Hi, I'm Mike, and I've been an atheist for over a decade now.
My mother and grandparents attempted to raise me within the southern baptist church, but it just didn't seem to take.
When I turned 12, I was allowed to not go to church anymore, thanks to pointing out that my dad never went either, and so I was allowed to stay home.
For a long time, I remained "spiritual" while decrying the organized and impersonal aspects of religion, but still had the hope in the back of my mind that maybe there was some cartoonish benevolent spiritual benefactor, maybe on another plane of existance, but wishing to aid us all the same.
Then came a period where I railed against all religion as worthless illusions and attempted to actively subvert the religious practices of my friends/family members.
Eventually, I realized that my attempting to force my beliefs (knowledge) on others was just as bad as them trying to force their beliefs on me, so I tried to make amends as much as possible, and we now get along rather well, with the basic knowledge that it's an issue we disagree on, but we still love each other despite it. If I was religious, I'd say I was "blessed" with a great family, but since I'm not, I'll just consider myself fortunate.
I was raised in rural southern Virginia, the type of area where the 700 club has high support, and moved down to just south of Atlanta in 2002, where I eventually met my wife and bought a house, and it seems like religious fundamentalism is even stronger here than back home. For example, one of my elderly neighbors snuck up on me one day while I was working in my garden, and proceeded to ask my opinion of Glenn Beck and whether I believed in God.
Some of you might fault me for it, but I just kinda nodded my head the entire time, hoping he would just leave me alone, which he eventually did. In this respect, I suppose I could be considered to be "in the closet", but that's an unfortunate necessity, since I live in a rural area, with neighbors close by, so I need to stay in good standing with them, and atheism is of course a topic that incites violence and hatred in some.
I joined the site, really just looking for like-minded folks in my region, and wouldn't mind going to a meetup somewhere nearby, or just finding a friend or two to have a beer with on occasion, and have considered going to a UU church just for the social aspect, since from what I understand they accept atheists without judgement.
I'm really glad I found this site, it makes me feel less alone in the world, and that's just awesome.
Hello Mike, welcome to Atheist Nexus.
That was an excellent intro from your heart.
Many of us have experienced the same.
Being the religious "black sheep" in a environment of superstition and self delution is no fun, and can cause some serious mental anxiety.
I too went through that rebelious againts religion phase until I became more comfortable with my atheism.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I wondered; what if they are right? Maybe the bible screwed it up
because they were primative and could not articulate god but that he is real!?
I think to really feel comfortable with any belief, weather it's theist, atheist or agnostic, you need to take a scientifc approch and study all the arguments, for and againts.
If you find the evidence weighs to atheism, sit down and write each argument down and number them.
Below each argument, write down the best theist counter argument (if there is one, this will take some study).
Look at all the arguments and counter arguments and weigh the merits of each one.
If the counter argument is not good enough, find another.
Once you are satisfied with each argument, think of ways you could disprove them and write them down also.
This could be a work in progress, adding to the list as you learn new things, but always consider the counter argument in every case.
You will need to buy books, but always remember to give the other side of the argument equal importance.
If all this sounds like too much trouble, consider this.
If you decide you are agnostic (just for example), how do you know exactly WHAT you are being agnostic about? Do you have all the facts?
What if, some how, there really is a god who is consciously aware of us and there really is a heaven and hell. Dont you owe it to yourself to be able to be satisfied with your chosen world view?
In my opinion, your belief is who you are. You need to be able to say it out loud with utter confidence no matter what it turns out to be.
Anyway, sorry for the long winded post, too much coffee! I hope you enjoy your stay here :)
Thanks Stanley, I appreciate the support! I'm not confused about whether I'm agnostic or not though, I'm just too logical for theism or taking mythology as fact.
That being said, I try not to fault my family or friends who do believe, since I know it provides them with comfort and security from what they don't understand or fear, and often provides them a supportive social network which can be quite helpful.
I'm just trying to find a good social network for myself now!
I know, I'm sorry, I got carried away after too much caffene :\
Some people are simple unable to put faith in something supernatural, no matter how heavily
ingrained it may be in there surroundings, family and friends, and most importantly, parents.
I am one of those people too. I can not remember a time in my life when I drank the Cool-aid and fell for it, hook, line and sinker! :)
When I was a kid, I asked my christian Mom all the usual (logical) questions about some of the more ridiculas bible stories and always got the same answer; we are not to question the ways of the Lord!! LOL!!
I have always, and will always, respect the religious beliefs of my friends and family.
They all know I am an atheist, they know better then to offer me a big class of their Cool-aid, and in turn, I dont throw ad-hominums at them or otherwise belittle their intelligence.
What would be the point?
You have found a good network here to speak your mind as you could not do at home, or at work. This is like a safe haven for like minded people who think for themselves :)
Hi Kim, I'd actually saw your meetup earlier this week, and I may be able to make it, but some work related stuff is going down right now that might tie me up all weekend, so I'm not sure, thus no RSVP.
Sombrero's on Forsyth Road correct?