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From: "Susan Silver"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: March 03, 2002 10:11 PM

I was raised in a hogwash of religious cacophony. My grandparents were extremely staunch Southern Baptists (one of my grandmothers even writes Sunday School literature for David C. Cook, and she even refuses to let her children and grandchildren watch the weather because it's a form of prognostication!). My mother is New Age, and my father, well, he used to be one of those staunch Southern Baptists, but he seems to have become so overwhelmed with the world that he doesn't worry about such things anymore.

My first faith-shaking experience happened when I was five. My year-old brother was in the hospital after pulling a pot of hot grease on top of himself. He was in ICU, naturally, and was supposed to have a nurse with him every moment. Apparently, she was on a coffee break. He had a heart attack that went undetected for 20 minutes. After he was noticed and revived, he went into a coma for two weeks. Even then, I couldn't understand how the god they were teaching me about at Sunday school could let a long chain of coincidences destroy a little boy. Apparently, my parents had similar feelings (Ma was acting the part of the dutiful Christian at the time). So they solved the problem in the only way they could without destroying their faith -- they assumed that John was punished for something that they had done wrong. The brain damage brought on by that accident was their fault somehow. Of course: what else could it be?

Just a few years later, they were divorced and summarily lost all acquaintances at the church. After all, if they had been true believers, their faith would have grown as a result of the hardship, not lessened. So it must've been okay for the church members not to associate with them. Don't get me wrong, I don't blame them. The church members were just trying to deal with traumatic events the best way they could, just finding some excuse that would allow them to hang on to their crutch. And since that's what I saw everybody doing, that's what I did. I thought maybe being a really good Christian would help my parents hold on a little longer. So I got baptized. I lied and said that I had felt that self-altering Salvation thing. And everyone was proud of me for doing the right thing. Everyone was happy.

The illusion faded quickly. My mother got involved with an abusive jerk. Where before I could do no wrong, I now could do no right. I felt worthless. So, naturally, I turned to religion. "Why do these things happen? I've got no control over this, but I don't deserve it." And I found my answer. We are all sinners. We all deserve it. To think I don't deserve to be abused is prideful. Pride is a sin. So in order to get to Heaven where everything's happy, I've got to allow this. It's what god must want for me. And apparently it's what my mother wants for me. So it must be okay.

Through middle school and high school, I led a life of dichotomy. Following my mother's example, I would allow myself to be abused in every way. I felt I deserved it. Even though some of the things going on were sins for me, I didn't pull myself up out of that sin because it would have involved changing that pattern of abuse. And that would have involved believing I deserved better. Which would be pride. So no matter what, I was screwed. Better to submit to sin rather than actively pursue it, right? Turn the other cheek and all that. Following my grandparents' example, I would spend Sunday mornings crying and praying at the altar during the Invitation. "What am I doing wrong, God? I'm trying. I'm really trying!" This went on through a good part of college as well.

My freshman year, I took a Critical Thinking class as well as the required classes on the Old and New Testaments. It's strange for me to think that what I learned from well-meaning Christians is what gave me the strength of will to finally face up to the fact that my religion had been reinforcing abusive behavior. After that, I started searching for another religion. I read the Quaran, scanned the Vedas, talked to the Mormons ... and then I found modern Satanism. While I never became actively involved in it, there were things I really liked about it, such as the championing of the ego, the lack of a belief in a deity, the idea that justice wasn't a bad thing. But there was something about it that made me nervous. Putting those critical thinking skills to work, I realized that the foundation of Satanism was the same as the foundation of Christianity: vanity, fear, and control. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that religion, in my mind, was just a way for people to rationalize and justify their darker yearnings.

Then, as a result of switching my major from Secondary Education to Math, I found Bertrand Russell. I realized that all my life, I've been an atheist putting on the facade of something else in order to make up for inadequacies that don't exist. That's what I was doing wrong-trying to be something I wasn't. For those out there who actually find religion a positive, healthy, constructive thing (and I've never met one of you, but it is within the realm of possibility that you exist), kudos. But it isn't me, and, thankfully, it probably never will be. I'm much happier and healthier and freer as an atheist.

And I'd like to say to those of you raising children within a fundamentalist religion: seriously think about what you're teaching your kids. Just because they're young doesn't mean they can't understand a few things. They probably pick up on more than you realize. If you don't think the dogma is hurting them, then great. It's possible it isn't. But if you haven't thought about it, then please at least think about it. I know I would've been a much happier person if the fear of Hell hadn't been so thoroughly drilled into my skull. I might've had the courage to stand up for myself years ago when it would've made an even bigger difference.

I guess that's about it. Sorry it's so long.

 -- Susan

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From: [withheld]
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: October 21, 2001 2:48 AM

Hi there,

It happened a long time ago, when I was twelve. Up until that point I was pious, had a cross in my room and I went to school at a convent.

We had religious instruction for two hours every day. At one point we were covering Purgatory. The nun explained that babies who were not baptized could not enter heaven, they carried the eternal sin and had to stay in Purgatory.

I found that so very unjust that it started me questioning everything. I quit going to church. I would leave the house and pretend to go, but take long walks instead. After several months I went and talked to my mother. She looked at me and said: "Are you sure you don't believe?" I said yes and she changed me over to a non-secular school. No questions asked.

Years later I found out she was an atheist herself. She never influenced me in any way, she wanted me to make up my own mind.

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From: "Cela, Joseph"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Date: Friday, July 13, 2001 3:38 PM

I was raised Catholic; sent to Catholic school; even became an altar boy; All this and I did not know god. Upon reaching my mid-twenties, I actually made a sincere effort to seek him out. I studied, prayed, cried, and finally became a "born-again Christian." Hell, in my euphoric, self-hypnotized state, I even considered becoming a pastor.

Then one day, I remember sitting in my room and reading something which challenged my belief in god for which I had no answer. From that moment on, I became an atheist. I let it all go in that single moment. It was as if upon entering a room a door was locked behind me -- I couldn't go back. Thinking awoke my own independent thought and judgment.

Through the years I have found nothing but evidence to support my non-belief in God. There are still times when I am haunted by a hope for a benevolent god but as Camus once said, "I can only understand the world in human terms."

Today, I am a thirty-five year old father of twin boys and I have every intention of raising them, not only as atheists, but as critical thinkers who embrace the beauty of the only world we know.

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From: "Damien Sorresso"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Revised De-Conversion Story
Date: August 07, 2001 7:43 AM

First of all, I don't really think that the term "De-Conversion" applies to me. I was born a Roman Catholic, so I didn't even "convert" in the first place, but I guess it's as good a title for this as any, so I'll move on.

I'm one of those that went through eight years of Catholic school, and now have a grudge against Catholicism. I've found that this is common. Most people, however, simply stay Christian but ditch Catholicism. I simply moved beyond the whole thing and embraced atheism. My story is a very long one, as nearly every year of my four years at a Catholic high school had some sort of experience that drove me further and further away from Christianity and organized religion, in general.

