Deconversion questions

For help in being a non-believer or campaigning for secularism while beset by believers. If believers post here they should remember that this is a support forum. There is also a members-only subforum.
sohy
Posts: 10981
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:32 pm
Location: Georgia, USA

Post by sohy » Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:05 pm

Stealth, I only have a minute before I leave for work. One of the other things that Shermer points out in the book I mentioned earlier, is that studies he and other have done reveal that most people think they have arrived at their beliefs through a rational process while they think that others have arrived at their beliefs as a result of emotions. This is true for both theists and atheists. It's even true among Christians. They often think that other believers came to their beliefs for emotional reasons, while they themselves used a rational process to arrive at their own beliefs.

Christian apologetics are an attempt to make the argument for Xianity seem very rational. Even when the arguments are very easy to poke holes in, the believer rarely sees it.

User avatar
Ozymandias
Posts: 7987
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2010 3:11 pm

Post by Ozymandias » Thu Aug 18, 2011 1:31 pm

I think the most important thing about deconversion is that you have to keep going. Don't just stop when you disbelieve in god. Make sure you question everything. Nothing should be taken for granted, and you have to push away all superstitious, non-evidence based beliefs.

User avatar
Rome
Posts: 1772
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:43 pm
Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Post by Rome » Thu Aug 18, 2011 2:18 pm

I agree. In doubting the existence of God (although I doubted before I stopped believing), I've come to doubt the non-existence of other gods I had previously dismissed. After all, why SHOULDN'T Zeus or Thor or Quetzalcoatl be real?

I also have come to doubt myself more. Am I really a good person at heart? Are my actions toward others truly benign? Only in asking these questions have I been able to improve myself as a person. Yes, you'll find that doubt makes us better people than faith.

User avatar
Politesse
Posts: 19647
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:28 am
Location: Chochenyo territory

Post by Politesse » Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:41 pm

I'm enjoying reading these stories, thank you so much everyone for sharing. I've always found conversion, and deconversion, fascinating. One of the few religious experiences I've never really had.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

User avatar
Barefoot Bree
Posts: 9312
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2009 3:11 pm
Location: On the highway - could be anywhere!

Post by Barefoot Bree » Thu Aug 18, 2011 6:56 pm

You should try it some time! :D


Admit it. You walked into that one.
There's no such thing as "political correctness". The phrase you're looking for is "Common Decency".
"Said" it? Sink me! She almost SANG it!

User avatar
Jobar
Posts: 26251
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:42 pm
Location: Georgia

Post by Jobar » Thu Aug 18, 2011 7:17 pm

doubt makes us better people than faith.
Sig-worthy. :thumbup:

neilstone40
Posts: 5103
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:03 pm

Post by neilstone40 » Thu Aug 18, 2011 8:16 pm

[quote=""Politesse""]I'm enjoying reading these stories, thank you so much everyone for sharing. I've always found conversion, and deconversion, fascinating. One of the few religious experiences I've never really had.[/quote]

[quote=""Barefoot Bree""]You should try it some time! :D


Admit it. You walked into that one.[/quote]


For Poli...

"Don't go changin', trying to please Bree.."
"Live as if you are going to die tomorrow. Learn as if you're going to live forever."
Mahatma Gandhi

User avatar
Barefoot Bree
Posts: 9312
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2009 3:11 pm
Location: On the highway - could be anywhere!

Post by Barefoot Bree » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:50 pm

[quote=""neilstone40""]For Poli...

"Don't go changin', trying to please Bree.."[/quote]
Don't make me go get the coffee pot, Neil.
There's no such thing as "political correctness". The phrase you're looking for is "Common Decency".
"Said" it? Sink me! She almost SANG it!

User avatar
Garnet
Posts: 2607
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:25 am
Location: Lansing, MI

Post by Garnet » Fri Aug 19, 2011 12:15 am

I've written pieces of my story in a few different places. I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to write one, cogent, start-to-finish story without boring the bejeebers out of anyone trying to read it. So, I'll try for brevity but I don't promise cogency. There are a couple of titles I've thought about for my journey. One is, "Searching for Magic," and the other is "On the Outside Looking In." When I was younger, I had a very warm, fuzzy notion of God and Jesus. I thought they both existed that they were a lot like Disney good guys. I believed that they were magical and everything had a happy ending. I didn't really know all that much about Christianity other than brief glimpses on visits to my Grandmother.

