Once an Atheist always an atheist?

Time to introduce myself. I've been prowling around this site for a few months and have finally added a pic. He is Colonel Thomas Blood, a supposedly distant relative of mine and 1st class scoundrel. I use his name, as mine is sufficiently unusual to show up on a Google search. I am a nurse, and health care is rampant with xians. I am also an ordained clergy person and - well things are just a bit complicated right now. Folks who I don't want in the know, will not come snooping here on their own.

Enough intro: Here is the morsel for you to chew on. I have heard it expressed explicitly at least once, and implied by several of you that if one is an atheist, the is NO WAY that you could ever become sufficiently delusional to believe in a god. Well I was. Or did.

I grew up with a believing mother and an atheist father. We never went to church and my religious training was minimal (one year of a generic protestant Sunday school). I was atheist by age 15. I was always fascinated by xians however, especially the really confident kind. Long story short; over several years I developed and pursued the hypothesis that the only way I could be sure that there was no god was to diligently seek him. This led me on multiple pathways until I wound up in a fundamentalist country church one night where I was invited to "come to Jesus" Multiple threads in my life had brought me to the place where I was able to suspend my skepticism enough to accept the possibility of this being real. When I stood up, the world changed. The event and my theories about would take another blog.

The result of this "encounter " was that I became a fundamentalist xian .  My lack of religious upbringing actually worked against me as I had no framework for my new life, only that "reason" had failed as method for finding the TRUTH.  Over the course of decades my inquiring mind kept pushing me into ever more "liberal" understandings of God until I finally realized that my theology had become "Jesus as metaphor" and that I no longer needed the metaphor.

So here I am, full circle again. The experience has not been a complete waste of my life (Thank GOD!!!). I have a very full, hands on type of understanding of religious faith and have first hand knowledge of many of the different flavors of belief. I find many of you off-putting. You can be so bloody sanctimonious sometimes, as if all people of faith were idiots. I am sure I actually had more IQ points when I was religious than I do how. But I DO understand how you feel. I sometimes have to stop myself from thinking "How can anyone BELIEVE that crap?" when it was not so long ago that I did in fact believe it myself.

I've rattled on long enough. Have at it!

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    Simon Paynton

    Ward, Gallup - I'm not being funny, but 

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      Simon Paynton

      AS<J :  from 8000 miles away, it seems to me you're a very empathic person.  I'm not particularly empathic - I'm too full of myself - but I am learning.  Could you analyze for me, what does being empathic entail?  I'm talking about perspective-taking and reading people; not compassion.  (Empathy and compassion don't necessarily go together.)  I believe there are some relatively simple steps involved.  As a newbie, I'll try to do the same.  Perhaps there are exercises that people can do to boost their empathic ability. 

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      Pope Beanie

      I've seen a few people say they were once atheist and are now theist (even here at TA), but it's rare.

      My POV among TAers seems odd, in that I think that it's natural and imperative for social creatures to seek purpose and play a role in the group. Before religion was invented, we just did what each of us had to do for the group's survival, and that was fulfilling. Religion then grew with language and other arts, including the abstract concept that our "greater purpose" was to serve an even higher power, especially if some megalomaniac full of testosterone was able to convince others of his connection with the divine, by force if necessary.

      Hence an explosive growth of competition between tribes, growing over thousands of years into wars between religions and nations.

      And now that we're becoming weary of all that, we're newly burdoned with finding purpose and belonging to some kind of group we feel we can identify with.

      And here we are, ranging from cynic to mentor to visionary. I think. Trying to recover from ancient addictions and traditions.