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Old 01-12-2013, 04:47 PM
 
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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?
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:51 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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I certainly went through a period of re-thinking my worldview and philosophical positions ... I was dismayed to come to the realization that I had not really put much actual thought into rather wide swaths of life, but had been borrowing prefabricated and preapproved ideas from others.

I never really felt that my moral compass had lost its true north, though. For some reason I never thought for a moment that it was so externalized into anything, including religion, that it was going to substantially change in the absence of religion. I always felt my ethics were deeply connected to the core of who I was.

My convictions about what's right and wrong are pretty much what they've always been. My politics leans more left than it used to, but it's hard for me to say that's got much to do with my deconversion either; I feel that's more personal development in general, but then again, once you're willing to change one core belief, it's easier to admit to yourself when others don't work well for you or explain reality well, too.
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Old 01-12-2013, 05:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mordant View Post
I certainly went through a period of re-thinking my worldview and philosophical positions ... I was dismayed to come to the realization that I had not really put much actual thought into rather wide swaths of life, but had been borrowing prefabricated and preapproved ideas from others.

I never really felt that my moral compass had lost its true north, though. For some reason I never thought for a moment that it was so externalized into anything, including religion, that it was going to substantially change in the absence of religion. I always felt my ethics were deeply connected to the core of who I was.

My convictions about what's right and wrong are pretty much what they've always been. My politics leans more left than it used to, but it's hard for me to say that's got much to do with my deconversion either; I feel that's more personal development in general, but then again, once you're willing to change one core belief, it's easier to admit to yourself when others don't work well for you or explain reality well, too.
Good points. I think the question may have more to do with recalibrating your worldview rather than your moral compass. Thanks for helping to clarify.
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Old 01-13-2013, 06:58 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Well ... I spent years recalibrating my worldview or at least bringing awareness to it and bringing it in conformity to my growing connection to reality. It was a lot of hard work because now it was up to me to make sense of my own positions rather than making appeals to authority, holy books and my tribe's version of "common sense".

I read and took notes like a madman. I still have most of them. It was very healing for me because I hadn't realized how tormented my mind was until I was able to inhabit my own beliefs for good reason rather than because I was supposed to.

Ironically I don't think someone who knew me "back when" would find much disconnect comparing me to what I am now. For example, I am still traditionally monogamous but don't have the same illusions about traditional marriage automatically "blessing" or validating someone's union and in fact that is probably the most visible difference in me -- I haven't bothered to marry my current significant other because there are practical financial reasons for not doing so (we're both widowed and will come into survivor's benefits in a few years if we remain single) and no huge benefits to compensate for losing that income (we're empty nesters and don't need to make our children "respectable"). I still have the same ideas of right and wrong but they are based in assessments about what is sustainably beneficial to myself and society rather than being ascribed to Holy Writ.

Much of what Christianity teaches or at least allows about morality, worldview, etc., is reasonably close to society's broader consensus or Christians would not function adequately in the societies where they live. The difference in worldview therefore comes down more to where one's views are grounded and originated rather than in vast differences in the views themselves. Also, in one's willingness to modify one's views as needed without reference to some rigid playbook.
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Old 01-13-2013, 03:00 PM
 
Location: Boone, NC
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I was raised in a not very strict Catholic family. We did go to Mass every Sunday and I went through Confirmation in 8th grade. I had a slow transition, first from Catholicism to non-denominational Protestantism, than the 'liberal' Church of Christ, and I spent a few weeks trying Unitarianism as well. This all happened at the age of 17. The original crisis of faith was triggered by my mother becoming ill and other traumatic personal events.

However, I didn't just quit in a huff. I did a lot a lot of thinking, a lot of reflection, and a lot of reading. I read through an Apologetic's Bible in it's entirety and C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. Eventually by the beginning of my senior year of high school (August 2011) I stopped attending religious services all together. No big "coming out" moment, just an evolutionary (pun intended) process of self-reflection and study.

Possibly because of my less strict upbringing, religion never provided me with much of a moral compass to begin with. My values have always generally been based on a sense of justice and honesty. I always did non-denominational charity work, not missions, because "preaching" ALWAYS made me uncomfortable. I was always very liberal, even considered myself socialist for a brief period while still remaining Christian.
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Old 01-13-2013, 07:42 PM
 
Location: Yuma, Az
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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?
For me there was something of a void created when I finally gave in an declared that I could no longer believe in the existence of a god. I have said this before but it still applies; it wasn't a whole lot different than when I quit confiding in my favorite stuffed animal, just a little deeper and longer lasting. As for the moral compass thing, my moral compass has never been based on religious teachings. If a minister would have told me that stealing was okay and god-approved, I would have rejected his claims. These days I will take issue with certain morally questionable things said by religious leaders [gay marriage], and beliefs found in religious books.
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:15 PM
 
Location: Guangzhou, China
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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?
No, not really... but then, I was fairly young, and not entirely set in my ways. Also, since I hadn't really believed in god for some time, it was more that I got to stop saying that I believed in god to placate those around me.

It became a point of non-discussion between me and my parents for some time afterwards, and then in my early 20's again, they started asking me to go to church with them when I visited home, and started sending me books on Christianity and re-finding faith, stuff like that... that caused me to re-address the situation with them, and also look at the way I lived my life, which I was pretty damned happy with. It was actually good, because I could lucidly explain to them how I was generally living what was for all intents and purposes a conventionally "moral" life out of my own sheer nature and will as opposed to doing so for fear of a final, divine retribution; this second push put my parents (mostly) at peace with the reality of my decisions and motivations.
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:44 PM
 
Location: Chicago
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No.
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:32 AM
 
Location: South Carolina
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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?
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.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:58 PM
 
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I did not really convert. I went from something to nothing. Can you really convert to the absence of belief? Disbelief did not occur to me at a point in time. But I did not need to recalibrate my moral compass since it was what lead me to the final acceptance that there is no decent reason to believe in the hooey I had been slung all my life.
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