Greetings and salutations
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06-10-2011, 06:49 PM
 
Greetings and salutations
I'm never sure where to start off with these introductions. I'm from Austin, Tx and while I watch the Atheist Experience I have not yet been brave enough to go to any of their social events. I am much more shy than in person than I am on the internet. I am a Nanny, a writer, and I live with my best friend who happens to be an Evangelical Christian. I suppose the most common assumption about me is that I am a guy. I'm not sure why, other than that I have never been very girly and this sometimes comes across in my speech. Allow me to state very clearly that I do, in fact, have boobs.
I was born an atheist and raised a Christian. My deconversion started when I became a Mormon. I know that sounds really strange, but join me on this ride through crazy town because it has a nice view.
I was a very devout Christian and believed the Bible literally. I believed that God was big enough and strong enough to enable me to witness effectively to people of other faiths. Where my friends and family sometimes shied away, I dove in head first. Pagans, Mormons, Jehova's Witnesses; no religion or faith was daunting enough to prevent me from Sharing My Testimony.
When the Mormon's came to my door and asked me to keep a copy of the Book of Mormon and pray about it, that sounded perfectly reasonable to me. After all, I believed I was called to pray about all things, to bring all my questions to the Lord, etc. Long story short, I became a Mormon in much the same way I became a Christian; I prayed about it, I "felt the truth of it," and I did what I'd been trained to do.
I accepted this new calling with all my heart.
I noted at the time that even though I was using the same methods my Christian family had used when they moved from Catholicism to Evangelical Christianity, my own attempts to "follow the will of God" were seen not only as heretical but also "irrational." I remember distinctly my Father saying I had been indoctrinated and my Mother telling me "The minute you took that book you invited the Devil into your heart."
So there it was, I was a heretical, irrational Satanist-Mormon. Obviously, I'd never really been a true Christian. Clearly I couldn't tell the difference between the voice of the Devil and the voice of God because, my sister informed me, the Devil could disguise himself as God during prayer. She went so far as to tell me that my now ex-husband had "The Devil in his voice."
I was completely floored to find that the rules to belief were so subjective, that they only applied when you were following the approved script, and that prayer (considered sacred and private by my family and their church) could be so easily manipulated by The Enemy.
Still, I believed what I believed and I was happy. I have to say that, in all that time spent being religious, I was happiest as a Mormon because it was my decision. Had I not arrived at the conclusion that there simply was no God (and had bisexuality not been so maligned) I think it's safe to say I'd have stayed content to be a Mormon.
I remember distinctly the moment I arrived at disbelief. I was sitting in my car on the way home from work contemplating the fact that I simply was not sexually attracted to my husband. Not only that, but he was rough in his language and manners. He smoke and swore and once threw a cat at my head. He went beyond actions simply "frowned on" by the Church and moved well into flat out abuse by our second year of marriage.
I am a Nanny, and at the time I had a Jewish client. I was considering how she and her entire family were as good as the best Christians or Mormons I'd ever known. It struck me for the first time in my life at the age of 27 that a persons morality and ethical behavior were not dependent upon their belief system.
I put this together with the notion that every religious person I've ever talked to has referenced their "Witness" or "Moment of deep spiritual realization." If every religion could be proven to the believer on the same system of experiential evidence, then couldn't they all be equally wrong? And assuming they are all equally wrong, and that good or bad people can belong to any faith, is a God even necessary to explain mankind's "nature?"
And, of course, the simplest answer came to me as the most likely conclusion; goodness does not require a god.
I was terrified by this notion. It took me two years of desperately trying to Get Back My Faith before I realized I simply didn't believe. I'd had moments of doubt before but those had always been driven away by the deep emotions I felt during revivals and sermons. But I was starting to realize that the swells I felt during the hymns weren't so different from the feelings engendered by any piece of classical music.
Attending college drove the last nail in the coffin of my delusion. The universe didn't require a God to exist. I then began looking at the difference between Agnostic and Atheist and discovered that it is mostly a difference in semantics. Though I was terrified to do so at the time I began looking into prominent Atheists and came across Dawkins and Harris straight off the bat. The God Delusion and Letter To A Christian Nation made me realize that I wasn't the one acting irrationally. I had simply followed the courses of religion and science and arrived at the most rational conclusion.
I only recently discovered The Thinking Atheist podcasts and I've really enjoyed them. I find that a lot of conversations are led by life long Atheists and that these tend to end with a lot of yelling from all sides of the field. While I am an Atheist I consider myself "soft" in that I am an Atheist by default. I think, there for I am not religious.
I still enjoy studying the different religions of the world. Free from the shackles of my own beliefs I can evaluate each on their merits. I also spend a great deal of time studying logical fallacies and learning how to combat them. I wish I could say I was good at it but when faced with religious authority figures I still clam up. I imagine that this, with other learned behaviors, will lessen with time and practice.
I look forward to getting to know everyone here. While Atheists as a community don't always agree, the fact that we can (usually) have those discussions rationally gives me a sense of pride. I enjoy reading the stories of others who have come out of religious backgrounds as well as the harrowing adventures of Atheists who bring their opinions into the public forum.
Cheers!
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07-10-2011, 02:59 AM
RE: Greetings and salutations
Wow. I gotta be honest, I almost didn't read that intro. I'm glad I did. You write very well. It's a casual, yet organized style that makes what you write easy to read and follow. Plus your story is familiar but great just the same.

