How many Atheists around here were once Christian? Are there more Atheists that were once Christians then there are life long Atheists / Agnostics?
If you were once Christian, what changed your mind? How long were you a Christian before becoming an Atheist?
If you were a Christian, do you know of any Atheists that converted to Christianity?
I have never thought of myself as a Christian. Most of my life, I believed there could be a higher power but never followed any religion. I was Agnostic. I am now Atheist due to the lack of evidence for god and the abundance of evidence of Science.
I was born into a Seventh-Day-Adventist family (and was in the church until age 10); later I joined an Evangelical church (and was there from age 15 to 19).
First doubts came in 3rd grade. I first decided there was something wrong with the church in 4th grade. Decided preachers were clueless about history and science sometime around 11th or 12th grade. By college decided all organized religion was corrupt and an outdated way of thinking. By about 24 I had decided the bible was just a bunch of stories, and not very good ones. The next few years I entertained the ideas that other gods or faiths might be better. Probably by the time I was 28 I had decided I didn't believe in any gods; but it never occurred to me to put a title to it. Around my 30th birthday I realized I fit the description of an Atheist.
Mine was a long and gradual deconversion, with a couple events that caused noteworthy change in thought. But really I can point to no single event that changed my way of thinking. Although my experience with religion is not as dramatic as many others, I'm still a little jealous of those who never had it fed to them as a child.
Ex-Catholic here. I can't remember the last time I felt anything but bored in a church. I guess I lost interest early on, around 13 or 14 years of age. Reading the bible and exploring "other options" along with their prescribed texts seemed to have helped me detach completely.
Since there were never any convincing answers from priests or nuns besides "that is for him to know" or the famous "he acts in mysterious ways" pretty much did it. In retrospect it seemed that I went to church because I was told I had to and my parents didn't seem all that enthusiastic about it to begin with. Found it increasingly hard to believe that there was anybody keeping score since everything around me seemed to be moving and changing as all things do in life. Ups and downs were common and appeared to be easily explained by cause and effect and if it required further consideration, Science did away with most inquiries. It just happened, really.
I was a Christian my entire life until recently, but I always questioned all the discrepancies in the Bible and in what my pastors preached. Often I would come up with my own answers to questions, as a sort of compromise. "Why would a loving God create a torturous hell and put people there who were never told about Him, or who died before they had a chance to come to Him? Maybe it's because hell isn't really a place of fire and brimstone. Maybe it's just a place away from God. Maybe, if you didn't want to spend eternity worshipping God, hell wouldn't be so bad." "Why is the pastor driving around in a car paid for with offering money? I guess men are just imperfect, but God doesn't have to be." "Why hasn't Jesus come back yet? Maybe he isn't coming back. Maybe he was just a good guy who had a legend built around him." The older I got, the more liberal my arguments became, until I eventually gave up altogether.
I was raised a Lutheran. I lost my will to believe due to many many many reasons. My favorite one has to be this:
At my church, part of the way through the sermon, the minister would call up all of the children under 10 years old and talk to them about what they thought about the sermon and its theme. The minister that I had known all of my life had moved to another state leaving us with a new, young, bright faced man as our pastor. The first Sunday that he was preaching I was about 11 years old so when he called up the other children, I was just an observer. The theme of his sermon was mortal sin. He looked lovingly at the small faces timidly looking up to him and said," Has anyone here ever thought of hurting someone? " The young ones slowly raised their hands, one by one. He continued turning to a 5 year old girl, " Have you ever thought of stealing, murder, or lying? " The little one nodded and looked to the floor. His disposition went stern, " Have you ever thought of killing someone? " The little girl looked back up to him and squeaked out a confirmation. The Pastor looked to each innocent face as he spoke again, "Then you are a murderer, a liar and a thief in the eyes of the Lord. You will go to Hell if you do not ask for forgiveness! If you so much as think of doing something wrong, you have already done it in the eyes of God!!" Some parents were horrified at this, others nodded in agreement. But I was old enough to know he was wrong, so that night I started to read the Bible to find the truth of it. When I finished it over a month later I was convinced that it was nothing more than a fairytale.
my jaw dropped on this one
Has anyone here ever thought of hurting someone? " The young ones slowly raised their hands, one by one. He continued turning to a 5 year old girl, " Have you ever thought of stealing, murder, or lying? " The little one nodded and looked to the floor. His disposition went stern, " Have you ever thought of killing someone? " The little girl looked back up to him and squeaked out a confirmation. The Pastor looked to each innocent face as he spoke again, "Then you are a murderer, a liar and a thief in the eyes of the Lord. You will go to Hell if you do not ask for forgiveness!
quite a powerful post Mort. Highly enjoyed your story/insight.
