New Deconversion Stories on Ebon Musings

I know that I haven’t updated Ebon Musings very often these past few months, but now that all my wedding-related activities are over and done with, I hope to change that. I have several topics in mind that I intend to write new essays about, probably later this year. In the meantime, as a promissory note, I’m proud to announce that we have three new deconversion stories – all of them excellent. Two came to me courtesy of commenters on Daylight Atheism, while the third was completely unsolicited (but no less welcome for that).

And without further ado, here they are:

Five Year Mistake, by Anonymous

The Prodigal Daughter, by Adele

Finding Freedom in Calculus, by Melissa

Thanks to all three of these brave atheists for writing about their experiences!

As always, new deconversion stories are welcome. If you have one you’d like me to publish, please send it to me (either in e-mail, or even in a comment here) and I’ll be glad to consider it.

This is an open thread. What’s on your mind?

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  • Alex Weaver

    Meninges, the usual.

    I haven’t forgotten that I owe you one x.x

  • TommyP

    Some good stories. Thanks for writing them, folks, very powerful.

  • Katie M

    I’d send you mine, but I’m afraid it’s long and boring. It was a gradual process for me.

  • KShep

    I thought I’d share this—-Devilstower at Daily Kos has written a post called “The Midnight Cry:”

    …the first of a series of articles looking at predictions of the “end of the world.” *snip*

    Looks quite interesting. Here’s the link:

  • Mark

    Sorry to tell you but your “wedding-related activities” have only just started – ! Hope your new wife doesn’t see that opening comment…
    Seriously though – I wouldn’t call my change in beliefs over time a deconversion as much as a continuum of better understanding. Deconversion (for me anyway) seems to have a negative connotation – maybe we should use the tern “Reconversion”.

  • Oro Mezclado

    Open thread? Does that mean I can jump from topic to topic? Do they let you do that?

  • Andrew T.

    Great stories…”deconversion” experiences are among my favorite topics to read. It’s interesting to compare the different backgrounds and upbringings people come from; the different thought processes they go through, and the various pitfalls and religiously-induced tribulations they experience along the way. In spite of the differences in stories, there are so many common threads that run throughout…and it’s meaningful to realize that many people went through experiences similar to your own.

    I thought of submitting my own story, but it looks like I’ve posted a version of it already. (My weblog is gone now, though.)

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I’ve been thinking about putting my story together for you. This is a good kick in the butt.

  • unintentionalhypocrite

    Thank you very much (I’m Anonymous, btw).

  • Katie M

    Well, not anymore ;)

  • unintentionalhypocrite

    Eh, you still don’t know my real name…

  • Ritchie

    I’ve never posted my deconversion story because I initially didn’t think it was very interesting to anyone other than myself. There were no revelations, no tears, no epiphanies, no heroes or villains, and no family feuds and/or reconciliations.

    But lately I’ve thought there is something worth noting about my story – the influence and need for outspoken atheist voices in society!

    My parents are both atheists, but only because they dismiss talk of religion or the supernatural out of hand as fluff and nonsense. Much as I love them (and they really are both wonderful parents), it always seemed to me, even at a young age, that their reluctance to accept Christianity came from a reluctance to address it. In this, I still believe I was right. Surely no-one who honestly studied the evidence could fail be convinced of the truth of the Bible? In this, I now believe I was wrong. Enormously so.

    After a childhood where Bible stories and assembly hymns were woven into the (primary school) classroom education alongside lessons on ancient history and maths, and where various kind, loving authority figures gently expressed their sincere faith in Christ, I simply absorbed all I was taught. And it didn’t stop there – astrology, reincarnation, aura reading, hypnotism, psychic abilities, and mediumship all became filed under experiences I was determined to ‘keep an open mind about’ and entertain though I did recognise each had its potential charlatans. But surely there was some kernel of truth in them too?

    Apart from a few schoolfriends who I enjoyed debating with, but whom I could safely dismiss as non-authorities, I cannot really think of any childhood influences who would openly and rationally challenge the claims of religion. For me, the part of Dawkins’ The God Delusion when I later read it, which hit closest to home was where he talked about atheists being expected to ‘tip-toe respectfully away’ when religion entered the room. It seems to me now that growing up, sceptics and atheists did indeed sit down and shut up for fear of being rude and offensive. But maybe that’s just the English way…?

    Maybe my own overloaded stack of beliefs was always going to crumble under the weight of its own contradictions and absurdities eventually. As it was, I think it was an interest in the quite brilliant magician-turned-psychic-debunker and ardent atheist Derren Brown who first taught me the value of critically analysing paranormal claims – and the power of self-delusion since so many of his ‘tricks’ effectively rely on suggesting and prompting participants into creating their own paranormal experiences. Dawkins, Hitches and Harris soon followed – as did the excellent essays at Ebon Musings, impressing on me the ability (and in that ability, the wonder) of science to explain the world around us, the inability of religion to do so, and the necessity in loudly challenging those who say they have all the answers.

    Atheists are not just people who refuse to face supernatural claims – many have done exactly that, with open minds and rational enquiries, and found them all wanting. And we should see to it that we make our voices heard. I’m sure there are plenty more children who are absorbing the promises of faith simply because they have never heard the other side of the argument.

  • Trikepilot


    I can’t thank you enough for all that I have read on this site over the last three years. Between Hemant, P.Z., and you, your interesting posts have helped me find my voice.

    Now when someone sends me an email with the tag-line after their signature that reads,”I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die only to find there isn’t, than to live life as though God doesn’t exist and die to find out that He does”, I can reply to their email with the question “Which god?”. I even send them a list of the top 100 gods of all time alphabetized and ask them to select their favorites. I am now ready for the many professions of faith that such an answer will invariably send my way, partly thanks to you.

    When a work related meeting concludes with a presenter describing some various unfamiliar Muslim practices and how much of a danger they present to our society, I can now respond to the grumbling attendees on the way out the door, “What makes your flavor of religion any less of a threat to our society?”, knowing that the invitation to debate will be readily accepted and that I will be massively outnumbered. Again thanks partly to you.

    When a relative at a family reunion is passing out DVD’s titled America-The Christian Nation, I can not only politely refuse to accept one, but now I have the tools to discuss at length the talking points involved in their DVD’s presentation and have a friendly discussion. Usually the person who loses their head and gets angry is the theist who cannot counter my arguments. I thank you for helping me to make convincing arguments in a non threatening manner.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Adele

    What a pleasure to see my story up there. Though it looks rather unassuming next to all else I’ve read here *shiver*

    Many thanks, Ebon. What a terribly wonderful year it’s been since I wrote that.

  • Ebonmuse

    Maybe you’d like to consider writing a followup, Adele. :)

  • lpetrich

    I like “Finding Freedom in Calculus” by Melissa. I find it very interesting that the reasoning involved in that mathematics was so helpful to her generally. Maybe it gave her great confidence in what one could do with reason.