Were you always one or were you once a believer and how did you become atheist?  

I know this is a common, rather overdone question, but what I want to know is what was the turning point for you if you were once a believer?  

I was never a strong believer, more like a follower. The bible had no real influence on me; I always felt it was mostly symbolic, anyway.   Nevertheless,   I had the programming.   God was a part of my psyche.   I spoke to him all day long.   it was like having an invisible friend who was always there.

Then my daughter came home from college and began to speak to me about her atheism.   We had open discussions.   I examined my own beliefs and began to realize that they were based only upon what had  been taught to me and tried to figure out why I was so reluctant to challenge them.   I couldn't let go of god but I didn't know why.  

The turning point for me was realizing that guilt was the only thing that kept me believing.   I was brought up to fear hell, brought up to fear god's wrath. My daughter explained to me that it was a built in, practically fool proof  system of keeping people in the fold.   If you refuse to open your eyes out of fear,  you can never escape.  Intellectually, I knew she was right but letting go was still difficult.   I continued to investigate the sources of my beliefs; looking for some concrete reasons for it to be true, beyond what the nuns taught me as a child.   I could find nothing substantial.   I finally decided to reject the belief despite the frightening feelings that brought with it.   It was difficult at first and I felt lost and abandoned, but as time went on, I was ok with it.   Now I feel more than ok, I feel like a weight has been removed from my shoulders.

 I look back and it seems incredible that I ever believed all that nonsense in the first place.   I remember questioning as a child and then having to try to rationalize what they told me to make it work.   Even when it didn't, I took it in and accepted it, until the lie became "truth".   Then I grew up and did the same to my children.  

 It took my oldest to have the nerve break the chain.  I am very proud of her for trusting her own thinking and questioning authority.   She founded the atheist club in her university and its going strong for five years now with many members.  

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I wasn't born with any religious background, thankfully... And when Santa, the tooth fairy, and the easter bunny all became disappointments, when I started learning about other peoples beliefs in these gods... It all seemed, yet again, made up and silly. So I was born atheist, just didn't know the word for it until later. =)
We're all born atheist. At too young an age, we are indoctrinated with a belief system, which we gladly accept as truth, since we understand little of how the world works. Personally, I gradually shed the ignorance during my early/mid teen years. Most people don't have a moment of sudden change, but rather a long period of re-evaluation.
Also, the invisible friend acts as your conscience; always in debate with your conscious mind about what's right and wrong. Becoming an atheist means realizing this fact, and getting your conscience to adopt a different, more logical scale of right and wrong.
Welcome to the dark side :) lol
It all started to unravel for me in Sunday school, when the story that we're all supposed to be held responsible for Adam and Eve's sin (which wasn't even much of a sin) didn't jibe well with my childish sense of justice. That's when I started to look at all of it with suspicion, although it would be a few more years before I really accelerated that process.

In a way, my parents made me into a child who would question the Original Sin nonsense: They wouldn't let my teachers keep me in for a class detention unless I was the one being bad. Any kind of group discipline at school would be met with a furious parental rebuke. And then someone lays this Original Sin crap on me, how did they expect me to react?

Of course, Original Sin is kind of the keystone of Christianity. Once you've rejected that, the rest just crumbles.
When I was young my family was very religious, Christian oriented people. We went to church on Sunday with family friends of ours (who are still family friends). However this was all when I was very young, barely able to remember much at all. But what I do remember is that we were going to church, then we stopped because my Father had a falling out with one his friends at the church. Anyway to make a long story short, we stopped going to church, so I loss the "importance" of church that they always talk about. Though some years we would go to church after that on Easter.

I've struggled with the notion of "Does God exist or not?" for years, and finally came to the determination that I was tired of trying to answer a question that simply cannot be answered. I was tired of putting my faith into something imaginary, something intangible, rather than putting my faith into myself, into my life and what I can accomplish. Scientifically speaking as I evolved with knowledge about quantum physics, biology, chemicals etc. I came to find that the only thing that really had the anything remotely close to what would be considered "God", is energy. It is omnipresent, albeit not sentient (that we know of...heh).

Not to mention that through studying various religions, and coming to find that many of the stories in the bible are mere alterations on previous stories in religious lore. It makes me very irritated that the Christian god is not also part of the same mythos as Zeus, Odin, or any number of the "gods" in history. Hence why I call it "religious lore". Because that's what it is to me.

Then the nail in the coffin that made me decide I was going to boastfully admit my beliefs, or lack of belief in "God". Was when I learned that many religious people seem to blame Atheism for atrocities done in history, and incredible allegations of regular immoral behavior. Which I have to say strikes me as very odd that this would be said, when most of the wars ever fought in recorded history... were due to religion. And Atheists are the immoral evil murderers?
For me it started with questioning the bible's contradictions and exercises in illogic. Then i discovered science and it was game over for religion in my life. It starts for me the same way it does for many.

Asking the right questions.
I think my journey toward atheism began in my early teens. My father was Christian and had a circle of Christian friends from his church. My younger sister and I both went to Sunday School and were a part of the youth group and youth choir at the church. All of my friends were into it as well. There were more churches in my hometown than any other building (besides houses) and the town's official population was less than two thousand.

