I realise most atheists here belonged to one religion or the other before abandoning their respective faiths. I just want to know: what sealed it for you? What was the most compelling truth that made you discover that your beliefs were complete hogwash?
I had been a Christian up until late 2018 when I began to question my faith. I came accross r/atheism on Reddit and vividly remember being triggered at the way atheists ridiculed christianity. I swore never to look up anything related to religious skepticism on the internet. Like my parents, I was a fundamentalist and couldn't bear the thought of not believing in an all-powerful Creator god. Eventually, I returned to Reddit in December of 2018 and registered as a member to debate with atheists, determined to "talk some sense" into them lol. I remember my first debate being on the topic of free will and I also remember being particularly gobsmacked and embarrassed with the quality of arguments the atheists put forward. It was at this time that I began to watch videos on YouTube from both skeptics and apologists. Then my faith began to falter.
The first issue I couldn't deny was the question of the bible's authenticity with all the contradictions and whatnot. It was something that troubled me even in my childhood days but now I could no longer overlook them. Then again, not even this was enough to make me abandon the faith. I simply thought that the contradictions in the bible were put there to test my faith. I succumbed to Pascal's Wager, determining that it would be safer to believe in God than to be a doubting Thomas on the last days.
Thus, I remained a christian - for a few days though - because I discovered the counter to Pascal's Wager:
i.e WHAT IF I had chosen the wrong GOD?
It began to make perfect sense. I asked various church leaders I was close with. I asked them: What makes Christianity different from all others? I never found their answers satisfying or reassuring. I discovered there was indeed no difference between Christianity and any other theistic religion. It was all a myth! Honestly, it was this question that changed it for me.
I'm the only member of my household who's an atheist, although I suspect my dad is, seeing as he never had any interest in Christianity or religion in general for as long as I can remember. I could be wrong though. Everyone else: my mom, all my sisters are still theists. Seeing as I'm also still dependent on them, I have no plans of revealing my "atheism" to them soon.
So what's your story? :)
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The first real “OMG this is bullshit moment” for me was at about age 30. I was in the hospital, near death and my one “regret” was not being “me”. Always living up to something or someone’s expectation.
Up to that point I had enough people I had met to put doubts about the bible in my head (the dark deep recesses, where I pushed them). But it was the full out realization that “this was life” - no proof of anything after and a shitload of unfulfilled promises and waiting.
I was done. Done waiting. Done not being myself.
My first doubt was the contradiction between all all-loving god and damnation. I've never heard an apologist make any sense of this as the freewill argument just doesn't do the trick. Since then, many more.
@ V C Kojo
Well, I began questioning my Catholic beliefs at 16 over some of the more especially fatuous claims; EG the virgin birth, original sin,the infallibility of the pope, etc etc
I had three sources of information:
Ask Dad: "Shut up". He would explain
Ask my religion teacher, Brother Weed: "It's a mystery of faith, we just believe it"
I went with my class on retreat at I local monastery. It was mandatory. Had a chat with one of the priests; "Here read some Aquinas"
Because my father was a dogmatic and bigoted Irish Catholic, I stayed schtum until I finally left home permanently, at age 23.
However, I only left the church at that time. I still believed in the spiritual realm. I went searching for meaning .That search lasted 20 years. There was no single thing, no epiphany for me. I had called myself an agnostic for many years.
On day, while I was cogitating, I realised that I simply did not believe in gods or anything 'spiritual' or paranormal. I did not believe in gods,but didn't know if they exist. That confused me for a bit. Then I realised, I can be BOTH atheist, which is about belief, and agnostic, which is about knowledge.
Today , I call myself an agnostic atheist . I freely admit that I may be wrong in my lack of belief.So far, I have never found any credible evidence of that possibility. To the contrary, the more I read Bart Ehrman and listen to thinkers such as and Carrier, Fitzgerald and Price, the more convinced I become that I'm probably right.
V.C Kojo: "what sealed it for you? What was the most compelling truth that made you discover that your beliefs were complete hogwash?"
I was living in the small town of Pratt, Kansas. Singing and witnessing in a small evangelical group while traveling the Midwest. I decided that I wanted to be a preacher. Best decision I ever made! My thought was, "I need to learn as much as I can about God." So, I made a commitment to go to every church in town. HOLY FUCK! THE DOWNFALL BEGAN!
