Signposts on My De-Conversion Trail

January 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm 16 comments

Like many children, I thought church was extraordinarily boring. Unlike many children, I was compelled to be at church several times a week. That being the case, I couldn’t help absorbing the dogma that was reiterated in both church and home, ad nauseum. I was not raised in a complete bubble, but it was about as close as it could get short of being home-schooled. As an adult – even as a Salvation Army officer – I resolved never to let my life, or the lives of my children, become completely absorbed in evangelical Christian and – especially – Salvation Army bubbles. In hindsight, I think that resolution probably sealed my fate.

I was about 12 when I first learned that there were people who didn’t believe in god. Until then, I’d had no idea that no-god-belief was even an option. As far as I knew, everyone believed in god, and everyone I knew personally believed in god, or said they did. The medium through which I learned about atheism and agnosticism was a TV show called All in the Family and the first “out” nonbeliever I encountered, via the boob tube, was Mike Stivic, Archie Bunker’s agnostic son-in-law. All I figured out at that time was that agnostics professed not to know whether god existed, and atheists did not believe in god. I didn’t know of any way to find out more about nonbelief, so I just tucked those little bits of information into some corner of my mind. I didn’t love god. I didn’t want to “do god’s will.” And I certainly didn’t want to go to church as often as I did, but I wasn’t in a position to change that circumstance anytime soon. So, I got on with my life as best I could.

I was about 14 when we studied Greek mythology in 9th grade English class. I was greatly amused by those randy gods who couldn’t resist having sex with all those beautiful mortal women. One day, I had a weird thought: What’s the difference between those gods and dolls, and god and Mary? Wow! Stunning idea! An idea I quickly dismissed by rationalizing that god didn’t actually have sex with Mary, so it wasn’t the same thing at all.

So I went on living my life.

But…that Virgin Birth thing never really sat well with me; I had a feeling there was more to that story than I was being told. I believed in god, Jesus, the whole evangelical schtick as far as I knew it, but I still didn’t love god or Jesus, and I still didn’t want to “do god’s will.” I just labeled myself a rebel and got on with my life.

I was in my mid-teens when I “got my heart right with god,” and, after graduating from high school, I attended a Christian college. Needless to say, the indoctrination process there was thorough, and I graduated completely convinced that Christianity was the True Religion, and evangelicalism was the right way to do it.

Fast forward to my mid-thirties. I’m the oldest person in my graduate school History of Education class. I’m also the only former minister. One day, as we’re examining Martin Luther’s writings on education, a student asks: What’s he talking about when he keeps saying that the devil is tempting him? I wait for the prof to field the question, then jump in when he shrugs his shoulders. I explain that all indications were that Luther believed that Satan was a real being – a spirit being, but a real entity nonetheless – who worked evil in the world and in people’s lives. She looks astonished that any adult would believe such a thing. The prof looks abashed, but doesn’t say anything. I just shrug my shoulders and think, “Yeah, it does sound pretty silly, doesn’t it.” That was the day I stopped believing in Satan.

There were other signposts along my de-conversion trail – points at which I stopped, caught my breath, and wondered whether the path I was following led anywhere at all. I’ve written about some of them before but there’s more to tell. In good cliffhanger fashion, I’ll save those stories for another day.

– the chaplain

Entry filed under: thechaplain. Tags: .

On Certainty, part II: Behind Good and Evil “…and lo, I looked, and the Pale Horseman did pick up a few bucks on the side…”

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cindy Mulvey  |  January 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Very good Chplain my Journey has led me to Deism thus far………My email cin3@me,com

    The Republican vs Democrat paradigm is dead

    You can tell people this and it just falls on deaf ears. They don’t want to know about whats really going on. They just want to hear what conforms to their beliefs. For exam;e, they will bitch about the deficits but don’t want to believe that the new health care bill actually cuts the deficit. That is the truth.
    Republicans don’t really care about deficits. They just want to cater to their corporate masters.

  • 2. Richard Conner  |  January 21, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I, too, was raised in a very evangelical enviornment. Went to theological school, became a Baptist preacher, got out of the ministry, had a great career as a YMCA Director, became and agnostic/ahtiest. I thought you either had to be an evangelical Christian or just not believe in God at all. I then read somethng that discussed issues that made me think. I really felt that these ideas reflected what I tended to believe. . Sounded good to me as a very reasonable, logical approach. I then discovered that these beliefs had a name. It was called Deism. Hot dog, I hit the jackpot. One of the best “things” I liked about what I heard was that, while Deists believed in some core issues, they did not have to believe alike on all the issues.
    Deism is sure working for me, but may not for a lot of folks.

  • 3. Damion  |  January 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Just one quote that is needed here:
    “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”
    — Voltaire
    Because honest do you want that many insecure people in the world? Also I guess there is another one:
    To believe in God is impossible not to believe in Him is absurd.
    – Voltaire
    I may not like ‘God’ but that doesn’t mean he might not be out there.

