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From: "Andy Purviance"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Saturday, July 22, 2000 10:12 AM

I remember the specific moment I deconverted. I was in seventh grade and in English class we were reading a book about ancient mythology. I thought to myself, "If everyone thinks of these people's beliefs as a crock now, I wonder how our society's beliefs will look to people in 2 or 3 thousand years. Hmmm."

The point being, that I began to look around and to think skeptically. Once you begin to do that, it's nearly impossible to go back.

Now I deal with a fundamentalist sister and a Mother that is not very far behind, worrying about my soul and my children's souls, because I refuse to tell them things as "truth" that I don't believe myself. My husband and I are trying to raise them to begin to think early, and make their own choices later in life. It's up to them.

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From: "Dave Clarke"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Sunday, July 23, 2000 2:57 PM

I wasn't exactly raised religious, although I think my parents believed in some kind of God. Perhaps not the God of the bible, but in a God of Deism i.e., one which starts everything and then departs -- a God not involved in the everyday affairs of mankind.

I remember going to church maybe three times in my whole life up until the time I was 18. Religion wasn't discussed much in our household.

I got a quick indoctrination into the religious life when I went to college. My very first girlfriend in college (first girlfriend ever, actually) was a so-called born again Christian who told me that the most important thing in her life was her relationship with Jesus. She was pretty fanatical about it, too. I remember once she told me that that Satan attacked her with impure thoughts while she was driving to school one day and that she was yelling "Get behind me Satan" while she was driving along. Then she told me that she was sure that she was going to heaven upon death and seemed concerned by the fact that I wasn't sure I was. The only thing that was important to me at that time was getting into her pants. So of course I said "Yeah, that's important to me too." I told here I was going to get right with Jesus, etc. After she got pregnant (from me), she decided to get an abortion, and then, suffering from what I can only assume was an immense attack of the guilts for her sinful life with sinful me, she dumped me, saying that I wasn't Christian enough for her! This affected me for a while, and I thought that if I became a Christian, things would be better for me. I was terribly depressed over our breakup and decided to dedicate my life to God thinking that He would bring someone along. This belief faded after a while.

I then went into the military and met a nice girl (Heather) who was studying to be Catholic. I attended church with her a few times. Her brother was a fundamentalist minister who gave her a lot of grief over her wanting to be Catholic. I remember him saying that Catholics weren't truly religious, etc.I sided with him (way to go, Dave!) and started reading the Bible and prayed with him and some of his friends to "let Jesus into my life." Well, there was no conversion, only an immense attack of the guilts over what kind of music I should listen to, what kinds of TV programs I should watch, what kinds of things I should read. I had read things that told me that Satan was everywhere and that I had better watch out! Yeah, right. All I got out of the whole thing was unhappiness, confusion, and, like I said, guilt. I got sick of this guilt, and dumped (for the most part) the religion. I think this whole episode also contributed to my divorce from Heather. We certainly fought about religion a lot.

My deconversion, as it were, happened on account of two books. One was a book that gave me insight into the minds of people that believe in things like flying saucers as space aliens (don't remember the exact title although the author was Jacques Vallee) and the other was the late Dr. Carl Sagan's book "The Demon Haunted World." The latter work was my inroad to skepticism, which was a whole new way of thinking for me. I had finally discovered where my religious beliefs came from. I discovered wishful thinking. I discovered science, a much better, more useful way. I became a religious skeptic, a non-theist. And guess what? I am much happier now! Life is so much more interesting and enjoyable with skepticism. Reading about how we "know" what isn't so has brought me great pleasure, and has given me new, positive direction. So, thank you, Carl, and others!

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From:
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2000 4:17 PM

Here is my de-conversion story or rather, my realization story.

When I was little my grandmother took me to church regularly. At five-years-old I was introduced to Vacation Bible School, which is sort of day camp for Christian children. I suspect this is to keep up the brainwashing lest you come to your senses over the summer.

Anyway, during one private sermon offered to the ten or twelve children in the class the preacher was doing his thing and I got bored. So, I raised my hand and asked, "Where are the dinosaurs in the Bible?" The preacher looked dumbfounded. I know there are more sophisticated men of the cloth out there that have developed some complicated, so-called explanation for this. However, this particular preacher was easily outwitted by a kindergartner. He had no answer and when I persisted, he asked me to leave the group. That's right, I was kicked out of Vacation Bible School for asking a question.

And it wasn't the last time. I was kicked out of a Christian High School (same scenario, different question), too. I've never been so proud. I hope the same for my son. :)

Athena

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From: "Monte Curry"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Theism or Intelligence
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2000 7:04 PM

Well, here goes

I was born and raised in a southern Baptist family. Saved(from what?) and baptized. It was a natural way to be in the great bible state of Oklahoma. Church, twice on sundays and on wednesday night. After I entered college with the goal of a biology major with a chemistry minor, I started to realize that there was no need for the existence of a supreme deity. I quit going to church at this time. All things had a natural and ordered answer. Simply because we didn't yet have all the answers, did not mean "god" was that answer. At this time I became agnostic. I started to question my Christian upbringing. I also started taking a closer look at all of my fellow humans, all if which professed belief in "god", though it seemed none of them lived by the very rules of this "god". While back to visit my parents on vacation, which always meant going to church on sunday, I was humored to hear in the sermon, that the church was changing to meet the needs of the modern Christian. What!! The bible really wasn't written in stone. Whalaaa!!! I became an atheist on that day. Even "god" couldn't keep his rules straight. For many years I thought that if Christianity made a person happy and a better person, that was good. I have since changed my feelings on that idea. I see that most, if not all, the truly horrible things that have happened, and continue to happen in the world are due to religion. That NO MATTER WHAT a person does, "god" will forgive them. No accountability to one's fellow creatures or environment because one only needs to be accountable to "god". Spend your day lying, cheating, killing, raping -- anything -- and "god" forgives. Doesn't matter the effect on your fellow people, animals or world. Because all is forgiven. What a concept!!! No wonder the world is so horrifying. How sick and stupid does a person have to be to believe this. Very.!