There is a great little Zen Story that describes the situation perfectly. The wise old king knew that his son the prince would soon be king. But the king knew his son was not ready. The king came up with a plan. That night at dinner the king banished the young prince from the kingdom and sent him to the east for a period of one year.
The price left for the East the following morning. While in the East he learned that the people were ruled by an evil wizard. An evil man who told them how to think and what to believe. When he protested. the people covered the young prince in tar and feathers and chased him from the cities.
When the year was up, he returned home to his father. the king. He described his journey and how crazy the people were. The king looked at his son and realized he was not yet ready to be king. He banished him again and sent him off to the West.
The adventure continues to the North, the son returns to the king to tell him about the Evil Wizard controlling the masses. He describes his hardships and what happens when he tries to convince people that they are wrong.
Finally the son returns from his trip to the South. The King and his son are sitting at the dinner table and the King inquires, "What did you learn on your latest trip." The young prince looked at his father and responded. "You are an evil Wizard." The king smiled. His son was now ready to be king.
V. C Kojo
I was a devout Christian for over 40yrs. After working in Pediatric Oncology I thought to myself, what kind of all knowing super entity would allow such suffering amongst these beautiful children.
After years of extensive academic research, I realized that there is absolutely nothing divine about the bible. It was written by unknown authors over the course of centuries. All religions are man made.
As a kid, i went to Christian school.
So, even though my country is the biggest muslim country, i'm basically a Christian.
When i was still in college
I'm so bored that somehow i decided to read one of my brother's book
"A.L. De Silva - Beyond Belief"
At first, i'm just amazed with how the author made his point to show that the Old Testament God was just hateful
I kept reading to the point how the Bible (Ezekiel) describe an angel, which absolutely sounds like bad sci-fi monster.
I felt so stupid.. Why i never notice these horrible parts of the Bible?
And before, why the hell i thought it was okay for God to kill all of the Egyptian firstborn?
That cruel sadistic asshole..
After i finished that book, my atheist sense is tingling..
I began my search for an active atheist forum
Then i found a very interesting site called Why won't God heal amputees
Spend some time on the forum, got some hilarious jokes
How the hell noah collects Panda from China
Kangaroo and Koala from Australia
Polar bear and penguins from the north pole
Bring them all to middle-east somewhere
Engineer an Ark that could perfectly simulate their natural habitat
I'm sure Noah didn't forget the plants such as Marijuana, Coca, Poppy
Noah obviously need to get high at all times to keep himself sane.
Because he has to return them all after the flood
It doesn't took long for me to become full fledged atheist right after i'm done reading
The more I examined religious claims, the less I believed them, as it is a demonstrable fact they haven't any objective evidence to justify them. I've disbelieved them pretty much my entire adult life.
I was extremely lucky to have been raised without any indoctrination, nor any exposure to religion until my teenage years.
By then, the claims of theism simply seemed no different to say, the santa claus stories.
Yes, they can have a good purpose, yes they may make people happy... and yes, they may bring people together.
But that doesn't make them true.
By secondary school I had developed a decent level of critical thinking and understood that the stories were just that... and science, empiricism and the laws of nature had rendered all religion as being ridiculous.
For me, it was not any single experience or moment, but a gradual awakening. From as far back as I can remember, I silently questioned the stories of the Bible that I was being fed, the lack of logic, and the inconsistencies, but I attributed this to me not understanding the shit well enough, so I kept on believing. But in retrospect, I think I have always been an atheist, even when I thought I believed in the Jesus crap. At university, once I started studying math and science, the pieces started to slowly fall into place. The real clincher was learning about evolution, though, through reading Richard Dawkins' "The Blind Watch Maker" and "Climbing Mount Improbable", and reading rationalist and skeptic sources on the net (this was all before the term "skeptic" was hijacked by antivaxers, conspiracy monkeys and other cretins).
Time for me to repeat this again ...
I'll step in here and present a brief exposition of my reasons for not treating unsupported mythological assertions uncritically as fact, in the manner that so many mythology fanboys do. I'll start by stating the obvious - namely, it's precisely because mythological assertions are completely bereft of support, that I regard them as intrinsically discardable, in accordance with the proper rules of discourse, which, sadly, the typical pedlars of apologetics here not only regard themselves and their assertions as exempt from, but seem to take a perverse delight in deliberately flouting. Quite simply, anyone who thinks regurgitating the very same mythological assertions that are completely bereft of genuine evidential support, or peddling lame apologetic fabrications that an astute five year old would point and laugh at (in my travels, I've encountered many such examples), will make me regard their mythologies as anything other than mythologies, is in for a rude awakening.
