Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
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10-11-2013, 12:24 AM
Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
1. Why are my prayers unsuccessful and unanswered?

I prayed faithfully from the time I was first able to repeat the prayers of my parents. I have never experienced ANY sensation that was indistinguishable from indigestion. I knew it in my heart, even as a child. Sometimes, this reality would bother me enough to go down one of these paths.

a. I am not good enough for God to talk to me. I am unworthy.

This line of reasoning would cause such guilt in me over any supposed sin that could possibly be responsible, that I would feel compelled to pray all the harder out of shame. My prayers would soon lead me to begging for forgiveness that I would never feel I received. This was the foundation of my childhood depression.

b. Something is wrong with my ability to hear God. I am broken.

This thought made me equally sad, and depressed over time. If I was at fault by malfunction, and not even God had repaired me, what chance did I have? Surely, I would never hear his voice, or feel his will.

c. I just need to accept God's will, and stop worrying about my prayers.

For a while I settled on a policy of self deception. By purposefully repeating the answers that I thought God ought to give to me in my mind, I convinced myself that it was, in fact, God sending me a message. Part of me was aware of my self deception, but the rest was caught up in my desire for it to be true.

One day I realized, if God's will is inevitable, why pray? His will will go on regardless of my desires. I might as well save my breath and suffer his will.

My prayers continued out of despairing hope, but were never the same again. In the end, the only thing keeping me trying was my desire to not be alone in the world. Surely someone had to be watching out for me. What was true wasn't important, because I didn't want to be alone.

One day it occurred to me that it might not matter that I wasn't being answered by God with a message. Perhaps my prayers were having a physical effect upon the world. Miracles may have happened, and I would not have known. I began immediately to test the effectiveness of my prayers on the world.

It didn't take long for me to despair over the simple fact that my prayers did absolutely NOTHING. The odds of getting what I wanted were not different than if I had never prayed. For example, I found missing items I prayed for some of the time, and I lost others forever.

I noticed the way others reacted to events around them in relation to their prayers. When something good happened to a person of faith that I knew, they would always be certain to give the credit loudly to God or Jesus. Whenever something bad would happen to that very same person, not a word about God being responsible escaped their lips. If God was mentioned at all in these situations, it was only to remind themselves, or others, to have more faith in him. The obvious double standard seemed ridiculous, as well as disrespectful towards God. It made him look the fool, only succeeding in being omnipotent and omniscient for some of the time. God might as well have "off hours". I could not take any of this seriously.

I struggled even more with the implications of God's ability to intervene in the first place. If God was so benevolent, as I had been emphatically taught, why would he not take every possible opportunity to intervene for the good of humanity? If he were to look down upon the earth and witness the suffering of one of his faithful children, would he help them?

Natural disasters seemed an excellent place to test this line of reasoning. If God is responsible for all things in the world, and they serve him at all times, I had to conclude that God is personally responsible for every natural disaster. If God is good, and good to humanity, why would he construct such massive instruments of death and suffering? Why would he choose to unleash them on his children, both the righteous and the unrighteous?

News was a constant subject of discussion in our home due to my father's love of politics. Even if he did not mention a particular article, I had full access to the internet to do so myself. Natural disasters occurred often enough for me to have read many such articles. I noticed the strong likelihood of survivors to credit God with their survival. This seemed foolish to me, since they did not consider that God was responsible for striking their home with the disaster in the first place. They made him sound like such a good Samaritan who just happened to be glancing down among the raging winds, only to snatch up a victim and take him or her to safety. These testifying victims may as well have called God a twisted individual for causing the chaos, merely to be branded the hero. It was all so embarrassing to read.

Another implication of their claim of a miracle rescue by God, was that those who perished, some in intense agony, were destined to that fate by God. If the storm were God's will, anyone who perished was destined to that end. This made God out to be maniacal to me. Who else would cause such chaos, death, and destruction and call it good, but a maniac? No benevolent God could do such a thing. If God taught his children to be moral, he must be even more moral and good. This could not be his work.

It all comes apart completely at the seams when one ponders on the many prayers that must have pierced the air in the midst of such disasters. How many helpless people prayed in desperation to be spared by God, and were killed. How many would live? Didn't they all pray? Doesn't God answer all of their prayers? If the storm were his will, prayers were rendered meaningless. Why pray if your fate is sealed? The unfairness of it, disgusted me.

I do not pray anymore. For a while I was painfully alone. Now, I am stronger and more responsible for myself. Allowing myself to go through a time of longing for something greater shaped me into a more proactive and responsible person. I no longer feel alone in my own mind, because I have learned how to trust my own reason and judgement. I pay attention to my own private feelings and thoughts in a way that I would never have fathomed before.

What are your thoughts on prayer?

