Would You “Deconvert”?

An on-going mystery all around us is the different way we reason and interpret events.  How could it be two siblings who grew up together going to church could end up taking opposite paths in their spiritual lives?

In a recent issue of the Journal of Religion and Society there appears an article, “Explaining Deconversion from Christianity;  A Study of Online Narratives” (Vol. 13, 2011). The authors dissected the on-line narratives of about 25 people who discussed their faith and the loss of it.  What they found sheds at least a little light on why people lose their faith and what happens afterwards.

The authors took what people wrote about their dissatisfaction with their Christian experience and placed it in four catagories: intellectual, theological, God’s shortcomings and interactions with nonChristians.  I can only touch on a few things.

Two thirds of the writers complained about intellectual and theological shortcomings.   These included such issues as the dilemma of a cruel God who is also said to be loving.

About 40 percent were disappointed with the God figure.  Why did God allow this or that to happen?  This most common theme was about the God who is unjust.

Surprising to the authors was how few writers said they were influenced by nonChristians. This was surprising because it is commonly believed people in the faith are vulnerable to temptation.

The most common pattern was people accepting the faith as children and losing it as young adults. In time we may learn even more about how and why people find and lose their faith.


26 Responses

  1. I’ve maintained for year that the biggest detriment to the Christian faith is Christians.

    Or more accurately, what mouth-foaming fundies portray the faith to be to those on the outside looking in; as well as to those on the inside who are not mouth-foaming fundies and wondering what on earth they’re doing associating with crazies like these.

    1. Before this is turned into an attack on Mac, this post is about the reasons people lose their faith.

      I am a man of faith who intends on staying that way, who is stating why I think people become disenfranchised.

      I do not care about why you think I’m going to hell.

  2. entech

    Theodicy or what is called the problem of evil was discussed a long time before Leibnitz coined the phrase. The most succinct version comes from Epicurus about 300 BCE.
    To some it is unanswerable, to others trite nonsense, I find defence and rebuttal both have problems. Certainly the defence that we have free will and if we can’t choose evil then we have no free will, is to me just a copout, as is “it is for the ultimate good” and so on.

    “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?

  3. Well, I do believe that there comes a time in life, when one must ask, “did God take my child home to hurt me, to leave me wondering why, to prove that he could?? Or, did he give me my child for a short period of time, and then take him home, because from the very beginning he had a very special meaning, a very special place for this child?? And my job was to impart life lessons to this child?? Only to lose him. And I was only to prepare him for a life, beyond?? Who is to know the answer to that question??

    1. S.L. This Tuesday we celebrated my brother’s 50th birthday.

      Well, kind of.

      His birth-defects caused him to leave this world 43 years ago.

      He left behind parents in their 20’s; a 7 year old brother and a baby sister a month short of her first birthday.

      This would fall into the “why does God do that stuff?” category.

  4. Bob Jorgenson

    “I do not care about why you think I’m going to hell” Mac 12:39

    Mac, that is the saddest thing I think I’ve ever read, that you say you’ll stay Christian no matter what, yet you obviously have been treated bad by your fellow Christians, indeed, even expect it. How very sad. You don’t deserve that.

    As to why god lets bad things happen, like to our children, even Jane Goodall has observed Chimpanzee mother’s who mourn, cry, at the loss of their babies. Its in us to mourn.
    Sam Harris has asked the question, if we could take a happy pill that would never let us not be happy, would we really want to? Would we still appreciate Hamlet? Would we not want to feel the pain of the loss of our loved ones? What would we be really losing if science invented such a pill. These are questions we will have to ask ourselves and solve as science invents new things. And scriptures will not be able to help us with this, in fact can’t because they didn’t have any of the science back then we have now.
    Here I go, long winded again. If anyone’s getting sick of me, sorry.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Bob. I don’t want to commandeer this post.

      That being said . . .

      I am a man of faith who believes in a spirituality beyond the human experience. Being brought up in the Christian faith would of course make me predisposed to Christianity. Had I been raised a Muslim I suppose I’d be grounded in that faith, providing I survived the idea that Muslims decapitate homos.

      In my opinion, I think it’s the ultimate in arrogance when humans think they fully understand spirituality and can definitively state the existence or non-existence of EXISTENCE beyond the human experience.

      I also appreciate the fact I can make that statement on a Freethinker’s blog w/o fear of being banned from comment.

      Opie? Thoughts?

      1. Mac 2:43 “Opie? Thoughts?”

        My wife asked, “What are you laughing about?” I said it was too complicated to explain.

        On a serious note, beautul expression and writing by all posters tonight. I’m greatful to have such readers here.

  5. Henry

    “Would You “Deconvert”?”

    This appears to be more a question for the atheists. Jon, Jorgenson, and Entech all have Christianity in their background and converted to atheism. In order for them to deconvert, they would have to go back to Christianity. For myself, I have been in Christianity all my life. To go to atheism, I would have to convert. Same would be true for Big Mac.

