Neece’s De-Conversion: A Winding Road to Atheism and Skepticism

May 1, 2009 at 2:50 pm 13 comments

My parents weren’t religious when I was young, but my older sister got sucked into the local baptist church, so of course she dragged me along. It was the typical fire and brimstone kind of preaching. In the summer, we would go visit my grandparents, and my grandmother would take us to the christian scientist church. They didn’t conflict too much for my young brain, so it wasn’t that bad. I was a good little christian girl, and got baptized as soon as I could with the god fearing baptists.

When I was about 12, my parents suddenly got religious in the church of christ. More fear of god preaching filled my head, including bible study once a week with the minister. I got baptized two more times in two different churches, for good measure, and went to church faithfully. I was terrified of burning in hell. It didn’t help that my parents were crazy… good christians on Sunday morning, screaming and abusive the rest of the week. Of course they both blamed me for their abusiveness, so I felt damned to hell for being so wicked, even though I was exceedingly good most of the time.

Not long after we started bible study, the minister decided he wanted to go bowling instead of teach us about the lord’s word. He said I asked too many questions. This was the first blatant sign I had of the hypocrisy of the church and I wanted no more part of it. My stepfather thoughtfully punished me severely for not wanting to go to church. But after a month of it, he inexplicably stopped trying to make me go, much to my relief.

When I was in my late teens I tried several different religions and practices, from Buddhism and Taoism (which isn’t a religion, but a way of living) to American Indian practices, to Wicca (which is the ancient mother earth religion). I tried it all and found it all lacking. If pressed, I would have still called myself a christian at this point, I guess. But honestly I had no idea what to believe.

Years went by and I searched for meaning in any way I could think of. I wanted answers.

I was 27 when I got married, in a small ceremony by a woman ordained in some airy fairy light church. I can’t even remember what her ordination was, but it was definitely spiritual/nontraditional. I wanted nothing to do with the christians, but still would have called myself a believer, if asked. I was afraid not to believe in the whole jesus myth. I didn’t have anything to replace it with.

About a year after I was married, I was watching this movie called The Name of the Rose. For some reason, I was suddenly interested in how the christian religion started. It suddenly hit me while watching the movie that the religion didn’t always exist. I basically knew the jewish god and the christian god were actually the same god with just a different name, but what was going on? Did the jewish religion always exist? I was full of questions and started an official Quest for Knowledge.

I read a lot of books at that time, everything I could get my hands on.  Anyway, I came to realize that the three major religions all sort of just came about!

This to me was a shocking revelation. I also realized that the jewish god was very concerned about other gods, which seemed suspicious. I also realized that the christians kind of took on the jewish god, but the christian god never talked to anyone like the jewish god did. More reading of the bible showed more and more inconsistencies.

In this time I took an early world history class in college. There I realized that all cultures have created religions. I mean, I always knew that, but it suddenly started to dawn on me that those old religions are now called myths. Why would that be? Another inconsistency. More bits and pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place.

After awhile, I realized that all religions are made up! I was rocked to my foundations. Everything I had been taught had to be questioned and reevaluated. Nothing was sacred anymore. There was no more magic in the world, and finally, there was no more god. It was scary to admit it, back then in 2000. But there I was, a rather shocked and sudden atheist.

For several more years I still clung to the idea of the supernatural. I believed in healing energy and other concepts. But finally I had to come to terms with the fact that it was all just silly wishful thinking with no basis in reality and zero evidence, just like the idea of gods and unicorns. But I realized that the world is wonderful without religion, gods and the supernatural. The natural world is incredible and amazing and still mysterious.

Since then I’ve tried to coexist with religious people nicely. I don’t usually tell people that I’m an atheist, I don’t attack their belief system, I don’t ask them to understand mine, I just try to avoid the topic. In fact, often I let people talk to me of their love of god and I don’t say a word. I don’t want to upset them. I guess I’m an overly polite atheist. But also I don’t know how to defend my lack of belief in any god. It seems easier to say nothing.

Recently (2007-2008), I’ve seen things in the government and in society that have outraged me and frightened me into thinking I’ve got to act. I can’t keep my mouth shut anymore. I’ve got to at least tell other atheists they aren’t alone.

I got involved in making anti-religious t-shirts with my husband (he’s an atheist too). Then I stumbled upon Atheist Nexus. I found that there are lots of other atheists out there and have tried to make friends with several of the other members. In doing so, I was inspired to create the 12 Steps to Intellectual Enlightenment by a fellow member.

I started seeking out podcasts because I like the sound of voices talking to me when I’m cleaning or cooking. I found the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe and realized I still believed whatever was told to me when it came to pseudoscience. So I have started practicing Critical Thinking since then.

