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Ex-believers: What’s Your Apostasy (De-conversion) Story?
Posted: 12 May 2012 10:27 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve run across several members of this forum who are ex-believers that “de-converted” to non-belief as I did. I’m very curious to hear how you came to be a non-believer. What was it that led you to abandon your faith? How has it impacted your life? I’d love to hear your story if you’re interested in telling it.

I’m going to post the thumbnail sketch of my own apostasy as a separate response to this post because it’s a bit long.

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Posted: 12 May 2012 10:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I was raised Roman Catholic. My parents were very devout, and so was I into my late teens. I always had a curious and skeptical mind though, which meant that I often had lingering questions and doubts about what I was being raised and taught to believe.

I was able to suppress those doubts until my early 20s when I began studying psychology in college. I joined a lab as a research assistant, helping to conduct experiments in memory and other aspects of cognition. After graduating, I chose to continue on in the graduate program, working in the same lab. It was at this point that my hard-core training as a research scientist began.

The more I learned about the foundations of the philosophy of science (determinism, skepticism, empiricism, probability, etc.) and practiced the scientific method as I conducted research, the more I found my mind incorporating those elements into my worldview. For a time, I was able to suppress the obvious tension between my increasingly evidence-based belief system and my faith-based one. Eventually though, as I continued to develop my skeptical mind, the incompatibility between the two aspects of my worldview became too obvious to ignore. This was when I started to have serious doubts about my faith.

Like a good Catholic, I sought counsel from the supposed resident theologian at a retreat house my Dad and I used to visit every year. For the sake of brevity, I won’t recount the conversation with him right now. Suffice it to say, his lack of satisfactory answers (or any answers at all in some cases) to my questions only increased my doubts.

The next logical thing for me to do seemed to be to seek answers to my questions from the Bible itself. I decided I was going to read it cover to cover. This turned out to be the nail in proverbial coffin for my Christian beliefs. I got barely half-way into the old testament before I put the book down, horrified by what I’d read there, and never picked it up again.

So that was that for my Christian faith. My full “conversion” to scientific skepticism happened when, at the recommendation of a lab mate, I bought and read a copy of Carl Sagan’s “The Demon Haunted World”. It remains far and away the most compelling book I’ve ever read. I’ve read it three times to date.

So that’s the “Cliff’s Notes” version of the story of my apostasy. As I said in the original post, I’m very curious to hear what led others to their own de-conversions. Hope others will share their stories as well.

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Posted: 13 May 2012 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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What was it that led you to abandon your faith?

I’d always had doubts. Even when I had my dubious flirtation with fundamentalism, I knew that a lot of the claims either didn’t add up, or even if they had the appearance of making sense, there was no testable evidence to back any of it up.

Then I saw that photo of the “Pale Blue Dot”...the Earth as seen by the Voyager spacecraft. When I saw that, I saw just how trivial and unimportant we really were and knew in an instant that it was all a steaming load of well ripened bovine fecal matter.

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Posted: 13 May 2012 06:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Maswah - 12 May 2012 10:27 PM

I’ve run across several members of this forum who are ex-believers that “de-converted” to non-belief as I did. I’m very curious to hear how you came to be a non-believer. What was it that led you to abandon your faith? How has it impacted your life? I’d love to hear your story if you’re interested in telling it.

I’m going to post the thumbnail sketch of my own apostasy as a separate response to this post because it’s a bit long.

I grew up.

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All the Gods and all religions are created by humans, to meet human needs and accomplish human ends.

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Posted: 15 May 2012 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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If you asked me when I was 6 years old if I believed in God and Jesus Christ I certainly would have said yes.  My mother had me saying my prayers every night but I don’t recall ever actually being afraid like some kids said they were.  I just NEVER got intensely emotional about it.

Then I started reading science fiction at age 9 and that is where I encountered the ideas of atheism and agnosticism.  SF had LOTS OF IDEAS that you just don’t get from most adults.  So I decided I was an agnostic at 12 and never got serious about any religion after that.  I never became an atheist since to me that is just a negative form of belief.  If you don’t know then you don’t know.  It ain’t no big thang.

psik

[ Edited: 16 May 2012 07:53 PM by psikeyhackr ]
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Posted: 15 May 2012 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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To sum up a long story—it was just a few years ago and I was approximately 21 years old and had a long history in the Christian church. The teachings and entire experience begin take its emotional toll on me due to the guilt that was inflicted upon me by others bigotted beliefs. Also, I begin to realize a lot of the stories of supernatural events just were not plausible. Around the time I also was experiencing depression and sought the help of a counselor; incidentally, that counselor was a humanist. Somehow, she opened me up to being a freethinker and realizing that it is acceptable to question beliefs and religion and to rely on science. I appreciate the fact that she stuck by the code of ethics for counselors and did not overtly try to persaude me one way or another in terms of accepting or rejecting religion. I think it was very beneficial to be lead to a place where I was able to discover my new belief system and take ownership of it. She saw I was struggling and simply let me know that it is okay to base beliefs on science only and to reject religion. Since that time, I couldn’t be happier. It was good to know there were others out there who do not believe and that is okay. I am very glad to be an atheist and am proud of my decision.

