Former theists: What solidified your disbelief?

B166ER
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Former theists: What solidified your disbelief?

As someone who has never had faith in supernatural beings or powers, I'm curious as to what former theists found to be the most powerful argument(s) against religion in general, or the particular religion you were brought up with in particular? How did you lose your beliefs? Was it a slow, gradual process or did it happen quite suddenly from seeing or experiencing something?

I've never known religion in general as anything besides mythology, so I only know how to argue against religion from this perspective and I can see that my ignorance of other people's thinking processes hampers my attempts at reasoning with them.

Even if I don't get any new insights into debating theistic irrationality, it's always fascinating to find out how other people think and come to their personal positions.

"This may shock you, but not everything in the bible is true." The only true statement ever to be uttered by Jean Chauvinism, sociopathic emotional terrorist.
"A Boss in Heaven is the best excuse for a boss on earth, therefore If God did exist, he would have to be abolished." Mikhail Bakunin
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Cpt_pineapple
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Here's how I became an

Here's how I became an atheist

 

http://cptpineapple.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/one-girls-journy-into-atheism/

 

Here's a reflection of when I was a theist

http://cptpineapple.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/a-reflection/

 

And here's a shameless plug of my blog

 

http://cptpineapple.wordpress.com/


Atheistextremist
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I grew up in a fundy household

 

where orthodox presbyterian religion was true. With preacher father, missionary mother, you can imagine the landscape was, from any normal perspective, very odd. Even in the 1970s, we were very odd and had odd associates who wore platform shoes. Both my parents were literalists and believed the bible made perfect sense, that god was everywhere, that satan was listening - giddy stuff. Daily prayers, most child-like behaviour, including after school hunger, were high sins. Boarding school at 11yo was an enormous relief after the initial sniveling was over. 

I think my first real questions related to the invisibility of god. I'm not a hugely clever person, so if something isn't there, I can't fabricate it into being. I remember praying over a torch that had stopped working (my christmas present) at the age of about 7 or 8 and pleading for its restoration to no avail. Perhaps this was a lesson from HIM...silly, I know. 

When I was 12 or so I sat through David Attenborough's Life On Earth in science class and I was delighted with it even he did not convert me to an acceptance of evolution on the spot. In my mid teens I still think I believed in god loosely but the realities of mortality and suffering were unsettling me (I was a keen student of WWI and WWII) and by my late teens I was writing tortured poetry bemoaning god's hateful tendencies. The moral inconsistency of god was probably the key driver of doubt for me, but I still had beliefs in my mid-20s and plenty of real throat constricting fears. The thought of death was amplified by the certainty of hell merited by my ongoing doubts.

By my late 20s I recognised god as a complete bastard. If he existed he was so vile I wouldn't want to know him. The 'love you so much he'll kill you' thing was too much for me to cope with. None of my friends were christians and god would kill them all. He was my enemy. I talked to other preacher kid relatives and friends - there were only about 4 of us who had escaped the madness from a hundred or so people in my immediate and close married family. These failed christians had similarly intense feelings. God was a filthy, fucking murderer. Of course, all this palaver was interspersed with wishing there was a god and an eternal life and all the bullshit that sounds so whacko to me now. At 30 I was still having moments of trying to reconcile god into my life and failing dismally and then forgetting about it for a while. 

I can't pretend that 9/11 did not have a profound effect on me. This event made me see religion was an evil thing and I began to hate the concept of religion properly. The human idea of god and the devil was an excuse to slaughter the sub human infidels with no remorse because they were in league with satan. I was identifying as an atheist extremist by now. I wasn't a high brow even-handed, accepting all comers atheist and I never will be. I'm often disappointed there will be no battle of armageddon.

Like a lot of us here I'd made this transition to atheism by myself and with pretty much zero literature as support - save for New Scientist - at the time I worked for the publisher of this magazine and got it free - later I kept up the sub. There's was lots I did not understand but what I did see was the elevation of honest inquiry week in and week out. The relentless flood of knowledge. People who devoted entire lives to sifting through dust with a toothbrush. There was profound power here. 

