"I've always been Atheist"

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Lauren's picture
"I've always been Atheist"

A few weeks ago I went to an Atheist gathering and everyone introduced themselves at the beginning and explained their history with being Atheist. I couldn't help but notice some people sounding so proud when they announced "I've always been Atheist." I understand it's an accomplishment to be at that point but to boast in such a way? That doesn't make them a better Atheist than me! I was a theist for a period of time in my life. Do you relate?

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Zaphod's picture
Yeah I relate, I have said

Yeah I relate, I have said now many times I think the the truly religious (not meaning just go to church and hate all other breed that think themselves so) that convert to atheism after they get all the bugs worked out can be some of the most interesting atheist.

Rob's picture
I wonder what it would have

I wonder what it would have felt like for me to grow up an atheist instead of a christian. What would have been diferent about my life.

Zaphod's picture
I guess that would all depend

I guess that would all depend on when you became an atheist. Some of the smartest people I have meet were atheist all their lives but some of the best peopel i know when it comes to religious and atheist talk are either religious or converted atheist. People who were raised christian seem to have a lot of mental hangups and find it hard to accept some things even though they may know know now these things are perfectly fine. Like the old saying goes, "You can take a bum from the slum but you cant take the slum form the bum!" seriously that's the way I used to hear old timers say it when I was younger.

gardenerclematis's picture
My daughter grew up in an

My daughter grew up in an atheist household. She had no frequency of church related events at all. When her uncle died he had a Catholic mass. She commented after the service that she couldn't believe the rituals, the religious garb, and the shaking of the incense canisters. She laughed at the craziness of it all and compared it to a Las Vegas nightclub performance.

Zaphod's picture
I might consider going to

I might consider going to funerals more often if it were a like a Las Vegas nightclub performance! I think in fact if I have such a funeral for myself when I die and nobody gets offended then I have lived my life right!

DarkLight's picture
Basically we are all born

Basically we are all born atheists and I'm sure that if we never got to be brain washed by religion, we would never come to a natural conclusion to fear god or even believe that there is a god.

gardenerclematis's picture
I agree with this statement.

I agree with this statement. The power of the brainwashing and the resulting fear is more than most people will admit to. Breaking free from this is very difficult, the human condition is quite fragile.

Zaphod's picture
When it comes to brainwashing

When it comes to brainwashing. I think of how much it annoys me to think of all the people who are brainwashed and if I find that I have fallen victim to such activity I feel really ashamed and upset of it but not really afraid, it's more like embarrassment. I believe it has not happened to me in a long time but I am willing to admit it has happened to me in the past, funny thing is you often don't know you've been brainwashed until long after you have made a complete fool of yourself. It is also entirely possible to brainwash yourself this is something many people fail to take into account. Instead of fearing it I take deep interest in how it worked and use it to improve on my character.

Signs that you have been brainwashed can be identified as,
*fear or embarassment of being wrong
*having the same problems with multiple close people in your life
*obsessive behavior after arguments during which time you continue to convince yourself you are right or justify your opinion as if the argument is still going on
*unwillingness to at the very least consider where others are coming from and how they may feel the ways they do
*unwillingness to at the very least consider that almost all idea are wrong to some degree and thus consider how you may be in fact wrong and or considered wrong in certain ways
*not actually paying attention to the person who is arguing with you, this can be tricky as a sign because the person may not be making any sense or just repeating themselves over and over again so as to not really be willing to further the advance the discussion.
*Unwillingness yourself to advance to discussion.
*seeking of the insight of others you hope agree with you.
or last but not least your life seems perfect because you have excluded the people in it that differ or offer resistance from your brainwashed state.

Feel free to ad more if anything comes to mind!

Spewer's picture
I suspect many of these

I suspect many of these people are convinced they are in complete control of their own beliefs and therefore somehow superior for never having "fallen" for theism. I understand that belief is more complicated - that we are not as in direct control of it as we'd like to think, which means I don't buy into any implied superiority. In fact, I think having been theistic helps me better understand theists. I think I get theism in a way lifelong atheists would have a harder time doing. But it doesn't make me a better person, just as being a lifelong atheist wouldn't make me better. It's just a different perspective.

Zaphod's picture
Well said Spewer, I agree

Well said Spewer, I agree with what you put forward here very much so. I think people as a whole a better because we have so many perspectives. But as you can tell form others of my comments I do feel people are in control of their beliefs unfortunately controlling them is much harder to do than said. I do feel there can be external conditioning but the individual is still then responsible for they ultimately decide to disregard or believe. People do however tend to believe more of what aligns with prior belief. I would say that if your goal was to brainwash someone your best bet would be to get started when they were young. In fact perhaps setting up an orphanage and campaigning against abortion would be the best way to gain legions of brainwashed followers. Ok, that last bit was a placed low blow!

gardenerclematis's picture
Not me. Starting as a

Not me. Starting as a teenager I rebelled against my born again Baptist upbringing, and then preceded for 30 years to explore lots of other religious philosophies. It was just a process of religious testing with no validation. Finally, I just had to face reality and start living my life as a mortal human being. It has been very "freeing". And once I realized that this is my life, "live it or lose it", I went back to school, got 3 degrees, got a new professional career, started traveling more, and working my damnedest to enjoy my life.

