Am I An Atheist?
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03-11-2016, 02:28 PM (This post was last modified: 03-11-2016 02:33 PM by Keen.)
Am I An Atheist?
Its a weird thing to think about since Ive been indoctrinated into Catholicism since I was born. I am what fellow Catholics would call a cradle Catholic. Ive been religion free for maybe 2 years now? And my parents dont really know although Im certain my mom can sense it. My family is still pretty religious (some of my siblings have followed the same route I have, others have not).

It was a gradual decline with a firery ending.
Ive always loved science! I was home schooled in middle school and eventually sent to a private Catholic high school where as you may assume did NOT teach evolution. We conveniently skipped over it but I didnt even notice. But I loved my biology classes! So of course, going into college I wanted to pursue a scientific degree and enrolled at a community college (I was too poor to go to a full University) and started taking classes.

My first public college Biology class was the ripple in the pond that would eventually lead me to where I am today. The first thing we talked about was Evolution. Now before going to a public school for the first time, I was determined to brighten the world with my religious view points. I was very much of the mind to never hide or shy away from difference of opinion and welcome the challenge to show people just how wrong they are. I wanted to fully understand the world but not "be of the world" as my religious friends would put it. We saw ourselves as shinning beacons of hope in a dark world.

But anyway, my Biology teacher was awesome, she was very enthusiastic and inspiriting and I really liked her. However the first lecture being on Evolution ruffled my feathers...what is this garbage? She even used a quote from passed Pope John Paul II who stated Evolution was not against Catholic teaching. But once I actually learned what Evolution was for the first time, it made SENSE! And I loved it! So then I was faced with a dilemma to twist and turn theology to fit this Evolution view into my faith. And I managed to do it. I am a very slow thinker, I tend to take my time and mull over my thoughts. So I continued on being happy to be a Catholic who believed in Evolution.

I would say such things like "Death is when the soul leaves the body so Life is when the soul enters the body. Therefore in Genesis when God made humans, it was really him breathing their souls in...up until that point he molded them through Evolution so that they were truly in his image."

As well as "Science is like a clock on a wall, its always ticking away no matter what. Religion is the light in the room. Science is still science whether the light is on or off, but it just provides a new way of looking at it"

The next big milestone was homosexuality. I was always very vocal and willing to debate people on anything...but not homosexuality. It was hard for me to make logical arguments outside of "its a sin!" "Its against nature" "Male and female bodies are complimentary for a reason". As a Catholic we were taught to essentially shun homosexuals but still "love" them. I grew more and more disgusted with my fellow Catholics (some who I admired for their faith) say terrible things about LGBTQ+ members. They would refer to them as "those people" or complain about having to watch partners spend time together while one was in the hospital (one of the Catholics saying these things was a nurse). I was disgusted by what I heard.

Then my first real job was sexually harassed by my manager and realized what that Feminism thing was all about. Then I became more and more involved and aware of civil rights and equality which also lead me to wonder why the church doesnt allow female priests and all this other stuff as well as furthering my opinion that LGTBQ+ people were deserving of equal rights and to be respected regardless of who they loved.

Then I met a boy who was really a huge catalyst into helping me see so much more. I liked him a lot. But while I was a conservative Catholic he was a non religious progressive. Oh my did we fight. We talked about everything. But i still really liked him. He eventually helped me evolve and solidify my views...just having someone who cared about you to argue with really helped. I considered his thoughts more than some random person and he considered mine as well. We were pretty polar opposite on tthese things but I came around! The things he would say made more and more sense the more time I spent thinking about them. 4 years later I married him. Heart

I started to see soooo much hypocrisy in my small religious bubble. I would chat on Catholic forums and grow more and more disgusted with the things they would say. I transitioned into someone who wasnt religious...just Spiritual. I dont really know what it meant, but it was empowering to feel like I had transcended the captivity that I willingly put myself in for so long.

Then I start to think about things without God. Whats the point of life without God? Is life really over and there is nothingness? Realizing how small we are in the vastness of the universe. I get extremely depressed thinking that Im going to spend my whole life doing nothing because now, there is no Heaven ultimate goal. I still have a rosary hanging up in my car...I still get a sense of saftey when it is there. I know its just an echo of a feeling from my former life at this point, but I keep it there for some reason.

