My journey away from religion to atheism.

My response to a comment that Dawn left in my entry on 300 Proofs yesterday prompted her to email me back asking how it was I went from being a Christian to an atheist. I sent back a rather lengthy reply and I realized as I was about to send it that, while I’ve discussed this in part in various entries on my blog, I’ve never put up an entry on this topic by itself. With her permission I’m reproducing my reply here for those who are interested.

Hi Les,

Thank you for writing me.  I have to ask, in your letter you said you were a Christian “prior” to reading the Bible 4 times?

Yes, that’s true. A neighborhood friend got me started on attending a local Baptist church as a child as my parents, while they believe in a God, aren’t particularly religious in terms of attending a particular church. I was quite enthusiastic about religion well into my teens before the events that would cause me to lose faith would come to pass.

I’m am speaking now strictly from my experience – usually someone who was a Christian that backslides, so to speak, has a traumatic experience or loss in their life that makes them turn. I was one that turned back yet again.

I find this is a common misconception about atheists. Certainly there are a number of people who become atheists because of some trauma for which they blame God, but not as many as most people think. Most of those atheists aren’t really atheists in the idea of not believing in God, they’re just angry and they usually, like you, return to the fold. Kind of the same way some people get angry with someone else and refuse to speak to that person for awhile. It’s not the same as a loss of faith.

What changed from being a believer to not being?  I guess I am asking what is was your enlightenment?  Anyone who has read the Bible four times is doing some serious searching for answers.

Well, as I said before I was very enthusiastic about being a Christian for quite awhile in my youth. There came a point when I gave some consideration toward becoming a member of the clergy myself and I consulted my Pastor about it. Part of his advice included sitting down and thoroughly studying the Bible. Up until that point I had only studied it in bits and pieces as directed by the youth group or the Bible study groups I’d been a part of, I hadn’t ever looked at the “whole picture” as it were. I figured a full reading straight through would be a good place to start. It turned out to be a bad idea that left me very disillusioned in my religion. You see, taken out of context as the various parts were in youth group or Bible study or the various sermons I sat in on, it was easy to accept what I was being told about what the meanings behind the words were. I was reliant upon the authority figures at my Church to tell me what it all meant. When I read it all myself it brought the whole book into sharper focus and I suddenly saw a bigger picture and I didn’t like what it seemed to be showing me.

At first I was certain that I had misinterpreted something or was somehow getting the messages crossed so I again consulted my Pastor who worked with me on a second reading of the Bible. I attended prayer sessions and asked God for guidance and inspiration, to show me the right path. I had people praying for me and I tried everything I was told to do to help me gain the understanding that I seemed to have missed, but things just kept getting worse and the questions I began to ask left my Pastor flustered until he finally turned to me one day and suggested that perhaps a career in the clergy wasn’t meant for me. I decided that perhaps it was just the Baptist faith that might be the problem so I branched out and started checking into other Christian denominations such as the Methodists, Catholics, Presbyterians, Pentecostals and so on. During this entire time I was praying and asking for guidance. I also started digging into the history of Christianity to see if perhaps an understanding of where it came from and how it developed would aid in my understanding. It did, but not in a positive way. Christianity doesn’t have a pretty history and it doesn’t help that it’s an amalgamation of other religions squished together.

By my late teens and early twenties I had given up on Christianity and started looking into other belief systems. Perhaps, I reasoned, Christianity wasn’t the right belief system. Perhaps one of the others had gotten it right instead. At the start of that path I was still fairly certain that God did exist, but that I was just on the wrong path. As time went on and I grew and learned more about belief systems and human nature in general I eventually found myself in a place where all religions looked more or less the same. It was time to sit down and re-evaluate the belief in God I was clinging to like a shipwrecked victim clings to a board in the middle of the ocean. I realized that, even at the height of my belief, I had never had what people refer to as a “religious experience.” There had been plenty of things in my life that I had attributed to God’s intervention, but in hindsight I couldn’t honestly say that God had actually had anything to do with them. I had just done what a lot of people do and assume that was the case. The more I thought about my past experiences and what I had learned on my journey the more I realized I didn’t have a rational basis for my belief in God. Sure, he’s a nice concept and it’s very comforting to think that there’s someone out there watching over me, but wishing it were so doesn’t make it so and even Santa Claus had provided more proof of his existence than God ever had and Santa wasn’t real in the end. This left me with only a few possibilities. Perhaps I just wasn’t capable of experiencing God and as such no religion would ever be the right one. I couldn’t understand why God would make someone who was incapable of experiencing him if he actually took part in our lives, especially if he expected us to in order to be able to get into heaven or whatever you wanted to call it. Perhaps God did start it all, but doesn’t take part in the day-to-day lives of people and is unconcerned with whether or not people experience his presence. He could’ve just been bored with being the only being in existence so he decided to whip up a universe and plop some interesting creatures down in it and see if they’d ever learn to get along or would end up killing each other off. If that’s the case then worshiping him is pointless because he’s not concerned about such things.

Lastly, and this one ended up seeming the most probable to me based on the evidence I had, and still have, on hand: Perhaps God doesn’t exist.

