How a Jehovah's Witness (me) became an atheist (also me)
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15-08-2014, 04:30 PM
How a Jehovah's Witness (me) became an atheist (also me)
Greetings, comrades, friends, brothers and sisters, I hope I can say.
(Yes, I am a fan of the late, the great Christopher Hitchens)

A few weeks ago I finally admitted to my wife, my friends and all of my family, that I had become an atheist. I admitted the same thing to myself about a year ago, but kept it a secret from others in my life for all this time, not to protect myself, but more to protect _them_.

I became a Jehovah's Witness full memeber at age 16, though I went to the meetings since I was 11 years old. I was introduced to the organization and the faith by my aunt, who remains a witness to this day and probably will for life. I found comfort and safety from my abusive father and depressive mother in the organization and quickly made lots of friends (all of whom also remain witnesses and most likely will for life). I admit I liked the faith, the meetings, the songs, how polite and nice all of the people were and eventually I decided to join. I had believed in the biblical god for most of my life, for reasons I could never really remember (parents, perhaps, but I really cannot tell), so it wasn't too much of a stretch for me to start believing in god and the bible in exactly the way that JW did/do.

I remained an active member for the next seven years and all this time, I tried to be the one person, who could strengthen the faith of all others around me, I wanted to be the rock that others could lean on and come and ask: do you have any good arguments in support of this or that belief? I thought I did have such arguments, for a long time. My desire to reach everyone, including atheists, lead me to research the reasons, why I believed that many could not believe in a creative deity, so I decided to look deep into the science behind the big bang theory and - of course - the theory of evolution. I also watched a ton of debates between the likes of Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris etc on the one side and John Lennox, William Lane Craig etc. on the other side. What I came to realize was this: the religious DIDN'T HAVE ANY good arguments at all. That is not to say that I agreed with everything Hitchens and the other atheists were saying (I still don't, even The Hitch made mistakes), but I could cearly see, who cared more about the truth, science and morality.

In desperation I turned back to the bible and to the publications of the Watchtower Society, particularly to two brochures: "Was Life Created" and "The Origin Of Life: Five Questions Worth Asking." I decided to read them as honestly as possible, I decided to try to debunk what I read. After all, if it was the truth, then it could have and should have and WOULD HAVE stood up to such scrutiny. But it didn't. At all. I soon realized that I could not only debunk pretty much every argument made in those publications, but that I - having read quite many books on science and also quite many articles in scientific magazines - could also point out one mined quotation, taken out of context, after another. These were and still are, at best, publications meant to make people believe, not think, and at worst, publications designed to make people more ignorant than they were before reading them.

And so I began to look at everything I believed and everything I had been taught and everything I had indoctrinated myself to accept, in a new light. Slowly, but surely, I became less and less afraid of the truth, less and less afraid of doubt, one of the most essential elements of thought, one of the most essential characteristics of a true thinker and in less than a year, I realized, that I could no longer believe any of the metaphysical - and some of the moral - claims of the Watchtower Society.

I revealed my thoughts to my wife (a sincere believer to this day) and she began to cry almost immediately. She felt betrayed and I felt like a traitor. I tried to explain to her that I still loved her just as much, that I would never leave her, but it made little difference. "I thought you loved Jehovah", she said and those words and her tears cut through my heart like a fiery double-edged sword. She begged me to write to an Elder (higher-ups of the congregations), that she trusted, so I did. This is is what I wrote:

"I can no longer believe the metaphysical claims of our religion. If God exists, then I need good reasons to believe that he exists and that my life should belong to him. If I was given such evidence, I would happily remain a Jehovah's Witness. I have no intention of doing anything immoral and I do not wish to leave, I just need evidence."

The Elder pretty much wrote this in his response:

"I think you don't want evidence, I think you just want to be god yourself. God doesn't need people, who are serving him against their will, so he will provide you with no evidence and neither will I."

It goes without saying, that I was shocked at this response. My wife on the other hand said: "I know exactly what he means, this is a good response to your problems."

