Posts tagged ‘de-conversion story’
Leaving “the faith” was a long process for me, around seven years to be exact (the universe has a funny sense of humor). It started with my questioning the concept of sin. At many times during my Christendom, I wondered why something I did was wrong. I could not reconcile how something that I enjoyed, something seemingly harmless, could be grounds for damnation. Furthermore, I could not reconcile how honest mistakes, such as letting the word “god” or “Jesus Christ!” slip, could be grounds for an eternity of torture and punishment. I also didn’t understand how simply believing something could change the rules.
For a long time, I simply just ignored those raging questions or accepted the Sunday School answer that god didn’t like it anymore than us, but that was just the way it had to be. As time went on it became more difficult to ignore. With each Sunday the questions screamed at me louder until I could not longer ignore or accept the answers given to me. Being born into “the faith,” I was attached to all the notions that Christianity (more so fundamentalist Christianity) had given me. Because of this I blamed the church first. I thought that the nature of sin had been distorted.
I rationalized that a sin is not so much an action that is inherently bad but rather it was the result of that action that granted it the classification of sin. I thought that a sin was something that brought us away from god. It made sense and was compatible with the life I wanted to live at that time. I clung to that notion for as long as I could. Slowly but surely my idea about what is good and what is bad slowly eroded. Well not exactly. They were never really my ideas. I always had my own feelings about right and wrong. Really those ideas of right and wrong I had adopted had been replacements for my true feelings on the subject…
The purpose of my rants and opinions is not to change anyone’s mind. There are several reasons I am rather vocal in what I say. I do hope that my posts help people think about what they believe, even if they don’t come to the same conclusions I did. I also hope to better inform those that wish to keep their religious beliefs what those of us who do not have them argue because there is a lot of misinformation out there given by apologetic ministries and the like. My main purpose, however, I think, is to just enjoy having them and not being afraid to express them anymore. Nevertheless, I do occasionally tire from trying to explain everything patiently over and over again to those who have little interest in what I am actually saying, but simply want to dogmatically cling to what they know. In times like those, I remind myself that I used to be one of those people.
It makes me wonder: why did I change my mind when others don’t? I think there are three factors that led to my de-conversion: Humility, knowledge, and misery.
Humility is something taught to Christians, but it is a rare Christian that actually possesses it (at least in the conservative world in which I lived–I never really had much interaction with the more liberal Christians, so from here on, whenever I say “Christian”, know I am talking about conservatives here). I will not say I had an abundance of it–on the contrary, I thought I knew all the answers and could defend them. I was well versed in apologetics and knew every Sunday school answer in the book. Perhaps it was all my schooling in apologetics that made me listen when someone else spoke–I was anxious to prove their argument wrong, so I would listen. Over time, however, I realized that I couldn’t…
When I first started blogging, I found it difficult to articulate my current perspective on religion. Thus, I wanted to use my blog to explain my spiritual development, my journey, and how I got to such a complicated, cosmological place. Through writing entries, and commenting and reviewing other religious blogs, I have found that I am more sure of my position than I originally believed. I now feel the strong desire to articulate clearly my contemporary viewpoints. However, my spiritual history has not yet been entirely fleshed out.
And so, I am going to continue on, explaining my spiritual development.
Through out my life, I gradually began to refute and dismiss certain religious claims.
I didn’t believe Jesus was a God. I didn’t believe I needed to confess to a Priest. I didn’t think St. Peter stood at the gates of Heaven with a book that listed who could enter. I didn’t believe in Creationism. I didn’t believe in the Garden of Eden, Noah’s flood, or Jesus’ resurrection.
It was just a matter of time before I contemplated rejecting religion all together.
Starting in high school, I started to identify myself as non-Christian. But I was still very much tied to a lot of the Catholic ethics and morals. The Catholic guilt ran through my mind everyday.
I was so conflicted with my Christianity…
As I write this final post, I realize that I have two difficulties. First is length. There is so much to recount! Second is sincerity and privacy. How can I be honest about my experiences and protect the those who played a major part in my becoming an atheist?
To solve the first, I will not focus as much on arguments, because I think this would be wasting my breath. There are plenty of good posts already on the arguments against the faith (resurrection, fall, existence of God, etc.) Instead it is my focus to pay close attention to my story – those sequence of fortunate events that lead me to realize that all my problems were slowly being solved by reason and evidence. [The "non-essential" parts to my story are enclosed in brackets, feel free to skip them.]
Secondly, I will do my best to hide the identity of those individuals who played a major part in pushing me furthest from the faith but I cannot hide everything. If they ever read this they will most likely recognize themselves in the unfolding drama, but I feel it is only fair that I keep their names private. Beyond that it is difficult to hide them.
Please do not feel like you need to read this entire story, I have carefully included [tangents] in brackets. Feel free to skip them and read them later – or not at all.
Following the dreadful years of my teens, I was confronted with a period of milder Christianity. I just ‘believed’ everything, ‘believed’ I was saved, ‘believed’ God had a plan for me, and ‘believed’ in the inerrancy of the Bible and that any problem passages could just be resolved with enough research and devotion to the Word (as the Psalmist so often sang)…
In my previous post, I recounted my childhood years and the wonder and awe I felt at being a child of God. True, there were my moments of doubt and darkness, but they were always trumped in those early years by the moments of rapture and ecstasy as I read the very living Word of God and soaked up Christian teaching like a deer to water.
I cannot even begin to describe what followed my twelfth birthday. My love for Jesus turned into a living hell that words cannot describe. Most of my teenage years I just wished I could die to just relieve some of my doubts. I contemplated suicide. I had a loving family, loving friends, I was intelligent and insightful, wise beyond my years (as many told me), was far beyond the learning and knowledge of my peers about my faith, and was intelligent and had the potential for great success in life. By the time I was fourteen or fifteen I had to have read the Bible at least six times completely – not including the countless thousands of times I had poured over certain texts and their associated commentaries. I would often spend an hour or more in Scripture per day, trying to understand what passages meant. But I was an emotional wreck beyond words.
To help people understand the depth of my curiosity about Scripture, I should probably describe the black and white way in which I viewed the living Word of God. In my little teen mind, it occurred to me that if all 66 books of the Bible were inspired / God-breathed by the almighty, fearful, just and holy God of this universe, then it was in my best interest to understand every verse and line as much as I could…
My de-conversion story is one that will probably leave many of you appalled and shocked at just what religion can do to someone. My story is not simple – it is extremely involved, intense, and complicated. As such, this small (hopefully only 3-part) series will relate my detailed journey from fundamentalist, six-day literal, biblical inerrancy believing, calvinistic, highly spiritual Christian to atheist. I will cover my reasoning, my spiritual experiences, and my the internal hellish torment that my faith gave me. The first part will cover my childhood, the second will cover my teenage years, and the final portion will cover my recent de-conversion at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago at the age of 23.
[Please forgive me for the length. I want to make it as clear as possible that I was as deeply into the faith as one can imagine, because most accusations made against de-converts have to do with the fact that we were never a "true" Christian. Well, if I was not a "true" Christian, then I cannot imagine what one is!]
As a child I never knew anything but Protestant Christianity. My parents were not forceful in their beliefs, but it was certainly obvious they took them seriously. My dad was born into a pastor’s family, and my mother grew up in the same church as my father. Both of their immediate families were extremely devoted Christians.
I was extremely intelligent for my age as a young child around the age of 7-10. I can remember some of the things I pulled off and the arguments I concocted and even now I wonder where I got that stuff from…