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Best!

Brett

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My 'Deconversion' Story

This is basically (what I can remember anyways!) my trip from religion to atheism. It's by no means spectacular and I spared you all the sciency crap, if you are curious look it up like I did!

I was born into the Irish Catholic religion. When I was old enough, my father sent me off to CCD (essentially bible study for kids, it fricken SUCKED!!! They held it on Saturday morning!!!!) I went there for 4 years every Saturday during the school year. I got my first communion (eating of the Jezit! Tastes like styrofoam or a stale rice cake.) We had to memorize prayers, we were recanted the tales of the Bible as true, yadda, yadda , yadda.

Why am I telling you this? Well to give you a bit of background. I was parietal immersed in as a child. I was taken to church every Sunday or Saturday, depending. Eventually my Father stopped going, not exactly sure why but I finally had my Saturdays and Sundays free. No more St. Benadict's for me!

Through all this I still believed in Adam and Eve, Noah, the flood and Jesus. I mean I was told this from childhood, we even had one of the them fancy Jesus stable things at Christmas, we were pretty typical for lapsed Catholics at the end. I never really thought about evolution, even though I had a love of dinosaurs when I was younger. Everything had it's place and I questioned none of it… Until 9th grade History.

In our first week of High School our 9th grad World History teacher had us watch some old movies (on the reel!) about the evolution of humans. I was HOOKED. I loved it. The Leaky's, Lucy, Turkana boy, Neandertals!!!! But there was a problem… these things didn't look like modern humans and they were older, FAR older than we were taught in CCD. Hmmmm… what to do? Well I sort of switched Adam and Eve to these more primitive models, Lucky=Eve, but what about evolution? Well, that's just how god worked, obviously. Problem solved. This how I proceeded for the next 4 years until college and a good bit after. When I started working for Wildstorm, I first heard the term Atheist and found out what the heck it ment (I grew up pretty sheltered obviously!) How could someone NOT believe in god? It sort of bothered me because even though I wasn't a practicing Christian I still believed, I sort of relegated the Genesis stuff to old fairy tales but the rest was true, wasn't it? I think I sort of became a deist after that. I pictured god sort of starting things off and then walking away and coming back to check up on us every now and then. I never really thought about Jesus anymore, if we were all gods children why was he so special? Should he love us just as much?

At this point I was picking up LOTS of dinosaur and history like books, Jurassic Park had just come out and there were TONS of these things. I read a bunch. But it wasn't until 1997 or so that I was reading this human evolution book that I finally just couldn't  keep buying into religion. The more books and things I read the more it just didn't make any sense. Evolution was true we had testable methods, we had direct evidence, transitional forms, DNA! But what about god? Was there room for him? I sort of became and agnostic at that point, but that was short lived. The more research I did on religion the more it just seemed ridiculous and actually pretty evil. I didn't really believe any of it anymore and that seemed to make sense. It was all lies that we were told as children to get us to behave, to control us, to take away our freedom ( you must say that in a Scottish accent!) But the final nail in the coffin goes to Steve Miller. He's the guy you can thank for me 'outing' myself as an Atheist. Thanks Steve!

I had started posting something about evolution on our website message boards and Steve came out of the woodwork with the CRAZIEST stuff I ever heard! I still think he was trying to pull my leg with it! Homo eructs was really just an old human! The bible says people lived to be 900 back then! Lightning changes the dates on fossils!  In that heated 'debate' I think I first said there was no god. and I haven't really looked back since! Science and basic reasoning skills showed me that just because something is old (traditional even!) that that doesn't mean it's true. As the years go by I see more and more evidence that there is no god, no religion is true, that people are simply just wasting their time for nothing. It's a bit sad, but it is their time, we can't all be super cool Atheists! ( Only the cool kids, even Stephan Hawking agrees!))

That's it for this week.

Brett

24 comments:

M.O.R said...

So much crazy, I'm surprised you're sane. ;)

A well written story, thank you for sharing it.
I know exactly what you mean about becoming irritated and annoyed by what the religious extremists.

