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"What happened to make you stop believing?"


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#31    Ehrman Pagels 1

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 05:52 AM

View PostArbenol68, on 04 April 2012 - 12:51 AM, said:

Sometimes it really is as simple as that. Boring, I know.

I have no testimony to explain why I don't believe in God. I don't remember a time that I ever did. My parents were catholic and we went to church. Some of my earlier memories are of sitting there during the interminable mass and wondering if everyone else there really believed all of it.
A "real" religion is to prepare you to have that one-on-one connection with the Holy Spirit, Power, or Shakti. It's a concrete experience, not just a belief. Pentacost hasn't stopped since day one.


#32    Ronztrek

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 05:53 AM

View PostMagicjax, on 03 April 2012 - 05:13 PM, said:

Have any of you atheist been asked this question when someone finds out you don't believe in god?

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.

There's a word for this, for the 'end of beliefs'. It's called knowing!


#33    shadowsot

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:34 AM

Don't know one particular thing that made me become an atheist. Knowledge of the world helped. Knowledge of other religions helped, especially the ancient ones. My CCD teacher probably helped by giving me my first book on Egyptology.
I had a better knowledge of the Bible when I was younger, and that helped to. Lots of things that didn't make sense. Rape, pillage and plunder. Treatment of women, the weaseling of believers to fit these into modern society. The general evolution of religion over time which doesn't give it a place of moral certitude for me.
  Much of the greatest teachings of Jesus are found in teachings around the Eastern world and in the Greek world as well, far prior to his supposed existence.

   That and just so much other bits of straw finally caused me to drop religion.

It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone's fault. If it was us, what did that make Me? After all, I'm one of Us. I must be. I've certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We're always one of Us. It's Them that do the bad things.
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#34    Arbitran

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 10:21 AM

View PostMagicjax, on 03 April 2012 - 05:13 PM, said:

Have any of you atheist been asked this question when someone finds out you don't believe in god?

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.

I have been asked this many times by Christians. I am currently an atheist Hindu.

Try to realize it's all within yourself / No-one else can make you change / And to see you're really only very small / And life flows on within you and without you. / We were talking about the love that's gone so cold and the people / Who gain the world and lose their soul / They don't know they can't see are you one of them? / When you've seen beyond yourself then you may find peace of mind / Is waiting there / And the time will come / when you see we're all one and life flows on within you and without you. ~ George Harrison

#35    willowdreams

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 11:14 AM

I think my answer always confuses people.

See, they think because I grew up in a religious area of the country and my family is deeply involved in their religious beliefs, I grew up drowning in the faith, since the age of 8ish, bible studies, theocracy group meetings, out in service door to door et et that I would automatically believe in god.

SImple truth is, i never really did, not really. i went through the motions because as a child that is what you do. you do what your parents tell you or face punishment or 'upsetting' them.

I just never really believe. To me it was just a bunch of old stories from long ages ago and turned into a religion. the words 'god was looking out for you' when i would childishly make wrong choices that could have come out horribly bad, made zero sense to me. why would i be more special then those kids starving in other countries or those kids killed on the turnpike in a horrible semi accident a week or so previous? i wasnt any better then them.

some people of different faiths then what i grew up in (Jehovahs Witnesses do not believe you go to heaven when you die) who believed in heaven sometimes made comments 'Oh that person was so wonderful that god wanted him with him!'

well that certainly did not make sense either. i was a darn tootin good kid. so were many of my friends, guess we wernt wanted in heaven so we had to stay in our homes.

others would say things like 'you are going through your horrible times because it will make you stronger', ummmmmmmmmmmm no?

it never made sense,no matter what faith it was. it all sounded like fairy tales set in real cities, like loads of books today. I mean, harry potter is set in england, which really does exist! doesnt mean there is an alternate magical world within our own where there is school for magic! the 'stories' of the bible, majority cannot be proven to be true, one is told to 'take it on faith'. well, if i am going to take something not proven on faith, then how about i choose another story i like better and is funner to read. i like harry potter and the magical world within our own, so i think that would be more enjoyable to 'take on faith'.

