What Made You Not Believe?
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28-03-2011, 10:38 PM
 
What Made You Not Believe?
Hey, first time poster here. I'm just wondering, what made you guys not believe, or stop believing. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Here's my story: I was born to a Jewish father, and Protestant mother. I happened to be born with what is now considered to be a one of kind heart condition, one of a kind as in only I have it. Anyway, it effects my ability to do physical things, and I have to be extremely careful if I drink or work out. I was mercilessly made fun of in school from 1st-8th grade, for how I looked, my Jewish ancestry, etc. My father's side of the family had ancestors who were exterminated during the Holocaust. At age 16 or 17 I began to think about religion and "God". I asked myself, why would a god let millions of people be systematically wiped out, not just during the Holocaust but other genocidal periods in history. Then I thought about how my life was, I was born with a terrible medical condition, made fun of, and nearly declared clinically depressed all by age 14. This all culminated in my firm belief that there is no "God" and if there is, he is not loving, or kind but sadistic, and malicious by nature.

As for my family, I'm pretty sure most of them are accepting of my views, almost all my cousins are atheists, as is 1 of my uncles, and I think both my grandpas. However my brother who is a bit of a "christian" firmly believes that "I'll burn in hell for being a god-hating atheist"
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28-03-2011, 11:08 PM
RE: What Made You Not Believe?
The seeds were sewn for me when I didn't "feel the spirit" at the baptism (mormonism), then in the same year I caught my parents writing the "From Santa" notes on the presents under the tree.
I was pretty much an instant agnostic at 0010 on Christmas day xD

From there I just started reading and questioning stuff instead of believing my parents on all issues (years later I realize they're rarely right about anything. They never listen to me when I'm right either, so they often break things around the house and wonder why xD). When I was 12 my father turned agnostic and I quit church, spent sundays watching documentaries instead.

I've been atheist for a few years now, but I still have to work on getting the Mormon church to leave me alone, coz they list quit members as "inactive" and run campaigns to get them back.

Also sucks to hear about your school life. I'm going to assume American schools? They're pretty socially primitive xD

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29-03-2011, 12:54 AM
RE: What Made You Not Believe?
When I was introduced to religion for me (I saw religion before going to a church). I decided instantly that it wasn't a place for answers. I had serious questions to ask as a child and I didn't want a security blanket. Knowledge is a lot safer than magic underwear =p (note: I was never introduced to the Mormon church)

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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29-03-2011, 01:06 AM
RE: What Made You Not Believe?
I had been skeptical of religion since the concept was first introduced to me. Even though I went through the motions throughout grade school and part of high school, I never particularly bought into the idea.

Even though I wasn't invested in the notion of God, I still put on the act. From grade school to the end of my freshman year of high school, I played the part of the good little Catholic child. Why? Firstly, it made my grandmother happy (And that's always something you want to aim for, happy old people). Secondly, I didn't want to explain myself to my classmates and teachers. I attended a very white, very Catholic grade school, and the high school was an extension of the grade school. This was not a mixing pot. Most of the student body had one world view, the conservative, white, Christian view that their parents and teachers exposed them too day in and day out.

Now, more to the point, what made me not believe? During my freshman year, the most painful day of my life occurred. My dad died from a massive heart attack. This was a man who was in great physical health, he did yoga for f@#$'s sake. He was barely in his mid fifties too. It was a tragic event that shook me to my very core. Before that time, I never really contemplated the fragility of life.

But that's not what caused me to finally recognize myself as an Atheist. I didn't experience tragedy and come to the conclusion "Something terrible has happened to my family, THERE IS NO GOD." No, not at all. What pushed me over the edge was the answers given to me by the religious authority of my community.

I tried to believe, I really did. I hounded religious figures, begged them to sell the notion of God to me. I pleaded with them to offer me some kind of tangible evidence of God's existence, provide a substantial argument for creationism as opposed to evolution, anything. I wanted nothing more than to believe that my father was up in paradise.

And then it struck me; I wanted to believe all of this, but I didn't. I wanted to find comfort in this ancient book of desert scribblings, but I didn't. I came to the realization that the rest of my community was satisfied with not questioning religion. Just like me, they wanted to find comfort in that book, but unlike me, they weren't interested in "knowing", they were satisfied with "having faith."