A key event for me was the discovery of the hobbit on the island of Flores in 2004. I intensely wished it was true. The idea a group of homo erectus (what a great name, eh?) lived in such close proximity to our time 14,000-18,000 BCE resonated with me. It was like the door opened a crack to reveal a bright light outside. When the Indonesian muslims stole the bones to 'study' it just proved another point to me. 

Over the next few years I nibbled at the Atheist's bible and those little gems really touched off chords in me. Later I read some Hitchens and Attenborough and Dawkins' maligned God Delusion. Even if his arguments tended to the hyper-passionate, as an unabashed loather of religion, I was not offended in the least and thought he was going a bit easy on them.

In any case, it took a while to actually accept god did not exist at all. That all the fear, worry, anger and resentment were pointless cries of outrage over nothing at all. I think I probably still have some way to go before complete recovery. Having a fundy family makes the process harder as I'm battling them all the time. I'm close to my family, too. When those closest to you think you are evil, that your doubts are a clear sign of immorality, it's a challenge. This idea that doubt is a sin runs very deep with christians. Perhaps they fear their own doubts. Maybe that's what drove the inquisition. 

Round my family I've been a scathing god hater and reviler for many years. Not sure how they've put up with me, to be honest. I spent a decade abusing them before starting to take it out on the likes of Fonzie on the pages of this forum 18 months ago. RRS has been a real Gaia-send. All in all, being raised christian was like being born with a terminal disease. Death and the fear of death were never far from mind. Ultimately, for the naturally dubious, the christian god is not love but death. Worship was not an option. 

 

 

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


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           I left

           I left Christianity over the course of 4 years.  I think that I was a Christian because of indoctrination, and because I attributed a lot of my feeling and thoughts to God.  It was only later when I stopped going to church twice a week, when I lost my support structure of other Christians, and when I got to know people who weren't Christian that my faith started to crack.  What finally shattered my faith was the idea of hell and the thought that people I know would end up there.  I remember the moment when the last of my faith in god disappeared.  I had asked my self a question.  Given that a world with God was a world were a large number of people would go to hell, if it was my choice would I choose for God to exist.  The answer was obviously no.  As soon as I realized I didn't really want God to exist all the faith that I had left just kind of vanished.  

          My loss of Christian faith didn't make me reasonable.  I jumped to a new faith that I mostly made up as I went along, but I didn't think I made it up because I was still using the same methods I used as a Christian.    I just replaced God with some kind of nameless sprites of nature.   I attributed feeling to spirits the same way I had attributed them to god.  I attributed chance events to spirits the same way I had attributed them to god.  It felt no different at all.  I explained this to myself by thinking I had just been wrong before.  I told myself it had always been the spirits, but before I had mistaken them for god.  This went on for awhile during which I kind of when a bit crazy.  Yes I know that isn't a technical term, but I don't know what else to call it.  Finally I decided that I had better try to get back in touch with other people before things became any worse.  Naturally the people I sought out were also kind of crazy.   I spent about a year and a half with people who felt they had magical powers.  I don't know how for real they were, but at the time I accepted anything anyone told me as their actual belief.  After over a year of hearing people talk about channeling gods and daemons, making weird hand gestures, and talking about their journeys on the astral plains I couldn't really take it anymore.  It's interesting that the only thing that made me question the validity of my own crap was smelling someone else’s.  Maybe bullshit can be used to help fight bullshit, but maybe not everyone seems to have some reason why their personal bullshit is special.  

            Who knows maybe there is some kind of other unknown reality some people are tapping into, but if there is none of them seem to be able to agree on any part of it.  I think my finally conclusion from experience all of this is that people should spread their crap around especially to children.  We all have to live in this world together, and when some people feel that they posses some kind of special inner insight superior to all peoples around them it really stinks.  Especially when they try to force that insight onto other people with laws or violence.

