When you lost your faith, did you lose any other deeply held beliefs?

When I challenged my belief in God and converted to an atheist, I didn't stop there.  I challenged several of my core beliefs, including my political, social and economic beliefs.  As a result, I have left my long time political party, changed my views on abortion and all the gay issues (marriage, don't ask/don't tell), and changed my views on governments role in our economic system (we need a strong government to offset big business/banks).  I also changed my previously held views on Global Warming and I'm seriously considering giving up eating meat.

 

I wrote a Facebook email to an old friend about my conversion story.  I'm sharing that story with this group as well at the end of this message (in italics) in an effort to explain the change I have gone through the past 6 to 9 months..

 

My questions is this:  Did your loss of faith in God/Religion change your beliefs or views in other areas of your lifeIf so, what changed?

 

Hi Jeannette, I picked up your IM from the other night, but am responding via email since we are no longer “on-line” together and this story won’t fit in those little IM boxes.

Yes, I do have a conversion story, but I should be clear, I am not a Democrat, and I a not a Republican, I’m also not a Liberal nor am I a Conservative. I don't care how things get done, just that they get done and I refuse to wear any label. I agree with you about the polarization issue. Talk radio/TV/internet are forcing people to pick sides. Once you pick a side, it is ingrained in our culture to defend that side no matter what the facts are. I’m not picking any sides; instead I’m letting a critical assessment of the facts draw me to the best possible conclusion.

My conversion story is how I went from letting others think for me to thinking for myself. It’s been an interesting journey and one that I’ll be on for the rest of my days.

In short, when I gave up my religion and belief in a higher power, which is story for another day, it opened my mind up. I was completely closed minded in just about every way. Giving up my belief completely changed me – for the good. For the first time in my life, I actually think for myself – using relatively unbiased data and sources to help me develop my thoughts and conclusions.

Anyways, after the 6 month process of losing my faith, and gaining my mind back, I started wondering about some of my other deeply held beliefs. I wondered what else I “believed” because of what someone told me, like fox news/radio, versus what the actual evidence tells me? Do you remember the 1943 Guide to Hiring Women that I posted? Well, I really wondered about that and what I would have felt about that article if I was in the workforce back in 1943. I bet you that I would have been nodding my head in agreement as I took in the author’s wisdom.

I decided that this was not a good thing. Conventional beliefs are not necessarily the right beliefs. I thought back to civil rights changes, environmental changes and other big changes and wondered where I would have stood on those issues if I had lived in that time. I bet you I would have taken the conventional view.

I also decided that my current information sources were the equivalent of the author of the 1943 Guide. I could not trust them anymore and had to do the hard work of understanding the issues myself

I decided to pick two topics – Global Warming (because I like science) and Health Care (since it impacts me and my family personally) and to really dig into these topics. I also decided to let the facts draw me to the conclusion, and not to form a conclusion first, then go find data that supports that conclusion

I read books, magazines and websites from all sorts of sources – good and bad, pro and con. I also read books about critical thinking – how to assess and weight sources, how to sniff out bias and about the art of argumentation. It’s been another long journey and I’m no-where near the end.

The evidence is overwhelming on both fronts.
•Global Climate Change is a scientific fact (or more accurately, Global Climate destabilization), and it is, as least partially, caused by man.
•Our health care system is a disaster that is fundamentally flawed

What is the most alarming to me, is how good, moral, intelligent people, like our facebook friends, can be so duped into picking a position that is fundamentally harmful to them personally.

How many people, who are against health care reform, will go bankrupt because of health care related costs? How many will have untreated or undiagnosed medical conditions because they can’t afford to go to the doctor or to get medical treatment? How many are not able to buy the drugs they need? How many will not get preventative care, but instead, will go to the emergency room later to treat a condition that could have been prevented with on-going care? How many will die? How many will lose their children/parents/siblings/friends because of lack of health care?

None of these things would happen if they lived in any of the 29 other countries that have universal health care – and at a lower cost.

And they think what we have is a good thing? How did we get to this point where our beliefs are so against that which actually benefits the majority of Americans, including our friends? Well, I think I have a pretty good theory, but that will have to wait until another day.

