My de-conversion (if you will) was really an accumulative impact.
It was also one that really threw me for a loop.
I can remember waking up in the middle of the night and begging for a sign from god that was I had deduced was wrong and that he did exist.
This was because for 20 years I truly believed in it - and how can all that be gone? How can what I knew to be real, not be real?
Not only that, but if you believe and see morals and the constructs of the world and universe through god - what happens when god goes away?
I was basically broken and baseless.
Ironically, that is one of the reasons why I typically drift over to alt.bible and christnet, etc. I don't do it to be an ass, though invariably I'm taken as one, but because I know how I felt in that situation. I also now see all the narrow-mindedness and deception that went into many of the things I was taught and in many of the views I held (whether by intent or ignorance). I realize the more people out there that believe then the more children that will end up believing, ad nauseam.
I felt duped and I had a hard de-conversion.
I didn't turn to crack and auto-theivery but it was an emotional and intellectual earthquake for me - and one I'd prefer not be placed on others (thus the irony that I will openly engage any theist).
I was a missionary as a teen in the summers between school - until my junior year. I was diagnosed with cancer and ended up losing body parts, hair and weight (not to mention what was sure to be a Mr Olympia career unlike any other). I spent some time in hospitals and cancer wards - and since I was below 18 then I would get placed with juveniles. I saw 3 yr old kids cough up blood and cry, parents robbed of all energy and nothing but pleading in their eyes, etc.
Somehow, I still managed to keep the faith through all of that- though it later reverberated back to me.
I made it out alive (obviously and much to Keith's chagrin).
Later in college, I was two-timing it. I went to a standard state university for engineering and physics, but went to an apologetics school in the summer.
There I developed this grand idea to write a book on the truth of Christianity (keep in mind I was a fundie) using the analytic mindset I'd begun to hone in engineering school.
Here is another deep irony... I tried to analyze the bible as a whole, book to book, and piece together the how's and why's.
Thereby, I'd have an irrefutable proof of the irrefutable truth of the irrefutable bible (that was the working title of the essay).
Guess the problem that developed?
The pile of instances of contradictions, illogical and incongruent themes and stories, etc piled up and my irrefutable proof went the way of Dodo (the new working title of the essay).
As irony (a thematic persistence in my life) would have it, I finally flipped my lid.
Instead, I wrote an essay to my family, preacher, etc on why I do not believe in Christianity... hello Buddhism! Taoism! Uh... spiritual guy.... then atheism.
Incidentally, I still have the rather lengthy and verbose essay and at one point made it into a web page that was then advertised via atheism.org (though I used the moniker orcinus and haven't checked on my page in years).
I openly sent and would talk to whomever (preist, preacher, missionary, friends, etc).
Alas, I found an unfavorable and unjustified characteristic of many a Christian - I was getting divorced at the same time.
I followed in what Rapp already described - the marry soon because sex can't be before marriage and Jesus likes Christian babies - type mentality.
My de-conversion went over real well.
My local pastor decided that rather than refute my essay or discuss my anathema, we needed to talk about divorce and sin, what was going on, etc. My mother was similar - my de-conversion was really an excuse in order to escape the sins associated with divorce or perhaps future sexual escapades (which forever ruined my porn-star aspirations) and therefore not an intellectual exercise against god but one against sin. In other words, reject god so you can do what you want to without guilt. I encountered a lot of that - even though the timing was circumstantial.
I had come to this conclusion from a Christian backing and aim. Really, the feelings associated with guilt and sin took a long while to go away. Even if I happen upon an attractive girl, it used to arouse guilt via sin association. Now the arousal is a little different...
And that! is the abbreviated version of how I came to be who I am.
My mother won't discuss it. My father ignores it as though it is not. Most of my siblings don't bring it up, other than one sister. Ironically, she has a degree from some bible school in Pooduck, Missouri or some such in biblical nonsense and how to justify it. But, she will readily concede that it is not based on reason and only through faith and a personal relationship will things make sense. It is frustrating to talk... but I will give her that she is calm and collected about it. I have had to wipe spittle off my face or been asked to leave people's houses before.
Thus, now, I just hang around on the net and harass Keith and wonder what girls like Trance and Lollipop actually look like (see arousal comment earlier)...
Written by El Guapo of AvC