highlights of a deconversion
For some unknown reason, I’ve been reminiscing lately about my awakening to atheism. It was almost 20 years ago and I have terrible memory, but I’d like to present the highlights.
alarm bell 1
I was a Good Christian with a Bible by my bedside to inspire Christianly thoughts before I laid my head down to go to sleep. I tended to avoid the crazy stories of the Old Testament and look for religious inspiration in the safe bosom of the New Testament. Lovely Jesus and all his chums spreading love and benevolence. It was this passage in Corinthians that ignited a confused concern:
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.
This is clear. This is the New Testament. This is in the written Word of the good god God. I found this completely inconsistent with any ideas that any nice god speaking to any culture should be inspiring. Alarm bells were ringing that something was a bit fishy here.
alarm bell 2
With the concerns about the Bible floating around my head, I still continued as a Good Christian attending church. I started to find the idea of sitting watching a man telling me I’m bad for an hour every week rather odd. To be fair, that wasn’t always the main focus of the talking, but there would certainly be a significant chunk of prayer dedicated to the topic of how bad humans are and how humans need forgiveness and how the god God is wonderful. Was I really that bad? Did a nice god want to be told in an obsequious manner how great it is and begged forgiveness for behaviour? I was starting to feel uncomfortable with the messages. Standing up to sing songs to tell the god how great it is, in unison with other people at regular intervals also started to feel a little strange. It was dawning on me that church services are odd.
I do my best thinking when I’m travelling. And the best form of travelling is by train. Train journeys are great. Long train journeys are amazing. I remember being on a train when I was about 20 and allowing, for the first time in my life, the thought that god did not exist. This was a huge step. It’s not a ‘what if God doesn’t exist’. It was a ‘God doesn’t exist!’. And yet I winced. I waited for my world to crumble. But life continued as normal. Yet different.
There were several years of post-belief effects I can remember – like continuing to have automatic sharp intake of breath when someone took the name of my ex-lord God in vain. It can be a slow journey to remove and replace set thinking patterns that have developed all through childhood. And indeed I think it’s only in the last few years, almost 20 years later, that I am out the other side. I know this because it’s only in the last few years that I’m shocked when someone says they’ll pray for someone, or makes reference to their god’s plan in their life, or tells me an amazing coincidence in their life is the work of their deity. And when I say it’s like they’re telling me they prayed to a fairy, or a leprechaun has a plan for their life, or amazing coincidences are the work of of elves – I’m not joking. I’m not being facetious and I’m not trying to ridicule them to make a point. This is exactly how it reaches my brain.
time to share
I think my stories are rather mundane. But I would be delighted if you would like to share the alarm bells that rang for you, your deconversion moment and any aftershocks you have felt or may still be feeling. If you’re still a Christian, or a person of another religion, please feel free to share any wobbles you’ve had.