Welcome.

Just visiting.

-SR
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07-10-2011, 09:07 AM
RE: Greetings and salutations
Nice introduction, I was somewhat reluctant to read the whole thing at first (being extremely lazy), but I'm glad I did it anyway.

Welcome to the forum. I hope you enjoy your time here.

Grtz!

"Infinitus est numerus stultorum." (The number of fools is infinite)
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07-10-2011, 10:41 AM
RE: Greetings and salutations
Thank you for sharing your refreshing, personal journey, thus far. I say refreshing because we sometimes take for granted or simply forget that a single step or even a passing phrase can shift our perspective and indeed, change our lives.
As different as we all are here, we're still the same; we've all come to the relatively similar conclusion that goodness, or morality, or even existence, does not require a God with a corresponding system of beliefs. It often takes time to discard God based beliefs to discover a system of reason and connect it with our existence.
Welcome to the forum Rabidtreeweasel.
Cool Have a great weekend.

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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07-10-2011, 11:28 AM
 
RE: Greetings and salutations
I know my posts tend to be extremely lengthy; thank you for taking the time to read it!

@Kim:
"we sometimes take for granted or simply forget that a single step or even a passing phrase can shift our perspective and indeed, change our lives. "

So true! I have always enjoyed having the ability to look back at my life and say, "That moment, there, I started to diverge." It might not be a noticeable change at the time but when a large paradigm shift occurs it makes sense that it is the result of small changes along the way.

(It occurs to me that that last sentence, taken in isolation, very nearly describes micro-macro evolutionTongue)
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07-10-2011, 07:02 PM
RE: Greetings and salutations
Glad to have you aboard! I will also say that I nearly wasn't going to read this introduction, as most tend to be short and my attention sways so very easily. But I did and I'm glad I did, you like Stark pointed out, write very well, making it easy to read and understand. Maybe you should look into that.
Compelling story as well, mines not so grand so I always enjoy reading everyone elses' because they are more interesting. Not because I enjoy to read about torment or anything Wink

Oh and Stark I am a guy, I'd have responded to the other post but I've lost it.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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08-10-2011, 03:38 PM
RE: Greetings and salutations
(06-10-2011 06:49 PM)Rabidtreeweasel Wrote:  I suppose the most common assumption about me is that I am a guy. I'm not sure why, other than that I have never been very girly and this sometimes comes across in my speech. Allow me to state very clearly that I do, in fact, have boobs.

Wait ... but I've got boobs too ... so confused ...

(06-10-2011 06:49 PM)Rabidtreeweasel Wrote:  My deconversion started when I became a Mormon.

The Mormons almost got me some 30 years ago. They came to my house every week for a month or so. When I finally got around to asking them how this polygamy tihng worked they said, "Oh, we don't do that anymore." I went ballistic. "Jesus Christ! I just assumed that me giving up the booze and tobacco was in exchange for more pussy. Get the fuck out of my house!" ... Nice people, though. At least the ones I know.

I am us and we is me. ... bitches.
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