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Posted by on Sep 19, 2013 in Atheism, De-Convertion | 3 comments

Instrumental In Leaving The Faith

What or who was instrumental in your de-conversion? This to me is an interesting question for a few reasons. First, I’m fascinated by why people believe what they believe and why or how they lose those beliefs. Second, knowing what was instrumental in people’s de-conversion could help in de-converting others. Third, I have no real frame of reference for this question.

Last night, I was taking a survey for the American Humanist Association and one of the questions asked was something along the lines of, how instrumental were the four “New Atheist” authors in my de-conversion. Sadly, I had to put down, “Not influential at all” because by the time their main atheist books came out I was already an active atheist.

When I de-converted, there were very few atheist books and those that did exist were not easily found. The internet didn’t exist to the public and I didn’t know any atheists personally. I had to figure it out on my own and it was a hard and lonely road and not without its obstacles. Sure there were philosophy books, science books, and history books that could have helped my journey, but I didn’t even know to look let alone where to look.

Now of course, I am well aware of Epicurus, Russell, Paine, Ingersoll, O’Hare, and many others. But back then, I might have stumbled upon Russell or Paine, but not in the context of religion. I was truly on my own at first. Fortunately, when I was in college, the internet was starting to become accessible to the public, but it was still hard to find the content I was looking for.

Today, many atheists credit a particular author, scientist, or other public figure with being instrumental in their de-conversion. As someone who has had a few notches in my belt, I would very much like to be that instrumental person for others more often and I want you to be that instrumental person too. Let’s turn de-conversion into a science – after all, science is what we do best. Who was instrumental in your de-conversion and why? Go!

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  • SmilodonsRetreat

    I filled out that form and put very on that question. Dawkins’ The God Delusion was instrumental in my deconversion. I was already an agnostic, but that book convinced me that religion was wrong and that atheism was the correct route.

  • Barry Ritter

    My de-conversion began with the eventual realization that all religious (I was Christian) form some concept of their own faith and practice it individually. They may join with other likeminded folk either geographically (i.e. Parish) or philosophically. Everyone just makes it all up. They are indoctrinated as children or converted as teens or young adults and then gravitate to whatever story works for them.

    Changing faith groups from Lutheran to Charismatic to Pentecostal and then all the way to Roman Catholic I found within all these groups sincere believers who believed many things just opposite of what others believed. Most of the bible is ridiculous when you take it at face value. All the Christians use some of the bible to back their beliefs and let much of it go as not pertinent. I had great friends, great fellowship and many encounters with a zillion points of view all fervently held and practiced. I eventually thought it must all be just made up. It was just too crazy to be true.

    My story involved indoctrination into “hearing” God’s voice and following it. This proved disastrous as the voice I listened to, devoutly believing it was God the Father or Jesus Christ wasn’t very good at dishing sound advice. I wound up broke and not very educated. I did stumble into a career that is at least paying the bills now, but having been a pastor and a priest for years I’ve saved little to nothing and face want in the retirement years to come.

    I didn’t want the voices to have been me being crazy, but I could no longer follow the “Master” as he was by now obviously an idiot. I decided to read what atheists had to say. If they were reasoned, rational people as they were being portrayed in a variety of media, I wanted to see where their reasoned thought came from and where it led.

    I started reading Ebon Musings (Adam Lee’s old website) and was just amazed. I found the atheist’s or at least this Ebon dude was finding the same holes in the bible I had. He was debunking the bad logic of faith that I couldn’t argue against. He introduced me to more and more science that proved the physicality of “spiritual” experience. It is perfectly normal human behavior to have faith in unseen agents once you assign agency to them via indoctrination systems. Hearing voices and assigning agency to these are completely physiological neurological scientifically proven brain activity.

    Learning about temporal lobe transients and the way the brain connects synapses was a great comfort to me. I wasn’t crazy I was normal. Learning to see the way my brain processed the “spiritual events” of my life made more sense than continuing to assign agency to these events.

    Next I read as much as I could on evolution, Talk Origins website helped, and Aron Ra’s video series on why creationism is wrong. I discovered John Loftus and read everything he’s written online. I read Sam Harris and Dawkins books. The reading has put the legs on the table of understanding to the reasonableness of letting go of the need for god(s) and has given me the facts to stand on. Lately I start my day with a good dose of Godless Spellchecker on twitter followed by a daily reading of this Skeptic Ink blog. Thanks to all you who willing let the cat out of the bag for me to poke.

  • ragingrev

    My deconversion began with the courage to ask difficult questions about concepts and ideas about my faith that I took for granted. Things that now sound silly and insignificant as an unbeliever were things that took incredible bravery for me to eventually question and overcome:

    “How do I know the Bible is True?”
    “Was Jesus Really God?”
    “How do I know anything at all if I don’t know this?”

    With these questions came answers that I wasn’t ready for or expecting, and so I had to again choose to either face the uncomfortable truth or retreat back and attempt to forget that I had ever ventured into this territory.

    I didn’t retreat.

    And this process was repeated, over and over – with different questions and concepts about my god and my faith until eventually no part of it was left standing. There was no magic moment where a Richard Dawkins quote made a lightbulb ding on above my head, it was self determination to discover what was true and to deconstruct what I believed and to accept that regardless of what it meant.

    From the first question until the last took two years, my god was ultimately destroyed in the process. Because my god and my own ego were so intimately intertwined that process became incredibly difficult for me and required a number of years of grief before I could finally become free of the grip of that loss – of the death of god.

    I was instrumental in leaving my faith. My strength. My courage. My desire for truth. No one gets that credit but me.