Atheists/agnostics - what made you leave religion?
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22-12-2012, 12:30 AM (This post was last modified: 22-12-2012 12:33 AM by Flowergurl.)
RE: Atheists/agnostics - what made you leave religion?
I always had doubts about the truth of the Bible as a teenager, but back then I thought that it was the devil. "The devil made me think that." The doubts subsided when I got involved in a lively Word church that sang great worship songs and taught deep messages.
Later last year, my sister told me that she is a lesbian (Her whole life, of course. She was born that way.) and I suddenly became very protective over her when Christians would speak of homosexuality in the way that they do. It also scared the hell out of me (haha) when my Mom chased me down the sidewalk one afternoon after learning that I was dating a Muslim at the time. She cried, yanked on my arm, and cast Satan out of me. It was so scary!!!
Combine that with countless people who have died while believing in God for their healing, being told that I have a demon on me by my own Pastor because I disagreed with the "Wives submit to your husbands doctrine", and just an overall observation of life and the world around me, I finally came to where I am now.
I have to admit - it is still a little scary to be transitioning into an agnostic person. But... I actually feel relieved. The worst part is having to keep it a secret from my parents and sister and cousins who are all Christian. I could never tell them. It would actually kill my parents. The way my mom reacted when my sister told her that she was a lesbian hints at how traumatized she would be if she thought I had "blasphemed the Holy Spirit." I couldn't do that to her or Dad.
I also don't think I can ever bring myself to vocally admit that I do not believe in God. But I would like to idenify myself as an agnostic.
Also, maybe this sounds odd, but it always freaked me out and blew my mind at the thought of living forever and ever and ever in Heaven. I used to think... do I even want that? What would we do to kill the time after 10 million years run out? I mean, it would be wonderful to be able to spend time with loved ones after death, but... forever?

Oh, and an even bigger relief is that there actually aren't billions of screaming people in agony in Hell somewhere.
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05-01-2013, 10:47 PM
RE: Atheists/agnostics - what made you leave religion?
Like FG above, the whole stance on women doesn't sit well with me. I just can't seem to shut the fuck up and be a good little Christian woman!

I went to church some as a child. My grandmother was Pentecostal, so I went with her sometimes. This was in the south at the height of the charismatic/rapture apocalyptic crap in the 70s, so I was scared into believing because I didn't want to be left behind. I was 8 or 9 then. I got away from that, didn't follow anything as my mother is not religious. In young adulthood I went to college, met ppl of different or no faiths, started doing the dangerous thing of thinking and decided I'm agnostic. In my mid 20s I married a catholic and at some point decided I felt at home there since no one was speaking frenzied gibberish or rolling in the aisles. I wasn't worried too much about the literal belief and thought it a moral way to live and raise our son. Funny how I used birth control most of the marriage! Got divorced, married again, got divorced again (this covers many years, I'm now 48) and am dating a nondenominational Christian. Of course, despite all the forgiveness and redemption talk, the Catholic Church has no use for divorced ppl so I drifted out of that after the first divorce. Got busy working, raising son,and living life and didn't worry about my soul or afterlife too much.

BF respects that I'm not religious and knows I'm agnostic. I told him this up front when we started dating over 3 years ago. But a couple of years back I discovered Dawkins, Hitchens, Carrier, and company and my brain couldn't get enough. They wrote what I'd thought and then some, with science having come a long way since I was a child (genome mapping, DNA, evolutionary biology, physics)-wow! I read deist authors like Paine and enjoyed that too, though I don't think a detached god has much of a point. I read deconversion stories like Seth's and Dan Barker's and they outlined the contradictions, horrors, and silliness of it all. I read some Christian apologists (WL Craig, what drivel) to get a balanced view and just to see if I could find some common ground since most everyone here is Christian, but there are just too many mental gymnastics and rationalizations I can't abide.

