I've heard believers say things like "You've chosen to reject god," or "You've chosen to be an atheist." I've never felt like I chose to be an atheist. These days, I like it a lot -- it's liberating -- but in the early days it was tough going. If it had been a matter of making choices, I'm not sure it's one that I would have made. I might have chosen to be a Christian like most of the people I knew, and be accepted into that community. Atheism felt more like something that happened to me, like a realization that I couldn't avoid, regardless of what I would have chosen.


Religion seems the same. How could I have "chosen" to believe in a god? Or not to?


I realize that nothing is as simple as that. Sure, the Jack Chick tracts make it look like all you have to do is make a decision and the deal will be closed, but for most people the journey is more complicated than that. We're all influenced by what we read and hear, and by the people around us. There are some choices we can make that can influence outcomes, I suppose. And we all know that lots of people so happen to believe, or profess to believe, what their parents and neighbors believe.


All I know is that I never chose to become an atheist. The only choice I made was whether or not to accept it and be honest about it.


To what extent did making choices enter into it for you? Did you choose to be an atheist?


Views: 75

Comment by Bill Lewis on March 26, 2011 at 10:36am
Religion was not a big issue with my small family, so I really did not think about it much. I was doubtful early in life about angels, devils, spooks and such, but like most of my peers, felt I should believe. It was only in the last few years I found the four Horsemen, Dawkins, Dennitt, Hitchens and Harris and was awe struck by watching their debates. At last, truth and reason threw me over the last hurdle into the light....so to speak. It's amazing how free it feels to be rid of worrying about the boogie man.
Comment by Mike Haynes on March 26, 2011 at 11:18am
No, I did not choose to be an atheist, but I did choose the label. I was brought up in a Baptist home, but like many others, when I got older I started reading the Bible more in depth because I wanted to find answers for myself. All I found was more contradictions and nonsense. That coupled with the preposterous idea that belief and faith were virtues that one could be rewarded or punished for drove me away from the Christian religion. I searched for the truth for several years thinking I would find "the religion" that would have some sort of concrete soundness to it. Of course, it never happened. i finally realized (accepted?) that I just simply didn't believe anything supernatural. This included invisible deities with nothing more than anecdotes and fairytales to support them. I was attending a UU church at the time (still do), and the minister introduced me to Bertrand Russell's _Why I am Not a Christian_. That book didn't tell me anything new, but it did help me come to terms with my disbelief. Coming to the realization that I was an atheist was not an easy or short process, nor was it something that I specifically sought after. I sought for truth, and this is simply where I have ended up. ;-)
Comment by Skycomet the Fallen Angel on March 26, 2011 at 12:21pm
No I don't think Atheism is a choice, once the process of deconversion begins it is as unstoppable as a tsunami.
Comment by Tara on March 26, 2011 at 4:08pm
I don't think I chose to be an atheist. In fact, I tried to fight it for many years and "make" myself believe, but it finally hit me that I just couldn't subscribe to it, and that I was being a hypocrite by trying to be a part of something that I thought was complete bullshit. It's been very hard for me, but they say admitting it is the first step, right?
Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 26, 2011 at 4:18pm
Admitting really is the first step, and for many it is only one of many steps.  It takes a long time to cast off all the superstitions that restrain free thought, but just knowing that that bias is there makes a huge difference.
Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on March 26, 2011 at 9:34pm
Comment by Dustin on March 26, 2011 at 11:12pm

I finally came to realize Christianity was baloney when at the age of 16 I fell to my knees.  I was hyper depressed.  Could not let any more tears out.  Entire body shaking.  Couldn't breathe whatsoever.  I did one thing.  


I asked for Jesus Christ to enter my soul and help guide me through the times I was dealing with.  Guess what?  Nothing happened.  Didn't do a thing.  No warm feeling , no 'holy ghost' entered me , no glimmer of light out of the corner of my eye.  When I tell this to Christians they say really fucked up things.  'You prayed incorrectly' or 'You must wait for God to act when he knows is right.'  


The rationalizations they make for such obvious failures of their imaginary Deity seem to be just one of the larger nails in the coffin.  So I was one of a few Atheists I think that actually came to Atheism by 'feeling' it.  Only later did Hitchens set me straight for life.  "It isn't true ... and why would you want it to be?"  

Comment by Lee Davis on March 31, 2011 at 10:33am
Thanks, all, for these responses. Different viewpoints represented but all so well stated and so well reasoned. A lot of food for thought here.


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