Lets Make it Official

Alias
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Lets Make it Official

So, I've been lurking around these forums for quite some time (nearly a year) and I figured it was time I made an official account and introduced myself.  I'm a 17 year old high school senior from southern Illinois.  Well, here's my story...

 I was raised Episcopalian and attended church every Sunday with my family, prayed regularly, and absolutely believed in the existence of God.  Luckily, the church I belonged to was one which encouraged thinking, rather than blind faith.  I don't know exactly when my journey to apostasy officially began, but the most intense and important fraction took place at the end of summer going into my junior year. 

I had been essentially apathetic towards religion until the 9th grade.  I had gone through the motions, but had never been concerned about it.  Near the end of my freshman year, my parents convinced me to attend "Happening", a weekend long experience for those who wanted more out of Christianity.  I was apprehensive at first, but everyone there was very welcoming.  The entire weekend was filled with hugs, emotional stories and discussions, religious songs, and hours of prayer.  Looking back, I see it as a form of emotional exploitation, but at the time, it didn't seem too strange.  The second day in, I felt like I could sense God's presence and what I thought was a genuine religious experience occurred.  Granted, I did not start flailing around on the ground speaking in tongues, but I felt a spark.  And that spark gave me a reason to believe the Bible (though I still hadn't read it) and pray to God on a regular basis.   I truly believed that weekend had brought me closer to God.  Of course, by the end of summer my junior year, much of the initial enthusiasm of the experience had worn off and more doubts had begun surfacing.  Despite this,  I still completely maintained my Christian beliefs.

            I'm not sure how it came up, but I started having regular discussions with a friend about religious matters.  At the time, she was much less religious than me, but not a proclaimed atheist.  These countless thought provoking conversations rekindled my interest in religious matters.  I remembered a website a friend told me about during the school year, www.godlessbastard.com; I had tried to read it once before, but it was just too much.  This time, however, I was determined to at least give it a fair shot.  I visited the site and starting reading Mr. Bastard's manifesto. It was the most vile, unapologetic, blasphemous, offensive, blatant criticism of religion I had ever read.  This man truly was a godless bastard.  I was shocked that anyone would have the audacity to label religious beliefs as "lunacy" or "delusion".  But, once I was able to look past how terribly offended I was, I realized that behind the  mocking, he did make some valid points.  He addressed questions that had long been in the back of my mind, and brutally, but effectively,  disassembled and mocked many of the arguments I had used to rationalize my beliefs.

            While his site was interesting, it was more focused on the hypocrisy and problems with religion than on theism as a whole. So, while it may have affected my views about Christianity and religion in general, it did little to my belief in god and an afterlife.  Over the couple weeks, I read through the entire site, as well as several others he provided links to on his page.  I think at this point I had crossed the point of no return, though I didn't realize it at the time.  I started taking down the names of the various websites, lectures, and books I had examined, or wanted to study.  In addition, I begun taking out quotes from The Bible of atrocities, contradictions, etc; though at that time I was still painfully ignorant of much of the context, among other things.  Although my belief in Christianity was fading fast, I still had a rough belief in a god/afterlife.  It took an entire change in my mindset to finally drive me over the edge.

            I don't know if it was any specific lecture, or book, or website that caused me to change my thinking. I don't know how long the idea had been hovering in the back of my mind before I consciously reflected on it or even when exactly that reflection occurred.  Whatever the case, I stopped looking at the existence of god and an afterlife as something that unequivocally was, and started looking at it has something which had to be supported by either logical proofs or scientific evidence.  Before then, I had never scrutinized the idea of the existence of god or an afterlife - it had always been a given, I had never even seriously considered the possibility that either of these were not so.  But under this new "show me" mindset, both ideas fell short. The whole thing was kind of a shock to me, I no longer had belief in god, and that made me... an atheist? 

"Shake off all fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." -Thomas Jefferson


100percentAtheist
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Alias wrote:The whole thing

Alias wrote:

The whole thing was kind of a shock to me, I no longer had belief in god, and that made me... an atheist? 

 

Welcome!

No belief in gods (deity) = atheism.

I'm curious, in which way your church encouraged thinking? I'm a born and raised atheist, so I have a quite limited knowledge about what is going on in churches.  I thought that if a priest reads the Bible (assuming that others have some sort of reading dysfunction), he/she does not naturally assume that you will question his Bible or his interpretation.  Is that episcopalian church somehow different?  