I first started attending Catholic school in the fifth grade, but, even before that, I received a weekly dose of Christian indoctrination through Sunday mass and my parish's Religious Education Program (REP). I never thought much of it. I never paid any attention at mass and never did homework at my REP classes. Going to a Catholic school changed all that, as I was forced to pay attention (or, at least, pretend that I was) at mass, and made to do homework for my "religion" class.

As a result, I learned a lot about the faith I had been raised in. I was always the kid that would ask the priest tough questions when he came in for "Heavy Mysteries Week" (for those of you familiar with George Carlin). I'd get the standard "It's a mystery" copout, but I never really did accept it; I just didn't argue it any further. Most of my classmates had been at Catholic school all their lives, and got annoyed when someone like me "wasted the priest's time" with logical questions about inconsistencies in the Bible and other "nitpicks." That was all throughout fifth through eighth grade. I was still a Christian going out of grammar school, but, by that time, my parents had stopped going to mass because they worked so much and were just tired. I was uncomfortable with this, since my religion said I had to go to mass, but I wasn't about to complain. I figured that my parents knew what they were doing, in terms of my religious upbringing.

Then, I got to high school. "Religion" class was now called "Theology." It was far more of a hardcore indoctrination session, too. This was a religion's claims being presented as if they were factual and indisputable. The Bible became a veritable history book for the class. Christendom (a Christian theocracy) was described as the perfect government. I really didn't pay any attention. I tended to believe what I thought was right about Christianity, and discard the rest. Then, it was brought to my attention that the Church considered this "cafeteria"-like pick-and-choose mentality a bad thing. At this time, it was very difficult for me to go against the Church.

I did it, but I always felt guilty about it. I felt guilty about not going to Church, not praying at all and a host of other things. Naturally, I was made to feel guilty about my sexual indulgences at the time. I felt guilty and dirty about looking at pornography and physically gratifying myself. No matter how many times I told myself that no one was being hurt in even the most trivial way by my actions, I always felt guilty. I felt guilty because the Church told me to. I was very pro-life due to the typical Christian slide show of aborted fetuses and pseudological arguments regarding the subject. I was all for the death penalty, though, as I recall. Once, I asked my mother what she thought. She told me she supported it. I told her that the Church said it was wrong. She responded, "Well, the Church needs to wake up." That was, pretty much, freshman year.

Sophomore year Theology was more of the same. We learned about the Gospels as if they were factual accounts, and we were coaxed into believing that the Bible's inconsistencies and all-out contradictions were justifiable and explainable through a wealth of pseudological arguments that we blindly accepted because they sounded logical. None of us knew what logic really was. Our only source of logic came from Theology class. They never taught us to take the Bible totally literally, though. We were taught, however, about all the different types of sin. The sexual sins were my favorite. Catholic schools have done away with the "sex is evil" tripe of the 1950's, and replaced it with today's "sex is beautiful, so you can't do it unless we say so" blathering. I decided to compromise a belief on sex. Sex before marriage is wrong unless the two people love each other. That was my belief up until, actually, very recently. In my first deconversion story, I stated that I believed this ridiculous garbage, and that was only a few months ago.

Junior year was a major transition point for me. That was the year that I simply threw Christianity, in general, out the window. This came from many nights of self-reflection and pondering. I came to the conclusion that, if I believed in Christianity, my motives and actions would always be subject to question. I found that I believed in God "just in case," which is the absolute worst reason to embrace a belief. I was living a lie. Would I be doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do, or because God told me to, and, if I didn't, I'd burn in the afterlife? I couldn't live with that kind of moral questionability looming over my head, even if I was the only one doing the questioning.

I found that I could be a moral person without a selfish god telling me what to do. I reasoned that, if the Christians were right about everything, that I'd rather present myself for judgment as an honest non-Christian, rather than one who merely professed belief in order to avoid damnation. My religious beliefs, at that time, were fluctuating wildly, almost daily. One day, I'd be an atheist, another an agnostic, another a deist or a theist with some strange god in mind. I never once, in that period, tried equating my religious beliefs with morality, however. If I was to believe in a god, that god could have no influence my moral life, lest I go through life doing things only out of fear of the wrath of an intangible father figure. Junior year Theology was quite different from that of the previous two. It had a semester devoted to Church history.

So we learned all about the Catholic Church's ugly history. Thanks to my teacher, Mr. Tom Kanies, who has my eternal admiration and respect, this information was presented in a factual, unbiased manner. He did nothing to conceal the injustices of the Church's past. The next half-semester was devoted to World Religions. We learned about Buddhism and Hinduism, mainly, and their beliefs and practices. I had taken 6 years of martial arts prior to this, so I was pretty well versed in the philosophy of certain Eastern religions, but it was nice to have the information presented in a classroom manner. The last quarter was devoted to social issues and justice, such as civil rights. Junior year was also the year that I went on a very religious retreat program that was just starting up in my school. The retreat was a four-day affair, and a handful of boys and girls from my junior class were picked to go on it, experience and lead it the following year. I was selected to go.

Even though I was an agnostic, I figured four days off of school might be a good thing. This would also give me a forum with which to discuss my personal beliefs. We went on the retreat with some kids from a high school in Chicago whom we'd never met before. In spite of the fact that I disagreed with nearly everything they said that had a religious significance to it, I really had a good time. The retreat was geared around realizing that you are a person loved by others. Of course, they wanted us to believe that God was "showing his love through our family," but I preferred to believe that my family loved me of their own accord, and not simply serving as communication vessels for some all-powerful father figure. This was also the year that I simply stopped receiving communion at our all-school masses. That was Junior year. I remained an agnostic until near the end of my Senior year.

Senior year was an interesting year. Our Theology class that year was a return to the standard-issue Christian indoctrination that sex is sacred and that there were logical reasons to believe in God. In fact, our first unit covered had to do with logic. We learned about Thomas Aquinas' "Summa Theologica," a book which, supposedly, provided logical reasons for God's existence, including the infamous "first mover" argument. This is actually the argument that kept me from becoming a full-fledged atheist. It wasn't until I finally found the flaws in the argument that I could confidently say that I was an atheist. As time went on, and as I read many more essays on the subject, I discovered the truth that logic and religion are not compatible in the slightest. This is also the time that I began writing for the school newspaper. I was well-known for publishing editorials on subjects that the Catholic Church was very sensitive about.

My first article of my Senior year was one decrying the decision to remove the aforementioned World Religions course from the curriculum. I was vehemently opposed to this, and wrote the article so as to showcase the bigotry, arrogance and bigotry displayed by such an action. I also did it to test the waters of our new assistant principle, who was a priest. The waters rippled very heavily, and I was summoned to his office a few days after the issue of the paper came out. He informed me that there was no intent to remove the course, in spite of what I had been told by the instructor I had for that course. I believe that it will, eventually, be removed, due to the Bishop in the school's diocese's arch-conservative stance on nearly every issue. In any case, I was forced to retract my article and write an apology for calling the clergy hypocrites and bigots, else my writing privileges for the paper would be revoked. I gave in, knowing that nothing would be gained by losing my writing privileges in the paper. I continued to write, albeit with a somewhat toned-down subject selection.

