Hinduism was my Undoing

Lord Ganesh

Lord Ganesh

I used to be a Christian.  And like many former Christians, my deconversion was slow.  But after a few years, I was finally able to admit that I was not a Christian, first to my non-Christian friends and then worriedly to my Christian friends.

When I told my deconversion story, I changed it depending on the audience.  To some I had told a deconversion story about the inconsistencies and contrived nature of the Bible but.  To others, when  I would also share how I came to realize that I was self-delusioned when talking in my head to Jesus (see my post here).  Or on some days I’d tell the listener what I felt were the philosophical difficulties with theism.

But over the months of blogging here, I have come to realize that while those reasons played a role in my deconversion, a very important factor was also my encounter with Hinduism. (see my post on “Hinduism was my Undoing“).

I had allowed the head-nod of others to let those other explanations drown out my Hinduism explanations because few of my American listeners were really interested in Hinduism or interested in my stories of my days in India.  Mind you, the crowd reading this blog is very different than the people I run into in my daily existence.  (ahhhh the beauty of the web!)

Indeed, it was my encounters with Hinduism that was the beginning of my deconversion, not Bible analysis, not the ontological argument nor insight into my mental habits. My deconversion started in a very concrete simple manner. It was when I meet wonderful Hindu people who held beliefs radically different than mine. At first I tried to argue against Hinduism. Then I realized I didn’t really understand Hinduism — so I studied it. As I did that comparative analysis, I started to see how we all form religious thoughts and how we all use beliefs to anchor our lives.   Hinduism (in an odd way) was the undoing of Sabio’s Christianity.

  • To understand this symbols in this picture, see my site’s most popular post: Hindu Iconography.
  • I love comparative studies, they are the strongest fuel for changes in my thoughts.
  • My Cat vs. Monkey Religions post illustrates one of the comparative religious concepts that Hinduism forced me to wrestle with.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

24 responses to “Hinduism was my Undoing

  1. Islam was my undoing, although I still consider myself Christian in a very liberal sense. I’m actually immensely interested in Hinduism and have yet to work up the courage to visit a nearby temple (maybe next week).

  2. “It was when I meet wonderful Hindu people who held beliefs radically different than mine.”

    Not specifically Hinduism for me, but one of the major catalysts of my deconversion was meeting all sorts of wonderful people who weren’t Christians.

  3. I’m constantly frustrated by atheists who insist there are no gods of any kind, and proceed to “prove” it with a contemptuous dismissal of the judeo christian notion of god.

    Haven disproven Jesus, they think they’ve disproven every possibly notion of god that human ingenuity has come up with thru all the ages. Generally, when informed these other ideas of “god” exist, they become three years old.

  4. Andrew

    Kind of a quick response to uzza here:
    “When the Western Atheist says that he does not believe in God, it is, at the imaginative level, Deuteronomy’s God who he rejects.”- Jack Miles

    There is a select group of atheists out there that have mined the deposits of many cultures and come to the dismissal of each god in turn, but yes it does get boring and frustrating to hear, “There is no God because the Bible sucks!” or some such thing.

    When I started commenting on blogs, I used the ‘Fundamentalists took away my notion of God’ thing, so Sab’s comment on head-nodding acceptance vs memory-authenticity-or-accuracy rings quite a lot in my own head. One of the Jesus Seminars scholars (from a while ago) made some comment about how we shouldn’t really trust the memories we hold of even just a few months ago, let alone the accuracy of old texts…

  5. “Generally, when informed these other ideas of “god” exist, they become three years old.” LOL, so true!

  6. interested in hearing more. i really enjoyed studying the Gita and the Hindu religion as a whole. really put a shock to my “Judaism was the first monotheistic faith” when i learned about the “one god many avatar” idea that was generated long before any of the bible was written.

  7. Hey all, thanks for the comments:

    @ Eruesso :
    Indeed, for me, Islam was a big part of the picture. My homestay in Pakistan with my Shiite family played a huge roll too.

    @ Mike:
    For me, when I went to Wheaton College and saw what it meant to be raised Christian and to take it for granted and equating it with Apple Pie, I started to realize I did not want that form of Christianity.

    @ Uzza:
    Lots of ‘god’ ideas out there. And if construed loosely, some Atheists have them. Smile.

    @ Andrew :
    Thanks for understanding my “head nodding” notion.

    @ Zero:
    When I was transitioning out of Christianity, I spent a year attending a Reformed Synagogue thinking I could hang on to some form. But alas, they too confirmed the direction I was taking. What exactly about my encounters with Hinduism would you be “interested in hearing more.”

  8. “what exactly about my encounters with Hinduism would you be “interested in hearing more.”

    ummm… no idea actually. I was just interested in the mechanics of “how.” like what was it that was so breaking for you?

    when i study other religions, i usually find the similarities before the differences… did you find the differences first? did this lead to devaluing of your tradition over and against this new one?

    just more interested in your theological perspective at the time, i guess i don’t know too much of it. just the general overview of it.

  9. Shawn Wamsley


    This post has done more to endear you to me than anything else you have ever written (that I have read). Thank you.

