I have noticed that Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris both cite 9/11 as the fuel to the fire of their current passion for atheism. I also often cite this as one of the biggest seeds of my frustrations with religion.

 

I wondered if anyone else had a big turning point that either largely help you realize that there is not a god or gods, or made you more "militant".

Tags: fire, fuel, spark

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For me it was growing up with a bit of a personal attachment to the atrocities in the nineties in the Former Yugoslavia. Former neighbors killing each other over their different gods, not even showing each other the civility of the Geneva convention in the process.

Also, some of the worst people I have ever stumbled across have been religious. It seems to be harmful to character and honesty. 

I was born into a mormon family and I seriously thought we were "playing" god. You know, like jumping on the furniture because the floor is hot lava.

When one of my sunday school teachers told us that when we die we wait in line for endless hours to hear all of the sins we've ever committed, I thought, "ok I've got better things to do today" and that was it for me. I think I was 11 years old. I've honestly been to too busy and satisfied with my life to ever ponder my decision or regret it.

The congress inserting "under "god"™ in the pledge when I was in fourth grade.  I thought (I was a precocious anti-authoritarian brat) that it was a pretty poor god who needed the whores of congress to force me to say its name.

When I was 2, my dad die in a car accident.  Everyone told me that he was "in heaven".  I was very happy for him, but everyone else was very sad.  I can't say that this was my moment, but I will say that I could not understand their reactions to such a great thing.

 

I know that they would all say (and have) that they were sad for themselves, not for him. Maybe, my love for him was more selfless then their's, but to this day there is a part of me that thinks they didn't believe what they were saying.  I still think that, if I believed with all my heart in god, I would be happy for my loved ones that went to heaven.  I like when good things happen to the ones I care about!

 

I guess I could have come to the conclusion that they thought he didn't deserve heaven, and were lying to me.  I didn't think of that until just now.

 

I can't say that I am "militant", but I will say I have been questioning for a long time (I am now 40).  I call myself Agnostic.  I know only two things about the "afterlife".

 

1. I don't know.

2. No one else does either.

 

I can relate to this.  I refer to myself as an "open-minded atheist."  I don't begrudge anyone his/her beliefs--whatever they are.  My position is that I am definitely NOT a theist (thus I'm an atheist), but I don't pretend to have any answers and refuse to follow anyone or any dogma that asserts that he/she/it does!  
I halfheartedly identified as Catholic until a few years ago when a co-worker asked me if I really believed in God. I laughed and said "No, of course not!" and he said "Then you are an atheist." It was pretty undramatic. I only became a "militant" atheist when I started reading more about it and became aware that church/state separation in my country isn't quite as separate as I had thought.

"evil flourishes when good people do nothing"

 

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My brother coming out as an atheist helped a lot. He used to have fiery debates with my theist mother sometimes at the dinner table and I would just hang around and listen. I thought it was fascinating.

Well, I was pretty well indoctrinated, although I always struggled with authority and several other parts of xtianity, so it took a while. There were a few sparks, all happening within the same general timeframe (a few months) that had fairly equal influences and really forced me to look hard at what I believed: 1) Watching Cosmos. We didn't "do" science... it was dangerous, you know. So I'd never seen Carl Sagan or read any of his stuff (except seeing Contact). 2) Penn & Teller's Bullshit. 3) A very simple list of "characters" in myths (including Jesus) who shared the same history (immaculate conception, birth celebrated on Dec. 25, execution, resurrection, etc.). In short, realizing that much of what I'd been taught had been borrowed from other religions.

I'm not sure if I could be classified as militant about my atheism. I am pretty angry still, though and don't tolerate a lot. Being an atheist coupled with my already less typical political views puts me in an even smaller minority. I do get bent out of shape when people try to sneak religious stuff into everyday life or insist that this is a "Xtian country" etc.

15 years ago I was going to an Assembly of god church I had my kids participate in all the activities,one of the sermons the "pastor"was making jokes about confession and had jokes about all the other religions I later found out he was having an affair. I walked out kids in tow. I started questioning all religions I have tried most ,even Krishna at one point. They are all a bunch of cheats and liars. I became an RN and that is when the science of it came in. Good question.
Despite a religious father, I never went to church after the age of 6, when I was 13 I was sent to a religious boarding school. That backfired for him as well, I found it more and more a steaming pile of crap, then in gr.12 I got this ex coldstream guard as a teacher, he was more teacher than religious, he got the gears turning and I probably ended up more agnostic than anything. I never really paid any attention after that, just lead my life, had 3 kids etc. Fast forward 30 years, and during my mothers death watch ( 4 weeks or so), she admitted to me that it was her that convinced my Dad to leave us out of religion. She convinced him it was up to us to decide when we became of age. She   gave me a copy of Hitchen's "God is Not Great." DUring a flight home during those 4 weeks I was reading this in the Vancouver airport when a cop came and asked very politely if I could put the porn away. I must have looked real confused, I looked around and all I had was this book, my carry-on and a coffee cup. So he wandered off and spoke to some old BAG on the other side of the waiting area. When he returned he said he was mistaken, it was offensive materials, and he pointed to the book. I stupidly put the book in my carry-on bag and fumed for weeks, both about the bitty and my being so compliant. I am now getting to be  much more of a atheist activist.

Wow choSenfroZen...what a scary story.  The Vancouver airport...cop...the police`s propensity to over-react there.

 

Me, I told the minister in confirmation class I thought I was agnostic (didn`t really know what it meant at the time), but went through all the crap anyway.  Got married in a church (tiny museum building), went now and then until I realized I didn`t need to...I was an adult. 

 

I`d say it`s like removing a coal from a fire..the heat dies out and it doesn`t get consumed (saved in other words). 

 

Deepak Chopra is coming to a city near me.  I will be staying far away from the woo fest.  As if regular religion isn`t enough to keep away from.

 

Ralph

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