You see the problem I have is that I want to know “The Truth” even if it turns out “The Truth” isn’t what I had hoped it would be. I don’t want to fool myself into believing something just because it makes me feel good or gives me false hope or because “thats how it SHOULD be” or any of the other reasons that people convince themselves of things that likely aren’t “The Truth.” Some people are content to hold a viewpoint merely because it’s expedient or the alternative viewpoint is an ugly and undesirable one, but I’ve always felt it was better to deal with an ugly reality and try to make it better if you can than to just pretend it ain’t so ugly or that “something else” will make it all better for me.

I do try to keep an open mind about all of this because I’ve been wrong before and I’ll probably be wrong again many times before I die. I hold no illusions about having all the answers. If something should occur or some new evidence should present itself to convince me that God is real and there’s a particular religion he expects me to follow then I’ll change my mind again, but so far it hasn’t happened and I’m not holding my breath hoping it will. I’ve been an atheist almost as long as I was a Christian now and, if anything, my life has actually improved quite a bit since I gave up on that fairy tale.

You know, this would make a pretty good entry on my blog. I think I’ll reprint it there, if you don’t mind.

Les

53 thoughts on “My journey away from religion to atheism.

  1. That was a very interesting piece. You went into more detail than I did, but I was trying not to talk poor Dawn to death at the same time. grin

    Because I will own up to the fact that I can’t adequately disprove the concept of God I’ve had many ask me if I weren’t more agnostic than atheist. Of course many folks consider agnosticism just a weak form of atheism. I usually explain that based on the evidence and experience I have on hand I don’t believe in the concept of a God or Gods and as such that makes me an atheist.

    Like you, though, I am also a skeptic and a liberal. I generally don’t have a problem with most believers until they start trying to impact others with their beliefs.

  2. Les, this is a great website. I feel I won’t have to buy the newspaper anymore. You and all your friends( even if some of them don’t like what you write )make a great reading. I am not going to write very often, I don’t write so well…But It’s good…what’s happening here. Even if we don’t all agree on the same things, at least it makes us think…I believe that is a start.

    Let me just say this:

    Religion is the ultimate form of politics.
    It deals with reassuring mankind about death and the meaning of life. Is there a spiritual side to our lives?…..probably. Is it God?….I don’t know… From my own experience it would make more sense to think that some coincidences in my life had more to do with my grandmother than God.
    The fact is that like politics, religions are built just like a business.( owners, bosses, supervisors, workers, and the competition ).

    Men….not all men but I would say a good portion of the world population NEED to belong to a group.

    Without that sense of belonging they feel that life has no value. They need to compare themselves with the competition and fight
    for a cause that will profit them at the end.

    Christianity and the Bible are in contradiction with the message they are trying to send.
    If God is love then there can not be any wars.
    If God is all mighty and powerful then he or she or it does not need to impose on us the threat of Hell and punishment.

  3. Serge, you manage to get your ideas across just fine. I bet Les appreciates that you read the site and write. I know I’ve read some very interesting things posted by you. Thanks.

  4. I appreciate that anyone reads the site and then feels compelled to speak up, whether they agree with me or not. A lot of these topics can only benefit from more dialog. There’s more than one way to look at a number of things and the more we share those variations in viewpoints the more we will understand one another.

  5. When people ask me why I don’t belong to any religion, my short answer is always “Catholic school turned me into an atheist.”

    It’s a pat, kind of trite answer, but it about sums it up. I lost my religion when I had the curiosity to question it. Oddly enough, it was a religions of the world class at a Catholic high school that got me interested in religions beyond Christianity.

    Eventually you begin to see the similarities in religions and the roots in the human condition. Comparing religions grounds you in the reality of your situation. It also lets you see that if your religion can see others as false, then your own could also be percieved as false. Who’s to say what truth is?

    I also noticed that there were two ways to answer all of the bigger questions. “Why are we here?” “How was all this created?” “Why is there evil/good?” One way was to concieve of an answer by any means necessary. Myths from the Greek gods to the Bible have all strived to answer the big questions with stories, none of them based in actual experience and all of them so widely varied as to again beg the question, “Which is truth?.” The world was flat, now it is round. The sun rotated around the earth, now it doesn’t. Polytheism was cool for a while, now it’s all about monotheism.

    The other way to answer those questions is to say, “I don’t know.”

    I found I didn’t need religion when I began to understand that not only do I not have all the answers, nobody does and that’s fine. Better than fine, actually. I don’t want it any other way. Without those questions, what’s the use anyway? Hell, I don’t [I]want[/I] to know the answers.

    The last thing I want to do is inhibit my experience in life and delude myself into false constructs of why wrong is wrong and right is right. I know the difference between right and wrong without religion. Right and wrong isn’t a question of punishment or reward in the afterlife. It’s the ability to experience basic human empathy that affects the ability to do right by your neighbors. The one thing Christians seem to miss, especially lately in this country, is the central message in the New Testament. You can toss the whole damned bible and stop all this “My god is greater than your god” crap that makes people wanna fly planes into buildings by taking away the one important message in the entire book: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.

    You don’t need to believe in a god to practice that. It’s basic human empathy. It is the message that most modern religion is based on anyway. Dump the ritual, dump the bible, dump the Ko’ran, get rid of it all ancillary junk and just follow the one rule. The rest will fall into place.

