Doubting Your Faith For the Hundredth Time? Church Shopping Yet Again? It May Be Time To Think The Unthinkable.

I remember when I began to have doubts about my faith. The world – according to Christianity – just wasn’t adding up.

At first, I tackled the problem by exposing myself to more religion. I attended more church, met more church people, and read more of the Bible.

Still, nothing made sense.

“It must be my church”, I thought, and spent another couple of years church shopping.

Things didn’t get any clearer. Seeing that God’s churches could disagree on so much made things worse. The world, according to the Bible, just didn’t add up.

So, I withdrew from church life. But I wasn’t done with religion. I was still trying to make make God fit into the evil and suffering within the world. I watched hundreds of hours of video and read countless articles on (what seemed like) hundreds of websites.

Still, nothing made sense.

Finally, after many years of this heavy lifting, I asked the unthinkable…

“Maybe there isn’t a god?”

And then I read and watched for another two months before I finally read The God Delusion.

In between chapters, I supplemented The God Delusion with even more articles and videos – this time with a heavy focus on debates between believers and unbelievers.

And just like that, the world started making sense.

Thinking about the unthinkable was – UNDOUBTEDLY – the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Nevertheless, I finally arrived at an answer that really made sense. There was no god.

Why was it so hard?

First, because in addition to letting go of god, I let go of my ideas around immortality. I saw my mind/my consciousness/my soul as nothing more than what my brain did. When my brain died, I recognized that my life would end and there would be nothing more. This, after 40 years, was an excruciating loss. There was a very real mourning period.

Worse, not only had I let go of my own immortality, but I also recognized the mortality of my family. In a very short period of time, I had to come to terms with one day losing my parents – forever. Even harder, I began to imagine what losing my wife or one of my children would mean to me. I felt such fear. Such sadness.

I was preparing myself for future losses in a reality-based way that I’d never had to consider before.

The permanent loss of loved ones was the hardest idea I’d ever had to deal with – I’m still amazed I was able to accept all of it.

Can you accept the seemingly harsh reality atheism offers? Why would you want to go any further down this path? After all, compared to what the rest of your life has taught you, what I am saying is pretty damn bleak, isn’t it?

In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley suggested that comfort and happiness often come at the expense of freedom and truth.

Yes, sometimes religion is comfortable. Sometimes it will make you happy. But, if inter-mixed and underlying that shallow sense of comfort and happiness, you feel conflict between religion and reality, it may be because you are doubting the truthfulness of what you’ve been taught so far. Accepting faith may also be impinging on your mental freedom to explore the real nature of the universe.

Comfort and happiness versus freedom and truth. Is that the choice? Not necessarily.

Since becoming an atheist, I’ve become free to think deeper about the meaning of life, and I believe I’m closer to the truth of this world than I ever was when I held a belief in God.

But, to my surprise, I am also much happier and more comfortable than I ever was before. There is no more internal conflict because the world finally makes sense. I’ve also gotten past mourning my immortality and am probably better prepared than most for my death, and the death of my loved ones. In fact, I no longer dwell on death at all (except of course to share these experiences!).

And that’s why you owe it to yourself to push a little further – to think outside the box that religion has put you in. You are seeking a melding of comfort, happiness, truth and freedom.

Is today the day you finally allow yourself to think the unthinkable?

Comments

  1. I too let go of my religious upbringing and the idea of god later in life. Someone commented on your blog that it is far harder for a theist to give up their beliefs the older they get. I found the opposite to be true. When I was younger, I was still trying to find myself, my voice, who I was. Looking back, I can see the signs of what was to be my eventual decision to let go of god. The questioning, the frustration at not “feeling” anything “out there”, challenging my role as a woman within the religious hierarchy. However, I was simply not ready when I was younger to make such a huge step. I found that age gave me the strength. I’m still learning and growing and fighting 40 years of indoctrination, but I, like you, have finally found peace with the life around me.