And I was double-shocked. How could anyone think that the elder's response was

a) kind?
b) reasonable?
c) any good at all?

So after having lost faith in god, I now pretty much lost all faith in "his" organization too. I spoke to several other local elders and one of them ACTUALLY SAID: "Apostle Paul warned us about science. Why would you go read the garbage that satan's world produces in their science magazines?"

I had had enough, but I did not write a letter of disassociation yet, instead, my wife and I went to the annual Jehovah's Witness convention in Tallinn, Estonia. As it happened, this was the convention where a member of the governing body (leaders of JW) announced the release of the New World Translation of the bible in Estonian (my native language). There were a ton of speeches as usual and I could feel myself becoming more of an atheist with every speech I heard. I was especially disturbed by a speaker, who encouraged parents to "make bible characters (and Jehovah) real to their children". I remember thinking: this is childhood indoctrination, they are WAY too young to tell reality apart from fiction, you could literally raise them up to believe in Cthulu, if you replaced Jehovah with that deity. This. Is. WRONG.

We went home and the next day I saw a news article about the convention on a local internet news site. There were some JW commenting there, trying to persuade readers, that the 2nd law of thermodynamics makes evolution impossible, that the bible is accurate, that the universe is fine-tuned for life etc. I was so irritated by this misinformation that I began to debate them online, I explained (amognst other things), what evolution actually was, that the 2nd law of thermodynamics applies only to closed systems, that 99,9% of everything being extinct does not equal a very good design etc. My wife discovered my comments and asked me whether I was the author, I confessed. I had really had enough, I could no longer stand by and let scientific illiterates lie to people, not when I could correct them and provide sources for my objections to their claims.

"This is apostasy", my wife said and promised to contact the elders, to let them know. As I realized that I was indeed being an "apostate" by the JW definition, I decided to contact the elders myself. I wrote to them, that I no longer believed in god, that I intended to fight for scientific truth and oppose creationism and that they could do whatever they wanted to me. The same day, I also posted a long article on FB, saying that I was an atheist and listed my reasons for rejecting the central doctrines of JW. That day, more than 40 people "unfriended" me without saying goodbye. The Watchtower Society forbids contact with former members, so it did not come as a surprise to me. A few of my closer friends said goodbye via PM and needless to say, I cried a lot that day and almost felt like jumping off a building.

That was five days ago. I am still grieving for all the friends I have lost to doctrine and faith, I am still saddened over the pain that my wife feels, I feel more and more alone every day, BUT, I also feel that my consciene is clean, I have found some peace, at least. As I used to work for a member of the organization, so I am not entirely sure how I will make money in the future, but I have considered a few options, including becoming a writer (I have written a book, it just needs polishing) or a musician (I have written over 70 songs in the style of symphonic prog rock, but those too need polishing) or simply doing whatever work I can find. I have some savings, so I should be alright.

As for my wife, she has accepted the situation much faster than I hoped she would. She is anything, but stupid, she is anything, but unkind. I married her for a reason. We still love each other very much and have agreed to stay together and work things out somehow. She is the love of my life and I will let no imaginary god and no earthly organization come between the two of us.

And as for The Watchtower Society and Jehovah's Witnesses, I place some blame on the Governing Body and the people writing those terrible anti-science books and brochures and magazines, but not too much. I place no blame at all onto the people who got me into the faith, because they sincerely believed that they were doing the best thing they could ever do for me. Pretty much every JW that I have ever met, including elders and some really high ranking members (overseers and such), have been sincere. Nobody fakes it that well, they actually believe that they are doing god's work and helping people. Heck, even the governing body members might be sincere. A former member of the governing body (Ray Franz) used the phrase "victims of victims" about Jehovah's Witnesses and their leaders and I think that this might be the most accurate description of this organization that has ever been made or that could ever be made. The blame, therefore, in my opinion lies with man's religious nature, with man's desire to find simple answers to problems that may have complicated answers or no answers at all. A lot of the information that one can find on the web about Jehovah's Witnesses is out-right lies, mostly spread by members of competing religions, they are NOT that bad. They are not bad at all, they are victims and the victims of victims.

