An interview with Madalyn Murray in Playboy when I was 12. Though my family went to church sporadically, I didn't take religion seriously after that. When I began teaching at my current institution in 1995, I was plugged into World literature, about which I knew very little. First on the schedule was the epic of Gilgamesh. which features a flood story essentially the same as the Noah story, but hundreds of years older. So much for "inspired" Scriptures. I started studying out of curiosity, gradually realizing that I was surrounded by people who think the Bible is LITERALLY true. Amazing.
Craig, your mention of Madelyn Murray brings to mind my encounter with her.
In the 1950s I was in college in Florida studying math. I quit Catholicism and visited the college atheist club, where I heard students claiming to know that no god existed. I believed their claims were as unsupported by evidence as the claims I'd heard in 12 years of Catholic school religion classes and chose agnosticism.
Twenty years later I was in San Francisco and still an agnostic. American Atheists were convening there and I wanted to hear Madelyn Murray, the woman whose efforts resulted in taking religion out of public schools.
I left the convention persuaded that she needed religion because, without it to fight, she would have to find a new life purpose. I remained an agnostic. Politically I was an independent, but when Reagan brought the xians into the Republican Party I knew I wouldn't vote Republican until the xians quit the Party.
I now tell people I'm an atheist. I pay dues to several church-state separationist organizations but engage xians in verbal combat only when they push their beliefs in my direction.
The essay winner in the recent FFRF newsletter who cited the religious provisions in the constitutions of two Islamic nations supplied the best evidence I've seen that America is not founded on religion. To see his evidence, search on Pakistan constitution or Afghanistan constitution.
As a child, I used the word god to answer questions I didn't know the real answers to, but I had no understanding of what god was supposed to be, and I didn't really care. I was never brainwashed into believing Christianity or any other religion so I never had a better defined concept of god drilled into me. As a result, any belief I had was too weak to last into my teen years. Every time I considered a strange belief, whether it was related to god or not, I did some research and listened to those who challenged the belief. When I was fifteen, I started listening to atheist vloggers on youtube and watching debates and I started to see that there were no good arguments to support the conclusion that god exists; or spirits, ufos, and astrology for that matter.
The best way to sustain belief in an unsubstantiated claim is to close your ears to your challengers. Thankfully I never did that.
I was training for the ministry, but the "calling of god" came to me by way of my parents. Fascinated as a young man by the bible and christianity, I studied with Berean School of the Bible and also became a student of Finis Dake. These are mail order courses, but many fundies have done them. Dake was far ahead of his time, but even today the christian take on the bible is that "it is god's word" and that's a given. To even suggest otherwise is a "sin."
But that doesn't make any sense!
Over the years I was seeing the light slowly, in and out of church, had my own demons mostly because of what I was taught, then just over a year ago I realized a rational approach. God and the bible are imaginary. The bible contains no evidence. It is a book made of many other books that were decided on and voted on in the time of Constantine. It is not devine.
So, you enjoy listening to extreme metal. It's not my cup of tea, but neither is loud blarring christian rock music. I'm not to happy with others that tell us what loud music to listen to. Do what you like.
At 67 I'm not out to everyone in my family. I don't want to hurt anybody, but I do say I'm a proud atheist. There is one drawback in this for me. Today I have to have demonstrable evidence. I find that this means I cannot enjoy and believe in evrything that I excepted before. There is just not enough evidence.
I never really was a religious person but I started to doubt religion as a child just by thinking about it. I took religion just like Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and other mythological figures. After that I thought of religion as a typical belief until much later when I realized all the terrible things religion causes, such as wars, terrorism and violence. My thoughts of religion just kept dropping, eventually bringing me to my current position as an anti-religionist.
So, extreme metal is "the devil's music." Not my cup of tea, but who can decide or declare that some mythical charactor listens to a particular kind of music? Maybe they got that idea from movies or the soundtrack from one. On other sites you read a post saying that if you do not believe in god you "are just the devil's little bitch boy." WTF is that about? Both of these charactors come out of the same "holy book." Now we are at the base of everything. I was trained as a minister and finally figured it out. The bible uses circular reasoning. (Sorry. The book cannot prove itself) In any belief system that requires the supernatural or other types of superstition to survive, you find a lot of circular reasoning and no evidence.
I'm a 67 year old man and finally figured it out a year ago and declared myself atheist. All of my studies helped me make this decission. Trust me. God is not trying to get ahold of you. There is no "devine plan" for your life. You are about as "special" as anyone else here, and we are all on this earth together.
I've been an atheist for most of my life from childhood. It started when I read the Greek and Norse myths in the Elementary school library. I figured the Bible was no more true than they.
I read the bible.
Honestly, it was the goodness and decency of an atheist family I knew as a child. (Atheists, as we were taught, weren't supposed to be ABLE to be good.) But it took 40 more years of incongruencies before I finally woke up.
Elementary school (Catholic) teachers unable and/or unwilling to give reasonable responses to my questions about the religion and its beliefs, practices, stories and so on. They would simply say "It's a matter of faith" or some such nonsense. That was enough for me to reject all their claims - which at the time I really wanted to believe.
1. how christians made decisions and the instructions they imposed.
2. reading the bible.
That was enough to do me in.
The church itself taught me clearly there is no gawd Joan........and reading the bible also with me.........