  2. As I was reading I came to notice how different the journey could be, yet still taking a person to the same place.
    For me I was raised catholic. We lived next door to the church, I became an alter boy early. 7 or 8 yrs, My home life was a rage of violence and anger, so the priest next door was a safe haven for me. And it really was, there was no kind of abuse like you hear of now days that’s coming out.  Events took me away from involvement  with the church, The priest was transferred, an idiot replaced him and life went on
    I grew away from the church, I had taken a lot of garbage that had become part of my life and was miserable.  I had a large hole in me that felt like a empty place of death, that nothing seem to fix. I turned back to religion to be…. to learn to be happy. I had heard of “the joy of knowing christ, heard the testimonies of how god brought peace and love, and I decided I wanted some of that.
    For about 6 years, I lived the life, Giving my all, striving for god to bring to me the promised peace and happiness. I am not talking about a sweet life of luxury or any thing like that, Just that inner peace that’s always talked about. And I didn’t think it would happen over night, but I thought it would happen maybe even by degrees.
    I ended up in the “born again movement”, Seeking god, preaching, witnessing, All of that crap. But nothing happened, no matter how much prayer, fasting, meditating, going to church, having ministers pray for me, Bible studies out the yang. Nothing not an iota of anything. Seeking his word, revealed nothing spectacular, being touched by his ghost, held no permanent solution sure you felt good for a while, but the pain was only abated in a moment of euphoria, never healed.
    I wasn’t the only one every week it was the exact same thing. People going to the gas pumps of the holy ghost, just hoping to get through the next miserable seven days if there live. Sure everyone of them were talking about the Joy of the lord, But it was like swine wallowing in mud hoping for better.
    So I started asking questions, I got the normal answers to them. So I re-asked the questions, I was told to quit, and just have faith, fuck I thought I had faith, I put my whole life into his hands, his beliefs, What do you mean faith???
    Anyways one day a big evangelist was coming to town and I thought for sure they have to be able to help. Finally I got to corner him and I asked a few really good questions, but to my amazement, the only thing I got was ushered out the door, It was like they thought I was attacking them. I couldn’t believe it.
    Well everything went down from there, I started looking for answers and nobody was able to provide the answers, Prayer didn’t bring any answers, Studying the bible did not  bring any answers. The empty pit in me never went away, The anger was barley under control.  My life was pain, guilt, anger and emptiness.  I couldn’t help but think if this is all there is; whats the point. If the only respite is death whats the point?
    Where is this washing of the blood that takes away the guilt? Where is his love that changes hate and anger, to peace and love. How much asking, seeking, learning, groveling must one undertake to get a little peace and love in the soul…Where is this god that fills that empty hole in the soul with peace tranquility, love and his presence?
    No where to be found. In fact, now not only did I have to carry around a childhood of condemnation, fear, and inferiority, I come to understand that I am also guilty of the original sin and everything there after. Talk about heaping on the load.
    I began to ask why are there no answers, why wouldn’t god just touch me and heal me. Fill the space, take the pain, let me have just a moment, just a touch of relief.
    When I looked around I couldn’t understand how all these people could tell us all we need to be happy, let god heal your soul, and on and on, but nobody could tell me how. In fact as I got to know more and more people I realized that nobody had any answers, not real ones just the superficial ones that really only say leave me alone.
    All I wanted was peace in my soul, the hurt and pain to go away, I wasn’t looking for riches, or fame. Just a little happiness.
    All this made no sense to me, why wouldn’t god help me. I new nothing, I never meant to hurt him or sin against, I only ever did what I felt I needed too, to survive, I never went out to hurt anyone. So why would he not help.
    The more I questioned the less any of it made sense, I finally came to believe that what religion said about god just wasn’t true. At least not the first glimpse of the show they present.
    My first step was to think that if there is a god it is nothing like the god religion represents. Then i thought well if he doesn’t clear this up and show us what is really right , maybe there is no god, maybe it is all just a lie.
    The next two years from that time were the darkest times of my life, all of life’s joys were dampened by that last thought. First, if I am wrong I will spend the rest of eternity in hell, but if I am wrong why does it not make any sense?
    So I spent those years, thinking that my only possibility for “true” happiness, was really a lie. I didn’t see any reason to live, but was to afraid to just die. What if I was wrong and had to spend eternity in hell?
    So From then on I held agnostic, atheistic beliefs.
    A lot of changes took place after that, I have closed the hole, healed the pain, dealt with the anger. I now lead a life with all the joy love and peace I sought, only now I do not carry all the baggage. Life is great.

  3. Wow Renshia,

    That’s an amazing story. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  4. Renishia – Thank you for sharing your story — if you don’t mind me asking…what were the questions that you were asking?

  5. “what were the questions that you were asking?”
    A long time ago I put together a website.  There was a section called “My experience with the destructive force called religion.
    Please remember it was a long time ago and still developing a new way of thinking. Here it is in it’s pretty much original form I cut and pasted the section called:
    ??QUESTIONS??
    My questions didn’t seem to be to difficult, I thought I just didn’t understand.
    Simple questions like why does God still hold me guilty of a sin committed thousands of years ago by someone else?
    What happened to forgiveness?
    What kind of a free choice is it when you can have the apple if you want, but if you do you will die?
    And why is this knowledge of good and evil a bad thing?
    Why when questioned does none of this make any sense?
    Why does all the preaching seem to be laying down rule after rule when were supposed to have a free will?
    Why does GOD give us things and then their bad things?
    What is the sense in this?
    Is this not like giving a baby a knife and getting mad at the baby for cutting himself?
    If GOD died for all our sins how can I still be guilty?
    Why do I still need to come to him for forgiveness?
    Why is it that when we do things it’s sinful and we will be held accountable, but when he does the same things he’s not accountable?
    Why does he seem to follow different rules than we do?
    Is this not being a hypocrite?
    Why am I guilty of sin when I’m only reacting to things in the only way I know how??
    Should not the teacher be responsible for the ignorance of the student?
    If I’m to be held responsible for my decisions, why do I get reproached for going out and learning?
    Do we not learn from our mistakes?
    Then how can we be condemned for making them?
    I DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!!!!!!  And why does everybody get angry at me for asking these questions?
    Why am I ostracized for asking, condemned and made to feel guilty for my questions? WHY DOESN’T THIS MAKE ANY SENSE?????????????????????
    And then it hit me it was all a lie!! It didn’t make any sense because it couldn’t. This choice was the hardest choice I had ever made in my life. I was looking for something in my life, something to give me purpose and direction, a reason for living. I was willing to accept any thing that could prove itself valid. At this time I had felt I had searched everything that was available to me. Disappointed and desperate I didn’t know what to do, The only hope I had left, seemed to dissolve into questions and contradictions and I was alone, with nothing. Alone with nothing to live for, but so full of religious programing that I was even to scared to die. So I became a zombie and buried myself into as many distractions I could find, to keep myself from the guilt, loneliness, and despair that was the essence of my life. For over two years their was never a moment that these feelings would not flood in if given even the slightest chance. Nothing to live for and to scared to die, What if I was wrong how could I spend eternity in hell for turning my back on a God that I could make no sense of?? But what if I was wrong?????????? But how could I be wrong?
    If I was wrong wouldn’t the master send a teacher to show me?
     