I also led the retreat for my school that I went on the previous year, although I didn't get to give the speech that all other leaders got to give, due to the fact that I hardly attended any meetings because of my job and my tuition payments. I also think that the fact that I was an agnostic had something to do with it. In any case, the retreat went well, but it was clear that someone of my controversial and opinionated nature was out of place on it, at least in a leadership capacity. All of my fellow leaders were Christian, but all were aware of what I believed, or, rather, didn't believe. I wanted the retreat to be an opportunity for people to think about their own beliefs. It was, however, a Catholic retreat. Instead, I served as a role model in the capacity that I was very secure in my beliefs. Toward the end of the year, I adopted a new moral system, the humanist moral system. I had previously relied upon my own conscience, but I discarded that in favor of a system that was firmly set in place, based on basic human rights and not what God thinks. My conscience, as I saw it, was untrustworthy from years of indoctrination.

I graduated and am now done with Catholic education. I am moving on to a public university. Since I no longer have a daily dose of Christian indoctrination, I have become aware of the indoctrination present in America. I have become so used to hearing pro-life, anti-sex and bigoted religious blathering daily that my brain can't seem to get used to not having it. I notice all the little violations of separation of church and state that go on all around us. I notice the bigotry that is present in something a nonbigoted Christian might say. For example, on my retreat, my fellow leaders gave speeches; they all talked about how Jesus was good because he had helped them through bad times, allegedly. Looking back, I find this line of thinking repulsive and horribly self-centered. "Jesus is good because he's been good to me." Well, Tony Soprano is good to his partners in crime, but he's still a scumbag. I've also been discovering Bible passages that promote racism, bigotry, slavery and hate. I have many of them documented on my home page.

I am happy to say that atheism has made me a much more free person. I no longer live under the yoke of a god, the Pope or any religion. I am free to be my own person. I have a standard of morals to live my life by (human rights), and religion never enters into my decision making process. I don't have to worry about going to Hell or Heaven, because I know that they don't exist. I am also sexually free. The deletion of religion in my life and the substitution of human rights -- based morality has allowed me to experience new things without fear of divine retribution.

However, as any atheist who went to Catholic school must know, it is a very difficult process to overcome the indescribable amounts of indoctrination that were pumped into me daily. I still have the fear of God ingrained in myself, and I fear that it may never go away. I must continually tell myself that I don't believe in god, because there is always a small part of me that wants to feel guilty about being an atheist. I must continually remind myself that I'm not going to burn in Hell for my beliefs, because there is no such place. I know, logically, that what the Church says is utterly false, but Catholic schools are a testament to the power of brainwashing and daily subjugation.

Even though I have renounced Christianity, I have not been able to fully rid myself of it, and I fear that I may never be able to. This is why I hold Christianity in the absolute lowest regard. Christianity purports the spreading of its beliefs through nearly any means, including the violation of separation of church and state and others' freedom of religion. While I don't condemn every Christian, I do condemn those that believe in divine retribution in the form of Hell, for their immoral and twisted conception of justice, and those that are comparable in political stance to Pat Buchanan. As I continue to live, I will only be exposed to more ignorant Christian preaching. Whenever I drive down a highway, there will, invariably, be a giant billboard reading:

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I don't question YOUR existence.
-- God

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 -- or --

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I can think of ten things that ARE written in stone.
-- God

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I will always have to live with the fact that the United States currency bears the words "In God We Trust" on it, a constant reminder that my country looks with disdain on my beliefs. I must deal with Congress making decisions on topics such as banning cloning based on religious and theistic grounds. The more I think about these things, the angrier I get. I can't stand to think about them, because I know that it will be this way for a long time to come; Christianity's influence in this nation is too widespread to be combated. I can only hope that the world will, someday, grow up and do away with religion altogether, or at least make it truly and completely subordinate to the state.

I believe that atheists, at least in America, endure a much worse persecution than martyrs ever did, Ours is a lifetime of having to stand by, helplessly, while one, single religion dominates and controls our government. We must constantly endure passive persecution, in the form of small messages such as "In God We Trust" from the very government which supposedly grants us freedom of thought. We must put up with political leaders saying that we are not citizens, because America is one nation "under God," and that we are "tearing apart families" in the US. We must continually live with the knowledge that there is a substantial amount of people who believe that we will suffer for eternity for only exercising our freedom of thought. It seems as though we are living in a society that is in the infancy stage of Nazi-esque thinking, blaming us and our beliefs for tearing apart families and for increased "immorality" in the country. None of these claims are justifiable, yet millions of people accept them. Whereas Christian martyrs were tortured and killed for trying to force their religion into someone else's life, we are given small doses of disdain from our fellow countrymen throughout our entire lives.

I don't believe in Hell, but, because of where I live, I'll always be afraid of going there.

Damien Sorresso

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From: "[unknown]"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: forum_my_de-conversion_story
Date: August 09, 2001 2:39 AM

Hi.= I'm from Argentina, I'm 21 years old. Since I was born the society forced me to believe in god, to be a good Christian, to be afraid to do what Christianity dislikes, and to waste my faith in the illusion that somebody would help me from heaven. About almost three years ago I was sitting in the toilet (very good place to think) and I realised the truth: I realised that this is a very silly but very well organized story, not because I was angry with God (when I realised Santa Claus were my parents I wasn't angry with Santa Claus!).

And I felt very pleased, and a lot of things started to match, a lot of fears went away. It is a great feeling. I was so excited that I explained it to some friends (Christians) and they didn't have any answers. One of the things I thought was that part of this Big Lie is obviously to easily control people's behaviour, and people care a lot because they fear death. Everybody talks about what comes after death, and a lot of religions try to join you to their company. But did you hear that much about "what was before you were born"? No! because nobody cares! They already passed that stage! The FEAR is of death and what comes after it.

I can't believe that this very stupid story is still believed by billions of people! As the sciences grows the Christians say that some sayings in the Bible are metaphors. So suppose the science was complete, then the Bible would be recognised as what really is: a complex fable.

Greeting from Buenos Aires ... forgive my English.

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From: "Darrell Battles"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: Friday, July 20, 2001 4:32 AM

It all started when I was a young child I sat listening to my father telling me of the conspiracies of the government and the aliens invading Arizona. Of the farce ideas of the men who lead our country and how they control our minds with doctrines and beliefs. Even more so, my mother agreeing there were evils at every corner. Evil? How could something be evil? I had pondered these thoughts. How can something not be evil?

I thought anyone who tells me how to think is as much a part of that conspiracy and all the thoughts and beliefs in the world hold no value even these words written here are futile. For I realized I have to die and my death whether believing or denying will be mine alone and those whose believe and those who deny are on equal playing field. But the real fool is the one who makes their decisions on mere words, for the argument still holds. "Whether the Words of the Holy Bible or the words of men (Atheists and Christians alike) it is mere words and death in its beauty and cruelty takes all.