 

Another question.  If you claim you don't believe in god now, do you still go to church, pray, etc.?  There is also something that bothers me in your post.  You are 17, right?  From your post it looks like in 2 past years your extra school activities were largely constrained to bible studies of some sort according to the number of activities and thoughts displayed in your post.  Would it be correct to say that this is what all your life is about so far? 

 

To all: is it how a typical Christian looks like at the age of 17?  Sounds like "Jesus Camp" to me. By the way, Alias, did you watch this movie?  How far was your childhood from what is depicted there?

 

uhh.  Too many questions perhaps...

Have a great life.

100%

 

Edit:  I begin to think of atheism in the USA as some sort of Matrix movie, where the atheists are extracted from the global delusional energy network that feeds the machine. 

 

 

 


cygo
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Welcome aboard

Enjoy

 

 


Atheistextremist
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Welcome, Alias.

 

Yup, you're an atheist. Welcome to the world of the real. Strangely invigorating isn't it? I had some of your experiences growing up but my escape was slower than yours.

My congrats on your deconversion. Hope to see you on the boards.

 

 P.S. That's a great Jefferson quote, Alias. Just run your eye over the spelling of the word 'minds' in the first line. Don't want a typo in your tagline...

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


Alias
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"I'm curious, in which way

"I'm curious, in which way your church encouraged thinking?"

They didn't really try to shove it down my throat very much.  I mean yeah, I had to go to Sunday school, but even then it was more thinking about the passages in the Bible, rather than just accepting them as fact.  Maybe that wording was bad - but I was trying to get across the point that my church was not as hardcore as many are.
 

"I thought that if a priest reads the Bible (assuming that others have some sort of reading dysfunction), he/she does not naturally assume that you will question his Bible or his interpretation.  Is that episcopalian church somehow different?"

I don't know about the Episcopalian Church as a whole, but the congregation I belonged to was pretty diverse in term of belief.  The priests we had were totally okay with people having different views than them on matters.  Even when our priest found out I was an atheist he just encouraged me to keep searching for answers.

 "If you claim you don't believe in god now, do you still go to church, pray, etc.?"

Hellllll no!

"From your post it looks like in 2 past years your extra school activities were largely constrained to bible studies of some sort according to the number of activities and thoughts displayed in your post.  Would it be correct to say that this is what all your life is about so far?"

Not exactly sure of the question... Do you mean have I been spending the last year studying religion (against religion, that is)?  I mean, when I first started out, I was reading hardcore trying to get a hold of things because it was all so new to me and I felt so lost without the knowledge.  But, after that initial phase, I've toned it down.  I read a fair amount over the summer and I still read/think/talk about religion a lot more than most people I know... But, no, it's not what all my life is about so far; I still have time for other things.

"Sounds like "Jesus Camp" to me."

Not even close to as bad as Jesus Camp... I mean, it was still fucked up, but nowhere near that level.  Looking back, I'm surprised my church would agree to host an event like that...

"By the way, Alias, did you watch this movie?  How far was your childhood from what is depicted there?"

I've seen most of it and I'm really glad my childhood was nowhere close to that.

 

Also, the question mark after "atheist" at the end of my first post should be a period... stupid me

"Shake off all fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." -Thomas Jefferson


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Welcome to the forum, Alias.

Welcome to the forum, Alias.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


Atheistextremist
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I've been to Jesus Camp

 

tho' it was more rudimentary than the industrial strength version portrayed in that film. Makes you think all kids should spend year 6 doing nothing but learning to think, with significant refreshers for the rest of high school, and organised religious instruction banned until 21. Religion has got to be as dangerous as beer. And it has none of the upsides.

I never learned to think rationally at school. Wasn't even touched on. Can't imagine why not. For decades a significant element of my inner dialogue was unsupportable horseshit in the first degree. Not completely convinced I'm out of the woods yet.

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Welcome! When I was your

Welcome!

 

When I was your age I did the whole Jesus Camp stuff, youth conventions, retreats, etc.  Scary now, looking back on it.  I'm amazed at how normal some things seem when they are familiar.

I remember Ebon Musings atheism pages (http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/) being some of the first stuff I ran into on the net that dealt with atheism.

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.