My Deconversion Story

When I was a child I went to church. (You thought I was going to say ‘reasoned like a child…’ didn’t you? Well I didn’t, my reasoning skills have always been pretty advanced.) Church for me was boring. I had to get up early on the weekend. We lived in the country and the church my father wanted to go to was a 45 minute drive from our home. And it wasn’t one of those fire and brimstone, bible thumping, pentecostal-tent-revival-speaking-in-tongues kind of churches. I’ve been to a few of those. That would have at least been entertaining. No, we had a rather nondescript pastor who went on about salvation like he was a politician on a trek through Iowa. Which left me little to do but listen (and risk falling asleep and snoring) or read. And the only book I could get away with reading during church services was the bible.

That is why I don’t understand how people who claim to read and ‘study’ the bible don’t all become atheists. I was probably around 11 or 12 when I stopped believing in god…maybe even younger. My first problems with the bible came from the contradictions in the gospels, specifically, the death of Judas. There were two completely different versions of how Judas died. That’s when I really started questioning the veracity of the bible. I mean, really. If this book is inspired by God, shouldn’t the writers know how Judas died? Wouldn’t God have ‘told’ them? What else didn’t add up?

I was also troubled by the idea that people who didn’t believe in God, no matter how good they were, would burn for eternity. My pastor always was quick to point out that this only applied if they had been told the word of God. So… it was better off if those Buddhist monks never heard about God? Seemed to me that would make missionary work particularly cruel. I mean, if you get a free pass if you’ve never been told about Jesus or God, then why would you tell someone and risk their soul? You could send far more people to heaven if you just kept your mouth shut.

I could not really pinpoint a time when I stopped believing and became what I would call an atheist. I suppose for a while I would have described myself as an agnostic deist or spiritualist, saying I didn’t know what happened after we died…maybe there was an afterlife, maybe we were reincarnated, maybe we moved on to a higher plane of consciousness or maybe this was it. But somewhere between the ages of 10 and 20 I knew that the Abrahamic God of the bible was nothing more than a fairy tale and no more legitimate than the writings of the Grimm brothers.

So, sorry, there’s no horrible abuse by a pastor or an overly religious parent. The people at my church were generally nice, so my atheism was not the result of any kind of bad experience or anger with God. I just realized that I didn’t buy it. It didn’t make sense. As I got older and studied science, I found all the things that the bible claimed to explain were more clearly and consistently explained by science. That’s when I knew I was an atheist.

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14 thoughts on “My Deconversion Story

  1. robin says:

    I was not raised religion in any conventional way; the only time my parents took me to church was for weddings. I was always allows ask questions about it and got reasonable answers. When I was about 15, 16 or so I started to wonder more seriously about God and religion. I read a great deal about religions at that time and explored going to various churches around town – even went to NYC to check out the Hare Krishna group which at that time was on the raise. Looking back on it I find myself a bit amazed that my very conservative parents were so open minded about allowing me to explore. I’m not too so sure I would be too comfortable allowing my teenage son to go alone to visit “cults”, or even go alone to New York City.

    At the time, all my ‘research’ got me nowhere. It didn’t take me long to realize there was practically zero correlation between a religions theology and what was happening in the churches. Obviously there is a great deal of hypocrisy (which even at the time I attributed to human nature not religion) what struck me was the ignorance of the church-goes mostly not knowing the first thing about their own religion. This still bothers me a great deal.

    Over the years I have gone back and forth ignoring religion or studding it in an attempt to understand it. Personally I have settled on a Buddhist philosophy (not in a religious way but philosophically). When I get to a web site like this it hold by interest for a few minutes but then start to get bored but endless silliness of the religion people trying to convince anyone to believe what they believe.

    So I have two questions for you assasingrl – 1. How can you stand it? Doesn’t it get old? I mean, all these arguments are old and no religious person is going to be persuaded and no atheist in going to become religious. So why bother? 2. The thing I was going to ask you about when I first got to your blog; When are we going to get to read your book??

    • assassingrl says:

      Answer 1: It can be tiring, yes. I guess I’m not as concerned with trying to deconvert people as with telling those who would try to “save my soul” to give it up, there’s just no way I’m going to believe in the supernatural. I also hope to let new atheists know that they are not alone as well as encourage those that are beginning to doubt the dogma that it’s ok to question religion. Thinking is a good thing and worshiping a being that supposedly kicked his creation out of the garden for tasting of the ‘tree of knowledge’ should be the first clue that the church wants to keep people ignorant.

      Answer 2: I’m still working on the book. I’ve been a bit lazy lately, but my writer’s group is starting to kick my ass, so I’m hoping that I’ll get back into some major writing marathons. Hopefully, I’ll finish it soon. Thanks.

