I'm a new nontheist. I've just recently realized my feelings and my beliefs. I'll give you a little background, and why I need some support and words of encouragement.
I'm from Tennessee. I grew up with my grandparents living next door, and always wanting me to go to church. That was fine, my friends were there, and I could hang out with them. As I grew a little older, I became more involved with my church, and finally, my parents started to attend with me and my grandparents as well. When I was 12, my brother passed away, and I had never felt more betrayed by god. My parents and I stopped going to church after that. My parents divorced a few months later, so it was just me and my dad. We never even thought about church, but the principle of belief was still there. Recently, I had to go through pre-marital counseling before the pastor of the same church before he would marry my husband and I. That was fine, I still had my belief. It was actually during one of the sessions that I realized my true feelings and why I had never attended church again. My pastor of course, told me to tell my feelings to god. But that wasn't good enough. I needed someone to hear my pain, and to help me understand why my brother died, and not just sit and watch me cry while telling me to talk to the air. We married in the church a few months later, and I was slowly started to drift away from using bible quotes on my pinterest, and my facebook, and more towards science. Being a nursing major, I developed a healthy understanding of how the body works, and of microorganisms. I was also required to take a philosophy class in which we discussed both ends of the religious spectrum with St. Thomas Aquinas on one end, and Immanuel Kant on the other end (just examples, not specifics.) I was more moved by these teachings in that class than I ever was in church. I had finally decided, I was not a believer anymore. And my husband supports me, because he had been struggling with the same feelings (he was forced to attend a Christian School).
The problem is, my family. I have told my mother (who started back to church after her second husband died) and she began crying. She wanted me to read all kinds of books on those little kids who go to heaven and come back to life telling stories and such. I just kept answering all of her questions and thoughts with retorts about scientific explanation. I just couldn't help it, I couldn't believe anything she was saying. I haven't told anyone else in my family. My mother now seems to deny it. I haven't talked to her about it since that original day. I just don't know how to approach it with them, and make them understand that I'm not an awful person. It's even harder with me being in the south, where everything is about religion. I can barely find anyone in this state that seems to agree with me, I'm always the odd one out. Sometimes, that makes me feel bad, but then I think about what I don't subscribe to anymore, and I feel free. I feel free to make my own decisions, and to be my own good person of my own choice. I just wish I could make my family understand that I don't need religion to be a good person. We've been reading Plato's Euthyphro in my Ethics class (sublet of philosophy), and it's been really enlightening in helping me understand morality versus religion. I feel like I would be shunned from the family if they were to know. My aunt is even a preacher herself. I'll end this here, it's getting a little longer than I anticipated, but I guess I'm just looking for a little support from someone who also has familial issues when dealing with their non belief.
Welcome to our humble abode. I am currently living in Texas and I am in pure hell. I am surrounded by idiots who's only response to an intelligent conversation is to say "Just pray on it." I told one neighbor after he told me to pray to G-d that I am atheist. He laughed and said, you have a great sense of humor. I told him to ph*ck jesus and then he saw that I was serious.
Do you have an open and honest relationship with your family? This is one of those crossroads decision to make. Do you want to stifle your happiness just for the sake of your family or do you want your family to accept you as you are as a nontheist and have a continuous relationship. People are programmed to believe in imaginary people and fairy tales than to accept the truth that is staring right at them.
I have gone through the same situation as you and I have decided to say ph&ck it and leave them in the dust. I cannot change them, but they are willing to die to change me.
You will get your support here, there are people who are going through the same dilemma that you are facing now.
I'm glad to know that a lot of people like us have this problem. In all honesty, I've told her that I'm moving away from here. I'm in my 20s, married, finishing my degree, and as soon as that's done, bye bye Tennessee. It's just too hard to listen to everyone respond to everything with "God will see you through." and not respond with, "No, you will see yourself through by telling yourself that you are giving all of your problems away to some unknown presence." Thanks for the words of inspiration. I really appreciate it.
i know how you feel..i live in a bible belt town ,in sc..i have gone through alot of your same issues...family,friends,neighbors....i have always went to baptist church for as long as i can remember ..i am new to being a atheist ,just a couple days..i look forward to talking to you and maybe you can help me ..with the bumps along the way..lol