"What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof."
   -Christopher Hitchens
 
I began March 2009 as a Christian.  Not a moderate, well-informed Christian....a Fox News watching, young earth Creationist Southern Baptist.  I rejected concepts such as evolution, global warming, and people being born gay, just to name a few. I actually studied Creationism at the Baptist junior college which I had attended.  This is not to say that I was unintelligent or that I did not read often.  I was an excellent scholar and loved to learn.  I read all the time.  I loved intelligent conversation and treated everyone the same.  After all, in my mind we were all sinners.  I tutored College Algebra and my grammar was impeccable.  I was always open to new ideas, only my environment didn't provide these new ideas.  I had never actually fully read the Bible, as I was always advised against simply reading the Bible.  "It must be studied, not simply read," I had been told repeatedly as a born-again twelve-year-old Christian. 
 
My childhood indoctrination was done kindly, yet strongly.  The well-meaning Christians and small church that participated in my indoctrination provided for me a safe haven from my abusive, drug-addicted parents at home.  So, I was an extremely easy target for religious indoctrination.  I loved my god, my precious Savior...and how!!!  I prayed privately and fervently, read the Bible daily (always with my trusty study guides and commentary, of course), sang in the choir, taught VBS, participated in Acteens...the whole shibang!  As many Christians do, I "strayed" in my late teens and early twenties, but always with the mindset that one day I would devote myself to Christ and repent of my waywardness.  However, my faith never wavered----I was truly a believer, through and through.
 
I had began answering questions in Yahoo Answers as a hobby.  I started with questions in the "Homework Help" section, but I saw a question about god in the "Religion & Spirituality" section that interested me and I quickly started answering questions there instead.  Many of these people were driving to hell, after all.  I then met an atheist through there and we began discussing many topics.  He was a seventeen-year-old student in the UK, and had great interest in both pseudoscience and religion.  We ran through a variety of subjects, spending four, sometimes five hours each day dissecting each.  I was forced, in order to hold my positions, to search for the evidence supporting my positions and to consider the evidence for his positions.  (Well, how could I debate his positions if I did not understand them?)  In every subject, from the original of life to the rapture, the evidence he presented far exceeded the evidence I could not even find and his arguments won easier over mine.  In every subject.  My first real doubt was simple:  Why doesn't God make Himself more known than this?
 
I still remember the information my atheist friend showed me.  Religious debunking of hell, videos and articles about various scientific concepts, and, perhaps the most effective tool of all, LOGIC.  (NonStampCollector's videos often left me thinking for hours.)  I learned more science in that one month than I ever had in school, as science had always been simply boring memorization.  I was very confused.  Finally, the day after Easter 2009, as I was watching Hawking's lecture on the origin of the universe (and understanding these concepts for the first time), my atheist friend asked me if I saw how it was at least possible without a god.  I said yes.  That was all it took.  My belief vanished in that moment.
 
Warning:  Forgive me if this sounds....spiritual.  I must describe this, though, as well as I can. 
 
That moment was perhaps the most, for lack of a better word, transcendent moment of my life.  With the science I had just learned in the back of my mind as I admitted to myself that I could no longer intellectually and rationally hold the position of belief that I was holding, I saw the universe as I had never seen it, and will never see it again.  Everything made crystal-clear sense.  No gaps, no extra pieces to the puzzle.....complete clarity.  I saw in that instant why the universe was billions upon billions of light years wide with billions upons billions of galaxies like ours.  I understood in that instant why so many thousands of children starve to death every day.  I finally grasped why so many prayers went unanswered.  So many answers to questions I'd never even thought to ask before that day!  In that moment, the greatest "Ah Ha!" moment of my life, I GOT IT!  It was like a supernova of the mind (now my mind is pulling in information like a black hole!)  I also knew in that moment that I would never accept another supernatural claim without real evidence ever again. 
 
Did I have lingering fears of hell, untimely death, Satan, God's wrath, and other irrationalities?  Yes.  Indoctrination is very effective.  But the flashes of fear were just like flashes of doubt to a believer, and the more I learned, the less fear I had.  I came out gradually to my friends and immediate family.  Some of them do not like me anymore because of it; some were extremely disappointed or disheartened by it.  That is their burden to bear as the belief is theirs not mine.  But I do sympathize; it's difficult not to.  But my family and friends whose love was unconditional are still ever-present in my life.  I'm okay with that.
 
Losing my faith influenced other changes-of-mind.  I soon after embraced secular humanism, and I began to care about the environment.  Both of these concepts, with alittle bit of research, led me to become a vegetarian.  I no longer believe that we are "born sick, commanded to be made well" nor do I believe that meaning can only come from eternal life.  How could I have ever been that person?  I had a "friend" tell me that I "used to be such a wonderful person".  Ironic, ain't it?

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That was a great story, thanks for sharing. I've spent quite a bit of time on YA, mostly just to let off steam. I guess its because I can't say anything to some of my family or coworkers. They know I'm atheist, but I want to argue the point and I just can't bring myself to be that annoying....so I annoy the theists on YA, lol. They are mostly there for that, anyway. I never butt into questions from one theist to another, though, just because I think that's rude.

Anyway, I had kind of a aha moment, too. But mine was a little different. I realized that I never believed. I realized that I was forcing myself to accept it, but suddenly every doubting moment came rushing back with the realization that I was trying so hard to rationalize because I was told that I must. It took my own kid to wake me up. She made me realize that guilt was all that was keeping me in the fold.
Our kids moreso than anyone else tend to show us things that completely alter our lives. Mine is only a toddler yet and he rattles my brain daily to the point of exhaustion. But then there are moments like this that bring me the greatest joy:




I'm glad that you were able to escape the guilt that was perpetuating your acceptance. There is a book titled The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture written by Darrel W. Ray, Ed.D; this book, according to an interview with the author on the Atheist Experience, discusses how guilt perpetuates religion. (Just throwing that in there because your experience reminded me of it.)

I kind of want to hug you super-hard for looking at the evidence, rather than just throwing back questions about how the evidence couldn't be true that your friend gave you.

This is rare, and I understand it'll probably be really hard to deal with people who want nothing more than for you to 'come back to the light' , with the assumption is that all it takes is some well-placed scripture to rope you in again.

Thank you for sharing your story. It was inspiring when I've spent so much of my time fighting against people who outright deny any evidence I place in front of them--from transition fossils to contradictions in the bible, nothing works, and I find myself frustrated and once, cried myself to sleep after I was verbally and physically accosted for trying to defend the rights of others to get married.

I will be thinking of you whenever I think I cannot argue another second.

WOW, WOW, WOW, I think this should be published somewhere  that a million people can share in this truth of life story. Now that I hear many of the transformations of fellow Atheists I want to see that the stories are shared with our young people befor the christians have a chance to brainwash them. I know that many of them will find there way to the truth regardless, but many, like myself are unable to find it untill later in life. I think you are an insperation.

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