or even better, maybe i can take on faith that i will get all i want if i do one of those 'work at home deals' if i just send $29.99 for the paperwork! or amway!

people can scream 'prove to me there is no god', and i will laugh at their silly jest, because  really. you cannot prove 'without faith', that their is a god. i do not see god, i do not smell him or feel him physically or any other way. i do not breath him, i do not drink him. he has not manifested himself in such a way to show proof he exists. for someone who seemingly talked a lot to his people way back when, he sure has shut up as people advanced in inventions and industry. perhaps if he did exist, he decided he would rather be someplace else and left?

in my heart he exists? hrmm, i feel the love i have for my family and i can see and feel their warmth of love. i do not feel any other being tugging at my heart strings. and really seriously, if he is the great father of all, he would know how to tug at them, because people, we parents are wonderful beings and we PUT those heartstrings on our kids so we can tug em and get their attention.

no one is tugging at mine.

so i spose the answer of

i never really believed in god any more then i seriously believed in santa clause or the easter bunny (though in reality i would not have as JW's do not teach their children to believe in such things), and in my heart, i never believed in god.

but i do believe in people!!!!

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#36    _Only

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 02:29 PM

View Postwillowdreams, on 07 April 2012 - 11:14 AM, said:

others would say things like 'you are going through your horrible times because it will make you stronger', ummmmmmmmmmmm no?

I don't agree with your questioning of this part, religion or not.

"I think there may be "ghost phenomenon" that may be still not fully understood or dismissed, but that doesn't make it spirits of the dead, anymore than "UFO" means "spaceship" or even "UFO" or "spaceship" is directly related to aliens, or anything else. There is way too much assumption and a baseless reliance on anecdotal lore, like when people assert this or that about the spirit world or the astral plane or Ouija board demons, or religion. I say 'says WHO?'" - Paranormalcy

#37    willowdreams

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 09:12 PM

View Post_Only, on 07 April 2012 - 02:29 PM, said:

I don't agree with your questioning of this part, religion or not.

there is no way anyone can convince me that through some cosmic/spiritual whatever thing i am expected to go through horrible things in order to get stronger.

life is life. sometimes you have bad things happen and sometimes you do not. life does not care if you get stronger or get weaker.

some people hardly anything happens, they have a 'golden' life. does not mean they are 'weak'. some people have bad thing after bad thing happen to them, does not mean they are stronger.

things happen.

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#38    _Only

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 10:32 PM

View Postwillowdreams, on 07 April 2012 - 09:12 PM, said:

there is no way anyone can convince me that through some cosmic/spiritual whatever thing i am expected to go through horrible things in order to get stronger.

life is life. sometimes you have bad things happen and sometimes you do not. life does not care if you get stronger or get weaker.

some people hardly anything happens, they have a 'golden' life. does not mean they are 'weak'. some people have bad thing after bad thing happen to them, does not mean they are stronger.

things happen.

Life is what you make of it. Including hurting, and/or learning from your good and bad experiences. Doesn't have to be anything religious or spiritual about it. Life doesn't care if you get stronger or weaker. But you do. Can't really think about how it relates to other people's lives. You don't know their lives like you know your own. But you know yourself, to some degree. That's what you should base your ideas off of.

Everything that happens to you is a learning experience. Just some take them negatively when they're painful, and don't want to look past the surface, out of fear. But even in the most painful experience, there can be a lesson, if only in how to overcome that pain. If you can manage that, you become stronger for it. And what a good learning experience that would be, to be able get past a strong, negative part of your life. To deny yourself the capability of being able to learn good from bad things that happen to you, because you think it has to be tied to something you don't believe in, I hope you don't have a strong negative time in your life. You are gonna have a horrible time, and a horrible outlook. Then again, maybe it would take that happening to change your mind.

