It's like suddenly having your head pulled out of your ass...at least that's what I've been told...lol.
What comes to my mind is the parody of Jesus' saying: "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free" which is, "the truth will set you free...right after it pisses you off".
That's what happened to me. Once I stopped believing, I was pissed, very pissed for several months. But slowly the anger faded and now I'm just free.
Having read all of the replies, Scott, yours comes closest to what I personally felt. I felt betrayed.
Bear in mind, my realization didn't come upon me like an epiphany - if I can use a normally religious term to describe atheism - it began as a young child and gradually grew. Watching Christians act very un-Christian to people of different colors, nationalities and belief systems caused me to question what I'd been taught, which led to a close study of the Bible, which demonstrated amply what a collection of propaganda it really was.
I felt betrayed by my parents and others who had assured me I would live forever, that I would see the people I loved, after death, and stay with them always. But then I realized that they too had been betrayed - I knew it, but they didn't, yet I knew they had invested too much of their lives into their beliefs, and would never change, so I didn't try, it would have served no purpose to try and take away their faith, just because I no longer had mine.
The anger is long since gone, as I realized they were only passing on what they'd been taught. What remains is an acute appreciation of what is, and little concern about what might have been. I look deeper into people now, because it's entirely possible that after we part, I may never see them again, so I find myself savoring moments that I might otherwise not have, in my rush to do something else more important. For me, NOW is the most important moment of my life.
It's like being born again! Really, it's an epiphany where the entire universe, its contents, and its purpose have new meaning. After 22 years as a christian it was absolutely the best thing to happen to me, and now after an additional 30 years as an atheist I still think that. Thank god I saw the light!
Thanks Connie. I had a more difficult time making the decision than in the aftermath. I really struggled with it for a long time and tried to find some way some god could work, including Catholic seminary. Once I realized that there was no god and accepted it (Literally, I woke up one morning and said, "There is no god!") I also knew there was no going back and staying honest with myself. Yes, I lost some friends and was ostracized by my family, but I couldn't go back. How good were those friends though when they couldn't accept the decision that I had honestly come to? The family is another matter, and that continues to this day, but what can I do?
I see that you're in Tennessee. You might want to give this a look. http://www.parentsrights.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=...
Here in Colorado parents cannot keep grandparents away from the children.
Good luck! I swear to god atheism is the best thing I ever did.
Not believing is a crushing burden sometimes, when the world makes me want to have something magical in which to believe.
I have envied believers at times, but I still don't believe. Then I get angry when they say I should believe to have my burdens removed. I am constitutionally incapable of believing in a deity. I've tried!
I can relate to this envy at times, Diane. A great majority of the people in and around my life are fairly to extremely religious. I know that having faith in some sort of power outside of oneself can be quite comforting to those people. I think that it can be more difficult to only have faith in yourself at certain times, knowing that there will be no miracle to help you survive some events. The end result of surviving is the same whether one believes there was divine intervention or not. While going through that struggle, I may have moments of envy - wishing I believed there was someone to make it all better so I could have a moment of mental bliss instead of angst. But in the end, I am grateful to know there was no miracle and I was capable of dealing with it myself or with the resources I chose to use. It's probably a boost to my self esteem. (I can't imagine thinking "gee, I would not have survive if not for god." What a kick to the old self worth!)
I don't get angry when people tell me I should believe or that they will pray for me. I choose to look at it as a compliment. This person is showing they care in the best way they know how. If they think that a prayer will help me, and they make that effort, it really is the thought that counts & their thought is to be helpful.
I don't really remember believing in a god. My grandparents were Mennonite & I was unaware of my parents' lack of belief until I was in my 30's. I grew up in a very xian community, and they didn't want us to be ostracized. So as each of us started asking about our friends going to church, we were allowed to go with our friends. Between the 5 of us, we attended 3 different churches. Me - from 3rd grade to 8th grade. It always seemed more like storybooks and tradition to me than something to actually believe in.
i never believed in the first place. parents tried to raise me with god and religion i was skeptical until i learned santa wasn't real around 5 and i never looked back.
I forgot about this one:
A man without a god is like a fish without a bicycle
I really enjoyed the Ingersoll comment and this simple one as well! :)
If by the word "God" is meant the alleged deity of the Abrahamic religions or the more general polymodal Godhead of the many Hindu religions, then the question of what not believing in God is like can be answered with a declaration of mental freedom. When I first realized I no longer believed, I was delighted to be rid of the guilt, fear and sense of worthlessness that attended from my involvement in Protestant Christianity. I went through my daily work routine with a wide grin for a month. Finally, I could read science literature without a guilty consciousness. It was wonderful and still is. I will go where ever the evidence leads.
(Note to religious apologists: If you wish to attack human cognition by claiming inductive reasoning is intrinsically flawed because existence is incoherent and random at a quantum scale, then you are implicitly asserting your god cannot know results of its activities by calculation. That would then infer your god's omniscience must be a magical brute fact. Both of those positions are fatal to the notion of an all knowing omniscient being. The former by virtue of rendering omniscience incoherent; imagine a god that must have faith it is god because it cannot know its miracles are efficacious and cannot know it it omniscient and thereby god. The later by destroying your god notion through the problem of evil related to natural disasters such as Gamma Ray Bursts from Super Nova explosions that destroy all life on any planet in range and on path of the GRB beam. No morally sufficient reason can obtain to justify your god from charges of overt evil by configuring reality with advance foreknowledge of death of an entire planet thriving with life and perhaps civilizations.)