Leaving a Faith: What to Expect
This last year and a half I’ve watched my own attitude change as I left the faith and slowly learned to deal with all the emotions. In the process, I’ve watched countless others go through similar experiences and I can’t help but notice this pattern:
A person de-converts…
De-convert feels extremely sad, a sense of loss and remorse, struggling to cope with a worldview without a Personal Deity. Thoughts of meaninglessness and suicide are often overcome by curiosity about the real world that drives the person to learn.
De-convert spends massive amounts of time devouring new information, studying whatever topics that can help them overcome their particular questions or issues related to their time in the faith – now that their mind is free from restrictions on what to study. In the same way a starving man may first devour tons of food as soon as he is allowed access, a de-convert begins to devour information to help his or her starving mind and curiosity. This period is normally filled with tons of forum browsing, blog post writing, commenting, reading, debate watching, skeptic society attending, new friend making, etc.
De-convert has learned just how inane their belief system was.
De-convert feels angry at everyone who they feel – intentionally or not – lead them wrong. This period is normally filled with attempts to de-convert others, to speak rationally with those still in the faith, and attempts to immunize others who are outside the faith. All of this is done out of the goodwill to keep others from going through the same thing and to rescue those still inside the belief system they now realize is so stupid.
De-convert’s loving and respectful attempts to speak rationally with those still in the faith become so predictably insane, the de-convert begins to wonder how in the world anyone could ever believe that stuff. All attempts to talk with those inside the faith leave the de-convert feeling helpless and as if communication is impossible.
De-convert begins to feel that all attempts to be respectful toward those in the faith system are useless. Resignation seems to be a common feeling at this point. The de-convert becomes resigned to a world where people believe stupid stuff and there isn’t much you can do about it because reason is undermined in the minds of the faithful. A sense of “it’s not my problem” begins to overcome the individual.
Note: this one seems to depend upon how much interaction with religion a person has after leaving the faith and how much perceived harm it is causing in their life.
The de-convert begins to notice just how much pain and problems faith truly causes because he or she sees how much reason could solve. The attitude begins to shift from resignation and respect of religion to a growing sense of near hatred toward it. Religion itself becomes an enemy like cancer, malaria, or any other disease. This can lead to militant atheism, depending on how much pain the de-convert perceives religion causing in their world. As the de-converts comfort in a worldview without faith begins to strengthen, their determination and confidence rises.
Where are you in this journey?
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