     

  6. Renshia – Thanks for sharing those questions with me.  I appreciate getting a little more insight into your thought process.  Would you mind if I shared my thoughts on the answers to those questions?

  7. Well jon,
    I saw an earlier post you put up, personally I don’t care if you do, but any credibility to anything you say or think went out the window with that post.
    Waste all the time you want, but if that post is any kind of representation of what your next post will be, wasting your time is all your going to do. Chances are I will not invest the energy to read it.
    I have heard all the hell fire and damnation I need to hear.
    Anything you write is now placed into the category of “just another fucking nut”.
     

  8. Renshia,

    You said basically what I thought as well. Many, many Christians start here – “you will go to hell”. It’s like they think they will scare us into believing.

    Then, they back-peddle and try to become reasonable. Ironically, after they’ve tried reason (and it fails), they go back to fear-mongering.

  9. What amazes me about this is how they think they can just produce answers to these questions, and think they make sense.
    I spent years of research trying to reconcile these doubts. I read everything I could find, talked to some of the best biblical scholars. I arranged meetings with professors of the pentecostal college that was in our town and other colleges. Went on 30 day fasts doing nothing but prayer seeking gods guidance. I did not go into this trying to challenge god but to find answers, to bring me closer to him and understanding.
    Take the original sin for instance, There’s good old Eve.. sweet innocent,  having no knowledge of evil or deception. Along comes a willy old snake.  The snake tricks her into a wrong decision,  now were condemned to die because of this.
    Where was god when this beguiling was going on? Why did he not protect her, this poor innocent child of his?  She had no knowledge of good or evil, she could not have known she was doing wrong, but did god come along and help. No, now he makes mankind suffer forever for this.
    The stupidity of this is beyond comprehension. And were just supposed to roll over and accept this.
    God gives us the faculties for curiosity, for thinking, for learning and then condemns us for using those faculties.
    What an ass he is. Should have stopped right after he made the sheep, if that was what he wanted.
     
     

  10. Renshia and 40YearOld – In my first comment relative to the Athiesm commercial, I was merely pointing out a flaw in the logic of the video.  The fact that you feel fear based on that logic does not mean that I am trying to scare you into believing. 

    Renshia, you mentioned the years of study that you invested to come to your current understanding and 40YearOld implied he has also invested serious thought into these matters.  I very much respect that investment, and realize that you feel that you have reached a conclusion.  Likewise, I have invested much to arrive at my current worldview, and like you, I believe that I am correct.  Nonetheless, the purpose of this blog and the ability to comment is to be able to have discourse on the matter.  Personally, I find that discourse between two (or more) parties of opposing viewpoints can be very valuable.

    I also must question your legitamacy of dismissing everything that I might have to say as “just another fucking nut” based on my belief in the existence of Hell.  I don’t dismiss everything that you have to say based on your lack of belief in Hell, or in your apparent anger at those who don’t share your worldview.

    40YearOld – You mention that many Christians start with “You will go to Hell”.  What else would you expect them to lead with?  If one sees another in imminent danger, of course the first thing they would do is warn of the danger.  Of course Christians understand that the assertion of Hell is offensive, just as I assume Athiests understand the assertion of Athiesm is offensive to others.

    Personally, I would rather have conversation than getting ticked off and offended at one another.

  11. I am not angry at an opposing view, really I get thrilled when presented with an opposing view.
    But coming here to lay down facts like were going to hell, trust me, were going to call you out on it. We will demand you present something credible to show what you are basing those statements on. If you can’t then, don’t be angry at us for the ridicule we give. We hold things to a higher standard in our world.
    Also as a side note, I am very direct. I was not raised with a lot of social grace. But for what it ‘s worth I don’t get angry. But I will say what I think and I will accept being wrong.  If my placing you into the nut category is hasty, I apologize. I have no problem with you disagreeing with me. But I will answer as I see fit. Sorry if the posts seem to carry an underlying feeling of scorn. But it really does amaze me that people still believe in god. To me it just seems so obvious that I just don’t understand how everybody does not see it.

