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11/22/03                                                                                       View Comments

Psychology of Deconversion

sent in by Kevin

I’m wondering if anybody else out there has experienced anything similar to what I went through when I renounced “the Faith.”

When I first realized that I had sold my soul to a lie and was living my life for a future promise of everlasting life that was probably bogus I found myself with a problem. On the one hand, I felt wonderfully liberated from an enslaving mythology. I had become the captain of my own ship, and aside from chance circumstances that I cannot control, I was more or less back in charge of my life.

But a part of me missed the dogmatism. A part of me still longs for “absolute” pat answers to quench the gnawing questions that surface in my mind. I even find myself missing being the spiritual leader of a church. And I have to admit, from time to time the questions arise in my head “What if there really is a God and he kicks your ass at the last judgment?

Is this the work of the Holy Spirit in my life? Is he trying to convince me to rejoin the fold? Hardly. This internal voice that tries to push me back toward Christianity is nothing more than a remnant of my intense indoctrination as a fundamentalist.

I earned my undergraduate degree at an institution that thrived on emotionalism. I was required to attend chapel three times per week, and was subjected to intense group pressure. Visiting preachers would manipulate those in the audience to “come forward” by saying “If you feel convicted, come forward. If you don’t feel convicted, you REALLY need to come forward.” A masterful speaker can make the lone listener feel as though the entire group sides with him, and this creates a tremendous internal dynamic to conform to the group. As a species, evolution has endowed us with the trait of social conformity. In the past this has helped us survive. On the battlefield, for example, we cannot be individuals. In a society that is supposedly accepting of all beliefs (including a lack of belief), this trait can become our downfall. We conform to each other’s superstitions in order to preserve harmony at the cost of furthering our cultural evolution. We remain stuck in a quagmi
re of so-called “morality” that oppresses minorities (racial, sexual, and otherwise) and strives to return to a uniform belief system for all.

My opinion is that this is the basis of all human religion: Group conformity. Societies and cultures were controlled by religion for years. Religion is merely a tool used to promote conformity among citizens. The most ancient examples still endure: The emperor of Japan is Deity incarnate as was the Egyptian Pharaoh. In ancient Israel, it was the priestly class who spoke for Jehovah. In our time, the religious right would like to co-opt this role by “speaking for God” and assuring that the rest of us conform.

So, my fellow Atheists, Agnostics, Freethinkers, or whatever brand of heresy you have chosen to embrace, keep in mind that when the Christians come to this website to debate you, they are above all interested in your conformity. It isn’t so much WHAT you believe, but that you agree with them that matters. You have taken the plunge, extricating yourself from the shackles of superstition. Your very presence threatens them because it alerts them to the possibility of their OWN deconversion. They aren’t really fighting us when they debate us on this website. They are fighting their own doubts and struggles with their faith. You have simply become an object upon which they can externalize this conflict.

Why don’t some of you Christians come forward and address the issues of disbelief that had surfaced in your life? Why don’t you look at it honestly and examine the path that we who have left Christianity have trod? If you REALLY have the truth, you have nothing to be afraid of. If you don’t, well, maybe we can help you.

klb


City: Yuma

State: AZ

Country: USA

Became a Christian: 18

Ceased being a Christian: 36

Labels before: Independent Baptist, Charismatic

Labels now: Atheist

Why I joined: It's a long story . . . .

Why I left: An examination of the facts