Is there anybody out there who WAS a true believer and is now an atheist? If so, I'd love to hear how you got from there to here. I always put the whole God story in the same category as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy and I was lucky enough to grow up in New York, so I knew from the beginning that there were lots of belief systems and lots of degrees of belief and compliance. I've always been impressed by people who had what must have been the comfort and ease of automatic belief and who gave it up for the much more demanding and unsavory challenges of reality. I'd love to hear your stories, particularly those of people from communities where no other options were around, were available, were even acknowledged.

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Wow! Thanks for answering. I was hoping you wouldn't think I was just being way too nosy.
what an awesome discussion. I love reading these stories.

I just thought of something today that i used to do as a child. Although we were baptists my parents had me attend a catholic church for confession once a week (no idea why) and I always made up sins to tell the 'old man' in the booth. It got so boring that i began making little bets with myself as to what sin would be worth x number of hail mary's/our father's. One day I 'confessed' to stealing 50 dollars from my parents. (50!!! at age 11) I expected at least 15 hail mary's but only got 5 - which was the same retribution for 'accidently breaking someones toy' a few weeks earlier. I was so annoyed at the inconsistency!! I still recall thinking "so not fair.. that was definitely worth at least 10"
That reminded me of what happened to my Catholic upbringing. My parents sent me to "religious instruction" just because it was the thing to do. But one day I came home crying because a nun had told me that because I was chewing gum in class I was going to burn in hell forever and there was nothing I could do about it! That was the end of that. My little sister never had to go at all.

I remember once, when I was very small, seeing the lady next door hide frozen steaks underneath her baby in the baby carriage at the supermarket. She was a staunch Catholic and much admired for her very vocal faith and tons of kids. Another time I watched the priest from the local church skip ahead of everybody on line, again at that same supermarket. I didn't know the word "hypocrisy" but I recognized the phenomenon when I saw it. That's when I knew that religion was just another one of those ridiculous grown-up pretend games that we're all supposed to play - just like pretending that the lady next door (on the other side) ISN'T a raging alcoholic who jumps into her pool in an evening gown and sips special lemonade all day.
lol special lemonade
yes - i recall when i was a teenager asking about where all the poor old testament souls went. They never had a chance to meet or be 'saved' by christ. I was given a few different answers - but the one I remember best was "god doesnt have to be fair". So it sucks to be them. What a wonderfully christian message.
OH YES!!! I was trained to be a "debater for Christ" when I was in middle school!!!!

I find my coming out of religion a very charming story because ironically it was by listening to the classic atheist arguments that they "taught me how to counter" that I started to reject religion.

All that time I was sheltered from the opposite opinion, but when they started teaching me how to debate without offering adequate answers to the questions asked, I walked right out of the door and became agnostic within about 2 months after a lifetime of devotion.

Amazing story. FSM works in mysterious ways! He gave me a miracle!
I actually planned on becoming a minister when I grew up! As a kid, I went to church 4 times a week... ugh! Even went the Evangelical route for a while...

I remain grateful for my "Christian education," (paradox) because it makes me a very formidable opponent in conversations with the faithful ;-)
I hear that, Rusty! But it doesn't really cut it because the real difference is not how much you know about it but whether you actually believe the rubbish is heaven-sent or not. Getting over that wall of separation is the hardest part of talking to the faithful. They can't detach themselves.
I was a very staunch Catholic. At least, that's how I was brought up by my family. I remember having some doubts early on in life and loads of questions. However, any time I asked anyone wearing a clerical outfit, they couldn't help me. I thought the questions were simple - why did god make a place like hell? why did Jesus have to die for us to be allowed into heaven? - things like that. Finally, when I felt I should just find out for myself, I enrolled in the pre-seminary. No help there, either. I got really good at figuring out solutions to problems that the church was facing, but they weren't that good at accepting them. Deemed a threat to the church’s moral fiber, I was asked to leave.

Faith still intact, I wandered through my life. Then a couple of years ago, my wife was pregnant with our first child and she got Bell's Palsy - losing the ability to move 1/2 her face. I had to take her to the ER the day before her due date. The doctors told her that if she took the anti-virus, she risked harming our unborn child. So she didn't, and she still suffers from it.

Our second child (my happy little accident...) was on the way when my wife doubled over in the street and had to be rushed to the ER, where they couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. She spent weeks in the hospital before they found the issue - an intussusception of her intestine, extremely rare in adults. She was operated on with the child still inside. During the recovery, my wife again complained of agonizing pain and they did an emergency C-section. An up-and-down one.

My wife never did anyone any harm and always went to church (me too). I spoke to the priest who told me that "god has his plan," and, "that which doesn't kill us only makes us stronger." Then I was talking to other people, some of whom suggested that god was punishing me for my sins by taking it out on my wife. At this point, I got pissed off at god. Then I really thought about it and decided that, even if he is real, I don't want anything to do with him.
Wow, sounds pretty horrible. Mark Twain became atheist after the loss of his wife. Ironically, your minister quoted Nietzsche, a famous atheist (that which does not kill me...).

Hang tough!
Thanks, Rusty!

Some more weirdness to the story - I was in pre-seminary with the priest who gave me the advice.

And a touch of irony - my wife and I have been separated for 6 months...
Journaling has been a wonderful tool for me during rough times. I've gone through and really been able to find patterns and some excellent "self advice."

I don't tend to journal during good times ;-)
I've never really done that - keeping a journal. Seems like a good idea, writing can be very cathartic. Guess that's why I replied to this discussion, to get it off my chest.
Perhaps I'll start writing this stuff down and see where it takes me.

Thanks for the tip!

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