Deconversion stories from The Skeptical Review
Dr. Dorothy B. Thompson
Who Needs the Devil?
Bruce Weston's article "Doubts But Questions about Prophecy" in the January/February TSR brought back memories of my own evolutionary journey from religious belief to the delicious freedom of atheism. Many experiences along the way are stepping stones to rationality. Mr. Weston's belief that he could never "just write off God completely and be an atheist like you" is certainly familiar to me.
In my case, I was "born in a Baptist cradle and spanked with a Baptist paddle." I went to a Baptist college, married a Baptist preacher, and gave birth to four p. k.'s (preacher's kids). I was a Sunday school teacher, church pianist, choir director, and was deeply involved in every aspect of church life.
It was perhaps 25 years later before I actually read all of the bible, rather than just the sound bites I'd heard all my life. Reading the bible was the key that opened the door. And it was a door that could never be closed again. It took another five or six years before I could think of myself as an atheist, one who believes in no gods at all.
As soon as I admitted it, I was rejected by my three grown sons and most other relatives. Only my daughter, who had also been studying the bible and history, did not withdraw her love and support. So I fully understand the "fear and trepidation" heaped upon T. M. Utchen by his Southern Baptist mother-in-law.
Yesterday I read again Emmett F. Field's lecture "Is the Bible the Word of God?" published by Dave Matson at the Oakhill Free Press. In just 36 pages, Emmett Fields unravels the myths of the Christian bible. The Christian god, as depicted in the primitive writings of the Old and New Testaments is a murderous tyrant, brutal, vindictive, obscene, pornographic, who has prepared a place of everlasting torment for almost every human being ever born. As Fields says, "With a god like that, we don't need a devil!"
I am ever grateful to the great minds who have taught me along the way: Voltaire, Thomas Paine, Dr. Madalyn O'Hair, Dave Matson, Farrell Till, Leland Ruble, Judith Hayes, Kersey Graves, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and others too numerous to mention. My life as a religionist was one of fear, guilt, subjection, and misery, but life as an atheist is peaceful, happy, exciting, and confident.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I hate to sound like a broken record, but I can't help pointing out from time to time that those who have tried Christianity and rejected it seem to be unanimous in their opinion that life has been much more satisfying to them as skeptics and atheists than it was when they were Christians. This is completely contrary to the commonly expressed view that we hear from Christians who think that life would be nothing but gloom and doom if they didn't have their god to believe in.
I hope that Bruce Weston and all others who are presently experiencing the mental turmoil that inevitably comes with "deconversion" will recognize another common thread in the letters of those who have already traveled this route. Uncertainty and even fear are quite normal during the transition stages from believer to nonbeliever. It's mentally painful while it is happening, but after it's over, relief and satisfaction will replace the psychological anguish.
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