Now there is one less victim, one less caged bird. One less person, who is willing to assert as fact that, which is not evidently true ( quoting AronRa), one less person, who is willing to assert without evidence that, which can be dismissed without evidence (quoting Hitchens), one less person, who is willing to surrender to peer pressure, rather than peer-review (quoting myself), one less person afraid to doubt, one less Jehovah's Witness.

And one more atheist, rationalist, humanist and scientific skeptic. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God will bring a better future. I believe that only rational humans can bring a better future. Let my contributions to that future begin, today.

Thank You everyone, who is going to read this, responses are MOST welcome.

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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15-08-2014, 04:34 PM
RE: How a Jehovah's Witness (me) became an atheist (also me)
Welcome to our forum! Glad to have you here.


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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21-08-2014, 08:25 AM
RE: How a Jehovah's Witness (me) became an atheist (also me)
That's quite a journey! Welcome to reality! Big Grin
Hope you enjoy the forums.

Be true to yourself. Heart
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21-08-2014, 08:46 AM
RE: How a Jehovah's Witness (me) became an atheist (also me)
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21-08-2014, 08:52 AM
RE: How a Jehovah's Witness (me) became an atheist (also me)
Welcome. I hope you find what you need here. Smile

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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21-08-2014, 08:55 AM
RE: How a Jehovah's Witness (me) became an atheist (also me)
Welcome aboard. Smile

" Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous."
David Hume
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21-08-2014, 09:07 AM
RE: How a Jehovah's Witness (me) became an atheist (also me)
Hug

Welcome to TTA.

First, know that we have a section for personal issues where others can offer advice and support ( and being an asshole isn't allowed).

Second, there are quite a few of us that are married to believers - it is possible to remain happily married while having different world views. It's not always easy - but can be done.

Third, there are some others who are struggling with the different challenges an atheist/believer marriage brings.

So, you will find company and advice here as well as insults, wise cracks, jokes and stories that will make you cry and others that will make you laugh your ass off.

At this point- grief is normal.


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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21-08-2014, 09:51 AM
RE: How a Jehovah's Witness (me) became an atheist (also me)
Welcome to the forum, OneCultSurvivor! I mean, Northern Skeptic!

Religion is proof that invisible men can obscure your vision.
Visit my blog
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21-08-2014, 09:58 AM
RE: How a Jehovah's Witness (me) became an atheist (also me)
(15-08-2014 04:30 PM)Northern Skeptic Wrote:  Greetings, comrades, friends, brothers and sisters, I hope I can say.
(Yes, I am a fan of the late, the great Christopher Hitchens)

A few weeks ago I finally admitted to my wife, my friends and all of my family, that I had become an atheist. I admitted the same thing to myself about a year ago, but kept it a secret from others in my life for all this time, not to protect myself, but more to protect _them_.

I became a Jehovah's Witness full memeber at age 16, though I went to the meetings since I was 11 years old. I was introduced to the organization and the faith by my aunt, who remains a witness to this day and probably will for life. I found comfort and safety from my abusive father and depressive mother in the organization and quickly made lots of friends (all of whom also remain witnesses and most likely will for life). I admit I liked the faith, the meetings, the songs, how polite and nice all of the people were and eventually I decided to join. I had believed in the biblical god for most of my life, for reasons I could never really remember (parents, perhaps, but I really cannot tell), so it wasn't too much of a stretch for me to start believing in god and the bible in exactly the way that JW did/do.

I remained an active member for the next seven years and all this time, I tried to be the one person, who could strengthen the faith of all others around me, I wanted to be the rock that others could lean on and come and ask: do you have any good arguments in support of this or that belief? I thought I did have such arguments, for a long time. My desire to reach everyone, including atheists, lead me to research the reasons, why I believed that many could not believe in a creative deity, so I decided to look deep into the science behind the big bang theory and - of course - the theory of evolution. I also watched a ton of debates between the likes of Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris etc on the one side and John Lennox, William Lane Craig etc. on the other side. What I came to realize was this: the religious DIDN'T HAVE ANY good arguments at all. That is not to say that I agreed with everything Hitchens and the other atheists were saying (I still don't, even The Hitch made mistakes), but I could cearly see, who cared more about the truth, science and morality.

