My Christian Deconversion

Music for reading: Hania Rani live at Invalides, in Paris, France for Cercle
All A.I. artwork below was generated by me.

I listen to a lot of deconversion stories while making food or eating or other things. I’m always kind of amazed at some of the things people had to go through growing up in these religious environments. Right here in America!

I grew up casually Catholic. At least that’s how I would describe it. I believed in God and Jesus and all of that. I went to catechism. I made my communion (although never confession). I can even owe my existence to the Catholic church to some degree, since my mom once told me that the reason I was conceived is because they were practicing the Catholic religion at the time and it frowned on birth control.

Yet growing up, we went to church on and off. It seemed like we might go every Sunday for three months straight and then not at all for a couple months. And we mostly left our religion in the church on Sunday mornings, and the occasional Christmas midnight mass which I always thought was super cool.

At home we were a mostly secular American family. We did typical American midwest stuff. We might even say grace over dinner on occasion, but we weren’t “Jesus this” and “Jesus that” all over the place.

I loved my childhood. I was very lucky. I realize how lucky I had been not to have grown up in such a strict religious household or community. Especially now having listened to so many personal deconversion stories from former Christians. One might even say “thank God for that.” Lol!

My own deconversion story is a multi-step process, starting from childhood where I had questions and got answers that never made a lot of sense to me. Also I remember being a kid and coming out of church and wondering why I didn’t feel any different, any lighter, any more… I don’t know, washed in the spirit?
As a teenager I definitely took and interested in religion and read the Bible, at least certain books, both from the KJV and the Catholic bible. I also read the lost books of Eden and some of the Apocrypha like the gospel of Thomas and Judas. Even by the early twenties I was trying to come up with excuses about how this could all work while also exploring some other philosophical ideas. At this point I wasn’t necessarily a Christian anymore, but I also wasn’t done with it either. I was just having a hard time justifying it. It felt more like mythology to me.

By my mid twenties I got swept up in the new atheism movement and that’s where I lost my religion. I read Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation and Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion and at that point my Christianity was out the window. All those little cracks that had previously existed. All those questions I had and things that didn’t make sense about Christianity, now there were arguments that made sense as to why I had those. So goodbye revealed religion…. hello atheism?

Eh. Sort of, but not quite. I might have called myself an atheist for a few years in my late twenties, but it was only because I had lost my belief in Christianity. In revealed religion in general. But I wasn’t really comfortable with atheism itself. I felt like maybe I had thrown out God with the bathwater. So I turned to deism. Even if I couldn’t really explain it and was perfectly aware that I was doing it for my own emotional well-being and not because it made sense. In fact I was willing to admit as much to anyone who would ask. But for all other purposes, I was still a skeptic and rejected revealed religion. This went on for a decade. Through all of my thirties. And during that decade my deism had morphed into a sort of generic theism, where I would often pray to God. Even if I still didn’t have any answers as to what God was, and didn’t want to tie that God to any revealed religion. 

Then things changed.

Life took so pretty hard turns for me starting in 2018 and continuing through to now. I’m still trying to get back on my feet from all of that. But it hit the hardest at the end of 2019 through 2021. Through the summer of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 I started to pray more and I turned back to revealed religion. First to Judaism, as it had a lot of things that made more sense to me compared to Christianity. But Judaism is pretty insular. Jews aren’t really all that open about others becoming Jews if they aren’t of that bloodline to begin with. It’s kind of a private club to some degree. So I decided to turn back to Christianity. But not Catholicism this time. This time I went more evangelical. More protestant.

I wasn’t completely unaware of this line of Christianity. As an American, how could I be? We’re surrounded by it. Plus I had read the Left Behind series in my twenties, and picked up books like Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis in my early thirties. Not to mention all the conversations I have had with evangelical Christians online over the decades. But there were still things I didn’t know about this side of Christianity. Even by my forties. Like the amount of vitriol some of these types have for Catholics. Calling Catholics papists and pagans and Mary-worshippers who were never really Christian. I guess I should have realized this much sooner. After all, there was that whole schism in Europe called the Reformation hundreds of years ago. Which also explains the encounter I had when I walked into a bible store back in my early twenties looking for a Catholic bible. They told me they didn’t have any. I was like “how do you not have any Catholic bibles in a bookstore that specializes in selling bibles?” Silly me for not realizing why at the time.

