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What "turned" you?

Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 5:19 pm
by IrishKnight
Just something I would like to know is how we "turned", as I like to call it, from God to Atheism. Also at what age?

Personal it all happened when I was 16 and after reading The Da Vinci Code, I started to ask questions...something religions don't like...then I "saw the light" and it just clicked...

Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:06 pm
by Rincewind
I can't remember when I actually deconverted (my term) but I can one of my first anti catholic stances was asking the teacher, a nun call sister catherine, to pray for Homosexuals who have aids. I didn't know fully what aids was or what a homosexual was either but I knew it would really get up he goat. I later read the 'blood and the holy grail' which the Da vince Code is based on but I was atheist in all but name at that point.

I don't know what was the reason for me coming to my senses but I would like to think it was common sense. Two things that I didn't like was that my fathers education was ruined by a religious brother (beat him badly that even the Guards wanted him to report him) and a missionary priest who condemned my grandmother for taken a 'year off' from having kids. The fact that the last nearly killed her and she was in bed for 6 months afterwards was irrelevant. I think for these reasons my parents never forced religion on me. Going to mass with my father upto the age of 10, with my brothers till 13 and then not at all. My parents are religious but not the ram it down your throat type so I count myself lucky.

It is a good idea to see how we come back to being atheists as many of these journeys start for a different reason be it anger, a book, a small doubt , suspicion or defending religion and releasing how stupid you sound. One of my mates decided my believes were idiotic and he is now agnostic.

Just remember one other point, existence of any sort does not justify believe and worship. Most agruements about god are existence and hell and heaven, i.e. punishment and rewards. If he did exist, less likely than Ian Paisley getting impregnated by the Pope and having Adams as his best man at the wedding cermony, we should arrest him and condemn him on any one of the ten commandents.


Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:11 pm
by cal
when the penny dropped!...

I remember sitting in religion class in fourth year (probably around 15, 16 years old) reading Not without my daughter by Betty Mahmoody right under the nose of my religion teacher. He told me to stop reading it, i was always the diligent, well behaved student but felt such contempt for him that i continued to read.

The book is about an American woman and her daughter who went to Iran with her Muslim husband, subsequently to be held captive and forced to submit to numerous religious customs. (this book is a true story based on one woman's experience, it is not a representation of all muslims) I absolutely resented being told to put this down to listen to him preach!

Religion to me was something you could never question or disrespect which to me made it all the more up for debate. From 16 on I withdrew all interest in religion, skipped religion class and never went to mass. When i had to go for a funeral or christening, i wouldn't bless myself or recieve communion. I went on like this for years and then just recently decided i wanted to know more and read the God Delusion and have plans to read much much more!

Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 9:23 pm
by zhollie
I call the advent of my atheism was a quick suscession of realisations, though there was one pivotal moment which changed my life. I was at the ripe old age of twelve when this epiphany occured and I refer to it as my lucky escape.

I was raised by my grandparents who were both devout Catholics. They never discussed religion much in the home but it was always present nonetheless. Their brand of Catholicism was usually not the most austere but on occasion they rolled out the big guns to reprimand me. I was reminded that Satan's evil force was an everpresent danger and my head was filled with terrifying images of hellfire and demons.

I vividly recall one evening listening to a radio play which was set in Belfast. One of the characters, in a fit of rage and despair roared the fateful words, "God is a bastard" after learning of the death of a loved one. Hearing this balsphemous wail of grief was of momentous importance to me, however, it took me quite a while to fully realise just why this was so. It had struck a chord deep within me.

My initial response was one of complete and utter shock. "You can't say that". I was sure I was now damend for eternity for listening to this evil. Then a thought struck me; why if it's so bad to curse God did this man do it? Why can he say it and I can't and what was the difference? He said it aloud so that obviously means he has no fear, right? So why should I?

For the following months I had those actors words echoing through my mind accompanied by a myriad of questions which I previously dare not think let alone ask. I found that when I tweaked this thread the whole fabric of my religion began to unravel. In no time I was happily cursing God myself but still I retained most of the effects of the psychological harrassment which is base Catholicism. Eventually, though, I was able to say aloud to myself, "I don't believe in God". The rest was easy, virgin births, six days of creation etc I could dismiss in my stride with a little applied thinking, free of the shackles of fear and doubt.