I was not. I could find no comfort within the pages of that text. I couldn't let my heart's desire to be comforted by religion overpower my brain's desire to pursue the truth.

The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one
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29-03-2011, 04:43 AM
RE: What Made You Not Believe?
It all started with one simple sentence stated by someone I can't even remember: "I can't believe in a God that allows children to have cancer."
It made me think and I slowly evolved out of the theist idea.

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Disclaimer: Don’t mix the personal opinion above with the absolute and objective truth. Remember to think for yourself. Thank you.
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29-03-2011, 06:42 AM
RE: What Made You Not Believe?
Very deep stuff.

I wish my "conversion" had been more instantaneous. It was a very gradual process over many years.

When I lost a child to SIDS, I gave up on the idea of a personal God. If a personal God existed - he was a bastard completely unworthy of worship.

I instead conformed my Christian beliefs around the idea that God tuned out of the Earth Channel following Jesus' death. So as long as you hang on to the Christ sacrifice strawman, you're still cool. Earth, for all intents and purposes, was channel 313 on the dial and if He tuned in, it would be like us flipping through stations and pausing on the trainwreck of Jerry Springer for a couple minutes before moving on - for entertainment purposes only...

When you accept that construct, then you have to make peace with the idea, or concept, that prayer is wasted time. Who's listening?

When I met my wife (we had both been previously married) I made a go of church again - she was a very devout Christian woman. I went through the motions, Sunday services, etc. We married in the church and all that good stuff.

I had shared with her my belief construct - I described it as bare-bones Christian - but didn't see the whole point of worshiping, praying to, or singing to an absentee deity. She accepted it and began to conform to my way of thinking over time.

Then I began researching the historical Jesus and bible - which worked since I am a historian by education. Without going into all the details, I came away from a long and exhaustive process completely convinced that the bible was a false construct. A historical Jesus most likely existed, but he was hardly a deity on earth.

My wife followed me through this research and evolution and while she is unwilling to give up on the idea of a creator, she falls short of considering herself an atheist {break for a commercial comment: Even many nonbelievers don't like the stigma that comes with the term "atheist"}. She prefers either secular humanist or agnostic to atheist. I've taken to embracing my "A."

I kept my mouth shut for many years following. I feel a certain kinship to homosexuals that denied their sexual orientation, living in the closet, unable to be themselves around friends and family for fear of either opening up a can of worms, at best, or worse...

The past few years - I'd been pretty vocal, but trying to find a voice to articulate what we (not the royal we - but my wife and I) feel about religion without coming across as degrading to those that continue to believe. My wife feels like we are in the Matrix and have become unplugged, but sympathizes with those that yearn to taste steak again...She knows she can't go back and live in a fantasy, but she gets it...

Neat thing is, everyone has a pretty unique story as to how they arrived here Smile

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29-03-2011, 08:22 AM
RE: What Made You Not Believe?
Loved the stories. It was pretty similar for me as well. Ever since I was little (5-9ish) the only time my family really went to church was after something bad happened, usually a death in the family. I found it odd that it took tragedy to get us into church but I was to scared to ask questions because that meant the "devil" was tempting me. I always kind of new I did not believe but that fear kept me claiming christianity as my religion throughout high school and into college.

It took several years for me to kick my religion to the curb but looking back at it one of the most influential events was a youth sermon I had gone to my senior year of high school. I was dating a girl at the time who went to church services every Wednesday night. This was the perfect opportunity for me to skip work early and hang out with her, so I began to go. It was mostly a social gathering with a short sermon from the youth pastor thrown in. I didn't care because I was infatuated and not at work! All of the sermons were forgettable...except one. The youth pastor started out by telling us how he was mad at his grandmother. The reason? She had committed suicide and that meant she did not get to go to heaven and therefore he and his family would never see her again. She had been clinically depressed and on antidepressants. She had begun to feel better, so she stopped taking them and spiraled into a deep depression and jumped off a bridge. This man was standing before me angry with his grandmother who was obviously asking for help. His reasons for being angry with her were selfish and made no sense. I was appalled and it became similar stories like this that made me realize that a literal interpretation of the bible was dangerous and nonsense. It was not long after that when I quit calling myself a "christian" and then about 3 or 4 years ago I realized I did not believe any of it anymore and became an atheist.

