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Old 01-17-2013, 07:01 PM
 
Location: Oklahoma
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Kind of a slow steady change in perception for me. Over time I realized that the Christian tenets that I was raised with were most likely untrue but were so deeply woven into the social fabric of my family, community, state and nation that it was difficult for most to operate out of these constricts at just about any level.

Probably from age 18-30 it slowly became clear that the Christianity I was raised with was for all practical purposes just another industry except that it was part entertainment, part social club, part self help group, and part plain 'ole chicanery and snake oil selling.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:46 PM
 
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Enjoying reading everyone's experiences. I can definitely relate - especially to those who came to the slow realization that what they had once considered absolute truth, really amounted to mostly smoke and mirrors. Thanks for everyone's candor. I look forward to reading of other's experiences as well.
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Old 01-20-2013, 12:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northsouth View Post
Mmmm yes....I'm still going through a bit of an identity crisis. I was watching the first part of the movie "The Apostle" yesterday and my response to it was one of familiarity, disbelief that I ever behaved like that and a sort of sadness for those who spend their entire lives being so convicted and sure that what they believe and how they act is the ONLY way to be. When the movie first came out I was still a Christian and it was interesting to see it again as an atheist. It depicts EXACTLY how I was brought up, and now I see the insanity of it all. But at the same time, I kind of admire the conviction and lifelong dedication to "the cause". However insane it may be.

I've come to realize though that there is no need for "re-calibration" of one's moral compass....it's there whether you're a Christian or not. Either you're a good person or you're not. Has absolutely nothing to do with religion. In the movie, Robert Duvall was a preacher, a "man of God" yet he was a terrible person hiding behind the facade of religion. In his twisted mind, it was all ok as long as he remained dedicated and asked for forgiveness. The character is a mix of my Father and Uncle, self-righteous and condemning of others who don't follow suit....I always said that if my Father had been born in the Middle East he would have been Osama Bin Laden or at least his right-hand man, no difference in behavior whatsoever and just as convicted and crazy. Just a matter of geography.

Being an atheist now for about a year, I have settled down and stopped thinking and worrying about "what if they're right and I'm wrong" because I finally realized that neither camp can prove for or against a god and you have to go with what your gut tells you. I am still dealing with a sort of secrecy about my disbelief because I don't want to cause certain uber religious family members any unnecessary heartache or worry that I'm going to hell. I'm surrounded by religion and you have to tread lightly in this neck of the woods or you might find yourself burned at the stake.

I also have not completely let go of the possibility of an afterlife. As one poster stated in another thread a while back, as an atheist you can believe or not believe whatever you want....it's fine. There are no rules or regulations when it comes to being an atheist. Believing in an afterlife has nothing to do with believing in a god. Do I want to believe in a God? Yes, I do. CAN I believe in a god? No, I can't. Logic and reason have won that battle of the mind so I'm finally at a place where I can be comfortable just "being", no more need to buy into fables and fairy tales that others have come up with to soothe their questioning minds about why we're here. I'm okay with not knowing all the answers.
Based on your post, I watched "The Apostle" this weekend. I saw a tremendous amount of fanaticism and appealing to emotions in it. I didn't grow up in a Pentecostal tradition so I'm not used to seeing it expressed to that extent, but I am quite familiar with the fundamentalist worldview. Lets just say there is not a lot of intellectual curiosity displayed. Regardless of the denomination, the language, tradition, and values of the organization are engrained at a young age, and you accept them without question.

After the movie, I went to Amazon.com as I often do and read the reviews from the movie. Almost without exception, viewers spoke in blowing terms about how refreshing it was to see Christianity portrayed in such an authentic/positive light. I just had to laugh, because like you I evidently saw something totally different. Maybe we watched different movies. Lol
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:47 PM
 
Location: Summit, NJ
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Absolutely. It mostly coincided with my leaving college and moving to a city where I knew nobody, and it was very hard. It wasn't a crisis of faith or a crisis of morality, it was a crisis of identity. If college acquaintances were asked to name 3 things they knew about me, I'm sure that many would say, "yeah, his religion means a lot to him." Religion was a pretty big part of my life in college, and it took a while to figure out which parts of my personality I was going to keep, and which I had to mold into something new. It also meant that I was a virgin and would almost inevitably be looking to date a non-virgin. (That aspect worked out in the end).

At the time, I really beat myself up for wasting so much time in those church meetings and events. William James was right that religious fervor comes from individual experiences -- I had a small handful of amazing experiences with those people, and it was almost worth all the tedious sermons to wait for the next one. But now I realize I did gain something by being deeply immersed in that Christian culture, which is something that many atheists really don't understand, the ones who think Christians do nothing but bash gays 24 hours a day. And some memories, like the spring break where I lived in the inner city and did nothing but community service and attend large black churches in the hood --- that is something I'll always treasure.