  • 4. SteveJ  |  January 31, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Cindy, do you really believe that a trillion-dollar entitlement will cut the deficit? OK, write that prediction down, put it in a safe place, and pull it out 10 years from now.

    Also, if the paradigm of which you speak is “dead,” why are you resuscitating it by reciting tired, unsubstantiated Democrat cliches? If the paradigm is dead … then bury it, by all means.

  • 5. Neil C. Reinhardt  |  March 8, 2011 at 9:07 am

    This 76 year old Pro Iraq War Agnostic Atheist Activist, 101st Airborne Vet and an Iconoclastic, Philosophizing, Beach VolleyBall Playing Grumpy Old Son Of A Beach whose been an Atheist Activist for over 50 years, Sez:

    1. Cindy, it is very apparent your lack of knowledge about ODUMA’S health care plan is only exceeded by your thinking you actually know what you are talking about.

    Tell me Child, if being a liberal is so great, why are there MANY FORMER Liberals over 40 who write books and/or blogs while there are EXTREAMY FEW “Former” Conseratives who do?

    Why do MANY TIMES more intelligent, informed
    and rational people go FROM being Liberals TO being Conseratives as they age gaing in both experience and knowledge?

    2. IF you DE-CONVERTS want to do more than just post in forums, first JOIN, and then Support with money and your efforts, ONE or MORE or ALL of the following organizations I am a proud member of.

    http://www.Atheists.org/

    http://www.AtheistsUnited.org/

    http://www.FFRF.org/

    http://MAAF.info/

    THANK YOU

    Neil

  • 6. Neil C. Reinhardt  |  March 8, 2011 at 9:47 am

    STEVE J. PLEASE E-ME as you seem to be a
    “Conserative Atheist” as well

    —————

    There are MANY DE-CONVERSATION STORIES in Cliff’s website

    While my friend Cliff Walker may not be a former liberal, he is a Conservative Atheist and a genius. And his website it one of the MOST referenced Atheism websites on the net.

    http://www.positiveatheism.org/toccliff.htm

    ————————-

    Conservative Atheist and Former Liberal Tammy Bruce

    http://tammybruce.com/

    —————————-

    Conservative Atheist and Former Liberal Burt Prelutsky who wrote “Liberals: America’s Termites”

    http://prelutsky.blogspot.com/

    http://prelutsky.blogspot.com/2009/10/liberals-americas-termites.html

    —————————-

    Conservative Atheist Jillian Becker

    http://www.theatheistconservative.com/

    —————————-

    An Atheist Friend and a Conservative genius, Eugene Volokh is one of America TOP legal minds.

    http://www2.law.ucla.edu/volokh/

    (Eugene is not a “Former Liberal” as he is far too intelligent to have ever been a Liberal in the first place.)

    His blog gets over 25,000 hits a day!

    THE VOLOKH CONSPIRACY

    http://volokh.com/

    ——————————

    Peter Forsythe “The Battle of Tours”

    http://thebattleoftours.blogspot.com/2011/01/are-you-liberal-or-conservative.html

    I took his Liberal / Conserative test and got a 53

    ————————————

    Neo Neocon is one of many religious people who is a former Liberal. She is an extremely bright and very well educated lady.

    http://neoneocon.com/

    A Few of the Many Former Liberals who have became Conservatives and posted in her blog

    http://neoneocon.com/2005/03/28/condescension-and-leaving-political/

    —————————

    The Rants of a Former Liberals

    Written by former liberals.

    http://www.blogcatalog.com/blogs/the-rants-of-a-former-liberal

    ———————————

    I thank you for your time. And, May We All, “Live Long and Prosper! Please, Take Care!

    Neil C. Reinhardt

    “A 76 year old Pro Iraq War Agnostic Atheist Activist, 101st Airborne Vet & Iconoclastic, Philosophizing, Beach Volley Ball Playing Grumpy Old Son Of A Beach!”

    Religionsucks@webtv.net

  • 7. Nick Singleton  |  May 30, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    I find it interesting that the attacks against the Christian faith found on this site are against of version of Christianity fit for a child. There is a common thread among the so-called “de-converted”, which are bad experiences with so-called “Christians.” The Bible tells us what Jesus thought about the so-called hypocritical religious people of his time. Of course, that is if the Bible is true. I find it strange that we have over 20,000 manuscripts, some dating back 2000 years, of a mythical jewish carpenter. Wonder why no other historical documentation even comes close (Mohammad, Roman mythology, Julius Caesar, etc) to the number of manuscripts.

  • 8. Ubi Dubium  |  May 30, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    I see a little of the “courtier’s response” here from Nick. Claiming that we can’t make any statements against xianity, because we don’t understand some subtlety of his theology. Nick, the people here are speaking against xianity as it is actually practiced, as it was taught to them in their churches, as they believed for many years. So don’t give us any of that “fit for a child” nonsense.

    We have 20,000 manuscripts, and none of them are original manuscrips and none of them match. So that’s not much of an argument. If your god meant to get us his message though one perfect book, he sure did a lousy job of making sure that the correct text was preserved for us.

