Deconversion stories from The Skeptical Review

Dave Eaton

A final echo of religion?

I enjoy your writing immensely, especially the ongoing debates between you and fundamentalists. Great stuff, especially for a recovering religoholic like me. I was raised in an extremely conflicted religious environment, a hybrid of liberal Catholicism and fundamentalism. I have suffered immeasurably over the years worrying about "getting saved." As a child and adolescent, I felt as if I was completely hopeless and depraved because, after "making Jesus Christ my personal savior" (at least a dozen times) I would not be a "new creation" with a "new nature" that was supposed to be resistant to sin. Later I was a Catholic seminarian. I won't bore you with how horrible this was, but it ended with me being booted out unceremoniously because (a) I thought a lot and (b) I was persuasive enough to get other young men to think.

The only thing keeping my sanity (latent, perhaps) was my interest in science. After much twisting and writhing, I am in graduate school in chemistry at the age of 34. (Religion, if nothing else, has been time consuming.) Sometimes breaking clean of Christianity is still hard for me, though intellectually I have thrown off religion. I am slowly becoming 100% free of it. I have a child, a beautiful 3 year old boy, who will not suffer as I did. I will teach him to think for himself.

Actually, I have one experience I wanted to be certain to share with you. My life is so happy now, with my beautiful family life, my brain mostly free of religious garbage and recovering nicely, and my fascinating scientific career blossoming, that I find myself feeling grateful, but confused that I have no one to assign the gratitude to. I wonder if this is the final echo of my religious upbringing, the thought that I am not allowed to enjoy anything without shouting amen or doing the sign of the cross. It is just happiness, the happiness that comes naturally from living life with one's mind engaged and one's sense of purpose fulfilled. It is a happiness I could never feel trying to be a Christian.

One of my hopes now is to promote science and critical thinking, not just as a scientist but as a citizen and as a refugee from religion.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm inclined to think that Mr. Eaton's feeling that his gratitude should be assigned to something is just an echo of his religious upbringing. One doesn't escape immediately from the throes of religious indoctrination. It takes time to break all of the fetters. I suggest he assign the gratitude to himself, because he was the one who had the courage to break away from religious shackles.

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