I myself come from an extremely devout conservative family. I was raised as a Catholic and became "born again" during a Summer Vacation Bible camp when I was in the sixth grade. I made all the sacraments, went to CCD (like Bible study classes), attended Christian Conferences and week long camps, and even went to a Private Catholic College. My husband went into the military shortly after we married and I think that was the beginning of my de-conversion. I attended LSU and lived all over the deep South. This really opened up my eyes to a world very different from where I grew up. I began questioning after attempting to find a church that "fit" us. Listening to pastors talk about beating their kids, using Bible quotes to condone it, and then sitting through masses about tithing and speaking in tongues, I started to see how crazy religion was. I guess I identified as non-denominational for a while because I didnt want to have anything to do with man made religion. Then it was watching documentaries and specials on Jesus and I started questioning the Bible and whether or not he could have existed and raised the dead, and walked on water, turned water to wine, etc....My conclusion upon getting my degree in Science Psychology was no he couldnt have, those things are improbable. If that was my conclusion then every other "story" in the Bible was improbable and where did that leave me?
My de-conversion was a process and progress if you ask me. I didnt just wake up one day and say "I think I'll be an atheist". I was a long sometimes painful process that led me here. I could never "go back" EVER, too many things about this world and Universe point to happen stance, probability, and accident. We are Serendipitous, the outcome of a happy accident. I'm fine with that, I'm happy with that! I no longer need a man in the sky subconsciously re affirming my every choice and "making" me feel guilty when I make a poor decision. My brain is far evolved from the mythology and going back is no longer an option.
The repercussions from my de-conversion have been slight. My Mom cried when she found out and told me I was going to Hell, now she just tries to get me to listen to Christian radio stations and referred to my recent raise and promotion as an "answer to her prayers". I deal with the religious rhetoric because she is family. I now look back often, especially when she looks at something purely scientific and attributes it to God, and wonder how I could have ever believed such nonsense.
I was raised in a family that was fairly relaxed with religion, but still was involved in Christianity. My parents sent us to Sunday school at a Presbyterian church. I went for the free doughnut every Sunday and getting to see some friends for a couple of hours. As I grew older I was involved in AWANAs, a Baptist church youth bible study group while still going to the Presbyterian church, and then a non-denominational youth group after moving to a new town without a Presbyterian church.
As I moved away to college i started to recognize that I didn't really believe any of it. I tried to be part of a youth group during my freshman year, but it was more evangelical/pentecostal than I had ever experienced and made me realize that the only reason I went was to hang out with friends. It's kind of hard to do that when you think everyone there is crazy. Then I underwent a serious introspection as I began to reconcile my sexuality and had an even more in-depth inspection of my religious beliefs. I could finally admit to myself at that point that I had never really believed in God, and I could see how I just went along with it and it seemed normal to do so.
After that, I read some sources online, looked at videos on youtube, and read "The God Delusion" (which was very helpful as it compiled most of the arguments against religion/God into one place). And now here I am.
The God Delusion is wonderful...Dawkins is my hero! I love his approach to atheism from a Scientific standpoint. Hitchens is great too but I love me some Dawkins. I also did the youth group thing, I bought into it hardcore and even traveled to different parts of my State to attend conferences. Did you go to a religious college Cameron? Funny I returned to go to college at the place where I was again "born again" during a Christian leadership week of worship and fellowship and it was all drugs, sex, booze, etc.....The blatant hypocrisy of the whole thing had me extremely taken back. I think like you, I just "went along with it" because I was very much indoctrinated and didnt know what else to do at the time. for me as well it was "normal". Anyways, It's wonderful that you eventually found yourself here!
I didn't go to a religious college, thankfully haha. It is a public university in the midwest, but a small one. The good news is that they are open and let all different kinds of groups participate on campus like the group that i tried to attend; so even though it's kind of odd to see them let religious groups to have their functions on campus, they accommodate other groups as well without barring any of them. Heck, we even get that weird traveling guy, Brother Jed, every once in a while.
Dawkins has been much more accessible to me than Hitchens. I love watching Hitchens in debates, but reading his stuff takes me much longer than Dawkins (a good sign, i'm sure. but annoying when you just want to get through it haha). It's good to see other Dawkins fans. Dawkins is at the top of my list followed closely by Hitchens and Sagan. Sam Harris is alright, and I haven't really gotten into to many others
Yeah, I don't know that I was indoctrinated with the religion, but I was definitely being controlled by the social aspect of it. There were a lot of people that I knew who went to my church and then everybody else went to another church. It is such a powerful way to get children to follow it, and you don't even think about it. There were points were I wanted to believe really badly because it seemed like everyone else around me did and I felt left out. Good thing I didn't finally give in
Kara - any chance you could email me a Google map of that place with all the "drugs, sex, booze, etc"? I'm thinking of taking a little time off --
I was always an atheist. Thankfully my family never took a shit into my skull (indoctrinated) me. I did have a phase where I was intrigued by faith, I was young, and I thought about becoming a religious person, but then I decided I don't want to be a retard and that I'm better than god anyway. Even my neighbors dog is a better person than god. I think I could make a better god out of nothing more than a bottle of spit and old newspaper clippings. So yeah.
I was on my knees, praying fervently for sweet baby jesus to show me the way to the truth and the light, and he gave me this URL.
I do appreciate your story, Kara. I've been an atheist for as long as I was mature enough to comprehend the stories in the bible. I pity the victims of indoctrination. Without it, the only thing wholly "self-evident" with regard to religion is how totally implausible and contradictory it is literally. I like to highlight the fact that like Kara, Atheists come to this conclusion on their own. Unlike Christians of America who seek to bring people into belief, there is no organized campaign for atheists. The fruits of science does that. And lately, we all end up at sites like this to share battle stories.
Compare the religions which must meet 2 and 3 times a week to keep the faith buoyed.
It's true as frustrating as it is....Atheism is really something that happens over a period of time and like you said Jay it's a conclusion only they can come to. No amount of "preaching", encouragement to watch Hitchens or read Dawkins will ever help unless they are willing and able to do it themselves. I beleive that all people are atheists, they just haven't "found the way" yet.
Heather - having nothing whatever to do with your current discussion, if you haven't already read it, this may interest you:
Very very cool. Considering how many times we've been totally surprised by rocks the size of a small state passing between us and our moon, I'm not surprised we only just noticed that our galaxy got t-boned sometime in the recent (by astronomical measurements) past.
Actually, that came from Queen's University - http://www.queensu.ca/
I was more interested in the comment that it might have been a dark energy halo, rather than an actual passing galaxy, and the further possibility that it might still be ongoing.
There was a NOVA docu last night, a rerun I think concerning telescope history and design, 'Seeking the Edge of The Universe'. They mentioned 'dark matter' and 'dark energy' again. Since the 'dark' stuff is at about 95% of all mass, should not 'dark matter' or 'dark energy' be passing through or bound to us in some way? Does part of our mass consist of 'dark matter'?