  6. Damn, Matt, you took the words right out of my brain. Why can’t anyone see how simply it can be perceived. Who needs 10 commandments? That’s getting kinda preachy and long winded. Besides, the more words you use, the easier it becomes to misinterpret some of them. I still want to know the answers. I just don’t expect to get them anytime soon.

  7. Never posted here before as I just found this place tonight.  I must say I seem to read a lot of confusing things here.  I am a Christian myself.  I grew up in a Christian home but, unlike most people, it wasn’t until I went to college that I realized I wasn’t a Christian and that I did become one.
    There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about both religion and Christianity here.  The first being that all religions are the same.  The second being that the actions of human beings in the name of a religion that are inconsistent with that religion’s doctrine demands the conclusion that the religion is itself wrong.  The third thing I see is the gross oversimplification of Christianity.  “God is love then there can not be any wars” is an example of this.  The idea that God is either loving or just but not both is unnecessary.  He can be both.
    I have tried to not sound condescending and am interested in talking about the subject.
    I must agree with Les on some of his points though.  “The Truth” is often not pretty and many people would rather believe something else rather than “The Truth”.  Part of “The Truth” I feel many people run away from is the idea that we don’t deserve most of the crap that happens to us.  That is a blatantly false idea in my mind.  Not only do we deserve what happens to us, but we deserve more than what we do get.  I guess it comes down to the question of whether you think people are inherently good or inherently bad.

  8. Uh…let me go ahead and apologize for the horrible spacing of the above posting.  Is there anyway I can edit that?

  9. I want to thank you Scott for reminding me how childish my statement was…” if God is love then there can not be any wars “.
    I tend to make short stories long so that’s why I write without much explanation.
    I was more refering to the situation where I would question a priest about death or suffering or even happiness. And I would get an “I don’t know” type of answer without the words “I don’t know” in it.

    When I am being told ” have faith “. At first it makes sense, it’s encouraging me and these words are telling me that there are better times ahead.

    When I look at the world around me with open eyes and open heart these words lose all significance.

    Faith in what? in who? in goodness?

    I feel the world revolves around one thing : Which team do you play for. and then work to protect the interest of that team.

    Why is there more than one team? ( religion )
    Why is there suffering?
    When I was baptised, why did the priest performed an exorcism on me preaching about the life I lived before I was a baby. According to the pope…there is no reincarnation for subjects like me.
    I am part of a world ( my team )that keeps trying to educate people about the importance of preserving the environment .
    Wild life and nature are the most important things I can think of. Without them…we don’t exist.
    Doing my share to build a better world for my son and all the other younger generations is MY priority.
    Life in a world of wars and hatred and suffering( I am greatful for I never really suffered like that)is the last thing I want for anybody.
    If God allows any of this in my world, then God has no place in my life.
    To be continued
    serge

  10. Scott

    Your last paragraph puzzles me.  You used terms like: people would rather believe

  11. Les,

    This is the best website i’ve seen in a long time.
    I live in Wales its a counrty in the UK, historicly Wales is a Methodist Counrty well the the Welsh invented Methodism, so if your family i a methodist you have welsh boold in you, HA HA.

    Well i was brought up in a small village with two chapels, Methodist and Presbyterians like every other small village in the area. We where forced to going to chapel every sunday and i think i was 8 when i realised the was something wrong,especialy when we where reading from the bible i was laughing that the things that was written remember this was a Welsh bible was direct translation of the latin bible not an English one(english bible got changed in the 1950s because it wasent a propper translationand the Welsh bible got translated 1500s by direct orders of Elizabeth 1st to stop the Welsh becoming Catholic like the Irish, a little bit o history for you) so the bible was easy to understand to anybody even a 8year old. I was 11 when the writen word did’nt make sense Adam and Eve had two boys, so there must of been insest there and Noah Ark it had animals on the ark that where not discoverd til the 1800s, 1900s the gorilla was’nt discoverd till 1902. So since the age of 12-13 ive been a Di-goiliwr (welsh for atheist) i’m 24 now and nothing has changed i’ve when two of my friends died at the age of 14 and 15 in car accidents and when 3 of my family members died of Cancer. My family is religos but the wired thing is my mum confest to me that she didn’t belive in the bible, because evolution makes more sense the same thinking i have.

    All religon does is control people allways has but thing have been changing for the last half century.

    Diolch yn fawr am y safle we, Les.

  12. The part about this discussion that I agree with most is that religion is a business.  Why else would Christianity be split up into a bunch of branches such as Protestant, presbyterian, Catholic, Lutheran, ect…?  Isn’t there just one bible?  I’d compare this to having different franchises of stores such as Walmart, Kmart, Shopko, Target, ect….. If you don’t like the atmosphere in one you can go to another but ultimately you are buying the same products from the same supplier.  Or in religion’s case you are ultimately worshipping the same god. 
    On an off note, I had a friend once that went and visited the Vatican and said there was a glass case that had 4 staff heads that all had diamonds in them that were roughly the size of an average fist and next to that area there was a four foot tall statue that was made of solid gold.  You can’t tell me the church isn’t filthy rich after hearing that.  He also said that the guards at the Vatican wore long trench coats with sub-machine guns under their coats.  According to what I was taught about the bible only the evil people had all the money supposedly.