Indeed, it's precisely because I've spent a good part of my adult life learning how rigorous discourse is conducted, in the empirical sciences and pure mathematics, that I regard apologetics as beneath contempt, even before seeing some of the more ludicrous examples thereof being peddled as if they constituted some spectacular brand of "wisdom". As a consequence of that background, and the relevant observational data provided in quantity by the usual suspects, I take the view that said individuals wouldn't recognise rigorous discourse if it backed an M1A2 Abrams main battle tank into their ribcages. In particular, pedlars of the fatuous "design" assertion manifestly have no idea what is required, to convert that assertion into something other than the product of their rectal passages, and no, I'm not going to spoon feed the usual suspects and do their homework for them - if they can't work out the requisite details from first principles as I have, then I'm not going to given them the easy ride they manifestly seek on the matter whenever this issue arises.
Then of course, we have the fact that the mythologies so beloved by these individuals, are manifestly untrustworthy, courtesy of the fact that they contain risible errors of an elementary variety. If your mythology was written by people who were too stupid to count correctly the number of legs that an insect possesses, a fact discernible by an astute five year old, or written by people who thought genetics was controlled by coloured sticks, then I am under no obligation to treat seriously any of the fantastic claims for these mythologies as purported "sources of wisdom" from the usual suspects. That's before we cover such farces as the "global flood" nonsense, or the "Fall of Man" drivel that is a crock to anyone who understands the most elementary principles of both ethics and jurisprudence, or the manner in which the "creation myth" assertions are completely ass-backwards with respect to actual scientific discoveries. Anyone who thinks that these assorted instances of rampant idiocy constitute "fact", are less deserving of serious consideration than my tropical fish.
All of the above, of course, constitute substantive reasons for discarding the requisite assertions, even before we recognise that belief, as practised by mythology fanboys, is nothing more than uncritical acceptance of unsupported assertions, and as such, is a grave offence against the rules of proper discourse that should invalidate any appeal thereto in various species of tiresome apologetics, which at bottom, I regard as nothing more than the attempt to conjure wish-fulfilment fantasy into existence by the deployment of sophistical elisions treated as magic spells. And all of this, yet again, is before we consider the instances of discoursive duplicity that are routinely observed to be a part of the mythology fanboy modus operandi.
But, there is more, and as an insight into that expansive vista, I shall now provide the following.
In the decade that I have been observing, and in some instances, countering apologetic duplicity from the usual suspects, I have learned so much about the progress scientists have made in fields such as evolutionary biology and cosmological physics. I am fortunate to live in an age, where I can collect and digest at leisure, hundreds if not thousands of scientific papers, documenting in meticulous detail the research work of the authors, and I can perform this gathering of knowledge with no more effort than it takes to press a mouse button a few times. Of course, the real hard work starts when one reads the papers in question, but I was fortunate enough to have a truly wonderful science education, dispensed to me by an utterly stellar collection of teachers, the like of which I fear we may not see again for generations. The gift they bestowed upon me, enabling me to scan extant research and understand that research, is quite simply priceless. The benefits thereof transcend any mere, vulgar monetary calculation.
At this juncture, some might assert that I ought to offer some token of gratitude to the miscreants, who provided the motivation to labour diligently in this vein in order to destroy their canards. This is to miss the point entirely, namely, that if said miscreants had been given the power to convert their febrile and sleazy fantasies into policy, the ability to perform said diligent labour would have been denied to me, and the education I received would have been killed at source. That diligent labour is, in a sense, a repayment of the debt I owe to those stellar teachers, and those researchers, who toil honestly to keep the light of knowledge and understanding burning brightly, and who in some cases amplify that light to supernova levels of brilliance.