Just recently I read a biography of Soren Kierkegaard the Danish philosopher. His father spent his life being tormented by the youthful indiscretion of cursing God. I wondered why that drove him to the verge of insanity when the exact same thing liberated me from the foulness of belief?

Posted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 11:13 pm
by CitizenPaine
I initally took seriously all the religious stuff that was handed out because I took it for granted that older people could not be mistaken or dishonest.

I began to doubt at about the age of 17. I remember discussing the religion question with my friends at around that age. I remember one of them telling me that he kind of agreed with what I had to say but wondered what would happen if I died and God asked me to "come into the office". I was working in a place at that time where being told to come into the office was about the worst thing that could happen.

I remember discovering a book that my mother had about the four horsemen of the apocalypse which I found to be so incredible as to be utterly unbelievable. I must have also read Bertrand Russell's essay "Why I am not a Christian" at around that time.

The last straw, the thing that that finally made me an unbeliever, was the church's attitude to sex. I seem to remember that I had to make a choice. Either follow my natural instincts in that regard or burn in hell for ever. I chose the former and never looked back.

As time went on it became clear to me that the religious viewpoint on so many other subjects was just wierd. I began to realise I could be free from all kinds of superstitions, guilt feelings and fears of the irrational.

I have found this to be so liberating.


Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 12:39 am
by artyfarty
I'm not sure when I started having doubts but my girlfriend (later to be my wife) really got me thinking. The more I thought of it the less sense it all made, then I found an on-line documentary of the Blind Watchmaker... now my wife thinks I'm a radical atheist because I'm trying to convert my family :twisted:

Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 1:40 am
by eamonnm79
I would find it hard to pinpoint a moment however I know I was definitely a full blown non believer in fifth year in school, our religion teacher asked us who did not believe and three of us put up her hand, another 10 were not sure and about 15 believed
I think up until a while ago I would have said that it was just down to my own questioning and reason, however I have to say that I think my parents may have had an influance.
My father and Mother both moved toward and away from God on different occasions through my childhood, mainly due to family deaths, but the thing that struk me most was that from the age of six to eleven I was made sit front row and centre at mass, then my mother father and I all became involved in soccer and mass got ditched on a sunday morning.
Playing and coaching football was our new religion in a way.
None of my close friends believe in god either. I think Bill Hicks the comedian helped them along.
One of his jokes was
God; Believe or Die!
Avarage joe; Thank you for freewill and all these wonderfull choices lord!

Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 4:49 am
by lostexpectation
was it not, for any of you, not that you at one point no longer believed but realised the you never believed

Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 12:28 pm
by CitizenPaine
lostexpectation wrote:was it not, for any of you, not that you at one point no longer believed but realised the you never believed
A very interesting question.

Thinking back I would have to say that I believed at second hand. In other words, because people who were older than me and in positions of authority let it be known that they believed in God and in all the stories put out by Catholicism, I believed them as well. I'm fairly confident that if the material had been presented to me in a truly objective manner I would have rejected it straight off - just as I would have rejected astrology, for instance, if I was asked to subscribe to it but allowed and encouraged to study astronomy at the same time.


Posted: Fri Apr 06, 2007 2:14 pm
by zhollie
lostexpectation wrote:was it not, for any of you, not that you at one point no longer believed but realised the you never believed

Good question indeed. I remember, too, being told ghost stories as a child and in many ways it was nio different to being told about God. I can remember hearing these stories of Ghosts and mythical figures and being thoroughly confused by them. I both believed and disbelieved them simultaneously. It was as though two different areas of my brain were processing the information I was receiving, ie the ghost stories, but neither area could dominate the other. On the one hand the illogical part of my mind was urging me to believe and be fearful whilst on the other hand the reasonable area of my mind told me there are no ghosts, I can't see them and its not true. Of course this was way beyond my comprehension at the time (it still is to a degree) but I do remember the conflicting and confusing feelings which all this evoked in me.

This dichtomy also applied to God but I tended to 'believe' more in God. though now looking back on it, and with the benefit of analytical retrospection, I would say that my 'faith' was nothing more substantial than an amalgam of fear, innocence and trust in the adults around me. It's perfectly normal for young kids to adapt the beliefs of their parents at least untill they reach the age of reason.

I still get the occassional frissons of excitement or fear whenever I watch a horror. I know that it's nothing more that the fear which became ensconced in my psyche as a child. I also feel the remnants of my Catholic past whenever I pass a church. It's nothing more than a psychological scar.