  13. mmm hard to talk about for me. have programed my brain to not give any thing what people say. but in the physical world i try to make it better. benfits you and other. but most my friend are religous.“be good to others on the way up, cuz you’ll meet them on the way down.”

  14. Mild Bill,

    You seem pretty skeptical toward religious faith, but your wife (if I understood you correctly) has a televangelist “guru.” (By this, I’m assuming that your wife doesn’t just listen, but actually credits what Joyce Meyer has to say).

    Doesn’t that create a little, uhm, tension?

  15. Pretty interesting website – I stumbled on it today while doing random Google searches.  I have to chuckle at some of the reasons ‘why people are atheists’ – Catholic schools seem to be particularly good at churning them out.  I remember the nuns explaining the which sins were mortal and which were venial and thinking, even at 11 years old, “Do they REALLY believe that God is some kind of sin accountant?” 
      Since I was interested in science from an early age, and found religious dogma to be boring, I spent my teens and early twenties becoming a scientist.  As I grew older I returned to more philosophical thoughts and by that time skepticism (not cynicism) was second nature to me, and therefore I guess I avoided wasting much time with religion.  I happened to move into Texas, in the Bible belt, and so I am surrounded by people who wear the religion on their sleeves.  It is hard for me to understand how these fundamentalists can believe a story of Creation that is no more plausible than “Batholomew and the Oobleck” (from the book of Suess). 
      As for tension when your spouse becomes a Joyce Meyer fan – I know the feeling well.

  16. I too just discovered this site. It makes for very interesting reading. What I like most about it – at least from the sections I’ve looked at so far – is that for the most part people seem to treat each other with respect. Arguments can get heated, and that’s fine – but generally I don’t see much in the way of personal attacks.

    As I read through the comments, I think to myself: Frail, sad humanity. We look so hard for meaning. We want so much for this experience of life to mean something bigger and greater and more spectacular than our mundane daily experience would suggest. But at the same time we are also a hardy bunch. We are often pitiable, but I don’t think we need to be pitied.

    Sites like this are great – for the chance they give people to talk – to realize we are all in this together, trying to figure things out.

  17. Les,

    While I agree whole heartedly with your right to not believe in god or jesus or any religion what so ever. 

    There is a big diffrence between someone letting a person know that they have answers if they are curious, and a old lady or collar minister pointing a finger in your face telling you that you are a sinner. 

    Try to remember, as christians, we belive what we belive.  And to thoes of us who truly believe, it is TRUTH.  Not faith.  So when we see a unsaved person, we feel a duty to help that person.  Its like a freind trying to tell a freind they need to get off drugs or stop drinking, both are self destructive to us.  And although some people go about it the wrong way, we mean well.  We are truly trying to help you in our minds.  Even if it dosent seem that way. 

    Unfortunatly, alot of people go about it the wrong way and offend people.  Nobody likes to hear that they are wrong.  And unfortunatly, that is what we do when we Evangelize. 

    So please, people…try to keep in mind that if a christian is being rude, they have your best intrests at heart.  Even if they dont know how to go about it properly. 

    God gave man a choice, to choose him or to not choose him…who are we to say diffrently?  People must make a decision for themselves…

  18. OfW0lf, I’m sure some Christians really have the interests of other people at heart when they proselytize, but it’s hard to separate that principle—that you know better than they do and need to change their minds at any cost—from the often vicious means used by other Christians.  (Yes, they thought they were saving souls in the Inquisition, too.)  The very fact that you ask us to see your point of view shows that you realize that WE have a different point of view which is just as true to us.  Why must you try to get us to change OUR view just because you think it’s the wrong one?  I could just as easily make the case (on Nunya’s behalf, natch) that I would only have your best interests at heart if I offered you psychiatric treatment for your harmful delusions (here the drug addiction analogy is particularly apt).  After all, religious belief is often known to result in violence …

    When you contrast the behavior of Christians with members of other religions, who in the main do NOT spend their time trying to make converts, you start to realize how obnoxious it really is.  (In fact, the Jews have a well-known tradition of trying to DISSUADE people from converting.)  You KNOW that your faith is a chosen belief, not an absolute truth—otherwise you wouldn’t be trying to convert people.  If it were an inescapable truth, you could just sit back and let people find it out for themselves.  But for some reason Christians just can’t seem to live and let live. 

    (Just out of curiosity, ARE there any religious people who read this site who are trying to convince us of the existence of their god who AREN’T Christian?  I haven’t seen any, but I might be wrong.)

  19. Not sure what prompted this, but let’s see what we’ve got…

    There is a big diffrence between someone letting a person know that they have answers if they are curious, and a old lady or collar minister pointing a finger in your face telling you that you are a sinner.

    I agree there can be a big difference in how people present their viewpoints on the topic of religion, though I would dispute whether what they have to offer really qualifies as answers or just their beliefs.

    Try to remember, as christians, we belive what we belive. And to thoes of us who truly believe, it is TRUTH. Not faith. So when we see a unsaved person, we feel a duty to help that person. Its like a freind trying to tell a freind they need to get off drugs or stop drinking, both are self destructive to us. And although some people go about it the wrong way, we mean well. We are truly trying to help you in our minds. Even if it dosent seem that way.

