When you decided you didn't believe in god, how did your life change? What, or who, did you lose? Did anything really change for you?

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My father has a hard time with it, as does my mother. It's awkward, around the holidays and what not... 

That sounds like a negative experience. I just throw their religiosity in with other kinds of crazy, like "crazy aunt Margaret who believes in astrology". Love's easier with a light heart and all that.

Some times I feel shame when reading the ordeals of others moving to atheism, I had no peer pressure in regards to religion, yet it took me over 10 years to make the change, I started having doubts about my belief at around 30 but I clung on till my 40s, my family and friends were indifferent to the change, my father who remains christian does ask "how can you explain everything?" usual question, but he does respect my position.

I've been fortunate living in a country where atheism is tolerated and having a family who does not think I've turned to satanism, anyway to the point, reading the ordeals of other atheists is why I've started taking a hard line approach to religion, families and friends are being torn apart by this superstitious clap trap, it not only happens between theists and atheists but also within theism itself when someone changes there religion, people are letting an "idea" because that's all it is, come between them, we question politics but we are not allow to question religion, it seems to have some kind of special protection, well, it's time that ended, I tell theists now, I may respect you as a person, but don't ever expect me to respect your silly religious beliefs.

As David Silverman says, you are not doing them any favours when you respect their religious belief, your just reinforcing it, time for religion to get the same treatment as  any other idea, prove your position or you do not have one.

They can say whatever they want about you, you satan-loving bastard. 

However, they'll get mad at you for saying 'god' and 'damn' in the same sentence. 

I'm occasionally given opportunities to say god doesn't give a damn, and enjoy doing so.

I changed very slowly. For me it was a matter of deciding whether I wanted to keep clinging to delusions that made me feel safe .That didn't make me ask questions I wasn't sure I wanted the reality of. I lost friends not because of changing beliefs but because I began to look at who they truly were. I made my self be honest about who they were. I realized while I had a lot of friends very few were real friends . They lived their lives for drama and to feel superior to other people. As to if anything changed, simple answer is yes. I changed because I began to question and research. Knowledge changes you in big and small ways.

"I realized while I had a lot of friends very few were real friends" - this is exactly what happened to me

Lost some friends, but something else interesting started happening. You find out that many people are "almost atheists". I'll make an atheistic comment and often people smile with their eyes in total agreement. Or even an "ah-ha nod". And I live in the Southern US. Leads me to believe there could be a slow shift happening in this country.

The word itself has a stigma attached to it.  People who are in fact atheists and are candid about what they (don't) believe will refuse to accept the label.

In reality I've been an atheist since I was 14, forty years ago. I came to that decision on my own after taking classes at our church. Their lessons back fired, they just gave me proof that it was totally irrational to believe. I only became open and vocal about it after reading The God Delusion. The majority of my family is deeply religious. Our relationship has changed since my "coming out" as a non believer. We've become distant. They worry about me and tell me that they pray for me. It makes me sad to know they waste so much of their lives on that nonsense.

I feel deeply insulted by someone telling me they want to 'pray for me'... 

I heard Sam Harris on the radio while driving for 2 hours.  There was someone articulating what I'd thought and felt for decades, just kept it bottled up.  No family ostricizing, because it's only their business if they ask me about it (no-one has).  Bought some of his books, some Dawkins and found so many people I respect and or admire (Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, that big magician guy) who are athiest, made me realize I'm not alone.

I realized |I was born this way, but some doctrinaire/brainwashing was imposed on me from an early age...starting when I could understand language.  It was the socially acceptable thing to do to go to church (what a waste of time and "good" clothes), so I did until my late teens.  Did n't have my daughter baptized, we thought we'd let her decide if there was any reason to...hurray, she's living the athiest life quite well, thank you!

Now I really wish tax exempt status for churches would dissapear like pope Benny.

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