Formerly religious Atheists as compared to secularly raised atheists

Snerd
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Formerly religious Atheists as compared to secularly raised atheists

So I searched back a few pages and didn't see this topic, but I'm sure it's been talked about before.

So I was raised in a Baptist household. I was raised to be a conservative Baptist fundamentalist. Holy shit, did I ever turn out wrong, huh? So I went to Baptist school from kindergarten up until the first few weeks of eleventh grade. I've received more training about the Bible than most Christians. I went to the same church where I attended school. So I got to hear more theological topics. We also had chapel services in school at least once a week. So I have a rather big background with religion. I think that makes debating with Christians so much easier.

Atheists raised in a secular home aren't exposed to such things. Not that it's a bad thing. But does that make them master debaters (I meant that specific string of words)? They have to study religions on their own. That could lead to misunderstanding even the crazy shit Christians believe.

I'm not saying "Oooh! I'm a better atheist!" I just want to hear what people have to say. What are the strengths and weaknesses of both schools? I think the serious weakness of being raised full-on Christian is that there is a big chance of being a Christian. My friends were raised the same exact way but they're still very religious. I think that only a small handful of people raised in that manner will become atheists... Shit, even agnostics.

Any thoughts?


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I'm not sure which category

I'm not sure which category I fit into.  My parents, who remain happily married to this day, are as Christians would say "unequally yolked."  My father is an atheist, my mother is a Christian.  I was raised going to church and Sunday school.  Y'know, the whole Christian childhood thing.  Meanwhile, my father was training me to be a critical, rational thinker.  I didn't realize what he was doing at the time, of course, but looking back on my childhood through adult eyes, it's quite obvious.

When I was in my pre-teens and early teens, back before the internet was easily accessible to the general public, I hung out on on locally-based dial-up message boards (Damn, that seems like ancient history).  I remember running across one in which people were seriously discussing the existence of vampires, werewolves, fairies, and other such silliness.  I remember saying, "Hey Dad, look at these crazy people I found.  They actually believe in vampires.  That's crazy."  But he didn't just pat me on the head and say "That's right, son."  He told me to read what they had to say, see how they went about supporting their claims, and decide for myself if there was anything to it.

Of course, he didn't believe in vampires either.  He just wanted me to come to that conclusion the right way, not just because somebody once told me vampires aren't real.

 Anyway, the point of the story is that I was raised by a Christian and an atheist, trained overtly to be a Christian, trained subtly to be an atheist...  And I ended up being an atheist. 


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As one who was raised in a

As one who was raised in a secular atheist home I'm thinking I wasn't granted the emotional baggage associated with religion.  Those who deconvert to Atheism realize they have been lied to for so many years.  Those raised Atheist don't experience the life change so there's no real need or desire to act any differently.

It's been a long time since I read the book by Bob Altemeyer and Bruce Hunsburger titled Amazing Conversions.  They interview converts on both sides and how they came to the change and how their lives have changed.


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I was raised in a

I was raised in a god-believing, yet secular home. We never discussed religion and my parents didn't make me go to church. I am definitely very weak when it comes to bible knowledge. I believed in god most of my life but the older I got, the more skeptical I became. It was a slow process really.

 I suppose a strength of a born again atheist is his or her ability to understand the Christian perspective on a very personal level. 

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Hi Snerd,     I was

Hi Snerd,

    I was raised in a secular home and, you are right, I have a hard time understanding what theist actually believe. But I did some training when I was in highschool Smiling

    I would argue as an atheist with my collegues and argue as a theist with my dad. And I would use the best arguments I heard from one to the other. With this process I managed to narrow down the essential arguments on both sides fairly quickly. That was a fun time. Then no one would dare argue with me anymore Laughing out loud

 

Cheers,

Richard 

A mystic is someone who wants to understand the universe, but is too lazy to study physics.


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My mom is a recovered

My mom is a recovered ex-Catholic (did boarding school and the whole nine yards until she moved out on her own and my dad is basically an atheist (maybe a deist) but religion just never comes up.

I went to a preschool in a church, likely because that was the most convenient/best at the time in the area. Nothing overtly religious in there actually... except a book that tried to explain god and I remember reading it and thinking "who are these people who claim what god is?" (maybe in not those words, but regardless, I wasn't buying it.) A little after that, I asked my mom about church and she said my religion was up to me to decide on. So I grew up dealing with the wasteland of Sunday morning TV (actually a decent reason to get out and play more, {codger voice}we didn't have 24 hour cartoon channels when I was a kid!{/codger}) and not thinking much at all about religion (except for the 3(?) times I went to church with friends or relatives) until we moved to Arizona.