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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10-11-2013, 12:33 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
Consider thoughts on prayer:

You want to talk to god but find you are talking to yourself, therefore...

You are god.

And to save GirlyMan some effort...




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10-11-2013, 12:39 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
I admit, I hung onto prayer for a long time, even after I realized I was agnostic and completely atheistic about the biblical god. I don't remember when it happened, but something happened in my life and later I realized that I relied on myself and not prayer. That was huge for me.

Now, I don't give it much thought -- unless I see a prayer request on facebook.


God is a concept by which we measure our pain -- John Lennon

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10-11-2013, 01:36 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
Recently had a short discussion with my mother about my atheism and
she said "But you've told me that you have prayed before so I don't think you're really an atheist"

My reply "Yes mother, there was a time in my past when I prayed and there was a time in your past when you drank, but you won't ever hear me say that I don't think you're sober because you drank in the past. Atheism is a sober reaction to all the crap that religion does to your brain. Religion is like that bottle of jin. It can make you feel good for a while but the cost is way too high.

I'm an atheist and you are sober. What we may have done or thought in the past doesn't apply to our current situation."

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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10-11-2013, 01:41 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
Prayer... I used to pray about shit I couldn't control. It helped me get to sleep a few times when I was worried about shit, that's about all it ever did for me... I did kinda feel like someone was listening - just a feeling. But I think I was also aware that I was kidding myself. I prayed often for stuff - some of it worked out, and some of it didn't. I remember I prayed for my Grandma not to die. Yeah, that was one of the ones that didn't Tongue

But I think from very early on I can remember keeping tabs on what prayers did get answered and which ones didn't... from there it was a very short step to "well, but how do I even tell if God's answering the phone 'cos when it gets answered it's pretty much my hard work or some easily identifiable reason, and when it *don't* get answered it's also easy to predict - just ask myself if I've put in any effort".

And then I started looking at when my friends and family had answered prayers, and some of it was pretty good shit. Like stuff went really well for them. Other times they'd pray and pray and nothing would happen and they'd mutter about God's plan... so I kinda got very skeptical after that... I thought, ja, you know, these guys are just kidding themselves.

And so I asked people about it, I asked our pastor whom I saw about once a year when I was a kid on account of my old man had some kinda vendetta against the church (thanks Dad!), I asked the family, I asked Grandma 'fore she pegged, I asked friends... and I *universally* got variations of "Shut up and believe, you're evil", "You're too young to understand", "I don't know but so and so who's very clever said" and a whole bunch of further shit along those lines.

So I went and looked up stuff. And people that *other* people referred to as very clever - like CS Lewis - also said variations of the same. No one ever said, like they do in a science textbook, "Ok, here's how it works. Here's the basics, and here's how we know that and here's how to use the knowledge you now have". I smelled one fucking gigantic rat... Not a single one of those lamers ever explained how they got their detailed knowledge, except to refer to some monkey higher up the tree than them who was apparently *super* smart.

So yeah, unanswered prayer and bullshit answers to questions were a big part of me deciding the whole deal was total rubbish.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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10-11-2013, 01:43 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
(10-11-2013 01:36 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Religion is like a bottle of djinn.

Hehehe... sorry had to edit a bit Evil_monster

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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10-11-2013, 01:49 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
(10-11-2013 12:33 AM)DLJ Wrote:  You want to talk to god but find you are talking to yourself, therefore...

You are god.

When I was a believer, I was taught to build a personal relationship with God through prayer. If all believers are building relationships with themselves, doesn't it follow that they would consider any questioning of that relationship to be a direct attack upon them as a person?

In other words, if the believer is God, isn't questioning God, questioning the believer's integrity?

Could it be that this is a psychological explanation for how easily they take offence when their God is questioned?

What are your thoughts?

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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10-11-2013, 01:51 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
(10-11-2013 12:39 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  I don't remember when it happened, but something happened in my life and later I realized that I relied on myself and not prayer. That was huge for me.

Would you say that self reliance was a gradual process for you, or would you say it occurred as the result of a grand event?

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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10-11-2013, 01:53 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
(10-11-2013 01:36 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Religion is like that bottle of jin. It can make you feel good for a while but the cost is way too high.

Addicts and Alcoholics often talk about a "point of no return" when the pain of their addiction exceeds the reward.

Do you remember a time in your life when you reached just such a point with your religion? What drove you to recognize it?

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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10-11-2013, 02:29 AM
RE: Questions That Led Me to Atheism #1
(10-11-2013 01:43 AM)morondog Wrote:  
(10-11-2013 01:36 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  Religion is like a bottle of djinn.

Hehehe... sorry had to edit a bit Evil_monster

And there I was thinking that it was a deliberate pun. I was going to +rep him for it.

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