In desperation I turned back to the bible and to the publications of the Watchtower Society, particularly to two brochures: "Was Life Created" and "The Origin Of Life: Five Questions Worth Asking." I decided to read them as honestly as possible, I decided to try to debunk what I read. After all, if it was the truth, then it could have and should have and WOULD HAVE stood up to such scrutiny. But it didn't. At all. I soon realized that I could not only debunk pretty much every argument made in those publications, but that I - having read quite many books on science and also quite many articles in scientific magazines - could also point out one mined quotation, taken out of context, after another. These were and still are, at best, publications meant to make people believe, not think, and at worst, publications designed to make people more ignorant than they were before reading them.

And so I began to look at everything I believed and everything I had been taught and everything I had indoctrinated myself to accept, in a new light. Slowly, but surely, I became less and less afraid of the truth, less and less afraid of doubt, one of the most essential elements of thought, one of the most essential characteristics of a true thinker and in less than a year, I realized, that I could no longer believe any of the metaphysical - and some of the moral - claims of the Watchtower Society.

I revealed my thoughts to my wife (a sincere believer to this day) and she began to cry almost immediately. She felt betrayed and I felt like a traitor. I tried to explain to her that I still loved her just as much, that I would never leave her, but it made little difference. "I thought you loved Jehovah", she said and those words and her tears cut through my heart like a fiery double-edged sword. She begged me to write to an Elder (higher-ups of the congregations), that she trusted, so I did. This is is what I wrote:

"I can no longer believe the metaphysical claims of our religion. If God exists, then I need good reasons to believe that he exists and that my life should belong to him. If I was given such evidence, I would happily remain a Jehovah's Witness. I have no intention of doing anything immoral and I do not wish to leave, I just need evidence."

The Elder pretty much wrote this in his response:

"I think you don't want evidence, I think you just want to be god yourself. God doesn't need people, who are serving him against their will, so he will provide you with no evidence and neither will I."

It goes without saying, that I was shocked at this response. My wife on the other hand said: "I know exactly what he means, this is a good response to your problems."

And I was double-shocked. How could anyone think that the elder's response was

a) kind?
b) reasonable?
c) any good at all?

So after having lost faith in god, I now pretty much lost all faith in "his" organization too. I spoke to several other local elders and one of them ACTUALLY SAID: "Apostle Paul warned us about science. Why would you go read the garbage that satan's world produces in their science magazines?"

I had had enough, but I did not write a letter of disassociation yet, instead, my wife and I went to the annual Jehovah's Witness convention in Tallinn, Estonia. As it happened, this was the convention where a member of the governing body (leaders of JW) announced the release of the New World Translation of the bible in Estonian (my native language). There were a ton of speeches as usual and I could feel myself becoming more of an atheist with every speech I heard. I was especially disturbed by a speaker, who encouraged parents to "make bible characters (and Jehovah) real to their children". I remember thinking: this is childhood indoctrination, they are WAY too young to tell reality apart from fiction, you could literally raise them up to believe in Cthulu, if you replaced Jehovah with that deity. This. Is. WRONG.

We went home and the next day I saw a news article about the convention on a local internet news site. There were some JW commenting there, trying to persuade readers, that the 2nd law of thermodynamics makes evolution impossible, that the bible is accurate, that the universe is fine-tuned for life etc. I was so irritated by this misinformation that I began to debate them online, I explained (amognst other things), what evolution actually was, that the 2nd law of thermodynamics applies only to closed systems, that 99,9% of everything being extinct does not equal a very good design etc. My wife discovered my comments and asked me whether I was the author, I confessed. I had really had enough, I could no longer stand by and let scientific illiterates lie to people, not when I could correct them and provide sources for my objections to their claims.