Basically, there was that and many other things about protestant Christianity that had slipped by me. Rightly so having been raised Catholic. But I still knew enough about some of the differences, considering the American evangelical dominance that exists in this country. But there was more to learn and I was starting to learn it this time.

It didn’t help though. If anything it just made me realize how much of a rift there is. That kind of Christianity also just made me super paranoid. It got really bad. It was not good for my mental state. I was believing for a time that my mental illness was the result of demonic procession. And no amount of praying to Jesus seemed to help. I also became super paranoid about any “impure thoughts” I might be having. It got bad after a while, and at some point I just snapped.
 
I basically asked myself “have I ever seen or heard from God, or angels, demons, ghosts, spirits,” I was even willing to extend that to aliens and bigfoot, despite those not being supernatural in origin. The answer to all of the above was no. A resounding no. If I was being truly honest with myself, which I was.
That was it. Suddenly I became an atheist. Right then and there. All it took was that simple question in the end and my willingness to be honest with myself.

I feel like too many people invoke confirmation bias when it comes to their desires for a God to be real and working in their life. They start saying “this happened and that happened, and it’s too much for it to be a coincidence, so it must be God” or seeing a billboard and thinking this was God talking to them through this billboard. They’re looking for something, so they’re going to turn whatever they find into what they were looking for. That’s called confirmation bias.

I’ve talked to a lot of Christians online. So I’ve heard all the excuses from “you were never a real Christian” to “you didn’t believe the right kind of Christianity” or “you weren’t sincere enough in your beliefs” or “God never chose you to begin with” (a Lutheran pastor told me that one), or “you’ve already been saved by having once been Christen and baptized, hallelujah!.”

It’s all over the place. And once you step outside of it, you begin to realize just how much deflection is going on. Most of these excuses are just the result of the Christians not wanting to come to terms with the fact that people can believe and then stop believing at some point. So many of them just aren’t willing to accept that. So they have to come up with some reason why you were never a real Christian. It’s really to protect themselves. In fact that’s really what Christian apologetics is in general. It’s pails of water being thrown overboard to prevent the ship of Christian theology from sinking.

Of course the skeptic in me looks back on this in dismay. It’s so clear to me now what these religions do. Telling you that you are diseased so they can sell you the cure. They are a finely evolved mental virus (over thousands of years) that will deliver the right amount of carrot or stick depending on what you need to stay part of the flock so they can keep fleecing you and controlling you. They tell you that all you have to do is just accept Jesus into your heart and be saved, but of course that’s never really all there is to it. There are so many other strings attached aren’t there? Like following certain moral codes, going to church services, tithing, etc. I mean if you truly are the believer like you say you are, you’ll do these things right? That’s the trap! And it’s filled with a lot of toxic manipulation underneath it all.

I’m at a point now where I can dismantle every Christian counter argument thrown my way, and usually pretty easily. In fact it’s gotten pretty boring and old at this point. I’m always looking for a new challenge. That may sound arrogant. It’s not meant to be. It’s just how it is. Christianity is not the unmovable brick wall Christians like to think it is. It’s more like a house of cards easily blown over once you give yourself the time to breath and finally exhale.

I’m not here to deconvert anyone. That’s not the point of sharing my story. I don’t care if you believe or not. Well that’s not entirely true. Of course I care to some degree.
Although I’m always curious why people believe, the answer can pretty easily and routinely be guessed at this point. It’s usually emotional for people. A desire to want to see loved ones when they die. A desire to have a greater purpose in life. A desire to have a loving eternal parental figure they can turn to and talk to in times of need.