As a corollary, I regard the maintenance of proper discourse, as a small but necessary duty, in order to be a part of that preservation of illumination, even though my part may seem insignificant alongside the contributions of the true giants in the requisite fields, upon whose shoulders I gratefully sit. I will almost certainly never be a candidate for even a minor award, let alone anything as prestigious as a Nobel, but the work of those thus exalted, and the blood, sweat and tears they shed whilst treading the long path to that recognition, should be compelling stories of real achievement we pass on to our children, exhorting them to follow their example. Alongside their endeavours and their findings, the assertions of mythology, and the sometimes farcical nonsense peddled therein by the authors thereof as purportedly constituting historical fact, wither in impotence and inadequacy by comparison.
This much became obvious to me at just six years of age, even if I was then unable to expound the thought in the prose I now deploy. At that age, I had access to The Children's Encyclopaedia, a ten volume work edited by one Arthur Mee. His project aimed to provide a repository of knowledge, compiled by some of the best scholars and pedagogical experts extant in his day. But at this juncture, it must be said that in my case, his wish for that project failed in one respect. Mee, typically Edwardian in outlook and approach, wanted his work to the the basis upon which the generation of fine, upstanding Englishmen, avowed disciples of God, King and Country, was to be accomplished - his work was quite clearly intended to be a training manual for the Sons of Empire.
He failed in that aim, because he made one fatal mistake.
He arranged his ten volume opus, in such a manner that direct comparison could be made between science and religion.
The science sections, obsolete though they may be in the present era, were written in compelling style, a style that presented a message that I, as a child, lapped up eagerly. Namely, that one didn't have to accept uncritically the words of the authors, that their material was as they claimed it to be, but instead, one could go forth oneself, and experiment in order to find out for oneself that the facts in question were genuine, observable facts. The message in those science sections was clear: the wonders of Nature await you - go forth and embrace them. Telescope and microscope in hand, the universe is yours. How wonderfully inspiring was that!
The religion section, by contrast, was dismal. "Here are some assertions, treat them uncritically as fact", was the message arising from those pages. It was almost as if Mee secretly and perversely wanted to undermine his stated mission, by making it so easy to observe that dismal contrast. On the one hand, pages that exhorted their readers to go forth and learn with passion and vigour, on the other, pages that effectively said "don't bother asking questions". It should not be difficult to deduce which of those pages I paid most attention to!
Quite simply, those pages made science a thing of majesty and glory, the rocket that would take me to the stars, whilst religion looked more like prison. And I was able to make that determination at six years of age, thanks to Arthur Mee.
My message to the mythology fanboys is this. You have missed out on so much genuine knowledge. What has been kept from you, and denied to you by the pedlars of mere mythology, should make you regard their actions as criminal. You have been offered trinkets and baubles as a pathetic substitute for the keys to the cosmos. In short, you have been robbed of a rightful inheritance.
Take the first steps now to seek reparations for that robbery.
On generalised reference books:
I grew up with 'Newne's Encyclopedia' because dad could not afford Brittannica. During The 70's (?) there was the catch phrase "look it up in your Funk and Wagnall"
The foregoing were I think based on the erroneous belief that such reference books were/are authoritative. They hardly ever were the way they tended to be used. IE ;looking up a single reference. Encyclopedias have been and remain a good place to start rather than cutting edge knowledge about just about anything.
From my observation, Wikipedia is quite often far more accurate than Brittanica or World Book ever were. Decent Wiki articles always have a plethora of references.
In my naivette, I used Britannica as a source in a first year tutorial paper and was handed my head. My tutor also claimed that most of Brittannica's entries were written by undergraduates , not experts in a given field. I have no idea if that's true,but it sounds about right.
I also remember reading somewhere the claim that within ten years, 70% of everything one knows will be wrong. Can't remember when or where I read that, so it must be considered anecdotal. However, I found the claim plausible because I had read "Future Shock" ***by Alvin Toffler, in the early 70's. What makes his predictions even more scary is that they were made before the IT age.
I have often wondered if the enormity of Information Technology has contributed to what seems to me to be the anomie of many societies today.
***"Future Shock is a 1970 book by the futurist Alvin Toffler,in which the author defines the term "future shock" as a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies. The shortest definition for the term in the book is a personal perception of "too much change in too short a period of time". The book, which became an international bestseller, grew out of an article "The Future as a Way of Life" in Horizon magazine, Summer 1965 issue. The book has sold over 6 million copies and has been widely translated."
A documentary film based on the book was released in 1972 with Orson Welles as on-screen narrator"