  12. Renshia – I am glad to hear you are not angry, and I am glad that you are excited to hear an opposing view. 

    In response to your side-note first: I am glad that you are very direct.  I appreciate knowing how someone feels.  I would rather have somebody express something in a hurtful manner than play games. 
    And if you want to place me in the nut category, I’m not going to cry myself to sleep over it.  Lots of athiests think Christians are nuts, lots of Christians think athiests are nuts.  Just as you are amazed that people believe in God, I am amazed that people don’t believe in God.  We agree in a way “It just seems so obvious that I don’t understand how everybody does not see it”.

    You are, as you state, free to ridicule me when I tell you that Hell exists.  I am free to ridicule you when you say that Hell doesn’t exist.  And if we continue to discuss our worldview, it’s quite possible that some ridiculing may occur.  However, in general, it would seem that discussion is more fruitful than ridicule.

  13. I come at my atheism from an entirely different direction than 40 Year Old, and other commenters here. I was raised in a household that did not attend church regularly. I’m sure my mother believes in God, my father’s position is less clear. I suspect he is either agnostic or atheist, but I don’t think he ever gives religion two seconds of thought, and the subject was rarely – if ever – discussed in our house.
    I had some exposure to religion growing up. I was a boy scout, and attended church two or three times a year with that group. I’m sure I went to church with my family at least a few times. I attended a Sunday School program regularly for about a year because a friend of mine did. I was even part of a church youth group for a while. However, through all that, at no time do I ever remember actually believing all that God stuff. It always seemed very clear to me that the stories in the Bible were the same as all the other mythologies from around the world: created by men in an early and primitive attempt to explain and bring order to their world.

  14. Paul – thanks for sharing your experience.  I always find it interesting how some people just know that God doesn’t exist, and other people just know that he does.

  15. BoggledMInd says:

    I’m a 44 yr old female and atheist.  I got to this point in the last 6 months or so.
    I struggled with the same issues of acceptance of no afterlife.  I also had to mourn that.  I’ve told my husband and kids (kids are both atheists and husband believes in god, but doesn’t actively participate in any church or study) but not my extended family.  Some of them would be so upset.
    I’m still struggling with some of this, so I’m glad I’ve found this blog.

  16. @BoggledMind: It’s a brutally hard process to go through, isn’t it? I am not sure where you are, but I would like to tell you that there is a very peaceful place at the end of it.

    I will help in whatever way I can.

    All the best to you.

  17. BoggledMInd:
    so I’m glad I’ve found this blog.

    I understand the feeling. I dropped religion a number of years ago when no sites like this existed. When I stumbled upon Richard Dawkins site I remember thinking oh wow it’s great someone else finally caught up with me…lol
    Little did I know there were people like me all along…
    I know the journey can be ruff, But over coming the fear is the first step.  If you need any help I am sure there are many here willing to assist.

  18. I know that many of you will freak out about the following statement, but here goes anyway:

    @BoggledMind – When 40YearOld says “there is a very peaceful place at the end of it”, he is slightly inaccurate.  There is a very peaceful place before the end of it.  At the end is the afterlife, and if you continue to embrace athiesm it is likely to be unpleasant.

    With that said, I would echo your thought and Renshia that I am glad you found this blog.  I hope it adds clarity in your continual exploration of truth.

  19. Jon,

    Just when I think you are reasonable, your first shot at a new commenter is – just like with your video comment – to threaten eternal damnation.

    We are past that, Jon. There is no evidence for your god. There is no evidence for your hell. It’s a made-up concept left over from the dark ages. Your fear-mongering is pointless …and irritating.

  20. Mark,

    From our brief history, you know that we are both coming to this discussion from different ways.

    Like I have said before, I understand that some of what I say offends you, and I assume you understand that some of what you say offends me. 

    You think a few, or some, or many of the assertions that I make are absurd – the same could be said for my feelings about your assertions.

    You have to understand that when I bring up concepts that are central to my worldview I am not trying to “fear-monger”.  I would claim that ideas central to your worldview are also used to scare others in the opposing camp.

    Additionally, when you say “there is no evidence for your God”, I could respond with there is no evidence for your athiesm. 

    The way that you evaluate the evidence or lack thereof is what I am interested in hearing about, and interested in responding to for my own benefit and hopefully for your benefit and the benefit of others who might happen across this blog. 

    Thanks for your understanding.

  21. ah I see jon is back to fear mongering.
    You know jon, why is it that you have to come here with you threats.We all know about the black and white thinking you are programed with.. we all know were hell bound, we do not need yo to tell us. If your so determined to fear monger go to an agnostic site. You are not opening discussions here you are closing doors.
    You keep this up and your definitively going if not into the fucking nut category, at least the to stupid to learn one.

  22. @BoggledMind don’t waste any energy on anything jon says. it is becoming apparent that he is just a troll looking to cause grief.
    When trapped into a dead belief system, as I am sure your aware, there is little room for using your own mind.
    Believe me I know.  But there is a wonderful life available to you one free of guilt and the continual condemnation that comes from religion programing.
    It is better to die free than die a slave.

  23. @Renshia – Mentioning the existence of Hell is not fear mongering, anymore than your mention of any of your beliefs is fear mongering.

    If you are going to have any sort of dialogue with someone of an opposing viewpoint of course there is going to be some conflict about belief systems.  But that doesn’t mean you have to call out fear mongering and label another as a troll. 

