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Why I'm no longer an atheist

#1I-NE-IVPosted 2/2/2013 2:04:16 AM
It's just my personal story, so feel free to ignore this topic! Just looking for your thoughts.

I became disillusioned with religion for philosophical and scientific reasons. I was very devoutly religious before that. I was a committed atheist for three years. I became disillusioned with atheism because it loosened my grip on reality. I think that humans aren't designed to be able to process all the information needed to create an accurate model of reality in our minds. We only have tiny slivers of information and we process even that small amount of information imperfectly. When it comes to truth-seeking, there are choices that need to be made given the constraints of our humanity. Where are we going to spend our intellectual capital?

It seems like those who spend their energy only pursuing academic truths tend to come to the conclusion that God doesn't exist. To them, this seems like a pinnacle of truth, like they've arrived at a summit of knowledge from which they can now with clear vision see the world for what it is. But even if they're right that God doesn't exist, the grand meaning they hope to find in this conclusion doesn't seem to follow.

My experience with atheism, which lasted about three years, was depressing. My morality suddenly vanished, and I felt an emptiness, like I had nothing to hold on to. I tried to invent morality, using reason--for some reason I assumed I was reasonable enough to invent my own morality. Like most philosophizing atheists, I eventually found that deontology and utilitarianism and other simplistic moral frameworks always leave something to be desired. Intellectually they're too convenient. Intuitively they're ... inhuman. They're based on invented assumptions, as opposed to ancient and emergent social norms as is the case with religion.

My personal relationships began to suffer. I stopped seeing family members as people I loved who had important roles in my life, and started seeing them as humans who held incorrect beliefs about the universe. In attempting to be rational, I concluded that I should try to persuade these foolish humans into believing the correct things about the universe. Of course, in the process, I was forgetting the moral truths about kindness, sympathy and patience. This is one example. Overall, I found that not believing in God reduced the amount of truth in my life. So I began to spend my intellectual energies on finding out how to be a better person. This was far more productive to me and led to my belief in God.

I don't believe that people simply "believe" or "disbelieve" something. If you ask me to think about whether there physically exists an all-powerful being, I'll tell you probably not. But I don't spend my time thinking about that question, because it doesn't tend to make a difference in my life. If you ask me if I believe in God--I do. I'm sure he's there. Attempting to align my will with his gives my life richness and beauty and meaning. Living my religion works, in every way. This is because I'm a human, not a rational truth machine.

Atheists tell me I'm awful and deluded, that I'm experiencing cognitive dissonance, and won't I for goodness' sake just admit the truth that there isn't a God. Well, I've quit the cult of hyper-rationalism, and reject their moralizing. No one can ever know anything for sure, but that's not the point--we're not here to have a perfect understanding; we're here to find our way and have meaningful, happy lives. That's the truth of which I'm most certain.
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I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not to hate them, but to understand them.
--Baruch Spinoza
#2IwantedzeroPosted 2/2/2013 2:11:51 AM
You just weren't not believing hard enough.
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#3ravenomoarPosted 2/2/2013 6:06:38 AM
No you just sold out. You compromised your integrity and reason for the sake of maintaining relationships. Atheists are a minority and often people will break relationships because your views don't align with theirs. Your comments on morals are a bit disturbing. Not sure why you need religion to define your moral system for you. Atheists arguably have better morals than the bible if you read about the great atrocities committed in the bible. Why is it not enough to live by the consequences of one's actions? Sounds to me like your heart was not into atheism to begin with. And if your relationships suffered because of your beliefs I would probably re-examine those relationships. If someone severs a relationship based on personal beliefs than sounds to me like a relationship not worth having.
#4JonWood007Posted 2/2/2013 9:20:09 AM

My experience with atheism, which lasted about three years, was depressing. My morality suddenly vanished, and I felt an emptiness, like I had nothing to hold on to. I tried to invent morality, using reason--for some reason I assumed I was reasonable enough to invent my own morality. Like most philosophizing atheists, I eventually found that deontology and utilitarianism and other simplistic moral frameworks always leave something to be desired. Intellectually they're too convenient. Intuitively they're ... inhuman. They're based on invented assumptions, as opposed to ancient and emergent social norms as is the case with religion.

My personal relationships began to suffer. I stopped seeing family members as people I loved who had important roles in my life, and started seeing them as humans who held incorrect beliefs about the universe. In attempting to be rational, I concluded that I should try to persuade these foolish humans into believing the correct things about the universe. Of course, in the process, I was forgetting the moral truths about kindness, sympathy and patience. This is one example. Overall, I found that not believing in God reduced the amount of truth in my life. So I began to spend my intellectual energies on finding out how to be a better person. This was far more productive to me and led to my belief in God.


I will admit, no human moral framework is perfect, but neither are religious morals.

Looking over your post about just living and trying to do your best, your views sound somewhat close to Kant's ethics, basically about trying to be a good person, to be selfless, no actual philosophy attached. A problem with this though is it still leads to a good samaritan problem in which someone might do something they think is right, but from another's perspective is just wrong. Say you see a guy yelling in a pool, you think he's drowning so you try to drag him out. IN the process, you hit his head by accident and get brain damage. You meant well, but you did harm. Such ethics are still flawed in some sense.

Religious morals in terms of the bible, yeah, you don't seem big on that either, so I won't tell you how flawed it is.

