If I had put my expectations into words I would have said "Life can't get any worse!" (I was before college a Catholic.)
Life couldn't get any worse than that of the only Catholic I knew well: my dad's. His parents didn't have the money to send three kids to Catholic schools but wanted their two daughters to finish high school so they could marry better.
It had to have been a hard lesson and my dad remembered it. When a two-year-younger brother spoke of wanting to quit high school, our dad told him "The day you quit is the day you move out!"
BTW, one of my dad's two sisters did marry better. My brother finished high school; his son is an MD and his two daughters an RN and a CPA.
I finished college an agnostic, found work I liked, and life after religion has been VASTLY better than I expected.
Is your life after religion what you expected?
Replies here might help newbies at A/N in their searches.
* I paraphrased slightly a question asked of retired folk: "Is life after 50 what you expected?"
This expresses my feelings exactly and then some.
WOW!!! Thank you, Mathew.
I heard of Ingersol after existentialism aided my leap into uncertainty but years passed before I saw his books. I had time for only a few pages and didn't see the above.
Again words fail me: WOW!!!!
I feel free. I am much happier and now I don't have to believe in fairy tales and nonsense.
It's a relief.
Frankly my transition from theism through apatheism to atheism has largely been without a ruffle. Religion was never that important an element to my life as it was. Being that the branch I was brought up in - Protestant Congregationalism - is about as watered down a christian denomination as you can get, there wasn't much to leave behind, other than a congregation which wasn't where I settled after I graduated from college.
Truth be told, I might have prayed here and there during my apathetic phase, but I never thought much of my prayers or their likelihood of being recognized or acted on by some putative deity. Now that I'm an atheist, they're just one more piece of detritus to be shut of.
Maybe I'm atypical. So what? There it is.
ONE area where religion did have an impact was on my sexual orientation, particularly in coming to terms with my bisexuality. After my first experience outside the conventional sexual realm, I was roughly a year struggling with what had happened, that it was condemned by the bible and by society (at least back then), and the conflict between that and the fact that it had been a harmless and largely enjoyable encounter between two people who happened to share the same gender.
Once I was past that, though, I'm not certain that religion had any appreciable impact on my actions. I suppose if I were to look back at those times, I might find something, but its importance at this point strikes me as being minimal at best.
I'm bisexual. I'm an atheist. I'm down with that.
Loren, I'm envious. Bi's are twice as likely to meet someone.
Looking back, I can't remember having any expectations. I just woke up one day and realized I hadn't really believed in god for a few years. My process was internally driven, and I had already removed myself from Xian congregations, so there were no apron strings. I attended a few Unitarian/Universalist services in the college town for a while, where belief was optional. The Christian college I attended didn't shove anything down student throats. My process felt so natural, gradual, and reasonable it was more like personal enlightenment than deconversion.
I did not have expectations regarding loss of religious belief. It was a rocky road. It took a long time to go from fundamentalist Baptist to agnostic to Unitarian to atheist.
I don't see that there was any other path for me. My temperament is to think for myself, be as informed as I can be, analyse and think critically.
I am introverted, but I do miss face to face contact with at least one other person who thinks like I do. Not that I want a twin or sibling, but that it would be nice to have the in-person comaraderie. Nexus is great for that, grateful to have this and the friends I know or are getting to know here.
Freedom from religious lock-step and mind-warp is essential. Life as a fundyBaptist would have been miserable. Life has had its ups and downs, but I'm glad I didn't let fear of hell and religious indoctrination control my life. Most of the joy that my life has had, is because I am free of the religious intolerance, mind control, hatred, racism, scapegoating, smug, anti-intellectualism, clique, cliche, xenophobia, homophobia, hypocrisy, quagmire of the mind, of religion.
Thanks, Sentient, my path was much like yours except it was from Catholic to agnostic to Unitarian to atheist.
When I began to understand fundamentalism I started describing Catholicism as a kind of fundamentalism.
Though I was one of five kids I usually had my face in books and was introverted until I gained self confidence via college, a job I liked that paid well, marriage, and thanks to my wife's more public kind of work some public speaking skills.
I had all the stuff you mention above, except soon after I finished high school I said something probably racist. I don't remember what I said but have a crystal clear memory of my dad's looking me right in my eyes and saying "We don't dislike people because they're different!!!" He owned a small grocery store and one day ordered a customer who'd said something racist to get out of his store and not come back.
Freedom from Catholic guilt over original sin and all that fear-based other crap feels WONDERFUL!!!!!!
Whoops, I said in opening this discussion that my dad's parents didn't have the money to send three kids to Catholic schools. I forgot to add that his parents took him out of the Catholic school after sixth grade and told him to help support the family.