Some people become atheists post religion, and some have been that way as long as they can remember. So what's your story?

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Raised in a vaguely Christian family, got into Christianity as a young teen, was confirmed as a Methodist twice, then it just slowly faded as I learned more and more about the Bible. I'd say I've been truly atheist since I was about fourteen, and haven't wavered since. Some call me agnostic, because I admit that no one knows for certain just what started the universe or what waits for us after death, but I'm 99.9% certain that the whole god and religion thing is a sham. I'm just open to doubt, as everyone should be.

I'm now nineteen and a freshman in college, and though I've been "out" to anyone who matters for years, I'm just now starting to speak up about my (lack of) beliefs, so a lot of people are just now noticing.
I had been agnostic since I joined the military. My mother was always spiritual and believed in reading and living by the bible. She never forced this upon my brothers and sisters but just left it open for us to experience....

I became an athiest after coming home for 30 days and seeing that both of my sisters had gotten saved. It was the most revealing time of my life. I had happiness for them because they had found happiness and peace in their transition. I have found release and truthfulness, happiness and revelation in mind.

I thank them and their "god" for allowing me to hear my "calling" as they did theirs...
Satan made me atheist.

Seriously.

I got the warm, fuzzy Catholic upbringing - the watered-down, super-nice one that didn't even teach me to dislike Protestants. Satan was mentioned in one boring prayer we recited in church, and never anywhere else. I figured he was just a metaphor like most of the Bible. God, in my young mind, was more of an abstract higher power than a character with a personality. I supposed it was typical of ancient religious leaders to ascribe thoughts and feelings to an abstract concept, and to invent an arch-nemesis for him like in the comic books. But Catholicism was just something I practiced, and prayer was more like karma than like conversations with God.

I could conform. I could personify the mysterious forces of the universe too, and I had great fun doing it. Until I began to meet people who really believed in Satan.

Then I felt kinda bad. Here I was, gleefully engaging in religion and thinking up all sorts of wacky stuff to add to the mythos, and those people were taking it dead seriously. I couldn't handle it, and I moved away from organized religion entirely. I tried a DIY spirituality for a while, but eventually I gave up. At some point I looked back and realized I'd been an atheist for a while.

And then the Catholic pedophilia scandal broke in a big way, and I felt obligated to cut my ties to it completely. Sometimes I still refer to myself as a lapsed Catholic, but I never did any lapsing. I did a lot of growing, reasoning, and maturing.
Like many people who have posted, there was an attempt to raise me as a catholic girl. I was made to go to mass, and CCD (Catholic sunday school). For as long as I can remember attending mass, I remember thinking to myself..."do people actually believe this stuff?? NO, none of this is right! It makes no sense.
I really Never believed. Then after I went to college and studied religions, it all crystallized. I was OK that I didn't believe any of it! Religion is an invention of man. I never liked going to church with anyone, EVER. I remember feeling like what was going on was all wrong. Wrong like the earth was flat wrong. It dawned on me that all of these people must be deluding themselves, because intelligent people couldn't possibly swallow this load of crap could they??? Fast forward to today. I'm a single mother of a 13 yr old son, and I live in the buckle of the bible butt crack of the universe. I encourage my son to question anything he finds to be off or can't understand. Still, between his small minded tyrannical father, and living where he does, he says he doesn't want to go to hell and what if I'm wrong. He's stubborn like me and he's smart so I will continue to bring up the questions to get the flow started, and hope for the best. The truth, is unavoidable, and the reason religious people oppose our view so much, is because deep inside, their spider sensors are going off, but they are just so immersed in their religion and the fake world they have joined, they can't escape. I on the other hand, don't like to play make believe. I'm too interested in what is REAL. :)
Very similar to Vitomama - My mother told me I came home from Sunday school and asked her: "How come it's okay for the people at Sunday school to lie to me?" She asked me how I know they lied, and I said something like "These stories are not even close to real!". I was 5, I believe. I also went through a phase around 8 to 10 years old - asking a million questions and reading all kinds of religous books, yet getting no answers I could actually use. Hearing "You just have to believe." over and over again was my proof that it's nonsensical and (thankfully) I could choose to reject what didn't make sense. My experiences in life since then have repeatedly reinforced that conclusion and nothing has ever made me hesitate - not even my mother telling me all about her near death experience and seeing the pearly gates. Mom wasn't overly religous, but she did believe, and I never told her I didn't believe her or anything else. She was happy in her belief and I'm happy with mine. My children will also be allowed to ask questions and figure it out for themselves. I would be embarrassed to tell my children they must believe and accept what does not make sense and cannot be proven. I want my children to reason and think, not just follow. Teach 'em to fish, people!

Born in 1947 in the first wave of WWII 'baby boomers', I was raised unremarkably as a free-thinking, progressive Episcopalian, an experience without much soul-scarring trauma and for which I still have fond memories. So I cannot claim that running from horrible memories of dogmatic tyranny was a factor. I immediately followed that up with a period of social and political activism centering on civil rights and war in southeast Asia. What propelled me to finally eject religion as an unnecessary companion to all my moral sojourning was an intersection of two things:
1. An inescapable, growing awareness that the very foundation of religious faith was rooted in illogic, inconsistency and insufficient evidence to justify the blind fealty that it so officiously demanded.
2. A inexplicable welling up of the courage needed to simply withdraw my assent to religious faith as a way of knowing. I can't stress enough how important this last factor was in my ultimate leap of reason.

