Has anyone here been raised atheist?

Most of us from the western world have been born into a religious environment. I myself was a catholic, went through the whole circus of sacraments and religious teaching and kind of took my religion for granted.

Now one thing the old communist regimes had about them was atheism. They rejected religion outright, based on Marx's* view of religion as being a yoke to keep people subdued so that they accept the status quo where others had the power and they had to live with it - the hope principle.

Religion, of course, persevered through that period**, since even the commies couldn't completely get rid of it.

As I read these forums, I find that most have left religion behind them. This means, however, that most of us were religious at some point in their lives. So my question is: how much different would life be if we had been raised without religion? Are there members here from formerly communist countries who may be willing to shed light on how life is without ever having had a faith?

Of course, I don't limit the question to citizens of those countries.

How do you view religious people? How do you 'cope' with the idea of not having an immortal soul? What about not having to fear divine judgement of your actions?

Do you laugh at us who have for so long thought that 'an invisible man in the sky' was watching us? Or do you laugh at us recently made atheists for worrying about this stuff so much?

__

*whereas I believe that Marx was an honest idealist in these matters, I also believe that the people who used his philosophy as a foundation of their states found it convenient that he was against religion, since that would give them the means to get rid of a competitor (the church) and to impose their own quasi-religious political doctrines.

**it is interesting to note that after the oppressive regimes faded, faith actually declined.

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Comment by Steve McWilliams on February 4, 2012 at 5:05am

I was raised in a wonderful secular environment. I have great parents and would not have traded them for any others. Religion was just not something that was discussed in our home. I did grow up with friends who attended Catholic schools and this God character was brought up from time to time. Whenever I asked parents questions about this God, I wasn't told "There is no God" or anything like that. What they did was tell me other things I would also have to believe in as well as things I would have to deny. I think that what really solidified my atheism was discovering Carl Sagan's Cosmos around the age of 10. I simply COULDN'T believe after that.

Comment by Marina Mayton on February 8, 2012 at 9:58pm

My parents didn't raise me without religion so much as they just supported whatever I wanted to believe, which defaulted to atheism.

How do you view religious people?
With a combination of wariness and pity. In my experience religious people have been condescending at best and hateful and violent at worst (also they don't tip). On the flip side, I can't imagine how hard it must be to live with all that guilt and fear and cognitive dissonance.

How do you 'cope' with the idea of not having an immortal soul?
I'm fine with not being immortal. The idea of HAVING an immortal soul would take coping with, though. I think an eternity of anything sounds awful.

What about not having to fear divine judgement of your actions?
This relates back to the immortal soul thing. Even if I was really good, and was divinely judged to deserve heaven...well, heaven sounds as bad as the alternative. Besides, doing the right thing out of fear of dad's belt does not a good person make.

Do you laugh at us who have for so long thought that 'an invisible man in the sky' was watching us? Or do you laugh at us recently made atheists for worrying about this stuff so much?
Maybe a little bit. But then I spent a long time worrying that there was something wrong with me because I couldn't figure out how to believe something that was obviously not true. Since we've all gotten through that bullshit, I'd say high fives all around.

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