Most of our debates usually ended with me stumping him with a question, and him fumbling for an answer before giving up and assigning me a couple rosaries for penance. Needless to say, I did not endear myself to him. And the best part was that, since it was technically still a confession, I couldn’t get in trouble for it because it was still under the Seal of the Confessional (which basically means the priest can’t break confidentiality without being excommunicated). In this way, I actually managed to hide my atheism from my parents until I was out of the house and comfortable with discussing it with them. They did not take it well, but it was mostly a lot of blustering, and we eventually did become amicable again. However, I will say that religion definitely damages the relationship between parent and child, because as much as I love my parents I have never been able to trust their judgment, trust them with any personal information, or take their moral code seriously since then. Now I am open about my atheism to my friends, although I do not proclaim my godless heathen ways from the rooftops because surprisingly, people in small-town Oklahoma aren’t always the most friendly towards people who don’t believe in the Bible-God.
This is the email I sent into episode 99. Thought I would copy it in here and update it a bit. (I was a really religious child, I had a heavy influence from my Grandparents but my parents were only Christian in the sense that they were when it came to forms and to being able to marry in a church. I grew up feeling I knew the truth.
The bit that makes my story different is that I have serious mental illnesses. I suffered multiple incidents of abuse, physical, psychological and sexual in my childhood. My personality developed in a way that is not considered healthy by the medical profession. I had delusions based around religion, and then felt tremendous guilt for having thought those things. The only way that I was able to believe in a God was to accept that this God had planned and executed my rape. That he had killed the child that came from that rape. And that he thought that the two boys who had done it deserved to be free and happy.
I believed enough, that I accepted those things. I began to believe that I had been chosen by God to be hurt and that my only purpose in life was to be hurt for His pleasure. I tried to put myself to all the rules put out in the Bible (which I read cover to cover three times) and decided that I ought to become a nun. I went to university with all this in mind and planning on making a serious attempt to enter a nunnery. I was torn apart by the rules in that book. How it asked me to be so many things, some contradictory, at all times. How I was damned for my thought never mind my actions.
I didn’t end up at university. I ended up in a mental ward. I had lost all that was real and had decided that I had to die as it was the only way to find out what was real, and what was wanted of me.
I still, through all this, found no issue with the religion I was following.
When I got into the ward, I saw something that began my journey into skepticism. In the room across from me was a young, pretty woman, she didn’t talk, or eat or dress herself. All she did, all day and all night, was read a copy of the Bible. She screamed passages from it. She went around the ward leaving pages in certain rooms at certain times. If someone so much as touched her pages she lost it entirely. She would take her clothes off and scream, running around the ward. In a mental hospital this is not unusual.
What I found crazy, in all of this, was that the staff were not allowed to remove her from the bible. As a Holy Book, they were required to let her have it. She was destroying herself with the help of this book, as I had been lead to my destruction, and no one stepped in to stop her. I imagined the anorexic asking to be allowed to starve as she was doing so for God, and wondered if she would die from this too.
Two months later, I was well enough to leave the ward. While still believing in God fully, I knew that I had to stop being a religious person, it was hurting me. This was awful, I felt isolated and rejected. I found my way to Christian meetups and told them about the experience I had had. They told me I wasn’t following the right brand of God, and that if only I had followed their brand. I would be happy for all eternity Praise Jesus.
A year and a half on, I am agnostic. I can’t know whether or not there was a force that aided in creating the universe in the way it was created, but I do know that the God that is offered to me to society is an insidious force. I refuse to believe in the religion this world offers me. It breeds pain and illness.
Like I said at the start, gloryhole. Loving being able to think about the world in a way that doesn’t hurt me and podcasts like yours are a big part of this.
Thanks for listening.)
As of now I am an atheist. I have a beautiful girlfriend who, eventually, my family has accepted. I’m much better than I have been in years. And cognitive dissonance coming out still makes my week.
I deconverted pretty quickly as a teenager, through the fault (help?) of two separate churches. I went to church with a family member one Sunday where I heard a guest speaker discuss how you should love your neighbor. The preacher then got up and gave a sermon on things including how Will and Grace should not be invited into your house due to the ‘evil’ of the homosexual lifestyle. That didn’t make a bunch of sense, so I tried another church. After all, I was growing up in the South and Believing was what we did.