After that it was a crazy ride to Heaving Dead Cats, which is a combination of atheism, my personal blog and Freethinking Skepticism. :D

- Neece

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A New de-Convert’s Guide to Debating Christians De-Christianizing After De-Conversion?

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lucian  |  May 1, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    I am so very, very sorry to hear about all that parental abuse going on in so many denominations… But if You’re by any chance still at least a bit interested, and haven’t given up yet completely on Christianity, could I perhaps draw Your attention to my Church, which is -of course- the True Church, and where such modern humanistic values like feminism and woman-rights are still very highly valued and appreciated?

  • 2. neece  |  May 1, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Thanks Lucian, but definitely no thanks. I haven’t given up on christianity, I’ve just come to the rational and logical conclusion that there is ZERO EVIDENCE for any god. There are no gods, and believing in them is believing in fairy tales.
    Nice offer, though. But no. I took the Red Pill… I’m free of religion and superstitions. I no longer need that crutch.

  • 3. ArchangelChuck  |  May 1, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Heh! That story sounds all too familiar. With me the thought process was gradual, but the effect was sudden. It was my sophomore year of high school, and it was the same deal: a world history and culture class taught me that all religions have cultural and not divine roots. I experimented, I tried holding on, but the belief in God just vanished. One day, I woke up an atheist, not really knowing what the hell happened. Full realization came only about three or four years later.

    In public life, I support the “atheist cause” to the best of my understanding about it. Indeed, for awhile, I bought into the anti-religion thing hook, line, and sinker; after the Bush era it seemed like the right thing to do. Now, I realize that it’s not about being opposed to religion at all, but rather, preventing an undesirable political outcome. For example, I would call 2008 a success, and if the GOP eventually stops pandering to the religious right, I call that a major achievement. It’s a game of strategy to me, but one in which I care deeply about the outcome.

    In personal life, I adopt the Scandinavian attitude toward religion. “Who cares?” I don’t talk about it much if at all, and I find it bothersome when other people do it. Have they no sense of shame or propriety?

  • 4. neece  |  May 1, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Archangel Chuck, it happened for me that way too. It was gradual in some ways, but instantaneous in others. And once it happened, it was a done deal.
    I guess since so many christians try to force their religion down my throat, I can’t take the “who cares” attitude.

  • 5. Lucian  |  May 2, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Judging from the very serious and polite tone of Your answer, I assume You haven’t actually watched the two videos I’ve linked at. :D

  • 6. neece  |  May 2, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Hi Lucian, guilty as charged! So I just watched them and I have to say, I’m left with a huge WTF kind of feeling. Is it just me? Am I missing something?

  • 7. Lucian  |  May 2, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    No. Just that You’re a newbie here, and art completely unaware of me, my wicked style, or my wretched little comments. :) This was just my way of saying “Welcome!”. ;) [Just think of me as a little snake poisoning the clear waters of this small atheist paradise]. 8)

  • 8. neece  |  May 2, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Well, Lucian, I will consider myself welcomed, thanks! … and officially poisoned. :P Maybe I can find an antidote! :D

  • 9. Stellar1  |  May 2, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Neece, I didn’t get the videos either. Just one big question mark.

  • 10. neece  |  May 2, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Good, Stellar! I thought I was losing it! :D :P

  • 11. Quester  |  May 2, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    No, Lucian comes by often and links to videos that don’t have anything to do with… anything. I don’t know if it’s absurdist spam, an attempt to waste time in the pettiest way possible, or simply a bizarre argument for limiting who can and who can’t post on forums. We hope that if we ignore him, he’ll go away, but he keeps preying on newcomers like yourself.

    Thank-you for sharing your story, Neece.

  • 12. neece  |  May 2, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Ah, thanks Quester. Now I get it. Good to know! And you’re welcome. I hope it can somehow help someone.

  • 13. Durkastani  |  May 25, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Hey Neece (nee-ce?),

    l just read through a few of your articles and I’ve got to say I love them. Anyway this is probably the weirdest thing to say ever but I think you should have children. I read your about page on HDC and quickly I just want to suggest you reconsider that idea.

    It might sound alarmist and weird but atheists are simply not having nearly as many children as the religious. I never saw myself as a father but I recently decided with the wife that we should procreate in order to bring a little extra sanity into the world. My concern is pretty out of place but I read such good thoughts from you and can’t help but think the world would be so much better off if there were more!

    Anyway I hope you enjoyed the weirdest conversation ever, please feel free to ignore me and call me weird :P

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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