"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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Replies to This Discussion

This is a really great story-- thanks for sharing it. I hope you are still friends with your UK atheist. :o)
Thanks, M. Yes, we are still good friends, though now he is at university majoring in biochemisty and is often extremely busy. Sometimes a month goes by without an word from him, but never much longer than that.
Thanks for sharing. I deconverted from Mormonism and then Christianity closely followed. Religion does a lot of damage and I still catch myself in the brainwashing thoughts! Yikes. That's why I love forums like this to realize you're not alone and there are others who use reason and don't need a totalitarian god to watch over them! Thanks again.
I live in southern Alabama. Forums like this are my outlet and my source of support. information, and intellectual conversation. I don't know what I'd do without my online friends that I have made through visiting forums and other sites.
Good for you. Mine's rather funny (embarrassing, in another Christian's point of view)... it took me 2 hours to lose my faith.

It's not that I didn't have enough faith, I had a considerable strong faith in the Christian Religion (though I separated Science and Religion, and considered it "non-conflicting" - so I was an evolution believer, even though I was a christian. It did make sense, after all. I also didn't hate gays - because "bible's" orders, can you believe it?).

...Anyway, that'll be my own story, not my comment to your story. :)

I would just like to say to you, welcome to your enlightenment. There's so much to learn in the world, and we're glad to have you in the 1.3 Billion Atheists in the world.

If you need help from anything, please feel free to ask everyone, we're you're friends. I can also provide you contact if you need sanctuary to the closest Secular/Humanist Organizations in your area.

Have fun!

"used to be such a wonderful person". Ironic, ain't it?
You're more wonderful now than you ever were.
Oh, you've got to start a discussion on how you were deconverted in 2 hours. I'm very interested to see what worked with you in such a way. Please share!
yeah, I'm with Kim. I wanna know how you were deconverted in two hours!
I was an excellent scholar and loved to learn.

You were most likely doomed as a Christian, then.

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.

I know EXACTLY what you are talking about and no forgiveness is necessary! Although I considered myself, somewhat jokingly, a militant agnostic at the time, I had a similar, transcendent moment upon reading the God Delusion. The fog of indoctrination was finally burned away and I could see the world clearly through science and Skepticism. It was the most "religious" moment of my life.

Thanks for sharing your story. It is nice to hear that some "confrontational" atheist challenged your views and forced you to reevaluate them. Of course, you deserve the credit for shaking off an indoctrinated belief system.
I'm glad someone else can relate to my "moment". I often wonder if other atheists think I am exaggerating, joking, or insane when I speak about it, though no one has ever suggested as much to me.
I get those "spiritual" moments whenever I read Dawkins! He is inspiring!
Well, for most people, it is a long process and there is no single moment. Even my moment was spread out over the week or so it took to read Dawkins book and I was already well on my way to atheism. Actually, I had already arrived and just didn't know it. But the relief I felt that worrying about belief was immense.


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