So speak and write, for with death, silence holds the real truth.

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To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: De-conversion story
Date: January 27, 2002 7:01 PM

I was 9 years old, and in bible study class. It was an exciting class for me, because I have always been, at heart, a philosopher. I love asking big questions and debating subjects. As a colleague once stated of me "Your favorite question is 'Why?'"

Well, after remaining quiet during the first few Bible classes, I finally got the nerve to get the ball rolling and ask the teacher what I thought was a good question:

"Where the universe came from?"

The teacher responded: God.

I then stated: Where did God come from?

She responded. "We just have to accept that he was always here, and not question it."

I am now 37 years old, but I can remember clearly my feelings about this comment. Utter disappointment. It seemed to me, even at only 9, to be a statement that violated logic. Why couldn't she answer such a simple question? More than that, I could tell that it bothered my teacher to say it. I could tell that even she was bothered by the answer. And if she were bothered by it, perhaps then even she didn't believe in it.

I certainly didn't. I realized then that the entire deal -- the church, it's tenets, were all lies -- and that the church was about rewarding the members who were best able to lie to themselves. My teacher taught me a lot that day, without realizing it. She disillusioned me. I should thank her for that.

The next week, after church, I cut Bible class, and never returned. I couldn't. I couldn't bare to sit there knowing I was being more honest than my teacher. I had no interest in being lied to , or being a puppet.

Within weeks, I noticed that my parents were equally unable to answer the question. Worse yet, their responses seemed an awful lot like their responses about Santa Claus.

By the time I was 10, my parents stopped fighting with me over going to church, and let me stay home. They couldn't answer my questions, and in fact, started to be bothered by them.

Years later, as a parent, I tried to remain neutral with my daughter on the subject. When she was 10, she asked me why the story of Santa Claus was so similar to the story of Jesus. I asked her what she thought. She stated "It sounds to me like they are both nice stories we tell ourselves."

I smiled and told her: "The decision is up to you, but it sounds like you have made a very important discovery, my child."

Christopher Smith

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From: "Benjamin Tepolt"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Sent: February 08, 2002 8:09 PM
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524

My Deconversion Story

By Punkerslut

Friday, February 8, 2002

At an early age, I was a Rationalist. There are several stories of my childhood that all influenced my deconversion. My mother was very religious. She was even a Fundamentalist. I learned about and accepted the concept of god the same way any child learns words. We hear our elders speak words and we apply meaning to words by the way they speak. To this idea of languange learning, I learned to believe in god. Of course, the day would come when my mother would attempt to indoctrinate me into traditional Christianity. I was shown an illustrated version of the Bible. In it, I saw a picture of Jesus being crucified by Roman soldiers. My mother told me that this one man being killed was god, and that he was "so kind" that he did not strike back and let mankind lived. There was too much inconsistency in such a story that I could not even accept it. "They killed him? A god? But god cannot be killed. If I were him, I would have done something to stopped them from killing me. And couldn't he have just killed the bad people instead of killing everyone?" My mother always showed displeasure when it came to my own disbelief and questioning. She put away the Bible when I told her about my doubts; I just kept repeating that it did not make any sense to me.

Eventually, I would come to accept an iconoclastic version of Christ as a god. Even though I did not believe in the Bible or much of its scripture, I held Christ to be the mystical being who was god. Of course, it was mostly symbolistic rather than Christian in any sense. I wore a cross around my neck and I held Christ to be god -- not necessarily the god of the Bible, but the one and only god I believed in. There would be things which would eventually shake my faith, leading me on to the path of reason.

Initially, the first thing I would question of god is why he would fail so unrelentingly to protect good people. I learned this first hand. Out of my own good will, I decided to clean up the garbage in a near by forest. In doing so, I got many cuts and scratches. My hands had blood on them and remained sore for at least a week. When I had finished my venture, I returned to my house. I was very spiritual at that time and I often thought of god. Upon realizing that I was in a hurt condition, after doing a considerably good deed, I questioned why god had done nothing to protect me from the thorns of nature. In this consideration, I suspended belief in god indefinitely, until something greater would happen.

I had lost a toy in my room; a rather valued toy. What does a religious Theist do? He does not look for the toy or attempt to solve the problem. Instead, I did what any religious Theist would do: I prayed. I asked god sincerely to show me to the lost item. There were, of course, things to consider at that age. I thought that maybe he would try and steer me in the right direction of the item, or maybe after long enough he would put the knowledge of its location in my head, or something to that effect. I did not know how god would have shown me to this lost toy. (Although him coming down from heaven and pointing to the location of the lost object would have been effective, he does not enjoy doing personal appearances.) There were perhaps a few times before this failure of prayer where god was also unable to answer such simple requests. (After all, he is supposedly omnipotent.) But this one time, when I was eight years old, I finally rationalized that if a god does not answer prayers, it is likely he does not exist. I felt liberated by the feeling. In fact, I ran to my mother to tell her that god does not exist -- she did not become as enthusiastic as I was. I still did not believe in god, though. I would even debate some of my close friends on the existence of god.

My Atheism was on and off for a bit, but during that time in rational circumstances, I would have sided with Atheism. I was so young that I still attributed the sounds in my closets to goblins, faeries, spirits, and maybe even Jesus. I still believed in monsters and had a fear of zombies. My parents still tried to indoctrinate me into the belief that there's a man in red clothes who delivers presents to every child on the planet in one night. It was not until about third grade that I was fully fledged as an Atheist. I did not even believe in Santa Claus. However, my disbelief in Santa Claus resulted in social ridicule, much like my Atheism my arouse among individuals in society today. For example, our teacher had us do a project. We had to construct a sort of ornament. (We glued a ribbon to a bell, okay?) The teacher told us that if you did not believe in Santa Claus, you would not hear the bell. When she told us this, I told her, "I do not believe in Santa Claus, though." Then the most ridiculous looking student starting waving their ornament in my face, "You can't hear this! You can't hear this!" I retorted, "I can hear it just fine." At lunch, I would talk with my friends about it. There was one friend, Darren. Neither of us believed in Santa Claus, and neither of us believed in god. During school hours, I will tell me friends that Santa Claus just did not make sense. "How could one man deliver all those presents to all those children in just one night? It doesn't make any sense!" Reason appealed to a few of my friends, and some students eventually sided with me. Those who believed in Santa Claus fell back on arguments that Theists commonly use today, such as the ol' traditional, "You just need faith!"

One last brick in my childhood deconversion from Christianity would be my meeting with a university professor. My mother had been taking physics and chemistry courses at a university and sometimes I would go and just sit in the bleachers. I was around 12 years old at this time and my mother was fully aware that I was an Atheist. She said that after class, she would ask the professor if he believed in god and that she bet he did. The finish of class came and we talked with the professor. "My son doesn't believe in god and I was just wondering your opinion, if you believe in god?" she asked him. He was a bit slow, a bit obstacled, to answer. "I'm an Agnostic," he said, "I cannot really pick either way." From these experiences as a child, I become fostered by them and my independence was given more weight than spirituality. I have been following the same strategy as I did when a child: reason and affection -- today I am a Rationalist Humanitarian.