So here I am. I stay in the closet mostly here in the Bible Belt because I don't need any professional consequences and because the discussions I've had with theists get nowhere and just piss them and me off, so I only discuss it with ppl I can trust or hope I can. But I'm finding like minded ppl even here, in the south in middle age, which is encouraging. I even have a couple of friends in their 60s who are atheists too. I think the climate here is sloooooowly changing and maybe in my lifetime it will be at least somewhat tolerated to be a nonbeliever. My mother is supportive since she is not religious (grew up Methodist but never really went back much as an adult). My brother is pentecostal and has finally given up trying to convert our mother and me. He just kicked cancer after fighting it for a year and a half, so we just pull together as a family no matter what the beliefs are. I'm just glad we can after reading some of the horror stories here about family reactions.

Glad to find this board and to be able to discuss this openly and with some very intelligent and hilarious ppl!

Godless in the Magnolia State
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05-01-2013, 11:16 PM
RE: Atheists/agnostics - what made you leave religion?
Essentially the same reason everyone leaves, because of realizing it was nonsense. I did this at a rather young age so It was a lot like realizing Santa wasn't real. It of course is very different in one respect, many people never realize it's just a story.

In regards to the title of the thread, I think you might have Atheism and Agnosticism confused, please correct me If I am wrong.

Theist and Atheist are two different positions on the god hypothesis, one believing there is a god and one not believing there is a god.

Gnostic and Agnostic refer to certainty and uncertainty. Someone that is Gnostic about god is certain there is a god, while an Agnostic is uncertain of whether the god hypothesis is correct or not. This does not mean they think that the chances of it being correct and wrong are necessarily 50/50.

So anyone that rejects the god hypothesis, meaning for any reason they are not convinced a god exists, is an Atheist.
People tend to think atheism is the certainty of no god, which is not true. A Gnostic Atheist is certain there is no god, while an Agnostic Atheist (Which is all atheists I know) is one that is uncertain.

Theists can also be gnostic or agnostic. I hope this makes sense.

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06-01-2013, 04:10 AM
RE: Atheists/agnostics - what made you leave religion?
(05-01-2013 11:16 PM)Aspchizo Wrote:  So anyone that rejects the god hypothesis, meaning for any reason they are not convinced a god exists, is an Atheist.
A de facto atheist, that is. Smartass

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06-01-2013, 01:06 PM
RE: Atheists/agnostics - what made you leave religion?
What made me leave religion? Well, it wasn't one particular thing that caused a big boom, it was a process that lasted maybe just a couple of years of thinking and analyzing during my childhood. I can summarize a few key things:

1. Illogical stories that made no sense
2. Inconsistence between the people's actions and words
3. Mind control using fear
4. Oppression of women
5. Worshipping torture in shape of a naked guy hanging on a cross

And then I thought, wow, those adults are far worse than if I'd have believed in Santa Claus or the Easter bunny, how can they so stupid, I wondered... I haven't found an answer to this question yet.

"Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return, and we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself." (Carl Sagan)
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07-01-2013, 12:43 AM
RE: Atheists/agnostics - what made you leave religion?
Ex-Jehovah's Witness here. I'm 31 and have been out for well over 10 years now. I was born into a JW family and raised strictly in it's beliefs. I think I can track my deviation from the cult simply, but the details are what really did it for me. I'll try to be brief.

Scared believer - The Early Years
All the bible stories were true, but God could be incredibly frightening. Demons everywhere. Have to tell everyone at school my beliefs and why I don't celebrate holidays and be different. Couldn't wait for Paradise to come so I could play with lions, and cheetahs, and bears, never get sick, and fly (yes, I know flying isn't part of the dogma-- who knows why I believed it).

Shamed believer - PreTeen/Tween/Early Teens
I quickly became publicly embarrassed about my beliefs and knocking on doors. At one time (not knowing what masturbation was, but hearing it was a horrible affront to Jehovah), I experienced incredible anguish simply for getting erections. Sexual shame. God saw me and hated me. Depression begins.

