What has surprised me the most, in my transition from devoutly passionate Christian to skeptical atheist, is that very few (if any) of my Christian friends or family have been remotely interested in why or how I lost my faith. That lack of curiosity I've taken very personally. If they knew me, then they would know that losing my faith was a big deal... and not just because I'm now apparently going to Hell.

For one, they should know I'm analytical, and not led around by my emotions. They should also know I'm not easily influenced! I was the one person out of my group of friends to abstain from drinking and drugs; to abstain, even, from sex! I took my faith the most seriously. I was the one always lecturing and advising. After I reached a certain age, I went to church on my own... sometimes by myself. I moved to Nashville to "get closer to God". I lived and breathed Jebus.

Honestly, yes, I expect my friends and family to be shocked, and for that shock to drag them into a burning curiosity. "But why?! She was such a strong Believer!"

Perhaps I have not been perceived the way I felt I was projecting myself. This would not be surprising. It happens all the time. I wouldn't be the first to lament the misunderstanding of myself by the world. Even still, very few else can say they waited as long as I did before having sex. I was going to wait until I was married (until I realized that it was becoming borderline creepy). I was "the virgin", and what goes wrong when even "the virgin" ceases to believe?

For all that effort I put into my faith, the reaction of all whom I knew as a Christian has been disappointing... maddening... invalidating. What a waste it truly was. When I dedicated my entire being to trying to discover God's will, it's hard to accept it was not a noteworthy undertaking. And if they now notice my sudden transition into atheism, they're silent. No one is asking me, "But Cara, why?" And if they do ask why, they've already interjected their own answer before I've uttered a word.

I must think too much of myself (or must've thought too much of myself as a Christian). I'm not sure what my own reaction would have been if one of my Christian friends suddenly fell off the bandwagon. The fact is, Christians are so well insulated from critical thought that I'm sure I would've had the same silent contempt for those who lost their faith while I was a Believer. There's no inkling in the mind of a Christian that something is amiss.

But then, I did have atheist friends. Though I couldn't understand how they could reject a Creator in general, I didn't question their inability to accept Jesus Christ. He did seem like a strange character to accept, even as someone who believed in him. I think that aspect of the narrative never sat right with me, but I couldn't articulate why. I couldn't rule out other possibilities, either. The Bible is full of some strange stuff. Why not other strange stuff? Whatever. The point is... I enjoyed having intellectual discussions with nonbelievers. I was curious. Of course, I wanted to convince them to be a Christian, but I was still fascinated by their lack of belief.

So why is no one I knew as a Christian somewhat curious to know why I lost my faith? I have a burning curiosity to know why they don't want to know why! And, not even for my own benefit. Doesn't it strike them that nonbelievers are usually extremely intelligent? Of course, I know all their conspiracy theories. Arrogance! Pride! Selfishness! Rebellion! None of it has to do with a thirst for understanding.

Okay, I know... I know why they reject obscure evolutionary scientists, or far-off biologists. World-renown scientists are so... out there, so... inhuman. But why does it not jar them when a devoted Believer suddenly flips the switch? When they go from pastor and apologist, to outspoken atheist? There should be something in their little brain that wonders what happened, and that is not satisfied with "sin" as the answer.

I think I've answered my own question. They're not curious why I lost my faith because they're not curious at all. While they were busy ostracizing Christians-turned-atheist, I was busy engaging in intellectual discussions with them. But there is at least one friend from my past life that seemed like an inquiring mind; she was tantalized by atheists, yet she converted from borderline Pentecostal to Episcopalian! What a weird direction. And, as far as I know, she's still got her V-card. And... it makes me sad, because her beautiful, creative mind is being wasted. Like mine was.

Views: 328

Comment by Silenus on April 11, 2011 at 10:28pm
Maybe they are not curious because they are not really Christians?
Comment by Walter Maki on April 11, 2011 at 11:10pm
That thought came to my mind as well, Forrest.
Comment by Tom Margolis on April 12, 2011 at 5:08am

The clash between emotional needs (I don't want to die; I want the cosmos to have an externally-defined Purpose; etc.) and analytical thought fascinates me.  I'm impressed by people who can accept the conclusions of honest analysis even though they may be emotionally painful.


Kudos to you brave folks!  I never went through this - I never believed in the supernatural, even as a little kid - but I can imagine how difficult it would be to give up the warm, fuzzy embrace of a Big Daddy in the sky.

Comment by CJoe on April 12, 2011 at 8:43am
I don't believe there is such a thing as "really" a Christian, or a "true" Christian. There's nothing supernatural happening inside someone who separates them from other people who just claim to be Christians. They're all just regular people... regular people who are either more or less curious or analytical than others. I would say most are gullible, and maybe that's why they stubbornly remain unquestioningly indoctrinated with things that don't make sense.
Comment by CJoe on April 12, 2011 at 8:44am
You speak truth, Joseph. I guess I was just talking about those in my immediate circle. I have known many intelligent Christians, but... I was mostly discussing their lack of curiosity concerning de-converts (for the most part).
Comment by Doug Reardon on April 12, 2011 at 11:41am
It never ceases to amaze me how many people have absolutely no interest in understanding stuff. They, apparently, just shake their heads and go about their business without ever even considering what, why or how. And they never change.
Comment by Tom Margolis on April 12, 2011 at 2:10pm

I think it's unwise to think that theism comes from lack of intelligence, lack of thoughtfulness, close-mindedness, etc.  In fact, there are many extremely smart, analytical, thoughtful people who are theists.  


Belief in the supernatural appears to be a product of the way the human mind (which is far from a rational analytical machine) filters, interprets, and creates the world.  There's plenty of evidence from the field of neuropsychology that shows that people are very good at fooling themselves and very bad at true objective analysis - even in mundane, non-spiritual contexts.  Even atheists can be close-minded and irrational about other beliefs (political, social, and so forth).


I think the reason we are atheists may have something to do with a difference in our essential neurology - helped along by education and exposure to data, of course.

Comment by CJoe on April 12, 2011 at 2:22pm
Tom, I never said they were unintelligent, etc. In fact, I've said more than once I know intelligent Christians. They can be both intelligent and disinterested and lack curiosity in some areas. I mean, most atheists were devout christians once upon a time. Still, there are many many Christians that don't care to dive deeper, and those are the ones I'm talking about. Especially family and friends who know me, and knew who I was before. It's just upsetting, despite biological explanations.
Comment by CJoe on April 12, 2011 at 3:16pm
Okay, sorry about that Tom. I agree with what you said though. :)
Comment by Christian McFadden on April 12, 2011 at 3:23pm
I think maybe that what Forrest meant by "really" Christian is that they weren't as committed to their faith as you thought. Maybe they don't ask why because they *know* why, but they're just clinging to their beliefs because they don't know anything else. No need to ask the question if they already know the answer.


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