1. What prompted you to make such a drastic change and how old were you?
2. a) Do you think that if your faith had been presented in a different manner by your family or your church/synagogue/political system/science/etc it would have prevented you from choosing to leave? b) If you didn't buy it yourself, why do you think it didn't "take"? c) Was how you were treated a factor?
3. How do you feel about it now? Are there any regrets? What have you gained?
4. How did it affect your relationship to your family and also impact the social circle you had?
5. Has anything replaced your old faith?
1. I was probably about 14 or 15 when I finally broke out of the trap of not looking critically at the God Problem for fear of angering him. It was prompted by the realizations that questions adults had always deemed 'silly' or 'unaskable' were usually the most valid and important.
A good example is "When are we ever going to have to use this?" I now wish I could have read books about subjects of my choosing all day rather than listening (or rather not listening) to lectures of a standardized curriculum, then going home and doing (or rather not doing) related homework. No one wants to sit and listen to inanities - we just draw the threshhold at different places.
A better example is "Who created God?" As a child, I was apprehensive about asking this question even to myself because it was such an obvious hole in the God hypothesis that God must not want me to think, much less talk about it. When I did bring it up, no answer I got was satisfactory (for the obvious reason). The three answers I got were
a)He created himself.
b)He's always been there.
c)You'll know when you're dead.
I wound up believing that I was the silly one for asking the question. Confidence can be deceiving, especially to a child.
Other questions were not so simple, and dealt with the whole set-up of things, for instance: Why did Jesus have to die to save us from our sins? Couldn't he just...do it?
To which I was answered, "because a payment must be made for the crimes that were committed against God." This made sense at first, until I realized that it was utterly backward. If I steal the judge's car, is it justice if the judge burns down his own house?
I just got fed up with making excuses for why countless contradictions and paradoxes must be so.
2. a) Nothing short of a strong bonk on the noggin would have kept me from reasoning my way out of that spiderweb.
b) The very essence of Christianity is that it deals with phenomena that cannot be tested much less proven by anyone anywhere anywhen in the universe. Even a Christian would laugh if I tried to get them to accept an argument of mine about any similar phenomena.
Also, I realized that the question "What is?" is a scientific question, and that theologans were no more qualified to make assertions in this area than I was, and I was just some kid.
c)I was treated very, very well. My parents always chalked up everything nice they did to God, and everything they did was nice! All of my friends have always been jealous of the love and kindness in my family. I've gotten many more compliments on my parents than I can remember I'm sure, so this was not a factor.
3. I feel like being a Christian, or belonging to any other similar faith, (which is any faith that involves faith) is disgusting. If you're retarded or otherwise stupid, you are of course an exception. However, if you were born believing in a specific god via a priori processes, and grew up knowing of this god even though not a single person ever told you anything about it, that would not be unreasonable. Unfortunately, under these conditions, you would be considered psychotic, but I can't hold delusions against the delusional (so long as the delusions are involuntary).
But to think that someone else has had the means to gain information about a substance the very nature of which denies that information can be gained about it, and then believe them when they empart this "knowledge" to you is the very definition of "the suicide of reason." Nevermind that legislation is heavily affected by this suicide of reason, I am upset on the personal level by this. I feel the same violent pity toward the religious as I do to a person on harmful drugs who wants desperately to quit but refuses to seek help - it is the drive to shake the other and yell, "How can you continue to do this to yourself!?"
The only times that I am filled with regret that relates to religiousity is when I recount some of my words, actions, and thoughts that I had while Christian.
I have gained the knowledge that I have solved a problem that many ponder until they die before I was sixteen. I don't claim a specific answer of course, but that is the solution - the rational understanding that no solution about these matters is possible. I have since pointed my interests in other directions.
4. My family still loves me, although I have grown apart from them, my mother especially, since I came out and said, "The jury is still out on matters that can't be known." I have told my INTP father, as a semi-bluff, that I no longer believed that he believed in God. I told him that he is too logical and clear-headed to accept this rubbish, and that while it may be good for the family and for his name that he appear to be a devout Christian, I know he doesn't really buy it, and at the most is taking part in Pascal's Wager. ("I can't know there is and I can't know there isn't, but isn't the penalty of not believing bad enough to where I should be a Christian?")
To me, a religious INTP looks like a flaming icecube. I just keep blinking and tilting my head, slackjawed and incredulous. They're like a man who wears floaties in the bathtub and drowns - they have every tool and advantage, but they still manage to fail.
As far as my social circle goes, our dynamic changed dramatically. First, I changed from being a Christian and there was tension between my Christian friends (my closest friends) and I. With love and patience, I was able to pull my now ex-Christian friends out of that vile state of self-deception. Some of them chose never to abandon their prejudice of course, but those who I was closest to have since become atheist, or at least disbelievers of any sort of personal god. I count these conversions among my finest accomplishments.
5. I have gained the incomparably valuable realization that I am not evil, and I have gained empericism.