Zaphod's picture
Nice post there Gardener!

Nice post there Gardener! Agree wholeheartedly about your take on life, whether a theist or not live it or loose it!

DarkLight's picture
So true gardener we are free

So true gardener we are free once we accept our mortality and the probability that this is it.

Lauren's picture
Good point about people who

Good point about people who have "explored" being a bit more well rounded. I agree. More than ever now I question how people can be black and white - either claiming there is no god at all or completely claiming that there is one.

I have a friend who is a proud skeptic and is very quick to turn anything away if it does not have scientific backing. Sometimes I become frustrated when talking to him because he will not give anything that is questionable much attention in conversation. We can never take our conversations outside of "reality" for this reason which I think can be detrimental in various ways because it's like the mind is locked in a box.

Zaphod's picture
I don't expect this to go

I don't expect this to go well but perhaps you could drop this line to them. "I see when I see you a lot of pride and pride is a good thing in moderation, however to much of it can lead to ignorance!"

gardenerclematis's picture
In order to get to a defined

In order to get to a defined clear absolute hypothesis, we go through many explorations that are full of assumptions. hunches and "many shades of grey". Expecting to always arrive at the absolute without the give and take of exploration, trial and error, is another form of lack of reality necessary in order to understand a system of gaining knowledge. Yes, I also have met scientists that are blind to this process and the patience it takes to gain truly accurate information. I am reminded of the arrogant physicians that dismissed the use of leeches for medical purposes back a century ago. They took the position of this being the utmost medical absurdity, and yet, there were those that kept exploring this mystery of leeches and medicine. And sure enough, they found somewhere in the craziness, a piece of valid intervention. Leeches are now often used to treat burn patients. They eat the decomposed tissue and therefore assist in preventing infection. Being too sure of one's self is not the way to become educated.

Sherry's picture
When I was 22-25 years old, I

When I was 22-25 years old, I belonged to a Methodist Church with my boyfriend. I began questioning the bible. I had an excellent preacher who spent extra time with me at my home to discuss this. He openly listened to what I was questioning and discussed why he had no explanation as to why it sounded so mythological. He truly believed in God and did not treat me different, because he knew I did not.
I did not know until I was in my early 20s that my grandfather was atheist. I was raised to think that all people believed in God and to never question it. Some people are raised to only believe one way. Once they are at an age to question what they were taught, they do just that.
Now, I am atheist. I think the fact that I fought to be an atheist instead of being raised one, makes me a better atheist, because I fought for it. I have fought my family, friends, co-workers and complete strangers about my beliefs or lack there of, for over 15 years. One of my brothers refuses to talk to me, everyone on facebook constantly post about God, my parents knew in my early 20s, I was going to be atheist and except me for me.
My 13 year old daughter is a straight A student, but, chooses to believe in God, and I back her decision, with great debates. My 15 year old wants to be just like mom, but, I have taught her to question everything, get facts. She and my 17 year old daughters are atheist, because I explained why I am. I gave them the choice and gave them the facts.
In my opinion, someone who fights for their beliefs is a better believer for their fight.
We all as atheist will fight for years to come for our beliefs, we are all the same, not one atheist is better than another.

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
nice story, yes you cannot be

nice story, yes you cannot be an atheist by force, you are an atheist by choice alone.

Only theist must force their children to be theists and that is the horror of theism, it attacks little children when they are used to obey.

Just one question.

How many daughters do you have?

1 of 13
1 of 15
2 or more of 17?


CyberLN's picture
No snark intended...you said,

No snark intended...you said, " I think the fact that I fought to be an atheist instead of being raised one, makes me a better atheist"

What the heck is a *better* atheist?

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
don't worry cyber, no one is

don't worry cyber, no one is better then you :)

I think she feels better that she fought to be an atheist instead of being raised one.
I think she means that she acquired more knowledge and learned a lot from that experience.
If she was raised as an atheist she wouldn't have been as satisfied with her choice as she is now.

I think I can relate because i went through a similar experience myself and it is something that makes you proud with yourself that against all odds you prevailed because you were fighting for a right cause.

CyberLN's picture
Oh, Jeff...there are lots of

Oh, Jeff...there are lots of folks I consider better than me...present company excluded. ;-)

I do think she is probably capable of responding for herself.