    The road to Hell is supposedly paved with good intentions, or so I’ve been told many times. There is a big difference between someone doing drugs or drinking and someone who just doesn’t buy into the whole God fantasy, but if you want to insist that Christians are just trying to save me from what they consider a self-destructive habit then I suppose turn about is fair play.

    Have you not considered the idea that I might feel that your religious belief is just as self-destructive as you consider my lack of belief to be? How do you think most Christians would feel if atheists as a group took the attitude that we had to save you folks from your own wishful thinking? We’ve seen the reaction that Nunya has gotten here on SEB for his own hardcore attempts at showing Christians the errors of their ways (and not just from the Christians either). In that way I suppose your plea for tolerance toward good intentioned, but obnoxious Christians could apply equally well to folks like Nunya who are also well intentioned, but rather obnoxious in how they go about things. The truth Nunya speaks is no less real to him than the truth you folks put forth. Imagine if we were all like Nunya.

    Unfortunatly, alot of people go about it the wrong way and offend people. Nobody likes to hear that they are wrong. And unfortunatly, that is what we do when we Evangelize.

    This is especially true when the person being told they are wrong doesn’t agree with that assessment. Even more so when the person who is being told he is wrong thinks the person telling him is wrong. Perhaps your mistake is in telling us we’re wrong.

    The truth is you don’t know for certain any more than we do and none of us will know for certain until after we’re dead, if even then, so it takes a certain amount of chutzpah for either side to try and lay claim to absolute truth on this issue.

    So please, people

  20. Wwhhiipptiisshh~~~~*

    OK time for Anti-Rev. Nunya’s proselytizing campaign to save all you poor deluded Christians from your ignorance. Yaa Mule

    Just a couple of tidbits to chew on.

    http://religion.aynrand.org/faith_ed.html

    http://religion.aynrand.org/

    Now read this site top to bottom, every page and try as best as your religiously enervated mind will allow to comprehend fully what is being said, please feel free to cross reference everything as much as possible.
    Much to your chagrin you will find out that everything in here is indeed factual supported by Archeological artifacts & texts.
    To deny the information here you may as well deny the pyramids exist while your at it.

    http://www.jesusmyth.homestead.com/index.html

    Now if you can go here and not come out with at least some idea that Christianity is in fact pure mythology then you are too far gone for self help, you need professional care.
    I would suggest to run, don’t walk to your nearest mental health institution, throw your hands up in the air & wave back N forth screaming *Praise Him* at the top of your lungs, Im sure they will recognize your symptoms and be glad to treat you.

  21. Les,

    Your right, turnabout is fair play.  I agree totally.  However, cant the same be said about atheists such as nunyabiz over here who are just as ardently trying to disprove christianity?  He may not have written the presented articles but he is doing his best to bring it to the people.  Isnt he doing the exact same thing we do?  He is trying to spread “His” truth…and we are trying to spread ours. 

    Lets just throw aside all the evolution, proof, fact, science crap for a minute and look at the basic principle of what we are both doing.  I try every day not to prove god exists, but rather help guide people and freinds to their own conclusions on the existance of god.  The individual has to ask for salvation, I cant do it for them.

    Atheists such as nunyabiz are doing their best to Dis-prove the existence of god.  Basically, we are both doing the same thing…cant the rules apply to both?

    “Perhaps your mistake is in telling us we

  22. OfW0lfandMan, you need to decide for certain whether you think religion is truly a personal thing, or whether you need others to make it valid for you. If it’s a personal thing, between god and yourself only, then you really have no right to push it on others. Especially if you use unfair tactics like threats of eternal hell and seek to put guilt trips on the young and malleable.

    Christianity has never played by the rules and likely never will. It’s an exclusionary, jealous and threat-filled religion and it’s followers are expected to get in others faces. We’ve had more than 2000 years of Christianity to help us find peace and contentment. How much more time do you guys need to admit you’ve had enough chances and to admit you’ve given us much less than your religion promised?

    When will your religion’s followers stop making excuses and pie-in-the-sky promises and decide instead to live and let live?

  23. OfW0lf, think about where you are.  You came over to an AVOWED ATHEIST’S personal blog and have been arguing with him over his beliefs.  Who’s doing the evangelizing here??  We don’t go over to Christian blogs and do this.  So no, the two cases aren’t equal.  We’re sitting over here with our version of the truth, and we’re leaving you alone except when you try to talk us into YOUR truth.

    I try every day not to prove god exists, but rather help guide people and freinds to their own conclusions on the existance of god.

    That’s a bit disingenuous.  I don’t go around engaging people in conversation trying to “help guide people and friends to their own conclusions on the existence of” Cerridwen.  Or Cthulhu.  Or Mr. Smee. 

    In this case, I think even Nunya is justified in throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you; you’ve come over here and asked for it.  For some reason, you seem to be interested in watching people announce their nonbelief and at the same time you can’t leave it alone for what it is.  We’ve already COME to our conclusions, obviously.  Why can’t you drop it?

  24. Ok ok ok ok ok…you make some good points that ive taken to heart.  GeekMom, your right, I did come here.  but in all fairness, I post here on other stuff to.  However, I dont believe I “Asked for it”. 

