"What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof."
   -Christopher Hitchens
 
I began March 2009 as a Christian.  Not a moderate, well-informed Christian....a Fox News watching, young earth Creationist Southern Baptist.  I rejected concepts such as evolution, global warming, and people being born gay, just to name a few. I actually studied Creationism at the Baptist junior college which I had attended.  This is not to say that I was unintelligent or that I did not read often.  I was an excellent scholar and loved to learn.  I read all the time.  I loved intelligent conversation and treated everyone the same.  After all, in my mind we were all sinners.  I tutored College Algebra and my grammar was impeccable.  I was always open to new ideas, only my environment didn't provide these new ideas.  I had never actually fully read the Bible, as I was always advised against simply reading the Bible.  "It must be studied, not simply read," I had been told repeatedly as a born-again twelve-year-old Christian. 
 
My childhood indoctrination was done kindly, yet strongly.  The well-meaning Christians and small church that participated in my indoctrination provided for me a safe haven from my abusive, drug-addicted parents at home.  So, I was an extremely easy target for religious indoctrination.  I loved my god, my precious Savior...and how!!!  I prayed privately and fervently, read the Bible daily (always with my trusty study guides and commentary, of course), sang in the choir, taught VBS, participated in Acteens...the whole shibang!  As many Christians do, I "strayed" in my late teens and early twenties, but always with the mindset that one day I would devote myself to Christ and repent of my waywardness.  However, my faith never wavered----I was truly a believer, through and through.
 
I had began answering questions in Yahoo Answers as a hobby.  I started with questions in the "Homework Help" section, but I saw a question about god in the "Religion & Spirituality" section that interested me and I quickly started answering questions there instead.  Many of these people were driving to hell, after all.  I then met an atheist through there and we began discussing many topics.  He was a seventeen-year-old student in the UK, and had great interest in both pseudoscience and religion.  We ran through a variety of subjects, spending four, sometimes five hours each day dissecting each.  I was forced, in order to hold my positions, to search for the evidence supporting my positions and to consider the evidence for his positions.  (Well, how could I debate his positions if I did not understand them?)  In every subject, from the original of life to the rapture, the evidence he presented far exceeded the evidence I could not even find and his arguments won easier over mine.  In every subject.  My first real doubt was simple:  Why doesn't God make Himself more known than this?
 
I still remember the information my atheist friend showed me.  Religious debunking of hell, videos and articles about various scientific concepts, and, perhaps the most effective tool of all, LOGIC.  (NonStampCollector's videos often left me thinking for hours.)  I learned more science in that one month than I ever had in school, as science had always been simply boring memorization.  I was very confused.  Finally, the day after Easter 2009, as I was watching Hawking's lecture on the origin of the universe (and understanding these concepts for the first time), my atheist friend asked me if I saw how it was at least possible without a god.  I said yes.  That was all it took.  My belief vanished in that moment.
 
Warning:  Forgive me if this sounds....spiritual.  I must describe this, though, as well as I can. 
 
That moment was perhaps the most, for lack of a better word, transcendent moment of my life.  With the science I had just learned in the back of my mind as I admitted to myself that I could no longer intellectually and rationally hold the position of belief that I was holding, I saw the universe as I had never seen it, and will never see it again.  Everything made crystal-clear sense.  No gaps, no extra pieces to the puzzle.....complete clarity.  I saw in that instant why the universe was billions upon billions of light years wide with billions upons billions of galaxies like ours.  I understood in that instant why so many thousands of children starve to death every day.  I finally grasped why so many prayers went unanswered.  So many answers to questions I'd never even thought to ask before that day!  In that moment, the greatest "Ah Ha!" moment of my life, I GOT IT!  It was like a supernova of the mind (now my mind is pulling in information like a black hole!)  I also knew in that moment that I would never accept another supernatural claim without real evidence ever again. 
 
Did I have lingering fears of hell, untimely death, Satan, God's wrath, and other irrationalities?  Yes.  Indoctrination is very effective.  But the flashes of fear were just like flashes of doubt to a believer, and the more I learned, the less fear I had.  I came out gradually to my friends and immediate family.  Some of them do not like me anymore because of it; some were extremely disappointed or disheartened by it.  That is their burden to bear as the belief is theirs not mine.  But I do sympathize; it's difficult not to.  But my family and friends whose love was unconditional are still ever-present in my life.  I'm okay with that.
 
Losing my faith influenced other changes-of-mind.  I soon after embraced secular humanism, and I began to care about the environment.  Both of these concepts, with alittle bit of research, led me to become a vegetarian.  I no longer believe that we are "born sick, commanded to be made well" nor do I believe that meaning can only come from eternal life.  How could I have ever been that person?  I had a "friend" tell me that I "used to be such a wonderful person".  Ironic, ain't it?

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Wow, thank you for sharing your story. I always like to hear stories from other ex-Christians. In some ways we are very much the same, and in some ways very different.

I saw your title and thought, "Wow, one month?" For me, my deconversion was a process that took a couple of years and a lot of gut-wrenching hard thinking. I always thought I had the answers, but as I learned more about science and began to really ask questions, I discovered I didn't. I had a few "Aha!" moments myself, but like I said, it took a long time to come to grips with reality.

And whatever your "friends" say, you're still a wonderful person. I'm sure you know that. In fact, you can be wonderful without needing some dusty old book to tell you how to be that way!
Thanks, Kristi!

