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Magicjax

Your Road to Atheism?

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Magicjax

I'm basically just making this post out of curiosity. I know we all have different experiences in life and there's more then one path of experiences that can lead people to the same conclusions. But I'm curious as to how common the path I took from being a theist to a non-theist is. I have talked to a few atheist about this that went through similar phases that I went through, but I'm just curious as to how common it really is. 

Another side thought to this curiosity is that judging by some of the things I've heard or read people say, even here in this section of UM, makes me wonder if some of them are  in one of the phases I've been in on my road to being an atheist. This makes me wonder if some of them/you might eventually end up an atheist. Like I said, I know we're all different and I'm not suggestion everyone will come to the same conclusion I did. But I'm still curious. 

So here's the path I took in a nut shell. 

I didn't grow up in a heavily religious household. We didn't talk about it very often but it was just an unspoken issue that we all assumed we agreed on. That although we weren't heavy church goers and didn't pray before our meals. From time to time it would come up enough that we all just knew that we all believed in god. 

So, in my teens I started to question religion. I didn't like going to church in the least. I had never enjoyed any of the church services I had ever attended when I went with relatives or friends. I just knew I believed in god. 

This brings me to the first phase of my process of eventually becoming an atheist. This is the phase when I'd say, and think, that I don't fallow any religion but I do believe in god. This was the phase where I'd explain it with phrases such as "god lives in me" and "I am my own steeple". It actually annoyed me in these days if anyone gave my religious belief any kind of title such as baptist. I felt no connection to any of these sects of Christianity. I just believed god existed. It just didn't have anything to do with the story's that god was connected to. Basically I believed in god but felt the bible was a man made book. 

Over time, I'd say in my mid 20's. My feelings where that I'm starting not to believe there really is a god. It was a kind of inner battle of the facts that I really want to believe in god, but I saw, felt and thought of no real reason to believe god really does exist. My mind was thinking I really want to believe in god, but I just don't. At this phase I would basically describe myself as agnostic. The "I don't know if there's a god" pretty much described my thought during that time. I saw no reason to believe in god but at the same time I really wanted to. I would rather believe there is a heaven I will go to someday and a hell I never want to see. Admittedly the fear of going to hell was much stronger in my mind as the thought of making it to heaven though. Not going to heaven just meant I'd probably continue like I do right now in the real world. That's not so bad. But the fear of going to hell was a very strong pull toward at least not denying there is a god. Thinking "I don't know" seemed a little safer then outright denying gods existence. So basically I was agnostic. 

Then in about my middle 30's I basically came to a conclusion that I just don't believe in god. I don't believe a word of this book that suppose up be our only clue that there even is a god. I realized that religion was the only place I've ever been in my life where I battled with myself to try and believe in something that makes absolutely no sense to me. I would never put effort like that in any other area when nothing has given me even a glimpse of a reason to believe it. I realized that even if there was a god, which is suppose to be all knowing and all powerful, would be an obvious truth. In short I simply stopped arguing with myself and realized I just don't believe in god. 

It would seem that would be the end of my road to being an atheist. Well it basically is because at that moment that I consciously truly believed god doesn't exist. In that moment I became an atheist by definition. But that's not where my road ends. 

So, I'm now an atheist. But I didn't call myself one. When the subject came up for the first few years I didn't like it when the subject came up and I said I didn't believe in god and they called me an atheist. My response was, "I don't care enough about the topic to have any title". I basically didn't like anything that was remotely linked to religion. Period. Atheism isn't religion. It's the opposite of religion. But it was still connected to religion. You can't be an atheist in a world that has no religion. So I didn't like to be connected to it in anyway. 

This brings me to the phase I'm in right now. And right now I'm proud to call myself an atheist. Do what happened to change my mind about that label?  Basically, places like this section of UM is a big part of the reason. 

I discovered that's there are many more people in the world that have similar thought about religion as I do. We'll all have various opinions about certain aspects. But I realized there are more people then I thought that dint believe in god. That's the only common ground all atheist have though. When I discovered and meet more people that don't believe in god I was pretty surprised. I felt more open to speak my mind about it. I mean it's one thing to just know there are people out there that don't believe in god like I do. Quite another to actually be able to talk about it with someone else. Especially when we discover that we do have different opinions but they all lead to the "atheist" conclusion. 