A lot, and I mean a _lot_ of people went to church. Wow. So, the religion question popped up in my mind again and, at some point in grade school or junior high, I decided to read the bible to see what it was about. I got to the first round of "begats" and couldn't bear to push through there. Yeesh. At some point my mom went to a UU church a few times and asked me if I wanted to come. We went a couple times, but it was an hour away so that faded pretty quick.

My religious investigation really cranked up in high school as many of my friends got into their youth groups and invited me along. At the time, I was curious, I just didn't "get" religion, so I figured I'd check it out and see what I was missing. Some great stories there. Did you know that "First Assembly of God" is Pentacostal? I didn't before I agreed to attend with a couple friends of mine. Wowza.

I think for a long time I was basically deist. I had come to the conclusion that an all-loving god would let everyone into heaven (yep, a dualist as well) since he could perfectly understand your situation. By the end of high school, I had realized a number of things like that on my own: Pascal's wager is crap (when I first heard it, I didn't have the name, but I knew that making decisions out of fear was bad and my Baptist friend couldn't guarantee that hers was the "right" religion), if God has a plan and is all-knowing then it's impossible to deviate from that plan, and probably some others that I can't quite think of.

By time I got into college, I had a large group of non-religious friends and, from reading about Taoism, the deism turned into pantheism and the dualism still clung on. I remember being shocked when a friend of mine said that when you die, you're gone and they put you in the ground. Seemed a little sad to me at the time.

I think that by time I finished college, I was a little more tolerant of religious people (hate the sin, not the sinner, right? Smiling ) and had dropped most of my "magic" belief. At that point, I started studying religion a little more in-depth (beyond asking religious friends about it).

So, yeah, I had to study on my own. This site helped a good bit. Also, it seems like there are only a few intractable things you need to be skilled in debating about with Christians: The problems of an Omni-max god, the question of the bible being the word of god, and maybe the question of how do you know if god is "telling" you something and not the devil? Although frankly, I've never had a Christian get the problem of evil. Either they say "I'll ask my pastor" or they start talking about freewill. *sigh*

Okay, that was a lot of rambling... I hope I answered the question. Sorry. Carry on.

-Triften


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A similar topic was

A similar topic was discussed in this thread a few weeks back. There was some very good discussion, check it out (especially page two).

 

 


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I was brought up in a

I was brought up in a fairly active Catholic household.  Church pretty much every weekend.  But I find that I have a different picture of religion then my atheist compadres from the evangelical side.  As in, I don't hate them as much lol.  In fact, most Catholics hate evangelicals for doing just that, evangelizing.  I find that most Catholics are quite secularized and are more akin to deists with cultural, religious affinities.  Whenever I hear the horror stories of people feeling guilty for not saving enough souls from spending eternity in hell, I'm like WTF religion did you grow up in, because it's not the christianity I know...

I'd say my weakness from coming at this angle is that I percieved my version of religion as the mainstream in the US, when in fact it is not when you look at the statistics.  In the Northeast and the East Coast, where I'm from, the former is true.  People are relatively secular.  But move South and West, and that becomes less true, and I have learned much from my time here at RRS about what lies out there.  It is much worse then where I was born and raised.

I'd say my advantage is that I harbor less hatred towards of my former religion, and can understand their positions as I was there myself fairly recently.  I believe that since I can STAND being around them, I am less alienating, and have thus had quite a lot of success in deconverting people.  I have quite a few friends who are atheist/agnostic now thanks to my dialoge and patience with them! 

The Enlightenment wounded the beast, but the killing blow has yet to land...


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I get testy when theists

I get testy when theists try to claim that atheists are necessarily less knowledgeable than they are. I've met many, many atheists on this board with more knowledge of the bible and religion in general than most theists have. In fact, I've met atheists here with more knowledge than any theist I've ever met, though I'm sure there are more knowledgeable theists out there. Anyway, the point is, theism and atheism don't correlate to knowledge or lack of it in religious matters. So I don't think there's any general statement that can be made about whether a reformed theist or a born atheist is a better debater.

With all respect to Snerd, the question itself illustrates a weakness that I've observed in some reformed theists, especially newly reformed theists. While they have revolted against the Big Lie (god and the truth of doctrine), they sometimes still drag around bits of mental baggage from their prior beliefs. It's like they had a viral infection and their immune system killed the live viruses but there's still antigens floating around in their systems. The underlying assumption to Snerd's question is an example. Having been told all his life that atheists are ignorant of the bible and just don't have any understanding of the Good Word (or else they'd accept jesus...right?), he still brings that assumption with him even though he's rejected the core tenets of his old faith (congratulations, BTW). See, there are modes of thought that are associated with theism and while the raw doctrine may be relatively easy to reject it may be harder and take more time to ferret out all the little leftover assumptions and logic flaws that religious training instills.

