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.
Thank you. I've been journaling my thoughts for a couple years now, but not blogging, and I think sharing what I think with others is the only way for me to ever know what I really believe.
Hi there. First it is very common to experience the feelings you have. It can be more of an emotional upheaval than an intellectual conflict. I would suggest not to come out to anyone yet until you are more grounded in your own thinking. That will come soon enough.
Many of the members on this site were in your shoes so they are on already with you and will help. There are also many other sites dedicated to people that have left a particular church like www.exmormon.org or whatever is relevant to you.
I think though talking it through here with people that will immediately understand you is better than telling close friends that will not. Clarity will arrive. That is something to look forward to. You might also find something here
Read, read, read. and ask questions, this is a good place to be and to also read what other people think. And a place to talk about what is on your mind.
I agree with Reg. Coming out should be your last priority. Of course, some feel obligated to tell everyone right away... but the reality is, it's no one's business. This is a private matter, regardless of what your religious upbringing has taught you. You're in no way required to let people know until, or unless, you're ready. Anyway, it usually happens naturally and you don't have to stress too much. If the moment arises, you can say something... or not. You really should feel quite confident about what you believe and why so you can be prepared to for the verbal onslaught.
As you can see, most atheists on this site (and elsewhere) are ex-Christians. I was born and raised Southern Baptist/Evangelical. Both my grandfathers were pastors, too. Five years after my "deconversion", I still think about how unlikely it was that *I* would lose my faith... and, honestly, I'm grateful to have sloughed off religion.
Once you get through all the stages and your atheism becomes a normal part of you, all the various emotions pass. And, although you may not feel angry now, you might actually feel angry at some point. I didn't lose my faith because I was angry at "God", or had a bad experience with church or other Christians; I wasn't rebelling. I was actually trying to get closer to "God"... but my Christian family and friends refuse to accept A) that I don't believe B) that it's not just a phase C) that it's not out of pride or rebellion... and all that is invalidating to the extreme, hurtful, and causes one to become angry.
So, clearly there are lots here who are happy to help and support you! Have you checked out our groups to see if there's one near you? If there are no groups, you may still consider doing a member search to see if you can find even a couple people close by.
THANK YOU. Often it feels like "coming out" should indeed be the next step, although I can't see how it would do me any good...
I've been sort of lazy in my beliefs lately. I think I'm an atheist, or at least a much more liberal christian than I once was, but I guess I haven't done enough reading or discussing on WHY I feel that way. I've done a lot of thinking, lots of journaling, even lots of reading blogs, but not a lot of specific reading on why it makes sense to abandon the faith.
There's a group about two hours away, I think. I'll see if I can get there before too long. I'm checking out "recovering from religion", I've bought some books (finally feel free to do that now that I've moved out of my parents' house).
Do you have a blog or something, a "testimonial" of how you got to where you are?
Well, Physeter, I think many of us readily empathize with wanting to be honest with loved ones and also wanting to be free to be about who we are. I became an atheist after an 8 year search to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with life. My advice is to remove yourself from reinforcers to the extent that it is possible for you and figure out what it is that you actually think, what you know, and what you are unsure about concerning God, religion, and the supernatural. After you've done that, you'll have a foundation to work from why you do and don't believe certain claims, and build a knowledge base from there fleshing out positions for why you think what you think.
Why do you think you are an atheist? You obviously have strong doubts. Is that the basis for your conclusion? Is that enough for you to say "yeah, this all just doesn't add up" and decide you no longer believe? Strong doubts are a good starting point in understanding the intellectual arguments, but in the end, I think you need to understand yourself better before you can figure out your way forward no matter which direction it is. You can't figure out where you are going if you don't know where you are.
And there are no steps here. There is no public declaration or ceremony. There's no checklist for what you do or don't have to do. A person's faith (or a lack there of) is primarily a personal matter. Only you can tell us what you do or don't believe. If you don't want anyone to know, there's nothing saying that you have to tell them. It's kind of like being a fan of your family's rival sports team. You don't have to mention it, but if you don't want them to find out, watch what you say and do or you'll start throwing hints out inadvertently.
The funny thing is that when I told my family that I was an atheist, we had some nice long talks about faith and religion, individually and not all as a group, and they each revealed to me serious doubts about their own faith. It was really surprising.
This actually helps me a lot. In religion, so much hinges on what you believe. You're under tremendous pressure to 'convert' or 'become saved' if you are not...even if being saved isn't something that happens overnight, it's important to Christians that you make that first declaration.
So when coming into atheism, I guess I had this unnoticed, unfounded assumption that I had to really 'declare' it before I was really an atheist, that I had to take a stand somehow. And I really don't, do I? I mean, no one is going to encourage me to be dishonest, but also no one here is going to judge me. If there's no god, what goes on in my own head is my business alone.
I don't need to know or declare right now that I'm an atheist. It's enough for me to say that I have given up some of the things I used to believe, am examining the rest of them, and am on a journey to find out what's true and beautiful in life.
And welcome by the way.
If there's no god, what goes on in my own head is my business alone.
Isn't that wonderful? It's one of the most liberating thoughts I can imagine
no one here is going to judge me
Isn't it ironic that you had to move away from peer judgement from the very religion that requires its adherents to be non-judgemental?
am on a journey to find out what's true and beautiful in life.
How unutterably delightful a journey of discovery that will be. Nothing I could wish for you could beat that intention.
One of the reasons you are being encouraged by other members to read, is that every now and then you will come across a point, a sentence or even just a few words that will resonate mightily in your own head. As everyone is different, those words that you find will not necessarily mirror those that others discover.
Even though I was not brought up in religion, for me the overwhelming influence on my steadfast atheism, is the sheer size of the universe, and the comprehension that Earth is a tiny speck of almost invisible minuteness in the magnitude of this universe. There are more stars (yes, that would be suns, not planets) in our universe than there are grains of sand on this world. And now science is considering that there may be a multitude of such universes out there. Awesome!
If there's no god, what goes on in my own head is my business alone.
Isn't that wonderful? It's one of the most liberating thoughts I can imagine...
So TRUE....liberating and private, until you choose to share it.
"and am on a journey to find out what's true and beautiful in life."
Its a good journey to have too ...
I wish you every success.