[This was intended as a reply to a post here about struggling with deconversion. As I was composing this reply, the original post was removed. I don't know why. But I thought this was a good reply, and maybe could help someone else, so I hope nobody minds me making it a separate post. If the original post's author would like me to remove this for any reason, let me know and I'll delete it.]
Hi, sorry to hear your struggle is so difficult. I have never been religious myself, but I know many people who were and I know the damage it can do. I have respect for your will to keep searching for a reliable way to freedom of thought.
(Forgive me if some of my suggestions you've already done. This is general advice I give to everyone who struggles with deconversion and reversion. I don't know your specific situation.)
In my experience, the people who deconvert the most reliably are those who take the time and effort to learn critical thinking skills and self-introspection. The goal is to examine your beliefs and really attack them: "How do I really know that? Maybe I don't. Can I defend that belief with logic, reason, and evidence? Am I committing a logical fallacy? An informal fallacy? Is it wishful thinking?" Etc. Only the beliefs which are really true will be able to withstand honest, determined skepticism. When you develop these skills, it is like developing an immune system against infection from all sorts of 'viruses' like the 'God virus'. As you throw away each false and unnecessary belief, you'll feel a weight lifted from your shoulders.
I recommend trying to debate with theists. You will see all the terrible lines of reasoning that people put themselves through in order to maintain their irrational beliefs. When you can start to see the flaws in other people's thinking, you will also begin to see that you commit many of the same errors, and you can then correct your own errors of thinking. There are many online forums where you can practice debating theists, and watch how other atheists and skeptics tear down the arguments. The one I go to is the Rational Response Squad
(RRS). (They also have an AN group here
, though there are no theists to debate on AN.) If you go to the RRS forums and post an introduction, explaining your struggle, you'll get a warm welcome and possibly some additional tips/links. Then you can join in the vigourous debate and learn how to defeat bad ideas (including your own bad ideas, which are the most important ones to defeat). Richard Feynman once said (paraphrasing here): It's very easy to fool people, and the easiest person to fool is yourself.
Also, the second thing you need to do is examine your feelings
about religion and try to figure out what keeps drawing you back into it. Is it fear of hell (many deconverts have lingering fears of hell, even though they no longer actually believe in it!)? Getting a kind of 'buzz' out of wishful thinking? The sense of community and belonging? Etc. Religions have what I call 'emotional hooks', which are specific beliefs or ideas which trigger particular emotions in people, which 'hook' the person to a) believe in the first place, b) continue believing, and c) deepen belief and draw you closer to fundamentalism. I highly recommend the book, The Mind of the Bible-Believer
by Edmund Cohen, for a detailed analysis of how fundamentalist Christianity sinks its hooks into you and twists your worldview (it will also shed light on other religions as well, I'm sure). Once you've identified the major emotions tying you to religion, you will need to 'de-program' yourself by finding non-religious alternatives to satisfy those lingering feelings. Analyze the idea of hell until its absurdity is so obvious that fears of hell begin to fade away (see this video
for a great demonstration of how this analysis can eliminate fear of hell). Find a local non-religious support group just to get some social contact in a non-religious setting. That kind of thing. This is how people cure themselves of phobias, by confronting their irrational beliefs and then accommodating themselves to the situations they fear.
I recommend tapping into your sense of wonder (hence my username) at the natural universe. Begin learning about science, how it works, some of the amazing things we've discovered, and ground
yourself on the solid facts of reality. Watch the fantastic series Cosmos
by Carl Sagan, which explores the incredible universe through the lens of science. Study evolution until you *really* get it, and when it sinks in, I guarantee you'll start to look at the world differently, and with a greater appreciation for nature. God is imaginary, but wonder is real.