  Going verse for verse with a christian bible-thumper is a nice skill to have, but all too often we get sucked in to debating christians on their terms, not ours. Arguments about the meaning of passages in the bible are like arguments about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin - ultimately irrelevant. A good atheist debater will resist being drawn into the quagmire of biblical interpretation and simply point out that the bible is one uncorroborated document that has been heavily edited and revised with severe prejudice down through the centuries, and that it should be given no more or less historical weight than similar documents. In making this argument, a reformed theist is no better off than a born atheist.

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As a baby, I reacted as well

As a baby, I reacted as well as I would now to being manhandled and splashed by a priest. I hear my baptism was more like an exorcism; and that was really where I put my foot down on the matter of Catholicism. Conversations with my relatives about religion have been mercifully brief, for the most part, and the exchanges inspired bemusement or pity in me. If there is a gene, or a spot in the brain, which can accept the concepts religion proposes, I don't seem to have it. I'm not convinced most people would had a crater not been carved in their psyche from childhood. I dabbled in forms of mysticism and woo-woo science, but I never honestly cared about the concept of a deity.
I'd describe my mother as an agnostic, and my father as a spiritual opportunist. He likes whatever deity he thinks will help him win the lottery. In contrast to that seeming naivety, he's also a huckster, who will weave ad hoc explanations for any conversation with anyone, just to keep people listening to him. I don't ask myself, "Why would they lie about this?" Although I got more of my general outlook from my mother, my father has, unwittingly, inoculated me against magical thinking.


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ThaiBoxerShorts

ThaiBoxerShorts wrote:

Anyway, the point of the story is that I was raised by a Christian and an atheist, trained overtly to be a Christian, trained subtly to be an atheist... And I ended up being an atheist.


Your dad sounds like a dude!


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Tilberian wrote: He said

Tilberian wrote:

He said something about being "testy" which I chuckled at. He goes "nuts". Sorry. I'm immature.

Some stuff about me carrying mental baggage.

Okay, he actually said this:  

 In making this argument, a reformed theist is no better off than a born atheist.

Sorry for cannibalizing your quote there; it's just a lot to work with. I don't really carry a lot of mental baggage from my formerly religious life. I actually have a lot of good memories from Christianity. My childhood friends were all Christians and we'd get into mischief like any kids. We'd mindfuck our teachers by sticking together even if it meant serious trouble. I had a normal childhood. And I don't necessarily feel bad about that time. I'd kinda like to have that church time back, but time marches on, right? If I carried anything that translates into atheism, it's my ability to argue, but I think that comes more from being raised around my uncle (he's not only a master debater, he's a cunning linguist as well. I love that joke). I guess the part you really highlighted was that I assumed atheists don't know a lot about the Bible. Atheists are just like any other person. Most of them don't know shit about the Bible. I've talked with a few about biblical contradictions and things like that, and, to use something from Bill Hicks, they stared at me like a dog that's just been shown a card trick. One guy, no shit, thought Abraham was one of Jesus's disciples. So if anything, my assumption is based on my experiences and my bias that people are generally stupid (I include myself with that). Again, sorry for cutting up your quote. I liked it, though.

triften wrote:
Did you know that "First Assembly of God" is Pentacostal?

You said a lot of good stuff, but I have to call attention to the fact that church spells "FAG" and it's especially funny that Pentecostals go to "FAG" churches.

ThaiBoxerShorts wrote:
Anyway, the point of the story is that I was raised by a Christian and an atheist, trained overtly to be a Christian, trained subtly to be an atheist...  And I ended up being an atheist. 

I cannibalized your quote, too. I read it, though, as with the others. I like the way your dad taught you. He wanted you to make up your mind and, from the way it sounds, he would've been happy that you looked at both sides no matter what you chose to believe.

I like how no one here really seems to harbor any hatred for their former religion. I guess it's because you can't change the past and we don't worry about what we can't control. If it seems like I have a lot of problems with my former religion, I guess it's because it wouldn't be too interesting of a topic if I talked about bullshit we did to pass the time at Christian school. I know that because I've told some of those stories before and I was the only one that thought they were funny. I hate that shit. Also, my comedy style is negative and I can work my material around negative stuff more easily than positive stuff.


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Snerd:

Snerd:

I'm in the exact same boat as you, buddy. I was raised in a strict fundamentalist Baptist home, went to the associated school from the time I was four until I graduated at seveteen, attended all church and school services as well as all offered extracurriculars. I began my deconversion about seven years ago and just "accepted" my atheism four years ago or so. The median time was spent anywhere from spiritual deism all to lazy agnosticism. I finally reached the point to where I can call myself a thoughtful apostate. It was almost a light-bulb moment for me. Sounds strange but after the gradual slide away from Christianity, the notion that there is no god just hit me like a ton of bricks... no dawning realization here.


