I have been an Atheist a very short time. I don’t want to bore you all with how or even why. I’d like to deal with a question that perhaps other people are struggling with as well. The question of, “How do I stop quoting the Bible to myself?” For every thought or revelation, or beautiful experience as an Atheist I find myself thinking on the Bible verse that reveals the Truth to me just as I did when I was a Theist. I find myself then questioning whether I am truly an Atheist. I KNOW there isn’t evidence for a God based on what I’ve LEARNED. But the educational piece has not taken away the deep love that I have for God, or the peace I have received from remembering what I used to think of as, “God’s promises.” I don’t want a lecture about why there is no evidence for a God. Please spare me these details. I rather want to know how to move forward as an Atheist. A True Atheist.
It will not be a "light switch" process for you unfortunately. Truth will reveal itself to you in new forms now that you are discarding the shackles of religion. You can't expect yourself to suddenly drop that which was so deeply ingrained in your psyche. It will take time.
Reading material related to humanism and evolution would be beneficial. Our chief forum administrator (Nelson) has an excellent listing of books for you to consider.
I wish you well on your new path of discovery.
Belle, you are in an interesting conundrum. My idea of God had been transforming into a less personal and more distant concept for some time. Myself, I fell towards deism with a splash of some Buddhist thought for about a year before I became an atheist so I lost that "personal" connection with God so I've never had to go through what you and others who deconvert sometimes go through: how to let go of a friend who was never there. I have heard from some that it can become like mourning someone's death. Others have described it like having an old friend move away that you know you'd never see again. In others, it just disappears like feelings about Santa. My feelings towards God first started to cool when I realized that I couldn't trust him to help me out when I needed help the most. It was me who got me out of my trouble and not any type of divine intervention. How does an omnipotent and omniscient being fail to take care of a faithful and devoted follower? In my mind, I began to see God as more distant and unconcerned about the everyday affairs of us mere mortals. I did a lot of rationalizing and after several years of hanging on, finally started letting go.
To me, it sounds it might also be a matter of behavioral conditioning. I notice the same things in myself on occasion (having only recognized myself as an atheist for some 18 months now). I'll often look at a set of circumstances that happen to work out well and still think that some entity created that confluence and feel thankful for it. It used to be that I'd thank God for it and use that as a sign that he was involved in my life. It was like receiving a gift from a friend. It gave me a big warm fuzzy and it conditioned me to continue to think that way. Now that I realize that sometimes things just happen to work out, I don't get that same feeling I am pleased, but not towards anyone, and slowly I find that I'm no longer thankful directly to anyone in that sort of situation.
It takes time to deprogram especially if your formative years were spent in a religion. The best thing you can do is to learn self-awareness. It'll help you know better what triggers certain thoughts and feelings and why you feel that way. When you understand those things, then it becomes easier to change or get rid of them.
In the mean time, possibly try reprogramming yourself with some better material. One of my favorites so far has been Braking the Spell by Daniel Dennet. It does exactly what it claims. I recommend (besides the Horsemen of Atheism, of course) Spinoza, Hume, Plato, and Nietzsche. And if all else fails, just enjoy some good, old fashioned mythology! Comparing one god to another might make the Christian god seem more like the literary figure that he is.
Just remember, it all takes time so have patience with yourself.
Is there really such a thing as a "true atheist", it cannot be proven that god does not exist, you cannot prove a negative, the best we can do is to say the "evidence" for god does not exist, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Please understand I'm not trying to make this more difficult for you, it's just that at some point you have decide whether the information you have is enough, because unfortunately we will never have all the answers, history shows us that answers lead to more questions.
Why don't you start a small notebook of sayings and quotations you come across to cover different moods or events. Then you can learn them by heart, and refer to one of those as a substitute for the habit you've picked up of quoting bible verses. It's always hard to give something up that's been a big part of your subconscious for so long. But this particular habit can be traded for one you feel more comfortable with.
Personally, I have favourite Shakespeare quotations for my major 'moments'.
" When the lord your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the Lord your God has given you." Just remember bible quotes like this and you should be fine.
It takes some time to unlearn a habit. I think it was 30 or 60 days? You have to be patient with yourself. Also, probably reading some atheist writings as others suggested would be a good idea - you could form new pathways in your brain this way.
For a theist to become an Atheist all you need do is understand or be aware of the fact that you no longer believe in a god. However for a certain amount of time after that moment you will not start to live with an atheistic philosophy or outlook on life. As a Theist you will have looked at everything that happened in life through the eyes of a believer who understood that outlook to be the Truth. Over time and with the confirmation bias Theists get from their repetitive behaviour – church, mantras, prayer etc. and most other people they know doing the same things, religions ends up colouring everything (or poisons as Hitchens would say). Eventually all your thinking is processed around a faith based framework.
This type of thinking becomes so engrained that it will take time not just to flush it from your system but also to replace it with one that is based on the philosophies of life that develop within us now that we are using “reason” as opposed to “faith” to make sense of the world.
As you develop a new understanding of a world without gods (or other forms of Woo) and become more of a Freethinker these moments of faith based thinking or referencing will start to dissipate. So what helps to get you there? As others have said – Education will. Reading books like those mentioned above and asking questions. Many Theists never really ask “the big questions” as they already have a book with all the answers. Becoming a “true” Atheist may not be the correct term but it is understood. It is a process of learning how to use reason and critical thinking (an acquired skill) rather than faith and unquestioned acceptance and then seeing the world with fresh eyes.
In short saying the words “I am an Atheist” is only the first step. The good thing though is that there is so much to learn and think about so you will enjoy the process. Some day when a Christian tells you to your face that you should learn some humility and go read the bible you will be able to enjoy an interesting conversation with them. They will be “thinking” to themselves “how come these Atheists know the bible better than many Christians do?”
To an extent I think you need to mourn your loss of your god - just as though it had died. One thing that helped me do that has actually been debating Christians. When I believed in a god, MY god was absolute truth, and could be found in every truth, and would never be revealed through any lie <- obviously part of the reason that my belief didn't last. Anyway, every time I hear Christians lying to defend their god, I feel like they murder a bit more of my god. There was a point when I felt bad for the god I had once known because at one time he had been more powerful than the cosmos and shook nations to their core but these days he's been turned into a parody of his old self, a joke, a mockery. The god I once knew is dead.
When I lost my faith I definitely developed some feelings of bitterness about religion - but at the same time part of that bitterness came from realizing how woven-in those beliefs and people had become in my life. Although I consider any religious environment unhealthy, it's still an environment. As crappy as the performers sometimes were at the pentecostal church I still had fun laughing at their enthusiasm. There was also an illusion that those people were really there for me - I mean they often brought in some immigrant whom they said they would be helping out if we put a little more in the collection plate, so somehow I felt like I would be helped if I ever needed it. Whether or not that was true, it still left me with a feeling of connection that the unfaithful do not provide. There are things to mourn. Even if the coyote ever actually caught and killed the roadrunner he would find a hole in his life and would have to mourn the loss of his greatest adversary. :D