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My apologies to anyone on this list who has already heard this story, but with all the talk about deconverting Jehovah's Witnesses, I can't resist.My deconversion did not happen "overnight," but I did experience an exponential push towards atheism after meeting a Jehovah's Witness at work who targeted me as a conversion prospect. We began having lunches and discussing Jehovah's Witness doctrine. I was not in the least interested in becoming a Jehovah's Witness, but was honestly curious about their beliefs and what made them so different from mine (born-again fundamentalist Christian). I wanted to know what made them a cult, and, (blush) felt I could help this poor stray Jehovah's Witness see the light of my own true Christian beliefs--though they weren't even all that strong at the time and I was going through the motions. ANYWAY, to make a long story short, I read all their literature, laughed at most of it, but was astonished to find they convinced me of at least one thing...there was no hell. They really did logically convince me that the Bible had been misconstrued and misinterpreted in that regard, and it certainly fit better with what I wanted to believe about God. But...boy did that open another can of worms. Especially in the sense that whenever she had a point that was at odds with my own Christian arguments and biblical references, she would whip out her literature, and a Greek or Hebrew translation of the Bible to point out where my beliefs were based on a "bad interpretation" of scripture and how hers was the true one. This begged the question (and I asked it) - How could God expect people to all be Greek and Hebrew scholars? How can God hold anyone accountable for non-exposure or being exposed to a "BAD TRANSLATION?" Well, her answer, entirely unsatisfactory but predictable was: That's why Jehovah's Witnesses exist - they are "God's chosen organization" for clearing up the great confusion and shedding light on what the truth really is.
(Phew, I have to hold my nose even to write this B.S.) ;-)Well, it was just ridiculous to me that she could think an intelligent god would behave like this. But the logical extension of that had to apply to my own beliefs and how they were just based on some words in a book - words that people can and do take a thousand different ways to suit their own biases. And god isn't making any appearances to tell us what he REALLY meant, and god couldn't exactly be described as particularly "intelligent, wise and good" if he's going to get pissed off that people believe all different things or don't believe it at all based on simple human error or misunderstanding. Like I said, I couldn't call myself an atheist overnight...but after this the little dim bulb lit up with incredible intensity and I started reading everything I could get my hands on having to do with the Bible, it's history, and other people's perspectives on it. I gobbled up Steve Allen's books on "The Bible, Religion, and Morality" like a starved woman, and relished every page of his wit and humor pointing out the absurdities, inanities, contradictions, and downright nastiness contained within those pages.
Suddenly, traditional stories like Abraham setting about to sacrifice his son Isaac or the torture of Job seemed appropriately despicable--not holy. (Take the story and imagine it happening today and see how "holy" people would find it.) The whole concept of a human sacrifice for "sin" suddenly became completely nonsensical. I truly experienced a dramatic deconversion just from using my own mind.Eventually, there was no room to go. I was irreversibly enlightened as to the human origins of the Bible. I tried for awhile to pretend I believed in a benevolent "spiritual being" greater than myself just so I could say I believed...but then realized it was nothing but residual fear of letting go. I actually asked myself the question - "If I were born on a deserted island with no parents, no society, would I have arrived at any concept of "God", "Jesus", "Salvation", "Sin" on my own?" Fundamentalists like to claim there is this "Truth" inside us that we all automatically "Know" and either "Obey" or "Ignore." For me, the answer to the island question was - no way - and I haven't looked back since. When I accepted reason fully, accepted that I had no evidence except a lifetime of brainwashing and a book on which to base any kind of belief in god, I found I could embrace with peace even the concepts of natural mortality and no life after death. (Anybody else have a hard time as a Christian figuring out how heaven was supposed to be so wonderful and how you wouldn't die of boredom anyway?) I now feel more ALIVE and at peace with myself and others than I ever did the first 24 years or so of my life. ******************************************************* Dear God, Don't know if you noticed