So I'm now in a phase where I'm glad to be able to talk to others that feel the same way I do as far as not believing in god and all the issues attached to it in the society I live in. I don't go around talking about it in my day to day life but when it does come up I actually enjoy the feeling of freely speaking my mind and not having to just pretend to agree with someone because society for the most part tells us were suppose to. And when the topic does come up and I'm apparently the only atheist in a group. I feel it's important to be open and honest with my views because who knows. Maybe one of them is struggling with it like I did and will learn that they've found someone else that doesn't believe in god that isn't afraid to say it out loud and they could, if they wished, talk to me about it. 

So now I'm openly atheist. Proud of it and if anyone asks me about it I'll tell them. I'd hope I'd at least open their eyes and see that you don't need religion for all the things most people think can only be found through religion. When it comes up I try to show them my point of view and weather they agree with me or not they'll at least learn that at least this atheist is a nice person, has morals and is happy without god. 

Anyway, although this is a kind of long post it really is an "in a nut shell" version of my road to becoming an atheist. I'm curious if anybody you took a similar path. I know not everyone went through the exact process. But I am curious. 

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White Crane Feather

Your story is common for both atheists, and Those that continue on and evenchually embrace an open spirituality. There is an area of thuoght that atheism is actually a 3rd stage in spiritual development. I'm not sure labels like that go any good. Your story is similar to mine, but I'm a little further along another road.

Thanks for sharing.

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Arbenol

We're all born atheists so you could argue that you've just been on a trip and have now returned home.

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ZaraKitty

Religion was never a big part of my family life growing up, my grandmother was devout however. I've always been on the fence with god, he might exist he might not. Whatever, I don't care but I recently got the view of disliking god if he did exist, I was raped multiple times by two different people and the only solice my devout grandmother gave me was 'well thats what you get for hanging around boys.' then proceeded to give me Christianity booklets about why I should love god and all that. I refuse to love a god that would allow such things to happen to me, and I don't deny his existence, but he will never have my love. I've been told it's part of his 'big plan' for me. I had to hold myself back from smacking someone out.

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White Crane Feather

We're all born atheists so you could argue that you've just been on a trip and have now returned home.

Born atheists?

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Arbenol

Born atheists?

That's what it says.

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White Crane Feather

That's what it says.

I guess if you cling to the idea that atheism is a non-belief.... Then tie that into young children not having any real beliefs until they are taught. That's a very inacurate analogy. Children have not had time to develop beliefs. Atheists quite obviously have. At young ages, reguardless of what they have been taught, they engage in plenty of magical thinking... Very unatheist like.

I have a non belief that atheism is a non belief. I have a non belief in the axiom of materialism. Yes built on actual logic not wishful thinking.

I might consider a true agnostic stand point as a non belief.... Ultimately it's the only reasonable option, but atheists returning to a child like or new born like state. Not hardly.

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Arbenol

I guess if you cling to the idea that atheism is a non-belief....

Yes

Then tie that into young children not having any real beliefs until they are taught.

That's right

I have a non belief that atheism is a non belief. I have a non belief in the axiom of materialism. Yes built on actual logic not wishful thinking.

I might consider a true agnostic stand point as a non belief.... Ultimately it's the only reasonable option, but atheists returning to a child like or new born like state. Not hardly.

You think too much.

It wasn't meant to be taken entirely seriously.

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Mr Walker

We're all born atheists so you could argue that you've just been on a trip and have now returned home.

I wish people would stop making this statement. It is factually untrue. We are all born without belief or disbelief but a potential for both.

Thats not atheism, which is an expressed belief that god(s) does/do, not exist.

Such a belief has to be, and is, formed using the same processes as theism is formed as a belief structure. This construction of belief has been demonstrated by the measurement of neurological processes in the human mind. (not particularly in religious terms but in the construction of any belief system.)

No one's first words or thoughts are, "Gee gods dont exist"

We "all" as a consequence of the nature of our sapience and neurology develop a belief in god(s), and or learn to construct the concept/ idea of gods as a deus ex machina at a very early age, (as we learn to speak) regardless of language, background, or culture. Then we have to be taught ,or must learn, NOT to believe in them. If anything, belief is the default position of the human mind, because it is where the way we think first naturally leads us.

