Hello all. I'm a college grad and a former missionary who once was quite convinced God was real and was helping me. After I got back, as I thought about what I really believed and what I'd experienced, I saw that, while God could be there, I had never seen anything happen differently from what would happen if there was no God. Since then, I spent a lot of time keeping to myself, and not really researching the issue because I was afraid what I would find.
It's been a slow process of reading more atheist blogs, coming to terms with what I really believe, and now posting on a forum for the first time. I want so badly to talk to someone in real life, but everyone I know would try to help me back into the faith. I don't really have many friends and I'm very shy so it's hard to meet people.
I have all these reasons that I say I turned away from my faith -- I've never seen evidence of a god, the bible is illogical and inconsistent, religious people don't seem more moral or more happy than anyone else, prayer doesn't work, what about creationism and biblical anti-gay teaching? But I'm not necessarily happy at getting free, or angry at what I used to believe. I feel like other atheists I've read about who called their deconversion "like getting a painful divorce."I still don't know what I believe. I'm half afraid that if I come out to my real-life friends, all these good reasons will sound dumb when I say them out loud. Most of them really believe in miracles, you know. I'm just looking for some support. I'm in the middle of Iowa about two hours away from the nearest good atheist group, from what I can tell. I want to know that what I'm going through is normal and expected, or hear how others have made it through this same kind of issue.
The doubts and second thoughts you currently have about your belief system are quite common. I personally did not have a sudden eureka moment where it became clear that my suspicions were warranted. It was more like how a puddle of muddy water becomes clear if left undisturbed for an extended period of time. If you make the effort to research religion from an evolutionary standpoint you will come to understand how it has managed to develop & proliferate through the last several thousand years. A key point to recognize is that religion is largely a geographic phenomena and that local superstitions & myths are critical to their regional development.
Try not to feel alone in your new reality and take comfort knowing that there literally are millions of others who have already arrived where you now find yourself. Logic and reasoning are two of your best friends in this new journey. I wish you well.
Another thing I would suggest pausing to think about is the psychological aspect of religion. Questions such as why do so many people believe or want to believe in a version of the supernatural? What is it about the human psyche that lends itself to religion and ritual? How could so many different concepts of the divine have developed and why did humans create the old Gods? It's easier to look at the last concept because most people of faith easily accept that ancient gods and modern tribal gods are contrivances, but rarely do they consider why or how these myths develop, much less whether that process took place at the inception of their own religious tradition.
I also found a lot of insight in considering why religion persists today. From a societal and political perspective, ask yourself, who benefits from religious piety and a concept of the sacred? What is the function of religion in society (think of a foreign nation if it's too hard to be unbiased about our culture)? Who are the religious? What are their demographics--education, income, ethnicity, sex, political affiliation--and how do these identities influence each other? Which "groups" in our society are less religious--and why could that be? Where is the power of religious institutions actually leveraged?
This was posted a few days ago , no comments from the seeking? Maybe he found what he was looking for?
I have commented on several of the answers, and they answered back to me again. I don't get on the internet regularly right now.
It feels good to say this kind of thing, and get feedback. It also is really frightening to get this kind of feedback. I'm surprised how difficult this is, just hearing people say how much freer and happier I can be without god.
It shouldn't surprise me. I've been reading atheist blogs for two years now. And I came here hoping for this kind of encouragement, knowing I didn't just want to run to the Christians who would tell me it's okay to go through "doubts" and they would help me out. Yet when I turn it from "something I read about on the internet and feel guilty about that applies to other people" into "something that applies to ME and that I can claim, even if under a pseudonym," it feels freaky.
Right now I'm still in the place where I could argue against God on a Christian forum, and argue FOR god on an atheist forum. Both systems seem wrong to me. Actually, I could argue for certain things about god,or about religion; I don't know that I could argue for theism as a whole. I guess that's why I'm here.
"Both systems seem wrong to me."
I second that ...
I'm a bit confused. Atheism is a system?
Probably for want of a better way to put it,
How would you phrase it?
A random set of people who are not under the impression there is any supernatural being or system. We are all just random people, there is no collective. The only prime link any of us have, is that we do not believe in a god. After that, we are all randomly here. The only reason we have a word for atheism, is that the theists needed one. That's why I find the word "system" confusing.
Ive been thinking hard about the word 'system'.
and i think the new atheist movement - I hate that term - has some kind of pattern about it that self replicates.
I think loads of atheists somehow think that they are cats and that they cant be herded ... I think they can ... just yell out Richard Dawkins
So I dont know Strega but somehow your definition doesnt fit it anymore.
I need to think about it more. : )
I tend to be a Richard Dawkins "fanboy" but I can certainly find things about him I disagree with, so am I being herded when I say he writes excellent books?
In point of fact I disagree with a lot of things the "typical" atheist might say.