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Recently realized I'm an atheist

#1DT2501Posted 10/28/2013 5:22:35 PM
I recently realized that I'm an atheist and that I have been for some time. I don't have any friends or family that I can tell this to that would be understanding enough to accept it, and even if I did, there wouldn't be any point in it. All it would do is hurt them and make them feel bad for me, so why put them through it? Still, it's a big deal for me, and I feel the need to voice it in SOME manner, so here I am. I apologize if no one wants to hear it. I just need to get it off my chest.

My family's religious (Methodist). They all go to church every Sunday and take it as a given that the Christian God is real. I went to Sunday school every week growing up, and every summer I went to a Bible camp for a week.

I knew the importance of going to heaven and letting Jesus into your heart and all that, and I desperately wanted to do that. I took every opportunity to pray with the pastor at the front of the church, letting the whole congregation know that I was letting the Lord into my heart. I was baptized at one of those Bible camps, and again in church one Sunday.

But I never felt any different after one of the impassioned appeals to God than I did before it. I kept doing it because I felt like it didn't work. I spent many nights in my room, praying desperately to God for guidance and trying to give myself to Him, and it always just felt like talking to myself.

I went to a bunch of different Christian youth groups at school and asked a million different questions of every pastor, minister, and youth leader I could find. I believed in God; I just couldn't feel any kind of presence from Him.

I kept asking questions all through college. Eventually I came to the conclusion that most of the Bible is just parable, not literal truth, because DUH. If you have any reading comprehension at all, you can see that it's just a bunch of lessons taught through metaphor. But I still believed there was a God that had many of the characteristics described in the Bible; I just decided that I didn't fully understand Him because He must be, to a certain extent, unknowable.

This was good enough for me for the longest time. I still "knew" there was a God, I was pretty sure that Jesus was the path to Him, and I figured I was doing as much as I could to stay on God's good side, so hopefully that was good enough.

The thing is, as time went on, I kept seeing more and more religious ideas that were clearly BS. For example, it was a lot easier to think of the pope as God's right-hand man when all I had ever known was John Paul II. After seeing very fallible human beings CHOOSE who is going to be divine, it's a lot harder to maintain the pretense that he has a direct line to God.

I started to draw away from even that tenuous link to Christianity. I just started to think of God as some sort of mystical, spiritual, SOMETHING that was completely unknowable. I didn't quite believe that there was no God at all, but every single aspect of religion that I had ever known was clearly created by men who didn't know any better than I did.

It wasn't until very recently, like this year, that I realized that even most of the philosophical arguments for the existence of God, like the First Cause argument, didn't really explain a personal, living God. They could just as easily be accounting for some as-yet undiscovered scientific phenomena, like the Higgs Boson or something. And even if the answer to those arguments WAS some supernatural force, it would be so abstract, so unknowable, so unrelatable, and so unlike anything that I had ever thought of as "God" that it didn't matter anyway. It would have no bearing on my life.

It was never a conscious decision to reject God on my part. I just suddenly realized that I didn't believe it, and I hadn't for quite some time. So now I consider myself an atheist, and it's kind of a big deal for me. I don't really care what anyone thinks--it is what it is--but thanks for letting me get it off my shoulders.
#2Moorish_IdolPosted 10/28/2013 5:35:56 PM
Just a warning: there are a couple regulars here who will most likely tell you that you were never a real Christian to begin with. Just ignore them.

For what it's worth, I deconverted from Christianity for many of the same reasons you did: no matter how much I wanted God to be involved in my life, He was apparently uninterested or absent, which of course led me to disbelieve in a personal God. So you are definitely not alone in this sort of discourse, and I think there are several other posters here who have struggled the same. I ended up a deist, but I can see why you'd opt for atheism.

Could I ask what atheism means to you? Do you believe no God/s exist, or do you lack a belief in God/s, or how would you put it?
#3OrangeWizardPosted 10/28/2013 5:43:55 PM
Eventually I came to the conclusion that most of the Bible is just parable, not literal truth, because DUH.


Oh, obviously.
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#4Faust_8Posted 10/28/2013 6:21:26 PM
Moorish_Idol posted...
Just a warning: there are a couple regulars here who will most likely tell you that you were never a real Christian to begin with. Just ignore them.


Yes, listen to Moorish about this one. There are people who think it's impossible to honestly look for God and not find him. Therefore, they will tell you that you weren't sincere. Yes, they do deserve to be slapped with a dead fish across the face for that sentiment.

