I am a former Atheist. Oh, I grew up in the Church. My parents were Catholic, but that didn’t work for me – and sometime in junior high I told them I didn’t believe in God. That honestly may have been just a case of a teenager trying to get under his parent’s skin, but as time went on my doubt became real. In high school I started preparing for a career as a journalist – was trained to question everything. I spent my adult life in that line of work and saw and reported on a number of tragedies- all which only confirmed my believes that God didn’t exist – if he did he’d never would have allowed something like this to happen (a tornado, a hurricane, a murder, sexual assault of a child or whatever.)


But that all changed when I was 33. For the last 5 years I’ve been a bible thumping, Jesus freak. However I continue to think that the biggest problem with Christianity is the Christians. And so I am here in part to show the world that we are not all judgmental and self righteous.


So I decided to create this thread; Ask a former Atheist. You can grill me or attack me here. I think one truth is that Atheist talk about God as much as believers – if not more so – because it is such a fascinating topic.


By the way – just as a plug- I ‘ve written a book called Gradually to God which is all how finding faith as an adult. It can be purchased on amazon






Thanks for your time

Doug Wahl

Views: 234

Comment by Gregor Basić on April 15, 2011 at 5:53pm
I think jesus was also atheist until he was 33...
Comment by doug wahl on April 16, 2011 at 8:15am

To scarlette.

   You were right on the nose. I do attend a non-denominational church. Do you why those chuches have exploded - because on like the fire and brimstone church, these are based on the concept of grace. And you know who attends them?  America is spilt into believers and nonbelievers but there is a third group - the unchurched. These are people who believe in God but He's really not a key part of their life. These are the people who call themselves :"spiritua but not religious." These are the people who are coming back to these mega churches and connecting again

Comment by doug wahl on April 16, 2011 at 8:34am

to Akshay

Why Chrisitanity why did you return to your old stomping grounds?- it is very important (and perhaps somewhat controversia) but you have to understand the divide between Christians and catholics. It comes down to the question of is faith enough. Christians believe you are "saved" through faith alone. Catholics believe you need deeds, too.

     SO  I dont think I returned to my past. Yes it's the same guy, just a differnt view of him. In short Christianity appealed to me because its not performance based.,


2)why am I here? The honest answer is I started out as a why just to plug the book...but you know what keeps me coming back - who wants to spend all their time around like minded people? Where is the fun in that? I love exchanging thoughts and ideas with those you see the world differenty then me. I mean isn't that why so many people here have responded to this thread? Debate is fun!

    But there is another answer to that too. I am not here to convert anyone else. I hope everyone wil take me at my word on that. I dont care if you are a Chrisitan. But I do come here with the hope that I can change - on some level - your preception of Chrisitans. You just wrote that you have a friend who "aggressively" pushes Jesus down your throat. I know there are people out there ike that - my goa is to show you that there are also christians who can talk about faith in a nonconfrontational manner.

Comment by doug wahl on April 16, 2011 at 8:35am
Misty thank you for your greeting and your kind words
Comment by doug wahl on April 16, 2011 at 9:20am

to Iain,

   Age of the world.

    I don't know if you read in an earlier post that as a child I was in the play inherit the wind. The issue you addressed is the dramatic moment of the play. Since the sun was not created in the first day...the first few days weren't necessarily 24 hour days.

    If you think of it that way - and this will be a very controversial statment - evolution is more biblically sound then theory of intelligent design.  That's because evolution and creationism can work together. Intelligent design (which started after a court hearing - is a movement to give credit to a generic god.) I dont know if any of that made sense.


2 On the council of nicaea.

   I just had to read up on this. Here is a qoute I found; "The council did not create the doctrine of the deity of Christ (as is sometimes claimed) but it did settle to some degree the debate within the Early Christian communities regarding the divinity of Christ."

    I read that statement to say that since they didnot question his diety they were acknowledging that he was the son of God - but taking up the divinity issue they were strugging with (something that every believer struggles with) is the issue of how an individual could be both men and god at the same time


3. As for the date of Christmas. I have heard what you said before. I have also heard others defend the december date. To me it's not a huge issue. His death is far more important than his birth


Comment by doug wahl on April 16, 2011 at 9:52am

Heather, thank you so much for sharing your link with me. I am very honored that you would trust me with your story.

   You know what I think - you and I are very similar. Your doubt started the same way mine did - because of the Christians who were a part of your life. A when a child as dueling grandparents the end result will always be exactly what happens here.

   I do have a question that you didn't answer in your thread. WHere were your parents in all of this. And how in the world did they ever hook up in the first place? I ask that because from a Christian point of view there are really only one point that believers have to be in agreement on: do you think Jesus died on the cross in payment for your sin. Beyond that nothing else matters.  The Bible tells us we're going to disagree about some of the other issues - and that's okay.


But it gos one step further and gives us adive on dealing with those disagreements. You know what itsays? WHen picking a spouse - pick someone who is "equally yoked." Meaning marry a guy who agrees with you on some of those other "lesser" issues. In short the Bibl could have been written to say this in your case : "If your a catholic don't hook up with a pentacostal chick because one day your kids are going to be really confussed."


A couple of other things, I understand what your one grandmother is saying. The voice of God my be audible for some people, but it isnt for me. They are words, but it comes a thought that starts in my stomach and billows upwords until it consumes me. It is almost always a corrective measure - meaning my mind is going in one direction and these words come in from seemingly out of no where. Sometimes it happens in prayer other times it just happens during the course of my day. 


I also understand what is meant by following Jesus. I believe that is the correct approach - but following him is a form of worshipping him. I think the two go hand and hand.