Edited by Mr Walker

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Gunn

I'm basically just making this post out of curiosity. I know we all have different experiences in life and there's more then one path of experiences that can lead people to the same conclusions. But I'm curious as to how common the path I took from being a theist to a non-theist is...................................

.......................................................................*snip*..........................................................................................

Anyway, although this is a kind of long post it really is an "in a nut shell" version of my road to becoming an atheist. I'm curious if anybody you took a similar path. I know not everyone went through the exact process. But I am curious.

Actually started out the same way you did, Magicjax. Yep, believed in God and fell under the label as a Baptist, but didn't really like the religion. Then, later on, became an atheist for a good while in my late 20's and early 30's, then I eventually became what some people today may call a Autotheist. Yet I try not to identify with labels, including that one (Autotheist), which is a funny thing for me, but it's one of my philosophies in life. Anyway, came to the conclusion after many years of research on the early church and watching how religions treat non-religious individuals in this modern era, that God was never the problem, just religion itself and the people who molded that religion (sometimes I call them organized religion) into their worldview as to what they believe is right and wrong. Then I figured out the most important thing of all, concerning these religions, if they don't specifically observe the "Golden Rule" and rather believe or have more in the "eye for an eye, tooth for tooth" mentality, then they really don't have a loving God and their religion is corrupt. Also, there is one other thing that Gandhi said, which made all the perfect sense to me in the world "God has no religion".

And finally, out of all of this...I had also come to another conclusion not too long ago, that Reincarnation, Karma and the "Golden Rule" all go hand in hand, like a triangle, which explains (to me at least) all the $%#t that happens in this world; especially with people. And why we need to better ourselves, no matter what our beliefs or non-beliefs may be.

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libstaK

I guess if you cling to the idea that atheism is a non-belief.... Then tie that into young children not having any real beliefs until they are taught. That's a very inacurate analogy. Children have not had time to develop beliefs. Atheists quite obviously have. At young ages, reguardless of what they have been taught, they engage in plenty of magical thinking... Very unatheist like.

I have a non belief that atheism is a non belief. I have a non belief in the axiom of materialism. Yes built on actual logic not wishful thinking.

I might consider a true agnostic stand point as a non belief.... Ultimately it's the only reasonable option, but atheists returning to a child like or new born like state. Not hardly.

Environment informs our beliefs that is well established. If you were born into a tribe of canabalistic head hunters, you will grow into a canabalistic head hunter unless some change in your environment occurs and you are exposed to an alternative line of potential.

There is an entire tribe in the islands of Vanuatu that worships Prince Philip as a God due to a change in their environment for instance:

http://www.neatorama.com/2010/08/25/the-tribe-that-worships-prince-philip/

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Arbenol

I wish people would stop making this statement. It is factually untrue. We are all born without belief or disbelief but a potential for both.

See above. Some people are very sensitive tonight.

If anything, belief is the default position of the human mind, because it is where the way we think first naturally leads us.

Having took exception to my post, you've gone and done the same thing.

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White Crane Feather

Environment informs our beliefs that is well established. If you were born into a tribe of canabalistic head hunters, you will grow into a canabalistic head hunter unless some change in your environment occurs and you are exposed to an alternative line of potential.

There is an entire tribe in the islands of Vanuatu that worships Prince Philip as a God due to a change in their environment for instance:

http://www.neatorama.com/2010/08/25/the-tribe-that-worships-prince-philip/

I was not arguing that... That's all perfectly reasonable. But this is not the state that atheists operate from. Not at all.

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White Crane Feather

See above. Some people are very sensitive tonight.

Having took exception to my post, you've gone and done the same thing.

Ehhhhh? Not sensitive. Board Mabey. It's not sensitive to challenge posts that we don't agree with on um. It's just what we do. It's entertainment. Better than television not as good as a good book... Somewhere in between.

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ZaraKitty

We're not born with faith in god already inside us, it's usually parents that indoctrinate their children. So I spose we're all born athiests.

