Does anyone remember when you became an unbeliever?
I must have been an unbeliever early in life... At around 8 years old I stole money from the candle offerings in church and used same to take the bus home and buy an ice cream.
I am not sure if I thought at the time to throw the money on the curb, or thought it after I got caught...can you imagine how the nuns thought of me afterward?
Edit: I was in a catholic school, and the church was beside and a part of the school.
I went to a Catholic school for my first 5 years of school. I was an alter boy from 3rd to 5th grade. It was back when the mass was done in Latin, pre 65. I did a mass every other weekday and 3 masses on Sunday.
By the 5th grade, I was questioning the entire thing. I think even the Priests weren't really true believers either but it is a nice job to have.
In 6th grade I stopped going to church. Those who have left know how hard and scary it is to denounce a faith or doctrine that you have been indoctrinated in (brainwashed) for your entire life.
I am not an atheist, but I don't believe in the "Christian" version any more.
Now I'm a Buddhist. In case you didn't know, Buddhism is NOT a religion. It is a non-theistic practice. Also an ethical code, a philosophy, and a psychology.
But thought Buddhism took more discipline than I was willing to expend.
At the time I was reading lotsa spiritual books, including the Carlos Castineda (sp?) trilogy.
When I was 12 or so, I was quite a little Christian. The summer before I turned 13, I went to Boy Scout camp. I went to Vespers every night, and sort of befriended an older guy who also went. We discussed Christianity a lot, and we got to the question of who would be "saved." Keeping in mind that he was older than I, I looked up to him. He told me only those who accepted Jesus as their savior would avoid hell. Period. I asked about people who had been alive before Jesus, or people who had simply never heard of Jesus. Sorry, they're all doomed to hell, along with everyone who had not accepted Jesus as their savior. No matter how exemplary their lives, no matter how virtuous or generous, they are doomed to eternal damnation. And I wondered what kind of deity would be so cruel. Then I began questioning religion and God about other things. It didn't take long before I no longer believed in God at all.
I've never heard a good answer to that. I don't think I've ever heard someone even try.
I have heard assholes take glee in telling me I'm going to Hell. I guess you have to be as cruel as your god to be a theist.
I too have encountered people who are gleeful about believing that others will be going to hell. You have to be one sick puppy to derive joy from the belief that someone else is facing eternal torture in a pit of fire and sulfur.
Is there anything in the job description that that requires a deity not to be cruel?
The better question is why any decent person would worship that kind of deity. Of course, those theists who take pleasure in fantasizing that we're going to be tortured forever are not decent people. But plenty of worshipers of that god are good and kind people, who have somehow convinced themselves that the stories in the Bible are lies and their deity really is good and kind like they are.
Asked my religious Sister about the fate of all those alive before Jesus: "They're all going to hell."
Ridiculous, absurd, nonsensical bullshit.
I was, and still am, awed by the Gospels. Jesus was and is a Lincolnesque figure to me.
The deciding factor for me is death. I fear death, not because of hell but because of nothingness. I don't believe that others believe they will go to a mansion in the sky; otherwise they would not fear death. Our fear gives us away. No way you believe in heaven if you tremble at the thought of death.
Why fear death when heaven has so much to offer?
Seems the Islamic religion offers better than the 'right side of god', rather 13 virgins, upon which they will blow themselves up.
Maybe christianity needs a better heaven?
For a couple of days, I imagined him as a small-scale parade balloon tied to the bumper of my parent's car, and watching from above as we drove around.
The extension of this was the possibility that every car had a similar balloon-Jesus in tow, which made we wonder what kept the strings from tangling up in traffic.
I'm fairly certain this improbability was a deal breaker for me.
That was when I learned about multiple of religions that told about special births and resurrections and stuff like that.
there were others with the same stories.
My mother had a book, "Sixteen Crucified Saviors" I believe the name of it was. I didn't get the chance to read it, so can't tell you what other religions they were, but I certainly got the gist of the premise!
(But I'm not agnostic of atheist -- the only reason I'm here is this thread hit the Greatest Pages.)
Sure, when I was little and the nuns used the threats of "hell" and "eternal torment" I was as scared as any child subjected to their insidious form of child abuse...but I never could get past the inanity of Noah's ark story. Ironically, it was visits to the zoo as a child that made the connection for me. The animals in the zoo - especially the large carnivores like lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) - looked miserable and cramped when we saw them...but on TV, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom specifically, they ran, hunted, lolled around and looked so very different.
My child mind of maybe 5 or 6 years old began questioning all of the bible stories after that...and the other big event I remember that made me question the veracity of Biblical stories further was "the 10 Commandments" as it was aired every year around Easter. The parting of the Red Sea and the comical ineptitude of Pharaoh's minions for Yul Brenner just seemed "off". Maybe it was also partly my standing as the first male child in my family too, but the entire "Angel of Death" idea seemed hideously evil to me...why would 'god' need to kill ME to show how much he "loved" everyone else?