I cant believe in a God that allows the world to be the way it is. Seems like a big joke. God doesnt make sense to me anymore. Am I an atheist? I havent officially called myself that. It seems like that final step of accepting reality. Ive lost friends because of how Ive changed and been shunned from communities I grew up with. I can tell people view me more as a pariah now...someone who joined the leagues of the dammed. Dont get me wrong though, I am SO happy; happier now than I was before. Just a bit more lonely.
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03-11-2016, 02:57 PM
RE: Am I An Atheist?
Welcome to the forum! I too was a "cradle Catholic" who never questioned her beliefs, but fortunately I was raised in a very progressive, social-justice-y environment, even though my parents were very pious.

I too started questioning the RCC doctrine when I became aware of the church's terribly hypocritical stance on LGBTQ rights, feminist issues, etc.
Basically, the ethics of regular people around me have outpaced the church's, and the RCC can't seem to evolve fast enough to catch up.

I understand your struggle with the symbols of our former faith, like rosaries etc.
I have a hard time getting rid of the many crucifixes that my mother left me when she died this summer; somehow, it seems like I'm emotionally attached to these objects, even though they don't mean anything to me intellectually. I suspect it will take time. The emotional brainwashing is deeper than we realize.

Anyways, don't feel lonely; there are plenty of us ex-Catholics on TTA, and more and more in RL too!
Good luck to you Smile

Your faith is not evidence, your opinion is not fact, and your bias is not wisdom
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03-11-2016, 03:03 PM
RE: Am I An Atheist?
I wouldn't worry so much about what label you apply to yourself.

Focus on a few basic questions:

1) Having discovered some of the ways in which I was misled by the dogmatic teachings of my upbringing (whether you're raised Christian or in any other social-belief structure, including atheistic ones, there will be elements of social dogma that will try to skew your thinking, and need to be challenged), what can I do to ensure that I am intellectually honest about how I review new information?

2) Are my beliefs about what is true based on the best available evidence, reviewed as objectively as possible in order to try to eliminate any biases I may have picked up along the way?

3) Am I making sure to always acknowledge that I could be wrong, and focusing on the method(s) of knowing, rather than the outcome/conclusions?

Beyond those basics of being an intellectually honest person, it really doesn't matter what label you wear. If you honestly conclude, after reviewing all the available data as honestly and scrupulously as possible, that theism is the correct conclusion, then good on you.

What you should never do, though, is to be (or not be) an atheist (or any other belief/identity) because others say it is or is not a good idea. The truth is the truth, regardless of how or if we apprehend it.

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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03-11-2016, 03:06 PM
RE: Am I An Atheist?
Welcome to TTA.

Do you believe there is any kind of god? If not, you are an atheist.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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03-11-2016, 03:12 PM
RE: Am I An Atheist?
(03-11-2016 02:28 PM)Keen Wrote:  Its a weird thing to think about since Ive been indoctrinated into Catholicism since I was born. I am what fellow Catholics would call a cradle Catholic. Ive been religion free for maybe 2 years now? And my parents dont really know although Im certain my mom can sense it. My family is still pretty religious (some of my siblings have followed the same route I have, others have not).

It was a gradual decline with a firery ending.
Ive always loved science! I was home schooled in middle school and eventually sent to a private Catholic high school where as you may assume did NOT teach evolution. We conveniently skipped over it but I didnt even notice. But I loved my biology classes! So of course, going into college I wanted to pursue a scientific degree and enrolled at a community college (I was too poor to go to a full University) and started taking classes.

My first public college Biology class was the ripple in the pond that would eventually lead me to where I am today. The first thing we talked about was Evolution. Now before going to a public school for the first time, I was determined to brighten the world with my religious view points. I was very much of the mind to never hide or shy away from difference of opinion and welcome the challenge to show people just how wrong they are. I wanted to fully understand the world but not "be of the world" as my religious friends would put it. We saw ourselves as shinning beacons of hope in a dark world.

But anyway, my Biology teacher was awesome, she was very enthusiastic and inspiriting and I really liked her. However the first lecture being on Evolution ruffled my feathers...what is this garbage? She even used a quote from passed Pope John Paul II who stated Evolution was not against Catholic teaching. But once I actually learned what Evolution was for the first time, it made SENSE! And I loved it! So then I was faced with a dilemma to twist and turn theology to fit this Evolution view into my faith. And I managed to do it. I am a very slow thinker, I tend to take my time and mull over my thoughts. So I continued on being happy to be a Catholic who believed in Evolution.