Church two. Good ole Southern Baptists. I went to this church for about a year and finally started bringing my friends. My friends, you should know, were the gay or goth, or generally not ‘churchy’ people. The very people one is encouraged to bring to God. Except I was asked never to bring my friends back.
Disillusioned with church – being as it obviously was NOT what it was advertising to be – lead me to thinking my way out of religion in general. The last straw, for me, was when my mother began to work in a Unitarian church. Turns out the holy water is just tap water.
I was brought up in a nondenominational household, attending whichever christian church was convenient, as they basically all taught the same nonsense.
When I turned nine, apparently old enough to begin bible study, I found myself questioning many of the things that were considered unquestionable. For example, when reading the story of Noah’s Ark, I posed the question regarding the structural integrity of this floating zoo, such as extremely heavy rains not swamping the deck and sinking the boat. The only answer I ever managed to get was an angry “because god (insert claim here).”
When We stopped attending church, due to my mother changing her working schedule, I was allowed to drift away from the religious mindset. By the age of fourteen I had somehow come to the conclusion that religion was an vestigial artifact of humanity that had become mostly ceremony, not an actual belief in most people. Life in high school, with its student body of often very religious people, dramatically changed that way of thinking in me, but by that point I was fully de-converted.
I was born in a parish house. My Father was a trained minister. We Left Texas for Kentucky when I was two. I cannot claim that I de-converted, but I can tell you why I am here. When I was seven-years-old, a close family friend sexually abused me. When I was eight, I asked my Sunday school pastor why the church did not teach about the planets, evolution, or the big bang.
My early suffering may have made me grow up quickly, but science taught me to question. I asked one question, just one. “Why do my school teachers tell me that we evolved over billions of years?” my pastors had no response. The answer came to me quickly, “ Is it because a day in the bible could have been a lot longer than a normal day?” they hastily agreed.
I did not find out what critical thinking was until I was in college, but a southern Baptist church in Kentucky taught me how to think. It took me another ten years until I found that my father had quietly been an atheist since I was an infant, and spent years leaving the church.
I am now an outspoken atheist, and my father is a member of the clergy project. Keep up the good work guys, and try to pronounce Louisville, I dare you.
Parents – one Catholic, one Lutheran. By the time I showed up, they were not attending church. I was allowed to discover on my own. High school – got involved with a Baptist girl and one weekend found myself at a “retreat” – read: sleep deprivation and alter call. I went down the rabbit hole and thumped for about 9 months. I’m 53, by the way – back then and in a smallish town, “gawd” was everywhere. So, I recovered by the time I graduated high school and college was much the same. So many “gawd people.” Ugh. When the “gawdies” crept into the White House with Republicans, oi vay. It is nice to see rational people multiplying. I was asked to serve as advisor to a local chapter of the Secular Student Alliance. There’s hope but so far to go. I hope more people take the gloves off – I am angry at the price we’ve paid for the nonsense of others. Don’t get even, escalate. Hitch slaps for everyone!
After I got fired from a telemarketing company, it was finally so blatantly obvious that god wasn’t interested in helping me that I had no choice but to stop praying and going to church. Getting back on my feet took a lot of effort myself and a lot of help from family and friends. So all the actual results came from the efforts of real people.
Slowly, over a long period, no major revelation (see what I did there?), no major eureka! moment or effort on the part of any person deconverted me. But I can say that between the ages of 15 and 25 I was slowly weaned off superstition. What did seem to develop naturally over that period was critical thinking, so that even though I read and was somewhat taken in by Von Daniken and all the related crap as a teenager in the 1970s, there was always in the back of my mind the nagging doubts – just like with Christianity, there was always something that didn’t quite fit. I suppose that was partly because I read encyclopaedias for fun, so there were always bunches of disconnected facts and sciency stuff floating around my brain pecking at all the shit trying to force its way in. By the time I was 15 I understood evolution (as far as a thick-headed teenage boy can) and had no doubt about its validity – I distinctly remember an argument I had aged 16 with a guy who insisted the earth was 6000 years old, and that God planted dinosaur bones to confuse us. I was amazed that anyone could be so fucking dumb.