In my early 20s, I had a conversion experience that I shan't relate here. It resulted in me down on my knees, bawling my eyes out, confessing that I was a sinner and committing my life to Jesus. Immediately after, I joined the nearest Baptist church to my home in Phoenix. That membership lasted very briefly and then I joined a much bigger, kinder Baptist church and really immersed myself for two years into that culture and the Bible. Note: In other places I've written about the church years, I've said 4 years. But in talking with an old friend of mine not too long ago, I was able to figure out it was only two years. I guess it just felt twice as long. I shan't go into detail about that either. I shall simply say that both churches were toxic to me and reading the Bible from front to back sowed serious seeds of doubt. I found that I just could not believe the rot and nonsense from the pulpit and the Bible looked like mythology to me. I couldn't even find comfort in the teachings of Jesus unlike everyone around me. I thought that the whole notion of original sin was damned appalling and that Jesus' sacrifice was brutal and unnecessary. When people sang songs about being covered in the Blood, I got grossed out instead of inspired. I never did quite fit.

The next 15 years were what I call the Seeker years. I left my last church rather abruptly and unceremoniously. I continued reading different versions of the Bible. I studied as best I could how the Bible came about. I went to many different kinds of churches and talked with a lot of different people of different faiths. What little faith I ever had diminished over time until 2004 at which point I was pretty much an agnostic although I think I was still looking for magic. I was living in Montgomery, AL, surrounded by proselytizing Christians who were making my life a misery when I realized that there was no such thing as real magic and no such thing as God. Not the Christian God or any other god. My realization wasn't because of those hateful and hate-filled Christians. My realization was because of all the things I'd learned over the years. But I'd be lying if I said those Christians didn't lay their hands on my back and push me towards that conclusion faster than I would have arrived on my own.

So now, I'm a strong atheist; one of those controversial people who flatly states that no gods exist and further, I'm not going to argue about it. My years of doubt and seeking are over. There is no magic, there are no gods.

I'm good with that.
I don't see any god up here. ~~ Yuri Gagarin, speaking from orbit in 1961

David B
Posts: 12878
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:47 pm

Post by David B » Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:57 am

To continue

For some years I continued to read and think, calling myself some kind of Buddhist, and seeking for transcendent experiences, though never anything like the experience recounted before - while sober, anyway.

Then there came a concatenation of circumstances, close together.

One of my old schoolfriends told me that while at university he roomed with someone who had become a teacher of transcendental meditation, who was a bright guy, and obviously very sincere about the benefits of it.

There was an article in the Guardian about early scientific work on transcendental meditation, that persuaded me that it probably did something, and gave me pause for thought. This was after the well known Beatles short lived (apart from George) infatuation with Maharishi.

One of my flatmates told me about an introductory talk on TM, and asked me to go with her. So I went.

To the introductory talk, further talks, and decided to give it a go.

After the ceremony, and on being given my mantra, and starting to use it, the effects were profound and pretty much immediate.

Every muscle, it seemed, in my body started to twitch, while at the same time I felt so blissful, so at home. And then started my falling down the TM Rabbit Hole.

http://www.suggestibility.org/

I'll call another halt here, before recounting how far I fell, and the gradual climb out of the rabbit hole.

It's rather painful to admit how wrong I was, but one of my main motivations for getting involved in boards like this one is to warn others against the traps I fell into myself, so I will persist.

David

User avatar
Ray Moscow
Posts: 8903
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:33 am
Location: Surrey, England

Post by Ray Moscow » Sat Aug 27, 2011 8:58 am

For me, it was a gradual process of the study of the Bible and religious doctrines, which looked worse the more I studied them, along with learning more about the natural world, history, etc.

Octavia
Posts: 1568
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:38 am
Location: New Zealand

Post by Octavia » Sat Aug 27, 2011 8:32 pm

For anyone who hasn't read it yet, COAS' "Salvation Story" is the deconversion tale par excellence.