"This is apostasy", my wife said and promised to contact the elders, to let them know. As I realized that I was indeed being an "apostate" by the JW definition, I decided to contact the elders myself. I wrote to them, that I no longer believed in god, that I intended to fight for scientific truth and oppose creationism and that they could do whatever they wanted to me. The same day, I also posted a long article on FB, saying that I was an atheist and listed my reasons for rejecting the central doctrines of JW. That day, more than 40 people "unfriended" me without saying goodbye. The Watchtower Society forbids contact with former members, so it did not come as a surprise to me. A few of my closer friends said goodbye via PM and needless to say, I cried a lot that day and almost felt like jumping off a building.

That was five days ago. I am still grieving for all the friends I have lost to doctrine and faith, I am still saddened over the pain that my wife feels, I feel more and more alone every day, BUT, I also feel that my consciene is clean, I have found some peace, at least. As I used to work for a member of the organization, so I am not entirely sure how I will make money in the future, but I have considered a few options, including becoming a writer (I have written a book, it just needs polishing) or a musician (I have written over 70 songs in the style of symphonic prog rock, but those too need polishing) or simply doing whatever work I can find. I have some savings, so I should be alright.

As for my wife, she has accepted the situation much faster than I hoped she would. She is anything, but stupid, she is anything, but unkind. I married her for a reason. We still love each other very much and have agreed to stay together and work things out somehow. She is the love of my life and I will let no imaginary god and no earthly organization come between the two of us.

And as for The Watchtower Society and Jehovah's Witnesses, I place some blame on the Governing Body and the people writing those terrible anti-science books and brochures and magazines, but not too much. I place no blame at all onto the people who got me into the faith, because they sincerely believed that they were doing the best thing they could ever do for me. Pretty much every JW that I have ever met, including elders and some really high ranking members (overseers and such), have been sincere. Nobody fakes it that well, they actually believe that they are doing god's work and helping people. Heck, even the governing body members might be sincere. A former member of the governing body (Ray Franz) used the phrase "victims of victims" about Jehovah's Witnesses and their leaders and I think that this might be the most accurate description of this organization that has ever been made or that could ever be made. The blame, therefore, in my opinion lies with man's religious nature, with man's desire to find simple answers to problems that may have complicated answers or no answers at all. A lot of the information that one can find on the web about Jehovah's Witnesses is out-right lies, mostly spread by members of competing religions, they are NOT that bad. They are not bad at all, they are victims and the victims of victims.

Now there is one less victim, one less caged bird. One less person, who is willing to assert as fact that, which is not evidently true ( quoting AronRa), one less person, who is willing to assert without evidence that, which can be dismissed without evidence (quoting Hitchens), one less person, who is willing to surrender to peer pressure, rather than peer-review (quoting myself), one less person afraid to doubt, one less Jehovah's Witness.

And one more atheist, rationalist, humanist and scientific skeptic. Jehovah's Witnesses believe that God will bring a better future. I believe that only rational humans can bring a better future. Let my contributions to that future begin, today.

Thank You everyone, who is going to read this, responses are MOST welcome.

*standing ovation* well said, and good on you for having the intestinal fortitude to stand up for what you believe. It may take awhile for the dust to settle in your personal life, but in the long run you chose correctly. It is literally impossible to knowingly live a lie "for the marriage" or "for the kids" etc....it will eat you alive from the inside out. I truly hope your wife finds clarity as well for that will be a hard road for the two of you to be on complete opposite sides of the delusion. I wish you the best, you have the support of knowledge, the new satisfaction that you are being true to yourself, and the comfort of knowing you can now live with uncovered eyes and a new thirst for more knowledge in which to comprehend the beautiful world we all live in, without the cage of faith holding you back. Enjoy your freedom, I wish you the best....and Welcome

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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21-08-2014, 11:13 AM
RE: How a Jehovah's Witness (me) became an atheist (also me)
Welcome.....

I don't post much because there is so much helpful advice and information. However, the kind and welcoming nature and general warmness of the people here really help with the transition. I wish you the best.
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