By 'ah-Ha moment' I mean here, the point at which I came to the realization that there really is no such thing as god. Up until that point I considered myself agnostic. Maybe everyone has a moment like this. If so, I'd like to hear yours.

My 'ah HA' moment came when I read, watched news broadcasts and heard on public radio descriptions of all the devastation resulting from the 2004 Indian Ocean / Boxing Day Tsunami. I believe that over 230,000 people in more than ten countries were killed by this massive surge of water, including many tens of thousands of children. That last point confirmed for me that no such thing as god could exist if it would allow so many people to die needlessly. This was no manmade event like a war or floods and draught from global warming. This was a completely natural event which could have been stopped by the 'hand of God' or by some other divine intervention, if any supernatural being ever existed.

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I didn't have a specific "ah-ha" moment, either...I remember when I was in elementary school (I think 4th or 5th grade) and asking my mom why "under God" was in the "Pledge of Allegiance", 'cause it didn't seem like "separation of church and state", though I think I still "believed" then... I considered myself agnostic by high school (maybe junior high, but for sure high school). Somewhere in my twenties I went from "agnostic" to "atheist". It might have been in college (I took a fascinating Anthropology of Religions class) or shortly afterwards...certainly by the time I'd read "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawkings...that book just helped me cement how I thought the science of the world/life/death works and how we ARE all connected, via the smallest of particles (maybe strings)....and over the last ten years or so I've only solidified my understanding and become more outspoken since Dubya took office...
Oh wow, intense question.

The "ah-ha" moment wasn't a singular moment at all. If you live through enough chains of moments when you wonder what the hell you're faking for in the first place...what it is you're searching for out there...only to realize that the source of the comfort you're seeking is within yourself...there is suddenly a path to peace and quiet.

That said, I don't push the "ah-ha" moment anywhere on anyone. Each and every individual finds his and her own comfort in whatever "higher power" they do. I don't like watching anyone lose their faith or religion. Most of us who are empathetic people appreciate where comfort is - regardless of whether we agree with it or not. Most of us who know that our parents are religious people who find comfort in the idea of a god and a heaven don't want to strip them of that very comfort. So most of us just go about our days in solitude because we know they won't "get it"...and it's not for us to "bring it" to them.

If only Christians would figure that point out.
Empathy, but not Sympathy

I agree that most revelations are actually just ignored inklings that finally scream to be recognized. The longer we live, the more of these events we finally acknowlege, or should. This is one of the definitions of wisdom; we recognize that which we once feared is no longer frightening or worth hiding from.

I'm don't think it is possible to push an "ah-HA" moment on anyone, it is something that is completly personal; an epiphany. People do seek comfort in various ways; food, alcohol, gambling, sex, nicotine, religion, just to name a few. While I empathize with people who suffer, I do not sympathize with those who use religion to justify their psuedo-martyrdom. "It is God's will" or "God works in mysterious ways" are statements that raise my hackles. It tells me that someone is suffering with misplaced hope and likely forcing their children or family to do the same.

Pure and simple; religion is fraud. Fraud creates harm in several ways.

Harm by omission, which occurs by dedicating efforts toward prayer and giving money or material goods to a church, synagogue, or mosque that could otherwise be used to buy food, clothing, books, medicine etc, for the very people who are suffering most.

Harm by comission happens everytime a parent denies proper medical care to their child(ren), or worse provides them with inappropriate or harmful products like laetrile or re-birthing techniques.

Harm by diverting resources away from something with proven efficacy, like medicine or paying the electric bill. This could happen when an elderly person sends money or material goods to televangelists and actually think the preacher will have influence over god and ask him/her/it to turn on the heat or reduce the cost of their heart pills.

Harm to society by affecting so many people that it unduly influences community,local, state, and federal governmen in all branches. For instance, when parents prevent their child(ren) from receiving appropriate immunizing vaccines and still sends them to school. These parents can claim that their religion prevents them from accepting bodily products and some courts are unlikely to punish these negligent parents. Yet this same court expects me to send my child to school with these unprotected children, and further would punish me for not sending my child(ren) there.

I actually look forward to converting someone from religion to non-theistic enlightenment. It is a challenge for that persons' "soul". I believe that I can help that person live a better life once they eschew all the trappings and restrictions religion creates to prevent that person from living a full and wonderfull, enlightened life. I am respectful of the person, but not to their religion and engage them in debate for a position or belief they cannot defend. I enjoy watching the person emerge from the fog of religion and walk wide-eyed to the brightening future.