I do wish somebody had really spelled atheism out to me in college or better yet high school. They'd always just say, "I don't agree with that," rather than rationally explain the flaws of blindly trusting a religious text.
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:21 AM
 
Location: Texas
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Default Your Experience with Deconversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by dmills View Post
For those who deconverted from Christianity, did you go through a period where you experienced a bit of an identity crisis as you struggled to find something new to calibrate your moral compass? What was your experience? How did you deal with it?

I was a regular church goer as a youngster, but it wasn't exactly by choice. As I got older, the bible story just got less and less believable to me. By the time I was in HS, I'd pretty much written it off as myth. No crisis in my case. Just a gradual awakening to reality from the fog of faith.
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Old 01-23-2013, 02:45 PM
 
Location: The Big O
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northsouth View Post
I am still dealing with a sort of secrecy about my disbelief because I don't want to cause certain uber religious family members any unnecessary heartache or worry that I'm going to hell. I'm surrounded by religion and you have to tread lightly in this neck of the woods or you might find yourself burned at the stake.
This is something I have decided to hide as well. For me, it has been almost 22 years. I do this out of concern for my parents. If they knew, they would spend the rest of their lives worried that I will spend eternity being tortured in hell.
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:45 PM
 
Location: The Big O
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmills View Post
Enjoying reading everyone's experiences. I can definitely relate - especially to those who came to the slow realization that what they had once considered absolute truth, really amounted to mostly smoke and mirrors. Thanks for everyone's candor. I look forward to reading of other's experiences as well.
As I mentioned in another thread, I was a first-year seminary student when I started to question my beliefs. During the 2nd semester, there was a lot of pressure involved with losing faith while in seminary. After I knew that I could not believe any longer, I still needed to disappoint my parents. They were extremely happy about me "being called" to be a minister and many friends in their large church were excited for them. As I mentioned previously, this was an awefully inconvenient time for me to stop believing. The financial costs of having to pay back the scholarships and student loans, while more than $10,000, were much easier to face than the disappointment and embarrassment I gave my parents.
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:02 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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I don't think of myself as a converted anything. I was baptized and raised as a Catholic, but I had nothing to do with that selection. As a child I believed what I was told and when I reached the age of reason I started believing what I could figure out for myself. There was never a time when I had any sort of adult religious beliefs.
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:03 AM
 
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Was raised and baptized Southern Baptist, and I occasionally picked up the Bible or willingly went to church. All the rules of Christianity were usually nagging at me in the back of my head while I was sinning

Then out of nowhere one night, I just thought "This is stupid, I don't believe in this". And that was it, I was an atheist. It was like a switch and I saw the world differently. I'm not out of the non-believer closet to my parents though, it would kill them.

My morality didn't change. Pre-deconversion I had premarital sex, gambled, drank, swore, smoked pot (on rare occasion), experimented with my sexuality, was pro gay rights, pro choice, and pro stem cell research. I also rescued animals, volunteered with special ed children, gave to charity, donated food and clothing, got straight A's in college, picked up litter to clean up the wilderness, woke up and drove to bars in my PJ's at 2am to pick up my drunk friends, etc. I've always tried to live by the Golden Rule and to be a friendly and kind person. I'm still the same way; I didn't need god and a set of rules to help me distinguish right from wrong. I'm post deconversion and I'm not doing any drugs, sleeping around, or breaking any laws aside from speeding :P

The biggest changes I've seen is that while I still love country and bluegrass music, I get annoyed at all the Bible talk in it. Even more annoying is any mix of religion with politics. Can't watch Fox News anymore like I did. Switched from being a moderate republican to a libertarian. Any news stories about religious wars (Muslims, Jews, Christians all hating each other) just seems utterly pointless. Funny enough, I never smoke pot anymore (got older and grew up) and I average about 1 drink for every few months. I still am pro gun, and won't give mine up for anything. Yep, still the same person really and I had no need to recalibrate my moral compass, but my conscious weighs on me much less now that I'm not breaking silly rules that I believed would keep me from "eternal life".
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:05 AM
 
Location: 'greater' Buffalo, NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmills View Post
For those who deconverted from Christianity, did you go through a period where you experienced a bit of an identity crisis as you struggled to find something new to calibrate your moral compass? What was your experience? How did you deal with it?
Yep...that identity crisis has continued for 8-9 years now. I don't recommend deconversion to anyone who's in it for perceived feel-good purposes, heh.

Hint...to any reasonable atheist, this crisis should never end. Nihilism is real, don't let any idiotic conciliatory atheist tell you otherwise. By "god", you wanna mass murder, you do it...just don't kill me, please. That's life...the beauty and terror of it. And also why I press for gun control amongst a public that might very well be deconverting en masse soon, as they educate themselves...or perhaps according to my fantasies in this stunted nation of ours
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