Was there a particular event in your life that contributed to you becoming atheist?

I'm new to this site, so I apologize ahead of time if this topic is repetitive.

About a month ago, a close family member of mine passed away after a four year battle with cancer.  She was diagnosed at age 37, and despite all the prayers for her, she finally gave up the fight.  

Having been raised Catholic, I rejected the religion entirely by the age of 15, and from that point on, I remained on the fence about the existence of a god - until about a month ago when my cousin died.  The hardest part for me was during the last visit that I had with her, when I finally had the chance to talk to her one on one.  She told me point blank, "I don't want to go yet.  I'm not ready to die yet."  Despite her incredible will to live, it wasn't enough.  

Losing her made me reevaluate everything I thought I believed in in terms of a god or the afterlife, and I've since come to the conclusion that it's all a bunch of fairy tale, hocus pocus nonsense, and it is precisely the reason I finally jumped off the fence I'd been sitting on about god, and finally embraced atheism.  Not only was this decision because of my cousin's death, but because atheism just makes more sense.  

The religious people out there try to convince me of this divine master plan that "God" has in store for her, that he needed her in heaven and blah, blah, blah.  All I can do is stare at them, absolutely baffled as to how anyone could be so deluded.  How long are people going to keep making excuses for this so-called god, trying so desperately to make sense of the senseless?

I still haven't come out of the atheist closet to my family, and I don't know if that would be the best idea at this time.  However, I believe that I will at some point in the future,


Part of my question also is whether or not any of you have switched to atheism after the death of a loved one?  Something tells me I'm not alone here, so I'd love to hear what anyone else has to say.  Thank you.

Tags: a, atheist, becoming, death, deconversion, faith, loved, of, one, questioning

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Good ideas Kathleen.  I also hated the feeling of being manipulated, at least as I got older.  Plus, I never got overly emotional as some people do.  

I did shed tears at a good story, and a good piece of music, but I finally realized that it didn't mean it was the holey-ghosty saying anything too me, because I shed tears at a good secular story (sad or happy), or secular musical number, or secular movie.

I agree, Kathleen; those feel-good chemicals do flow.

However, I heard that churches schedule the most emotional music right before the collection!

Dan Barker is co-president of FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation) and was a fundamentalist minister for many years. He openly admits that people get emotional and feel their skin crawl with goosebumps, but none of this is proof that religion is real! You can even get these feelings as an atheist, but it proves nothing about god or theist views being correct.

I think it also has something to do with a sense of belonging. Church---cults--all come together first out of a search for belonging. The need for family.Too bad that it dosen't stay in their own backyards.

I never found the promised joy of religion, but being a theist most of my life had the promise of "pie in the sky." You couldn't go to heaven unless you died, and that was the only way to be with god, so loved ones who had died are achieving the goal. It was hard to drop religion just because family members died, or because uncle Charlie had more money that you did.

The theist is asleep all the time though. You realize that you are waking up when you stand next to the grave with a group of people and understand that the dead body is lowered into the ground while someone in the group is telling you that the dead one is in heaven now. It doesn't compute! It makes as much sense to shoot Jack with a handgun and tell everyone that he went to the store to buy candy.

Maybe we even have so many "christian" murderers because they have helped the deceased out. By killing them, they have helped the deceased to "go to heaven" so it's really no big deal. Religion is one great big disease and sometimes believers go off the deep end.

I heard Catholic priests say they celebrated a fellow priest's death.

They said a deceased priest had gone to where all his life he'd wanted to go.

I ask, "Where were their deceased pedophiles?"

I was also raised mormon with strong roots in the church. Like Idaho Spud, non of the hucus pocus ever happened for me as well. I went in and out of church and it wasn't until I joined the army that I became Atheist.

My job in the army has to do with chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear weapons. (No, not building them, but detecting the after effects.) It was learning about all the horrific things that man made chemicals can do to us that got me questioning god.

After studying Atheism I realized I was Atheist. I didn't understand or even considered the contradictions of the bible until I became Atheist.

Hi, I'm new here too.

I was raised orthodox christian, mostly by my mother, since my parents separated pretty early on. My dad happened to be an atheist, but for some reason I never even thought about it at all until after I had been an atheist for quite some time--it's not that I didn't know, it just completely skipped my mind.

When I was little, I sincerely strived towards religion, holyness, and towards becoming a saint-like, perfect person. I was, however, perpetually tormented by guilt for my own "sins". I've always been a very curious person though, so I was also very concerned with trying to understand the world.

I don't think I've ever been super rigid in my faith, but I definitely was always ardently searching for meaning, goodness, etc. I remember in 7th grade we were learning about islam in school, and I was awed by the charitability of the religion and even considered converting to it, though not particularly seriously. So I guess I was just kind of spiritual, but a christian none the less since that is how I was raised.

When I was around 14, I met another girl in choir who was a very staunch atheist. She was extremely intelligent, articulate, and outspoken, while I was unsure of my faith, and not particularly knowledgeable about it either. We became good friends, and I became more interested in actually researching religion. At this point though, I still wasn't an atheist, but I was in the grayer outskirts of christianity.