It is a much better life without god.
I have been inundated with religion my whole life, mostly by the friends and people around me. I remember as a young child discovering that Ben Franklin was a deist, and that was the first time I'd heard anything about a non-theist that wasn't in a negative connotation. After that, I was basically an agnostic for most of my life (even after giving Christianity a honest attempt in junior high). Though I always felt like a closet atheist, I absolutely could not shake the idea that something was there. And then I discovered Carl Sagan. I consumed every book he had as fast as I could. My "ah-HA" moment came while reading Dragons of Eden. At one point it suggested that the urge to follow alpha males (e.g., gods, priests, presidents) is programmed into each and every one of us.


I actually felt a tingling in my brain, which I like to imagine was a new fold being created. At that very moment I completely lost my fear of death, Hell, damnation, ghosts, and began to see the world in a completely different light. No life has never been the same.
I was raised a strict catholic and then moved on to baptist then non-denom christianity always searching for something more. But it was never big enough for me. During a difficult time in my life I got really pissed off at god. How could god let me down so many times and so often? Hello?? Is this how I would treat my kids?? Never!! I was so tired of suffering and feeling abandoned. So I started thinking, why does my life have to be in the hands of anyone else? I want control of MY life, not some disappointing mystical being. After that moment, I felt an incredible weight off my shoulders. I finally felt the freedom that I was looking for. It's been amazing.
For me I think it came in a history class in high school, I remember that we were studying the history and evolution of religions through out the world and a question manifested in my mind of "if there are all of these different religions and they all think they are the only true religion, how can that be possible?" and then Ah! Ha! They are all a lie. From then on I saw them as myths or stories you tell children so they don't put rat poison on their big sisters cereal. After that I was pretty pissed off at the adults in my life at least until I took the Introduction to Anthropology class and then it all just became a big joke to me. Who needs religion when we have facebook, woot!
Didn't really hav an ah ha moment. I over the course of several years one by one concluded my beliefs were false. Eventually I realized that there wasn't anything left that I still believe as far as religion went.
That's very interesting that the 2004 Tsunami triggered your "ah ha" moment. I don't know if I have a specific moment, but I believe it was helped along by the tsunami. See, I was deeply impacted by the event- enough so that I felt the need to go to Sri Lanka and do relief work. I'd never done relief work before, but I felt that giving money was not enough for me. I needed to be there. At first I thought my idea was crazy and would never come to fruition, but by chance I managed to meet up with two other people from my college who wanted to go and together we found a group to go with. Our school would not support our trip in any way because of the violence in Sri Lanka, so we had to raise funds through a letter writing campaign to get there.

I went in the summer of 2005, met the wonderful people, played with the children, rebuilt houses and communities, visited refugees, and even assisted in the rehabilitation of stray dog! It was one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life. One of the men for whom we built a house had lost a child in the tsunami. He had four children and when the tsunami hit he was at home with two- his daughters. His immediate reaction was to grab hold of his daughters. His younger daughter, six years old, was too short to keep her head above water, so he let go of his older daughter, 19, to put the younger one on his shoulders. As he let go of the older daughter, the waves pushed her away and she drowned.

This man, his family, and everyone else I met in no way deserved this, and I found myself falling away even more from my belief in god than I already had been. I grew to despise the Christian mentality I heard espoused, about how this was god's way of punishing those who didn't believe in him and the world for being sinful. I had never really agreed with this outlook, but it wasn't until meeting the subjects of their presumed superiority and judgement that I really began to see these Christians for what they were- complacent, spiteful, and lacking in compassion and love (among many other things). If any group of people deserved a tsunami (not that I believe any do), it certainly would not have been the hard-working, loving, friendly, and honest people I met in Sri Lanka.

So I can't say this was the "ah ha" moment for me, but it was definitely one of the many (and probably one of the larger) "ah ha" moments I had along my journey of de-conversion.
You know Eric with the more recent Earthquakes in Samatra and Tsunami in Samoa I couldn't help but have pity for their suffering, but why did they all gather in churches praying when if God existed why did he do it to them.
A very good point Graeme. This demonstrates the complete disconnection with rational thought and religious beliefs. Why would ANYONE worship something that apparently has no concern for human life!?


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