Came across this site on Twitter somehow decided to join after reading a few posts and articles. Looks like a place that I could really enjoy and I'm looking forward to it.
I feel like telling my story so if you don't care about this part I won't be offended. It's more for me to open up a bit since I can't where I'm at now in my life.
I was raised strict Baptist from when I can remember. My grandparents were fundamentals to the inth degree, you know short hair boys, long hair and dresses for girls and so on. I've always sought out for answers in religion and felt like my faith was never there. I would pray for hours just for the faith to follow god's teaching and understand his greatest plan for my life. I must have prayed to be "saved" 3 or 4 times. God was the way, the truth, the light would fill the hole in my heart to make me a complete human.
But something was wrong. I didn't feel like singing hymns and worshiping god all day sounded that great. Streets of gold were kind of disappointing since, well they are streets, nothing should have to be explained on that one. This circle of failure to follow god and re-seeking his blessing goes on until I'm 35. Please don't laugh, I'm serious as hell about this (see what I did there?) - I saw the episode on Bullshit by Penn and Teller on the bible. You know the Jews are captured by the Romans who used to believe in many deities but the ruling Caesar at the time decided they only needed one god and mandated that they only have one. Then Jews free and return to their homeland and all of the sudden there is one god not 4 or 5.
A couple of other stories that I had read from the bible were brought up and one by one this light starts to get brighter and brighter in my head. As this is occurring I'm not excited by enlightenment, I'm horrified. My entire life is being turned upside down, I actually have a panic attack and have to deal with copious amounts of rage for the next 6 months. Six months I was alone, trying to sort it out but once the veil is lifted your screwed, there isn't any going back to the way it was, there's no convincing yourself that it's just a phase your going through. It's over. You simply try to cope with your entire psyche being erased and you have to start interpreting your life from scratch. It's not cool, until much later. I really think lifelong Atheists are missing the real fun, but I envy them.
I did tell my wife, I couldn't remain alone forever it was awful. She's still a somewhat believer, and I don't try to convert her. She's always hoping that I believe again but deep down she knows there's absolutely no way. I haven't told my family, on my fathers side we've recently started reconciling after a 10 year split and my grandfather who is 90, well I literally do not think he would be able to handle it. So I'm patient, and I want to come out to them but I don't feel comfortable with it now. Not yet, but each day as I hear them complain about injustices to the Christianity, how they are the downtrodden makes me grow angrier and angrier. I liken to feeling like a gay person in the 80's, overwhelming and dangerous. Especially here in Texas, I have 2 friends that are closet Atheists as well and both are from other countries. Go figure.
Mo - RE: "I have stopped using identifying information on the internet"
I live in the Bible Belt and down the road from a Muslim community - my mama sure didn't name me archaeopteryx!!
I thought it was just a fancy form of "Archie O'Terry X" though I had to admit I couldn't see any family naming ten generations of sons Archie.
There are a few on this board who were never raised in a religious atmosphere, but your story is an echo of 90% of everyone else, so most of us know exactly where you're coming from, and the rest of us empathize - you're in good company. This is the place to say anything you like and get it all out.
I won't take up a lot of space here, as I'm sure there are many others who are waiting to welcome you too, but I did want to make one comment on something you said. you spoke of listening to your parents "complain about injustices to the Christianity, how they are the downtrodden."
In the South, after passage of the Civil Rights Act last century, Whites felt the same way. What they didn't understand was that the Act didn't take away any of their rights, it just took away what THEY perceived as their right to feel special, a right that, by no law in the land, did they ever have in the first place. That's what's happening to Christians today, and what's fueling the anger of the Religious Right, they (Christians) have been relegated to the position of being just another religion, when from Plymouth Rock til recently, they've been taught they were special. They're losing their privilege, and they want it back. What they don't understand, is that it's a lot like virginity, once it's gone --
That is some good insight archeopteryx, thanks for sharing. I've not thought about it from that angle, I'm sensitive to the WHAT they are feeling but not the WHY. I'm sympathetic actually, for they "know not what they do". It's difficult to say the least, which is the main reason I spent 6 months freaking out in my own head. If you knew me you wouldn't have known, I'm relatively low key but there were times where I really thought I was going to lose my mind. It's hard to give it up, even when you KNOW! It's great to talk with some like minded folks, sometimes it can get lonely.
Do you suppose that is because our perspectives on life are so different? I don't think of myself as any more intelligent than my religious peers, but sometimes I feel like they are.. I don't know, ignorant? Selfish? Perhaps a combination, I don't know but nonetheless it's great to see an active community here. Thanks for sharing as well.
@Paul - your "de-conversion" sounds like it came on suddenly, while I, on the other had had a much more gradual experience. At 5, I was asking why all of the other religions in the world were not as good as ours. By 12, I was daring god to kill me if he was there and had the power (didn't happen), and by 20, I was full-blown.
I can see why it must have been mind-bending to have it happen all at once. I have a grandson who has been so heavily programed by his parents, he's reluctant to view my website for fear that god will punish him. I don't preach atheism to him, but I do let him know there are at least two sides to every coin (sometimes there are even 3-sided coins, but they're collector's items), and that's something I gather you didn't have growing up.
And yes, he lives in Texas too, so you can understand why he feels as he does.
Another thing they don't seem to grasp is that a privilege for one group necessarily constitutes an infringement on the rights of others. And, believe me, they most certainly have not given up and could well get it back. Just look at what happened Spain in the 1930's and Chile in the 1970's. They are at war with us. We are just lucky we live in a country and an era where they can't get away with wholesale slaughter.
@Mo RE: "privilege for one group necessarily constitutes an infringement on the rights of others"
True, but when you believe that yours is the only true religion, all others deserve any infringement they get. Don't like infringement? Convert!
I get the impression they won't be satisfied until they have a little Stepford Community, totally devoid of individuality or originality, where everyone behaves and believes and thinks exactly the same - pretty much, I would suspect, their concept of a heaven, church that lasts forever.
It is very nice to read stories like yours. I'm very happy that you have freed yourself, and I hope things become easier for you as you come to terms with it all. In the mean time, you're not alone!
I'm at work so let me just say hello and welcome.
Enjoyed your story and hope to hear a lot more from you
There is a bloke called Tim Minchin, Australian, who was in Texas last year - and had a wonderful time.
Tim causes a bit of a fuss when he goes to America, as he is a very clever, vehement, unapologetic Atheist, but it sounded like there were quite a lot of Atheists to his show, and was treated with respect, when he thought there was a possibility he might be burned at the stake :D
There are many more like you on this site, with the same story. Just remember, you are now out of the quigmire, how clever are you :D Welcome.
Something you might want to read before you go public:
(I've cross posted it here in the past)
I am fortunate that most of the people who really matter to me are already atheist or at least very open minded. It's folks I have to do business with and live next door to that are my worry, so I am semi in the closet to this day.