Monday, March 21, 2011

It's not an easy task

This post was inspired by a friend of mine on youtube who was an atheist for about a year and has recently reverted to theism. She was a Pentecostal like myself and she recently posted some new videos where she tries to explain her journey. I will not identify her here but she reminded me of my initial journey from theism to atheism.

I have come to believe that the journey from theist to atheist becomes harder depending on your level of commitment to your theistic beliefs and practices. The deeper the indoctrination the harder it is to break free of it. I can personally attest to the emotional and mental anguish one feels when they are trying to break free from the talons of religion. My journey from theist to atheist was a long and difficult travail.

I can say that I genuinely had a fear of God in my heart, and I believed fully in what the consequences would be for abandoning "the way." As a fully committed evangelist who preached,cast out demons,and healed the sick, or so I believed the prospect of living without God was very terrifying and very real to me. It literally took me several years to get over my fear of the Lord and all the myths that accompanied my believing in him. The hardest step is the first step and that is the step of overcoming that initial fear. Once you have done that you are then ready to embark on your journey for better or for worse.

Once you make the conscious decision to break free from your fears then the next step is to weigh the evidence. The first thing I did when I left the church was to seek out evidence to explain away the many so called spiritual experiences I personally had in the church. I read books on psychiatry,psychology,hypnosis,auto-suggestion etc. I used to have frightening nightmares that continued even after I left the church that were very real to me. When I was a theist I attributed those to demonic attacks for battling against Satan and his minions on behalf of God. So logically I started studying sleep disorders that I can compare those experiences to. I still have those frightening nightmares today from time to time but now I know that it is nothing more than hallucinatory sleep paralysis, a common sleep disorder.

Eventually, I was able to explain away all of my so called spiritual experiences from speaking in tongues (glossolalia),apparent healing,exorcisms, etc. What I am trying to say is that as in all things knowledge is power. The more you know the more you grow. The churches greatest tool is fear, it is a sin to question God, it is a sin to doubt his word, it is a sin to turn away from the path of righteousness that the good Lord has put you on. Religion is about abasement and degradation and those things are not easy to overcome.

It is like an abused woman who is constantly being told by her abuser what a worthless shit she is all the time, a slut, and a useless whore. An occasional your fat and ugly or you can't live without me etc. If she hears it enough times she begins to believe it. Religious folks endure a similar abuse but they don't even realize it. They are told all the time how they should be grateful that God sacrificed his son for them, that they are nothing without him, that they are as the dust of the Earth. Religious beliefs, especially when they are taken to the extreme are in fact a form of mental and emotional abuse.

The key to breaking this cycle is through overcoming your fears and educating yourself. Keep in mind that as with other addictions such as drugs and alcohol you may need some help, but in the end this is your journey and you make the final verdict on which way you want to go. When you first leave the church keep in mind that there are many resources online where you can find help weaning yourself away from the indoctrination and falling back into it. Like a drug addict in the beginning it is likely that you may have a couple of relapses but you must stay the course.

The best way for me to describe this is like watching a very spectacular magic trick done right before your eyes by a very skilled magician. At first when you see it you may be left in awe, shocked even. But once you learn how the trick is done it loses its veneer, the jig is up. When you go back to church after having educated yourself thoroughly and you understand how all of that charismatic mess works it loses its power over you.

I hope that any recent atheist that has experienced or is experiencing any of the above on this post will be helped by this information. And know that if you need help finding where to turn for help I would be more than glad to point you in the right direction.


  1. David,

    I'm always thrilled to see a new post on your blog. This one really hit home for me. I take all of these types of issues very seriously because of my own personal history. Not only am I a "recovering Christian" but am am also a recovering alcoholic (21 years sober - Woo Hoo!).

    So...I can tell you that I think I understand what your friend is probably feeling at this point. One reason that people revert back into theism is the same reason for which they will relapse back into using drugs/alcohol; they fall back into the old and familiar practices because they fail to deal with the deeper inner personal conflicts that had kept them clinging to the only thing that seemed to answer and supply the emotional security that we all crave as human beings.

    Stepping out of the faithboat is one thing.....learning to swim on your own is another thing all together. It takes training, effort and practice to become a good swimmer. I can easily understand why some people give up the fight and retreat back to the ease and comfort of sitting in the boat.

    If being an atheist was easy, everybody would be one.

  2. Congrats Billy on your ongoing winning streak against alcoholism and theism. I agree with your reply to this post, it is sad to see so many good people sucked into a life of delusion. A person who is deeply indoctrinated is delusional and his or her judgment become clouded by those delusions. It is very difficult for someone like this to see with the eyes of reason.

