Hi all,

Its not common that I receive three different endearing labels in just a couple of days. One poster jokingly called me the "atheistist atheist of atheistdom". Someone who had the label hilariously foisted on them gave it to me, "That Little Evil Thang" and I was recently told by my daughter that as regards atheism "I'm kind of a big deal", another joke of a label that comes from a funny movie and one I repeated on TA a couple of times.

When I thought about this I realized people are saying this because I was more or less born atheist; I mean, my parents were both atheists and I was never drawn to religion. And that made me realize that almost every story I've read on TA is about the deconverted; people who have left religion. Is there anyone out there who was "born" atheist? If so, I'd like to hear your story. I'd especially like to know at what age you decided for certain that you would not "depart" from tradition and convert. For me it was 12.

We hear the deconversion stories all the time but I rarely hear our stories. Also, I'm curious if anyone's larger family is all atheist? All my relatives as far back as I know were all atheist. This seems rare. Is it?

One of the reasons I ask this is because when new people join who have deconverted they tell their stories about it and, while I can understand it in a deconversion context, its hard to know how to relate to some of the issues they encounter, especially after deconverting. There is so much tension within their own families and I don't know the right thing to say to them. Any ideas on that?

All are invited and I'm not a topic natzi.

Thanks for reading - kk 

Views: 526

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

For me science played virtually no part. I always considered science as compatible with the Bible, and I never really thought about it. I was brainwashed by well meaning fundy parents The main driver for my deconversion  journey was that I wanted to become a better Christian and the deeper I delved into the Bible the more the cognitive dissonance kicked in.  It took a good five years for me to fully overcome the brainwashing and admit to myself that it was total BS. (This I did on my own without any external input, not even books).  I have since come to love science.  I don't identify as atheist.  I'm just a fairly normal no longer brainwashed human being.  When it comes to events beyond the event horizon I acknowledge that I can't know, and I don't know, and there is no point in making things up.

Hey Katrin,

... the deeper I delved into the Bible the more the cognitive dissonance kicked in.

I hear this a lot.

I have since come to love science

Most in my family have been in the legal and medical professions, so there weren't any scientists in the bunch. Science was oddly disconnected from atheism in my family. But it is mentioned a lot on TA. I enjoyed science a lot growing up and we talked about it often, but we never connected it to atheism, that I can recall.

- kk

 

Who knows? I guess it's a very individual thing, and varies from one person to another. Science almost certainly influences some peoples' awakening. and for others it will just be a question of them daring to think for themselves. That's really the key, and it's the one thing that almost all religions go out of their way to discourage, labelling blind, unquestioning "faith" as a virtue instead.

How an intelligent species allowed / continues to allow this trick to be pulled on it still baffles me.

- Graham

Hey Graham,

How an intelligent species allowed / continues to allow this trick to be pulled on it still baffles me

Here, here. It baffles me, too. It seems so obvioulsy contrived to me.

- kk

I've read many times that we are all born atheist. I think atheism is a position one takes on an issue, so no, I think we are opinion-free and become atheist when we understand the issue and take the atheist position on it.

Hey Unseen,

And I would agree with that. We probably are born atheist. There may be some spiritual longing that is innate in us but I think for me that longing manifested more as an interest in the mysterious and the unknown which, ironically, lies in the purview of science.

My biggest fascination with the unknown was/is the cosmos, as Sagan would say it. I am enamored with space exploration and human space flight.

- kk

My mother's side of the family was atheist, at least back to my grandparents, who had no deathbed conversions (my grandmother would angrily order clerics to GET OUT while she was on her deathbed).  I think my cousin may have converted to catholicism on account of her husband.

My father's side was catholic but he lapsed (probably into some form of deism) about the time he was married and his sister is an atheist.  This isn't quite a "pure" atheist upbringing really, but it's fairly close.

Although I was exposed to science as a very young kid, at that age all you get are simple assertions that this is what is true; in an odd way since you don't know how we know these things you might as well be getting indoctrinated under those circumstances.  And we didn't get anything like what I call "unapologetics" today, actual arguments against the existence of god. 

It was quite a shock to me once I got past santa claus age and so did my classmates, that they still hung onto the whole god thing; it seemed painfully obvious to me they were of the same kind.  So I stepped into that landmine and endured a fair amount of abuse that year.  But my hometown was a military town, and a mix of different religions.  (Life would have been much worse in a monolithically Southern Baptist town, no doubt!)