         


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I can't remember the exact

I can't remember the exact moment that I decided that "atheist" described me. I can only give you a general description because it was a long journey over several years with different stages.

I can only say that the end result happened in my first year of college. But even then, I wasn't an open atheist until 01, 3 years after I graduated.

I went from questioning, but still clinging, to "I don't know" but still clinging, to unlikely but still clinging, to probably not AND  losing it's grip, to thats it, "there is no god".  That is a short version, but lots and lots of thinking over several years lead me to my final position.

For some the journey is shorter, for others it is longer, and some are simply lucky enough to be surrounded by people, when they are young to foster skepticism and never get indoctrinated.

I can say that one thing that did help was a Smithsonian display of the Ankor Watt sandstone sculptures dipicting a 1,000 year period of the complex history. For those who don't know, Ankor is a large ancient religious complex now buried in the Cambodian jungle(I hope I got the country right).

Anyway, I was having doubts about organized religion, but still wanted "something". When I went to the display I saw the first statues having strictly Buddhist features. About halfway through that dynasty Hindus co-mingled with the Buddhists and by the end of the era the sculptures had mixed Hindu/Buddhist features.

THAT is when I said to myself "If these religions can mix, why wouldn't that be the case with all religions"? That was a huge push towards "I don't know" but none of what I see from humans makes sense. I wasn't an atheist at that point, but it certainly lead me away from buying any pulpit crap.

It made me think about the possibility(THE REALITY, that I know now) that religions come from surrounding and prior cultures.

That was a big push in the right direction, although it wasn't the final nail in the coffin.

Even when I first started claiming to be an atheist, I did not have all the solid knowledge in my head about atheists positions or even theists positions. Even though I was an atheist at that point, I would have been easy pickings for a slick theist.

My years on line have collectively made it much harder, if not impossible for a theist to peddle an invisible magical being, by any name.

STUDY STUDY STUDY, both atheists arguments and theists arguments. And a bit of science( you don't have to be an egghead) helps too.

 

 

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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Atheistextremist wrote: Even

Atheistextremist wrote:

Even in the 1970s, we were very odd and had odd associates who wore platform shoes.

 

What is even more odd is that platform shoes are coming back in style.  And what is up with the shoes that look like horses' hooves?

Anyway, back to the op.

I grew up in a family that believed in god, but did not go to church.  They mostly thought church was a waste of time.  (This has since changed for some members of my family.)  So I was never a strong believer, sort of a so-so believer.  And I tried a couple of times to be a church goer.  When I was in junior high, my best friend was a preacher's kid and so I went regularly to the Foursquare Gospel for a couple of years.  When my best friend's family moved on to a larger congregation, the new pastor was much older and much more strict.  I was horrified to learn that Mahatma Ghandi - whom I had been studying about in school - was going to hell.  And I was amazed that playing solitaire in my own home without any betting on the outcome, was going to have Satan leap out of the cards and steal my soul.  I left the church.

That doesn't mean I became an atheist.  I just went back to my family's default - religion is a waste of time but god exists.

I have always been interested in evolution and science.  I lost "faith" in the biblical stories at a very young age.  Even when I was 7 or 8, global floods and 6 day creations sounded silly.  Long before the days of the internet, my mom bought me a set of encyclopedias just to keep me from pestering her with questions she didn't know the answers to.  I read as much science fiction as I could find and got some science education from Isaac Asimov and E.E. "Doc" Smith and Arthur C. Clarke and others.  As a young adult, I started reading popularized science from Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, and magazines like Scientific American, Natural History and so on - for fun.  Even in junior high, my faith never encompassed a literal bible.

