The Pain of Deconversion, Part V – Backlash of Previous Bias


I’m just going to talk about where I am and hope someone can identify with it.

I see confirmation bias in myself. What initiated my deconversion from Christianity was thinking critically and it keeps me from being able to believe in anything else. I look at things from every possible angle. This is supposed to be a good thing, keeping one open-minded. In its extreme, it keeps one from coming to any conclusion due to seeing the logic in each perspective. I feel the need for some kind of foundation for my life, some kind of belief regarding spirituality whether it involves believing in something supernatural or not. However, every time I’m drawn to any perspective, I notice my own confirmation bias, the inclination to believe what I want. I’m dissatisfied. I’m rambling. And aching for resolve…

I want to believe there is something more than the natural can explain. Part of the reason is because of all the senseless, intense suffering in the world. Some are able to find meaning from their suffering – I’m not speaking of that. I’m referring to all the terrible and meaningless suffering. Refugees being displaced, children being raped, physical maladies suffered for lifetimes. Masses of lives cut short through murder and genocide. How long the list goes. I want to believe there will be some cosmic remedy or even just balance for all of it. There’s too much. Another part is my own selfish desire…

I miss the coping skill of being able to turn to a personal God in prayer whom I believed was attentive, had my best interests at heart and accepted me unconditionally (yes, despite contrary illustrations of God in the Bible, I believed that). It was a blissful ignorance of my bias. I’m now suspect of anything that satisfies my desires for spirituality because of my history of confirmation bias. And yet…

I’m still inclined to suspect there is something more. This is because I’m unable to attribute all the sychronicities, answered prayer and the impression of things always working for my good for so many years to mere confirmation bias and coincidence. Still, there is enough doubt in me to disallow me an acceptance of any alternate spiritual explanation for such occurrences because…

I see confirmation bias everywhere. I’ve explored other spiritual explanations for my impressions of something supernatural operating in my life. There may be aspects that would satisfy my intellect, but most of what I see in those who believe such things is a tendency to believe in other absurd and fantastical supernatural phenomenon. It seems some are willing to check their brain to believe what they want. In trying to be objective, I’ve even I turned to atheist views…

Atheists assert the universe has just always been. Christians say God has always been. Christianity has already been debunked for me in a myriad of ways and it’s no more preposterous to believe the universe has always been than God has. I get that. What I don’t get is that fundamental question – how? If the universe has always been (an idea inconceivable to my finite mind), why is it so farfetched to suspect there’s something more to account for existence than mere science can explain? From what I understand, strict atheists (as opposed to agnostic atheists) reject this possibility. Perhaps they entertain bias like me. Maybe there are things about the atheist perspective that suit what they want to believe.

Learning to depend on myself for explanations of life and solutions to life’s problems has been a tough road. I know it’s a necessity of emotional maturity (about time at my age), but I also know of healthy-minded, intelligent people who have some sort of spirituality. Why is it so complicated for me?

7 thoughts on “The Pain of Deconversion, Part V – Backlash of Previous Bias

  1. “If the universe has always been (an idea inconceivable to my finite mind), why is it so farfetched to suspect there’s something more to account for existence than mere science can explain?”

    Where I see the usual religious arguments about this going wrong is that they automatically jump from “there must be something more” to “there must be someONE more”. It’s another of our human failings, along with confirmation bias. We are too quick to jump to the assumption that the unknown cause of some phenomenon must necessarily be some kind of conscious mind. This tendency has been called “agenticity”, and I think that it’s one of the cognitive biases that led to the emergence of religion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment, UD! Religion has a variety of definitions. By my definition, it involves the external – external motivations (to please someone or someOne else), external observances of worship (rote rituals, obedience to a list of rules rather than one’s internal values) and the influence of religious community steeped in human-generated dogma. I’d be interested to know how you define it.

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      • That’s challenging, because the concept is kind of fuzzy around the edges, and there are some groups that are almost like a religion (like scientology), or other groups that would be religions if they had more than just a few people. I found a useful definition from Jared Diamond a while back:

        Religions generally have:

        Belief in the supernatural
        Shared membership in a social movement
        Costly and visible proofs of commitment
        Practical rules for one’s behavior (“morality”)
        Belief that supernatural beings and forces can be induced to intervene in worldly life.

        Not everything that we would classify as a religion has every one of these, but they definitely must have most of these, and must have the second item to qualify.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Shawna!

    Wanting for there to be something more than just this existence is something I think a lot of people can relate to. It manifests itself in a bunch of different ways. For me, it comes in whenever I catch myself wishing for there to be a better way to alleviate senseless suffering. Maybe it’s a gut reaction, or a sign that you have a strong sense of empathy. Regardless, it just needs to be tempered by your own good sense.

    Part of that process involves learning to trust yourself and to accept your own limitations. You might not be able to find a supernatural explanation, but that’s okay. Doing the best you can with what you have is all anyone can ever ask of anyone else. If you can’t find answers today, there will always be tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Learning to recognise where our biases led us to unwarranted and even incorrect conclusions can be a hard lesson to learn. I remember this pain in my own deconversion and I see internet theists making the same mistake and refusing to recognise that they could have made a mistake.

    Liked by 1 person

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