Deconversion

by Chris Madden

I don’t have a dramatic story to share: my deconversion was a slow process that began in childhood. It began when I, a bored catholic boy started to discuss religious matters with a young child of a Jehovah Witness family. We went over the differences in our religions, but even then, I could tell that his faith limited the bounds of our discussion, and that I had hardly any of my own. I remember asking Matt which bible he used, and he simply declared it to be the first one. I did not press matters there, and did some researching of my own. I asked his mother if I could borrow those short books they had around the house and I enjoyed reading the extensive explanation in their stories that expanded the bible stores. Lovely paintings. Of course my mother didn’t like this and insisted that I study our religion before I start to investigate others, and of course I readily ignored her advice.

My curiosity always overpowered whatever beliefs I had at the time, and the lure of new information always promised something more than whatever I had. Being a huge fan of mythology, I could not help but notice that these stories were what ancient people took for their religion, so the same could apply to us when a future society perceived our religious stories as mythology. What made us so special?

By the time I turned 17, I realized there was a split between the science I respected and the religious dogma I was instructed in. Although I took the creation side in a creation vs evolution debate during summer camp, and won the debate, that was probably the last straw. The arguments I drew on in support for creation were horribly weak and unconvincing, merely arguments from ignorance and those god o the gaps stuff. So that led to a slippery slope to atheism, and once I turned 25 I was spouting Nietzschean hellfire and Humean brimstone to the terror of Christians everywhere.

I should add the qualifier that as a militant atheist, I spent several years on IIDB (during its heyday), debating with all sorts of Christians, from the blinkered creationist to the slippery apologist. My studies in philosophy allowed me to wield the strongest and most devastating arguments against theism, and for the most part it felt like taking candy from a baby, as I kept firing bullets splashed with demonfire 10 feet over the poor unfortunate soul’s heads.

However, I could not truly stomach how many atheists argued as well, and they were pretty uncritical, philosophically themselves, just like the very believer they were debating. That led me to suspect naturalism or the current pseudo-philosophy of the natural sciences. I mean, come on, philosophy has already moved beyond this naive realism over 200 years ago after Kant, and around this time I met Hugo and a brilliant theologian (in person). Their shrewd discussions led me to revise my militant atheistic position – for the theism/atheism dichotomy rests on an untenable epistemological divide – and for instance, Nietzsche was not an atheist in the same way Marx was, so the same distinction applies to Tillich and your garden variety Christian apologist (can’t think of one).

I started to get into irrealists like Nelson Goodman and Richard Rorty, and poststructuralist thinkers like Foucault and Derrida. Debating Christians no longer held any charm for me at that point, and I moved onto bigger game: human sciences, postmodern philosophy and metaphilosophy. These days, whenever a Christian or an atheist tries to engage me in their never-ending debate, I just point them to this blog and smile at them and keep walking.

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Awet

...a philosophisticator who utters heresies, thinks theothanatologically and draws like Kirby on steroids.

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