  3. mr. nonsense on stilts...

  4. As you know, breaking the gravitational pull of religious belief takes a concerted effort. Even more-so for those of us who were deeply indoctrinated as children. I have a good friend (Art) who was lucky to have grown up in a relatively nonreligious home. He trusts me when I explain to him that I still struggle at times with the fear that I'm going to hell, but it is telling to see that the two contrasting childhood environments demonstrate how deeply I was scarred compared to my friend.

    I am not complaining though because it is the sum total of these horrible experiences in my past that feeds my passion today. I hope that someday I will be able to put it all to work in helping others escape the hell of Christianity.

    BTW David, you have no idea how much your writing has helped me. I can never thank you enough.

  5. @speck thanks for your compliments and support of my work. I like you feel that the damage done by religious beliefs is deep and long lasting. I personally have overcome my fear of hell but I still bare some of the psychological damage. This fuels me as well and makes me passionate in being able to help others escape the oppression of religious beliefs. I've made some enemies along the way but I have made some great friends as well. If I could help just one person then it will all have been worth it for me. I will continue to inform and share my insights on Christianity and religion in general.

  6. HI, im new to your blog. I actually just typed in some words with Google expressing how i felt about certain issues, and it matched me perfectly to your site. Im new to Atheisim, (6-12 months) However, i feel this is where my heart always was, but the lack of knowledge kept me in the blind spot. My family was never really into going to church or such, but they call themselves Christians of course. As i got older i started taking myself to church, reaching out for a family that i didnt really have. Over the course of 7 years i went from being baptized at a non-denominational church, to knocking on doors "preaching the good news" (Jehovah Witness) So needless to say, i was searchin hard, lol and it seems i've always found myself going against the grain (in todays christian society anyways) So... but the turn to atheisim was so quick and decisive. The idea that changed it all, for some might seem like an absurd idea to drop a God for, but its what did it for me. A friend of mine showed me a scale of some HUGE star/planet (still pretty unknowledgable lol) off in another galaxy and compared it to ours. It was instant of how small in comparisson Earth really was to this whole BIG magnificient place/world/galaxy/whatever. We are nothing but a grain of sand on the beach, and God went away from that moment on. I feel relieved. So many other ideas that i was not opening my mind to, or sheltered from have come up and their awesome. I was so judgemental of people if they werent "christians" I was keeping myself away from other types of people, variety, culture, ancient history, all these things i was taught god would disapprove of, and honestly i feel so light and so free now. Its hard to explain how looking at people, some people, as Gods children and la la la la to know we are people on a planet, and somehow it makes it so much more exciting, and bold. The world looks so much prettier and awe inspiring when there is no "master creator" behind it. Its here by chance, some random chance i take it, but here we are looking like this, on this planet with so many wonderous sights, and animals, all here by chance. As you can tell, i really have so many emotions tied up and not really sure of how to explain myself, but there it is, my story. But i was afraid to walk away, and it took some pursuasive talking to myself "well, IF there is a God after all this searching of one, and here i am walking away on search of something far greater, i just hope that he sees me doing this, and is happy that i didnt stop my search, i feel like the God ive been told about is being shoved in a box, and im finally ready to think outside of the box, and if 'He's' real, then he'll admire this" Thats what i told myself over and over to eliminate any guilt or fear i had of walking away. I dont know what i think is out there, if anything, but i can in confidence say that i no longer fear this Alpha & Omega character from the Bible, and i feel free.

  7. Katie,

    "Thinking for yourself"....what a CONCEPT ;-)

    Keep it up and be sure to check out all of Chatpilot's awesome articles. I also stumbled upon this site by chance and I'm sooooo glad I did.


  8. Katie welcome to my blog I live for people like you. I hope that by reading my articles you can gain a greater understanding of where you are right now. It's people like you that inspire me to keep moving on. I have been a slave to religion and now I am free. I want everyone to feel free from the oppression that is a belief in God. Stay tuned this is about to heat up very soon. Once again welcome to my blog and I hope that you will gain some insight from my articles.

  9. come see the LAST!

  10. Once you leave christianity, it's hard to believe that you were so gullible to have ever fell for the religious nonsense. It's mostly group coercion.

  11. You are absolutely correct Anonymous! It's a combination of group coercion and group cohesion. As they say; there is safety in numbers. Being a member of a church and sharing common beliefs and practices give one a sense of belonging. This is one of many reasons why it is so difficult to leave the fold. When I left I was angry that I had been gullible enough to have fallen for that trash. Thankfully now I am intelligent enough to see it for what it is: a myth!