Posts tagged ‘de-conversion story’
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…
“You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?” – Morpheus
I grew up as an hard-core fundamentalist, and have been slowing drifting secular since the beginning of high school. In sixth grade, my parents got rid of Aladdin due to Jasmine’s inappropriate garb. My church started playing contemporary music in the evening services, and as this form of music is displeasing to God, we changed churches largely for this reason. Together with being home schooled and highly gifted mathematically, I was not what you would call a normal child.
Although this may be barely believable to many of you unless you also have been brainwashed at an old enough age to know better, I followed along willingly. “It will be worth it all, When we see Christ.” In high school, I was not allowed to date. With most people, no dating means that the “courtship” model is the alternative, but in my case, no clear alternative was given. (My adolescence consisted of “enumerated powers.”) As a junior in high school, when cute girls noticed me, it was depressing more than anything, because I could do nothing about it. It’s only a slight hyperbole to say that I thought the F-word was flirt (that’s a sin too for kids that age, in case you didn’t know.) When I was a senior, God told me who I was to marry. *Pathetic story squelched.* A year later, she married another…
I would like to share with the d-C readers, the primary reasons why I de-converted and why I no longer have to consider what some mysterious, mythical, and hideously confusing god feels about me.
- Watching my religious mother and both aunts die of cancer, while begging Jesus/god to save them, and he did not. Not only that but I also worked in the pediatric ward of a cancer hospital in Houston and watched entire churches praying for god to save babies from cancer, and he did not.
- Knowing that between 1900 and 1999, more than 180 million “good” Christians and Jews died in wars begging, pleading and praying to god to spare their lives. And their imaginary god did not. I participated as a co-leader in a therapy program of former religious Jews (many of whom are now atheists) whose entire families were murdered by Nazis in WWII, who asked the same question – “where was god? Many came to the conclusion, that instead of believing a god was going to save and protect them from “evil,” they should have been preparing to save their own lives. Many had tremendous guilt and anger at being lied to since believing those lies resulted in false sense of security (god’s love, god’s protection, blah, blah, blah), which resulted in entire families going to the gas chamber because of their delusions…
Hi everyone! My name is Shai, I am 23 years old, I live in a city near Tel-Aviv, Israel, and I am an atheist. As an atheist, I lack the belief in a god, gods, or any other supreme/supernatural being. I believe that everyone on the planet earth are godless creatures that were not created by anything and that the origin of life and its evolution are the product of purely natural processes.
Now that I’ve firmly depicted my worldview, I want to share with d-C’s readers why and how I adopted this rather unusual worldview. (if you lived in Israel, you’d know that it’s quite unusual, although, as far as I know, not illegal, to be an atheist)
I was born and raised in Israel. Since I read that this blog is mainly about Christian de-conversion, my story is probably going to be a bit alien to you. My atheism owes itself to 3 major factors: My personality, my upbringing, and some atheist asshole who sent me some websites about critical thinking and atheism.
First of all, let me tell you a bit about religion in Israel. Israel is defined as a “Jewish democratic state”. Although I bet it sounds to any American/Anglo-Saxon reader to be some sort of cynical euphemism for “Jewish Theocracy” – it’s not entirely true. Israel, on the whole, is a fairly secular nation. But that’s not because Jews are a jolly good bunch who know that personal freedom should trump religious dogma at all costs. First of all, we have organizations here in Israel that are entirely dedicated to removing religious impositions upon Israeli citizens…
I was born into a very religious Christian family. My maternal grandfather was a former Baptist pastor and leading elder of his church, which he also founded. He and my grandmother had been heavily involved in Campus Crusade, especially during the 1960s. My aunt worked for Campus Crusade the majority of her life, and after that taught Bible studies. When my grandfather would meet a new person, the first question he would ask them is, “Have you accepted Jesus into your heart as your personal savior?” My first memory of anything religious is of him asking me that very question.
I don’t know how old I was when it started, but I can remember being no older than 5 and being dogged by that question every time I was in his presence. I remember being perplexed by the question. I didn’t really know who Jesus was, or what it meant to ask him into my heart, but I knew it was something I had to do. I was told that prayer would make it happen, but I had no concept of what prayer was either. I remember laying in bed, again no older than 5, and in a quiet whisper asking Jesus to come into my heart. I was plagued by the fear that I hadn’t asked loud enough, that Jesus hadn’t heard my request. I ask him several times over to come into my heart, with increasing loudness. To finally make sure Jesus could hear, I went into my parent’s large walk-in closet, crawled underneath some hanging clothes, and shouted, “JESUS! Come into my heart!” Surely that did it, I thought…