“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
—Thomas Henry Huxley
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29-03-2011, 09:49 AM
 
RE: What Made You Not Believe?
It just doesn't make sense. Religion is irrational. Having been raised in a Fundy Baptist household, I come from that background where as a child I did believe, because I never thought my parents would lie to me.

I knew the fairytale's of childhood were pretend, but when it came to being taught, or preached to, that the Bible was the word of a god and my parents believed and those I mingled with believed it, it didn't occur to me it could be fiction because we were talking about the work of a god here. And a god, creator of everything, should be able to do anything.

Of course, what was never ministered was the numerous contradictory verses throughout the Bible. So that had they been given in context in a sermon, I think everyone including the kids, when they were old enough and thus permitted to attend church as opposed to being relegated strictly to Sunday school where all lessons were child like, would have made the connection.

Then as I got older and was able to investigate on my own without my parents being involved, I put it all together rather quickly that it simply doesn't make sense.

Salvation is asking to be saved from god. Redemption is expecting to choose to be greater than and over come what, god created humans to be. And it's all exercised within the dominion of omniscience, which then precludes human free will, because something that knows all as creator of everything pre-ordained the human future. That's why we're called sinners, under that faith, and hell awaits the unrepentant.

Doomed, for the mistake god made us to be, while creating us in his image and likeness so as to begin the journey.

It's that little bit that says a lot about god.
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A real supreme being would be smarter than that. Wink
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29-03-2011, 10:37 PM
RE: What Made You Not Believe?
I had a similar experience to Michael. I was born into an RLDS family, my mother passed away when I was 9, made a serious attempt to get back into it near the end of High school, then learned that I cannot force myself to believe something that I don't.

I would say that the main reason for my lack of belief stems from my education. I've always enjoyed science and politics (The acts of trying to understand the world, and trying to make this world better). First and foremost, as I got older I realized that science offered better answers to the questions I had about the world than God or religion offered. I soon found myself using science to defend religion (I was becoming a mormon apologetic).

Then 9/11 happened at the beginning of 6th grade, and while I didn't understand it at the time, I've come to realize that my belief was a casualty of that event. I began to be interested in politics during the 2000 election. We covered it extensively in 5th grade and while I didn't fully understand the issues, I knew that I wanted to be a part of resolving them. As I moved up through junior high and high school I stuck with politics and even supported the Christian Right and the Republicans in the following elections (I attempted to support my failing beliefs through politics).

As I followed politics more and more, I realized that the base problem for a lot of the world's conflicts was religion. I didn't like how people were bastardizing scripture to support their own hatred of others, and I was determined to work it out. I remember getting into a lot of religious/political discussions with my friends and classmates regarding their own faiths and trying to make RLDS teachings fit into a better world view.

It was at this time that I realized that I couldn't make myself believe what I was saying. I remember some of the crazy things I had to say to twist the bad parts of the Book of Mormon to fit a better world view, but I realized that other faiths were doing the same thing. Religion wasn't just irrelevant in the world, but it was actually causing a lot of the world's problems as it tried to hold onto the power it once held.

So in my first year of college I started looking into arguments against religion. Though, it wasn't until I moved away from my family to go to college in Colorado that I became an outspoken atheist (I prefer secular humanist because to call me an atheist implies that my world view revolves around my disbelief in a deity, but I take the atheist title when I have to make a stand).

Of all the ideas put forth by science, it is the principle of Superposition that can undo any power of the gods. For the accumulation of smaller actions has the ability to create, destroy, and move the world.

"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." -W. E. Henley
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29-03-2011, 11:36 PM
RE: What Made You Not Believe?
Mine is boring really. I never believed in any god concept whatsoever. I never went to church, talked about religion or wondered how it all got here. My dad even told at about age 8 to stay away from preachers and pastors because they could easily deceive me at such an early age. I never even knew what a god was until probably about age 12 or so - but even then, I didn't know what certain people believed, even the christians who surrounded me.
At at 16 (bear in mind I'm 17 now) I began looking into religion. I started being skeptical about claims and soon found religion lacking. Now I am a self-proclaimed anti-theist and agnostic, and the couple of christian friends I have never ask me if I will go to youth group with them =P

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use." - Galileo

"Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." - Voltaire
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