I cannot imagine going through doubt like that for longer than I did, let alone a couple of years. However, that is what I hear from many ex-Christians whose deconversion was measured in years---my own deconversion was relatively quick and painless.

I look forward to seeing you around! Despite being a bookworm, I'm positively dense when dealing with software and technology, so please forgive me if my responses are slow at first while I'm learning how to use the site! :)
I can only imagine that your family are fundamentalists? How do they accept the immediate change? Did you continue to attend church, or do you, for their behalf?

Good for you for hearing the argument even when you disagreed. We are all exposed to different lives and sharing that information as a group, sharing that life experience, is what makes us grow as humanity. It's social evolution and each step takes generations or military dominance and force to change. At one time people believed Apollo guided the Sun, but when that was clearly bunk, it was slowly shunned then eventually outlawed. Creationism and Young Earth and a god in charge of our lives is being slowly marched out of favor and reason is leading the march. I'm glad that you found the freedom.

There is nothing wrong with being spiritual about life and how you view it. It can be awe inspiring, there just isn't a reason to be mystical about it. Welcome to TA and thanks for your story!
Thank you for the response! Yes, my family members are fundamentalists. Many of them look right through me now. It hurts, but I will still send them a picture of my son in a Christmas card every year. I understand what is going on in their minds for I was once them. It's not that they don't love me; they simply love their faith more. If that's how it's got to be, there is nothing I can do to change that.

Oh, I live for the day that these silly ideas will finally stop being a backseat driver and let science and reason do the driving undistressed. It's high-time that said driver finally told that irritating, often intimidating passenger to just STFU. Religion has had thousands of years to prove its case and has produced nothing. Except death. And hate. And more death. And even more hate.

I've heard many former believers discuss how they miss that "feeling" that they once had. That religious high, that spirituality, that passion....the feeling of being "moved" or "touched". When I hear this, I am saddened. We let religion hijack so much. Too much. Don't they get it? That feeling was theirs all along. They felt it. They own it. The religion didn't drug them or have any real power to make them feel this way. They felt this way because they found something that could induce or bring out these emotions and sensations. If it can be found in something so evidently false or unobservable, then it can surely be found in something evidently true or observable. Why let religion take that part of us?

I openly look for that wonderment in the natural world. Science and understanding inspires such feelings in me, as does philosophy, music, and art. And when I find it, the amazement, awe and wonder that overcomes me and the feeling of piercing joy that runs through me is my own and is much more real in that one instance than anything religion could have ever cumulatively inspired me to feel.

I can go off on a tangent sometimes.
No one else on TA goes on tangents. :D
Yahoo answers (R&S section) also led me to solidify my position on atheism. I was very active there.

I pop back in every few months and check it out. But it seems like "white noise" with everybody talking past each other.

Your story is very thoughtful and honest. Nice writing.
Hey, fellow R&Ser! Who are you if you don't mind my asking? I was Fully Alive...not well-known like Phoenix or Cassie, so if you do not recall seeing me, that is entirely understandable. I personally have no real plans to revisit the site. I think I've learned all I can from Y!A due to turnover, and the new fundies are always so boring. It just got to be more tedious than fun.

Thanks for the compliments!
What an incredible story... and an exciting one! It's always really uplifting to read about people who were actually convinced the Bible (etc) is false and man-made.

You may have seen one of my posts in a different forum; I was very much like you! "On fire" for Jesus, but still pretty intelligent/well-read. Like you, I wandered in my early twenties, but hopped back on the path for good! Or so I thought. The deconversion was a little slower for me; my faith was chipped away here and there, almost imperceptibly. The first time I had an "ah ha" moment was when I was helping my cousin write a persuasive paper on evolution vs Creationism. I was Creationist at that point, but it only took a little bit of research on the internet, and some intellectual honesty, to discover evolution is a fact! I found myself making excuses at first, but then I realized what I was doing. I had to admit there might be something to this evolution thing after all but, at that point, I wasn't leaving a god out of the equation.

It was a couple years later that I started digging even further. The biggest chunk taken out of my faith was when I discovered that some people believed The Second Coming had occurred in 70 AD. Again, I didn't want to dismiss this perspective out of hand, so I started researching again. Then it all came crumbling down. After I debunked common interpretations of the book of Revelations and Christ as the Messiah, I turned to Judaism. That didn't last long. Then I briefly toyed with the idea of Taoism. Then I read End of Faith and The God Delusion.

FINALLY realizing I was atheist was such a relief! No more worry that I wasn't living up to an unrealistic standard; no more crying in the dark hoping my imaginary friend would hear and answer me; no book was forbidden or subject taboo. I was FREE! And... still a good person :)

It's too bad Christians have to miss out on awesome people like you and I.
You are a very strong person, Cara, to have been able to dig yourself out of the religion hole. Had it not been for my online atheist friend, I would no doubt still be a fundie Christian today. And I may have even tried other faiths, had it not been for that moment where the whole of it all made sense when a god no longer filled the gaps. Especially a personal god. But I could have never done this on my own.

And we are rather awesome, aren't we? :P
great story - thanks for sharing
Rats! I never had a deconversion moment. It must be wonderful. Thanks.
Wow! Thanks for sharing your story. It really is quite a wonderful and gives me some extra for future generations when someone that was into religion that deep can still find their way to the light of reason.

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