I have been floating around on this site for only a few months now, even though my own de-conversion happened more than 15 years ago. My wife is still a Christian (if a very lukewarm one) and I happened to read one of her magazines that a superheated fundamentalist Christian friend gave her. In this magazine, there was an article about this very site. The article did not mention the site by name, (probably because they did not wish to encourage foolish young sheep to leave the fold), but how intelligent do you need to be to Google “Ex-Christian”?
I noted that the author of that article never posted anything on this site – a wise decision, in my opinion.
This is not my testimonial, which I have submitted previously, but I do wish to tell everyone who visits this site, that everything you read here about de-conversion is true:
It is not a process that takes place in a few days or even weeks – it takes years, more probably decades. It is usually the result of doing an in-depth study of the Bible, and then, when one finds that the God in the Bible is neither a good nor a kindly god, one tries to twist the words of the Bible to match one’s own conception of what a good and kindly God should be. This does not work. Once one realises this, there is a lot of anger – anger for wasting decades pandering to a being that one would not let near one’s children, and for trying to love a being that one would not want for a neighbour.
Anger at all the years wasted when the answers were there for the taking – if you were but willing to use the brain that the Christians will tell you that same God gave you. After my de-conversion, I went through a phase where I went looking for arguments with Christians – the more devoted the better – because I knew that Christians can only take their arguments from the Bible. I, on the other hand, could take my arguments from science, philosophy, history and logic – fields which grow and expand every day, while the supposedly inerrant word of God does not change, even though its adherents do.
I find it passing strange that Christians who post on this site have not realised this simple truth – they are immediately at a disadvantage, simply because all the truth they are supposed to know stems from one book which they are only allowed to reason from, not to reason about. Atheists and agnostics have no such limitation.
The good news is that the anger goes away – eventually. I have come to realise that my mind is my own now, and has always been my own: Christianity would not have taken so much of my life if I did not allow it. I therefore have to take some responsibility for all those wasted years. Not full responsibility, of course: Christianity is a very well designed con, and one can appreciate how well designed it is when it becomes obvious that most of the victims of this con will happily burn you at the stake for saying it is a con.
I now do not look for arguments with Christians – I know that I can win any argument with any Christian as long as that Christian is willing to engage in a logical discussion. Arguing and debating with them have become boring, perhaps because their arguments never change. I have noticed that my discussions with Christians end up in one of two ways: the first way is that the Christian will agree that he believes because he believes – that there is nothing logical or rational about his beliefs. The second way is the way of Marc/Passerby: the Christian realises that the words which convinced him does not convince anyone willing to think about it, and becomes totally irrational – much like a child, this Christian will repeat the same argument (if one can call threats of eternal damnation an argument) over and over again in a progressively louder voice. Even these, I can face without anger – rather with a little sympathy. In that sense, I am ready to be nice.
I should also mention that if you display any kind of anger towards a Christian, or even just raise your voice, he or she will immediately assume that you are not angry at their stupidity, but that you are angry with God. I am not sure why this is. In my own Christian days, if someone got angry with me for not seeing their (atheist) point, or maybe just angry at me for trying to preach to them when it was not welcome (yes, I was an evangelical Christian) I also used to assume this. Perhaps it was because of my reasoning that if a ‘logical’ argument did not carry the day, an illogical one would.
In my readings of the forums on Ex-Christian.net, I have seen a lot of tips for non-believers to assist them in de-converting the faithful. In my opinion, you have about as much chance to de-convert a fundamentalist Christian as you do to persuade Osama bin Laden to embrace Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour, and to start speaking in tongues. Fanatics are all the same – whether they be Christian or Islamic. There is no argument or point of logic that will persuade them. The best one can hope for is to say something that will become clear at a later stage. De-conversion is not something that can be done from the outside, it has to come from within. All of us who have de-converted did so because we were brave enough to question widely accepted beliefs, and also to be diligent enough to research the origins and logic of those beliefs – no-one did it for us. I think that the belief that others can be converted or de-converted should remain a uniquely Christian and Islamic conceit.
To Christians who visit this site: if you take the time to read all the arguments here, you will find that the non-Christian posters seldom quote the Bible out of context, and frequently use the Bible to prove their own (non-theist) points. You need to ask yourself this: if God was everything the Bible said he was, would he allow that to be done to his unchanging and inerrant Word? Of course not! By now, I would have expected him to send a couple of bears to the Webmaster’s house (as he has done) or to destroy the city he lives in by divine fire (which he has also been known to do on occasion). Or perhaps even flood the whole world – this God does not worry too much about collateral damage when he throws a temper tantrum.
In addition, Christians are fond of regarding God as their father, and they are also fond of drawing parallels between human fatherhood and divine fatherhood. As the proud father of a nine-month-old baby, I wish that my child will eventually grow up, and surpass me in every way possible, in terms of intelligence, wisdom, longevity, happiness, prosperity, success and achievement. Would God the Father not wish the same for his children? And if not, what kind of a father is he?
I have also read a lot of posts by Christians that atheists can have no hope. This is certainly not true: I believe that the human race can achieve life everlasting – perhaps medical science will advance to the point where medical immortality can be achieved, if not physical immortality. I believe that the human race can defeat poverty and famine – perhaps someday we shall discover how to travel faster than light, and settle other planets. I believe that we can create heaven for ourselves here in this reality, for everyone. I realise that this will not happen in my lifetime, or even this or the next century, but it is a goal that is worth striving for.
Am I a dreamer? Yes, of course. But I am enough of a realist to know that no god is going to do it for us – we will have to do it all ourselves. The human race has come a long way since the days of the state of nature, when life was brutal, nasty and short. And we have come all this way without divine assistance, and often in spite of our religious beliefs. We can go further still, especially if we stop wasting time asking a god or gods to do for us what we can and will do for ourselves.
That is the hope of an atheist.