For 108,

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To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: Monday, July 16, 2001 4:20 AM

I remember as a child I believed in God, but not the entity the name represented, just the name itself. Then in sixth grade I started becoming extremely analytical in everything and in my mind I would dissect almost every situation I disagreed with. When the dissection came to God, I started realizing how irresolute the whole concept was and since then was a disbeliever (not a nonbeliever, mind you).

So my view has always been nihilistic, and with time I just become wiser about the subject. Even though the result of this choice is rather difficult of a path to be taken, I nonetheless never let up, and never will. But all my girlfriends but one have been strong believers and very religious, which made it difficult because I had to play along. I know in spite of our difference of beliefs, a relationship could probably have still stood, but my disbelief was so strong that I was afraid it would cause a lot of conflict. You see, when I say "strong believers," I mean strong, and in regular conversation God was talked about a lot. I would say little so the topic could not be pressed on, for I might be egged into an inevitable heated debate.

Anyway, I never really believed, just played along, and when disbelief was evident, I always was strong about it. Countless arguments always come to me, and with as many as I have prepared and as many as it looks are coming, me being "saved" or finding Jesus is an absolute impossibility.

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To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: January 04, 2002 5:35 PM

Thank you for all of the work you have put into your website, it is a great asset to me. I have never attempted to put my deconversion into a story, so this may be a bit disjointed. I suppose I only fully admitted it to myself a few months ago, and to my wife just a few days ago.

I became a fervent born-again Christian when I was about 11 years old. I know that sounds silly because an 11 year old changes his or her mind every five minutes, but I have always thrown myself into something I find interesting with total determination. From the day I "asked Jesus into my heart" I felt that I knew the ultimate truth, and everyone else needed to hear this, because I knew I was right! (Did I mention that I am in the hunt for "the most stubborn person on the planet" award?) So, I stopped listening to all secular (read: evil) music, because I was sure that Jesus was coming back soon, and I didn't want to be playing some non-Christian music when he came back all pissed off. I witnessed to anyone that would sit still long enough for me to tell them that they were wrong and I had the truth. I wince every time I think of these moments. I now wish I could meet all of those people that I "saved" and hand them some Bertrand Russell essays.

I did missionary work in Mexico, was a Young Life leader, led Bible studies: you get the idea. What I didn't realize at the time, was that my belief that the Bible was infallible was the very cause of my deconversion! The dam broke my freshman year in college when I took "Basic Christian Beliefs" at a Methodist college. It was a required class that I am sure the Methodist church was making us take so we would become a Christian -- not an atheist. Well, the first day of class I had the breath knocked out of me when the professor (a pastor) pointed out to the class a number of inconsistencies in the Bible. I was floored! In my mind, I believed that since the Bible was perfect, it was obviously the truth. That cornerstone of my faith was just shattered. I was even more distraught when I learned of all of the other "messiahs" of history and how many of them had similar stories to the ones about Jesus (Mithra, Horus, Attis, etc.). Well, I could not handle this. So, instead of doing more research, I shut it out. I was no longer an active Christian, but I could not handle looking deeper into the subject. So I still called myself a Christian, but I no longer listened to Christian music (one of the best decisions of my life -- damn, that stuff is bad!), and I slipped into what I would have before called "a backslider"! Oh the horror!

I remained in this state of limbo for about ten years. I could not face the fact that I devoted my life to something that may or may not be real. The easy way out was simply not to confront it. But (and there is always that "but"), I was too interested in the subject never to study it again. So, like many before me, I began my search at Google.com. As an aside, I think the anonymity of the internet has done more than anything else to spread reason to those folks that may be too reluctant to buy an atheist an freethought book or magazine face to face with a store clerk. Without it, I may have never become an atheist. I found a large number of pro and con websites, but I spent most of my time on Infidels.org and SkepticsAnnotatedBible.com. After scouring these sites, and reading a healthy number of books, I finally came to realize I had been nothing more than a blind follower. I got a feeling of how the followers of Hitler must have gotten swept up in an insane movement.

I finally admitted to myself that I was an Atheist about a month ago. I went through the normal stages: Deist, Agnostic, then the title that I used to abhor: Atheist. It has been a long journey, and I am sure that it is not over (hey, I was really wrong once before I am sure it will happen again). I just told my wife before Christmas. She is not religious, but she is too scared to think of a world without a deity of some sort. Plus, she has an extended family that are very devout Southern Baptist (I live in the South), and she doesn't want to cause waves. I told her I could not promise anything, and that she just may need a surfboard.

Thanks for the forum to do this, it feels great to get it off my chest. I just found your website, and I have had a great time with it.


Chris Chatfield

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From: "Jim Wisman"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: February 01, 2002 2:27 PM


I hope my de-conversion story is as exciting as some of the others I have read.

To start, I was raised by my mother in a Baptist church (located in a Los Angles suburb). She forced me to attend each Sunday, sing in the children's choir, memorize verses, etc. She believed in corporal punishment (i.e. spanking) and I fondly remember climbing on the roof to avoid 'the rod'.

She instilled in me the idea that I should only date Christian girls, and I understood implicitly that they should also be white girls. Now, this did not leave me very many options in the area where I grew up and I guess I still resent her for making my teenage dating days dull and uneventful. I thought I would have to settle for an ugly white girl Christian leftover. Of course, no sex was permitted before marriage.

Now, in my teens I came to realize that Christianity was an myth, which evolved after the events of Christ's life. Christians may find this ironic, but I arrived at this conclusion merely by reading and analyzing the accounts of the gospel texts. They seem to believe that the more one reads the Bible, the stronger one's faith should become, but this was not my case. I was just shocked at how much was copied verbatim from one gospel to the next, and greatly intrigued by what was changed, or left out, and especially interested in what was added (in other words made up!). I drew up my own personal 'synopsis' of the gospels, even before I knew what a synopsis or the 'synoptic' gospels were! Today, I read the Bible and am amazed the people cannot see that it is the most fantastic myth ever fabricated by mankind.

Needless to say, once I abandoned the false religion of my youth, I was bitter for a while. But now that I am older, I am thankful that so little of my life was spent in ignorance, religious subjugation, and under the burdensome social pressure of a fundamentalist environment. I have great sadness for men who spend their lives devoted to religious concerns, only to find in their old age that their life's work has been dedicated to falsehood. And my heart aches for those who realize the falsehood, but are unable to escape the powerful social and philosophical grip of the church (and by church, I mean the collective peer pressure of the 'body of Christ'.) I have compassion for Christians because I know most are suffering in one way or another.

Now even as a child I was kind of embarrassed by my religion. One of the verses I learned was "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ ... blah blah blah ... " Somehow this verse and the way it was mentioned in public so often lead me to believe there must be something in this religion to be ashamed of. As an adult I now fully understand what it is, and I'm all too eager to point it out! In general, I consider the following to be true of American Protestant Christians:

1) They are not concerned with world or religious history, or the history of the writings which came to collectively be known as the Bible, except for what can be found in the Bible itself. They know little about the history of their church (i.e. 'body of Christ') as it developed after the New Testament. There is complete historical void from 100 A.D. to 1776 A.D.