Your approach to atheism and trying to deconvert loved ones, I would say that's a bit less of a truth issue and more of a personal one. I try to avoid religious convos IRL for the most part, do most of my debating on here and reddit. But really, even if your approach is bad, does it make it any less true?

I don't believe that people simply "believe" or "disbelieve" something. If you ask me to think about whether there physically exists an all-powerful being, I'll tell you probably not. But I don't spend my time thinking about that question, because it doesn't tend to make a difference in my life. If you ask me if I believe in God--I do. I'm sure he's there. Attempting to align my will with his gives my life richness and beauty and meaning. Living my religion works, in every way. This is because I'm a human, not a rational truth machine.


Yeah...but do you actually have a reason to believe? Trying to just do morality on the fly instead of thinking it out and not thinking about such things may make you happy, but how do you know it's true? Feelings alone are unreliable indicators to truth.

Atheists tell me I'm awful and deluded, that I'm experiencing cognitive dissonance, and won't I for goodness' sake just admit the truth that there isn't a God....


To be fair it does seem that way. No offense, but your post reads like "I believe in God because it makes me happy". Fair enough, you get happiness from it, but it doesn't make God any more or less true. It's true we aren't wired to be rational, but I find being irrational hurts, not helps.
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#5LastManStandingPosted 2/2/2013 9:44:37 AM
The moment you embrace God, love Him out of free will, because you want to and not because of obligation or being forced, it is completely different. I cannot get enough of faith, and the more I learn, the more I understand how little I know.
Be thankful that your repentance came at the time that it did, not around 70 years of age. So you have time to share your story with others and deepen your faith.
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Divine Mercy - God Loves you as a sinner.
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#6I-NE-IV(Topic Creator)Posted 2/2/2013 10:22:01 AM
No you just sold out. You compromised your integrity and reason for the sake of maintaining relationships.

Even if that were true, isn't that a reasonable option? To value relationships more than reason? Either way, quit moralizing. But I don't even entirely accept your premise. As I said, my life has more truth and is more reasonable than it was when I was atheist, because my devotion to the truth about the existence of God blinded me to other truth.

Not sure why you need religion to define your moral system for you.

I'm not sure either, but things didn't work when I tried to come up with my own moral system. Now, I don't just accept at face value the morality given by a particular religion; I have to be pragmatic about it in day-to-day life. But without religion it would be hard to justify believing that sex should wait until marriage--but that ethic works. It's not easily reasoned out, but it has emerged from thousands of years of human society.

Yeah...but do you actually have a reason to believe? Trying to just do morality on the fly instead of thinking it out and not thinking about such things may make you happy, but how do you know it's true? Feelings alone are unreliable indicators to truth.

It's not feelings alone, but it's also not reasoning alone. I'd have to write a book to go through all the reasons I believe. All of the things I've experienced in my life point me to God. I can't apply that to you or anyone, but I don't have to. Humans are never going to agree on everything, because we're human.

To be fair it does seem that way. No offense, but your post reads like "I believe in God because it makes me happy". Fair enough, you get happiness from it, but it doesn't make God any more or less true.

I think it does. Like I said, I'm not only trying to answer the physical question of whether he exists--because that's only a tiny part of religion--but also all the other questions that would comment on his "truth."

It's true we aren't wired to be rational, but I find being irrational hurts, not helps.

Generally, sure, but I partly disagree here. If it comes to passing science class, or doing your taxes, or driving your car, then yes, being rational helps. But I think there are a lot of cases where being rational doesn't help. And in any case, I don't think I'm being "irrational" compared to others. I'm just not placing as much value on finding the truth about that particular metaphysical question.
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I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not to hate them, but to understand them.
--Baruch Spinoza
#7Lord_IchmaelPosted 2/2/2013 10:25:01 AM
So... appeal to consequences, then? Just because something is desirable doesn't mean it is true.
#8_Rasl3rX_Posted 2/2/2013 10:25:17 AM
2+x=y

Obviously, we could never ever figure out what x and y are (burden of proof on us never finding out the universe btw, our understanding has done nothing but grow and slowly get closer), and apparently your solution is to conclude which #s x and y because it's as good of a guess as any other?

and really, the answer of God isn't as good of a guess. Its all theory. Some people say they go on massive change. Some don't. None of this ever requires divine intervention. However empirical evidence? Zilch.
#9_Rasl3rX_Posted 2/2/2013 10:26:37 AM
Also, waiting until marriage for sex ruined many a marriage between couples who aren't sexually compatible.
#10I-NE-IV(Topic Creator)Posted 2/2/2013 10:39:32 AM
So ... appeal to consequences, then? Just because something is desirable doesn't mean it is true.

I'm not making an argument for an empirical truth about the existence of God, so this doesn't apply. What I'm claiming is that believing in God brings more truth to my life than not believing.

2+x=y

Obviously, we could never ever figure out what x and y are (burden of proof on us never finding out the universe btw, our understanding has done nothing but grow and slowly get closer), and apparently your solution is to conclude which #s x and y because it's as good of a guess as any other?


No, I picked a couple of numbers because they helped my solve other equations, even though I couldn't prove the values.

really, the answer of God isn't as good of a guess. Its all theory. Some people say they go on massive change. Some don't. None of this ever requires divine intervention. However empirical evidence? Zilch.

I don't care. That kind of reasoning never got me anywhere.
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I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not to hate them, but to understand them.
--Baruch Spinoza