  2. david99999 says:

    ikonografer said >>sorry to tell you, but if you believe in fairy tales, and you’re a child of six or seven, that’s cute, and a mark of innocence. if you believe in fairy tales, and you’re a putative adult, it’s not a mark of innocence, it’s a sign of stupidity. <> if i walked around asking ppl not to toss their teeth but put them under their pillow, or if i told them that no matter what horrible shit happened to them in their life, they’d be rewarded by some guy i’ve never met, and only after they died, i’d be stupid. <<

    Perhaps. However, that's not what believers do. Ever heard the adage, "There is no one so blind as he who will not see?" We've all met the Almighty. Just because you didn't recognize the Devine One, doesn't disprove the existence of the Almighty.

  3. david99999 says:

    Your beliefs are your own business. However, Science has begun to prove a number of assertions by ancient mystics – regarding astronomy (PSSST: that’s science) – to be true. The Bible has contradicts itself…especially, between the testaments. The Bible has been translated hundreds of times. It was, originally, a compilation of the works of many writers through time, in various parts of the globe. Sorry, you feel that your parents abused you by taking you to Church!

    • assassingrl says:

      I would hardly call being bored abuse. That is insulting to people who have actually suffered REAL abuse at the hands of either their parents or the church. As for science confirming the assertions of ancient ‘mystics’ regarding astronomy, please give examples of such studies. Especially studies that prove these mystics knew something that they would not have been able to observe with the naked eye.

      Yes. A good deal of the problem with the bible is translation errors. However, if you look back to many of the original Greek and Hebrew texts, and at a history of the development of the bible and the religion of Yaweh, you will see he was just another in a long line of deities invented by early humans to describe things that they did not have the technology to understand.

      I’m sorry that you feel so insecure in your beliefs that you find it necessary to claim those that do not believe in invisible magical beings must have psychological problems or are angry over some perceived abuse. Do you feel that you were abused by leprechauns as a child? Is that why you deny their existence today?

      Sorry, I’m not trying to be rude, but as silly as the ‘abused by leprechauns’ argument sounds to you is exactly how the ‘angry at god’ argument sounds to me.

    • Craig says:

      Throwing out statements with nothing to back them up (PSSST: that’s not science).

      You say that the bible contradicts itself because of hundreds of translations yet half the christian churches I see insist on literal interpretation. Which one of these sects is correct? How can I believe in a Christian god when you are not even sure what you believe.

      • ikonografer says:

        sorry craig, but just b/c you insist on putting the question in those terms, doesn’t mean that ANY sect is right. and actually, what assassingrl is saying is that there are at least 2 things at work: problems in translation AND the fact that the book itself is incoherent, and not just between the old and new testaments-you can’t worm your way out of the fact that BOTH eve and lilith are both meant to be the 1st woman, and both of these occur in the Old Testament, and not the new. and your freudian slip betrays you:

        “How can I believe in a Christian god when you are not even sure what you believe.”

        seems to me that the person struggling w/doubt here is you, not assassingrl.

      • assassingrl says:

        I think Craig is replying to Slim’s insistence that the errors in the bible are translational. His question about believing are rhetorical since even Christians can’t agree on interpretation.

      • Craig says:

        ikonografer, don’t worry, I agree with you. As assassinggrl says, it was a rhetorical question.

  4. Craig says:

    Good story, pretty similar to me. I went to church and Catholic school every week for 17 years. But by my teens it was fairly obvious that the bible was just a mixture of historical tales, some of which may have historical elements of which the detail is long lost. Any literal interpretation is ridiculous.

    And it is fairly obvious to me that the gods were made up by historical peoples for interpreting events they could not understand. Now we know much more, and hopefully are not afraid of what we don’t know but rather embrace and explore it rather than make up tales to explain.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So you used to believe something, now you don’t, and you think people who still do are stupid.

    Thanks for this long overdue and unique contribution to public discourse.

    • assassingrl says:

      No, when I was a child I was told a story. As I grew older I investigated what I was told and decided it didn’t make any sense. I think that if you refuse to look closely at the stories you are told and view them with skepticism then yes, you are stupid.

      You’re welcome.

    • ikonografer says:

      sorry to tell you, but if you believe in fairy tales, and you’re a child of six or seven, that’s cute, and a mark of innocence. if you believe in fairy tales, and you’re a putative adult, it’s not a mark of innocence, it’s a sign of stupidity. i understand it’s insulting. i understand it’s difficult to deal with. the problem for you is that it’s true. if i walked around asking ppl not to toss their teeth but put them under their pillow, or if i told them that no matter what horrible shit happened to them in their life, they’d be rewarded by some guy i’ve never met, and only after they died, i’d be stupid. and you’d be right to point that out. atheists just like pointing that out to theists. it’s not you. it’s us.

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