2) They fail to realize that Christianity ruled the world for 1500 years in the form of the Roman Catholic church and Holy Roman Empire. The world they desire has already been! It cannot return because of the horrors it created.

3) They fail to consider what Christians were like before the existence of the printing press, when believers had no Bibles to carry around, and learned everything from the Catholic clergy. Catholics are justified in emphasizing tradition over scriptural interpretation, since it was their authority that decided what was included as scripture in the first place!

5) In general, they are sub-consciously ashamed of their religious beliefs (they are after all very superstitious beliefs), but know nothing else, and are trained to fear and distort anything which in their mind contradicts the 'inspired' Word of God.

Waiting patiently for Christianity to pass away,

Jim Wisman

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From: "David Hood"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: December 23, 2001 8:32 PM

Conversion story

On this festive eve when the Christian world prepares to celebrate that amazing event which obviously never took place 2,000 years ago, and spare me that stuff about the Holy Family bugging out to Egypt to avoid a homicidal king that had died over ten years previously, I prepare to celebrate in my own way -- by boarding up the widows and putting a padlocked chain across the door with a large notice;

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This Is a Christmas-Free Zone.

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And I think it is a suitable time to write my own conversion story.

A somewhat unusual one as it, actually, a non-conversion story, as I was never a Christian believer.

I recall absorbedly reading "The Bible in Pictures" as a child, but belief never came into it; it was no more than just another story-book. Not that I actually disbelieved it, I just couldn't see what it had to do with me.

My mother sent me to the local church school where I had the "chatechism" drummed into me -- I found it exceeding tedious and cannot remember a word of it now, I'm glad to say.

I won't go into all the Christmas services and Harvest Festivals that I was dragooned into -- they passed by leaving not a trace, but I look ahead to when, in my early teens, the local Vicar -- you'd call him a minister -- invited himself round to talk me into joining the church choir.

I agreed.

For a couple of years I sang in the parish church and don't regret it. I still enjoy ecclesiastical architecture, organ music and church compositions -- not those slimy Victorian hymns but meaty stuff like Monteverdi or Bach's masses. And it gave me a look at the sort of people in the Church. 'Nuff said.

The revelation happened while reading the "Upanishads" on a bus to work. I realised that the Hindu religion made as much sense and was just as convincing (or unconvincing) as Christianity was. So why choose Christianity? The answer is, you don't. It is foisted on one by social pressure.

How did I feel? As if a great, weighty, sooty bundle of rags had been removed from my back -- I actually had that image at the time. I felt as though I was breathing fresh air for the first time.

Ah, say the Christians, in a multitude of tracts, but Christianity is more firmly based in history than the other religions.

And then I was given a book to read called 'The Jesus scroll'. Can't remember the author. I found the tale of the discovery of this scroll, apparently written by Jesus at the seige of Masada by the Romans, hard to swallow, but the book started me off on a searching read of the New Testament in search of the real Jesus. Christian apologists blithely say that this is a futile, childish thing to do and the "historical" Jesus cannot be discovered thereby. Have they ever tried? I doubt it. I have, and once you have cleared away the scrub and dead wood of Roman-Christian amendations. (For an example, Luke's story of healing a handy invalid on the Sabbath at a Pharisee's dinner table, not realising that, if it's okay to be at a feast, it's okay to heal, 'cause it ain't the Sabbath yet. Another; Matthew's angel rolling away the stone and perching on it like a parrot whereas the other three gospels simply have the tomb mysteriously open. Another? John the Baptist, banged up in Herod's dungeon, sending his disciples along to ask Jesus whether he was the one, when he's already grovelled at Jesus' feet at the Jordan, identifying him as the man right away); when, I say, all that's tidied away, you find the real Jesus, clear enough.

Jesus the revolutionary is not a favoured theory these days, though sceptics see him as a Jew with a reformatory programme. But I think that Jesus as a zealot has a lot going it as a theory. Not only was Simon called "the zealot" but the term "sons of John" is also a zealot title. I gather that even "the Cananean" means from Kana -- a hotbed of anti-Roman rebellion. That title is given, not only as a synonym for Simon the zealot, but that shadowy possible disciple from Bethsaida was also described as "from Cana".

But, say the apologists, these were all zealots for God, not for war. Quite apart from the 1st century Jews not seeing any difference -- the triumphal procession and ensuing (despite the attempts of some gospel-writers to separate the events) dust up in the temple -- is enough to convince me what sort of zealots they were.

That event was planned, as was everything that Jesus had done since setting out for Jerusalem for the last time. The healing of Bar-Timaeus and the raising of Lazarus, studiously ignored by the Synoptics, look to me like set-up show "miracles".

It all went horribly wrong because Jesus had relied on God helping him, as he did the Maccabeans. But, for whatever reason, God was not there to lend a hand and Jesus was duly executed by the Romans, the gospels afterwards turning somersaults to transfer the blame -- through the wholly unrepresentative quisling government of the Sadducees -- onto the Jews.

At one time, I used to enjoy inviting Jehovah's witnesses in for a chat, but realised that, not only was I unlikely to get them to think seriously about their religion as opposed to reciting, blank-faced, their memorised spiel (when I'd batted down all of their points, they'd gallop for the gate like a mustang) but I had no business to do so. Was I willing to take responsibility for taking away something that gave their lives meaning?

One thing I could do, is give a bit of support to those that do want to ask questions. There are few places to turn to. Most libraries and bookshops carry Christian apologist works, almost never those books that cast doubts.

"Positive Atheism" is badly needed. May the "wolf-pack" confine its attentions to closing down all the Internet porn-sites (as if it was any of their business) rather than removing this much-needed website.

Well done, Cliff.

D. R. Hood

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From: "Brown, Karen"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: January 09, 2002 8:49 PM

Cliff :

Well, in a sense, it's not really a de-conversion story, since I never really believed in the first place. But I was raised Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Obviously, before I was old enough to really reason, I unquestioningly accepted what was told to me. Of course, children in the Middle Ages also unquestioningly accepted unicorns, vampires and the world was flat. But that period ended sooner for me than, probably, for many. I don't ever remember, for instance, ever really believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, even though my family did the whole ritual. It never made any sense to me. The same, I imagine, for religion. To get the idea, a family story tells that when I was four, I was watching PTL on the TV. Since our family was never more than culturally religious, my mother asked me why.

I told her, 'Because I like to watch them beg for money and know I'm not going to give them any.' Seems I was born a skeptic.

In church, I prayed. That meant, I folded my hands and bowed my head, saying the right things at the right times and it meant little more to me than saying grace. (I mean, how many people truly get deep meaning out of 'God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food', really?) Then, as I got older, I realized that I was supposed to be getting more out of it. Or some people, apparently, were. So, I tried praying on my own. At no point did I ever feel anything other than stupid for doing that -- the way a person might feel if they attempted to hold a conversation with a doorknob! If a Christian ever asks you if you tried prayer, tell them to try doing this, just so they know the sheer lack of spiritual feelings you get from praying.