While I was forced to go to mass twice a week until I was 16 years old and had finally had enough, I did not believe any of it from about the time I was 6 or 7. Nothing at all has happened since that would change it one iota, in fact, I am more certain in my lack of belief now than I have ever been and that is confirmed daily for me by the actions and statements and further exposures to the "faithful"...hypocrites and fools all.
Maybe, cause they were the inheritors of said property?
reading the stuff in 'prayer' book, thinking, 'WHAT? I sure don't believe that; why would I pray to such an entity?' I recall Dad, thereafter, nudging me to read aloud along with the congregation. No fuss was made of my belief/non-belief.
when the priest in fourth grade catechism class told us kissing was a mortal sin. By fifth grade I was questioning why, if god was 'all knowing and all forgiving', was I confessing my 'sins' to the priest in the confessional? I felt I got the message when I got sick the day of my confirmation. Started calling myself agnostic in high school. In my fifties I figured the hell with it and claimed my atheism. I've felt free ever since.
when the priest told me my dead pet was not in heaven and I could not have him in heaven...at that point I decided not to go to heaven.
Suddenly I see these catholic churches blessing pets!!!!
That and no more purgatory AND you CAN eat meat on Friday...no more latin services???
OH, and now nuns wear street clothes...what is a catholic?
Attended Mass regularly, prayed the rosary, all that good stuff.
I had some odd moments. One was when I was about 15 and attended a prayer meeting of Charismatic Catholics with my friend. Suddenly these people started "speaking in tongues." It was weird and I wondered if there was something wrong with me because I literally felt nothing. I was told that the Holy Spirit chooses who it speaks through. Ohhhkay.
At some point during that time I started to become aware of gender inequality - why women weren't ordained - and questioned why priests weren't allowed to marry. And don't get me started on the liturgy itself. Once I started asking questions, it stopped making sense.
There was no clear moment of "wow, this is bullshit." More like a gradual dawning.
The final break happened during my English literature studies in college. So much of English lit is Church writing. Some of the writers asked damn good questions and the Church was clearly making shit up to solve the holes in their logic.
I haven't been to Mass in decades, except for funerals. I'm in the closet with regard to my atheism because of the reactions I have gotten from friends and co-workers when I revealed my non-believer status. I can never tell my parents, they would be devastated.
I don't think I ever told my mother, and my employer is a staunch christian...
I am a nonbeliever. My boss is a devout Christian and a Republican. He's a good man who actually practices what he believes without being "preachy " about it. We don't discuss religion or politics.
I don't know how he and others would react if they knew about my lack of beliefs. They would probably surmise that I will spend eternity in hell even though I exhibit more Christian traits than many of them as far as being honest, telling the truth and helping those in need.
I understand and accept that other people believe and I respect that, but I can't conceive of it for myself.
I clearly lack that gene.
Many of us were indoctrinated early in life and had to untangle.
Happy for you to never having had to endure that
It was when I kept trying to find out if Adam and Eve were the first people and they had 2 sons, where did their wives come from? That's when I somewhat knew it was all a fairy tale.
After a lot of jibber jabber about the Bible, I had the audacity to ask "What's the point of it all? Why are we even here?"
My parents were asked to straighten my thinking out before I was brought to class the next week.
but I guess it was when I asked who come first Adam and Eve or the dinosaurs, I was told I was being difficult
The tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, God.
I pretended to believe for many years to keep out of trouble. I love music, so I loved choir. Deep down, I thought as a child that something was really wrong with me because I didnt believe. I stopped going to church around age 16. Dont discuss it much.
Maybe if I had managed to keep pretending, eventually I would have convinced myself. I think probably there are a lot of people like that.
You can sing really loud & if you hit a wrong note, no one cares. I also had some pretty awesome doodle skills back then.
KKKristian repthugliKKKans were screaming the installed 2000 potus was a KKKristian. I puked and just internalized the 'good' things I had learned from my 20 year study of ameriKKKan KKKristianity. Southern baptist religion especially. They had recently, in the early 80's, asked that I not return to their church with my friend, a white female who was trying to be christian too. Our interracialnality upset some of the preachers long time tithers.That's all I needed to know about white fundies and their take on religion and AA. Oh and by the way what kicked my derision and disgust into high gear was harris, SC and bush-cheney 2000.
This has never been and never will be a Christian nation. Period.
After my disgusting and heartbreaking journey with active KKKristians, I stated looking at the whole spectrum of religious and so-called pagan rites. They have all helped me since I wanted nothing to do with RACIST ameriKKKan KKKristianity.
that terrible bedtime prayer that parents teach their innocent little children:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I 'wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
I remember saying that prayer while kneeling beside my bed and it scared the bejesus right out of me. It kept me up at night worrying about death and some creepy stranger stealing my soul (whatever that was) and I hated it.