    Well, im sorry.  your right, I came here and you were staying to yourself.  So I was wrong.  OK?!  WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG!  grin  :finger:  At lest I can admit that…lol

    Your right, lets just all drop it. No hard feelings… ha ha…

  25. Well said Brock.

    Its proselytizing Christians telling me I’m a heathen going straight to hell for not believing in some fairytale that ALL the empirical evidence CLEARLY shows to be nothing but pure mythology is EXACTLY why I throw it right back in your face they way I do.

    I’m sick and tired of it.

    Its proselytizing Christians that have been the root cause for about 90% of all Wars worldwide for 2000 years.

    Its proselytizing Christians that are desperately trying to dumb down the American school system (if that’s even possible to do)by denying the TEACHING of evolution in favor of the PREACHING of Creation. If you don’t think religion has a severely detrimental effect on education then once again check the facts, what area of the country clearly is lagging behind the rest in education? Why could it be “The Bible Belt”? Nah. Check the facts again to see whom is most likely to believe in mythology over logic and reason, in general the lower your education, the lower your IQ, the greater the odds that you wont have the mental capacity to defend yourself from the ever present onslaught of religious BULLSHIT human beings are FORCED to endure on a daily basis from every fucking direction you turn.

    Faith is personal, faith is a deep thing people take very seriously. As much as other people get pissed for us telling them they need to be

  26. I’m with nunyabiz – any fuck that could continue to cling to this ancient mythology is either an idiot or just plain lazy when it comes to the application of rational thinking!

  27. Your right, turnabout is fair play. I agree totally. However, cant the same be said about atheists such as nunyabiz over here who are just as ardently trying to disprove christianity? He may not have written the presented articles but he is doing his best to bring it to the people. Isnt he doing the exact same thing we do? He is trying to spread

  28. Figures. In my long-windedness I missed the fact that several people had responded to this in the time it took me to type up my response.

    I need to take lessons in how to be brief and concise from Elwed.

  29. Hello to all you SEB regulars! I’ve been hanging around reading comments here since last summer. My son will hear me laughing out loud and say,“Mom must be on SEB again!”

    The reason that I’m finally jumping in here is that while I agree with most of nunyabiz’ comments, I think his attitude could be a little less like the religious zealots he abhors.

    Free-thinking begins at home. I have two sons, aged 11 and 18. I kept them from religious instruction until the were 10. (This age could be different for other children, but mine showed evidence of decent critical thinking by then.) My older son decided not to participate and my younger son goes to a lutheran church once in a while with his father.

    My older son writes editorials for his high school newspaper, mainly anti-right wing political articles and pieces promoting the separation of church and state. (He refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in its current form at school.)

    My point is this – It is almost impossible to get a firm, bible-believing christian to come to our point of view, even though I have gotten a lot of enjoyment in my debates with them over the years. (Ask me sometime about the JW who ran screaming, arms waving up in the air, after a 30-minute discussion with me.)

    Peer pressure with youths is often under-rated when it comes to philisophical issues. My son’s articles, while causing tension and anger among some students, created openings for rational discussions with many others. Yes, I realize that this works the other way as well, but I believe that the atheist should not stoop to the tactics employed by many religious organizations. It is important that we realize that for the most part,the law is actually on our side regarding keeping creationism and ID out of public schools. The important thing is to know what your local and state school boards are up to and remind them calmly and rationally that when they cross that line toward teaching ID or creationism, that the Supreme Court already has rulings in place that you will refer to if it becomes necessary for you to sue them!

    BTW, I’ve been waiting for someone to say something about David’s comments from another thread. He gives nunyabiz shit for incorrect grammar and spelling and then he actually misspells ABEL (he spells it ABLE) throughout an entire paragraph! I thought he was SOOO familiar with the bible??!!

  30. Vicki, why did you wait so long to contribute your wisdom here?? grin

    Sometimes I do think that the sole reason we don’t have even more religious wars in the world is precisely because atheists won’t stoop to the same tactics as the Christian right.  Can you imagine what would happen if we did the same amount of public picketing, boycotting, propaganda television, “outreach” in the schools, and going door to door handing out atheist leaflets?

  31. GM, what would happen is that atheism would then be “just another religion” and we would lose the distinction of appearing rational! I don’t think we want to go there, do we!

  32. The question is, what do monotheistic religions see as the greater threat to them:  an alternative religion or the refusal to believe any of them at all?  (I know that most fundamentalists try to make the latter appear as the former, because they just can’t conceive of someone NOT believing in the supernatural.)

    My GUESS is that alternative religions pose the greater threat in their eyes, maybe because they’re more afraid of losing their own members to them than to complete unbelief.  The ugliest wars seem to me to be between religions, not religions against atheists.  (Hell, even a schism within a religion is enough to ignite persecution.)

  33. Yeah, this goes back to the thread that discusses the survey where people said that they would vote for someone of ANY religion over an atheist. I guess that shows how much people appreciate rational thinking! …Or that they think WE’RE the crazy ones…

  34. Les,

    I guess I feel the need to apoligize again.  In my hastiness to respond with my thoughts, they might have come off as accusitory and harsh in nature.  In no way did I intend to offend you or provoke a negative response.  even if it might have seemed that way…

    I apoligize for my comments if they came off as accusitory or harsh Les.  Your right, this is your blog and im just a poster here.  And I guess I was trying to express myself but it came off as harsh and villianizing you and other atheists.  Im terribly sorry…

    In all honesty, me thinks im going to avoid religion debate on here…it gets ugly…

  35. Don’t worry, I’m not offended. It usually takes a bit to offend me. I don’t know that you came off as harsh or as trying to villainize atheists. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what point you were trying to make and I was just confused as to why you seemed to think I had been unfair about things.

