Poll: Were you once religious?
Yes, I used to believe once.
No, I never did.
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Were you once a believer?
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09-07-2013, 02:03 PM
RE: Were you once a believer?
Like most users, I was raised Christian, but also specifically Calvinist. There are many reasons I am now and forever will be an Atheist. 1. I realized I was going crazy. 2. What god who was supposed to be completely good, would create a terrible world where people starve and die, and only be merciful to those white people in Europe and the Middle East in Asia who created the religion in the first place. 3. The ideology of Religion can make no sense if you put two and one together. 4 There is so much science that Religion blinded me to, that proves it's not true. 5. Did god disable the miracle button? 6. I realized that religion doesn't matter because no matter what you believe and no matter what you do, there is no way to prove or disprove what happens after you die, so why waste your time worrying about it when there is so much to accomplish on earth to keep the bad (mos of the time religious) people from: killing, raping, stealing, and all the other things we know that will cause mental or physical harm to other people. The sad part about the whole thing, Religions claim that us atheists don't or can't have a moral code without it, but Atheist are proven in many studies to be kinder, more empathetic, and less judgmental. The ironic part: all of those are usually what a church is not.

Sorry don't mean to preach to the chorus: Ha!
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11-07-2013, 08:01 AM
RE: Were you once a believer?
Was raised in a baptist community, was a believer until around 17 years old or so... Started to actually read the bible page for page, and immediately decided within the first few books, that there's no possible way to believe something like that. However I felt guilty thinking that way and looked into it all even more. Started to ask questions, which were very fast knocked down and made clear are not welcome. I was told you can't read it like that, you have to just take the key points because the rest "doesn't apply in our time". Bullshit. About a year into studying it all very seriously, I decided I could never be a christian. For a short time I looked at other faiths, just because it felt like there was a hole there I needed to fill...

Very fast, within a few months, I realized they are all more or less the same, and I was very secure in my atheism.

-Adam

"If you use the Bible as a moral guide, you will be arrested in every nation in the civilized world"
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17-07-2013, 09:40 PM
RE: Were you once a believer?
Yep, I used to be a believer. I was a Catholic and even spent two years in a seminary. I had a spiritual director at the seminary, he sent me an email recently to see how I was doing. I told him I no longer had any faith and had become an atheist. He was not very happy, and told me I was going to burn in hell. It's always nice to hear from old friends. Wink I haven't told anyone in my family and still go to mass on sundays, I figure it would hurt them, and I doubt I ever will say anything.

"Laissez nous faire!"

"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor will I ever ask another man to live for mine."
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18-07-2013, 04:59 AM
RE: Were you once a believer?
Here's a lil' essay I once wrote on the topic:


From attic to basement: My road to deconversion

When I was little, I believed that god lived in my attic. That was before I even had a grasp of any notion of what the word "god" might imply. One day (I must have been about 3, or younger, yet that particular memory has stayed with me over the years), I heard some family member utter the said word. As any curious child, I asked what it meant. I was given a confused reply about "someone" who lived... and they pointed upwards. That is how I came to believe that god lived in my attic.

When I had become old enough to climb the stairs to the attic, I was surprised (and rather disappointed) to find there was nothing there except dust, cobwebs and old things that nobody used anymore. That was it. No mysterious being whatsoever. Later, I was to find out I'd been wrong all along. I then understood that upwards meant way above the roof of our humble dwelling place. The finger had pointed all the way to the sky. This time I was in awe. Unlike the attic, the sky was out of my reach. Not even airplanes could fly that far.

The next step was becoming aware of a strange, thick book called the Bible. This was made known to me by a sister of my grandmother's, with whom my parents sometimes left me when they had to attend to agricultural matters in which I was yet too young to participate. This great aunt was a devout neo-protestant of some sort (the exact denomination to which she was affiliated escapes me, and I'm afraid I was never privy to this piece of information). She read to me excerpts from the Bible, in the dry, hoarse, yet soft voice old women have. As she read, a strange feeling started to develop. I'm not quite sure as to how I should call it. But I suspect it was a precursor of what is widely associated with religious feeling.

At about the same time, the public TV channel was broadcasting an animated series that featured a handful of present-day youngsters who took regular trips to biblical times and witnessed the events narrated in the "good book" (the approximate title of the series). In the eyes of the child I was, these were much cooler than anything that had ever come out of the mouth of an 80 year-old granny. I realized that the Bible was full of wondrous, action-packed stories, each of which bore a lesson worthy of being learned.