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Dash--

Never had a newborn try to push their belief on me.lol

I don't think it matters being born with belief or without.

It's how we decide to live our lives that matters.

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libstaK

I was not arguing that... That's all perfectly reasonable. But this is not the state that atheists operate from. Not at all.

Yes, I see the problem "atheism" is an intellectual label based on a conscious position one takes - a new born baby is a blank slate and has not taken a "position" on the matter whatsoever.

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Magicjax

I agree that we aren't born with any idea of the concept of a god. We are born with certain, let's call them instincts. For example we are born with certain fears and desires. We're born afraid of sudden loud sounds and something suddenly jumping out at us. We're born with a fear of abandonment (being alone).

We're not born with a belief in god. Other then our basic instincts needed to survive. All other desires and fears are learned. Including religion. The idea of god is something we learn. So yes, we're all born atheist. If thus weren't true and we where born with a belief in god. Everyone on earth would believe in the same god.

Edited by Magicjax

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Viral

I wish people would stop making this statement. It is factually untrue. We are all born without belief or disbelief but a potential for both.

Thats not atheism, which is an expressed belief that god(s) does/do, not exist.

Such a belief has to be, and is, formed using the same processes as theism is formed as a belief structure. This construction of belief has been demonstrated by the measurement of neurological processes in the human mind. (not particularly in religious terms but in the construction of any belief system.)

No one's first words or thoughts are, "Gee gods dont exist"

We "all" as a consequence of the nature of our sapience and neurology develop a belief in god(s), and or learn to construct the concept/ idea of gods as a deus ex machina at a very early age, (as we learn to speak) regardless of language, background, or culture. Then we have to be taught ,or must learn, NOT to believe in them. If anything, belief is the default position of the human mind, because it is where the way we think first naturally leads us.

No, we're born with no beliefs in anything, much as Atheism is itself. Atheism is the default stance, not a chosen stance. The thing you're failing to understand here is that Atheism is not a belief system or structure, if it was then Atheists would share as many similarities as theists do. By your logic everything we think is a belief.

Let us check the Oxford definition of 'belief': Note

noun


  • 1an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof:his belief in extraterrestrial life

Note the last part of the definition 'especially one without proof'. Theism has no proof, theism has no reality to it and thus is more definable as a belief than Atheism, something with requires no proof for it makes no claims... That is unless you misunderstand the burden of proof argument? Theism is the one making the claim and Atheism is not a rejection as such but a neutral standpoint. Just as one accepts that Unicorns do not exist, one accepts that God does not exist, there is no potential of a belief structure in that. There is also nothing natural about Theism, it was a weak attempt at explaining existence before we had more realistic and provable facts at hand, hence why many see religion to be redundant. I have no faith in Atheism, I have no belief in Atheism and I do not feel connected to any sense of Atheism.

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TheBanana

i dont think i ever really believed in god.

my family never really talked much about religion, so the first time i heard about god was when i started school, and we were taught about religions and did prayers and sang songs about god. i just thought it was a thing that happened in schools, i didnt know people did it at home at first. when i was about five i did sometimes pray (usually over really silly things) as i was copying things i saw in school, but nothing ever happened, so i sort of grew out of it. by the age of about 7, i knew that i didnt feel comfortable as part of a religion, and felt strange when i did join in with prayers and stuff at school, like it wasnt something i should be doing, but i still wasnt that sure about how the world was created and whether there was a god or afterlife, even though i did not believe most of the bible stories we were told because things like people walking on water, coming back from the dead, having a baby with god seemed illogical to me, and i thought of them in the same way i did with all of the other stories i was read-that sometimes in books things happen that wouldnt happen in real life cause its just a story.

by the age of about 11, i identified as an atheist, as i had read about science and thought evolution and the big bang theory explained things in a way that sounded more logical, and i saw no reason to believe.

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Uncle Sam

When growing up, I did attend churches but it felt like something was missing, that I wasn't getting the whole picture and it didn't make any sense at all. I started to question my religion... Christianity. I started to ask preachers, priests questions which I always got an reply that "God's works in mysteries ways" which gave me no proof, no definite answer for my questions. So I started to pour over the bible for any answers there, which of course I found none but more questions like "Why isn't there any evidence of such a event in time?" I came to believe the bible was created to further help humanity moral standing, like a novel that teaches you the values of life. It is a great story, but not history. When I research other holy scriptures and texts, I found out there are different versions of people's holy texts, which means it is basically based culture from which they came. This lead to me start thinking there is no god.

