Aaron Springer’s De-Conversion Story

“Dear friend,

“I hope this letter finds you well and in good health.

“I feel that I need to tell you of my journey to Atheism. Whether you are a Theist or not, I think that understanding my journey might help you understand why I am where I am.

“First, I started my religious journey as a Presbyterian at Sunny Side Presbyterian Church in South Bend, Indiana. As I was very young, I only remember bits and pieces of the experiences there. As far as the theology, it completely escapes me, but it is the first religious experience of my life.

“When my family moved to Indianapolis in 1984, my parents attended a church called Westminister Presbyterian. I have fond memories of the after school program there. I think it may have been where I first gained a love for architecture, as the building was full of
alternative hallways and stairways that turned the entire building into the best hide-and-seek arena ever conceived by man.

“I remember bits and pieces of the theology, most of it pertaining to pretty standard Biblical teachings. There was none of the off the wall bizarreness that can be seen in some churches.

“I remember a time when we stopped going to Westminister. I am not sure why. Again, I was a bit too young to understand.

“The next church I remember was the Vineyard Christian Fellowship. It was small when we started, a handful of adults and slightly more kids, meeting at a conference room at Best Lock on the north east side of Indianapolis. This ended up being the longest church experience of my life, and where the seeds of atheism were first planted.

“From Best Lock, the church moved slowly from location to location as it was growing. At one point, it was meeting at the Ransburg YMCA. At the time, they had dipped into the “Gifts of the Spirit” theology. People speaking in tongues, prophecy, etc. They even had the kids doing it. I played along, not quite believing, but enjoying the freedom of just speaking gibberish and having the adults fawn over me and the other kids. The event that had the biggest impression on me was when, during one of these episodes, I was tired of just babbling and decided to write nonsense. My father grew enraged at this, and took me out of the worship area to scold me, telling me that this was the “work of the devil.”

“Looking back on this incident with the eyes of an adult, and remembering the feelings I had as a child, I realize now that it was the point at which my journey began. To me, this was no different than the kids rocking back and forth on the floor, babbling. It felt no different within me to do this instead. Yet, my father was convinced that this was evil and the other was not.

“How could he know, but I could not? There was no difference I could see within myself no way I could judge the events. This had a deep impact on me.

“The next time the adults brought us all into the service to perform our “little miracle,” I babbled for a while, then willed myself to stop. Immediately, the nonsense words stopped. I had control over it. The words came from me, not God, because I had control over it.

“The adults were wrong. This is a world changing realization for a ten year old, especially about something as basic to one’s existence as religion.

“I still sang the songs, I still went to church. The Vineyard moved away from those theologies, and settled down. I became a teenager.

“Soon, the congregation was huge. We had to meet at Brebuf High School and have two services just to contain everyone. Something was changing, though, and the Vineyard was about to tear itself apart.

“Before this happened, our attendance dropped off, and we eventually stopped going.

“I remember that we went back to Westminister briefly, but it was not the same. We felt like visitors and not congregants. We stopped doing much religiously, for unknown reasons.

“I met a friend named Xavier at The Children’s Museum. We were both youth volunteers, and I really began to look up to him. His mother was interesting and fun, reading my palm the first time I spent the night roleplaying at his place.

“Something major happened in her life, and, at the time, Xavier was with his father. She had become a friend, so I went over to spend time with her. While I hung out with her, we went over to see a friend of hers, someone I recognized, Daisy. She had just gotten back from a Samhain ritual.

“My mind was beginning to open to new possibilities. Elizabeth, thank you. You opened the door for me.

“My parents were focusing on going back to college, and I began to feel a bit alone. My school work took a dip, and I went from the honor roll to dropping out of high school within three years. They planned to close my high school. My girlfriend, charitably, was a nice person, but completely ill matched to me. I tried various jobs, and ended up working at a mail order place, receiving calls. I ran into an old friend, who introduced me to a new girl, and I broke out of the rut I felt I was in.

“I started working in computers, tried to move out, tried to start a life. Church was not part of the equation; it hadn’t been for a while.

“When things fell apart, we turned to my new girlfriend’s estranged father, Jim, for help. He found us a place to live, and we started going to the Pentecostal church he and his mistress attended.

“This was the second big blow to Christianity for me. I watched as the church demanded that Jim’s mistress, who was married to an abusive husband, return to her husband. It wasn’t as much a demand as a kidnapping. That night, Jim got really, really drunk.

“How could people who preached love do this to someone?

“The next week, as they called everyone to offer up a public prayer, I stood and read Matthew 6:5. I did not go back.

“The third strike came a few months later, after my move to Seattle. Melissa was gone, having left me, and I sought solace at a church.

“I felt like there was something there, something real. But, I was not a part of it. Part of me felt that it was time to look for something else.

“It was that day that I left Christianity. I did not leave out of anger, or out of spite. I did not leave because of a bad experience (although that was a part of it.) I left because I felt it was the wrong place for me.

“After returning to Indianapolis, I puttered around a bit. I called up an old friend, Brandon, who introduced me to the social scene he had become a part of. I went to Wyrd House. I ran into Daisy again. Brandon introduced me to the group he belonged to, Thalia. Again, there was Daisy. Third time’s a charm, I suppose. I started going to Thalian events, where I met my first wife. I became Pagan.

“Six years as a Pagan later, my divorce finalized, my life once again a mess, I left Thalia, and, later, Paganism. I had learned a lot, and look back fondly on my time as a Pagan. But, once again, the time had passed.

“So, here I was, kind of spinning out of control, no religion, no plan.

“So, I went to college. I have to admit, racking up enormous debt to get an education has been one of the pivotal turning points of my life. Things leveled off, I met my lovely wife, Katie, and I could once again address faith.

“I had pretty much had enough of organized religions, due to the realization that all religions had pretty much the same problems. After examination, I found the only way tol rectify a belief in God and an utter lack of faith in religion was to become a Deist.

“So, it was at this point that random chance would play a part. I ran into Francesca King in a class I was a TA for. The last time I had seen her, I was in second grade, and she was in fourth.

“She and I began to have talks about faith. She is an Atheist, and we had discussions about God free of dogma and the trappings of religion. Again, my mind was opened (Many thanks, Francesca!). She made some excellent points, which had me seriously questioning my belief.

“So, I stopped assuming that there was a God, content to be an Agnostic. This did not last very long, as looking for logical evidence of God left me with the inescapable conclusion that there were some major logical inconsistencies with the idea of a higher power. Sure, there could be a watchmaker god without too many contradictions, but, if that were the case, it’s existence would be irrelevant.

“So, I am left without dogma, with holy writ, without belief, without religion, and, finally, without any reason to believe that God exists. My objections to letting the idea of God go had been stripped away. Examining the evidence, I find there to be huge problems with all major religions, and huge problems in the idea that God exists.

“x^2 = 4. X must be either 2 or -2. If it is an area problem, -2 is eliminated logically, as negative distance is not possible. If all other possibilities are eliminated, the only one left must be true. It may not be comfortable, it may not be accepted generally, but it is still true.

“I have tagged people in this note that were influential through my journey if they still exist on my Facebook. I present this letter to my friends in hopes that a bit more understanding can be gained. I do not expect or hope that this will challenge your beliefs, but, if it does, drop me a line and we can talk.

“For now, all evidence points at Atheism being the path of logic for me. We’ll see what the future brings.”

–A. Springer, 6/6/2011

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De-Conversion Stories

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