I always think of her when I hear the argument that if one would just try harder to connect with God then one would believe. I can't think of anyone who actually did try harder than she did.

User avatar
Rome
Posts: 1772
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:43 pm
Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Post by Rome » Sun Aug 28, 2011 10:03 pm

[quote=""Octavia""]For anyone who hasn't read it yet, COAS' "Salvation Story" is the deconversion tale par excellence.

I always think of her when I hear the argument that if one would just try harder to connect with God then one would believe. I can't think of anyone who actually did try harder than she did.[/quote]
I checked out that link as soon as I saw your post, and needless to say, I was surprise at the depth of her account. It took me the better part of the last two days to read it all.

Like you, I think that, from this point forward, I shall think of her when the "No True Scotsman" fallacy is thrown forth again, and I will likely, in the face of other theistic fallacies that address other matters of debate, remember the Story of Lauri.

David B
Posts: 12878
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:47 pm

Post by David B » Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:56 pm

I remember that after my previous internet home became moribund - it was Daynna's Godless Zone, that had left when she joined the marines, and was passed to the care of first Tod, then me, then someone else, but was essentially killed by a succession of message board providers going belly up - I found II and read all that thread.

It was quite an important series of posts to me, for two reasons.

It cemented II as a new internet home, and it showed me just how damaging faith can be to individuals. It made me a more militant - for want of a better word - atheist than I had been before. Along with my growing realisation that the experiences I had had leading up to, and during, my period of ashram life, were not grounded in reality.

David

User avatar
Rome
Posts: 1772
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:43 pm
Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Post by Rome » Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:06 am

I kind of feel the same. While previously a theist, I was never instilled with the same dogmatic form of Christian terrorism, so I never faced the mental conflicts that she did, which might explain why I regained my atheism at the age of nineteen.

Having just read that, however, I can see the pain that indoctrination can cause the individual in the suppression of their individual freedom, which I see can be more harsh than I had initially imagined. I think, from now on, I will do more to fight against the indoctrination and traumatizing of children that religion can bring.

User avatar
Jobar
Posts: 26251
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:42 pm
Location: Georgia

Post by Jobar » Mon Aug 29, 2011 11:46 pm

I moved the discussion of Martin Luther to its own thread, here.

Valheru
Posts: 6995
Joined: Fri May 08, 2009 7:46 am

Post by Valheru » Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:43 pm

To be honest I haven't though about my deconversion for a loooooooong loooooong time until today.

Most of it's very fuzzy. I remember specific instances where I tried to convince myself I was wrong (a particular wasp that only lays one egg per leaf on the plant that she uses to brood her young comes to mind)

My coming out was a long and protracted battle with feelings of guilt and deep terror. Having won that war I can only say that I am glad and relieved. It was especially tough for me, because in those pre-internet days I had no one to talk to about it and I am the only black sheep in my family, so to speak, and it has had a terrible cost in human relationships over the years.

Thinking back, it was inevitable. I have now made peace with it completely and the idea of me being religious again is completely alien.

User avatar
Pendaric
Posts: 8508
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:05 pm

Post by Pendaric » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:10 pm

[quote=""Octavia""]For anyone who hasn't read it yet, COAS' "Salvation Story" is the deconversion tale par excellence.

I always think of her when I hear the argument that if one would just try harder to connect with God then one would believe. I can't think of anyone who actually did try harder than she did.[/quote]

I joined II whilst Lauri was writing that, and it's an abiding memory of a powerful testimony. It's a link I've given out before.
fear is the mind killer

User avatar
Jobar
Posts: 26251
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:42 pm
Location: Georgia

Post by Jobar » Wed Sep 14, 2011 12:53 pm

[quote=""Valheru""]
It was especially tough for me, because in those pre-internet days I had no one to talk to about it and I am the only black sheep in my family, so to speak, and it has had a terrible cost in human relationships over the years.

Thinking back, it was inevitable. I have now made peace with it completely and the idea of me being religious again is completely alien.[/quote]

I hear ya, brother. I was in just that situation myself, way back in 1970.