Of course back then there were no atheist groups (particularly in South Africa, where I grew up, where religion was pretty much unquestioned back then) or even anyone I knew who was an outspoken atheist.
So by the time I started calling myself an atheist (go straight to atheist, do not pass agnostic) I was a lone voice in my (slowly shrinking) social circle.
But what really felt good was that I never once felt embarrassed or defensive about being a non-believer, unlike when I was a believer.
And I’m an atheist, not an Atheist.
In episode #140 I think I remember you guys did a story about a proposed satanic monument at a courthouse. I haven’t listened to your entire back catalog yet; however, I think you may have missed what I think consider the most prominent example of cognitive dissonance in politics today. Anton LaVey famously said, “I give the people Ayn Rand with trappings.” I realize you guys don’t seem to care much about the particulars of satanism (neither do I), but if you Ayn Rand and the Satanic Bible, you’ll find they are curiously very compatible.
You can probably understand where I’m going with this. Great show guys. Glory Hole.
I think I posted in the wrong area. Sorry guys.
I was a “traditional Roman” Catholic for 19 years of my life (I’m 21 now). My parents sent me to a private Catholic school for 1st through 10th grade. This school is pretty extreme in their religious views but they aren’t your typical speak in tongues crap. They’re the type that stuck with the Latin mass which was apart of the school curriculum Monday-Friday. That means I went to church 5 days a week for 10 years straight. As you might have guessed I suffered heavy indoctrination. I was baptized, had my first communion, and was even confirmed. I was never that into the whole religion thing though. I suppose being constantly bombarded with jesus shit that I got tired of it. Funny thing is, with that much indoctrination and time spent at that school I never read the bible in it’s entirety once.
My de-conversion began while in college this past 2 years. I’m a computer science major and I began to notice that there are a particular amount of atheists among cs majors for some reason. Religion got brought up here and there and I had a friend who would talk to me about it a little bit. They brought up some things I hadn’t thought about before. Another friend of mine introduced me to reddit. I became and still am an avid reddit user and r/Atheism was very popular not too long ago. I would see posts that would make it to the front page and they would raise even more questions in my head that I couldn’t answer. The things that got me thinking most were the church doctrines that were made up like the Assumption of Mary. It’s not in the bible anywhere, it’s just assumed because she was “pure” and death is a punishment of sin. That shits a holy day of obligation and it’s made up by men. I distinctly remember one day thinking “ok I need to look into this.” I searched on youtube “Is god real” and one of the results was a debate between Christopher Hitchens and William Lane Craig. I watched the whole thing start to finish in one sitting. I was really confused because Hitchens, in my mind, had destroyed Craig in the debate. I looked for some suggested reading material to further my research and the two books I ended up buying were “god is not great” by Hitchens and “The god Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. After reading the god delusion I officially decided to identify as an atheist but I still pressed on with the second book and continued from there with many more. Today I am still reading and researching as I have to deal with my still very religious family. I am a closeted atheist as I haven’t had the courage to confront my parents yet. The only person I’ve confided this to is my older sister who was very confused. Many of my friends and relatives are all christian. None of them know. It’s quite difficult. I haven’t been to church in about a year but my parents just think I’m a “lapsed” catholic or something.
I find myself holding my tongue alot at home because my mom is the type that nothing you say will change her mind. She literally thinks Obama is the anti-christ. She is your typical crazy nut case christian but I still love her and I know that telling her I’m an atheist will break her heart. My dad is a little different. Him and me sit down and watch cosmos every sunday together because we both love science and sci-fi things but he says some stupid things some times. He’ll say to me about my lack of church attendance “don’t be a total atheist” as if being an atheist is a comical extreme since he can’t see why anyone would be one. I feel like he’s stuck to his religious belief mainly because of tradition from his parents upbringing and because he’s married to my mom. My love of science is also a major part of my atheism. I had to learn what evolution was on my own since we never talked about it at school. Although life might be hard as a closeted atheist surrounded by numerous nut bags, Tom and Cecil ease the struggle with some laughs and logic along the way. Thanks guys
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