    Religion debates often get ugly, though they don’t necessarily have to. JethricOne and I know each other in real life and we can discuss religion all day long (he’s a believer) without ever pissing each other off. Sure he knows that I think his belief is silly, but then I’m sure there’s much about me he considers silly so it evens out in the end.

  36. It is important that we realize that for the most part,the law is actually on our side regarding keeping creationism and ID out of public schools. The important thing is to know what your local and state school boards are up to and remind them calmly and rationally that when they cross that line toward teaching ID or creationism, that the Supreme Court already has rulings in place that you will refer to if it becomes necessary for you to sue them!

    One thing you may not be quite aware of is the very thin razors edge we here in the USA are walking in terms of being a Theocracy.
    Christians are by far the majority, they hold positions in every government/public office, from President down to school board and every thing in between.
    The Christian Coalition is very actively literally breeding Christian lawyers & politicians like dogs, building, funding strictly Christian schools teaching nothing but pure Christian propaganda, dishing out Christian PhDs, turning out Christian lawyers, Christian teachers, Christian activist fast as they can.
    If you think that sounds bit far fetched then take a gander at the Christian coalition website then have a looksee at “The 700 Club” and whatever Jerry Falwells propaganda show is “Liberty somethingorother” 1/2 the time I’m laughing my ass off when I watch that trash, the other 1/2 is like watching a horror movie cept its real.
    The entire Senate recently voted 99-0 to uphold & try to intervene in the “Under God” case currently in the Supreme Court. I don’t think they have ever voted 99-0 on anything.
    Whom isn’t a full blown religious fanatic in politics will at least kowtow to the religious rights every whim because they are scared to death of them.
    Why we aren’t a Theocracy already is the closest thing iv ever seen that I could call a miracle.

    So while “currently” the law may be on our side, that can change quick, Christians are fighting hard as they possibly can to change laws, amendments to their favor, not to mention if Atheist, Humanist, Agnostics etc. don’t stand up at least once in awhile to hopefully keep the status quo then I guarantee it wont.
    We need more Newdow’s in my opinion to keep the Christians at bay and slap some reality into people.
    I think we are all perfectly aware that they will never be happy till every single human on the planet is either Christian or DEAD.

    I think the Canadians kinda have the right idea, and if the USA doesn’t adopt something similar soon we will be in trouble.

    http://eye.net/eye/issue/issue_04.08.04/city/hat.html

    This may sound a bit like I’m being like a Nunya Revere, “The Christians are coming, The Christians are coming!” but I bet I’m not far off the mark.

    ““The more fervently humans believe, the more fervently they feel that contrariness is a threat.”“

    I say the things I do in the way I do because Iv given up being all kind & considerate quite awhile ago, Iv decided to fight fire with fire and give them a dose of their own medicine.
    I purposely treat Christians with the exact same disdain as they do me “on weblogs” not in person.
    In person I just smile and nod and say thank you & stay away from them as much as possible.

  37. Nunyabiz –
    I actually check out the CC website and watch the 700 Club weekly, as well as checking out all the creationism and ID websites. One group (sorry I don’t recall which) is pushing to get bibles in public schools. I sent them an e-mail telling them to keep pushing it through! I would love to have teenagers take a good hard look at the bible from a secular point of view. That is, after all, how I became an atheist.

    Remember that not all Christians are fundies, and most Christians I speak with still believe in the separation of church and state.

    Why we aren’t a theocracy already you would call a miracle? I call it the Constitution.

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the majority of your ideas and if someone tries to force their religious beliefs on me I do not pull any punches, on weblogs OR in person.

    So what is my contribution to our cause? I raise free-thinking children who will challenge other’s beliefs when they think it is unfair. I keep an eye on the school districts’ book choices. Most of all I vote for politicians who are more likely to leave religion out of the picture when choosing Supreme Court Justices.

  38. Les,

    Lol, I wasnt directing it specifically at you…actually…not to you at all…your one of the most fair atheists ive ever spoken to.  As for some of the other posters here…well…to each his own…

  39. That’s Exactly what you need to be doing Vicki.
    If everyone with 2 brain cells to rub together did exactly what your doing we would all be allot better off. /applaud

    Nope not all Christians are Fundies, they were from their own account at approx. 25-30% (think that was a year 2000 poll) though that number is rising slightly as Christians as a whole are losing approx. 1% annually, as their overall numbers dwindle Christians that were kind of on the fence are losing what mind they have left and resorting to more fundamentalist views to hang onto that lunacy.
    So probably at least 28-32% by now.

    But globally that puts fundie Christians at approx. around 700 Million, in the USA alone approx. 70 Million that’s allot of nutcases running loose as far as I’m concerned.

  40. One of the main things I’ve always respected about you, Les, is your even handedness. It’s no small or easy thing to be as fair as you are with your blog. This is the visitor’s site too, by virtue of interactive association, and I can’t thank you enough for being willing to share it.