That was some years ago and as I happily reflect, largely without regret, it was the most sane. clear minded decision I ever made.

PS:
BTW. I would characterize my "becoming an atheist" more as a happy affirmation of a naturalistic worldview rather than any kind of angry rejection of a supernatural religious one.

I'm a "post religion" atheist.  I wasn't raised to believe in any particular faith or religion (perfect now that I look back). 

I met my wife, who believed but had "backslidden" and felt she needed to get right.  As such, she asked me to attend church with her one Easter and because I was falling for her and thought she was so stinkin hot, I agreed.  Long story short, I began to dig the change of perspective and wanted to be in sync with my wife so I continued to attend with her.  I slowly started to develop friendships with members of the church and those personal connections kept me wrapped up and involved in the church for years.

About a year ago, we relocated to the Kansas City area and began to visit churches in the area and none of them really did anything for me and found the people in them so hypocritical.  Soon after, I began to spend more time studying the Bible and research religion as a whole.  I found so many things in the Bible that just made me sick to my stomach and I just couldn't force myself to believe any longer. 

I finally decided to tell my wife of nearly 12 years that I had been living a lie and had to come clean and free myself from the religious dogma that I had forced myself to believe for so long.   She continues to practice her faith and I am ok with it but refuse to  participate just because I love her and our 4 kids. 

 

Scott

 

@Richard L.~
Hi and thanks for sharing your mini-journey. I have often thought how odd it would be if I, as a former birthrite Episcopalian and an atheist now for 25+ years, would retain a significant identification with the national and cultural practices of the Church of England. It would sound funny, don't you agree, to hear Richard Dawkins (perhaps a bad example) say: "Yes. I'm an atheist but I still am a cultural Anglican and I feel a strong allegiance to Great Britain and all the great folks at Cantebury." Wouldn't it?
I'm guessing the reason Jews have such a sense of connection even after declaring themselves non-theistic, (I have many Jewish friends and unsurprisingly, they tend to be non-religious), is owing to several things:
#1. The antiquity of the cultural connections, including language.
#2. The small, almost intimate size of the "Tribe" worldwide...so to speak.
#3. The powerful, concentrated symbolism of the state of Israel as a 'centering' principle...especially in view of the prophetic coalescence it represnts after the diaspora.

You know what? After actually writing these thoughts down on 'paper', it's clearer to me why the Jews, as a people, retain an identity apart from faith... the framing of my question answers itself. What do you think about my speculation anyhow?
Lary
LMAO. That is funny. I may use it. Thanks, Richard.
Wow! Now that's a 'ballsy' story! Hope it doesn't drive a wedge between you two. Good luck.
PS: I used to tell my wife to pray for both of us...but she was too smart to buy that lame excuse.
Religion didn't seem to be very important in my earliest years. We didn't pray or go to church except for maybe twice a year and then whenever someone died or got married. Strangely, I ended up in Catechism in preparation for First Communion. Somehow I botched that up and didn't attend when I was expected but I got another chance at it when I hit 4th grade. That was the year I started to attend Catholic School. It was totally voluntary. I wanted to go because my neighborhood friends went there. I made it through First Communion that year being very skeptical about the whole body and blood thing. We were taught that "amen" means "I believe" and that when you receive Communion you are expected to reply "amen". What bothered me more would have been being the only student who didn't go through with this. Everyone else did it and believed. I must have been doing something wrong.


Sixth grade brought my third year of being an alter boy and also a heavy dose of science. This increased the amount of conflict I had in dealing with a resurrection, miracles, and the existence of God. Again, I went along with the duality because there's no way that a bunch of adults could be wrong about this. For a short while, we had an occasional visit from Father John on Wednesdays. It was our opportunity to talk with him about God. I didn't say much; I didn't have to. The class asked every question that I had. It was like we had discussed what to ask him just moments before he walked in. He was calm and pleasant as ever, but I noticed something peculiar about his responses. The answers were a bit to the side. There was little that was a very direct from him.


I left Catholic school for 7th grade and returned back again for 8th because my naivety got me in trouble. I went through with Confirmation with the same result as Communion. I knew things were "all in His timing" so I just waited patiently afterward. I thought this was supposed to be a big deal, big enough that I should notice something happening but I didn't.


High school came and went without any religious influence and I started getting caught up on all the secular things of which I had been unaware. When I finally left home at 20 I bounced around from church to church, from non-denominational to evangelical. I did some soul searching. I was convinced I was doing it wrong and really wanted to know Him. I asked Jesus into my heart. I cried. Nothing.


My wife and I got married at Silverwood Mennonite Chuch in 2000. We were both believers, and very minimal at that, but certainly not Mennonite. That was from her side of the family. I would probably still be a minimalist believer in the Christian god if it were not for another dose of evangelism. Some members of her family were a bit extreme. Religion wasn't just a part of them, it was them. This created conflict. I never liked being unsure about things that should be so important, so I was forced to try it again. The exception this time is that I took a different approach. My research started with understanding the meaning of words, ones that i taken for granted such as belief and knowledge. The internet proved to be a wonderful tool for finally getting some objective answers. I was fascinated with the amount of knowledge out there. The more knowledge I gained, the less I believed in God. After a hard year of digging, my conflict was resolved. I came to the realization that I did not believe. I was atheist and I found it to be reasonable.

 

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