Fighting for the right cause? Interesting. Are you intimating that atheism is a cause? I was under the assumption that it is simply not having any gods.

But, as for causes, I was one of those peeps who stuck daisies into the rifles of the U.S. National Guard during protests for our involvement in the Viet Nam war, fought for legalized abortion, still work for the ERA, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, provide blankets and food for the homeless, the list goes on, so I do know a bit about causes.

Atheism isn't a *cause*.

That I have always been atheist does not, in any way, make anyone better or worse than I am.

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
"Fighting for the right cause

"Fighting for the right cause?"

The cause is not atheism, but having a choice of choosing your belief and not being forced upon you directly or indirectly.
When everybody around you is saying 1 thing and you have been thought not to question things, then it becomes a struggle just to have the freedom of choosing or even understanding that there is an other option.

This is in itself a huge internal battle with yourself that if you manage to overcome it you gain self respect and confidence in your own beliefs and ideas.

On the other hand, I think she can speak for herself on this matter, but I just wanted to say something that her reply reminded me of.

Sorry for jumping in on you, :)

CyberLN's picture
Jeff, folks who have always

Jeff, folks who have always been atheist are not immune from direct nor indirect force to convert to theism. I hear it, likely, as often as you do. Just because I have never had any gods does not mean I've not had internal battles. It does not mean I never questioned things. It does not mean I did not have to do the work to embrace the freedom to choose or understand there are other options. Those are ongoing things. They always will be. I hope they always will be. For if I ever get to the point that I think I know it all, I will stop learning, growing, questioning, being curious.

Jeff Vella Leone's picture
"Jeff, folks who have always

"Jeff, folks who have always been atheist are not immune from direct nor indirect force to convert to theism."
I did not say that.

All i said that we share a similar experience and thus i can relate I should be able to relate better to that experience.

Carroll's picture
I was raised athiest however

I was raised athiest however at some point in my life I had an interest in religion and when I went to various churches I found all the ritual fascinating and beautiful and fulfilling to me in some way, not really seeing it any more absurd than any other human activity (like table manners which aren't always judged by the same rules of etiquette from place to place)... on the other hand my husband was raised born again christian and taught the bible as 'literal truth' (which of all the religious beliefs this one just boggles my mind like no other) and yet he can't seem to take any other religious ritual or belief seriously and is often making fun of them while I'm always saying, actually that sounds good to me, why not. I definitely agree though that having ever been a theist or not doesn't really make a difference ultimately and definitely don't take pride in having started life as an athiest... but if I had to make a generalization I feel like perhaps those that came to athiesm after having had some belief are 'better' in some way because it's a bit like having no experience with a sense and rather than attempting to experience it yourself you just deny it's existence altogether... I'm more impressed by those that have seen and looked and realized it was an illusion than those that knew better than to look for what was never there, but that's my own value system bias in operation I'm sure. I think it's a bit like those that when someone plays a joke on everyone are quick to point out after the reveal, "oh, I was never fooled, not for one second!" ...they take pride in that but I just think, ahhhh, ya missed out on all the fun.

Zaphod's picture
I am always saying that the

I am always saying that the people who were once believers make the best conversation after they get over the the whole moving on bit. I chalk this up to experience and there for agree with what you have said here. I don't think this makes them better per say just better for conversations regarding religion. I dont think a person better than becuase they once believed or never did. But I too find it annoying when people brag about how they were never fooled, not for a second! Party poopers!

Chey97.'s picture
I can relate do to the fact

I can relate do to the fact that I was raised a Christian but I never understood or felt comfortable on this path. Later on I discovered that my dad never felt right following the Christian faith my dad has been studying the Pagan religion for many years so when he discovered my search for different anwsers he invited me into the pagan religion so I followed that religion for awhile and I enjoyed the social outgoing personalities of the pagans I met but the religion still did not feel right to me. The I finally discovered the Atheist way of thinking and I felt comfortable and at home for the first time in my search.

Michee's picture
I went from atheist to

I went from atheist to christian and now anti-theist. I grew up in a christian home and my aunts and uncles treating me badly since i want to be an atheist and I thought god is a cruel god by looking at how they treat me. At 13 I saw a book and though maybe God is a good God. I been a christian for 4 years and was very upset. God doesn't work i felt like he doesn't even care about humans. In a few hours before new year I saw a post of a girl who had a similar problem. She converted to an atheist. I agree with her and I was angry with god so i see no point of being a christian. Now I'm anti-theist.

Ellie Harris's picture
I have yet to encounter an

I have yet to encounter an atheist that thought less of another atheist that was
once a theist this seems as though you are placing your own thing on some group of atheist. I dont identify with this fabricated characterization at all.

Ellie Harris's picture
The idea that considering an

The idea that considering an undemonstrated claim some how would make anyone well rounded is ridiculous.


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