I've met many a kind atheist who would put the most pious alleged "Christian" to shame. On the other hand,I have met many's an alleged Christian who is everything they are 'morally' against, yet are so blind as to see they are everything they rally against, and more.

Kindness is a virtue that many of us completely neglect. We think sticking a few coins in a charity box will save our souls, yet we treat our fellow man like crud.

Anyway, Brett, I don't care what your beliefs are. You have shown alot of respect to me, and I am grateful for it. Moreso than I can say for many's a so-called Christian.

Life is too short. Take Care.

Derek Ruiz said...

HEATHEN!!!

Anonymous said...

Your “deconversion” story is sadly a popular trend we see in churches today. Children from “religious” homes get inoculated to true Christianity. When they hit an age when they are out from under their parent’s influence they reject their “faith” for being an outdated irrelevant set of ideas they never embraced. You have confused being raised in a culturally Catholic home as being exposed to true Christianity. Now you have been inoculated to pursuing a real relationship with God because in your mind you’ve already tried it and found it lacking.

The truth is you don’t like the idea of a moral authority which your life and actions are accountable too. You believe freedom from God will give you a more rewarding life than subjection to His will.

As I’ve stated several times before you can believe in evolution and be a Christian. Evolution does not disprove the Christian faith, nor does the Christian faith disprove Evolution. What evolution does is provide a little extra gasoline for an atheist already looking to torch organized religion.

Steve

Brett said...

FUCK it ate my post!!!

Ugh.

OK, Steve,

Face it your religion lost, if you truly believed as you claim, you would NOT be indoctrinating your own children. If you truly believe what your spewing, then put up or shut up. I left your religion because of it's lack of evidence, maybe others are starting to see this as well, which is why people are leaving. I guess your god doesn't really seem to care or he'd try to give us some evidence... anytime now, we're waiting.

AND ENOUGH WITH THE TRUE CHRISTIAN CRAP! The Catholics OUTNUMBER you, so who's the REAL Christians? I have studied your religion, even tried to reread your holy book and I was left with a seething hatred for the stupidity it represents.

And DON'T try to tell me what I REALLY believe and don't REALLY believe. I left your religion because it has no proof, no evidence, nothing. I'm sorry but extraordinary claims like this require extraordinary evidence, to to come to the table with none and expect me to lap it up is insanity to the extreme. The out and out lies and the horrible things YOUR god has done, that he can't even follow his own rules makes him just like ever other preacher fucking other men, raping children or killing unbelievers. Sorry, I'm just not that into hypocracy on a cosmic scale, I can barely tolerate it here on earth.

You seem to have had a hard time reading this post, I never said evolution and religion are mutually exclusive. I believed in both for a number of years. When I learned more about mechanisms and how evolution works I saw less and less 'god' there and more natural forces. That's why I can't believe in religion.

If your organized religion was peaceful and sweet as you all claim I wouldn't really care were you waste your time. But you control most of the world with that pile of stupid and so I feel the need to attempt to show you that your are indeed incorrect when you claim there was a giant Earth wide flood, or that people used to live hundreds of years. Perhaps if you guys lied less people like me might actually believe some of what you say but sadly you're track record is LESS then steller. But since you refuse to even listen to reason then mockery works well too.

M.O.R.

Sorry, Steve bring out the angry ranter when he tries to tell me what I believe. Ah if only all Christians and other religious groups were like you, but I can dream:)

Derek,

And PROUD of it!

Best,

Brett

Anonymous said...

Wise words were once said;

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able, and willing? Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God."

And pretty much to counter Steve, Brett there's another quote one could bring up.

"If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people"

The Artist

Anonymous said...

I remember as a kid, I was talking to my friend about dinosaurs and how they were the first creatures around, and my friend said that he read in a book that modern animals were the first, and I told him that book was wrong.

I wasn't raised with any religious background, and it surprised me when I chose to become a Christian, then a Catholic, and it seemed logical to me at the time. But then it slipped away, and I struggled to define my beliefs, finally settling on existential nihilism.

