What's Your Story?
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29-09-2010, 08:59 PM
Question What's Your Story?
Living in a pretty religious community, I don't have the luxury of sharing stories with other atheists about their coming out stories. The Thinking Atheist's fifth podcast got me really interested in learning about other people's own "adventures" following their announced atheism.

I myself have just came out last year, much to my mother's distress... But while she worries over my soul, I've been feeling a lot better about myself.

Last year, when I started highschool, I had already a history of severe depression - about seven years, so I think I was eight when I was first diagnosed. But high school really threw me. I was already pretty suicidal, but I barely survived a week before I was put in the hospital for attempted suicide.

Before I was hospitalized, I was a lot like a sheep in the religious department; I had a lot of questions, but I didn't want to ask them. I thought everyone else completely understood it, but I was just too stupid to get it. I did used to pray a lot, though. I kept praying for god to kill me, so I could just go to heaven. I wanted to die, but I was too afraid to do it myself, because I was afraid of hell.

When I got to the hospital, where I stayed in the mental ward, I got a lot of religious crap shoved down my throat. I was supposed to be looking to god for guidance, that he would save me. And that's when I started getting angry. Because I had been waiting my entire life for a sign from god, yet apparently I didn't believe hard enough. I started to question the pastor there, and I wasn't exactly going about it in the right, calm way. He couldn't answer my questions, so he just got pissed and left.

I had to write a paper afterwards about why I said what I did, and I was marked down for my questions (no more treats for me). I didn't have any access to the outside, so I had to wait until I was released before I could really start trying to figure out the truth.

The nurses didn't end up telling my parents, so nobody knew. But I started looking for answers all around the interwebs. And the more I learned, the less depressed I got. Because I didn't feel stupid anymore. I quit feeling so inadequate, like I was god's little mistake. I was in charge of myself, not some guy in the sky pulling all the strings.

But the hardest part was telling my mom. My dad's a Christian, but he doesn't talk about religion ever, and he never goes to church, so I don't think it really mattered to him. But my mom got really upset. She told me I needed to go to church more, to read the bible. I refused, and tried to point out some of the flaws. Finally my mom changed direction: she says I was never a "true" Christian, that I never really believed in god. It was kind of upsetting, seeing how much of my life I devoted to prayer, but I guess I kind of gave up. Now she refuses to talk to me about anything that might even hint at theism, or my lack of such belief. She just pretends like it never happened. I mean, she still invites me to church every Sunday, but other than that, I guess I'm free.

Which isn't really what I want. I don't want her to hate me, but I wish I could talk to her about it. So the internet is pretty much the only way I can come across new information, new views. To everyone I know, it's a forbidden topic. Which is why I want to know: what's your story?
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29-09-2010, 09:11 PM
RE: What's Your Story?
(29-09-2010 08:59 PM)touchstone Wrote:  I was supposed to be looking to god for guidance, that he would save me. And that's when I started getting angry. Because I had been waiting my entire life for a sign from god, yet apparently I didn't believe hard enough. ... I started looking for answers all around the interwebs. And the more I learned, the less depressed I got. Because I didn't feel stupid anymore. I quit feeling so inadequate, like I was god's little mistake. I was in charge of myself, not some guy in the sky pulling all the strings.

Hi, Touchstone, I just wanted to write and say that I can really relate to your story. I've suffered from depression on and off for many years, most severely when I was still religious.

I remember praying and praying for god to rescue me from the absolute anguish that is clinical depression. People who've never experienced it can't even imagine such indescribable pain. And if god loved me, surely he'd just cure me, right? Especially since my depression was making a relationship with him nearly impossible.

I have been on the long road to atheism since I was a teenager, but could only recently acknowledge what had been simmering in my mind for more than ten years. I've never felt more empowered, more intellectually honest, and more in control of my own destiny. Waiting for god (and feeling like crap because he wasn't answering) was ruining my life.