So I was really a naive atheist, and I was in the mode of rejecting things like creationism but ill prepared to defend against other modes of theism, presented intelligently (and yes that is quite possible, not all theists are knuckledragging hicks, not by a long shot; they do have a brain trust).  My brother converted in high school (though he eventually de-converted; apparently the emotional connection was never there.  His big thing as a kid was dinosaurs, so creationism really had a hard time keeping hold of him).  I personally came fairly close to converting in the mid 1990s, under the influence of a college friend who had himself converted a few years earlier and knew how to convince a techie/sciencey sort of guy (step 1, be someone the target trusts due to past association, step 2 assure the target--who knows young earth beliefs are an absolute crock of shit--that "young earth" creationism is not part and parcel of Xianity, step 3 bring up historical evidence even if it's phony, to counter the contention that there is no evidence for Jesus actually having existed and done what he was purported to have done); fortunately I found a fair number of historical and philosophical counter arguments, and realized a lot of what my friend had told me was outright lies (whether that friend was aware of it, or just trusting someone else, is another matter).  This underscores the importance of raising your children so that they have access to "unapologetics" once they get to the age of thinking for themselves.

Anyhow since then I have been a thoroughly convinced atheist, and since the mid 2000s I have joined Christopher Hitchens in saying I would not even want it to be true.

[side note:  I realize that an "apologetic" is not an apology in the common modern sense of the term, but I can't resist referring to counter-arguments against the existence of god as an "unapologetic" because they are generally offered without apology for any religious person getting butthurt by them.]

Hey SteveInCO,

My mother's side of the family was atheist, at least back to my grandparents, who had no deathbed conversions (my grandmother would angrily order clerics to GET OUT while she was on her deathbed).

Then we do have a lot in common. And I recall similar stories from my family about clergy being run off all the time.

My father's side was catholic but he lapsed (probably into some form of deism) about the time he was married and his sister is an atheist.  This isn't quite a "pure" atheist upbringing really, but it's fairly close.

You're the closest to my background I've met so far on TA (that I'm aware of).

(Life would have been much worse in a monolithically Southern Baptist town, no doubt!)

I'm sure. Imagine being a family of atheists in a traditional, Shia country. You basically live in silence as far as atheism goes.

(step 1, be someone the target trusts due to past association, step 2 assure the target--who knows young earth beliefs are an absolute crock of shit--that "young earth" creationism is not part and parcel of Xianity, step 3 bring up historical evidence even if it's phony, to counter the contention that there is no evidence for Jesus actually having existed and done what he was purported to have done);

This is fascinating. Both conversion and deconversion tactics (the good ones) are essentially the same and trust is the pre-requisite. You have to get that first. People are converted and deconverted using the same psychology of challenging core belief systems by using the persons own belief system to contradict itself.

This underscores the importance of raising your children so that they have access to "unapologetics" once they get to the age of thinking for themselves.

Yep, and I had more than most at my fingertips.

- kk

I was born atheist.

I grew up in the (at the time) Socialist Federalist Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia). And as we all know, communist countries don't really enforce religion, and mine did not suppress it either.

My parents are a mix of the two. My mom is atheist, but in her words she "doesn't care at all," and my dad is deist at best. He occasionally goes to church (once in a few years) and gets annoyed when I bash religion.
Our family's religion is Orthodox (not entirely sure if Greek or Russian), but thanks to my mom, I was kept out of the baptism pool and church altogether. In school we learned about biology and evolution since grade 5, and we had to learn the history of all the major parts of the world, not just our own country, so that helped to strengthen my atheism at a young age. Facts tend to do that.

I went through stages in my youth, where I tried to believe in god, even went to the church that was built in my town, some religious events, but it all seemed like theater to me. I think a big help was that I found out Santa Claus was fake at a really young age, but that is a story for another time.

Now, in Canada, I see religion a lot more often, with my old college friends, and my wife's family. They have all tried to bring me in to their particular flock, but to their disappointment, and at times tears, religion has failed to find any cracks in my reasoning to slip through.

That's my story.

Hey Milos,

That's my story.

That's a great story

... but it all seemed like theater to me

Exactly my impression, too.

- kk

Nice thread title. 

