What was your path to Atheism?
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05-05-2017, 12:58 PM
RE: What was your path to Atheism?
(05-05-2017 12:31 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(05-05-2017 12:28 PM)big green mouth Wrote:  I was raised Presbytarian, but by the time I reached my teens I was an atheist. At 17 I read the Tao Te Ching and instantly converted to Taoism -- it just rang so many bells for me. Off and on throughout the years I took my Taoism more and less seriously. In my 40s I embraced Hinduism in the form of the goddess Kali. A couple of years ago I faced a decision. To learn more about Hinduism or not. But figuring out what to take and what to throw away would depend upon reason. So I decided to skip the middle man and just depend upon reason. That led me to give up my belief in the goddess Kali.

The goddess Kali is a bad-ass goddess, though! A while back, there was a photo in some thread here of a Kali Barbie doll. I don't know if it was real or photoshopped, but it was pretty cool. I wish I could remember what thread that was in, but maybe someone else will.

Here it is:

(19-03-2017 04:18 PM)Old Man Marsh Wrote:  [Image: ad_147176824.jpg]
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05-05-2017, 01:04 PM
RE: What was your path to Atheism?
(05-05-2017 12:58 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(05-05-2017 12:31 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  The goddess Kali is a bad-ass goddess, though! A while back, there was a photo in some thread here of a Kali Barbie doll. I don't know if it was real or photoshopped, but it was pretty cool. I wish I could remember what thread that was in, but maybe someone else will.

Here it is:

(19-03-2017 04:18 PM)Old Man Marsh Wrote:  [Image: ad_147176824.jpg]

Haha. That's a riot. Yes, Kali is very cool.
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05-05-2017, 01:05 PM
RE: What was your path to Atheism?
I remember there was this wide gate and a broad path...and I'm a broad, I like a broad path, so I took it.

(but seriously) I grew up Baptist. My father was a preacher and later a missionary. I believed what I was told, but also read the Bible cover-to-cover a number of times and came to be repelled by the god character of that book. By my mid teens, I'd decided I'd have to go to hell, because I couldn't worship the Bible god. Had awful experiences with real-life Christians whose faith didn't make them better people. I escaped to college several hundred miles away, met people of many different backgrounds, read religious texts of other religions and many Christian philosophers and theologians, took philosophy and religion courses.

By the time I was a college senior I'd come to these conclusions: 1) no personal god can exist, 2) a watch-winder/first cause doesn't need to be considered a god or worshiped, 3) a vague universal consciousness doesn't need to be considered a god or worshiped, 4) absolute certainty is impossible and unnecessary. I also decided I was tired of spending a lot of time bending my brain about this stuff and turned my focus to other areas of interest.

I define myself as a pragmatic atheist--that is, I'm not going to declare there's definitely no god, but I'm going to live as if there's no god.
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05-05-2017, 02:49 PM
What was your path to Atheism?
Religion wasn't a thing in my house growing up. Never even talked about it. Didn't even know what it was. Just was a non issue. First time I ever even had to deal with it was when I went in the Army and had to put "No Preference" on my dog tags.


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05-05-2017, 03:24 PM
What was your path to Atheism?
(05-05-2017 10:35 AM)hyperhealer Wrote:  Well? I'm curious. Were you always atheist? Did you grow up religious and have an epiphany? Eager to see your responses.


Both parents were indifferent theists. Religion drove them from their country and to the US and its mythical religious freedom. I was actually born on a plane over the North Atlantic. I like to tell people I was born where the iceberg sank the Titanic, but that's just guessing.

I decided to join the same church my friends were attending. Societal pressures and all. And yes, at age 8, if all my friends had jumped off a cliff, I would have been right there with them.

Christianity never made much sense to me. I went along with it, thinking that when I was older, I would "get it." It never occurred to me that adults would lie to me.

At age 14, my mom got cancer on top of her pre-existing condition, Parkinson's. She was in so much pain, it caused me physical pain. I kept praying for god to take her pain away. I figured if she was going to die anyway, let Jesus be merciful and take her quickly or without pain. Either one.

I had been in her room reading to her and slipped away to pray for Mom. I knelt down and prayed and waited for that "still, small voice" to come to me and tell me everything was going to be alright. Nothing. Not even crickets. I started to pray again and I got this sudden and distinct feeling that I was talking to myself. I had a good cry then, not just for Mom but for Mom's dumb daughter, who actually believed that prayer worked. There was no turning back after that. Once the brain is engaged, there's no turning it off. It's like trying to unsee something.
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05-05-2017, 04:15 PM
RE: What was your path to Atheism?
(05-05-2017 12:31 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(05-05-2017 12:28 PM)big green mouth Wrote:  I was raised Presbytarian, but by the time I reached my teens I was an atheist. At 17 I read the Tao Te Ching and instantly converted to Taoism -- it just rang so many bells for me. Off and on throughout the years I took my Taoism more and less seriously. In my 40s I embraced Hinduism in the form of the goddess Kali. A couple of years ago I faced a decision. To learn more about Hinduism or not. But figuring out what to take and what to throw away would depend upon reason. So I decided to skip the middle man and just depend upon reason. That led me to give up my belief in the goddess Kali.

