It literally took me six years to be completely free from my religious beliefs and indoctrination. The last thing to go was my fear of the Lord and my very real fear of death regarding what would happen to me if I died in my condition of unbelief. One of the things that turned me off the most as a believer is that when I sought help from the church elders or my fellow believers I was often told not to question matters so much and to trust God. I was warned against reading books that questioned the validity of the scriptures etc. When I first left the church some (very few) of the members and elders of the church visited me with the intent of getting me to repent and return to the ways of the Lord.
Once the church members and elders realized that they could not convince me to return they stopped visiting with me and started spreading rumors about me. About five years after leaving the church I ran into an old friend and he froze for a moment with his mouth open staring at me. He then ran at me and gave me a hug and said he could not believe that I was still around. I asked what he meant and he replied that they had said in the church that I had died from a drug overdose a while back! Another former friend I ran into once told me that he heard that I was seen on the street by someone from the church half bent over like a junkie! The funny thing is that I have never used drugs in my life!
My deconversion was very difficult for me and those six years were very trying times. I remember that I had addressed God in my very last prayer with a proposition. I basically told Jesus that if he would reveal himself to me as he did with Thomas in John 20:25 that I would be his faithful servant for the rest of my life.
So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." John 20:25
In the subsequent verses Jesus grants Thomas his request although he chastises him for not believing what he had heard from the other disciples about his resurrection and return from the dead.
26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:26-27
After all these years (19 to be exact) I have yet to have this one wish fulfilled. I haven't given up hope in it but I think that the probability of it ever happening is highly improbable. Faith wasn't good enough for Thomas and it is not good enough for me either. As an atheist I demand empirical and objective evidence before I commit myself to a belief system. I have come to the conclusion that I could never be a theist again. There are several reasons for this. The first is that after much study I don't find the Bible to be a credible source of information, faith without evidence is irrational to me, and my studies into the mind helped explain all of what I once thought were supernatural experiences.
I compare my conversion to watching an amazing magic trick for the first time and my deconversion to having that same amazing trick and its secrets revealed to me. As a kid I was fascinated with magic and I even had a magic set that I once used in a school talent show. When I had my first daughter I bought books on sleight of hand and card tricks to use later to amaze my child. I learned and practiced may tricks and got quite good at the sleight of hand. But one thing I learned from my little foray in magic was that once you know the trick it loses its mystique.
Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, in fact, all religions are in my opinion nothing more than beliefs based entirely on ancient myths and superstitions that dominated the minds of men before science had dispelled many of those erroneous beliefs. I consider myself to be a modern day Thomas: there's not an argument in the world that any apologists could make to convince me about the truth of Christianity nor the reality of their god. The term "God did it" is not in my mind an answer to the many questions that science has yet to solve such as the exact process of the origins of the universe or the origins of life itself. In fact, this so called answer does nothing more than raise more questions than it answers them.
The return to Christianity is in my mind only available to those who have never really left the faith. They might call themselves atheist but deep inside they still had questions about their faith and were more agnostic than they were atheist. I don't miss the music, the community, nor anything I experienced as a believer. Christian music and worship disgusts me to no end. In order to be a believer you have to first degrade yourself and accept that without Christ you are nothing. You must worship him and tell him how great he is all the time and live forever in gratitude for saving you from your disgusting sinful condition and ultimately eternal damnation.
Christianity in my current view is not that different from slavery. There is the master (God), the subservient believer, the laws that you must live by (commandments), the idea that you must obey the Lord, the idea that he knows your thoughts and the very intents of your heart! Christianity is dominated by fear and subservience. Like a slave who has obtained a taste of freedom I could never go back!
Note: All biblical passages are taken from the New International Version of the scriptures.