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Author Topic:   Deconversion experiences
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 2804 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008

Message 226 of 299 (595768)
12-10-2010 10:45 AM

Bluejay's Deconversion Story
So, arachnophilia provided a prompt in the Can a valid, supportable reason be offered for deconversion for me to provide my deconversion story. I didn't consider it unique enough or interesting enough to share earlier, but I'll co ahead and provide some comments here.
The basic means of deconversion was an understanding of science, but it began when I was a Mormon missionary in Taiwan. While there, I discovered that I didn't function as well as other people, and couldn't handle the pressures of missionary life or leadership. I also began to realize that I couldn't tap in to some reservoir of spiritual guidance that all missionaries were supposed to have access to, even when I was doing all the things I was taught would bring this guidance.
I then began to get letters from home detailing the psychological problems that were suddenly being discovered in literally all of my siblings. I eventually had a complete breakdown and was sent home from my mission six months earlier than I was supposed to go. I met with several counselors (mostly residents at the University of Memphis), and received various diagnoses and went through prescriptions for several different anti-depressants, etc. Then, I left for college, and stopped seeing counselors, though, at my mother's request, I kept taking Zoloft. It was later suggested by a doctor that I might have an autism-spectrum disorder, though it wasn't severe enough to merit any particular treatments. My younger brother later received an official diagnosis of Asperger syndrome.
During my undergrad, I first intended to study linguistics, but quickly switched to engineering (following in my father's footsteps). I didn't like engineering because there was too much math and physics on the curriculum, and those classes were built to break morale by having a class average score of 49% on the exams, so I quit. I then wanted to go into medicine, and chose pharmacy because it would be a 9-to-5 kind of job and I'm good at memorizing lists of things (autism spectrum).
However, the requirements for pre-pharmacy included a lot of biology. At Brigham Young University (a Mormon-owned school), the professors have received permission from the church leaders to teach evolution in their course curricula, and so, essentially every biology class is geared, at least in part, toward getting Mormon students to stop thinking that evolution is evil. It only took one course, Biology 100, along with one or two conversations with a roommate whose mother was a biology teacher, to convince me that evolution made sense. However, I was the only student from the class who, at the end of the class, accepted human evolution (one other guy accepted evolution otherwise).
At that point, I became rather interested, and spent a lot of time reading what various Mormon leaders had to say about the topic of evolution, and switched my major from Biochemistry to Integrative Biology (which is, basically, just Biology with a fancy name). As time went on, I became more and more convinced that it wasn't against my religion to believe in evolution, and I became more and more interested in biology.
A semester (and a wedding) later, I was doing research in bioinformatics (which fell through when my advisor was denied tenure and moved to a different institution), and got a job with the US Forest Service and Utah Dept. of Wildlife Resources. I became interested in discussing the topic of evolution online, and began looking for a place to do so. My last semester at BYU was when I joined EvC.
That summer, I got a graduate position across the country from Utah, and my deconversion has been a rather uneventful process since then. I'm gradually discovering that there aren't any arguments that positively support the existence of supernature or gods or God.
I'm not fully deconverted yet: my autism-spectrum personality makes it very hard for me to deal with changes, and a full divorce from the culture and traditions I have always lived with would make me feel lost and unable to cope. I still live by the Mormon rules (e.g., no alcohol, coffee or tea) primarily because I always have and have develops a strong disinterest in changing that. I may never change that.
Furthermore, remaining Mormon has very positive consequences for my familial solidarity, which is important, because I now have two young children, and my siblings are scattered across the country. I do feel out of place with my family and my church, but, since I've never been good at socializing, I've always felt that way in whatever group I'm in, so that's not a big deal to me. I still get into debates with my father (a conservative intellectual type of IDist), but I try to avoid going too deep for the sake of harmony. But, I do want to debate the topic, so I get it all out of my system here on EvC instead of taking it up with my father.
There, that was rather long, but anyone who had the patience to wade through it might have found something worthwhile in it. At least now you know a little more about Bluejay than I was actually planning to tell you.

-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)
Darwin loves you.

Replies to this message:
 Message 229 by Kairyu, posted 12-11-2010 8:20 AM Blue Jay has seen this message but not replied
 Message 242 by xongsmith, posted 12-12-2010 1:59 AM Blue Jay has seen this message but not replied

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