You have to do what works for you. I don’t knock people for that.
Nor do I knock people for being culturally Christian. There are in fact Christian atheists. People who don’t believe in a God, but would otherwise describe themselves as Christian in their moral and cultural positions. I might even describe myself that way to some degree. In a lot of ways it’s hard not to, given the significance of Christianity on western culture and myself.

Many Christians like to point to atheists and say “you hate God” or “you just want to sin.” 
Again, deflection.
But the answer is no to both those questions.
Admittedly many atheists do hate the God of the Bible. In the same way they hate any good villain in a made up story. But I can’t even describe myself like that. I tend to give the bible God the benefit of the doubt more often than not. Despite some of the atrocities about him in that collection of books. But generally I have a hard time now viewing him as anything but myth, like Zeus or the others. It’s really hard for me to hate characters like that. I mean how much do you hate Zeus? That’s how I feel about Yahweh.

That said, I’m not a mythicist regarding Jesus. I assume he existed as a real person. I assume he was an apocalyptic cult leader who became legand-ized over time, after his death. I have no reason to believe otherwise, and that seems like a pretty sensible position. And no amount of Christians yelling “but 500 witnesses saw him” is going to make me believe he rose from the dead. What 500 witnesses? The ones Paul wrote about that he himself only heard about and didn’t see himself? Where are their first hand testimonies?
The kind of evidence Christians point to it usually as weak as that. Personal testimony and hearsay.  People are easily mistaken and prone to believe things they want to believe. There is no reason I should believe that the laws of reality were suspended two thousand years ago for this one guy just because of some book (collection of books) a lot of people want to the true, claim it did. Julius Caesar and his army building a bridge in record time and crossing the Rhine river, sure I believe that happened, because it’s not a hard thing to believe. I don’t need to suspend everything I know about reality to believe that. What’s that Carl Sagan quote about “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” The reverse is also true. Whether Caesar and his army built a bridge doesn’t really matter. True or not. It doesn’t really make much difference in my life if it’s true or not. But if a God did a blood sacrifice of itself to itself in a weird sin cleansing ritual rather than just forgiving everyone of their sin outright, and I need to believe that happened for my eternal salvation, I’m going to need way stronger evidence that actually happened, than just a book of claims from 2000 years ago.

What’s even stranger is that this God is supposed to still exist and be active in our lives and want us to have a relationship with it. So why should I ever even have to turn to an old book in that case? Why can’t that God just show up and explain it to me himself? I’ve heard Christians say I’m acting entitled for such “demands.” But if a God is going to decide my eternal fate, is it really too much to ask for five minutes of its time to tell me all of this himself? Supposedly this God created me right? It created all of reality, the vastness of this entire universe, and has existed for eternity, so what’s five minutes to ensure I have the right information?

When you break it down you begin to see the scam at work. There probably is no God, otherwise they would be more than happy to show you that God. But what do you do when you don’t have a God to show but you still need to threaten people with it to do what you want them to do? You invent excuses as why they are the ones at fault. That I’m asking too much or acting entitled or that I should not test the lord. When what they’re really saying is, “don’t pull back the curtain to see that nothing is actually there. Because then all of our threats and promises disappear with it and we are broke and powerless.”         

Broke and powerless. This is why religion fights so hard to keep believers. This is its fear. The fight for its own survival. Like any virus.

Anyway. I love these deconversion stories. It’s just sad to hear some of the things people had to go through.
I’m going to link to one or two of them below. Not because they are the most powerful I’ve heard or anything, but just because they are interesting.
The first one I’m going to link to is about a guy who runs another youtube channel where he makes a lot of atheist centric videos I find really good. So you should check out his channel and the other deconversion videos on the channel he’s being featured on in that video, Harmonic Atheist. He’s a recent find, but I like his style.

A lot of atheists can be very aggressive and even bully-like at times (not naming names – despite their great arguments) but I find this guy pretty intelligent and calm.
The second video is of a woman who is also a recent find and also has some great arguments and perspectives similar to myself. So I would definitely check out more of her stuff if interested.

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