I can remember the exact day when I first began to seriously doubt the church and the Bible. My Sunday school teacher (who was also my English teacher at school) had been talking about Jesus and giving yourself to Christ so that you could be saved and get into heaven. She told us that Jesus would forgive our sins, except for blasphemy. That just didn't sit right with me. Jesus loves everybody and wants you to be saved, but if you blaspheme just once, even by mistake, that's it? That was when I decided to actually read the Bible for myself instead of just the verses they assigned to us.

Needless to say, I was shocked and appalled by what I read. Nothing in this book sounded like the God I thought I was following. Cruelty, genocide, ego-maniacal behavior, hate for homosexuals, women as property, incest, "righteous" killing - you know the drill. I couldn't believe that churches were preaching "goodness" and morality out of this book. How could they believe all these ridiculous and terrible things? And then I figured it out - they don't, at least not completely. And it was a natural progression of inquiry and research from there.

Still, it took me many years to actually realize and accept that I had stopped believing. My family was still heavily into religion, and so were all my friends. I had heard them talk about non-believers before, and the things they said terrified me. Surely I wasn't evil or in league with the devil? I still knew right from wrong, and I never got into much trouble (aside from having a smart mouth.) I had never even heard the WORD atheist. I didn't want my family to hate me, so what could I do besides keep quiet and go through the motions, but it all felt so fake.

For these reasons I held on to my "faith" for quite some time, until college and the internet opened my eyes to a larger world. I made some Buddhist friends via a MMORPG that I played quite a bit. I made other friends from eastern countries and many many European friends as well. In talking to them, I discovered different religions as well as atheism. I discovered that these were good people, despite the fact that they didn't believe in God (or at least, the Christian God) and that meant that being a non-believer did not make me a bad person either.

And now, years later, here I am. I still have many religious friends, and my family is still extremely religious. They still go to church, but have thankfully stopped asking me to attend with them. My sisters have adopted a policy of not mentioning or discussing religion when I'm around. They feel as if I'm angry with God, and as if my non-belief is a phase that I will eventually grow out of. The truth is that I am the least angry person I know. It's sad that I can't have an open conversation with my family about this, but I try to respect their boundaries.

-Tera
When God made me, He made me an atheist right from the start. Apparently this is why I am going to Hell, or so I am told.

Shitty sales pitches like that are why I have remained an atheist since birth.
I was born an Atheist and never quit being one. I gave religion a try from the time I was four to the time I was about eight, but I frequently disagreed with the sermons and didn't see an honest, cohesive storyline in the Bible; I saw a lot of mixed up contradictions that puzzled me as a child, and statements I read on my own that actually infuriated me and confused me at the same time. I called it quits on going to church when I was around nine and a half (I kept going out of politeness to my former foster father who was like a second dad to me, and would pick me up and take me to church on Sundays), and about three years later, when I was eleven, the man who had always taken me ended up dying of cancer. My biological father was a Buddhist with Theistic structure in his beliefs, so I never outright said 'I'm an Atheist' until he passed away when I was fourteen. Even then, living with a Catholic grandmother who attended mass, I only told my mom and my high school boyfriends and friends that I was an Atheist, and otherwise kept my mouth shut when I went home. When I was eighteen and moved out, I was dating an Atheist and his father was also Atheist (although not his mother or sister), so I could be a little more open there. I had frequent, pleasant discussions with his father on the deck, looking through a telescope, about the universe and stars and their absolutely majestic presence and what it all meant.

But I never actually subscribed to the belief in God, never prayed with any length of seriousness (I didn't see the point), and was just never pulled into the fairy tale. I was much more entranced by reality and how the world actually came about, because I think that story is much more magical.
Atheists LOVE sharing their story of how they came to atheism.

I'm no different. I was already headed that way when I read The God Delusion. It was a revelation. I was relieved that I no longer had to try to believe in something I didn't believe in.
The turning point for me was the resounding silence from God.
Yeah, I heard that silence, too. I was told that I wasn't listening correctly or with an open enough of a heart or whatever reason my incomprehension could be blamed on me.
I was a die-hard Catholic as a youth- chose to go to Catholic school, yet loved George Carlin's irreverant rants against religion at the same time. I tried very hard to be holy, but being bad, or at least in God's eyes, was so much fun. When I went to college I mellowed out a lot, mainly because I was so busy I did not have time to pursue my faith- whereas in high school they shlepped us to Church on every religious observance day. I found myself getting more and more frustrated with the concept, and being introduced to new ideas that I kept doing mental gymnastics to try and make work- like fitting a square peg into a round hole. Finally I gave up and exploded one day into "I don't know, but I hope one day it's revealed how all this bullshit makes sense!" I continued to pray from time to time, but remained for the most part agnostic. The nail in the coffin was when Ratzinger became pope. I immediately called bullshit and left. I was miserable as an atheist. I thought going back to religion would help, but it didn't. It just made things worse. I picked up Atlas Shrugged. I never looked back. (I know, considering there was an Ayn Rand hate fest another thread I'm not expecting brownie points for that being my deconversion of choice ;p).

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