Anyway, not being confrontational, I continued to go. Luckily, I wasn't part of some charismatic or emotional sect that would've required more than an accurate reciting of the congregation's part of the liturgy. As soon as I was out of the house, I simply never went back. I don't usually volunteer my lack of religious views, but don't hide them if asked. Not very exciting, I know. But since I moved away from the Bible Belt, at least I know longer get threatened with Hell every other week. But I take that about as seriously as I would that I'm going to be attacked by the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz.

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From: "Mike Warner"
To:"Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: February 06, 2002 1:29 PM

Hi Cliff,

I've been visiting your site almost daily for about a month now, and find new and interesting articles every time. It's great, thank you for your effort. Next time I get a pay raise I'll subscribe to the print edition, until then my spare money is going to a secular charity. I thought I would take a little time out of my day, and share with you and your readers my de-conversion from "faith on my sleeve" Christian to the much happier man I am today.

I was reared in an Anglican home in Canada, thoroughly indoctrinated. When I was 15, in 1993, my path seemed so clear, become an Anglican Minister to bring those sad, sad unbelievers to the light of Christ.

I was always fond of science, I had even accepted evolution as fact, that God's hand was in it, so to speak. One day, while studying the Bible, I was getting ready to apply for seminary school you understand, I realized that I had never applied the scientific method to my faith.

I realized that my faith was just that, faith. I didn't take science on faith, in-fact, at first glance science was somewhat flimsy. Theories are made, proven or disproved, new theories are made to fit new observations. The Bible, though (it seemed), that had all the answers already. This whole "revelation" or "enlightenment" as it were, was quite the shocker to a 15-year-old boy. I dare not tell anyone, I decided it was best if I resolved it myself. And so began my two-year journey into the scientific proof of my religion. I kept on going to church, putting on my Jesus face, and my Jesus smile, every Sunday filling my head with "that little light of mine," but every night, going through the Bible, building my burden of proof for myself.

We can fast forward to May, 1995, a month before graduation. I haven't applied to Universities, I hadn't needed to. I was sure I would complete my scientific proof of the Anglican faith, and so, I would be going to Seminary. Well, that day in May, the day I send off my application, I sat on the outdoor smoking patio, DuMaurier in my mouth, the big brown application envelope in one hand and 400 pages of "proof" in the other.

I never pretended to be some great scientist, I never knew that a struggle between religion and science had existed anywhere but my mind, unbelievers were ignorant heathens, I was no heathen. It seemed so obvious in 1993, a logical, scientific proof of religion should be self-evident, even to a 15-year-old boy. My 400 pages of scribbled notes was no proof at all, it didn't say God didn't exist, the only conclusion I could come to was, if a God entity existed, it had never made itself known to anyone, anywhere, at any point in recorded history, so far as I could tell. I used my cigarette to light the envelope on fire, and that was the end of that. Then came the dealing with the folks, and deciding what to do with my life. But I have to say, the day I burnt that letter, the day I took off my "Jesus glasses," and threw them away, was like going from black and white to colour. It was truly amazing to suddenly have respect for people my religion told me to hate.

Today, I can proudly say (quietly, for fear of violence) that I am an Atheist, and Secular Humanist, and I am working hard to make our home a nicer place.

Darn that was long. Here's a link to the Humanist Association of Canada's Baptism Removal Service. It's all done tongue in cheek, it's just for some fun.


Mike Warner
Winnipeg, Manitoba

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From: "Peter Bolt"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: January 20, 2002 2:35 AM Rwanda

For what it is worth my story is, briefly, as follows. Aberfan set me really thinking (I was 28 or 29 years old ). Then settling to serious contemplation it all fell into place. I am as certain an atheist as a fundamentalist is a convinced believer. There just is no answer to Aberfan, Dunblane, Ruanda, or any of the various Holocausts, natural or man-made. For me, however, it will always remain Aberfan -- not just the hideous disaster -- but the petty rivalries and backbiting that emerged thereafter.

Peter Bolt
Redditch Worcs

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From: "Woodside, John JW SITI"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: January 18, 2002 9:21 AM


Dear Cliff,

I was raised in the Episcopal Church -- and my parents insisted that we all attend church services on nearly every Sunday. They made exceptions during special events and vacations and during times of illness. But by and large, every member of the family attended Sunday services.

At the age of 16, I started thinking seriously about what I might do with my life. I started seriously looking at entering the priesthood. I immersed myself in youth group activities. I made friends with many local priests in the area. I even spoke to my bishop about in during my senior year of high school -- and he advised me that the chances were good that I could enter seminary after successfully completing any four-year college curriculum. I chose to major in English and enrolled at the University of Mississippi. For a time, I had a clear goal and I set my feet on that happy little path.

But ... the best laid plans often go awry. At some point in my college years -- probably when I was 20-I began thinking that I should learn far more about religion, philosophy, cosmology, etc. than what I was getting from my involvement in the Church. I took a class in the study of the Old Testament and I began independently reading the works of different thinkers and philosophers, like Nietzsche, Sartre, and Joseph Campbell. After a year of intense study, I realized that what the skeptics said made complete sense. And what the religious people had been saying for millennia was a complete crock of horse dung. I finally realized that only a world view which completely embraced the scientific method had meaning and value. The moment a philosophy embraces supernaturalism and mysticism is the moment it becomes completely invalid.

I've been an atheist for about 18 years now. On my 40th birthday -- I am having a party to celebrate my 20th anniversary of sensible thinking. Unfortunately, the guest list will be necessarily small due to the theme of the party. But I only want people there who understand and agree with our view of the world. But it appears that it may be a long time before the numbers of people who think like we do outnumber those who do not.

Perhaps, Nietzsche said it best: (Quote taken from your site, of course!)

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After Buddha was dead, his shadow was still shown for centuries in a cave -- a tremendous, gruesome shadow. God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. -- And we -- we still have to vanquish his shadow, too.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche

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I have dedicated my life to helping in any way that I can to vanquish the shadow. Keep up the good work with your web site!

John Woodside
Houston, TX

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From: "Rawlings Darren M. A1C 43MXS/LGMGP"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: November 01, 2001 3:23 PM

I find this hard to write, and apologize up-front for my lack of poetic verse on such a distressing subject. I am currently in the Air Force, and find myself standing alone when it comes to religion. I was never introduced to religion as a child (a soft atheist, correct?) and led a normal care-free life. There were morals, wrongs, and rights that I was expected to follow. I grew up thinking these where just normal humane actions by civilized individuals, not because some "God" demanded them.

I moved from England when I was ten to the U.S., and suddenly I was in for a shock. I was denounced evil at the very instance my true feelings were known. My favorite instantaneous response was, "Oh, you're going straight to Hell!" Maybe they were trying to politely convert me and save me, but this very subtle way of doing this didn't work. I frequently got into debates about religion, and were always faced with almost impossible odds. Odds like 20 people accusing me of worshipping the Devil, or some hoopla like that.

Whenever I would confront them with a reasonable argument, it always boiled down to the same excuses: "The Bible says so", "God gave us free choice", and "Well where did we come from then?" These responses made me feel unsure, even guilty and ashamed to be an atheist! The time came for me to choose my path in life, and instead of investing 25 percent of my life into debt paying for a good college, I chose the military to pay for it.

Basic Training is rough, something that challenges the body, mind, and even the soul. They made us go to church every Sunday, and at times, I cracked. I wanted to believe, I really did. I tried, but I just couldn't convince myself. I could not insult my intelligence, common sense, or reason of logic just because I wanted a false comfort. I read a book about a year ago, shamefully, I cannot remember the author's name! [George H. Smith! -- cw] The book is titled Atheism: The Case Against God, and I thoroughly loved it! I read more and more, and with ever page, I felt re-assured in my beliefs.

Your website continues to do that, and I would like to personally thank you from the bottom of my heart. I've read a lot of your other e-mails, and I know you are doing this for yourself. You've also received numerous others from people just like myself, congratulating you, and thanking you, and I'm sure you're tired of those by now. [Never! You'd never believe how tough it is to continue doing this sometimes, and what a simple, three-word "thank you" means to me after getting eight abusive letters in a row on a morning when it took a full hour or more just to make it completely out of bed because of the illnesses! -- cw] Sure, you take a solemn bow, but deep down you probably think, "okay, another one of these". I don't care if that's the case, just keep up the good work.

Yours truly, defending our nation without the aid of god's help,

A1C Darren Rawlings
43 MXS AGE Scheduler

"To be is not to be, and to do is not to do ... to be is to do, and to do, is to be."

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From: "Joe"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: November 22, 2001 2:34 AM

I'm 15 and blindly followed my parents beliefs(they weren't very religious but believed in the bible and God) until I was early 14 or late 13, when I began to question Christianity from a very unlikely source. An internet cartoon on newgrounds dot com. I stumbled upon a humorous one made by some body at www.no-god.com it was Jesus being nailed to the cross and speaking bible verses. They were humorous and sparked a hint of disbelief in me. When I told my best friend about it, we shared a good laugh. He also told me how he believed that God was fake, and I soon believed that way too. From then on, I didn't have a fear of death, as there was no fear of the inevitable hell.

Joey Tofil

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From: "Kate"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: November 25, 2001 1:33 AM

My name is Kate, and I'm 16 years old. I live in Sydney, Australia, and here we have a pretty relaxed attitude to all religious beliefs. I don't consider myself to be a strong atheist, but am definitely getting there. For the past 13 years, I have attended Catholic schools, not by choice, but my parents both come from strict Catholic backgrounds, and in our extended family it is unheard of not to send your children to a Catholic school!

I guess my defining moment in realising I wasn't like my family in their beliefs was earlier this year, when I was able to choose the courses I studied at school for my final two years of high school. It is compulsory at my school that we do Religious Studies, but we have a choice wether to do the one that counts towards your final grades, or the one that doesn't count. Anyways, I chose the one that does, because up until now I have been a straight A student in Religion.

So here I was sitting in class with a whole group of good catholic girls (I also go to an all-girls school to top it off) while my teacher rattles off this whole big spiel about how we should clear out of our minds a lot of things we have learnt about God up until now, because most of it is just fiction: stories just to cover up truths. I then began to question everything I had been taught for the past 13 years, and began to read up on the atheist beliefs and aims. By doing so, and presenting my class with these new-found facts, I upset a lot of people, but I believed that they should just realize what else is out there, as I have done.

I am still keen on learning as much as I can. My parents, being strict Catholics pretty much force me to go to church with them on Sundays, and use tactics like grounding to get me to go. I try to tell them that they can't force their beliefs onto me and my three younger brothers, but they believe that this is just a "phase" I am going through. However, I definitely make my point of view clear at mass. Only last weekend, I was listening to the priest's homily about how same-sex marriages are wrong, how birth control is wrong, how abortion is wrong etc., etc., etc. As a result of this, I stood up from the second row, and made my way slowly out of the church (as did others) to make my point clear. Mum and Dad were furious, but maybe now they will accept that not everyone feels the same way about religion as they do.

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To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM_My_De-Conversion_Story_8524
Date: November 19, 2001 4:23 PM

When I was ten, I was relatively uncommitted to religion, I hadn't put a lot of though into it, I mainly went to public schools, but had a short stint at a catholic school for a bit. My Mom dragged me to church at times, and I had moved around a lot, so I had only a little exposure to Christianity at that time, just occasional Sunday school. Perhaps because of this I was soon enrolled in a Baptist private school at age 11 and the indoctrination began.

There were some good things about that school, both my grades and social skills improved, but I was indoctrinated into the literal interpretation of the Bible. Yup, one period of Bible class for two and a half years. I would ask the hard questions and get the unsatisfactory answers, shrug, and figure it would all become clear later -- maybe. However, most things, like Creationism, I just swallowed whole. The only counter force to this was my father, who would tease and mock my creationist arguments. Eventually I entered highschool, and that is when, slowly, the deconversion began.

I had to much of an active imagination for religion to contain, I wanted to think or daydream about too many things. When I read the lord of the rings, I explored the symbolism, daydreamed my self in the world, etc. I did the same stuff with Dungeons and Dragons. But as my Mom and the church had told me, Dungeons and Dragons was evil, and made you think sinful thoughts, hence the guilt trip began.

The second thing that began the process of deconversion was my falling in love with Mathematics and Science, which led to logical thinking and the beginning of the end of Creationism. I could now open up the 7th grade Creationist text book and analyze the arguments with the most valuable tool, logic. I felt betrayed, then angry.

I still went to church sometimes, even on my own initiative, you don't have to interpret the Bible literally to be a Christian right? But I couldn't fit into the mold, and the churches that recruited me were fundamentalist. I once asked a friend at church about some of the flaws in the Bible, like the God all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good contradiction, and he turned red with anger and blew up at me.

By the time I entered college, I was probably shading towards agnostic. I did make one last shot at Christianity. Again, some fundamentalist young Christians recruited me, and when I got to their large church, I saw the hundreds of young adults all with huge smiles all singing and praising God. I felt queasy, a little freaky tingle, like there was something wrong here. This just wasn't for me, I never came back.

I changed my major three times in college. The first was Physics, the second was Mathematics, the third and final was Biochemistry. Creationism never had a chance. First the upper-division math classes so I could read and write proofs, then the overwhelming evidence of evolution which nailed the coffin shut. If no Adam and eve, no original sin, no need for salvation, etc., etc. I honestly don't know exactly when I fully became an Atheist, but it was probably when I was around 20. I felt betrayed, teaching Creationism is no different from teaching that the world is flat. In this age, there is no excuse, it is total annihilation of the truth. I still feel this anger, nine years later. I guess I love truth too much, and I hate lies, too!

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