    As I’ve said repeatedly, my intention is not to cause grief but to provide commentary from a non-athiest viewpoint.  If you are so insecure in your beliefs that you can’t handle that you will have to either stay off the internet or ask Mark to ban me.

  24. @Jon: I can see how our saying there is no afterlife would be frightening to a Christian in a similar way saying there is a hell might be to a non-believer.

    However, there are a couple of differences in terms of the context you are arguing in:

    First, you are coming to an atheist blog trying to convert me/my readers to Christianity. I am not sharing my views on a Christian site. I am not going to those places scaring Christians with talk of no afterlife. In fact, I have no interest in de-converting Christians unless they come *here* with their doubts to discuss a viewpoint that they probably have had little to no exposure to on the majority of sites they are exposed to normally. I am providing them a safe place to explore the other side WITHOUT feeling threatened by hell. When you jump in with “you’ll go to hell”, you are trying to take away the safety that is here. You can, of course, speak your mind, but we will attack this line of thinking very strongly.

    Second, your discussion of hell seems, frankly, childish to us. I and Renshia have directly and indirectly said that talk of hell is nutty. You have to understand that this sort of talk is at the extreme end of religion. No one is going to convince an atheist who’s spent the time and energy we have of hellfire and damnation. This is because there are SO many objections to the existence of God and the validity of the Bible BEFORE we even start talking about Hell.

    If you want to appeal to anyone in here at all, my advise is that you stop with all the hell stuff.

  25. Mentioning the existence of Hell is not fear mongering, anymore than your mention of any of your beliefs is fear mongering.

    Jon,
    There is also a difference between opening a dialog and preaching.  When you come here telling us we are going to hell you are not opening up a dialog you are preaching.
    Surely, you have the intelligence to be able to tell the difference. Not only that, we come here to have discussions with like minded people that are interested in dialoging about issues that concern us. Not to debate the validity of religion. Most here are way beyond disseminating religion.
    For instance if you were really here to open a dialog, why do you not answer my questions. Two days ago in the blog, SO BE IT….. I asked you some questions in which you do not seem to want to answer. But low and behold here you are in another section preaching hell fire and brimstone. If you are really interested in dialoging, instead of just being a troll, why do you not respond?
    For most of us here, what you say is far less important than what you do.
    Don’t let your actions turn your words into lies. if you say you want to dialog then do it, if not take your preaching some where else.

  26. I could respond with there is no evidence for your athiesm.

    No you could not sat that, because my existence as an atheist confirms it as evidence.
    You could say there is no evidence to prove my belief is valid.
    However that lacks any form of logic, Simply because you don’t prove negatives. For instance, your statement would be as valid as me asking you to prove the Toothfairy exits. Once again you can not prove a negative.
    I guess the real proof is the simple lack of any substantiated evidence. Therefore we choose to follow the dictum’s of  rational thought, that a complete lack of evidence, and a lack of a rational hypothesis explaining this absence is evidence enough to reject it as a working theory.
    So, I ask you present evidence and a rational hypothesis to support your claims.
    Just to save you a little bit of writing, take note that we do not count the bible, as a reliable source of information. So quoting bible versus will not be counted as evidence, unless you would be willing to agree that children’s fairy tales are valid pieces of evidence of fairies.
    Or are you just full of hot air?

  27. Tinna G. Gígja says:

    I wasn’t raised religious. Luckily for me, my parents agreed that it was best to let me decide for myself when I was old enough, so I wasn’t even baptized. Since child baptism is the norm here in Iceland, I often had to correct people when they used the words ‘baptism’ or ‘christening’, e.g. “why were you christened Tinna” (try explaining to a group of your fellow five-year-olds that yes, your name really ‘counts’, even though you weren’t dipped in water by a guy in a dress when you got it).

    My mother is Bahá’í, and initially I thought it made sense (I still think it makes more sense than, say, christianity, since the Bahá’í faith at least has a sort of built-in tolerance for other faiths) but gradually I came to realize that it was still illogical.

    Now, the church of Iceland, though lutheran, still holds on to the rite of confirmation. Most Icelandic teenagers still get confirmed, but only for the presents (polls have shown a marked ‘weakening of faith’ amongst those confirmed… right after the ceremony – or rather after the presents have all been unwrapped. Perhaps they’re “angry at God” for not getting them a PS3?)  so when I announced that I didn’t want to participate in this so-called rite of passage, it mostly caused incredulity on the part of my friends and family (But what about all the presents!?). At this point I still sort of believed in God, but had lost all faith in religion itself. That opinion was only confirmed (hah) when the local priest came to our school to distribute the applications for confirmation; after years of society harping on about how this ceremony was a “rite of passage into adulthood” and the CoI priests and bishop advertising this as a major life decision – to “follow Christ”, the old bastard had the nerve to tell me -after I politely told him I wasn’t going to do it- to take the papers anyway, since “[my] parents might want [me] to be a christian”!  The hypocrisy left me literally slack-jawed (oh, what innocence).