[ Edited: 15 May 2012 07:38 AM by FinallyDecided ]
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Posted: 15 May 2012 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I posted a pretty detailed (i.e., boring) account of my journey from religion to reason in my introduction to the forum:

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/11113/

Long story short: I came full circle. It just took me about 40 years to do so. Hey, I should start referring to this as my “40 years of wandering in the desert”.  LOL

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Posted: 15 May 2012 07:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Mine’s a long story, but I grew up Church of God - Anderson, Indiana, then became Episcopalian in adulthood until I left religion.  I got a college degree in Psychology, as well as studied religion and mythology.  Combined with all that I experienced in religion and getting an education I eventually lost all belief.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 15 May 2012 09:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I read the bible, front to back when I was about 11. I read through it again as a young adult to see if it was as crazy as I remembered…it was.

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Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

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Posted: 16 May 2012 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I read the bible, front to back when I was about 11. I read through it again as a young adult to see if it was as crazy as I remembered…it was.

What’s really amazing is that a lot of the blokes who are trying to “witness” to the “truth” of their faith have never bothered to do this. And yet, these are the people who are always yakking “If you only just read it, you’ll buhleeeeeeeeeeeevvvvveeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!

They ought to try it themselves sometime.

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Posted: 16 May 2012 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Studying the Bible led to losing my faith.

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“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
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Posted: 17 May 2012 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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When I was in my teens and still expected to go to the U.C.C., I was leaving a Sunday service with my father, and I asked him, “Why is this supposed to be any more believable than any other mythology?”  He responded, “If you’ve thought about religion and don’t believe it you don’t have to come to church anymore.”  I’ve never gone back.  At 87 my Dad is still a very dedicated Christian, but not a reverent one.  He loves to point out the inconsistencies and oxymorons in the Bible, but is very involved in his Episcopalian church.  My respect and love for him is boundless.  We’re great friends, too.  I was lucky.

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Posted: 17 May 2012 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Same here Jericon, my father is 86 and we still have a close relationship. As a part time musician since the war he was exposed to the counterculture of the day and I guess it made him more open minded, even about religion. He and my mother raised my brother and me in the baptist church but we moved around (due to his job) so much that we changed church affiliations as many times as we did locations, although always protestant. My break began as a teenager. Religion was boring compared to reading history and science fiction (two of my favorite subjects) but I decided to wade through the bible at age 16. I read it looking for something exciting but after the thou shalt nots, begats and one sided historical accounts I quit. Boring, yuch! I became an apatheist but still went through the motions. The church had an active youth group and I liked a girl in it so I pretended. I finally lost complete interest during college and after an in depth study of that era I finally decided that the god stuff was completely phony and after reading Marx was convinced. BTW, I never once thought that jesus was a myth; I didn’t even become aware of this until I saw a youtube video of Hitch stating that it was “probably” true. My interest later led me to Sagan and then on to Crossan. And now here. Never could wrap my head around a guy walking on water so he went by the way of Santa, the tooth ferry and the easter bunny. Or as someone here lately stated “I grew up”.


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Posted: 17 May 2012 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I was never religious but I enjoyed reading von Däniken’s books and I read a lot of garbage about life after death. I did read the Bible though, but except for a few passages in the NT, I didn’t like it; I actually read the Bhagavad Gita before reading the Bible—never got to read the Koran.

What put an end to my wasting of time on reading pseudoscientific nonsense, was Carl Sagan’s “Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium.” von Däniken was very upset at Sagan for writing an introduction to somebody else’s book, criticizing von Däniken’s theories. I decided to see for myself who Sagan was and why he was wrong to criticize my idol, and I have never looked back again. Sagan salutaris meus.  grin

[ Edited: 17 May 2012 11:30 AM by George ]
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Posted: 17 May 2012 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I was never religious but I enjoyed reading von Däniken’s books and I read a lot of garbage about life after death. I did read the Bible though, but except for a few passages in the NT, I didn’t like it; I actually read the Bhagavad Gita before reading the Bible—never got to read the Koran

 

Did you ever read “Crash Go the Chariots” George? That was the rebuttal to Von Daniken. (Damn, I still can’t get those umlauts to come up). I did have a chance to read both the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita ( a hare krishna shoved it in my face at O’Hare) though. The Koran is filled with many references to how you will be tortured in hell. I’ll never forget those images, especially the hot lead down the throat. Still Sagan really did it for me. I read “Dragons of Eden” first and then on to the rest. I often wonder what he would have written about next. I remember when he appeared on a program with Elie Weisel concerning the idea of nuclear winter. His allusion to the amount of nuclear devices that we and the Russians had was horrific; you are standing in a garage filled to your knees with gasoline and you have 30,000 matches while your enemy has 20,000 and it only takes the striking off one match. Now that’s vivid imagery!


Cap’t Jack

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One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.

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Posted: 17 May 2012 11:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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No, Jack, I never read “Crash Go the Chariots.” Didn’t need to: Sagan healed me.  grin

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