I would say such things like "Death is when the soul leaves the body so Life is when the soul enters the body. Therefore in Genesis when God made humans, it was really him breathing their souls in...up until that point he molded them through Evolution so that they were truly in his image."

As well as "Science is like a clock on a wall, its always ticking away no matter what. Religion is the light in the room. Science is still science whether the light is on or off, but it just provides a new way of looking at it"

The next big milestone was homosexuality. I was always very vocal and willing to debate people on anything...but not homosexuality. It was hard for me to make logical arguments outside of "its a sin!" "Its against nature" "Male and female bodies are complimentary for a reason". As a Catholic we were taught to essentially shun homosexuals but still "love" them. I grew more and more disgusted with my fellow Catholics (some who I admired for their faith) say terrible things about LGBTQ+ members. They would refer to them as "those people" or complain about having to watch partners spend time together while one was in the hospital (one of the Catholics saying these things was a nurse). I was disgusted by what I heard.

Then my first real job was sexually harassed by my manager and realized what that Feminism thing was all about. Then I became more and more involved and aware of civil rights and equality which also lead me to wonder why the church doesnt allow female priests and all this other stuff as well as furthering my opinion that LGTBQ+ people were deserving of equal rights and to be respected regardless of who they loved.

Then I met a boy who was really a huge catalyst into helping me see so much more. I liked him a lot. But while I was a conservative Catholic he was a non religious progressive. Oh my did we fight. We talked about everything. But i still really liked him. He eventually helped me evolve and solidify my views...just having someone who cared about you to argue with really helped. I considered his thoughts more than some random person and he considered mine as well. We were pretty polar opposite on tthese things but I came around! The things he would say made more and more sense the more time I spent thinking about them. 4 years later I married him. Heart

I started to see soooo much hypocrisy in my small religious bubble. I would chat on Catholic forums and grow more and more disgusted with the things they would say. I transitioned into someone who wasnt religious...just Spiritual. I dont really know what it meant, but it was empowering to feel like I had transcended the captivity that I willingly put myself in for so long.

Then I start to think about things without God. Whats the point of life without God? Is life really over and there is nothingness? Realizing how small we are in the vastness of the universe. I get extremely depressed thinking that Im going to spend my whole life doing nothing because now, there is no Heaven ultimate goal. I still have a rosary hanging up in my car...I still get a sense of saftey when it is there. I know its just an echo of a feeling from my former life at this point, but I keep it there for some reason.

I cant believe in a God that allows the world to be the way it is. Seems like a big joke. God doesnt make sense to me anymore. Am I an atheist? I havent officially called myself that. It seems like that final step of accepting reality. Ive lost friends because of how Ive changed and been shunned from communities I grew up with. I can tell people view me more as a pariah now...someone who joined the leagues of the dammed. Dont get me wrong though, I am SO happy; happier now than I was before. Just a bit more lonely.

Sorry to hear about the struggle. But many of us have been threw it. I was a Roman Catholic till I was in my early 20's then I spent the rest of the years as a theist. then fading into an agnostic theist position then agnostic, now agnostic atheist.

If you want to know if you're an Atheist or not. Answer this one simple question.

Do you believe it is possible for a god to exist?

If no. Congratulations you're an atheist!

As the saying goes it's always darkest before the dawn. If you feel like venting or questioning there are many people and threads here that will help you threw it.

Don't Live each day like it's your last. Live each day like you have 541 days after that one where every choice you make will have lasting implications to you and the world around you. ~ Tim Minchin
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03-11-2016, 05:32 PM (This post was last modified: 03-11-2016 06:57 PM by Shai Hulud.)
RE: Am I An Atheist?
Quote:I would chat on Catholic forums and grow more and more disgusted with the things they would say.
*cough* If they were all like the one, I can't blame you. Because they treated you like less than crap for asking questions and not blindly following the political party line.

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03-11-2016, 07:11 PM
RE: Am I An Atheist?
Welcome!