    After this I became really interested in religion. I had never even heard of Dawkins or Hitchens, but I stumbled upon some books on ethics. The one that really ‘convinced’ me was a collection of essays on ethics, in particular a very well written essay on whether God is the source of morality. I still use this argument when debating with religious people who claim that their God is the only reason they don’t commit “sins”: if it turned out that the Bible was mistranslated and actually said “Thou SHALT kill”, would they go out and randomly start killing?

    Sorry, bit of a…wow, look, a short attention span!

    After a lot of reading and a lot of thinking, I came to the conclusion that gods, in the sense most religious people think of them, don’t exist, and if a deist version of god is true, it doesn’t really matter since he’s not interventionist.

    Right now I truly cannot fathom how people can possibly believe in gods, I just can’t. I’ve tried, but I feel the same way about religion as I suppose most people feel about other outrageously silly imaginings. Nobody calls me ‘intolerant’ or ‘militant’ if I suggest that perhaps the Easter bunny isn’t real, or boldly assert that Elvis really is dead. I don’t see why I should pretend to respect a delusion just because it contains the word ‘god’.

    Sorry, I tend to ramble :p

  28. “Right now I truly cannot fathom how people can possibly believe in gods,”
     

    I understand completely.  Baffles the heck out of me too.
    Ramblings are welcome, preaching is not …
    Sorry just had to say it…lol

  29. Simple questions like why does God still hold me guilty of a sin committed thousands of years ago by someone else?
    Why do you think he does?

    What happened to forgiveness?
    Forgiveness is part of the Christian Doctrine – God is willing to forgive you of your sins…that is what salvation is.

    What kind of a free choice is it when you can have the apple if you want, but if you do you will die?
    There are consequences to all decisions.  Why do you find that problematic?

    And why is this knowledge of good and evil a bad thing?
    Because humans were attempting to “play God.”

    Why when questioned does none of this make any sense?
    I think it makes perfect sense – more than any alternatives.

    Why does all the preaching seem to be laying down rule after rule when were supposed to have a free will?
    Free will doesn’t mean there aren’t any rules.

    Why does GOD give us things and then their bad things?
    I don’t understand what you are asking here.

    What is the sense in this?
    See above.

    Is this not like giving a baby a knife and getting mad at the baby for cutting himself?
    See above.

    If GOD died for all our sins how can I still be guilty?
    Because you don’t believe that he did.  If you are standing in line at the store and you don’t have any money to pay for the products that you want to purchase, and someone offers to pay for your product but you refuse to accept their payment then you still owe the store money.  Its a pretty simple concept actually.

    Why do I still need to come to him for forgiveness?
    Why wouldn’t you?

    Why is it that when we do things it’s sinful and we will be held accountable, but when he does the same things he’s not accountable?
    such as?

    Why does he seem to follow different rules than we do?
    Why do parents and children abide by different standards?

    Is this not being a hypocrite?
    I don’t see how.

    Why am I guilty of sin when I’m only reacting to things in the only way I know how??
    Not sure what you mean by this one.

    Should not the teacher be responsible for the ignorance of the student?
    The usually aren’t.

    If I’m to be held responsible for my decisions, why do I get reproached for going out and learning?
    Again, need more information to respond to this one.

    Do we not learn from our mistakes?
    Some might.

    Then how can we be condemned for making them?
    You aren’t.  You are “condemned” for not correcting them.

    I DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!!!!!!  And why does everybody get angry at me for asking these questions?
    Probably because they doubt the context and your goals and motives behind the questions.

    Why am I ostracized for asking, condemned and made to feel guilty for my questions?
    Probably because they doubt the context and your goals and motives behind the questions.

    WHY DOESN’T THIS MAKE ANY SENSE?????????????????????
    Christianity makes a lot of sense.  I would ask the same question of Athiesm.

  30. Ah Jon, so you have no answers for any of it, just those standard empty nothings that are just supposed bring lost sheep into line…..
    Thanks for taking the time to show your bull shit…

    I would ask the same question of Athiesm.

    Well lets start with the fact that it makes more sense than believing in magical being that floats in the clouds and a  talking snake.
    It is reasonable and rational, not to believe in something there is no evidence for.
    It makes sense to think that I am responsible for my actions and I am not responsible for something some dumb ass did 6000 yrs ago.
    I could go on and on, but to so sit here and discuss this with a troll that does not have a rational brain in his head is a waste of my time. So figure out the rest yourself.
    If not go hang you self on a cross, we need more martyrs like you

  31. Renshia – I had answers for every question that you asked, aside from the ones where I didn’t understand the phrasing of the question.  Granted, there is much more dialogue that could be had over the subject matter of a lot of these questions.

    But, your quick dismissal illustrates that you are not really interested in answers, but rather validating to yourself that no one can answer your questions to your satisfaction.

  32. Really answered all except what you don’t understand eh… Well lets just look at that…

    Simple questions like why does God still hold me guilty of a sin committed thousands of years ago by someone else?
    Why do you think he does?

    That’s your answer. Your so right I am so dismissing your words of wisdom…

    There are consequences to all decisions.  Why do you find that problematic?