In my mid twenties, I went to base chapel with a friend.  We were living on a Marine Corps military base in the US and were feeling at loose ends.  So we started going to chapel.  US military chapels are supposed to be ecumenical - not emphasizing one sect over another.  The chapel I went to had two Protestant Chaplains and one Catholic Priest with mass and generic protestant services sharing Sundays.  There was also a Wednesday night for those who just couldn't get enough religion on Sunday.  Jewish services were held at a home in town as the local practicing Jewish population was very small.  At the time, no other religions were observed.

It was pleasant having something to do and adults to talk to.  When my ex husband was stationed elsewhere, I went to the chapel at that base once.  It just didn't appeal.  I had a minor crises of faith - if you believed in god/s/dess/Jesus, wouldn't any church be satisfactory?  A very understanding chaplain pointed out that church going is also for socialization - and if you aren't personally comfortable with the particular mix of people attending a particular church, then you should shop around for somewhere you are comfortable.  I still didn't get it, and I stopped attending church.

And so from about the age of 28 to 32, I began to give up trying to believe in god/s/dess.  Because of my hobby of reading science, I never had a real strong belief in god/s/dess or in religion.  It always felt like I was trying to force my brain to accept the concepts of disembodied entities that had the power to send you to really improbable physical places for eternity.  I had friends who apparently had no problem with these concepts - I still have friends who are believers - and I believed I, too, could be "safe in the arms of Jesus" if I could just get my brain to shut up.  Alas, my brain is very outspoken.

The final straw was when my youngest son was six.  He is learning disabled - not enough for a group home, but enough to flunk every mainstream class he ever attended.  Part of the learning disability is problems with fine muscle control making writing very difficult.  And when he was six, he wanted to be just like the other kids.  And he wasn't.  And he knew it.  One day, he came home from school, sat down and started on homework.  I made him take a break for dinner.  And at 9 pm, I sent him to bed with his homework still not completed.  He was exhausted and in tears.  Okay, so some of my churchy friends said god wouldn't send us more than we can handle.  That's fine for me as an adult, but what about my son?  He doesn't understand and he obviously couldn't handle it.  God had plans for him?  What?  To torture him every day of his life?  And just what the hell does that accomplish?

That was it - I was so angry with the concept of a loving god who allowed children to be tortured for no discernable "plan", that I gave up on him/her/it/them on the spot.  And the relief ------ No more trying to break my mind around an impossible concept.  No more sucking up to a brutish sadistic entity.  Free to no longer be angry.  Free to view the world as an imperfect wonder.  Free.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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Former theists: What

Former theists: What solidified your disbelief?

 

For me... there was no epiphany...  it was simply a matter of never before having realized how silly theism is... One day, I was meandering through my life when I just queried to myself "did I ever actually belive this bullshit?... or was I just kind of going along with a crowd because i didn't give a shit, and Catholic girls give good head."

 


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For me I had four years of

For me I had four years of Koine Greek and took apart the synoptic gospels, compared them and saw that they were fabrications with agendas.

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whip cream."--Frank Zappa

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Atheistextremist
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Nice

TGBaker wrote:

For me I had four years of Koine Greek and took apart the synoptic gospels, compared them and saw that they were fabrications with agendas.

 

That must have been interesting moment. I'd love to know exactly how christianity was born and developed. I know it's man made but being able to track every part of its development would be a thrill. Paul is a curious figure. Was Paul a christian? I doubt it...

 

 

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


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

TGBaker wrote:

For me I had four years of Koine Greek and took apart the synoptic gospels, compared them and saw that they were fabrications with agendas.

 

That must have been interesting moment. I'd love to know exactly how christianity was born and developed. I know it's man made but being able to track every part of its development would be a thrill. Paul is a curious figure. Was Paul a christian? I doubt it...