But I am glad that I can also understand things from a Catholic perspective. My best friend is Catholic and I think it's great that such a friendship can exist.

What surprises me is people who live on faith alone, never once learning about other beliefs, or not much about their own for that matter. Then they become angry without even knowing what they're angry about, and it's a two-way street; people can believe or disbelieve for the wrong reasons, and not having a reason can be just as bad.

-----------
In reply to Steve, without having a denomination you might as well not call yourself a Christian, because you don't adhere to any particular set of beliefs other than your own, and so you are not part of any organized religion. I'm sure many people read Beowulf but you wouldn't really call those people organized in any way.

And you might be able to get away with believing that evolution does not conflict with Christianity, if for example you were Catholic because the church does now and then adapt modern science into its beliefs, but that's really a technicality. But otherwise you can't say that they don't conflict, because the Bible has no concept of evolution; it will never be able to answer whether it is true or not.

- Kevin

cougar18 said...

@ Kevin,

You make some great points, and your post is interesting also. Every educated opinion needs to be heard, and always carries a great deal of information.

In regards to whether or not the bible has any mention of evolution, well, its a little trickier than saying it does not, entirely. For example, when it came to translating the book from Armenian to latin/ English/ etc, the Armenian language has many different meanings for the same word, considering it's context.
One such total mistranslation has led to the FundaMENTAList Christians claiming that the world was created in 7 days.
Well, the Armenian word for "day", can actually mean 'day', 'month', 'week', 'year', 'decade', 'century', 'generation', 'millenia, 'billion', and many other lengths of time (trillion, Gazillion, Bazillion would not be too far of a stretch, even if the last two don't exist) so when the Armenians say 7 Days, they don't mean 24 hours, like would, but rather a far greater length of time.

Such a length of time would allow for factors such as "The Big Bang" and evolution.
(I'm not trying to convert anybody to any kind of religion. I'm just having a friendly conversation and debate.)

boethius said...

cougar 18, don't you mean "Aramaic" rather than "Armenian"? Just trying to keep facts straight. If you did mean Armenian, then please clarify. (For example, if a person refers to a 'car' then that person should not call the car a 'truck.') Read some Wittgenstein, Chomsky, Putnam, etc. Philosophy of language is edifying.

Thanks for your personal history, Brett. Of course, if the spirituals and the atheists did not have disagreements and debates, people would have to fight about other things. Like which flavor is better? Chocolate or vanilla. Perhaps the nature of the universe is not as factual as we believe, but rather a state of preference such as with the aforementioned taste for chocolate or vanilla. Probably not, but after so many philosophy classes, I like to hear other opinions.

Melanie said...

Brett, I too was raised in a catholic home, church every weekend, 13 years of catholic schools. I just coasted through all that with little thought, I knew what they were saying didn't feel right to me. Different from you, I didn't become an atheist, I explored other beliefs, and became a wiccan. I believe in a higher power, but we are fully and wholly responsible for our actions. I won't get into all I believe, but I understand what you're saying and the path you traveled.

Melanie

Anonymous said...

My deconversion/conversion story.

I was raised in a Lutheran home. We went to church every week. My mom was the church’s secretary. In fourth grade I transferred from public school to a private Christian school. In 8th grade I went through Confirmation Class, which is similar to Catholic catechism. I remember one of my classmates asking the teacher what if we didn’t believe all the stuff they were teaching us about the Bible and God. He said we would flunk. I remember thinking that was a load of bull, shouldn’t we be allowed to decide for ourselves without the fear of a failing grade?

In ninth grade I went back to public school and discovered girls, drinking, and partying. I fell in love with a girl named Lisa. She would have nothing to do with me because I was such a geek. By the end of High School I was pretty popular because of my sense of humor and my rebellious party all the time attitude. Junior year Lisa started to date me just to make her current boyfriend jealous. She fell in love with me and we dated for three years. We started to sleep together after we had been together six months.

Things seemed to be going well but I knew if I was to have a future with Lisa I needed to have a decent career. Drawing was what I really enjoyed but I couldn’t afford Art College, so I joined the army to pay for college.

In the Army I got to see how the real world worked. I got to meet many wonderful and interesting people from all over the Nation and also some from other parts of the world. I had a good buddy who was from Africa and his religious beliefs were very strange to me. I remember thinking if I had been born in Africa I would have probably believed what he did. I remember thinking that religion for it to be true, it had to be true for all people and it should not be based solely on what your parents believed or where you were born. During my time in the Army I met people of all types of faiths, races, and cultural backgrounds. I figured out I had a pretty whitebread view of the world and needed to look deeper into what and why others believed as they did.

During my time in the army Lisa, my girlfriend back home, went away to a Christian water ski camp. She became convinced having sex with me was wrong outside of marriage. She wrote me a letter saying we should slow things down.

When I got home from the army I seduced Lisa thinking sex would help her think clearly and stop all this “God talk.” God shouldn’t care if we had sex or not, after all we both went to church wasn’t that what he cared about most? Lisa felt terrible for continuing our relationship and dumped me because of God.

I went off to College mad at Lisa and even more mad at God. He let me down. I tried to be a nice person, I went to church, I even gave money to the church because it was the right thing to do. Shouldn’t that have been enough for God to let a little pre marital sex slide by?

At college I decided to live how ever I wanted. No one knew me and I could be whoever I wanted to be. I decided the only people I would be friends with were non-Christians. I did not want to hear anything about God and all his rules. I also decided to sleep around a bit since I had ever only been with one girl.

At the end of the first year of college a funny thing happened. All my non-Christian friends started going to a Bible study and become Believers. It was infuriating. I don’t think I ever stopped believing in God, I just wanted nothing to do with Him. They invited me to the Bible study, after several refusals I decided to go; I said “I would grab my Bible.” Their mouths dropped, they were flabbergasted a guy like me who swore, drank, partied, and slept around would own a Bible.

(end part one)

Anonymous said...

(part two)

At the Bible study I saw a type of Christianity which was real and authentic. These people admitted their struggles, didn’t have fake smiles pasted on their faces, and didn’t seem to care if you thought well of them or not, they were trying to love God, not impress others with their religious attitudes.

This led me down a road of intense study of world religions. I still remembered all the fascinating people of other faiths I met in the Army. What if essentially all religions were the same? What if I picked the wrong one? Why did Christians insist they had the only right faith? By studying what other religions believed I became convinced that they all could not be true-they were too dissimilar. It was when I started to study the Gospels and the historical evidence for the Bible that I saw the major difference between Christianity and all other religions. I read the book of Revelations and I saw things ended badly for those who only paid God lip service and didn’t have authentic faith. I read CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity and several other scholarly works on Christianity. Once I was convicted and convinced of the truth of Christ’s claims I rededicated my life to serving Christ. There was an immediate change in my life, my personality, and my heart.

After college I began working in a restaurant near Ohio State and we had a few biology students working there. I also had a really good friend who was a big time atheist and we would argue for hours about religion and science. Through my atheist friend and the biology students at Ohio State I became challenged about the scientific evidence for an Intelligent Designer. I began to read many of the arguments against a Creator God from biology and philosophy. My roommate was also heavily into dinosaurs and I started reading the works of famous evolutionists and paleontologists. I learned the strengths and weaknesses of Neo-Darwinian thought. I also became uncomfortable with the hardcore Creationists who thought the book of Genesis was a science primer. Genesis was written in a way to glorify God for his mysterious super natural abilities, not to explain the Creation account in scientific terms. After studying both sides of the argument I have no real conclusion other than God did it, but I don’t know how. He could have guided species to species adaptation, this would be more consistent than believing natural selection randomly created mutated improvements over a long time (or in short bursts for you Gould fans.)

I get frustrated with both evolutionists for misrepresenting the science, and creationists for over simplifying the science. I’m kind of an odd duck who manages to piss everyone off. It was about this time I became friends with Brett online and our sometimes argumentative camaraderie was forged. Brett has greatly increased my knowledge of evolution and science in general by guiding me to many great books and articles to read, and for that I’m immensely thankful.

Steve

Brett said...

Melanie,

I never felt the need to look for answers in other religions. While I do LOVE the myths of them none really had what I wanted, answers. SOmething religon likes to claim but rarely provides, as Steve mentioned he's ok with "God did it!" That doesn't answer things for me;)

I will say I was asked if I had to choose a religion (ie; forced) which I would pick and Wiccan was my answer. Closest to my natural world views.


Steve,

I'm just curious, do most of the really hard core Christian guys stories have to be so dramatic? LOL! Mine was just small change over time while yours was more punctuated eualibrium!

I'm only trying to free your mind Ne..o... Steve. Mys hort term goal? To get you to see that Answers in Genesis is crap with no actual scientific information. Long term, understand how evolution actually works, it's not a closed system and from what you just said I think you seem to forget about the enviornment when thinking about it. Since this isn't about evolution I'll stop there.


I will say to Cougar 18, I've seen passages from 3 different bible translations, the first two were your more standard fair the last.. well... lets say it seems some sort of herb was involved. But that's one of the problems, which it right, which is true? Which should I actual take seriously?

Best,

Brett

Anonymous said...

Uhhm...Answers in Genesis? Brett what are you talking about? Seriously dude you know I've never subscribed to their schools of thought. But to be fair I haven't really checked out their writings/teachings in the last ten years, what exactly do you think I would agree with there?

I don't think my life is all that dramatic, it is actually pretty boring compared to what you've seen and done.

-Steve

Brett said...

Steve,

The last time we had a major evolution you sent me to several Answers in Genesis pages. That was what a year maybe 2 years ago? You even told me that Answers in Genesis has this to say about that! I of course told you to NOT go there.

And while you seem to be into the whole ID thing now the ID guys are moving back toward creationism. So really I'm not sure were you stand on what anymore, you seem to have gone back to a more religious view in recent years but that might just be me reading into things. So actually some clarification would be help in these conversations.

The whole fallen man being picked up and saved, the hoaring around (swearing is bad, really? Shit!) Drinking, much more dramatic than the regular Christian story.

Best,

Brett

Anonymous said...

Really I sent you to Answers in Genesis? Weird. Were they linking or quoting the Discovery Institute? Was I supporting what they said or just informing you of their views? That is weird, totally don't remember that unless it was something to do with the Creation Museum, which I haven't visited yet.

ID is moving toward creationism? Hmm... I'm thinking that is probably an anti ID spin story. Still shoot me a link.

Anonymous said...

Call off the dogs. I found it.

In May of 2008 Brett you were arguing that Hitler based Nazism off of a Christian foundation and I said actually Hitler was impacted to a greater degree by Darwin. I think it wasn't the Bible's teachings but more of Darwin's book "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" which influenced Adolf.

I think I still kind of believe Hitler gravitated more toward the whole "Preservatin of Favoured Races" school of thought rather than to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Anyways in the course of the argument I referenced something on the AIG site. I'm pretty sure we would both agree this was more of a historical matter and not me promoting AIG's version of Creationism.

STeve

cougar18 said...

Hey folks,

Just to clarify, for some unknown reason Google decided to rename me to "cougar18" but I am still M.O.R. I was messing around with eblogger last night and they seem to have up and changed my name.

So if you see the name, Cougar18, it's still me, M.O.R.

@Boetius. Yeah, I meant Aramaic. I'm Irish, and the Irish soccer team played Armenia a few days ago (Ireland won) and I got the names mixed up in my head. I may need to reformat my brain. ;)
I've read philosophy btw. I'm quite a fan of the The Western Philosophy anthology. Studied it for college, its interesting, particularly free will vs determinism.

@Brett, yeah swearing is not really against God, because a number of curse words/ swear words, are just that, words, and to quote the Garth Ennis book Preacher, or paraphrase at least, God don't care about the F bomb, the S bomb or so many hand gestures, because we invented them, not Satan, not Lucifer or L Ron Hubbard.

