I'm still an idiot concerning the rest subjects, but I know that I'm making the smart choice with my atheistic stance. So, hooray for having a worldview that makes me feel good, instead of worrying that I'll be burning for eternity and getting filled up with guilt!
Not saying that every Christian is an idiot, but I definitely was. I am a bit ashamed of what I used to believe.
This shouldn't be interesting to anyone, so you may skip it, it's just another testimony. It doesn't matter it's an atheist testimony, it's still as boring as the religious ones. But I'm posting it because of the the past I have: debating atheists in Christian groups, back when religious debates were a very hot topic in here.
The religious debates on Last.FM, and on most occasions, are fueled with rage. Debates rarely involve people who are looking for the truth. What I see is people, coming with their strong and long-held opinions, trying to convert others. Even if it's scientific facts VS religious fundamentalists, it still ends badly. The earlier do not want to abandon logic and the religious just cannot be changed by talking to them on the internet. If they had such weak faith, then they wouldn't be here to support it.
All in all, debating was an unpleasant experience and you could see that from the way every argument ended: back where it started, only now the people involved hated each other a little bit. But it was useful, because we all had to look up stuff and provide citations for everything...only to enhance our own beliefs and prove nothing to the others.
No side ever had any direct converts. Even I can't say that it were the debates that changed me (I had stopped debating many months before I gave up my faith in God). Belief or non-belief is life-changing and no one would be "weak" enough to embrace it in an instant, as if he had made some petty mistake.
I'd like to publicly apologize to any atheist I ever angered. I can understand now how the irrationality of faith could make you rage so hard. Sorry for being an idiot. It happens to all humans: we all get blinded by emotions.
As a piece of advice to atheists trying to de-convert Christians, I don't think you'll go anywhere, unless the believer can use reason properly. It's easy to teach someone what logical thinking means and make it part of his everyday life. But your best bet is that his first skeptical stance won't be on his faith. Look at how many scientists believe in God today, even they haven't applied skepticism to their beliefs! So you can't just show some fundie, that grew up believing evolution is a lie, how God is illogical. His WHOLE LIFE is devoid of any skepticism and now you're trying to get him thinking about God? Impossible. Start small, let him figure it out on his own. It's a process where you don't have to interfere directly and start being pushy with your arguments. Chances are, that when his faith is shaken by something you say, he'll start praying to feel connected with God again and repress his skepticism.
What happened to me is that I wasn't applying skepticism 100%. I would use logic perfectly, when discussing another religion or a pseudoscience. But I'd never be skeptic with my own beliefs. There were contradictions between my religion and reality, logical paradoxes within the Bible, lack of credible evidence. I ignored them, hoping that I'd eventually find some answer. I couldn't possible change my whole life as a Christian for a few days, only because I couldn't figure out some theological doctrine. Hey, turns out that Christians are deluding themselves and there really is no logic in some things! What a relief to know that you don't have to press yourself to find an answer, but just accept that Christianity is flawed.
In fact, I was afraid of facing reality as it is. This was the emotion that blinded me.
Science and Philosophy are just plain human reason. You would have gotten the same conclusions about the world if you were immortal and had enough time to study everything. It's just that science helps people unite their ideas through time and collectively draw conclusions, each idea interacting with the other. So it's not reason or science versus religion. It's reality versus religion.
Reality was scary, because we know so little about the world. I was afraid to say "I don't know", so I look for definite answers in Christianity. What is amazing is that reality is greater than whatever we make up. For example, we used to believe that we are so special, having the Sun orbiting us, being the center of the universe and being created straight from the most powerful being in the world. But the truth about our solar system, space and evolution is much more crazier than anyone could ever imagine. Not to talk about theoretical physics, which just seem to be beyond every imagination.
And God seems so earthly. Even saying that God is transcendental and beyond human comprehension seems human-like to me. Cheap tricks, mere fiction, simple imagination. The truth just can't be so simple that anyone could come up with it. This is why I have this strong intuition that God doesn't exist, but I remain what Dawkins would call a "de facto atheist".
In short, we know nothing, life is scary and this is the only chance you get to experience reality. Christianity says life is sacred and it's easy to speak about this life, since you have an eternity following up. But, really, life is all you get. It's not just sacred, it's everything. I sound pretentious, but luckily not enough so as to make this paragraph a Tumblr post.
I already regret posting this. If you read the whole thing, reconsider your life and redefine your priorities. I know I will.
For a start, I think I'll develop a nun fetish, the nuns symbolizing the faith that used to nurture me like a parent. It's like an Oedipus complex, only with religious archetypes instead.