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Former_Follier

Former_Follier wrote:

Snerd:

I'm in the exact same boat as you, buddy. I was raised in a strict fundamentalist Baptist home, went to the associated school from the time I was four until I graduated at seveteen, attended all church and school services as well as all offered extracurriculars. I began my deconversion about seven years ago and just "accepted" my atheism four years ago or so. The median time was spent anywhere from spiritual deism all to lazy agnosticism. I finally reached the point to where I can call myself a thoughtful apostate. It was almost a light-bulb moment for me. Sounds strange but after the gradual slide away from Christianity, the notion that there is no god just hit me like a ton of bricks... no dawning realization here.

Did you ever tell your parents? If so, how did they react?


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I don't think you actually

I don't think you actually need to have much religious knowledge to debate theists effectivly. Sure if you want to get down the errors in the Bible or the specific bullshit morality of Christianity then you need to know your bible. But the big stuff, the big questions isn't really covered in the Bible itself. The question of whether God exists, whether he is good and what his powers are are all just assumed in the Bible. The debate on all of these are philosphical and logical debates open to anyone regardless of the knowledge of the crap in the Bible.

My approach when theists says "oh yes but in the Bible it says xyz" is to reply

"Oh thats nice now why the fuck should I believe a word of it?"

The typical response is

"Because its the inspired word of God"

To which we must say

"Ok mate lets talk about this existence of this God fellow first.  Once you have convinced me that he exists then we can move on to discuss his suposed self help book "the bible" but until you can satisfy me that he exists its just an other well out of date bronze age collection of myths."

We really need not concern ourselves with most of whats written in the Bible until we actually accept that God exists. Until that point its just another book not really worthy of much atention.  

 


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BGH wrote: A similar topic

BGH wrote:

A similar topic was discussed in this thread a few weeks back. There was some very good discussion, check it out (especially page two).

Snerd, you might want to read the thread I cited here.

 

 


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evil religion wrote: I

evil religion wrote:

I don't think you actually need to have much religious knowledge to debate theists effectivly. Sure if you want to get down the errors in the Bible or the specific bullshit morality of Christianity then you need to know your bible. But the big stuff, the big questions isn't really covered in the Bible itself. The question of whether God exists, whether he is good and what his powers are are all just assumed in the Bible. The debate on all of these are philosphical and logical debates open to anyone regardless of the knowledge of the crap in the Bible.

Agreed.  I remember always being a bit mystified when my friends would talk about god as a kid.  Especially when I outgrew the whole santa claus/ easter bunny thing.  It just seemed... right that there was no god.  Granted, it's easier to see the illogic of religion when you're not enmeshed in it. 

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Mostly Bad

I was raised as a fundie, the only two things I can say is that I have studied the bible moreso than most xtians and that I'm much more understanding the damage it can do. Having being the one who was damaged obviously. I wouldn`t wish a fundie childhood on even my worst enemy no matter what benefits it might bring.

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I was raised (and am still

I was raised (and am still living in) a very religious house.  I was Christian (sort of) until I was 11, and went to church until I was 15.  As far as debates go, I sometimes feel at a disadvantage because of my Christian background, because a lot of theists disregard my arguments and opinions on religion, assuming that I'm simply rebelling against my family and am hostile toward theism only for that reason.   

I'd say that secularly raised atheists are lucky because they don't have fear of Hell ingrained in them.  On the surface, I know that the Christian god makes absolutely no sense to me, I know I'm not going to Hell, and I know that even if I did I'd probably enjoy it a lot more than Heaven.  But deep down, illogically, part of me still feels like I have to be worried about damnation.  It's been so indoctrinated in me that I don't know if I'll ever stop having that underlying fear.   


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Hi, Former_Follier! I see

Hi, Former_Follier!

I see that you've been a member for awhile, but have just started posting.  Glad to have you "out and about" on the forums! 

We'd like to get to know you a little better. When you get a minute, we'd love it if you'd hop over to the General Conversation, Introductions and Humor forum and introduce yourself.

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I would agree with

I would agree with DrTerwilliker. I am secularly raised without mention of religion, and I have ne fear of hell what so ever. It never enters my mind, since I haven't been taught it should. I never reflect on that my actions way or may not damn me to hell, or send me to heaven. When I hear stories about the lingering fear of damnation, I consider this a huge advantage. Plus, it is funny to be able to tell theists to their face that they in no way, shape or form can scare me into believing with threats of imaginary things or places.