Now, I have been a closet atheist for over 20 yrs. About a year ago, I came out of the closet, and let my friends and family know of my beliefs. I said nothing of my negative thoughts of "god", just my nonbelief in a supreme deity of any kind. I was tired of having to act like a was a believer. Surrounded by hypocrites. Talking the talk, but not walking the walk. As it is with all Christians. Extreme narrow-mindedness. A huge mistake, that I would gladly make again. Opened my eyes to what religion really is. My family has disowned me, friends have deserted me, and co-workers shun me. My life-mate (not a true achiest) has left me out of fear of Christian persecution. Why? If I remember right, doesn't "god" stand for tolerance and understanding. Of course not if "god" doesn't exist -- which "god" doesn't. All "god" is, is a easy out for all the horrible things people do. No accountability for one's mistakes. But are they really mistakes if no forethought is required. Only afterthought. And not for the victim of one's act, only of one's own standing in "god's" eyes.

I thank you for this outlet on my thoughts and beliefs. I could go on for a very long time, but will spare you. Maybe I'll write more at a later date if that is okay? Even atheists need friends. I have no one to talk to about these things. I know no other atheist close enough to me to relate to. And with Christians being as violent and hate-filled, can I believe anyone? Even a fellow atheist. (maybe a Christian in disguise -- looking to make a brownie point with "god") I have come to the realization that my atheism is a real threat to my existence. To think that the very people that I loved and trusted could so easily and completely turn on me.

Again Thanx
Godless in Modesto -- And Proud Of It
Monte

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From: "Dimitrije Kostic"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: deconversion story
Date: Saturday, July 29, 2000 7:46 PM

Dear Cliff--

My deconversion was a long, labored process of introspection and, ultimately, rejection. Both of my parents were raised in communist Yugoslavia, and thus neither were religious in any real sense. At a young age, however, I became a fairly hardcore Eastern Orthodox Christian. Like a conformist lemming, I bought into a lot of the church's rhetoric about homosexuals, atheists, and other minority groups as well as their drivel about salvation, prayer, and so forth.

I am also the son of two chemists, who had always taught me to learn by observation. During my pre-adolescence and early teen years, I struggled to make my religious beliefs comply with what I was observing in the natural world--that is, to reconcile issues such as beliefs about creation and facts about evolution. I was unable to. The more I found out about the ways in which people use religion and the anthropology of religious beliefs, the less apologetic I became about my own. I moved from Christian to agnostic.

I became an atheist a few years ago, when I realized how contrived the idea of a religion actually is. My education up to this point has taught me how no one person or institution has a monopoly on truth, and that truth is something that one must slowly excavate rather than have suddenly delivered.

The reaction of some of those I know who still profess religious beliefs further hardened my resolve. Their soapbox tirades about the "evils" of atheism have convinced me that many religions (Christianity in particular) are strongly rooted in conformism and us-versus-them sandbox bickering.

I'm sorry this has become so long-winded, but I hope you will post this on the website in the hopes that others who read it will have the courage to see past mythology and superstition and into reality and reason.

Yours, Dimitrije Kostic

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From: "Ryan Boehning"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Saturday, July 29, 2000 4:02 AM

This is my real deconversion story.

For most of my life I was a Christian (I can't wait until the year 2016, when this statement will no longer be true). Although I'm rather bitter today, I must admit that my experience with Christianity was, for the most part, a good one. I was exposed to many good and decent, albeit misguided, people who imparted in me a general sense of right and wrong. You might say they did their job too well, because today I am most certain that much of what is taught in the Bible is wrong. In fact, I'm sure most Christians would agree with me.

Even if we pretend for a moment that Creationism has any merit whatsoever, there is still plenty of biblical atrocities that are not justifiable by even the most irrational arguments. For example, when Moses leads his people to the Promised Land, it's sort of already occupied, so they invade and kill every man woman and child. I wonder if the children were disposed of with the Sword of Truth, or Righteousness, or Whatever, or just sacrificed like so many thousands of innocent animals to create a pleasant aroma for God. That's not even 1/10 of 1/1000th of a percent of biblical flaws that can be found when one looks at the Bible with a free and open mind. For me, the first flaw I found in the Bible set off a chain reaction. If the Bible can be wrong about one thing, what else could it be wrong about? I love people who cite Bible verses in support of their arguments. The Bible is the Word of God, they say. Why is the Bible the Word of God? Because It says It Is, silly, and because my Daddy told me so.

As my faith (the absence of reason) slowly slipped away, I picked up a book by Carl Sagan called The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle In The Dark. If I were President, I would make reading this book a requirement for survival. Most of the book doesn't even discuss God, instead focusing on ghosts and goblins and aliens from outer space, but certain conclusions must be made. It is a wonderful defense of skeptical, scientific thinking. Sagan even encourages his readers to treat his arguments with the same skeptical scrutiny that he applies to the paranormal.

As one of the newly emancipated I can honestly say that it's better over here. A life without a god or religion may appear bleak, after all, I don't have neat & tidy answers to some of my most fundamental questions (where did we come from and why are we here?), but I have been "blessed" with so many things: a reverence and respect for our extraordinary universe, and awareness of human fallibility (mine and yours), and the tools to separate what is true from what I would like to be true. Since becoming an atheist I have never once feared for my "soul" in the "afterlife," because I refuse to believe that any being who gifted me with a rational mind would fault me for using it.

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From: "Trevor Wicks"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Monday, July 31, 2000 4:50 PM

My de-conversion was gradual, but it seemed almost inevitable. I can remember long ago, I don't think I was even in school yet, and I was thinking, "Wow, its amazing that this Bible is totally right, even though it was made a long time ago!"

I have never gone to church on a regular basis. I visited one church a few times, again when I was very young, but my mother refused to take us to church any more, because all the ministers had different interpretations of the faith. So I was never subjected to "programming".

My parents also taught me to think things for myself. Both my parents, even my grandparents (one of whom is a deacon in my own uncle's church) believe very much in evolution, and we used to joke quite a bit about fundamentalists and their ark stories.

In this environment, I suppose it was inevitable that I would come to question things. I gradually became less and less sure of what had been taught me, until I came to the point were I realized it was all just a bunch of nonsense. I one point my parents asked me if I believed in God, and I said I wasn't sure, even though I was sure I didn't. I didn't and don't to this day tell me that I'm an Atheist, even though I'm fairly sure that they'd be alright with it. It least, they have told me it was alright that I didn't believe if that's what I thought.

Being an atheist is more or less the same as it was before. At one point in a discuss in my English class I mentioned that I was an Atheist. All I got was a few "Really?" and one or two asked me to qualify what exactly Atheism meant, and then the discuss moved on. I even had a friend of mine who was a fundamentalist, and though it was hard to hold a long running discussion with him, we got along just fine.

I was taught to be tolerant above all else by my parents. Out of this, grew my general philosophy on living as an Atheist: "Don't preach to me, and I won't argue with you."

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From: "Lauren Horvath"
To: "'Positive Atheism'" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2000 11:13 AM

I can sum up my de-conversion in four words: I was raised Catholic.

But I'll elaborate.

My parents are both Roman Catholic and went to Catholic school all their life. They tried their hardest to instill their values into my brother and I by sending us to CCD (I have no clue what CCD stands for, but it was like Catholic night school). I hated CCD. My mother would get me to go by telling me that after I was confirmed, I was allowed to make my own choices about religion. Well, at age 14 I received my Confirmation and became a full member of God's family. I haven't been to church since.

I didn't know about Atheism until I met this man, a magician who is big into Atheism, skepticism and the whole deal. This was when I was 15. He taught me all about it, he made me read Richard Dawkins, he pushed me to study science, he encouraged me to think for myself and come to my own conclusion. I was young and impressionable, and had a hunger to learn. I'm not much older now (21, to be exact), but every day I am more confident in my conclusions about religion.

Most of my family feels one of three ways: 1. They think its horrible that I went against the Catholic church, 2. They think this is just a phase that I will grow out of, or 3. They really just don't care. Other than the negativity supplied by my family, I mostly get positive or inquisitive reactions.

Lauren from College Park, MD

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From: "Herb Wild"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Atheism
Date: Wednesday, August 02, 2000 6:48 PM

There are a lot more atheists than you think, even here in Florida. I was raised by parents who were free thinkers, even though they were raised one in the Catholic and one in the Protestant faith. Occasionally I attended the local church in our isolated farm community in upstate New York. Even as a child I could not understand why god, who created heaven and earth and was all-powerful, needed people to worship him -- he shouldn't have been that insecure. After marriage to a fine woman from a religious family, I became active in the Protestant church and during the time that my children were growing was active in the church.

My education in science, however, could not long allow me to submit to professing a belief in the Christian dogma based only on faith and not supported by incontrovertible factual evidence. While my wife was dying of cancer in her mid forties, she also lost her belief in god, feeling that as a personal god, merciful and loving, there was no logic or reason to subjecting her to her anguish and suffering.

In the broader sense, considering the lives of the billions of people on this earth, would it be a better or worse place if everyone renounced their belief in god? The reasons for the bitter hatreds based upon religious beliefs of large segments of societies in all nations would suddenly be invalid.

Down through history, societies have been torn asunder and the most unspeakable outrages upon people have been committed in the name of a religious belief. In western Europe, where religions combined with the state to force their populations to accept, in some cases conversion to Protestantism, and in others to Catholicism, or to Islam, the legacy of their actions are with us still. Now we have the Christian fundamentalists in our country attempting to use the state to subject the rest of us to be subject to their beliefs.

Herb

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From: "Herb Wild"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Atheism
Date: Thursday, August 03, 2000 1:04 PM

While for a number of years I was a church member I always had strong negative feelings about the premises and promises of the Christian faith, eventually concluding that it, and other religions, were nothing but superstitious nonsense, so I was never really converted.

The births of religions, as conceived in the minds of ancient peoples were certainly influenced by the extent of understanding these early human groups had of their world and the environment in which they existed. The invention of gods responsible for otherwise unexplainable events in the material world around them was a logical consequence of the inherent curiosity of the human race. Deification followed as the gods became more entrenched and required propitiation to avert calamity.

One might wonder what would be the shape of a religion defined by a group of philosophers today, using not the simple parameters available to early man, but the immense scope of understanding that exists of our world and universe, together with that which is currently unexplainable to us.

Herb

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From:
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: My De-Conversion Story
Date: Tuesday, August 01, 2000 4:17 PM

My de-conversion story isn't really all that special, or remarkable. I was born and raised Catholic, in a middle-class suburban family. My parents are fairly religious, going to church every week. I was send to Catholic school, where they attempted to ingrain in me further the catholic teachings. I was involved in retreat programs and other religious activities to try to drive home the message of "faith".

But once I started to get out in the world and see life and reality, the religion that I had grown up with slowly started to make sense less and less. The teachings didn't add up. There were inconsistencies all over the place. The Bible itself is inconsistent, and that was supposed to be the true inspired word of God?

I studied Sociology in college, and I began to realize that the Christian Religious tradition was not in any way different from any other religion. All the "Pagan" religions that we were taught were not the true way to heaven were exactly the same as Christianity -- just with different names and different ceremonies. But the principals and effect were the same. There was nothing special about Christianity. Nothing at all. It was just one more example of sheep-like people following charismatic leaders.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think that there is wisdom to be had from the Christian Bible. At least from the Gospels. But I also think there is wisdom to be had from the Tora, the Koran, from Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. What I think these religions have done is sort of put down into words the basic values people in a society have come to accept. And in an effort to explain a strange a sometimes frightening world, invented a "force" or a "way" or a "god" that controls it all. But we have science now, and science provides us with concrete, provable explanations to many of the strange things that early peoples attributed to mystical forces.

Basically, it just didn't add up for me anymore.

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From:
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Thursday, August 03, 2000 7:39 AM

My de-conversion was gradual, not a sudden epiphany; intellectual, not an angry response to an event in my life. George Smith's superb book, Atheism: The Case Against God, was instrumental in my de-conversion, however. It offers a thorough, plain-language, well-written argument that every skeptic, doubter, believer or atheist should read, whether for de-conversion, argumentation, reaffirmation or sheer enjoyment.

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From: "Christopher Dean"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Tuesday, August 08, 2000 1:32 AM

Hi.

Well, I guess I should start off with my religious background. I joined the Jehovah's Witnesses in about Std. 3 (I think that's grade 5) and stayed with them right up until Std. 9 (grade 11). During that time I never once "experienced God". In fact, everywhere I looked, all I saw were people trying very hard to look righteous (both JW's and conventional Christians) and dismissing everything non-JW (or non-Christian) as being the work of the devil, either directly or indirectly. As I had at that time developed a fondness for heavy metal music, I soon saw that I would have to choose between my life and religion. Needless to say, it wasn't a difficult choice.

I then decided to do a little research on my own, and discovered a huge number of contradictions in the Bible -- a book supposedly inspired by a perfect entity. In addition, the number of callous and cruel acts commanded by God in the old Testament tells me that if God does exist, he is one sick and twisted asshole.

I then went on to study various occult practices: Wicca, High Magick, and finally Chaos Magick. While these were infinitely more satisfying to me than an organised religion, I found that they were also unable to help when the need arose. Prayer or spell, neither worked. I therefore dismissed, due to lack of evidence, any possibility of a spiritual realm.

Now, I have found a happier way of life -- without having to worry about going to hell or "the second death" as the JW's have it when I finally bite the dust, I don't have to live in fear. I no longer have to worry about "demonic influences" in TV commercials or pop music, and if I start a relationship with someone, I sure as hell am going to "fornicate" as much as possible.

God can kiss my ass!

Chris

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From: "nowfreee"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Tuesday, August 08, 2000 7:49 AM

My deconversion story is more like a failure to convert, despite tremendous efforts. Others may be in as similar situation. As a child, I went to services at every church in the neighborhood -- looking for God/something that could persuade me God exists. In college I studied philosophy -- mainly to find that elusive argument for God's existence that served as proof positive. It took me years to graduate, I kept taking more philosophy courses since nothing was giving me that proof I needed. At present, I'm just four months out of spending the past 11 years of my life in a New Age Cult devoted mostly to tantra/yoga (Siddha Yoga). The cosmology of spanda -- or charged creative energy -- kind of fit the bill of what God might be, and the mind/emotion control asserted by its charismatic leader kept me on a constant high of experiencing great joy in the moment that made my natural atheism seem not so bleak and hopeless. Over time, the excesses, dishonesty and disinterest of the guru leading this band of blissed out yogis became too much to ignore and as I looked around at the consequences of my life resulting from being in a cult, I had to ask myself "Why am I putting this much energy into trying to prove something I don't even believe to be true?

So I'm just starting to sink into living my life as the atheist I've fought so hard not to be and I don't find it bleak or depressing or hopeless at all. For the first time in ages I appreciate my mind, my life and the wondrous world around me, not with a religious overlay getting tossed onto everything to make it all somehow more meaningful and worthwhile, but fascinating and awesome in and of itself.

Leslie Shields
Boston

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From:
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Sunday, August 13, 2000 5:28 PM

I was raised with Judeo-Christian morals (Catholic faith) but was thankfully never taken to church by my parents. My mother is a devout Catholic, but for some reason she never explained to me, she never took me to Mass etc. I grew up not knowing about or caring about Chrisianity, but had some kind of belief in God.

At twenty one I read Ayn Rand and began to figure it out. Finally, I read the best literary destruction of organized religion ever written (although it was not intended to be by its author), "The Grand Inquisitor", a chapter from the novel "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. It exposes Christianity and therefore all organized religion for what it is -- a scam to give the 99% of the population of the earth who are idiotic numbskulls a reason to get up in the morning. Dostoevsky points out that the people at the top are well aware of the non-existence of god. They simply love power and the power that religion gives them over people.

The best example of the real intent of religion is the absolute prohibition of suicide. It is regarded as the "unforgivable sin". Why? Why would this sin be held higher than all. Why would the John Wayne Gacys and Adolph Hitlers of the world get treated better in "Hell" than a suicide? Because suicide implicitly says "I own my body. I own myself and I decide what I want to do with it. And unlike normal rebellion, when I do this I won't be around for you to torture me back into compliance."

But I am a closet atheist, something I suggest to all atheist. Let them think that you're one of them. Only you're smart enough to figure it all out. Hell -- you might even become pope. They were the smartest atheists of them all.

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From: "Lucas Caven"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Saturday, August 26, 2000 4:32 PM

My name is David, and this is my deconversion story.

I'm 17, and I was (am still being?) raised in a fairly irreligious household. Both my parents were nominally Christian, my father Presbyterian and my mother Uniting Church (as it's called here in Australia), although we never attended church, but my grandparents did send me and my brother those illustrated summarized Bibles for children, which I did occasionally read.

My mother isn't particularly religious, having traveled the world when she was younger and being disillusioned by the sight of lame beggars hauling themselves on their hands and knees to gold-laden churches when in Mexico, but still maintains some belief in Christianity. My father, although he only went to church on Christmas, was still fairly superstitious (I was born by Cesarian section, originally to be on Friday the 13th, but my father had it moved), and I suspect I inherited a non-skeptical turn of mind from him. Despite the fact that I was a rather inquisitive child (and still am), I lacked anything that resembles skepticism. I seem to remember having such childish beliefs as being able to control the speed of the bus I used to catch to school with my mind (no matter how many times I would fail, every time I succeeded reinforced my belief in this, such experiences help me understand why people believe stupid things), and believing that my biorhythm cycle would affect how I did on a science test, a contradiction if I've ever seen one.

I continued on this non-skeptical acceptance of things for many years, up until about the beginning of this year, a friend of mine who's a Seventh Day Adventist (ewww.... ) got me talking about the creation/evolution debate. I vehemently defended evolution (having a decent science education as a child, which kind of waned in my high school years as organised education slowly strangled any love for learning that I previously had), but lacked any real knowledge about it, and hence didn't stand much of a chance. I soon after found the talkorigins.org archive, and read like crazy, although I still had doubts. I didn't gain much skepticism out of this experience, but it did make me weary of religion, in particular fundamentalism. This was also partially fueled by much other misinformation which he fed me over the prolonged arguments I had with him (he actually told me that I should go join the Scientologists, because they were people who simply elevated science to the status of a religion. I actually considered going in and enquiring about joining soon after that, which I'm extremely thankful I never did, more testimony to the dangers of lack of enquiry)

The real beginning of my atheism started when my friend kept on using humanism as a derogatory term. I typed in 'Humanism' in Yahoo, and read an introduction to humanism by Frederick Edwards, and finding that I agreed with pretty much everything contained within, except for the rejection of the supernatural (which I had some misgivings about initially), I then proceeded to the Internet Infidels, just started reading and reading and reading, and turned completely agnostic/atheist/humanist/rationalist within a few weeks.

It may almost be chance today that I am an atheist, which is an almost frightening thought. I think that, with the recent rise of irrationalism in the last 20 years or so, we need skepticism and rational thought more than ever.

Graphic Rule

From: "Roy R."
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Friday, August 18, 2000 5:52 PM

Dear Mr. Walker,

I read all of the deconversion stories and thought I would share mine. Hopefully you'll post it with the rest. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, as a Mormon. I was blessed in the church but never baptized, thank goodness. When I was four and a half we moved to Virginia and left the church.

My family had a few bad experiences with it and decided it was not for us anymore. My parents were devout Mormons when they did attend the church and I have six sisters and two brothers. Neither have ever drank, smoked, or done drugs and they consider themselves the perfect role models. So I grew up always feeling like I had to live up to their expectations. Although we never attended church, there was a prayer said at dinner every evening and I was raised with a very strong moral sense. I never thought about heaven or hell or religion in general until I became a teenager. At this time I asked my dad for his Bible so I could learn more about faith. I read a few chapters in Genesis and found it extremely boring and couldn't go on.

So I decided to attend a few services with friends. I found the Bible stories pretty interesting and wanted to learn more about religion in general so I started reading about other religions. I found similarities among most of the ones I studied. Needless to say I was confused about why one church would claim to be superior to another and decided to continue my exploration. Then my parents decided to re-join the Unitarian church, my mom's church from her childhood. I attended a few services and found the "church" to be unlike any other I had ever attended. There were openly gay men/women and the minister was a former atheist/alcoholic/recovering drug addict. I didn't think that was the place for me either.

So I became an agnostic for awhile not really caring about what religion I was labeled, they all meant the same to me after awhile. Then I met this "born-again Christian" who convinced me to attend the Easter service wtih her. I did and found everyone to be extremely friendly and encouraging. I decided that I wanted to become a Christian after that day so I could become a part of a community like that. So I prayed to Jesus and accepted him as my personal saviour. I prayed every day and started to read the Book of John. I wasn't ready to commit myself to any church yet. Then I went away for a month to a place where I could only speak Spanish. I gradually stopped praying (it was a little harder in Spanish) and forgot about my aspirations of becoming a "born-again Christian." I realized I was giving up my freedom to think by blindly obeying what people told me. I wanted to live life how I wanted and didn't see religion as playing a role in that life.