    Well yes, I know there are consequences. However I have always been one to think the consequences should fit the crime.
    Also There are actual consequences and make believe consequences. I would think that if god had given true free will we would be subject to those natural consequences, Not the made up ones, that are really a little over the top.
    For instance I don’t say, I acknowledge jesus, I burn in hell for ever. No come on, tell me that’s not just a little extreme.. Why it is not important to live the best life you can? Why is it necessary to stroke his ego just to get redemption??
    I know there is a lot asked in there so I will just leave it at this for now..
    So maybe you can share a little more of your wisdom with us.

  33. I am so glad I found this.

    I totally came to the realization about a year ago that God just is not real. You’re so right too. It’s such a sad and painful thing to realize. I mean, I freaking love my family so much, and I like a lot of things about this life. I hated that thought that if some of my family didn’t believe in God I wouldn’t be able to “take them with me” when this life was done.

    God was that one strand of hope I held on to until a year ago. I kept thinking that if I was just nice enough, and giving enough (of literally everything, my time, energy, all my resources), that maybe God would just do that one thing for me that made up for it.

    I was raised Christian. Our church was the Salvation Army. My Nana wore the uniform and all that and has actually gone on to be ordained and gives patients their last rights at city hospital. We went to church practically every Sunday until I was about 11 years old.

    I had a pretty shitty childhood. I actually come from a laaarge family. I have six brothers, one younger sister, and another brother that passed away when I was 16. We were all dragged up rather than brought up.

    But we had faith goddamit. We would stick together. My brothers and I had each other. My parents were alcoholics pretty much all while I was kid. My dad was alot worse though.

    When I was 11 my Grandfather passed away. That shattered my world. That was why we stopped going to church because everything fell apart. My Grandma was actually borderline schizophrenic and couldn’t really be on her own. So their house was sold and she moved in with us.

    My Dad eventually started doing drugs and coke. For about six months he had crack dealers living in our basement and I used to find their crack pipes and have to hide them so my brothers wouldn’t see.

    Being the oldest though, I knew I had to help my mom and I still had faith so I knew God would help us in the end of course.

    Not so much. My parents seperated because my dad literally lost it. He was just so messed up on everything and we packed up all of our shit while he was gone, went to the YWCA and left.

    No. My Grandma was not left in that either. I kicked up such a fuss about it (I was like 15 at the time) that it took the adults about a week to get her packed up and she went to live with her sister and then to a nursing home when her sister passed away.

    My mom ended up meeting another alcoholic to replace my dad. And she got pregnant. So now we were the poor charity family with a baby on the way and now my mom’s new boyfriend had disappeared. He didn’t want him so we never really saw him again.

    When my brother was around five weeks old, my mother accidently smothered him in her sleep. She took him to lay with her and breast feed and it happened. I just figured maybe God took him because he knew we couldn’t manage him and he’d be better off in heaven. I still had faith in God somehow.

    My mom sort of fell apart at that point. She started to drink more and more and eventually I just dropped out of high school all together to take care of my brothers and sister.

    Then when I was about seventeen my mom fell and tore the a/c ligament in her knee and needed reconstructive surgery. But the doctors seriously fucked that up. So now she has a disease called Osteomylitis and really should have her leg AMPUTATED but because of so many botched surgeries NO doctor will do that. So she kind of has to live with it. It was probably dirty equipment that someone forgot to sterilze properly one day and it was one of the craziest things to happen to me.

    The fighting got bad enough between my mom and I that she just threw me out. She had no desire to get off the pain medication and quit drinking and I had no desire to continue raising my brothers. I was 18 and I’d never even been on a date.

    At the time I was babysitting for a woman down the road for extra money and she was like hardcore religious and actually opened her home to me and gave me somewhere to live. I obviously had no clue where I should go or what I’d do for money to pay this woman rent.

    She was going through breast cancer and had a double mastectomy and needed a live in nanny. The way it was supposed to work was that I would be there for a few months, help her take care of her kids, make a bit of money and then decide what I should do next. So I made a stupid decision and moved in like five houses down from my mom, who I was completely estranged from at the time. I had no family. I had raised my siblings for so long and now they were five houses down and my mom wouldn’t let me near them. So I just took care of these woman’s kids, (Her name was Charlotte), and maybe if I was nice enough and giving enough God would decided I’d finally been through enough. I was fucking 18 for Christ’s Sake. How much more faith testing did I need at that point.

    Charlotte seemed to have a lot of answers for me and turned into a close friend and my best friend despite the fact that she was like, 37. Her husband didn’t mind that we were good friends and everyone accepted as part of the family so it seemed like it might be a good thing. I actually live there until almost two years ago.

    Charlotte just turned out to be a vapid, self absorbed and selfish woman. She helped me go back and get my diploma and encouraged me to go to college but even though she pretty much talked me into it, once she saw that I didn’t need her as much, and I was making friends she just turned sour. She wanted me to be her live in nanny and her best friend, which pretty much entailed signing over my life and doing everything she needed done. There were days when I would be up and gone by 6:30 am, go to classes until 6:00 pm and then bus to my job and do training until 1 am and then go home and do homework, catch an hour of sleep and do it again. Then I was still the live in nanny on the weekends.

    She just felt sorry for herself. I guess she was mad that God let her down too and she’d had a rough go (admittedly) with cancer. But she’s just the type of person that likes to shove religion down your throat, make you feel shitty for being as righteous as her, and then act like you wronged her for lord knows what. Anything set her off.