I just rang my mother to thank her for bringing us up atheist, and she was quite startled.  Evidently she thinks she brought us up to make our own minds up.  Who knew?  chuckles.  She did bring us up to respect other people's beliefs, however, and I know I do that automatically when people talk about their faith. 

My response to inquiry as to my own religion is just a waved hand and an "oh I'm not really into any religion" seems to be met with no issue.  Nobody has tried to convert me, other than the odd JW at the door.  To me, these are just salespeople, in the same way as if they were selling double-glazing.

There was a 'moment' when I was seven, where I could have been 'indoctrinated' quite easily.  I was sitting halfway down the stairs, traumatised because I had just realised I was going to die.  Not immediately, but inevitably.  Mum asked what was the matter and I blurted out "I'm going to die!"

She could have sold me on the life after death idea right then.  It would have been so easy.  But she didn't, she just told me it wouldn't be for an awfully long time and there was tons of things I was going to do first, that life was wonderful, and huge, and would be full of exciting things.  And that was that. I was fine.

My family is atheist.  My brother, my sister, my niece and nephew too.  My sister tells me my niece as a child once asked what would happen when she died.  My sister started to say, "well some people believe in a life after death..." and was abruptly interrupted with, "No, there isn't".  My sister was surprised, and said, "how do you know?".  My niece said, "because Harry Houdini told his wife that if there was life after death, when he died he would come back and whisper, "Live, Eloise".  He didn't. So there isn't."  And that was that.

I was fed a constant diet of books on Greek mythology.  When I had devoured those, it was on to the Norse gods.  After that, any mythology.  To me, Noah's Ark was a jigsaw, and a story, just like any other story.  I saw the bible as a story book that was written stupidly, and didn't encourage children to even be vaguely interested.  Robinson Crusoe was a much better read.

I toyed with the idea of deism when I was losing my partner of the time to breast cancer.  I pleaded, cajoled and demanded - but it was to multiple gods, not a single one - maybe because of the mythology I'd read.  Didn't work, she died, I thought there was no point in having gods if they don't listen to you.  So I washed my hands of that idea.  I think you'll do anything when you're desperate.

Science is beautiful, but not persuasive.  I think, therefore I am.  I don't need an afterlife, I like this one just fine.  I hope when it's time for me to die, that I will be as tired as my Dad was, when he said he was just 'ready to go'.  I'm more focused on creating amazing memories and experiences in my life so when I am old, and possibly on my own, I will have fabulous stories in my head to reflect on. 

I hate the idea of people grieving when I'm gone.  I'd much rather they cheered my fabulous life than felt sad - if there's anyone around I still know :)   I love this world with all its flaws, and I am so happy being in it.  There is so much you can do!  Feel!  See!  Hear!   What an amazing thing!

Hey Strega,

She could have sold me on the life after death idea right then.  It would have been so easy.  But she didn't, she just told me it wouldn't be for an awfully long time and there was tons of things I was going to do first, that life was wonderful, and huge, and would be full of exciting things.  And that was that. I was fine.

That's a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing that.

My family is atheist.  My brother, my sister, my niece and nephew too.

Yes! I'm not alone! ;-)

I toyed with the idea of deism when I was losing my partner of the time to breast cancer.  I pleaded, cajoled and demanded - but it was to multiple gods, not a single one - maybe because of the mythology I'd read.  Didn't work, she died, I thought there was no point in having gods if they don't listen to you.  So I washed my hands of that idea.  I think you'll do anything when you're desperate

It's funny you say that. The only time I even felt an inclination to think about religion was at the worse times of my life. But I immediately recognized that this was in consequence to emotional pain. My response wasn't to go to church but to seek solace in human companionship, usually my mom. And when she's gone it will probably be my daughter, who does the same with me.

I hate the idea of people grieving when I'm gone ...

me, too.

- kk

RSS

Support T|A

Think Atheist is 100% member supported

All proceeds go to keeping Think Atheist online.

Donate with Dogecoin

Members

Forum

Science Isn't About Truth

Started by Ari E. S. in Philosophy. Last reply by Unseen 19 minutes ago. 17 Replies

Blog Posts

Dead man's Switch

Posted by Philip Jarrett on April 18, 2014 at 11:29pm 0 Comments

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Services we love

We are in love with our Amazon

Book Store!

Gadget Nerd? Check out Giz Gad!

Into life hacks? Check out LabMinions.com

Advertise with ThinkAtheist.com

© 2014   Created by Dan.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service