 

 

Part of the dilemma is presenting bits and pieces for example to Caposkia that are really an aspect of a whole process of editing say of Matthew reworking the gospel of Mark and a sayings source Q in order to have it say what he wants.  I believe Paul had a seizure. epileptic experience or mystical experience where he saw the claims of Jesus the Messiah as Messiah though killed as paralleled to the mystery religions of Hellenism and the Roman Empire. The mystery religon like that of mythros or the Egyptian imports Isis and Osirus where the god is killed and comes back givers Paul the means to interpret Jesus's death. You notice that the appearances in the New Testament are of a Spirit like person of Jesus. Paul he appears like light and great sound on the road to Damascus. In the gospels Jesus appears disappears and walks through walls. In I Corinthians 15 Paul argues that the resurrected body is not a physical body nor a spiritual body ( pneuma ) but a psychical body ( pseukikos ). We are dealing with a Messianic movement that had a ghost story in it. If the original Christians were  the Ebionites like James ( the brother of Jesus), John and the wavering Peter they did not believe in the virgin birth, did not believe Jesus was divine, and thought of him as simply the Jewish (human) Messiah that though killed  teaching would be vindicated by his return when God brought the kingdom and general resurrection of the dead.  Paul is the creator of what we know as Christianity by reinterpreting a small messianic sects message through Greek philosophy and mystery religions.  The original followers of Jesus did not call themselves Christians by the way. They called themselves followers of the Way!!!


 

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whip cream."--Frank Zappa

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Thank you everybody who responded!

Wow. Thank you to everybody for your heartfelt responses. I know I will never know what it's like to believe, but hearing about the journeys other people have had to take to be honest with themselves is really inspiring. And again, thank you all for sharing.

"This may shock you, but not everything in the bible is true." The only true statement ever to be uttered by Jean Chauvinism, sociopathic emotional terrorist.
"A Boss in Heaven is the best excuse for a boss on earth, therefore If God did exist, he would have to be abolished." Mikhail Bakunin
"The means in which you take,
dictate the ends in which you find yourself."
"Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme leadership derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!"
No Gods, No Masters!


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Hello Everyone

Hello eveyone, been away for quite awhile, but now I am really back for good. Just been very busy.

In regards to the original question, I have shared some of this on here before. I grew up in a very strict catholic (deliberate lower case) household. I got out of bed every morning, hit my knees on the floor and prayed. Lit candles to saints, served as an altar boy, had to read the Bible with the family every night, etc. etc. I was really devout. Many things happened, a series of tragedies and events, and god never answered my prayers. What did I get from my fellow religious people ? Sympathy ? Compassion ? Understanding ? NOPE ! All I got was a load of crap about "God is testing you" or "God is angry with you because you are a sinner" or even worse " Surrender to God and he will help you" .

Surrender to God ? I had prayed and prayed and repented and made offerings and did all I knew to do. Yet this "loving" god continued to turn a silent ear to my struggles

After I left home for good, I drifted through alot of other systems (Buddhist, New Age, Wiccan, even spent a brief period chasing ghosts and such). I ferverently wanted to believe that there had to be SOMETHING out there. But all I ever found was alot of lost people that were wishing for an answer and desperately hoping to find some sort of proof of the supernatural.

I can not say for sure when I realized that I was an Atheist (I think I was one, long before I admitted it to myself).But for a little while, I had no hope in nothing. By accident, I happened to pick up some of the books of the Four Horsemen and this inspired me to check out Atheist websites and further investigate science. I almost shouted with joy when I realized, that all of those years, that people told me "Your crazy" or "You just don't want to follow god" or "This is what happens to those that live in sin" were TOTAL IDIOTS.

It hit me, the great scientists of the world, who were forever being scorned by the religious community, should be better qualified to answer the questions of life than a bunch of religious zealots that never study anything other than the Bible. I knew then, that science was where I wanted to seek my answers. It was somewhere around that time that I realized I was an Atheist and that this so called "spiritual stuff" was not the way that I could possibly accept.

Today, I am a very open Atheist. I do it for all of the people out there that might be trapped in the indoctrinated households and surroundings that I was once trapped in. I have made it almost my mission, to try and keep the flag flying, so that when the doubters feel that they are going insane, they will know that they are not alone.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno