Why did I deconvert from Christianity?
It depends on whom you ask.
After my deconversion process (it took about three years), those I encountered attempted to explain my experience from their religious perspective. Below are some of their reactions.
One friend bluntly stated that I simply didn't want to live under God's authority. Another decided I had never truly been "saved." Another thought I wanted to live in sin. Many believe my deconversion was an emotional reaction to bad-behaving Christians. Others are certain I harbor bitterness. One friend accused me of arrogance; another took the opposite view: I was coming to terms with feelings of inferiority.
I wonder: Why can't my Christian friends accept the fact that my disbelief in supernaturalism is nothing more than simple logic? Why don't they understand that I disbelieve in the Christian God for the same reason they disbelieve in pagan gods: Supernaturalism is, quite literally, nonsense?
The answer to that question resides in my memory; a time when I was certain God existed. There must be a reason, I supposed, why someone would deny the existence of that which is obvious.
(Mis)Preception of reality
I pointed a friend to a salt shaker on a kitchen table.
For me to deny the existence of the salt shaker is for me to deny reality. Therefore, my friend must search for plausible explanations for my irrational denial. Maybe I had a bad experience with salt shakers? Maybe I want to live a salt-free diet? Maybe I'm insane?
Then I removed the salt shaker.
For my friend to deny the nonexistence of the salt shaker is for him to deny reality. Therefore, I must search for plausible explanation for his irrational denial. Maybe its a cultural impression? Maybe he needs an emotional crutch? Maybe he needs moral guidelines? Maybe he desires a sense of purpose?
Theists view atheists as those who deny perceived existence. Likewise, atheists view theists as those who deny perceived nonexistence.
In their effort to convince me the salt shaker really exists, Christians often resort to what I call "firewall" arguments. These usually come packaged in short questions that demand an answer. Christians view them as slam-dunk conclusions; a painfully misplaced notion derived from pop apologists. Firewall questions, they believe, cannot be penetrated.
One firewall question asks, "Was Jesus Lord, a lunatic or a liar?" Another is, "What do you do with with Jesus?" Answering the questions produces little. Christians typically respond to answers with wry grins. Then they repeat the question, wholly ignoring the response.
A pentecostalist friend approached me in a hardware store parking lot a few weeks ago and, inches from nose, planted a seed thought. He rehearsed the story of Voltaire's office where he denounced the existence of God and, today, houses the American Bible Society. (My friend could not remember Voltaire's name, nor the name of the American Bible Society. I had to help him.) I didn't have the heart to tell my friend that the story is an urban legend that grew from a decades-old misreport. I simply smiled until he went his way shouting another seed thought; something about hell being very hot.
There is a component of the human mind that convinces us that truth is generated by a volume of verbiage. That truth is somehow enhanced by volume of decibels. Christians, therefore, seem to believe that by reciting whatever apologetic diatribe they think is most convincing at a decibel level designed to minimize contradictory verbiage will establish truth. I would like to tell them it doesn't but, sadly, I can't get a word in edgewise.
What to do
Though I readily admit I harbor a love for debate, I learned early that attempting to reason with my Christian friends was futile. What's more, I have no urge to evangelize anyone into naturalism. If they are content believing in the supernatural, why would I want to stop them?