It wasn't long before I was able to read. At that time, my parents bought me a version of the Bible adapted for children. It was then that things started to get clearer in my mind. The all-knowing, almighty father made his presence felt on every single page of the book, in an overpowering way. He was the giver and taker of life, the punisher, the redeemer, the source of all that was good, the light of the world. I learned of heaven and hell, and I was able draw, from the fates of the characters, the conclusion that, in order to earn god's favour and get past the Pearly Gates, you had to really, really, really love him and never do so much as think of attempting to disagree with him, for nothing crossed him more than disobedience. And heaven did sound like place where I'd have liked to spend my eternity. Heaven was always depicted as a stunningly beautiful garden, filled with colourful blossoms and fruits, where god's favourite children lived in harmony, where lions and lambs walked shoulder by shoulder, the best of friends, as if the latter being no more than a tasty meal to the former would have been inconceivable, a place where there was no more sorrow, no more illness, no more death, nought but eternal happiness and sunshine and peace. All you had to do was love (read: obey) god with all the strength you heart could muster, and heaven was sure to be your place of residence forever. And so I tried to love god...

...even if it was too vague a notion to love. God was a spirit. God was one, but he was made up of three persons. God was everywhere. God could see everything you did. God could hear your prayers, and answer them if he saw fit to do so. God was forgiving. But on the other hand, god could not tolerate rebellion. Any such act would invariably result in being sent to hell. And hell was not an option anyone would take. Depictions of hell were thus conceived as to be likely to scare the daylights out of any ignorant, impressionable, naive child such as I was. The visions of fire, burning without end, the demons, scary as they were with their horns and their goatees, wielding pitchforks into the seared flesh of the damned, were thoughts too horrible for me to harbour. The only solution was to be whatever god wanted me to be: an unquestioning, meek, submissive, humble sheep. That way I was safe.

Years went by. Loving god turned out to be a process of mere self-suggestion. I had convinced myself that I believed and loved god. It was as simple as that. You tell yourself that you love god and, bang!, you do. My beliefs were reinforced by a teacher of religion I had back in the 7th/8th grade. She would speak with great passion about the suffering of Christ. She would go on to explain the process of crucifixion, how death was caused by the gradual breakage of the spine and how painful it was to die slowly, forsaken and spurned by all, on the cross Jesus had mounted to wash away the sins of those who were now hurling curses and spit at him. Being an empathic person who finds the idea of torture repellent, I couldn't help being overcome by an immense sadness. I remember how, after one of her classes, I was in tears. At that moment I hated every human being, living or dead, for having caused that sort of suffering to the one I regarded as the Saviour. Then I remembered hate was prohibited, and I began to wonder what sort of feeling was expected of me with respect to the sinful humanity, so that I could impose it upon myself and gain the approval of god. Yes, I was THAT eager to please him.

Now, if religion classes are memorable for their intensity, the same thing cannot be said about sciences. I can't put my finger on any instance where the theory of evolution was taught seriously. The matter was barely touched upon, and when it was, it was done hastily, as if it had been a laughable urban legend, undeserving of a claim to a place in the school textbooks. I remember when the history teacher said (I was in the 5th grade then) something along the lines of "well, science tells us that we've evolved from apes, but you all know that's not true, because god created Adam and Eve, and that's it". Our biology teacher was herself religious. During the lesson on AIDS, she dismissed the hypothesis according to which HIV was a mutation of a virus found in chimpanzees, stating instead that it was "a punishment from god for our debauchery". As you can see, the story of creation had no rivals in my head.

And yet... at some point doubts started creeping in. It was during high school, after I had amassed a little knowledge on the workings of the world from school, books, magazines or facts of everyday life. I fended these "demons" off the best I could, and for some more years I struggled. A thought would occur to me, and I would banish it right away. I would feel guilty and torment myself for thinking it. But little by little, I discovered that I could not fight them anymore. So I had to think them over.