Shamed baptised publisher - 14 yrs
People kept asking me, "Why aren't you baptized yet?" and so I succumbed to the pressure, even though I felt unworthy, to please my family and congregation and the elders. It was what was expected and seemed like the only thing I could do.

Schitzoid believer
What the elders and overseers called "worldly things" were so much fun, I split my life in two so that there was a me I was at school who liked hard rock, cussed, dirty jokes, violent movies and video games, etc and the fake me at the Kingdom Hall who was well-respected for being devout, clean, giving good talks in front of the KH, and regularly going out and knocking on your doors.

Rebel - 18
I ran away with a girl (also raised JW) and we lived together in her home city. Told everyone we were married, but some elders didn't believe us. They set up elders meetings to try to get the truth out of us. We began smoking pot. One elder even began stalking us. Showed up at our apartment. Peeking in the blinds when we wouldn't answer the door. We moved back to my home town to try to escape the heat.

Pariah - 19

In my hometown, people were wary. People I'd known my whole life treated us like we weren't wanted.

Disfellowshipped outcast - 19,20
Elders were ratted to that we were smoking pot. They disfellowshipped us. No one, including most of the family and everyone who said they'd be there with us through thick and thin and through Armageddon so much as greeted us. This woke me up. All these people professing their love and solidarity. If they actually believed we were "spiritually sick", why wouldn't they try to help us.

A painful psychological and emotional restructuring hits full force, but I felt a tremendous amount of empowerment taking my life into my own hands. Consequently, the shame and depression began to go away. Big Grin

Agnostic - 21 to 27 or so
I realized that they were wrong. All religions were wrong. We moved back to her city. Rarely attended meetings. I still believed in God because I thought the universe had to come from somewhere. Began believing in evolution. Looking into buddhism and other non-Chirtsian ways of life including dabbling in pagan ways like the asatru inspired by my new found interest in genealogy and my familial link to the ancient northern European nations.

Atheist - ~27 to Present
Richard Dawkin's 'The God Delusion' helped me realize that I needed to get off of the fence. It helped me realize that I was in fact an atheist and that was okay. Smile I began reading other secular literature and feeling very optimistic and at home, for once in my life.

Hardly brief *lol*, but there it is.

"The problem with faith is that it really is a conversation stopper. Faith is a declaration of immunity to the powers of conversation. It is a reason why you do not have to give reasons for what you believe." - Sam Harris
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09-01-2013, 05:33 PM
RE: Atheists/agnostics - what made you leave religion?
So shunning a beloved family member for disagreeing is what God and Jesus think is right?! That makes sense....

So sorry for what you've had to go through, SingingBear.

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09-01-2013, 05:39 PM
RE: Atheists/agnostics - what made you leave religion?
The hypocrisy...that was the big thing for me. I'd love to think it was only in the church and school I attended but sadly it's not.

It really wasn't the contradictions in the Bible or the whole blind faith concept (which I just can't do). It was watching those who claimed to be good Catholics do the things they weren't supposed to do and then show up for mass in their finery...say a few prayers, ask a priest for forgiveness, and drop some cash in the collection basket. And then go out and break all the rules again. It was a disgusting display.

'See here they are, the bruises, some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way.' -JF
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22-01-2013, 03:07 AM
RE: Atheists/agnostics - what made you leave religion?
I never gave up religion.
In the same way I never gave up Father Christmas.
I simply grew out of it around the time most kids do I guess.
I was 9 or 10.
It was not until much later I realised how insidious religion is.
Or Christianity at least.
They sells the kids on Baby Jesus and the Animals going in 2 by 2.
All the kids love the Ark.
And then they pile on the sin.
Luckily I live in England and we have pretty much grown out of religion.

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22-01-2013, 03:10 AM
RE: Atheists/agnostics - what made you leave religion?
Thank you, CJS.

"The problem with faith is that it really is a conversation stopper. Faith is a declaration of immunity to the powers of conversation. It is a reason why you do not have to give reasons for what you believe." - Sam Harris
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