    Some of us didn’t have any “bad experiences”. I know I didn’t. I just realized that the whole thing is a bunch of hooey. And no matter how fancily you dress up that hooey, it’s still hooey.

  • 9. Neil C. Reinhardt  |  May 30, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    FYI Nick,

    First: There is NO Secular PROOF your boy JC is ANY more real than is anything else in the Christian MYTH!

    Second, The reason MOST FORMER Christians who have DE-CONVERTED did so had NOTHING what-so- ever to do with being treated badly by other Christians.

    As you can discover by reading sufficient
    number of “De-Conversions” stories, the reason most Former Christians left their Childish Christian myth and it’s god** on the trash pile of history is the same reason most intelligent people go from being a “Liberal” to being more Conservative.

    It is called, INCREASED KNOWLEDGE!

    ** (The Christian “god” being only ONE of the TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND different “gods” humans have first Invented, then Named & Worshipped so far.)

    FYI, due to the internet, in the last 20 plus years, Atheist numbers have DOUBLED from an estimated THIRTY MILLION American Atheists to SIXTY MILLION!

    Were it not for the programmed religious robots, both legal and illegal, coming in from third world countries, Christians would be in deep dodo as far as their becoming a minority.

    Third, aside from the fact, I am against the Christian religion as no intelligent, sane and rational person who was NOT programmed into religious belief would believe anything about it is true, I am against it for all the misery, bigotry and hate which believing in it has proven to produce.

  • 10. John  |  July 4, 2011 at 8:43 am

    “I explain that all indications were that Luther believed that Satan was a real being – a spirit being, but a real entity nonetheless – who worked evil in the world and in people’s lives. She looks astonished that any adult would believe such a thing”

    What this indicates to me is the idea that the spirit world doesn’t exist. The comment doesn’t take away the fact that satan doesn’t exist but then how does a person explain the atrocities committed by some people? Whether leaders or simplier people? Is it now that since we live in a science world everything can be explained by the psyche?

    I

    I

  • 11. Neil C. Reinhardt  |  July 5, 2011 at 3:51 am

    Why do religious people seem to have to think there is some make believe entity like “Satan” which causes some people to be psychopaths?

    Why can they not just accept the fact that some people have mental problems which prevent them from having empathy and/or decent morals?

    The fact are MOST people LIE and they lie very frequently. And most people really do NOT have very high integrity at all. Very sadly, it IS, the way it is.

    FYI, we Atheists only make up around 10% of the US population. Yet according to many Christians, as we have no moral teachings to follow and thus are really terrible people, I ask why are less than 1/2 of one percent of those in prison Atheists?

    IF we were only as criminal as religious people have proven they are, at last 10% of those in prisons would be Atheists. This proves Atheists do not need any religious BS to be more moral than are religious people.

    I really wish those who believe in one, or more, of the 25,000 gods humans have invented, named and then worshipped so far would please explain:

    Just how could any truly All Powerful, All Knowing “god” who was also supposedly a Caring. Kind, Compassionate, Fair, Just and Loving ever possibly create a world like ours?

    One which has Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Land Slides, Tsunamis, Volcanoes, Wild Fires, Tornados, Floods and Plagues?

    Just how could a god with all the positive attributes the Christian god is supposed to have ever create a world filled with living things which are forced to kill other living things to eat in order to live?

    How could any ‘god’ who is supposedly Loving, Caring, Fair, Compassionate, Kind and Just who was also ALL Powerful and ALL Knowing possibly create a world filled with humans who starve, beat, rape, torture and kill each other as well as other living things?

    Who commit terrorist acts and conduct wars over whose set of religious beliefs are right?

    Logically, there are only two possible rational answers.

    A. The Christian god as He-She-It is Described just does NOT Exist!

    OR

    B. The God of the Christians is really one totally INCOMPETENT god!

    And FYI, neither a non-existent god or any incompetent god are worthy of any respect, much less your worship!

  • 12. accodiase  |  November 6, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Hi!
    like you post: to my @urciibqo twitter

  • 13. slavcentrinfo468  |  November 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Hi! i’m like you post: Signposts on My De-Conversion Trail de-conversion to my http://www.twitter.com/#!/slavcentrinfo

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  • 14. Cory  |  June 1, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    First of all I would like to say awesome blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t
    mind. I was interested to find out how you center
    yourself and clear your head before writing.
    I have had difficulty clearing my mind in getting
    my ideas out. I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost just trying
    to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or hints?
    Kudos!

  • 15. Neil C. Reinhardt  |  June 2, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Hi Cory,

    While it is not my blog, I’ll put in my 5 cents (inflation)

    MAYBE you are thinking about it too much. So I suggest you just start writing the first thought you have on the subject.

    After all, what you write can be changed and/or deleted.

    I wish you the best and “Happy Writing”

    Neil

  • 16. rencontre cul gay  |  September 21, 2014 at 6:53 am

    Highly energetic article, I liked that a lot. Will there be a
    part 2?

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Attention Christian Readers

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

de-conversion wager

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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