All that to say, hang in there. You're brave for coming out, and I know you'll find lots of encouragement here.
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30-09-2010, 12:51 AM
RE: What's Your Story?
Hi Touchstone. I understand, too. I have also suffered depression.
Religion doesn't help you with depression. They try to use your depression as a tool to build guilt into you. It is a big part of how they attempt to control you. Of course you can never believe enough in god. That is so that they can make you dependent on them, enabling them to dictate their ideas about god to you. And remember to be generous when colletion plate comes around. God needs the money. Riiiiiight.

This is the only life that we have. Let's stay away from those who want to spoil it for us.
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30-09-2010, 02:01 AM
RE: What's Your Story?

Your story is a sad example of how religion can cause unnecessary pain. Mine is very different, and I feel very fortunate ... I have a fairly lengthy version of my personal "coming out" on the Web, but the short version: I never bought the stuff they were shoveling at me in church and sunday school. I don't recall ever having any belief in it, despite the strong faith my parents had. At 16, I announced that from that time forward, I'd have nothing more to do with the church and religion. This caused some consternation, as you might expect, but my parents continued to love me and I continued to love them.

Many among my friends and family are religious and we maintain our relationships via the expediency of my not pushing my atheism on them, and their not pushing their faith on me. If some of your family can't accept you as you are (and hope to become), then it's my hope that you will find others who will accept you as you are. No doubt there are many others in the world with stories similar to yours. Perhaps you can become a beacon of empathy and comfort to them, which surely would be of help to you in your struggle with depression.
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30-09-2010, 10:55 AM
RE: What's Your Story?

your sad tale makes me feel like a lucky one.

No one in my family is particularly religous, but my folks still had the brilient idea to pack me off to a private school (i'm in the uk so the system is different) but the one they picked had the local parish church on campus, and still bases it's teaching on "christian values"...... hence why when i asked questions i was slapped, smacked or some other version of physicality. my parents didn't believe me when i told them, so i accepted what happened. This was my first encounter with the morality of some christians. However, my thirst for knowledge grew, dispite not being a great scholar (depression didn't help me there, nor did my undiagnosed dyspractcia) i discovered a lot of things in that strange subject of history that fitted not. science and me didn't get along for a long time as i failed to get to grips with it. Eventualy i left that school (graduated), and other people have since told me what happpened was a test of my faith, and i failed. my responce is no i didn't, it took 3 of the 6 years there, but i figured out a hell of a lot in that time.

i know my story doesn't come close to yours, and i hope in time you can use your experences in a positive way.
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30-09-2010, 08:12 PM
RE: What's Your Story?
Touchstone--your story was sad, but it's obvious that you feel a lot better now, and that's great. I hope you continue to feel better about yourself and your choices as the days go by.
I have fortunately never suffered from depression (other than the usual stuff everyone goes thru) so I can't imagine what that would be like, but if it is bad enough to make a person want to take their own life, that must be suffering indeed.
My story is not that extraordinary: I have studied and/or participated in almost every religion on the face of the earth. Being disenchanted by the obvious fabrications and total manipulations of Christianity I moved on to Judaism (and some kabbalah), Hinduism, Buddhism, Paganism. I studied Islam, Ba'Hai, Jainism etc.
It comes down to the fact that no matter how much I studied, prayed, and what-have-you, all of it seemed like such a bunch of poppycock, and I never felt anything. The thing that disturbs me is the manipulation and posturing that goes on in almost all religions. The problem is that religion is created by people, who are primitive. I, as a scientist (I have a B.S. degree in Biology/Chemistry), cannot accept anything that does not have empirical evidence to back it up. Religion is just not logical, and I am all about logic.
However, being brought up in a household where religion was simply not discussed, I don't go around foisting my ideas on everyone I meet. If they ask, I tell. That's it. I already seem to have a habit of alienating people regularly without telling them my non-religious leanings to further alienate them. As for my parents: they are in the mid-70's, so there is no reason to tell them now and get them all upset, especially when we never discussed religion to begin with.
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01-10-2010, 03:07 PM
RE: What's Your Story?
Welcome to TTA Touchstone!