To begin with, there was the issue of weather. In the Bible, it was god that controlled it: god made the rain pour down, god made the wind blow, god made the sun scorch the lands and withdraw the wealth of crops from those who had done wrong, but most of all, god had direct power over thunder and lightning. And that was no laughing matter. I had heard stories of thunder-stricken haystacks that had been built on a Sunday, and my mother's advice for me in thunderstorms was "say a prayer and make the sign of the cross". I did, yet I felt apprehensive. After all, god could read my thoughts and see the doubts hiding there among them. But I had learned that thunder and lighting were electrical discharges that could perfectly be explained in scientific terms. I had learned that rain was caused by the condensation of atmospheric vapour. I had learned that winds are motions of air caused by differences in pressure. I had learned all of these phenomena had easily traceable causes that did not need the presence of a god. Besides, weather forecasts were 90 to 99% of times accurate. If only god knew what the weather would be like, then how could meteorologists predict it so precisely? Similarly, I knew that other disasters assigned to the punitive power of the divinity, such as earthquakes or plagues, also had been found to have reasonable explanations that excluded any supernatural interference. How, then, could I fit this knowledge into my belief system?

Then, it was the whole story of the Genesis. The more I read it, the more I the improbability of it became blatantly obvious. According to the Bible, the earth was flat, and I had learned it was a sphere. According to the Bible, the Sun span around the earth, and I had learned it was the other way around. According to the Bible, the moon was a "lighter", and I had learned that it was only a satellite of the earth that owed its light to the Sun. And how could god live in the skies, if humans had been outside the boundaries of our earth and had found no such being, only space and celestial bodies that obeyed not the random will of a deity, but the laws of physics? My knowledge of astronomy, scarce as it was, could lead me to a sole, inescapable conclusion: that the Bible was written not from the point of view of an omnipotent being that had created the universe, but from the perspective of inhabitants of planet earth, and not ones with over-inquisitive minds, but rather subject to prejudice, intolerance and fierce bigotry. Suddenly, god plummeted from the sky to...

... to where exactly? I suspended judgement for a while. I tried to push all of this out of my mind, but the outcome was imminent: the day came when I realized that I did not believe anymore, and moreover, that I could not bring myself to believe anymore. But did I ever truly believe? I think not. I wanted a piece of heaven, I was frightened by the threat of hell, I found the thought of eternal life soothing. I had believed these to be true - simply because I had refused to sew the pieces together. However, I had believed them, but I could no longer accept explanations that were in sharp conflict with ascertained, proven facts. Some people live their lives without making this connection. Some find comfort in belief; others don't dare to question; others simply don't think about such issues. I had taken the step beyond god, and the change was irreversible.

I can't deny the fact that, for a while, I felt an empty space, as if something was missing, as if a part of me had been snatched away with no chance of retrieval. The religious feeling can amount to ecstasy, the overwhelming joy of reaching inaccessible heights under normal circumstances. But it's a self-provoked illusion, and not the presence of a higher power, that gives rise to this feeling. In the end I felt free. Not free to discard all sense of morality, as some might think, but free to think for myself, free to question, free to have no fear or hope for an afterlife, free to not feel guilty for not fasting, or praying, or going to church. I think that this freedom is greater than any promise that religion might hold.

God now resides in the basement. Not in the basement where items are stored for future use, but in the basement where we throw the things not needed, or welcome anymore. It lies there - bent, broken and exposed as a fraud, covered in dust and cobwebs, next to the Easter bunny, Santa Claus and the closet monster. And there's little chance he'll ever get out.

All learning is quite useless if you haven't learned to question what you learn.
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18-07-2013, 09:39 AM
RE: Were you once a believer?
Yes. I grew up in the Plymouth Brethren churches.
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21-07-2013, 05:00 PM
RE: Were you once a believer?
I was once a believer, but my belief in the whole story of Jesus and all other Christian mythology was shattered when I found out that Santa wasn't real. The story of Santa and the story of Jesus were no longer anything more to me than myths. I'm not sure exactly how old I was... probably eight or nine, but as soon as I realized how silly and unbelievable the myth of Santa was, the Christian myth seemed equally as silly, which is why I can't wrap my head around the idea of an adult believing any of it.
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21-07-2013, 06:36 PM
RE: Were you once a believer?
Oh yes. Hell yes I was. True believer through and through.
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23-07-2013, 09:10 PM
RE: TexanThinker
In the first grade at a Catholic school, I was asking the nuns questions they wouldn't or couldn't answer. I was always questioning.
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30-07-2013, 04:25 AM
RE: Were you once a believer?
I used to be a believer, but I pretty quickly reached the conclusion that it wasn't true and it was just a way for people to exercise control over others and to make them more obedient.

And once I realised Santa didn't exist, God went the same way pretty quickly.
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30-07-2013, 07:49 AM
RE: Were you once a believer?
I've been a member of Jehovah's Witnesses before, but due to my questioning and researching about the existence of God, I gradually became an Atheist. It's a slow and painful process for my part but a very rewarding one.
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