For what it's worth, I deconverted from Christianity for many of the same reasons you did: no matter how much I wanted God to be involved in my life, He was apparently uninterested or absent, which of course led me to disbelieve in a personal God. So you are definitely not alone in this sort of discourse, and I think there are several other posters here who have struggled the same. I ended up a deist, but I can see why you'd opt for atheism.


You don't "opt for" atheism. It's just something that happens.

Could I ask what atheism means to you? Do you believe no God/s exist, or do you lack a belief in God/s, or how would you put it?


Just gonna point out that both of those describe atheism.

My advice, TC? I would avoid calling yourself an atheist. It's a perfectly valid term but unfortunately with a lot of people it carries baggage that may not be true about you at all. I can't tell you how many debates about the definition of atheism have been on this board (hell, one might be about to start) because some theist insist that atheism MUST mean you POSITIVELY believe that NO God exists.

I pretty much just call myself a non-believer or non-theist. It either perfectly describes my position or else it makes people ask what it means, which is a lot better than them trying to tell me what I believe.
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I'm not against religion. I'm against all bad ideas, held for bad reasons, prompting bad behavior.
#5Moorish_IdolPosted 10/28/2013 6:31:26 PM
Faust_8 posted...
Just gonna point out that both of those describe atheism.

I didn't say otherwise. I was asking the TC specifically what atheism meant to him. I wasn't asking him to give me the dictionary's definition.
#6Faust_8Posted 10/28/2013 6:33:16 PM
I figured you knew that, just tacking it on there because of what else I wanted to say.
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I'm not against religion. I'm against all bad ideas, held for bad reasons, prompting bad behavior.
#7Moorish_IdolPosted 10/28/2013 6:37:18 PM(edited)
Okay. Yeah, I didn't mean to trigger another atheism vs. "atheism" debate. It's just a habit of mine when people say "I am an atheist" or "I am a theist" to ask them what they mean by that, mainly because it's interesting how many people have similar experiences in deconversion but ultimately end up with different conclusions.
#8DT2501(Topic Creator)Posted 10/28/2013 6:44:27 PM
Moorish_Idol posted...
Could I ask what atheism means to you? Do you believe no God/s exist, or do you lack a belief in God/s, or how would you put it?

I don't believe that a personal God--one that cares about what mankind does or influences mankind on a regular basis--exists. There might conceivably be some metaphysical, spiritual aspect to the universe, but I seriously doubt it, and I wouldn't call it God even if there was. Like Faust said, I just kind of realized that I can't make myself believe something I don't believe. I didn't actively choose it; it just is.

OrangeWizard posted...
Oh, obviously.

Yes, obviously. Stories like Jonah and the Fish, Noah's Arc, Job, the temptation of Christ, etc. are all parables. If you've read the stories and know about how the various books of the Bible were put together and don't see that they are parables, then I don't know what else to say. I look at 2+2 and I see 4.

Faust_8 posted...
My advice, TC? I would avoid calling yourself an atheist. It's a perfectly valid term but unfortunately with a lot of people it carries baggage that may not be true about you at all. I can't tell you how many debates about the definition of atheism have been on this board (hell, one might be about to start) because some theist insist that atheism MUST mean you POSITIVELY believe that NO God exists.

I pretty much just call myself a non-believer or non-theist. It either perfectly describes my position or else it makes people ask what it means, which is a lot better than them trying to tell me what I believe.

That's why I "came out" on an anonymous message board instead of telling friends and family. I can't make myself believe what I don't believe, and I'm just accepting that. It's a big shift in my mentality though, and I needed to communicate it some way to have some closure. But I don't want to fight about it for the rest of my life.
#9SirThinkALotPosted 10/28/2013 7:03:39 PM
Honestly this why I dont care for teh whole 'feeling God in your heart' type Christianity, I think it drives too many people to expect some kind of constant feeling, and to begin to doubt as a result.

Also, I'm a little confused on this point: It seems like you wernt raised Catholic, yet you believed the Pope spoke directly for God?
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#10DT2501(Topic Creator)Posted 10/28/2013 7:10:53 PM
No, I wasn't raised Catholic. But as I started questioning the particular flavor of Christianity I knew, I began looking at other denominations as well. I thought one of them might have the answers I was looking for. I ended up seeing them all as equally pointless. The pope example stands out to me because for Catholics, it's one of the most fundamental tenets of the religion, and seeing how that whole thing worked over the last decade just turned it into a joke for me.