Then, I remembered some other friend mentioning something about a group of people who believed in some kind of spaghetti monster. Curiously, I looked it up, and found out that satire about religion was actually a thing--yeah, I was only 14 and not particularly well-read lol. Despite the obvious comedic purpose of the website, the philosophy and values of pastafarianism were strikingly similar to my own--utilitarianism, kindness, learning/trying to understand the world, etc. The website also mentioned that you can be a christian and a pastafarian at the same time. I decided to give it a sort of thought experiment. All of the recent doubt/insecurity about religion had me in a state of fear and nihilism. To comfort myself, I tried to imagine a benevolent, loving spaghetti monster reaching towards me with his paternal noodles. It felt absurdly stupid.

I guess this was my dramatic moment of realization LOL

I suddenly felt so empty--the whole idea of god was bullshit. I also felt extremely vulnerable too--who could I pray to, who would protect me? I remember being just a little depressed. 

The way my choir friend pointed out the idiocy and bullshit in religion brought comfort though. I started researching stuff online, reading debates, scouring articles about philosophy, epistemology and logic on wikipedia, and everywhere I went, every article I read further reinforced my atheism.

Many christians say that in the darkest of times, all men turn to god, but for many atheists, that isn't true at all. When my grandmother died, followed closely by my cat(I was ridiculously heartbroken about that lol) I didn't even think of religion. Nothing about them dying made me want to believe in supernatural things. Conversely, they made me profoundly feel the palpable physicality and meaninglessness of death. I had missed the funeral(I live in a different country from my grandparents, and I had to wait for my passport to be reissued) so on the one month anniversary of my grandmother's death, my mom asked me to read passages from some christian book over her grave, which I did dutifully, while feeling an incredible amount of cognitive dissonance--none of it rang true or brought me any comfort whatsoever.

So I guess that's my journey to atheism? Sorry for writing such a long-winded post.

I've told this tale here before, but will go into it briefly again.

When I was four years old I figured out that Santa Clause was a scam by snooping around in closets.  It hit me that maybe the whole God thing was too, and just maybe that was why the adults in Mom's Baptist church seemed to be acting sort of crazy.  I told Mom (a rational social Christian) that I didn't want to go to church any more.  She made a deal with me -- I didn't have to attend if I would read the Bible, from "In the beginning" to "Amen" and be prepared to discuss it with her at any time.  I'll never forget her reasoning, which was, "You needn't be pious but you shouldn't be ignorant.", which stands as the most reasonable thing that anyone has ever said to me.

That book is a damn hard read for a little kid, and it took me two years to finish it, frequently discussing it with Mom at night.  By that time I was convinced that it was utter bullshit, and that I wanted no part of it.  So I was an atheist at age 6, but didn't yet know that there was a word for that.

When I was a teenager I thought for some reason (probably a lost love) that I wanted to be a Zen monk.  But everyone around me was Christian and I didn't want to just assume that they were all wrong.  And so I slogged through that whole goddamn book again.  It was even worse than I had realized in my little kid reading of it.  It was then that I decided that ANY claim of gods or supernatural occurrences is ridiculous and harmful.  I then was actually an atheist.

Later I discovered LSD and quantum mechanics, and began to understand that perception and reality are not the same, and that reality is somewhat "flexy".  That didn't lead me to a belief in supernatural things (though it was tempting), but did make me more humble in what I thought that I knew.  Moreover, I decided that absolutes probably don't exist in nature.

Whew, I think that I promised brevity way above -- guess that's out the window!

}}}}

Very interesting. A lot of the same thoughts babe give through my mind too.

There was one particular event in my life- a discussion with my wife about religion.

I come from a Southern Baptist extended family and my parents were fairly conservative religiously but quite liberal politically. I was indoctrinated pretty well, but they also encouraged my insatiable curiosity.

I really wanted it all to be true and work out like promised. When the worst bullies I dealt with were in the church youth group, I just tried to believe harder. I became obsessed, couldn't sleep, and prayed for peace. After completely detaching from reality during my first semester of college, my family had a meeting in which it was seriously suggested that I was demon-possessed.

Fortunately, sanity won out and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Yay medical science!

I talked with atheist friends but I began to see their points against religion (and that magic is make believe). I continued to choose to believe, although largely that the metaphors were useful and good, not that they were actually true.

But the injustices carried out in the name of religion-not just distant wars but everyday, personal ones- caused me to regularly rant.

Finally, a few years ago, on the middle of one of.my rants, my wife asked me why I believed. I responded that I chose to. She asked, "But why?" And since I had no reason to, I let it go entirely.

I always prided myself on changing my opinion if I discover I am wrong. It's one of my takeaways from science. I don't have any sorry of God hole anymore, and I don't think it is a net positive in the world either.

The power it has still scares me. Loving, caring, kind, otherwise rational people can totally lose it over religion and become unpredictable.

Loving, caring, kind, otherwise rational people can totally lose it over religion and become unpredictable.

Spirituality generates very primitive, powerful emotions.  Love, hate, rage.  It involves psychology from very early in life. 

I'm going to have to save that as a very insightful quote somewhere.

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