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:19 pm

I never deconverted exactly, although I got a massive amount of indoctrination when I was at school. At my last school I felt pretty isolated as the only professed unbeliever, but it made me all the more determined to tough it out as the school administration tried to make life difficult for me. Mind you, my parents weren't believers either, but they were not OTW interested in standing up to the system.

User avatar
Rome
Posts: 1772
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:43 pm
Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Post by Rome » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:32 pm

[quote=""Valheru""]To be honest I haven't though about my deconversion for a loooooooong loooooong time until today.

Most of it's very fuzzy. I remember specific instances where I tried to convince myself I was wrong (a particular wasp that only lays one egg per leaf on the plant that she uses to brood her young comes to mind)

My coming out was a long and protracted battle with feelings of guilt and deep terror. Having won that war I can only say that I am glad and relieved. It was especially tough for me, because in those pre-internet days I had no one to talk to about it and I am the only black sheep in my family, so to speak, and it has had a terrible cost in human relationships over the years.

Thinking back, it was inevitable. I have now made peace with it completely and the idea of me being religious again is completely alien.[/quote]
It's sad how people make others suffer for not believing in a sky man.

User avatar
kennyc
Posts: 8276
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:24 pm
Location: Denver, CO

Post by kennyc » Sat Oct 08, 2011 12:15 pm

[quote=""neilstone40""]....


For Poli...

"Don't go changin', trying to please Bree.."[/quote]

:evil:

That is SOOOOOO bad! I love it SOOOOO much!
Kenny A. Chaffin
Art Gallery - Photo Gallery - Poetry&Writing
"Strive on with Awareness" - Siddhartha Gautama

User avatar
Beau
Posts: 3102
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 12:41 am
Location: Ireland

Post by Beau » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:05 pm

[quote=""Ozymandias""]I think the most important thing about deconversion is that you have to keep going. Don't just stop when you disbelieve in god. Make sure you question everything. Nothing should be taken for granted, and you have to push away all superstitious, non-evidence based beliefs.[/quote]


It's healthy for people to question absolutely everything. I'm often surprised when I encounter intelligent people who question very little.

Regarding deconversion, I stumbled upon the curate and several others counting money in the back room of the Church. They were filling money bags from the collection trays. I realised immediately that the RCC was nothing more than a business. Suddenly the penny dropped, excuse the pun, and everything that I had been playing on my mind, the contradictions and wholly bizarre concepts, became clear instantly - it was all nonsense. It was a great relief, in one way, but, I was utterly shocked at the same time - I had been such a devout Catholic that I admit to feeling a bit of a fool, even though I was only about ten at the time. It taught me not to trust any establishment and that was a useful lesson to have learned.
Little things please little minds - Ovid

User avatar
BWE
Posts: 9653
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:54 pm
Location: one of the unnamed sidestreets of happiness

Post by BWE » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:38 pm

[quote=""Lanakila""]
Now, this took years because doubt is considered sin by Christians, and every challenge was therefore sinning, and hard for me to do. Every time I started going down the road, I'd go back to church and re-enforce the beliefs I'd been taught and repent of my doubts. Eventually though, I realized that the evidence just didn't back up Christianity, and that the Bible not only contradicted itself in smallish areas that didn't amount to much, but the resurrection story was a mess of contradictions and myth. At the end I prayed that God would show me the errors of what I had been studying.

He didn't because quite frankly he either doesn't exist or is a deist type god that doesn't care or isn't involved in any parts of our lives.[/quote]

Sounds to me like your prayer was answered.

User avatar
BWE
Posts: 9653
Joined: Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:54 pm
Location: one of the unnamed sidestreets of happiness

Post by BWE » Sat Oct 08, 2011 2:42 pm

I didn't actually believe there were really still xians that took the bible as more than allegorical until college. It was a very strange and disturbing discovery.

ETA: Mostly because I got some sunday morning God show on one of our 2 tv channels and it was so godawful ridiculous I just couldn't believe that real people were like that. People just didn't talk about their beliefs I guess. My brother went to a church once or twice because he had the hots for a girl that went which made it seem even more probable that the 700 club thing was historical fiction or perhaps people who didn't have roads yet.

Post Reply