    The fact that you allow comments, of whatever flavor, makes for very compelling reading. Anyone who wishes to comment is allowed a chance to address their peers and antagonists, and we tend to speak from our hearts. It’s the inter-blend of the passionate and the frivolous, long-considered and eureka-style thoughts that gives this site it’s edge and it’s allure.

    I’ve even gotten into trouble on other sites because I’ve had the audacity to expect, there, the same quality of discussions I see here. 

    You and Eric inspire us to speak succinctly and think creatively. My biggest fear is that this site will someday cease to be, and who then will both provoke and appease me?

    SEB – Not imitated often enough!

  41. I’ve frequented a lot of atheist sites and many of them are only confrontationally angry like Nunyabiz without the leavening influence of give-and-take between Les and Wolf.  It’s like drinking a bottle of hot sauce without the taco.

    OK, that’s a wierd analogy so what I mean is, the taco wouldn’t be any good without the hot sauce either.  No, wait, I mean… this site is just the right amount of hot sauce on an excellent combo plate.  (I have got to stop posting right before lunch!)

    I am a former Christian minister who became an atheist (or maybe realized he always had been.)  So far I’ve learned two things about living as an atheist:

    1) It’s even more unpopular than being gay.  There are openly gay politicians grin but can you think of even one openly atheist politician?

    I have relatives who won’t speak to me and once in a while I find threatening or abusive email in my inbox. (Say, that’s a fine reflection on Christianity!)  And, the occasional total raving nutball.

    2) Anyone who can “choose” to believe or not believe isn’t being honest with themselves.  I’d love to believe the more popular thing, the thing that would make it easier for me to identify with the majority, but I just can’t; it doesn’t add up.

    Andy Rooney said “closet atheism is rampant in this country.”  Maybe things would be easier if all the atheists spoke up at once.  We’re not really so rare, just often intimidated.

    So I mightily appreciate every atheist who comes out of the closet.  That goes for Les, and Nunya, and GeekMom, and Spocko, and…

  42. Hiya decrepitoldfool
    Thanks for the thoughts and the link. I found your story very “inspiring”. ;o)

  43. PS. George, I really enjoyed your fictional story too.

    Fave quote…

    Faith is a lie, a self-delusion.  It’s wishful thinking.

  44. I read through half of this and had to take a break. It’s a shame that most Christian religious people totally miss the point of the message of the bible. Modern day Christians are no different than the pharasees of Jesus’ time. Did anyone ever see The Greatest Story Ever Told? There’s a seen where the rabbi is saying “and if anyone sees a sinner you should turn from them…” and Jesus is sitting in the back of the synagogue saying “No, NO, No!” I do the same thing at church when I hear the whole hellfire and brimstone thing. I don’t think that’s what it’s all about. I was spoon fed alot when I first started going to church but my mother raised me to think for myself. I’m constantly questioning things and my favorite prayer is “Lord deliver me from what I think I know.” Someone mentioned that Christians are the majority but if that’s true how does that line up with there are FEW who will enter? Another thing in the bible it says that Antioch is where they were first called Christians, because people could tell by their lifestyle that they knew Jesus. Nowadays there’s a multitude of self-proclaimed Christians just because they said some prayer at an alter. The proof is in the living. If I’m a Christian let someone else call me that. My Dad never proffessed a belief in Christ but he sure acted like you’d expect one too. I don’t think giving ourselves or others labels makes us that thing. It’s hard for me when I hear stereotypes of “Christians” because as far as I can tell the people who fit the stereotype aren’t really Christians at all. Just my opion of course.

  45. Hey,
    I’m 15 and I feel like the only kid out there that is thinking independantly. I am the only kid i know that watches the news and goes to websites souch as this one. What is wrong with the world?
        Has anybody seen the movie inherite the wind? It is about a court case justifiying the teaching of evolution. There was some backwards town that was so afraid to accept science they completly blocked it out of their lives. That isnt what im writing about though. One point made in the movie is that christians use god as a crutch and how that is a sad thing. I am an atheist to the core but i still wish that everything had a purpose. Thats the nice fairytale thing about god. My girlfriend’s mom just died and the only thing that keeps her from suicide is the idea that god meant for her to die and that she is in heaven. Its sad some people arent strong enough to deal with tragity independantly but if it helps some people cope i suppose it is ok.

    Also does anyone else out there notice that religion fit nicely with totalitarian governments that mistreated their subjects. If you live a life devoted to god you will have a happy afterlife. That kept people from complaining about the present because if you spend all your free time praying you cant start a revolution. I doubt christianity was developed to govern the people but you have to admit it did work out that way in history.

    Thanks for letting me speak my mind! Somebody argue with me because nobody at my school has the capasity for a good debate. Thanks for everything. Bush sucks, yeah to gay marriage.

    P.S. Fuck all you people that say what would the founding fathers say because they all owned slaves and five wives. Later!

  46. Id have to agree alot with tidalrider. Ive enjoyed reading both sides of the issue. Belief in God is Faith.And the funny thing about faith is it can’t be proven even God admitted that. I even as a christian enjoy your website so thanks for putting it up. Just for some backround Im from a christian school where Im not liked for disagreeing with teachers and making logical and well thought out arguements. I applaud you all and now I goto bed thank you….

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