The next step in my journey to Atheism is seeing people using these religions to justify terrible actions rather is good or bad, I saw the harm it can cause other people's lives. I started to realize what the saying, "Preacher is the Sheppard and the people is his flock." Basically the Priest or Preacher lead their flock who are basically blinded by faith, without their flock actually reading their bible and studying it. This is where radicalization comes in, because people can abuse this and use it a means of controlling a population that value their religion. From this, I basically understand the meaning of separation of church and state, because it opens up an means of controlling and manipulating citizens of that country with examples such as Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc, etc... What religious people see as salvation, I see as Indoctrination.

After seeing the world of religion for what it is and can be, it was then I became a atheist in sense, but not total atheist. I don't believe in the existence of a god and don't value religion, but I do believe people have the right to religion and don't believe in religious prosecution. I believe people should be able to have their religion on a personal level, but I don't believe in religion should play a part in governing people lives because it can be abused. Converting shouldn't be part of any religion in my opinion, if someone wants to believe, let them believe but don't try to force me to believe in something I will never accept at all.

Edited by Uncle Sam

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Beckys_Mom

I have never seen a thread that gave so many wrong definitions of the term Atheist before .... Atheist is not something a person is born with like a child would have with colic lol... Atheism is a path CHOICE made by a person who will claim not to see any evidence for a God or Gods... that all it is summed up...its a choice... a belief that No gods exist..... Now you'd think that many of you would actually know this lol...

Think people -> THEIST = a choice to believe that a God exists due to their own personal evidence you have to chose whether it is true or not for you......... ATHEIST = A choice to believe no God or God can exist, you see no evidence.. ... Thats the two summed up... CHOICE is what is needed.. .You cannot be either without choice... if you are a child and region is pushed on to you, choice is still there because someone chose for you at the time !!

Those of you that think we are born atheists because we do not know what a God might be... Look the term up ... It is a path choice made...Not something you are born with lol ...Just when I thought I heard it all...I click in this thread and BOOM... :w00t:

Edited by Beckys_Mom
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I have never seen a thread that gave so many wrong definitions of the term Atheist before .... Atheist is not something a person is born with like a child would have with colic lol... Atheism is a path CHOICE made by a person who will claim not to see any evidence for a God or Gods... that all it is summed up...its a choice... a belief that No gods exist..... Now you'd think that many of you would actually know this lol...

Those of you that think we are born atheists because we do not know what a God might be... Look the term up ... It is a path choice made...Not something you are born with lol ...Just when I thought I heard it all...I click in this thread and BOOM... :w00t:

Would you rather quote my earlier post which actually contains the definition as given by the most prestigious English language dictionary? Please do not say Atheists have to be people who 'work out' that there is no God just as many Theists don't 'work out' that there is a God, they're just told it from a young age and accept it, are those people counted as Theists to you? Or are they not counted because they didn't work it out on their own? If so, maybe you should reassess your definitions of words.

Please remember though, a definition of a word is not what you personally accept it to be.

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Beckys_Mom

Would you rather quote my earlier post

Nope...I have read a post like yours before and seen one or two in the past like you that misunderstood a definition... I do not need to see the same again... I disagree with you 100% ..and believe me when I tell you, my mind will not change..I am not atheist myself, but I do understand and have read for many years on here how Atheists feel and why they became atheists... I at least understand them...

It nothing against you personally. I only disagree with the contents of your posts

Edited by Beckys_Mom

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Nope...I have read a post like yours before and seen one or two in the past like you that misunderstood a definition... I do not need to see the same again... I disagree with you 100% ..and believe me when I tell you, my mind will not change..I am not atheist myself, but I do understand and have read for many years on here how Atheists feel and why they became atheists... I at least understand them...

It nothing against you personally. I only disagree with the contents of your posts

I know you do not, but I feel the need to tell you again that this is not my definition but Oxford's.

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