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 

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Blaine Leavitt,

I talked to god about this and she said the universe is "infinitely finite and finitely infinite". so I said, ya know god, nothin for nothin but that makes no sense. then she said, yeah and that's the way I like to keep it. so move along now.

Yes!, I love that quote.

- kk

Blaine,

Yep, and it reminded me of this one, which is my favorite:

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrarywise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?

  —   Alice In Wonderland

My mom used to quote this to me whenever we were approached by "converters", like JW, etc. She would pretend to be a cult fanatic. And that always ran them off. It was hilarious

- kk

Hey Jessica,

My own sense on this is that all human beings are likely born with one degree or another of passion for the mysterious. This is sometimes called "spirituality" (if you're an adherent - like what your pastor said) but for some it manifests more literally. Some people express that passion as a desire to "know", to learn about the universe. They often become scientists. In both cases I think its borne of a passion for the mysterious.

I think you said something about liking Sociology? The Sociology of Religion is a fascinating subject and research has shown that people do seem to have this common drive and that what makes people atheist or faithful has to do with personality; how we engage the mysterious. This is why deconversion is so difficult. Here's an interesting statistic: those most zealous in their religion typically are also the most zealous in atheism after they deconvert. This is because of what I just described. Both adherents and atheists are doing the same thing.

- kk

P.S. and by this measure if I were an adherent I would be a very conservative, fundamentalist Shia proselytizer. And I'm strangely comfortable with that ;-)

Hey,

Well, I'd suspect, and its only a suspicion, that both sides of this coin want to be able to claim this valuable territory; that is, to consummate the psychological coup this creates for them by legitimizing their beliefs as "innate". And that, I think, is the psychology behind it.

On the other hand, I do think there is an innate yearning upon which these arrogations make; namely, the passion for the mysterious.

So, turning back to your comment/question, our upbringing and life circumstances definitely play a role. My mom and dad tried to be objective, but the truth is, with a family so steeped in atheism and deconversion, could it really have been fully impartial? I doubt it. My cousins, my grandparents, my uncles my aunts. All of them were atheists and half of them were deconverters.

And my discussions with deconverted adherents has been that they felt the same way. Even in "sophisticated" Christian homes (and there are many) adherents seem to feel that, despite their parents noble efforts to be objective, there was some influence from the start. Its unavoidable.

Both sides will try to take the high ground here and claim that there was no partiality. But the truth lies between, methinks.

and btw, I know you were joking, but there is no way in h$%$ll I would become a Shia.

- kk 

I think it goes back to in many cases our up bringing and life circumstances.

That makes a lot of sense. I've had many debates with theists, where I would mention something along those lines, and for some reason they refuse to accept the fact that if they were born in a Muslim country, they would most likely be Muslim, or Buddhist in a Buddhist country, etc.

Often I get the reply: "NO! NO! You're wrong. I am <insert religion> because <insert religion> is the only true religion! It wouldn't matter where I was born or raised. I just know it!"

Hey Milos,

Yep, and if you can get them to think sincerely about that for a minute its obvious whats going on - they're just following the herd like everyone else is and which in turn strongly suggests that they're beliefs are a fraud.

- kk

Exactly. But that is the difficult part.

I remember sitting in on a debate/argument two of my friends had. One is atheist, and the other extremely religious. The religious one, for over 3 hours, refused to accept even a .0000001% chance that he could be wrong in his belief.

No matter what evidence the former put forward, there was no compromise in the latter. The thing I often find with theists, is that they seem to be terrified of the idea that we just don't know. So many absolutely refuse to admit ignorance about any topic involving their faith.

The debate basically ended up with the religious friend saying how anyone who doesn't believe is stupid and will go to hell, and then he pretty much used the 4 year old's winning strategy of "lalalalalalala I'm not listening! Laalalala!"

And that's where what Jessica said comes into play. If you are brought up believing a certain thing, and grew up in an environment where everyone you interact with believes in that thing as well, it becomes extremely difficult to rationalize against your belief, and extremely easy to dismiss the beliefs of others. Even when proof is presented, it becomes instinct to dismiss the proof, or find a way to make it look like it works in your favor, or resort to childish insults and name calling.

For example, during the particular discussion i mentioned above, AJ (Atheist friend) asked Andrew (Religious friend) to explain how thinking about god makes him feel. Then AJ wrote down everything Andrew said, went online and looked up the feelings and symptoms associated with brainwashing of prisoners during WW2, in cults, etc. And his feelings towards worshiping god, went hand in hand with the symptoms of brainwashing. Yet that was dismissed as "stupid and wrong."

Hey Milos,

I remember sitting in on a debate/argument two of my friends had. One is atheist, and the other extremely religious. The religious one, for over 3 hours, refused to accept even a .0000001% chance that he could be wrong in his belief.

This is so ironic. As I read that my first thought was that this is a sign of brainwashing. Then I read your last paragraph ;-)

No matter what evidence the former put forward, there was no compromise in the latter. The thing I often find with theists, is that they seem to be terrified of the idea that we just don't know. So many absolutely refuse to admit ignorance about any topic involving their faith.

Do you think that its fear of saying "I don't know" or just a resistance to saying no one, including god, "knows"? My expeirence has been that adherents seem okay with accepting the fact that they don't know something ... as long as they can put it in "Gods" court and say, well, God knows but I don't. They seem enamored with the idea that there is privileged knowledge out there known only to the gods. Weird.

- kk

I think you are right. They have no problem with professing ignorance about many things. But, when the topic is god, then the attitude changes. I think, at least in the case of my friend, the particular religion really drills in the fact that questioning the holy spirit is the worst sin you can commit. Thus saying that you could be wrong about god is anathema to them.

I seek out the mysterius, but sometimes I am very disapointed. The best mysteries seem to come from long term deep study Sadly obcessions often come from this same root.

James - how true - kk

As an ex-catholic, some of us might have earned our atheist merit badge. But I must say that anyone surviving their childhood in one piece, should have the option of an atheist aspiration or final arival. Welcome! 

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