Now I would like to ask you a favor. Check this out- I think you will get a kick out of this. You wrote about trying to pray like a pentacostal. This is an essay I wrote about trying to do the same thing. You will see it didn't work. I think you will find this honest and straightforward and totally be able to relate to it. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Off-The-Wahl-Eassys-in-taking-the-nex... 


Again thank you so much for sharing your story


Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on April 16, 2011 at 2:10pm
Thanks for your input.  I have always been curious about how people lose their culturally developed belief in the supernatural but even more curious about how someone who lost such a belief could resume it again.
Comment by Sassan K. on April 16, 2011 at 2:22pm
Doug, you should be here. It is free choice and your input entices this forum. BUT, I was just making the point that your article from your local (NBC?) affiliate I think it was...propagates the notion that atheists are not really atheists and end up converting back some time in their lives....many religious people believe this; and I truly believe based on your own reasons that you were not a real and rational atheist. If I knew you at the time, could have easily predicted you would have returned back to belief.
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on April 16, 2011 at 3:44pm

My experience was difference from yours, Doug.  My parents were both devout evangelicals when they married.  They had a very unhappy marriage which affected all three of us kids.  It took a lot of therapy to fix us all in later years.  Like everyone else at the time, my family tried to pretend that it had the perfect Christian marriage until it the problems became too great to hide.   The first real crack in my belief came from the disparity between the biblical teaching about divorce and the wretched life we led as a whole family. 

At our instance, our mother eventually divorced our father and life settled down more happily.  

My father retained his until his death - a lonely one as he had alienated a lot of people.  Ironically, my mother, the smarter of the two, eventually lost her religious beliefs.

I was in my mid twenties at the time and did not view my mother's lose of belief as any reason to doubt my own beliefs.  In fact, I became a candidate for the ministry.  During my first year of study  I read ALL of the Bible, in large chunks, instead of the small bits carefully selected bits I had read for most of my life.  The god described there, and the characters of the writers was appalling different from the character of the god I thought I worshipped.  The course also included textual criticism and historical background which was quite fascinating but nothing like I'd ever heard in church.  I began to realize that ministers and pastors and priests had a very different view of their religion than the parishioners they served. 

I studied the mythology of the Middle East and was surprised to see how the Jewish and Christian religions paralleled and borrowed from these.   I studied the early history of the Christian Church and the manner in which the biblical cannon was formed.  I was appalled to discover that it, and other doctrinal matters, were generally settled by blood bath.  I was also surprised to discover that the biblical canon of the King James translation of the bible is not universally accepted.  In fact, there are three different collections that are still in use:  the Catholic, the Coptic and the Protestant.  The Protestant version is the smallest, and would have been smaller if Martin Luther had been given his way. 

My Old Testament study guide was honest about listing the errors and contradictions in the text, in comparison with other scriptural passages and with history and archeology. 


I was introduced to the problems of biblical translation.  I was amazed to discover how unreliable the King James Version is.  It contains a lot of text that is known to be spurious, including the tale about throwing the first stones at the woman caught in adultery and all of the text at the end of Mark, the first written gospel, that describes events after the death of Jesus.   The uncomfortable implication of this is that the author of Mark and the Jesus followers of his time did not think that neither the resurrection of Jesus nor the consequent mission to tell the non-Jewish world about it, was important.

It became apparent that the impression given by the translated text differed according to the preconceived notions of the translators, especially if they all belonged to the same tradition.

There were also differences in what translators left in, left out or commented on.   Some leave in known errors without comment, some leave them in and comment but no English language translator has so far dared to leave out text, no matter how spurious, that appears in the unreliable King James version.  

At the end of this exercise I could no longer believe in the inerrancy of biblical scripture without forgetting everything I had learned.

I studied comparative Christianity and comparative religion.   By this time the chinks in my religious beliefs were sizeable.  I abandoned my religious studies and took up psychology instead.  That completed the process.  By the time I had studied social and neuro-psychology I could no longer believe that my "relationship" with what I thought as a god had any basis outside my brain and its culturally and environmentally primed imagination. 





Comment by Heather Spoonheim on April 16, 2011 at 4:56pm
Doug, my parents are another matter entirely.  Their marriage didn't last for several reasons, but the most prominent one was their age.  As far as 'Jesus dying on the cross to pay my sins', well I really don't know what to tell you, that statement is incomprehensible to me.  I remember it seeming to make sense to me when I thought there was a god and sin but from outside that context the statement is meaningless.
It seems you are saying that somehow the god-concept was less accessible to me because my indoctrination wasn't consistent, and on that I would have to agree.  As far as getting feedback through prayer, well the only feedback I ever got was from my own conscience but I just didn't realize it until my own conscience couldn't evaluate a moral dilema.  I really don't understand what it means to 'worship' Jesus, and the concept of worship is really lost on me.  I understand it in a romantic stalker sense, or maybe an obsessive groupie sense, but that's about it.
Anyway, I read your narrative about trying pentecostal tongues.  As I said in my narrative, I tried every way I could think of.  I wasn't asking for a new bike, I just wanted to know how I could please god, or Jesus, god and/or Jesus, the holy spirit, the holy spirit and god - I mean I tried every permutation imaginable.  If there were a god, and he wanted me to know it, he had his chance.  Even as a deist I tried to just clear my mind and meditate and see if there was anything there.  Nothing, nada.
Anyway, years of asking people about this and all I ever hear is, "Oh, if you open your heart you'll know because I know."  As far as I can tell people just do a little ritual and then tell themselves whatever it was they wanted to believe in the first place - even if that runs contrary to doing what they would like to do.  If a child can pray for 2 years from age 11 to 13 wanting nothing but to know how to please god, and get absolutely no answer, well then I'm sorry but either there is no god or that god doesn't want anything from that child.


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