I feel isolated and alone. I don't even know where to start. To me, the struggle I deal with on a daily basis is pure mental torture. I came from a family where both sets of grandparents were religious christian fanatics. My parents were believers, but we rarely attended church. My background was christian based. My family tree consisted of christian beliefs. Whenever I was introduced to people by family the response was always, " Is he a christian?" Like if I wasn't, it was some kind of crime? I call myself an atheist, but am more like an agnostic. I still struggle and can't figure out how to be set free. Most everything I see and read sounds ludicrous and full of hypocrisy. I watch people suffer like my mother, who on her death bed praised jesus name as I watched her die from cancer. I need friends as I have none. I live with my elderly father who has almost died four times in the last year. I curse god on a daily basis and then wonder why I am doing that. People I know tell me I simply do not understand as this is the devils domain and all will be made clear in the end. To me the idea of a cloud guy sitting up wherever doing nothing is just plain nuts! Yet I cannot understand why I still struggle with the question, what if there is a god?
I wish I could be set free and be at peace with not only calling myself an atheist, but actually being one. To me, that would mean I could live in peace with not only myself, but have the knowledge that other's would have to respect my belief in not believing.
Anyone that can help me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
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Matey I've been exactly where you have. The only reason I didn't leave Christianity earlier was because of that "what if he was real" and "maybe he will fix my problem tomorrow. Oh he didnt today, so maybe tomorrow" 2 examples of never ending loops to keep me in it. Religion is made to keep you in it by saying things like "the devil is tempting you" and such things.
My question for you is why you ask the "what if he is real" question. What would that change for you if he was? If you can say why, that might make this obstacle for you a bit easier to help.
Bottom line. I fell for that same loop trap, but I got over it, I left, and I can tell you with full 100% confidence after leaving that you'll stop asking" is he real". Pinky promise :D I remember after leaving I thought he was still real, and it went away in a day or two. I think people are in exact position every day, and those who get out are 100% fine, no? Just TRY to let go and see how that turns out. Cheers! :D
Hi, and welcome to the forum.
Many atheists "wake up" and feel very alone and alienated. They are often afraid to speak of how they really feel, as it could cause all sorts of problems in their life. I often describe it as waking up, surrounded by a sea of religious zombies, with no one else around that is awake.
The internet is a "godsend" for people in similar situations to find each other. Try searching on the internet for local secular humanist associations, atheist associations or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Perhaps you can find others close by.
You would do well to remember that this procedure has to be allowed to take the time that is needed.
At the risk of repeating things I have already written in this forum, and at the risk of drowning you in too much text...
Embarrassingly enough, I was the cliché atheist (that Christians seem to think all atheists are like) that hated god during a period of my life. I thought I was an atheists and I identified myself as such. It had slowly crept up on me, but one day I realized that "I hate god", which didn't make any sense. How can someone hate something they don't think exists? I came to the conclusion that I had deluded myself into thinking I didn't believe in god. I had long felt that religion as a whole didn't make any sense, but it seemed that I hadn't shed the belief completely. That led me into a lot of introspection, searching and reading.
That led me to becoming an agnostic atheist, a pragmatic/rationalist and an anti-theist. As an agnostic, the small percentage of me that thinks that there could be a god, shrinks and approaches zero, every day. Even though I am almost certain that there is no god, I'm not arrogant enough to claim that I know for sure, as it is impossible to know (depending on how you define "god" or "gods").
For me, as each day passes I feel more and more that I must speak up, let people know that I don't believe in god; that I think that religion, just as anything else, is allowed to be criticized. But in my situation, it doesn't come at the prize of losing my family and friends (my family and most friends aren't particularly religious). I might have to put a lid on it in some cases, but for the most part I can be open and honest.
My personal take on religion (as well as other superstitious beliefs) is as follows...
I use the word "Faith" as in "belief without evidence", because that is what religion is: "belief without evidence" and in some cases even "belief in spite of the evidence". Such beliefs requires a "a leap of faith", because not a single line of text in any of the religious scriptures that pertains anything supernatural has a shred of evidence whatsoever. No evidence, zip, zero, nada.
Yet, many religious people claim that they know. They are 100% sure that their god exists and that their religion is true. How can this be?