I cannot really empathise with your story, because I've never been in that state of depression, but I have known many people who have. I hope that you continue to get better, and as you continue on your quest for knowledge, that you will find many more reasons for living this one life we have to its fullest. This is a great community of people who will be here to listen to any venting that you may have Tongue and lend you support if you need it.

My story isn't really exciting; I was raised in a neutral household, so I wasn't ever indoctrinated into a religion. I read Homer's The Odyssey and The Iliad before I ever cracked open a bible, and I looked into the religions/mythologies of cultures that interested me, but I never did believe in any of them. I really only thought about my atheism when I moved from my fairly secular town to the highly religious area of southern Alberta, Canada. Since then, I've started studying and looking into various religions in an attempt to understand the religious mindset; although so far I'm still stumped Tongue

(Do you read much Shakespeare by the way?)

"Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker." - Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula
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01-10-2010, 06:44 PM
RE: What's Your Story?
I can't say I ever believed in God, despite being raised in a religious household. When I was told to pray to the idol in our kitchen (of Hindu gods), I honestly thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever. How could a piece of metal/plastic placed in a neglected corner of my kitchen possibly represent a divine being capable of doing anything?

I was probably 10 years old and still not naive enough to believe that. Before that, I thought it was just pretty statues and funky music.
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02-10-2010, 08:00 PM
RE: What's Your Story?
Being raised in a staunch German Lutheran household, I regularily attended Sunday church service and other church activities. My parents were the youth group leaders, and my brothers and I were dedicated members. I spent my entire adolescence embracing Jesus as my savior and praying often for forgiveness for sexual thoughts and actions (an ironic portent of things to come in college, but I digress).

I graduated high school in the top 10% of my class and chose to attend a small Christian college rather than a secular university because I believed God wanted me to become a Lutheran minister. My parents were very pleased. For 2 1/2 years I pursued a pre-seminary curriculum. It was the middle of my junior year when the administration dismissed me for "sexual promiscuity". Yes, I had known college girls in the Biblical sense. God help me!

I had a 3.85 gpa, but got kicked out of college for having unmarried hetero sex! Seriously!

In the end, they did me a great favor! They terminated the fraud that I might have been allowed to perpetuate if I had graduated from there. And frankly, I began losing my faith as soon as I started studying the Bible in Hebrew and Greek. Try as they might, the Christian apologists could never reconcile their dogma with the reality of the universe as I understood it. Creationism and it's related absurdities always lose when confronted by observable scientific evidence. I couldn't simply ignore science when it became inconvenient for God.

For the next 20 years I continued my secular education and lived my life free of the church, yet refused to move beyond calling myself an agnostic. I didn't want to hurt my family's feelings. I wanted to believe in a magic invisible friend. I wanted there to be some divine creative hand at work in the cosmos. But wanting a thing does not make a thing so.

Thanks to the brave and vocal few on the internet who dare to speak out, I discovered I was not alone. TheThinkingAthiest, thunderf00t, ZOMGitsCriss, Pat Condell, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and many others have informed and emboldend me. Now, I too dare to publicly admit what I really knew all along.

I am an athiest.
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02-10-2010, 08:41 PM
RE: What's Your Story?
I don't have much of a "coming out" story to tell since I was not raised in a religious home. I have never really felt alienated about it among my family or friends either. My extended family is very religious but it has never caused any tension between us. I feel very fortunate to be raised in Canada where atheism is slowly but surely on the rise. I have attended public school my entire life where oddly enough the religious are the ones who feel alienated. I'm sure every public school has clubs run by teachers and students, my school has many. One of these clubs is a faith club, where religious students are encouraged to come together and discuss their beliefs together. My school has a student body of nearly 1100 students and only about 15 of them attend this club. I'm sure many students that do not attend these clubs attend church on Sunday, though. The point is, people are very quiet about their religious beliefs here. I feel very sorry for those of you that had to go through the ridiculing from your peers simply for admitting your atheism to them. Letting your family know that you are open to ideas beyond what you are told to believe by the church should be celebrated. Family members should be proud of their atheist children for thinking rationally and critically.

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