The goddess Kali is a bad-ass goddess, though! A while back, there was a photo in some thread here of a Kali Barbie doll. I don't know if it was real or photoshopped, but it was pretty cool. I wish I could remember what thread that was in, but maybe someone else will.

I have no idea how close The Temple Of Doom's representation was to "the truth", but...

[Image: latest?cb=20130713140924]

That does look pretty bad ass. Tongue

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05-05-2017, 05:08 PM
RE: What was your path to Atheism?
(05-05-2017 12:28 PM)big green mouth Wrote:  I was raised Presbytarian, but by the time I reached my teens I was an atheist. At 17 I read the Tao Te Ching and instantly converted to Taoism -- it just rang so many bells for me. Off and on throughout the years I took my Taoism more and less seriously. In my 40s I embraced Hinduism in the form of the goddess Kali. A couple of years ago I faced a decision. To learn more about Hinduism or not. But figuring out what to take and what to throw away would depend upon reason. So I decided to skip the middle man and just depend upon reason. That led me to give up my belief in the goddess Kali.

The LC in my mind casts off aspects. Every revealed god has been an aspect. I'm down to love, entropy, and of course tao.

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05-05-2017, 05:44 PM (This post was last modified: 05-05-2017 05:48 PM by Cheerful Charlie.)
RE: What was your path to Atheism?
(05-05-2017 10:35 AM)hyperhealer Wrote:  Well? I'm curious. Were you always atheist? Did you grow up religious and have an epiphany? Eager to see your responses.

I have always been atheist. I went to a Catholic school until the 5th grade, and it just never took. As a small child I was infuriated by the lies about Santa Claus etc, and I found religion more of the same. I didn't like being tricked and lied to.

In the first grade we had catechism classes taught by nuns. I remember being told the legend of Saint Christopher and the baby Jesus, how Saint Christopher tried to carry Jesus across a stream and by the time he got to the opposite bank, Jesus had become so heavy he could no longer carry him. Proving Jesus was indeed, Son of God. So said the nun. At that point my mind rebelled, and I never trusted anything any nun told me thereafter.

I became the class skeptic, shuffled to the back of the class and ignored. which was fine by me.

I found anything told me about religion suspicious from the beginning. As I grew older and was challenged by believers, I learned to question these claims, and to look for books that debunked religion.

Some of us seem to be born natural skeptics with extremely good bullshit detectors. Why this is so, I cannot guess. Maybe it's genetic?

When I shake my ignore file, I can hear them buzzing!

Cheerful Charlie
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05-05-2017, 07:38 PM
RE: What was your path to Atheism?
I was raised Roman Catholic and attended Catholic schools for eleven years. In my very early teens, I thought my way out of god beliefs. The things I was taught simply didn't add up; they rarely coincided with reality.
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05-05-2017, 08:03 PM (This post was last modified: 05-05-2017 08:14 PM by mordant.)
RE: What was your path to Atheism?
(05-05-2017 03:24 PM)Rachel Wrote:  I started to pray again and I got this sudden and distinct feeling that I was talking to myself. I had a good cry then, not just for Mom but for Mom's dumb daughter, who actually believed that prayer worked. There was no turning back after that. Once the brain is engaged, there's no turning it off. It's like trying to unsee something.
That's pretty much the elevator version of my "anti-testimony". In my case the person dying was my wife, in a similar slow, baroque fashion to your mother. My wife had "prayer warrior" relatives on the case, too, and it made no diff.

My "no turning it off" moment actually came a couple of years before her death, when I realized it was going to end badly, end of story. To her credit, and my gratitude, my wife had no malfunction with it. She understood, and I returned the favor by allowing her to cling to her illusions. Any port in a storm. Sometimes I think that she vicariously questioned god through me; I'm sure part of her wanted to know just exactly WTF this benevolent caring god of hers was up to in her life.

Of course her suffering and death were only a proximate cause; more fundamentally, I had long been uncomfortable with the cognitive dissonance of my faith of origin. My first wife, before that, had contracted severe mental illness for which there was no real treatment (paranoid schizophrenia comorbid with borderline personality disorder) and that had ended in divorce -- that whole experience was the real start of the notion that maybe god did not give a useful damn about me or mine. I was a single parent for awhile after that, then remarried only to have that partner die, but not before my mother perished in a car accident and my oldest brother fell to aggressive cancer. NONE of this was even a little bit amenable to earnest prayer, stolid faith, righteous, responsible living or anything else that was supposed to help. And they were all extraordinarily wonderful, good people.

Since then I lost my adult son to a freak medical problem and I can tell you, grieving without all the trappings and circumlocutions of faith is much more honest, real, and ultimately less painful than trying to sort out who did what wrong to deserve what happened, etc. And it's certainly better not wondering if I had only had more faith / prayed harder that outcomes would have been different.

Life is just stuff happening. There is actually more hope in that, than in the notion that it's orchestrated in our best interests and will all sort out in the wash somehow. I can allow life to be absurd, and not take it personally now.

I left a life of faith, though, not because I'm pouting about misfortune, but because my faith did not explain or predict outcomes. My current understanding of reality, grounded in rational, empirical, evidence-based thinking, is FAR better in that department. It's just that it took several graphic examples to wake me up to that.
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