    I used to cover up for her while she cheated on her husband. I was afraid of her. That’s why. I was afraid of what she’d do to me and if I was in college and she threw me out again I’d have no where to go. She probably threatened to throw me out like 7 or 8 times and each time she would scream and scream and scream until I cried and then I guess decided I’d learned my lesson and decide I could stay.

    Eventually I met a guy I really liked and of course if new friends didn’t sit well, Charlotte did not like that I hung out with him everytime I had a spare second. One night I came home and she just freaked again. She threw me out once more but this time I packed my shit and left.

    Something snapped that night. I actually went back home briefly. My parents are a lot better and I’m really close to both of them now. But it didn’t happen till I gave up on religion and decided it just can’t be real. At this point I was 23. I had been through so much bullshit and preached to by so many people that for all the things I had sacrificed that it would all come back.

    All that happened to me was that people used me up for what I had and then ditched me to the side when I was done with.

    I saved some money up and moved out on my own. I was still slightly holding on to a little bit of belief. Maybe God was real but maybe there was Karma or just something.

    I met my boyfriend Steve just after I moved out. At this point I was decided everything was about me, about fucking time, and I met this amazing man. He’ll be the only man I’m ever with but I’m happy with that. I’m happy to grow old with him and spend the rest of my life catching up on enjoying the things I prayed God would give. It’s just funny how I never got any of it till I stopped believing and started taking control of my life, eh? I’ve never had someone be so genuinely nice and kind to me and even though I know my family (my parents and siblings) do love me, he’s beenthe first to treat me like a human being. He’s atheist so of course I wanted to know why. The world suddenly made sense.

    And sometimes it’s still hard. Everything is super fresh. I only just closed that chapter about two years ago and I’d already been living it about 23 years. I don’t cry so much anymore though. :) I still cry when I get stressed because it just makes me feel better. I had a friend that bought mason jars for the sole purpose of smashing them when she got angry. She liked the shatter noise. :)

    Like I said though, I’m eager to explore this blog a bit more. Even if I just typed this and everyone flicks past (because it’s reeeeeally long) I feel pretty good right now. I’ve never actually shared my loss of faith with anyone (except my boyfriend).

    If you’re reading this part. Wow man. Take a cookie for yourself and a virtual highfive.

    <3 Julie  

  34. Wow, Julie. I’m so amazed at your story and I’m glad you are finally finding some relief. Please do stick around – it’s wonderful to have you here.

    Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  35. Greetings Julie,
    I Know it can be a huge adjustment to shed the chains. I am sincerely happy you have come to find the joy in life, that can’t be found in religion.
     
     

  36. @ Renshia – Is there a joy in religion that can’t be found in atheism?

  37. Ha ha thanks guys. I do want to stick around for sure. It’s awesome to see all this stuff.
    I just feel enlightened in general. I can’t even tell you what a beautiful thing it is to say what I think or my opinion. Even opposing opinions are fantastic. I knew nothing about any other religion but Christianity.
     
    It’s just so sweet to find like-minded people and for the most part here all the people here seem half-intelligent. lol So kudos on that.
     
    Thanks again though. : )

  38. New to the site, but a long time atheist. WOW, I certainly can’t top any of the other journeys of enlightenment posted here!
     
    So, how did I get to be a non-believer/atheist? I guess a big part of the reason is that I was lucky in having a dad who was not a fan of the church and, additionally, he encouraged and demanded his charges to be logical and reasonable in our approaches to living our lives. We needed to come to god (if there be one) on our own. Although my dad was religious, for him it was a personal decision to believe in and hold a christian viewpoint. He did not attend church or preach or publicly advertise his faith. His belief was centred around the idea that one had to read the bible and meditate on the meaning (For him it was a personal spiritual journey, one which is best practiced by the individual from within).
     
    My mom, on the other hand, had no hesitation trying to explain biblical fairy tales -such as Noah’s ark- as fact. Doubtlessly, she had feelings of guilt about not attending church herself and, consequently, found it necessary to educate (indoctrinate?) her children about what she felt was important. Likely it was a combination of my mom’s religious education and societal pressure to make sure that all her children (yes, myself included) were baptized. So, I guess, by being baptized but not confirmed, I have half a boarding pass for my trip to Valhalla/Heaven/Disney FairyTale Land/ or whatever. My mom did push and pressure us to go through the confirmation ritual- and I thought it was supposed to be entirely my decision- but I said “NO” (with my dad’s approval, of course).
     
    My decision to abandon god started at a very young age, I am thinking around 11 years of age. Naturally, I wanted to believe my mom’s stories (Why would she lie to me?) but what I saw around me countered the stories of the bible. I simply could not synch up the bible with reality – no doubt, cognitive dissonance had set in . Having to choose, I opted for reality, the verifiable, fact over fiction. And now I carry on my dad’s ways, teaching my three children to venture forth into the world with uncluttered minds- encouraging them to never stop wondering, learning, discovering – and if they come to the conclusion that there is a god or gods, or elf armies, or leprechauns, so be it. I did my best to enable them to seek out and learn the truth to their satisfaction.

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