  10. @ Shawn :
    Pray tell, what exactly about this post was more endearing than anything else I have ever written. I know you have the writing skills to nail that down a bit more. If you’d please! For I don’t want to just assume. 🙂

    @ Ghost:
    I found people doing the same thing. People struggling to balance faith and works, pacificism vs self-defense, sex roles, Bhakti Yoga (devotion) vs Jnana Yoga (intellect), Ritual vs Service, tradition vs freedom and on and on. But using very different theology for the essentially same human qualities. And yet Hinduism was so tempting to easily dismiss with all its glaring imagery (idolatry) and poverty and …. But knowing people, seeing our commonality, our same silly efforts of mind — that is what made me look at the theology as mere clothing — superficiality.
    Does that answer?

  11. Shawn Wamsley


    A few of your visitors have addressed the principle issue, I believe. Simply, the “I am an atheist, because XYZ about Christianity is untenable” just seems so damn disingenuous. Just as disingenuous, incidentally, as when theists make similar claims against other perspectives.

    However, your remarks about your experiences with Hinduism in India are heartfelt, vulnerable, and emotionally/intellectually honest. You have a genuine complaint against the perspective that your Christian heritage left you with, and it is not only easy to see but easy to sympathize with why your ability to function in that worldview failed.

  12. Thank you for taking a moment to explain, Shawn. Your sympathy is appreciated.

  13. Temaskian

    I was always shocked when I met nice and kind people who were not Christians. They just knocked so hard against my doctrinal view.

  14. @ Temaskian — exactly !! Especially when I met phenomenally nice people!

  15. “But knowing people, seeing our commonality, our same silly efforts of mind — that is what made me look at the theology as mere clothing — superficiality.”

    yeah that helps… but it brings to question: Are these questions then unimportant? religion for me is best defined as “the system employed in setting about to answer the question ‘How then shall we live?'” what you’re implying is that while Hinduism may have many commonalities with Christianity, but with other emphasis, terminology, and metaphysic (to name a few) it is just as futile an effort…? Ecclesiastes comes to mind “Vanity, vanity, everything is vanity!”

    maybe i’m misreading you… is it more along the lines of what Shawn was talking about? that there are a ton of doctrinal views out there and while many will choose the one that makes sense to them, we need to recognize that others may choose other stories to mold their lives to? and then it’s more of a knock against hardcore fundies than moderate to liberal religionists?

  16. My response is nearly the same as Shawn’s. My own fall from evangelical grace came about by spending time with ideas outside of my circle and by really looking at my life compared to the life of my coworkers who were not Christians. It was likewise very organic and solid.

    Thanks for sharing.

  17. Thanks for sharing, Tony (adhunt)

  18. Jessica

    “Mind you, the crowd reading this blog is very different than the people I run into in my daily existence.”

    Do you really think that the people here are different? I tend to think that people here are more prone to express their true opinions and beliefs.. and even show more of their true character.

    I, for one, hunger to know more about your stories about India and thoughts on Hinduism. If you ever see that I have visited your blog, but NOT made a comment, it is more because I have come to LEARN and have yet to digest your thoughts and the thoughts of your readers. As a matter of fact, many times I refrain from giving an opinion because I do not think myself experienced enough to have one! There is wisdom, to me, in keeping my mouth shut at times. 🙂 I know! Startling!

  19. @ Jessica,
    Thanks for reading. Yes, I know that people here are different. I occasionally talk to flesh and blood folks and these sorts of conversations are not appreciated. People prefer light, substanceless talks and really don’t want to think. I find most conversations largely disappointing when it comes to acquaintances unless I stay to every-day stuff — which I also enjoy.

    I love it when people express their opinions, doubts, arguments and stuff here. I think people that blog in general are a bit different in that the seek ideas.

    Glad you are enjoying the India stuff — more to come! Comment at your leisure!

  20. I’m curious what you were doing in India and how long you were there. I’ve never been to India.

    I remember when I was an ordained monk in the Self-Realization Monastic Order (a branch of the ancient order of Swamis of India). We Western yogi-monks, who lived in Southern California, where told “the best of India came to us”. Our elder Swami monks were telling us that our guru, Paramahansa Yogananda, coming to the West and bringing his yoga and how-to-live “teachings” was all we needed. He came just for us and how grateful and special we should feel.

    Yes. After my Christian faith failed me I converted to Yogananda’s Hinduism. Eventually, gradually this “best of India that came to me” led to the undoing of all my faith in the supernatural and the endless pantheon of gods and goddesses.

  21. Surprising that old wine in new bottles [new age gurus from India selling pantheism] stills seems to sell in the west after having failed miserably in its own homeland, over not just decades but centuries. One has to only look at India and see the state in which it is, to understand what this worldview of pantheism and denial of absolute truth has led this country to. It is the naivette of westerners that they fall hook line and sinker for a totally irrational belief system that neither has correspondence with truth nor is coherent, just because it has something that itching ears long to hear, especially that they are themselves gods, the very first temptation in the garden of eden. It would be helpful to read Ravi Zacharia’s books on these subjects to update yourself on logic and consistency of world views. It is really important not to lose ones head while delving into religions that seem fancy and liberating.

  22. Hello S.P.,
    It would be great to have a little more interaction with what I actually said in my post instead of a generic statement.

  23. Anand

    Requesting you to write on the impact of ‘Casteism’ in Indian society.

  24. Sorry, anand, I won’t be writing about the various layers of Indian society.

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