I had a big fit and refused and my mom gave me the belt (yeah, that was considered good parenting) and made me hate that prayer even more. Despite all her threats and punishments, I never 'prayed' after that, whatta brat I was back in the day! It always struck me as thoughtless cruelty to frighten little kids with stories about death and thieving ghosts at bedtime. I never tormented my own kids by telling them they might die in the middle of the night and some supernatural apparition would steal their stuff. Amazingly, none of them became witches, demons or flying monkeys.
It all sounded just too improbable.....even for a 12 year old child. I was so naive, I didn't know what a virgin was....let alone why her becoming a mother couldn't work.
I stayed connected to the youth group through high school because as a student at an all-boys school, my Mom wanted to make sure I met a sufficient number of girls.
My wife went to Catholic school for 16 years. It scarred her for life. She still struggles with endless guilt to this day, and she is now in her seventies.
He was Jewish. Christianity is totally made up.
Anyway, my folks sent me to a different Summer Bible school every year. Ive been Protestant an Episcpalian a Presbyterian a Lutheran And worst and last a Reformed Evangelical Lutheran.
After awhile I realized they all said different things about what the Bible says. From merciful loving light to a judgemental warrior.
Then the role of women from obiedient maid servant to bitch who ate the apple who doomed us all.
FinallyScience made me see how impossible divinity could be.
Our dog and our neighbor died on the same day. I was crying for the dog. My dad told me to stop crying for the dog it wasn't going to heaven and to cry for the family of the man who did go to heaven. The man was a toad who always tried to kiss me on the lips. I knew right then my dad and anyone else who believed that was full of shit.
OR NO god
I too stopped wanting to go to heaven if I could not reside there with my kitty
My brother had a few too many and called me to ask "Are you a Christian?" I said yes!. He then asked "Why?".
I know I can say anything to him and blurted out "Because I was brainwashed as a child." I thought it would shock him but he laughed and said good girl.
After that I realized that there was a lot of truth to my answer and I wanted to understand more. This Group had a mention about the podcast The Atheist Experience. I listened to every old podcast on their list and branched out to others. I know I didn't believe the creation story and the flood story when I was very young but I went along because what else was there? I remember one summer night the moon was red! OMG, that's in Revelations. I asked my Mother if the world was coming to an end and she said No, it's just smoke from a forest fire that makes the moon look like that. Another story bites the dust.
I lived enough south to learn to say a good Ya'll, and also learned that a "fine Christian person" just doesn't exist if you have to be told that they are such a person.
I don't usually volunteer that I'm Atheist but the door to door evangelist sure do move fast when I smile and say "I'm an Atheist".
Just wanted to say HI to a fellow fan.
The more I go through them, the more I like Tracie Harris - she is really down to earth.
I may have more time to go into my experience tomorrow or Monday
I started reading very early (Mom said around two - having lots of books around and having them read to you while you look will do that, I guess) and also was supplied with many books of Greek and Roman mythology.
Well, there ya go - what else was I going to be?
I learned the word for it at seven, I think.
I thought most of his readers were dead by now (glad we aren't).
It was a journey with several steps for me.
Grew up a Christian (ELCA Lutheran), never really "felt" religion like others seemed to, but went through all the motions, convincing myself that eventually something would kick in.
Later in high school, did some reading and began questioning if any Christian church really was "right" - they all seemed wrong about some things. In college, reading a lot more, expanded that to all religions. How could any of them be correct? I think I still believed in some kind of god at that point, but had discarded belief in Jesus. Felt guilty for doing that, but it felt right.
Then I came across classic freethought literature. Robert Ingersoll really opened my eyes. Wasn't long before I knew I was an atheist.
was the name of a book I read in the early 1970s that was the final straw for me. I was never a believer, not even as a child, but the book made me an unbeliever. I have tried to find the book online but haven't been able to, and I don't recall the author's name.
taught by nuns mostly. Had many fears instilled in me.
Many things happened from 7th - 12th grade that chipped, chipped, chipped away at the lies they told me.
- Molested by priest at 13 and spent 2 years hiding while he pursued me - parents took his side.
- ate meat on a Friday at my part time job - didn't die and go to hell.
- missed a Sunday mass and didn't die and go to hell
- dated many non-Catholic girls - didn't die and go to hell.
- married one of them - pretty much gone from the church by then.
After HS was pretty much non-religious. When I would think about religion it was mostly negative but not fully atheist.
But when the tool of the devil - the internet - came around and I had some time I started looking for answers to questions I had had for decades. After @ a year I was well over to the atheist side.
As someone upthread had done I also started watched atheist you tubes landing mostly on Atheist Experience. They really helped clear up many, many questions.
always said I was protestant when asked for some reason, even had protestant on my dog tags, when I found out dubya was a protestant I came out and told everybody I was an Athiest.