Here is another account in my series of real-life deconversion stories. They are often painful, psychological affairs, as you can see from the various accounts. Void is a frequent poster here, and it is great to get posters involved with the blog as a whole. I thank him for his contribution. The previous accounts can be found here:
I was raised in a very loving home. Every single day was treated as a gift, and my brothers and I never felt neglect or an absence of love. One of the primary reasons for this, at least according to my parents, was the faith we were brought up with. I would later realize that this was simply untrue.
I became a Christian at the age of 5, after first hearing about hell. I was sitting at our kitchen table, talking with my mother. I asked her if I was going to hell, to which she replied, “I think it’s time that you accept Jesus as your savior and invite the holy spirit into your heart.” I was noticeably shaken, and starting to cry at the thought of being ripped away from my loved ones upon my demise. Tears welling up in my eyes, I clasped my hands tightly and repeated after my mother, thereby beginning my torrid relationship with the Christian god.
My faith, upon reflection, was both an opiate and an (at the time) efficient means of modeling reality, and making sense of all that constitutes it. In order to secure it’s longevity, I began studying the Bible, well…religiously, around the age of 9. I started from Genesis, and over the course of a year I ended up in Revelation. Then, upon finishing it, something hit me: this doesn’t seem like it was divinely authored. I saw an angry god who demanded blood and conquest in his name; a host of miraculous events that, even at my young age, seemed at odds with common sense and logic; a savior who’s life was barely delved into, save for a few brief tidbits about his youth, and his adulthood in the synoptic gospels; I saw contradictions, both in the the information contained within the gospels and in gods nature (apparently the word “loving” is VERY open to interpretation!), on and on and on. What hit me the hardest, however, was how incredibly inaccurate the Bible actually is, both regarding the birth of the universe and life, and the very concept of god that it espoused. In the Torah, we have a very human-like god who possesses a physical body and slaughters his creations if they disobey, in the NT we have a far more cowardly, hidden god who champions eternal damnation should we not accept his sacrifice to himself (how rational is THAT?). There was a great deal of cognitive dissonance going on in my young mind, but I marched on, certain that god would make the unknown clear to me. I had faith that my inquiries were leading me to invalid conclusions.
>Around the age of 12, I was first (properly) exposed to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. It began to resonate with me: life appears to be closely linked, chimps seem more human like than any other animal (and wouldn’t you know it, they were shown to be more closely genetically tied to us than they are to other great apes), and natural selection was starting to make a lot of sense to me. In an effort to combat critically thinking, I immersed myself in YEC materiel. This was a monumental mistake, because I started noticing a lot of wishful thinking, quote mining, and general denial of things that just naturally cohered. I was quick to abandon my YEC endeavors, especially after counting up over 20 quote mines in just a dozen issues of Acts & “Facts”. Science, for me, was slowly suffocating my faith; it struggled for air, gasping desperately in a vain attempt to maintain it’s footing, but it was too late. I could see this, so I turned my attention away from science and towards theology, in general.
That was a big mistake.
As I mentioned prior, I was raised in a very loving home. My mother and father were always there for me, and often gave of themselves, in quite the agape manner, to ensure that I was happy and safe. Around the age of 13, I began applying this concept of love to god. Why not? After all, this being is alleged to be *maximally* loving. This, of course, means that any form of earthly love simply cannot stand up to gods variant of it, including my mothers love. I saw her literally going to the ends of human capability in order to both express her love for me, and to protect me from harm. I remember thinking, “Wow. So my mom, a fallible, flawed, limited human being can do THIS much, but god not only sends otherwise good human beings to hell to suffer eternally, he also refuses to act in any traceable, meaningful way to stop the horrendous suffering that transpires daily? Really?” That thought hit me like a ton of bricks, and no matter how many theists and apologists I conversed with/studied, none of them could provide a good answer. I got usual B.S like “But for god to stop some of these evils, he would have to violate our free will!” Ah. Kinda like how, in order to meet his godly needs, he hardened Pharaoh’s heart? So he can take away free will to serve his own ends, but when a little girl is being raped to death he cannot take action to stop it? Yep, that’s the height of rationality. My faith was eroding at an even hastier rate at this point.
>By the time I was 16, I considered myself border-line deist, while still holding on to some Christian dogmas, but this did not last long. I then tried on a few other religious hats, but to no avail; the damage was done. Few Christians realize this, but the process of losing faith is incredibly painful for many of us atheists. I cried a lot, lost sleep, battled ulcers brought on by the sheer stress of the whole ordeal, prayed non-stop that I was completely wrong, but in the end nothing came of it. I had lost my faith, but through that gained a better, more lucid understanding of both humanity and reality in general. It was a battle, but one well worth the struggle. I would rather follow the truth, wherever such a pursuit should lead me, than cower in fear and ignorance as the truth passes me by.