So I came to the conclusion that there was no heaven/hell in the Biblical sense. Only a heaven/hell that we created in our own minds. Life is a state of mind as well as many other things and I found that most religious people can only find happiness/assurance by having something to believe in. So I do not blame them for choosing to forfeit their minds. I simply live life the way I want and hope that it means something in the end ... I am now seventeen and will be a freshman at the University of Virginia this fall. I'm sure my philosophy about many things including life will be changed/challenged in the years to come, but I look forward to that. Hopefully everyone can find inner peace in their own way someday and truly be satisfied and happy, whether it be through religion or atheism.

Roy in Virginia

Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living,
and your belief will create the fact.
Jü§ Ånøhér dÅrk §hÅdøw déep w¡h¡n ¥øur m¡nd

Graphic Rule

From: "Robert La Salle"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: De-conversion story
Date: Tuesday, August 22, 2000 1:13 PM

I came to atheism slowly over the course of many years. As a child and young man, I was a very religious protestant. I attended church regularly and summers I went to a religious summer camp. In fact, one summer at tryst, I acutally felt what I believed to be the hand of christ on my shoulder and determined to become a minister.

As life would have it, I married young to a divorced woman whom I loved very much. She had 2 small children so I got a good job and went to work. In 1967 the Mid-east war broke out and I found myself terrified that the end was near. It was at this point that the Mormons came knocking on my door. Well, I was ripe for their form of sophistry, and within weeks, joined their church. My wife was incredulous. You see, she has been a closet atheist most of her life.

Shortly after this, I ran into a very good friend and told him the story of my conversion. He was not critical, but kept asking questions about why I took to this religion and specifically required that I put things in my own words instead of mouthing what I had been told. He made me think! and that's all it took.

I started reading, studied Western history, read Asimov's "Guide to the Bible" and much else. The more I read, the more I realized that religion is nothing more than a crutch for people to allay their fears, to answer questions for which we have no immediate answers, and to smooth over the many bumps in life. Early religion was a way to control the masses and keep the ignorant. Today the Roman Catholics and the "born-agains" do the same thing. I realized that I didn't believe in god or any of the clap-trap that went along with religion.

Today, at 60, I look to science and my fellow man for understanding and support. I consider myself a humanist and have belonged to the AHA for many years. I have had occasion to speak to several "born again" types and have had only minimal success in persuading them to turn from their terribly self distructive ways. I am very concerned about the definite religious turn in the politics of this country, and actively work against it.

Graphic Rule

From: "Sarah J. Pepper"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: My "Deconversion" Story
Date: Sunday, September 03, 2000 1:41 AM

I was raised in the Methodist church not by my parents but by my widowed aunt who helped take care of us. My mother was semi-invalid and my aunt was good to us (most of the time just my older brother and me). Auntie saw that we attended Sunday school and church every Sunday. There was no playing off sick!

There are a few instances that stand out in my mind now that I'm grown, but at the time these things were bothering me I didn't ask any questions since everyone in my life seemed so convinced of these religious beliefs. I remember singing the old songs like, "Washed in the Blood," which really sounded gross to me but I reasoned that it must have meant symbolically. On certain Sundays we would have to eat crackers and sip grape juice at the alter-which was supposed to represent the flesh and blood of Christ. I found that idea rather gross also, but didn't question anyone much. I was just happy that it was only grape juice and crackers! Wednesday evenings were my favorite times because there was always a lot of singing and I can still remember the words to all the old songs. I used to sing the words to "Farther Along" as "Father Alone." I figured it meant He alone knew all about it and I would never be able to figure it out-and I was right, I haven't!!!

I took piano lessons for a year and sometimes couldn't concentrate for worrying about poor Isaac with his father instructed to chop off his head. The week we studied that passage in the Bible worried me greatly. I hated for Easter Time to roll around each year because it meant sitting through a movie about Jesus being nailed to the cross. I never understood why this was "preordained" by God! It bothered me a great deal. It was only after I was grown and began reading various publications that I realized why it bothered me so much as a child. The whole story about "God giving his only begotten son so that we should be washed of our sins" made absolutely no sense whatsoever!

I guess I just put all these religious ideas in the back of my mind and to please the family got sprinkled (baptized) at the age of 12. I knew not what I was doing. I guess, basically, the religion never "took" in the first place so there was not a specific deconversion to speak of.

I used to go to the movies as a youngster during World War II. Once I was really amazed when during the news reels they showed that Germany actually had churches and they appeared to worship the same God we did. Couldn't figure that one out.

I just used to put the Bible stories in the same category as the Greek Myths. Imagine my surprise when I first found out there was an actual geographic location called the "Holy Land" and someone I knew had visited there. That was a bit confusing to say the least.

Most of my observations I kept to myself even though I dropped the practice of going to church. I married a person from basically a Christian family also, but I guess it never "took" with him either. We just never discussed it much. He didn't go and I didn't go. Imagine my surprise when I once saw the people from the Freedom From Religion Foundation on the Phil Donahue show one day back in the 70's. At last there was someone who understood what I had always been thinking in the back of my mind. It was a relief to find out there were so many others out there.