    1. entech

      To use a phrase beloved by many of a religious persuasion, I am offended. I have not changed my religion in any way shape or form. I went through a schooling system in a country that had a state religion; part of the curriculum was instruction in that religion which was known as the Church of England. Although I was Christened as a baby my family was one that only went to church for weddings and funerals. I never undertook confirmation, was neither discouraged nor encouraged, it was really a non-issue at home. Round about 10 years old I went to Sunday School for a few weeks, got bored and stopped, again a neutral response at home. As I grew older I came to think that all this church stuff was more than a bit doubtful and at about 15 or 16 declared that I did not believe that what I had been told/taught was true. I believe that is a fairly common age group for this kind of realisation. As I never confirmed my belief I don’t think it is correct to say that I converted from it.

      Conversion implies changing from one religion to another, whether a modest change of affiliation from, say, Baptist to Methodist, for family or social reasons, or, something more extreme like Judaism to Muslim.

      Although when I was much younger I was anti with an almost religious zeal, I do not think that Atheism as such can be called a religion – that some people treat it as such, as I came close to doing when younger, does not make it so. Simple rejection of one set of beliefs does not imply the acceptance of another set of beliefs. I know you will not agree, I know all your augments for your point of view and will not waste bandwidth responding, just saying my viewpoint is different.

      Finally what is the relevance of a hamburger, a big mac.

      1. Henry

        My friend Big Mac is not a hamburger.

        Christened in the Holy Spirit followed with backsliding away to the point of rejection of Christ. I’d call that a conversion any day of the week.

        1. entech

          Christened as a baby, no knowledge, no choice. Rejecting when growing up, backsliding?
          You can call it what you like, I think of it as just growing up.

          1. Henry

            Ahhh, the choice and knowledge of the christened provides the work to get the job done. I would disagree with that as sound Baptismal doctrine. I’ve always thought baptism to be a work of the Holy Spirit.

            And growing up…..converting from an immature state to a mature state. Deconverting from an immature state to a mature state? Deconverting doesn’t fit, even in the context you would like to use.

          2. Henry 9:20 “I’ve always thought baptism to be a work of the Holy Spirit.”

            I’m pleased you put in the disclaimer of, “I’ve always thought…” There is no evidence of a “Holy Spirit” other than what exists in people’s minds.

          3. Henry

            Jon: “There is no evidence of a “Holy Spirit” other than what exists in people’s minds.”

            Sure there is. Without the Holy Spirit, I would have “converted” from Christianity after my christening. The Holy Spirit makes my faith possible.

          4. Henry

            You can’t verify Jon. You don’t know me. If I had my way, I’d be involved in pursuits of self-destruction as both the basis and emphasis in my life. Call it an opinion if you want. It matters not to me.

            I can understand your inability to understand at this point. There is a strong likelihood you may have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. My sympathies.

          5. Henry 6:27 “You don’t know me. If I had my way, I’d be involved in pursuits of self-destruction as both the basis and exphasis of my life. Call it an opinion if you want..”

            I’m trying to follow the logic of this. I wrote earlier that there was not evidence of a higher power. You responded with the above, meaning proof of a higher power is that you have not self destructed.

            I don’t believe in the higher power. I have not self destructed. Is that not evidence there is no higher power?

          6. entech

            Henry, why do you keep calling me atheist, I don’t deny the existence of all and any God, just your polytheistic and idolatrous ideas.
            Interesting that you say your belief in the HS is proof of existence, “The Holy Spirit makes my faith possible.” But you have long demonstrated that words mean what you believe them to mean and have little relationship to reality. An interesting variation on Descartes, “I think, therefore it is.”

          7. Henry

            “Interesting that you say your belief in the HS is proof of existence”“The Holy Spirit makes my faith possible.”

            Therefore, a distortion.

          8. entech

            All that meant was that if the HS did not exist it could not make you faith possible.
            but I never I mind I give up again. Whatever you say.

          9. Henry

            “I don’t believe in the higher power. I have not self destructed.”

            Are you sure about that?

            ” Is that not evidence there is no higher power?”

            Sure, I’ll grant you that is one possibility from strictly a perspective of reasoning only. Another possibility is if it isn’t broke, why fix it. You may be considered a “sure bet” by the opposing side to Christ, and thus you are left alone.

  6. I needed help to de-convert. I went to a deprogrammer who saved my life. I grew up with fundy Xianity. It very nearly destroyed me. Today I am able to think for myself and I rejected all except that I do think their is a continuing experience after death. Far too complicated to go into now but I believe based upon evidence over the last 30 years. I have no interest in getting others to believe the same. I no longer have to fear that it is Satan in me making me question all I was told, nor that i am possessed, no more ‘deliverance’ meeting aimed at getting me exorcised of whatever demon they decided was causing me to not hang on their every word. In other words I had to see the world their way or I was evil. I lost my whole family but gained my life. I am thankful for that and live a good and happy life, something I did not think possible.

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