I don't generally talk about my religious views with people. Mainly only here in this section of UM and with friends that are also atheist. But on occasions it does come up and it's very common for people to ask me something along the lines of, "What happened to make you stop believing in god?"
There seems to be this misconception that a traumatic event has to take place for someone to stop believing in god. As if the act of no longer believing is the result of anger or fear. Some seem to think that something had to cause them to not like god and as a result disown god. Like a parent might disown a child that turned into a murderer or something. So in a way they think that atheist still believe in god but something happened to them and they blame god and say they stopped believing as a way of expressing their anger.
This strikes me as silly because it's more common for a person to "start believing in god" from a traumatic event. We hear about it all the time. The drug addict "finding god" or "being born again". The loose of a loved one causing someone to turn to god as a way of coping with their loss because of the idea they're in heaven now instead of gone.
In this line of thinking we should be asking any Christian "what happened to make you start believing in god?"
For me and I'm sure there are many that have a similar experience as I did. I really never believed. Oh, I tried to believe in god. I tried to believe because the society I live in taught me that god makes you a good person. You have to believe in god to be happy, be loved and avoid eternal hell. I tried with all my heart to believe this because I was suppose to. No, I HAD TO BELIEVE IN GOD!!! This is what the world told me. But inside I always battled myself with this. I never really believed in god. I just tried very hard to and kept my doubts to myself. When I stopped trying to believe and just realized I really have no reason to believe in god other then what others seem to feel is a necessity to be happy. So I just stopped trying and the result is that burden being lifted from my life.
I have a friend that I found out also doesn't believe in god and his feelings about it are pretty close to mind. And he feels the same way as I just mentioned above about never really believing in god but use to try to. Well about 4 years ago his father died. About six months later his mother died. Then another six months after that his brother passed away. A family of 5 went down to a family of two in just a year and a half. You can't get much more of a traumatic time then that in a life.
I consider him one of my best friends but he lives a few hours away so we only hang out in person 4 or 5 times a year. The last time we hung out a few weeks ago we talked about religion. It started as a recollection of the time thus total stranger came up to me after I did a magic show and told me that I should join her church to rid myself of the evil spirits that allow me to perform my magic. But that opened the topic of religion. I thought about all he's been through in recent years so I asked him if all those losses made him change his mind about religion.
He said that a part of him wishes it was true because it would mean he'd see his parents and brother again. But he still doesn't believe in god. This lead to him telling me some stories about the people he lost. Most if which where very funny stories and he laughed a lot.
He had just seen them again. He relived those moments with them and in a way he just spent time with them again. In a way this is more profound then the thought that we'll see those lost loved ones after we die. Because we don't have to wait, don't have to die and don't have to wonder if we will see then again.
Trauma doesn't cause people to stop believing in god. It's often what makes people start believing in god. Because its an easy patch to fill that void of the unknown and unanswerable. I know this isn't always the case. But I'm sure trauma had turned more people toward religion then against it.
Edited by Magicjax, 03 April 2012 - 05:21 PM.