Ex-RCC, broke away at 19 when the hypocrisy became painfully obvious. Theism crumbles with critical thinking.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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03-11-2016, 07:26 PM
RE: Am I An Atheist?
In answer to your very long question/novel/crime fantasy story. My answer would be, Yes. You are an atheist.

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04-11-2016, 09:08 AM
RE: Am I An Atheist?
(03-11-2016 02:28 PM)Keen Wrote:  Then I start to think about things without God. Whats the point of life without God? Is life really over and there is nothingness? Realizing how small we are in the vastness of the universe. I get extremely depressed thinking that Im going to spend my whole life doing nothing because now, there is no Heaven ultimate goal. I still have a rosary hanging up in my car...I still get a sense of saftey when it is there. I know its just an echo of a feeling from my former life at this point, but I keep it there for some reason.

I think you're just going through the normal phases of letting go of the religion. When I left Catholicism, it took me probably 10 years or so to completely let go. I had been in deeply enough to give serious consideration to becoming a priest so I had a lot to leave behind. When I first realized Catholicism wasn't for me anymore, I was filled with fear that I might be wrong. I prayed many times for God to help bring me back. After months, I finally accepted my faith was gone and it was ok.

But I still wasn't ready to let go of all woo. So I considered other religions and modes of spirituality and got side-tracked in some new age crap for a while. Eventually, I realized that was garbage too and let go of it all. Then I still had to deal with the occasional fears of hell that would creep up now and then giving me doubts about whether I was right in my disbelief. It didn't help that family members would remind me either. After that 10 years or so, I was finally 100% certain and comfortable that I was right to leave all the woo behind. So it just takes time.

Even so, I still had kept my favorite religious trinket which was a medal in the shape of a plus (more or less a cross) that had 4 Catholic medals on it, one on each branch of the plus and which had been blessed by a priest back when I had faith. (This may be similar to you keeping your Rosary hanging in your car.) Somehow it just felt wrong/disrespectful to throw that away and I didn't want to let my family know that I still had it. So I didn't give it to any of them and knew no one else to give it to since I had moved to a different state. So I held onto it until just a few years ago (25+ years after leaving Catholicism). One day I looked at it and thought what am I concerned about? In the trash it finally went. Again, it just takes time.

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04-11-2016, 09:51 AM
RE: Am I An Atheist?
Thank you all for the thoughtful replies!!!!!!! My friend Shai Hulud turned me onto this site. Im excited to keep reading and learning alongside everyone else.

(03-11-2016 02:57 PM)Reducetarian Wrote:  Basically, the ethics of regular people around me have outpaced the church's, and the RCC can't seem to evolve fast enough to catch up.

This is pretty much how I felt!! That my religion wasnt able to handle these new questions arising and they still arent. Esp concerning LGTBQ+, women's rights, and other things. Maybe they will get there, but its an extremely slow train and there are lots of traditionalists that would rather die than see the church attempt new approaches with dealing with them.

(03-11-2016 03:03 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  3) Am I making sure to always acknowledge that I could be wrong, and focusing on the method(s) of knowing, rather than the outcome/conclusions?

Beyond those basics of being an intellectually honest person, it really doesn't matter what label you wear. If you honestly conclude, after reviewing all the available data as honestly and scrupulously as possible, that theism is the correct conclusion, then good on you.

This is something that Ive clung to. Sometimes its harder than other when I dont want to be wrong, but thats human nature I guess. Ive forced myself to always listen and consider every thought.

(04-11-2016 09:08 AM)Impulse Wrote:  But I still wasn't ready to let go of all woo. So I considered other religions and modes of spirituality and got side-tracked in some new age crap for a while. Eventually, I realized that was garbage too and let go of it all. Then I still had to deal with the occasional fears of hell that would creep up now and then giving me doubts about whether I was right in my disbelief. It didn't help that family members would remind me either. After that 10 years or so, I was finally 100% certain and comfortable that I was right to leave all the woo behind. So it just takes time.

There are certain tenants of other religions that I enjoy, particularly Buddhism and how they view personal truths but Im not sure if that is as much spirituality than a way of appreciating everyone's individuality. And in general, I like religion but only in the sense of lore from a story book. They are pretty fascination tales and I have always enjoyed a good fairy tale Tongue (Big fan of hans christian andersen)
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