I try and refrain from arguing with anyone about it because it seems so silly. I'm afraid I'll insult someone since it seems so ridiculous to me. I don't wear my Atheism on my sleeve, but if someone asks I don't mind telling them.

I guess that about sums up my story.

Graphic Rule

From: "ChickenNugget"
To: "Positive Atheism " <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Sunday, August 20, 2000 12:54 PM

I'll try and make this brief, there are so many little incidents that contributed to my "losing the faith". I was raised Jewish, and had never heard the name Jesus until I entered 4th grade at public school. First off, when I identified myself as Jewish, I was teased. My mother kept me home during the school (public school, I might add) Christian holiday "parties" where they would exchange gifts for Christmas, make Easter baskets, etc. I asked my mother, "What if the other kids at school are right and we are wrong, how do we know for sure"? She said we "just knew"

Well, I didn't "just" know. That is when I started to spend a lot of time reading about different religions. It was the Greek and Roman gods that really made up my mind. Those people worshiped and believed in their gods the same as most people do today. Now the stories of Greek and Roman gods are told as fairy tales. So what is the difference? I asked my mother this question and she said "That's silly, everyone knows those gods aren't real." I never did get a satisfactory answer out of her as to why her God was any different, and I bet I never will.

Graphic Rule

From:
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Saturday, August 19, 2000 11:21 PM

Cliff,

I appreciate your website, and wish there were more resources for people such as ourselves. My deconversion story is quite simple, but I think it might touch the feelings of other members of this homepage.

When I was a child I was forced to go to Sunday school at the local non-specific Christian church. I really didn't like to have extra school after I had attended regular school during the course of the week, and actually hid in the hall closet to avoid it. When my parents were successful in dragging me out of the closet and taking me to church, I enjoyed the grandiosity of the church building itself (it was quite beautiful), but when they shunted the kids off to the basement (or the attic -- it was both), I felt less than important.

I endured this for a few years, and learned about the bible. My deconversion probably began when my Sunday school teachers traveled beyond what is really in the bible and just silly extrapolation. I had to fill out a worksheet about what the teen-age Jesus did after he woke up in the morning, rolled up his mat (like a good fundamentalist child) and went out to help his father in the carpenter's shop. When I went back to the bible and saw that no one knows what happened between the time that Jesus was born, and when he supposedly got a message from some creator, I became an agnostic.

I've only become an atheist quite recently -- mostly because of the caustic remarks that my religious "friends" have branded me with. Anyone that feels so strongly that my "soul" will rot in some hell makes me very nervous -- and I think that the world is much more simple (and, at the same time, more complicated) than it can be explained by one book, or one belief system.

I know that the Universe is huge and amazing. I don't feel the need for something to have created it. I worship the Universe every time I watch a sunset, a moonrise, or when I look at the rings of Saturn through a telescope.

I hope that this story will be published, and if anyone wants to respond, ask Cliff for my email.

Graphic Rule

From: "Scott Wittman"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Monday, August 14, 2000 11:44 AM

Cliff,

Here's my story

It started when I was in 9th grade. That was the year I was required to attend confirmation class at our Lutheran Church. Each class was the same =-the pastor would give us an assignment (usually consisting of listening to a tape of him preaching about a subject) then he would leave us and go back to his office. I would find things that didn't make sense and I would ask the rest of the class (5 boys), what they thought. Such as, if Adam and Eve had two boys where did Cain and Able's wives come from? After the rest of class couldn't answer I put the questions to the pastor during my one-on-one oral tests with him. His answers (the bible stories shouldn't be taken literally) did little to change my doubts. I completed the two year class and stood in front of the congregation and pledged my "belief" even though that was far from the truth.

After that I rarely attended church and rarely gave any thought to God and whether I believed in him. That changed when my wife (then girlfriend) came along. She is a practicing Presbyterian that belonged to a medium sized church in our city. She asked me to attend church with her family, and full of teenage hormones I did what ever she asked as long as it kept me on her good side.

I attended church with her, and found myself enjoying the fellowship with the congregation. I even joined the church willingly. I didn't believe the bible was the be-all and end-all, but I did have a generic belief in a higher being.

This all changed as my wife became involved in church committees. She would come home from session meetings (the governing committee of the church), and complain about a certain person or tell stories of how the pastor would "blow up" at an individual over minor matters. I starting seeing hypocrisy all over the church.

At the same time I stumbled onto the works of Carl Sagan. He made me actually think about my "beliefs", and once I did there was no going back. I was and I still am an atheist.

The hardest moment of my life was telling my wife, but she accepted my reasoning (not my beliefs). I still have yet to tell the rest of my family. This web page has done a lot to help me be proud of my beliefs, and hopefully soon I will have the courage to come out of the closet.

Scott W
Age 27
Wisconsin

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From: "joe martin"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Sunday, September 17, 2000 7:45 PM

All of my life I have questioned things. Especially when I went to "church." I knew that I was of about average intelligence when I compared my test scores with other students in the classand I was okay with that. But, I just was not buying into this "Being born again" crap? What. The first time wasn't good enough; and so on with other religious thoughts and dogmas. So, I went through life just kind of pretending even going to a local church for a while. Then One night I was flipping through the channels and happened across "The Atheist Viewpoint", it intrigued me so, I kept watching and listening. It got me to thinking about religion again. After watching a few programs and checking them out on the Net. I am now a proud card carrying member of the American Atheist.