The "reverse peace sign" otherwise known as the two fingers ;), actually comes from ancient times, when it was not uncommon for the enemy to cut off the first and middle fingers of an archers right hand, so that they could no longer pull the string on a bow.
When the soldiers would stand on the battle lines, hold up the two fingers, and shout "we still got them!". It eventually became an expletive.

I get particularly irritated by the by those christians who will not listen to, watch, or read anything that is not produced by a Christian, such as Christian music, or Christian rock, or Christian comey. It's like locking onesself in a cave.

boethius said...

Let's worship logic. All hail the Vulcans!

Seriously. Brett, have you ever (or would you?) draw some Star Trek or Trek-like aliens? Your version of Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons, or even Tellarites would be spectacular. Perhaps this should be part of another thread, but here it is anyway.

Peace and long life,
Boethius

Brett said...

Steve,

That wasn't my point. The Nazis by only breeding 1 type of human ( Arian ones) are actually going against natural selection and genetic diversity. They were following some old religious guy's ideas, not the bible, just a nut that Hitler liked. It's actually niether's 'fault'. But Hitler was a christian, or catholic, he was not an atheist as the Christians claim it's clearly written in his book. But I thought the AiG stuff was from the whale legs thread, maybe I'm just loosing me mind;)

The ID guys themselves have finally said it's just fancy creationism. I'm surprised you didn't see that. It was AGES ago. That you didn't know this make it even more unclear were you fall in this.

Damn you M.O.R. for all the confusion;)

I was just funning with the swearing;) I don't really care:)

Boethius,

I have drawn Vulcans before but that was like 20 years ago. I'm actually not a Star Trek or Star Wars fan so I can't help you much. But what the heck is a Tellarites? Now if it was Stargate stuff, that I know:)

Best,

Brett

Anonymous said...

Oh the whale stuff (Mesonychids to Archaeocetes) was refuted on trueorigins.org site

but also on the Discovery Institute's site.

I'm sure AIG parroted those two sites.

-Steve

Anonymous said...

you liked the new Star Trek movie, right?

Brett said...

Yes, yes Steve,

All fountains of 'scientific' information. All unable to explain why some whales have legs. But the point is you aren't answering the question. If you don't want to state your views that's fine but it's kind of hard to argue with you if you're all over the place;)

I did like the new Star Trek movie, but not enough to want to draw it. They're just regular people with pointy ears and arched eyebrows.

Best,

Brett

Anonymous said...

I wasn't starting the whale argument up again.

This is what I think. You disagree, so I'm not going to respond on whales, but so you understand my position:

I think talkorigins (yes TALK origins) lays out the problems with the walking whales by adequately presenting the facts, and then they show the conclusion they jump to. It is possible to get to their conclusion, but it relies heavily on morphological evidence which is only applicable if you apply circular reasoning. The stratigraphical dating of the fossils is uncertain, some of the transitional fossils are likely contemporaries (Pakicetus and Rodhocetus.) In other words the current fossils do not line up in a clear chronological order which matches an evolutionary pattern from simple to more complex, worse they appear to have co-existed. This does not rule out the possibility of them being transitional forms, but it definitely leaves plenty of room for doubt. Once again pro-evolutionists rush to make a statement of concrete proof because of their philosophical beliefs, true science is a lot more cautious and is honest about the pros and cons of a line of reasoning. It could be true, but from we have now it is years away from being a solid fact, but they rush a conclusion which is overstating the strength of the evidence. That is bad science and that is my problem.

http://www.talkorigins.org/features/whales/


Steve

Brett said...

Hey Steve,

You must not be reading the same thing I am. Perhaps it's the fossils and the misunderstanding that the nodes don't represent species but families/groups. Yes there are some temporal mismatches, but we have not found ALL the fossils that have ever existed, the mismatches are just hold over species that haven't gone extinct it's not hard to under stand this. The science is solid, modern whales with leg bones point to on ONE conclusion, that whales at one point had legs. That they evolved. You're just looking for any excuse to ignore that.

Best,

Brett