Because they have had "personal experiences". They have seen God or Jesus or angels, or they have witnessed miracles, or they see evidence in everything around them. But that is just personal interpretation, through a lens they wouldn't have unless they first would have been taught what to believe. The connection between their experiences and their specific religion / their specific religious texts, requires a leap of faith. That missing connection is THE major gap in their logic, and they subconsciously (or semi-consciously) avoid it in an attempt to keep clinging to their beliefs.
I have asked multiple convinced believers who have had personal experiences, how they know that these experiences actually are connected to their specific religion: Did god tell you he was Yahweh the god of Christianity? Did Jesus introduce himself? How could you tell it was actually Muhammed? How do you know it was Allah himself that performed the miracle? Did the angel specify what religion it was a part of?
At this point they get flimsy and vague or angry. Some stop answering altogether and the resilient ones try to change the subject.
It becomes very obvious that religion is nothing more than personal interpretation, when you ask the same set of questions to different believers, and keep getting different answers. No matter if they adhere to the same religion, denomination and go to the same local church. Despite having their holy scriptures, they cannot agree on a definition of their god, or what heaven is like, or what hell is like, or even how to interpret specific passages in their holy texts.
Is there a god or gods that caused the big bang or that sparked the start of life on Earth?
That is impossible to say because it is impossible to disprove. But even if that would be the case, such a god has no connection to any of the religious scriptures, none of the traditions, none of the dogmatic teachings of organized religions.
Organized religion is just organized brainwashing of innocent children, organized control of the masses, and a way to get power and make money for heartless egocentric douche bags.
I congratulate you for walking away from religion.
I can relate to your struggle. I am a closet Atheist at the moment and it is very hard when your family and community is religious and you can't speak your own truth for fear of offending people and risking important beneficial relationships. That is where you have to take into account what is in your own best interest. For example I have a friend who isn't necessarily religious but goes to church on christmas and easter and professes to believe in god so I avoid faith based discussions with her outside of having told her I am not a religious person. I do this because I value her as one of the few friends I have because we share secular things in common that I am not willing to risk losing her as a friend at the moment by coming out as an atheist. I am sure many would disagree with this and I respect and understand their opinions but I hope this idea helps you in your personal relationships.
I personally found it a little bit like "The Matrix" movie. Becoming an athiest can be almost surreal and temptations are there (whether through fear or bribery) to return to the fold. As my son said "Religion is Santaclaus for grown ups". Young fresh uncorrupted minds are often clearer than "educated" minds. You will eventually gain a clear view on life and realise just how crazy it is. Especially when you attend church for weddings and especially funerals, as I do out of respect to the people, not the church; You will start to realise just hoe hocus pocus it all sounds. It does get easier, but the funniest thing I find, is that you can be wiped by the very people that are meant to be so full of love. Funny that. Cheers mate.
Thank you all for your words of encouragement and trying to help me. I purchased the book, "Why There is No God". Hopefully that will help me as well. A friend of mine (who is a pentecostal christian) claims she has died twice and gone to heaven and hell and is always trying to have me saved. It is hard to combat someone who thinks this happened to them.
Good for you purchasing that book! :D Best of luck on your journey, ask if help is needed. And eesh, I don't doubt that that'd be hard to combat. I guess just let her think that, while you move about your way. Cheers :D
Wow, she sounds like she is really "far out there". It's not often people claim to have been twice to heaven and back, or even once to hell and back. (Or perhaps it is common among Pentecostals?)
"It is hard to combat someone who thinks this happened to them."
If you would like to poke the bear...
Do not push, but instead pull: Ask questions, use the Socratic method.
If you ask questions in a polite and calm way, you allow here to think for herself. That way she is less threatened. But it still might not have a chance against the level of delusion she is in.
I'd ask her to describe heaven and/or hell, to give details. And to describe how she died, and how it can be that she could come back (three times no less!). People like this often use very vague descriptions, like "it was beyond any possible words".
What did it look like? (White clouds?)
Where there others there? (Elvis? Albert Einstein? Curt Cobain?)
What were they doing? (Restlessly trying to find something to do? Playing harps? Orgies and drugs?)
Did she talk to anyone? (John F. Kennedy? Michael Jackson?)
What did they say? (What year and date is the rapture going to be? What denomination is the right one?)
Did she see God or Jesus? (It's not very likely that Jesus was a white man with blue eyes).
If she see God or Jesus?, how does she know that it was the God of Christianity, or that it was the real Jesus? (Did they introduce themselves?)
After you have heard her answers, you will most likely know less about her experiences than you did before you asked your questions.