Holy crap, dude, that's *harsh*. Why should we feel guilty for our thoughts, if we don't *act* on them? Why should we feel guilty for *enjoying* our lives? (Recovering Catholic, here.) I mean, really, if even *thinking* about committing a "sin" is enough to "condemn" a person, well, how do you control your thoughts? Who hasn't had a passing thought of, "Oooh, I just wanna punch that asshole!"
At this point I'm somewhere between LaVeyan Satanism (the philosophy makes sense to me) and agnosticism. You might call me an agnostic Satanist, even.
I have been told to my face that "God will give you working legs if you convert." I've overheard shit to the effect of, "Your parents must have done *something* awful to deserve a disabled child!" (Adopted, kthx, they chose me.) And the Jesus-Junkies have the nerve to get all offended when I point out that I spent a good part of my childhood asking BibleGod to "fix" me. WTF?
I was raised as a Methodist and believed because I wasn't allowed to explore outside the faith. Yet, as I grew up and began reading Aristotle, and found that morals and pureness of soul could indeed be derived from other places than religion. Consequently I decided that I no longer needed a god to be a moral and upright person and at the same time free myself up to study certain aspects of science ie) evolution as well as other religions without fear of eternal damnation, which seemed to me a contradiction of a loving god.
Ex-Catholic here. I was born into a Catholic family, and raised as such throughout my junior years. CCD school, church, the whole 9 yards. I actually had my doubts pretty early. In CCD, the stories just sounded way unrealistic and illogical. Yet, everyone else was in amazement and my parents believed, so I tried to believe it. However, it just felt so fake to me. I've always been curious and sought understanding and knowledge. So in my school years I slowly became less and less of a believer the more that I learned. By the end of high school I was convinced that there is no god. But I still take in any information possible and love learning new things. And unsurprisingly, all the new knowledge only goes to cement my beliefs, rather than sake them as some had said. So in short, I'm an Atheist because my thirst for knowledge of all kinds, application of the scientific method and my personal logical process of viewing the world.
I was raised in one of the strictest of fundamentalist sects of Christianity. (http://www.upci.org/) I left it when I went to college and spent probably 6 years searching for the truth in other denominations and religions. When it all just stopped making sense, I came to the realization of the ideas I now hold and have been a loud, proud atheist ever since.
I grew up mostly Baptist. I say 'mostly' because there was none of the "no drinking, no dancing, no card playing, etc." BS in my immediate family. It was all pretty laid back and I was allowed to read and do pretty much anything; even things that would have been considered "works of Satan" by others members. And, believe it or not, I do not remember evolution being the hot issue then that it is today.
I went to church on Sundays, the occasional Vacation Bible School, and a few youth group events, but that was pretty much it. I do recall never really "getting into it"; I was always a somewhat rational kid, but I never tried to reconcile my religion with my reality or tried to make sense of any of it. They just coexisted separately and peacefully. Now that I look back on it, I had a lot of freedom without the crap shoved down my throat. A VERY atypical experience for a Southern Baptist child.
Sometime around late high school or just after, I stopped attending church. There were no family fights or arguments. I just stopped going and my parents didn't push me. The biggest changes in my outlook came during and just after college. I did a brief stint in a non-denominational church during college (mostly because of a girl), but it was far different from my upbringing and made far less sense. I left when the pastor was caught cheating on his wife. That put the last cracks in an already weak foundation. At some point after all this I started looking more critically at the Bible and Christianity. The erosion of belief has been steady since. I stopped believing in hell; then stopped believing in the trinity; latched onto Deism for a while; and finally Atheism practicing Zen.
And here I am today. My wife and I live peaceful lives of non-belief these days. We get the occasional suspicious eye from a friend or family member here and there when we mention our views on things, but we're all okay.
I really can't say I regret any of it. I don't feel scarred or brainwashed in any way. Never did. I just feel like I've come full-circle ... I went for a long trip, but now I'm back home stronger and more rational than when I left.
I was raised catholic, I started having doubts at about age 6. The supernatural just never really made any sense to me. I searched and studied all forms of religion and philosophy, got a minor in the philosophy of religion, but at age 30 I just had to face the fact that I was a atheist, and there wasn't anything I could do to change that.