Edited by _Only, 07 April 2012 - 10:44 PM.

"I think there may be "ghost phenomenon" that may be still not fully understood or dismissed, but that doesn't make it spirits of the dead, anymore than "UFO" means "spaceship" or even "UFO" or "spaceship" is directly related to aliens, or anything else. There is way too much assumption and a baseless reliance on anecdotal lore, like when people assert this or that about the spirit world or the astral plane or Ouija board demons, or religion. I say 'says WHO?'" - Paranormalcy

#39    willowdreams

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 10:44 PM

View Post_Only, on 07 April 2012 - 10:32 PM, said:

Life is what you make of it. Including hurting, and/or learning from your good and bad experiences. Doesn't have to be anything religious or spiritual about it. Life doesn't care if you get stronger or weaker. But you do. Can't really think about how it relates to other people's lives. You don't know their lives like you know your own. But you know yourself, to some degree. That's what you should base your ideas off of.

what makes you say I didnt base my ideas off of myself? Isnt that what opinions are all about? YOURSELF?

I have experienced life. I have experience no god. I experienced life. You seem to be under the impression (this is an assumption) that I am saying you do not become stronger or weaker due to experiences. I am not.

I am saying that no life force (cannot think of another way to say god/spirit/another deity-depending on your faith-cosmic force/universe force plan, et et et) has made it 'oh you get stronger with adversity'. I am keeping with the origional post who stared this thread.

life is life. you make of it what YOU make of it.

no life force (you know what I mean) has decided from the beginninng 'oh i will test you, give you trials to make you grow', no life force when i die will be saying 'i loved you so much i wanted you with me!', no life force is responsible for the good fortune i had when i narrowly escaped death! I am no more important and needing rescued by a deity than the child in the next state over who is perhaps being killed by someone and no rescue by some life force for said child!

hense the origional message

i do not believe in a spiritual being looking out for us, protecting us, laying out tests for us or even existing

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#40    Lion6969

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 12:05 AM

I have been asked why I stopped being atheist ;)


#41    Magicjax

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 12:27 AM

View PostLion6969, on 08 April 2012 - 12:05 AM, said:

I have been asked why I stopped being atheist ;)

Did you realize you never where? :)

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#42    Lion6969

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 12:52 AM

View PostMagicjax, on 08 April 2012 - 12:27 AM, said:

Did you realize you never where? :)

Do you realise you have lost me.... What do you mean?


#43    Magicjax

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 12:58 AM

My poor attempt at a joke. Many of us atheist are saying we never really beloved. You turned around by saying you use to be atheist.

As comedians learn to do when a joke goes bad. Just say "anyway…" and move on to something else. So that's what I'll do now. :)

Edited by Magicjax, 08 April 2012 - 01:03 AM.

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#44    _Only

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 01:18 AM

View Postwillowdreams, on 07 April 2012 - 10:44 PM, said:

You seem to be under the impression (this is an assumption) that I am saying you do not become stronger or weaker due to experiences. I am not.

I am saying that no life force (cannot think of another way to say god/spirit/another deity-depending on your faith-cosmic force/universe force plan, et et et) has made it 'oh you get stronger with adversity'. I am keeping with the origional post who stared this thread.

Thanks for clarification, because that line I originally quoted didn't specify. Felt out of place with the rest of what you were saying.

"I think there may be "ghost phenomenon" that may be still not fully understood or dismissed, but that doesn't make it spirits of the dead, anymore than "UFO" means "spaceship" or even "UFO" or "spaceship" is directly related to aliens, or anything else. There is way too much assumption and a baseless reliance on anecdotal lore, like when people assert this or that about the spirit world or the astral plane or Ouija board demons, or religion. I say 'says WHO?'" - Paranormalcy

#45    Painnsufferin

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 03:41 AM

I wouldn't say I am an Atheist, I would say show me the proof, God wants my love and adoration, he needs to come and say hello. He could come knock on my door and hand me a pamphlet.





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