Reality Rules

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From: "Richard White"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Friday, September 08, 2000 3:10 PM

When a boy 10 years old in Catholic school Priest pointed at the Cross and said "You put him there. He died for your sins," I did not accept that statement. I was not old enough to have sinned! After that I never believed in any religion. I was in WWII and still I have trouble believing in God (or Bog in Russia -- I spent a lot of time in Russia).

Religions in my mind are all man-made. Now about God did man invent God? Or God make man? I have this feeling that God is a man made myth! Having faith in God is very hard for me when you know that there is in the Universe billions of planets and billions of stars. But I would like to believe but it is impossible to believe when they say What about first cause! Well what about it! God created himself! Free will! Sure My ex-wife was mentally ill What kind of free will does she have?

When in the Philippine Islands (WWII) I say natives fighting to eat the contents of our garbage cans! Where was God? When will God make everything A OK? Give me the date of his second coming.

Thanks

Richard

Graphic Rule

From: "Kieran Jones"
To: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
Subject: Re: Tell Us Your De-Conversion Story
Date: Monday, August 21, 2000 2:28 AM

My road to intellectual clarity began not from any lack of belief or anger I felt towards religion as a kid, but out of sheer boredom. ^_^

I always found Catholicism to be stodgy and dull, and the Sunday mass even more so. The dullness of it, the lack of any sense of gain from it, it all contributed to a feeling of "What's the point?" The time it took, more than 2 1/2 hours out of my Sunday (because of how far we lived from the nearest catholic church), could have been put to much better use. (I was the type who liked to get my homework out of the way early. ^_^) My mother beat me severely one Sunday morning simply because when she came in to wake us I said in my tiredness "What for?" "I'll give you what For!" was her reply.

Later in my childhood and into adolescence, more and more I was barraged with the hypocrisy of religion, that of my parents, of all "Christians" around me, of every one of them I saw or read about. (One archbishop in my area was tried and found guilty of raping a woman although later freed because of a mistrial; it turned out the prosecutor, a catholic himself, "forgot" to disclose to the defence a key piece of evidence.) My parents believed the lie the local priest told that "If your children don't grow up catholic, you're going to hell." Such love. It was around this time I read Andre McNicol's "Catholic Cults" (plus other books critical of religious cults and what makes a cult so) that made me reject all things catholic from then on, including my parents.

In my later teens and began high school science classes, the rational side of my mind appreciated the factual nature of science: definite, proven facts are the only thing to be given weight, and theories only accepted or considered when enough evidence exists to positively argue their merits. Though my parents discouraged a lot of what I wanted for myself, trying to force me to enter the military for one (I never did), my father's background in engineering is probably the only reason they didn't try to dissuade my scientific curiosity. (I was reading Asimov's "Inside the Atom" when I was 12.)

From high school into college, I finally rejected all the nonsense, "putting away childish things". Going away to college, meeting fresh and open minds were the final nail in the coffin of ignorance. The more ideas I encountered in science, law, philosophy, psychology, tore down any last remaining supernatural belief. It was plain and obvious, something that no intelligent mind could deny: an argument without fact, without a willingness to prove its truth or rightness, it a false argument.

And all of this doesn't even include the fact I knew I was bisexual when I was 15, born in 1967. Being more and more out over the years, I have met increasing hostility, but thankfully no violence. (I haven't yet had to kill anyone in self defence; I'm not going down, they are.) Being an iconoclast and anarchist as well as atheist, though, the more intolerance I encounter, the stronger my will to fight becomes. The Christians will only shut me up by doing so themselves. ^_^

Kieran Jones

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From: "Linda"
To:"Positive Atheism Magazine"<editor@positiveathiesm.org>
Subject: FORUM My De-Conversion Story 9371
Date: Sunday, September 24, 2000 10:39 AM

I remember when I was very young and I heard for the first time that "whatsoever ye ask for, ye shall receive" line. I prayed really long and hard one night for a pony. I awoke and looked out my bedroom window, fully expecting to see a pony waiting for me in the yard. That was my first "clue."

When I was in 3rd grade, my family moved. New house, new school, no friends. I felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under me. I became so nervous, I was ill constantly. I prayed to get better and not be sick, but I was ill for a long time. That a loving god would let a child be so ill was "clue #2".

Then, when I was a teenager, I was told that god created the world out of nothing. So I asked my mother, "If there was nothing, then where did god come from?" "He formed himself," was her reply. "How?" I asked. "Ours is not to wonder why, ours is but to do or die," was the unsatisfactory response. Although I didn't realize it at the time, I was already an atheist.

I continued to pray but I didn't wake up to the truth until I was twentysomething, married to a baptist, and my little dog who was like a child to me (we had no children at that time) died. He tried to stop an 18 wheeler (unusual on our dirt road) by biting the tires as it drove by. Some people can't understand how a person can love an animal so much, but I felt as if I had lost my child and my best friend. Even my husband didn't understand. I thought about seeing my little doggie in the afterlife, but realized as soon as the thought was out, that I didn't believe in heaven and hadn't for some time.

I admitted to my husband that I was an atheist soon after. His first reponse was "I wish I'd known that before we got married." But he came around and realized he wasn't that much different from me. Now he argues abortion with his fundie brother and father, and I am proud of him. I am proud of myself as well and wish there was an atheist or humanist group near me. I do feel a need to be with others who think like I do. My father is a minister, and he has accepted the fact that he can't change me. We have interesting discussions and do agree on some things. Others, we just don't talk about, much.

Linda

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