Sorry to be so long winded, but I do find this topic very interesting. Let me know if you would like to hear about me “losing faith in faith”. I’ll be glad to share it. It is a good story.

Take care and keep fighting the good fight, Larry

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I wondered what else I “believed” because of what someone told me, like fox news/radio, versus what the actual evidence tells me?

If more people would use this concept as a starting point of knowledge I suspect that the world would look completely different.

Personally I had no faith to lose, but once I really started down the free thought & critical thinking path, I also had to confront beliefs which I had held deeply for no reason other then I wanted to believe that they were true. It has caused me to revise my position on a fair number of ideas and even ideals, and has also cemented some ideas for which previously I didn't have any evidence for or against. Even more importantly it has allowed me to honestly say on several occasions, I just don't know enough to answer that question.

I found it very liberating and ultimately it allows me to present opinions which are based upon facts rather then fictions.
Like Jay, I never really had any faith to lose. I was a de facto unwitting atheist for my entire life, more correctly, an apatheist, and it is only in the last few years that I have become consciously godless as a result of the rising wave of stupidity and dark age atavism that is gripping the planet.

I have no particular venom for religious belief per se, but rather my venom is at blind belief itself no matter what flavour. As such, arguments to me that Hitler or Stalin were atheist are moot - they would never have got anywhere without the unquestioning belief of the millions they trod over. Their cults are indistinguishable to religious ones to me.

I took a plunge into the abyss very many years ago and abandoned everything, including most of my friends and social environment because it was pretty much a swamp of mumbo-jumbo, fucked up politics and pseudo-spirituality I could no longer stomach and began a process of rebuilding everything from scratch. I perhaps differ to many here in that I was not fleeing xtians - mostly new age and protest-anything-American doo-doo heads. This empirical rebuilding of reality of course brings with it some very difficult realisations, many of them extremely unpalatable and not going to win you any popularity contests. These are the major modern heresies in my book, and the list is by no means comprehensive. But they are nevertheless heresies that do get persecuted by supposedly "enlightened" atheists. Some heresies are -

* That atheists are just as capable of being stupid as believers.

* That for every Beck and Coulter snarling irrationally about "liberals", there are corresponding clowns on the left snarling irrationally about "fascists". If the left want genuine fascistic organisations, they'd be better off looking much closer to home at folks like PETA or ISO. You'd think, if you've spent any time at any atheist forum, that the right has some kind of monopoly on idiocy. There's certainly bugger all disagreement to this unspoken assumption (what little there is usually gets shouted down).

* That concepts such as "racism" or "sexism" are redundant if you are genuinely socially egalitarian, and that these concepts are used far too often to demonise others (for essentially thought crime) instead of actually making anything better. Just look at the endless spew of the "white male" threadage that has forever poisoned this site in the minds of many - male and female.

* That dismissing belief in supernatural agents or gods as the foundation of our reality as "nonsense" and then subscribing to other unsubstantiated "nonsense" is idiocy of the highest order. There are atheists who buy into high level nonsense like the antivaxxers and 9/11 truthers, but the level of low level nonsense accepted uncritically and disseminated virally is far more disturbing. Your Zeitgeist groupies; those that mindlessly parrot that information in Wikipedia is unreliable or that it's biased against atheists; and, of course, those that maintain that Palestinians are pure and good and free from sin.

These are just the big ones. It is unfortunate that the rejection of blind belief ends with religion for so many. Because it's nowhere near enough for a sane planet.
Never truly had "faith". But when I gave up the fear of the possibility that there was a god, I tended to dump alot of conservative belief. Especially its blind faith in the free market.
But the most important thing I gave up was my silence. Silence about gay rights, silence about pro-choice, evolution..etc...its been pretty liberating!
Oddly I never looked upon it as "losing my faith", its just that I grew out of the beliefs I had. I don't feel as if I have lost anything, I just put away the toys of my childhood.

And a thought has just occurred to me:- if I was to be invited to, eg. a Pagan festival, or a Wiccan wedding, I would enjoy being there. In much the same way as I enjoyed playing electric slot cars with my son, I'd have a blast, but then its back to reality where slot cars are not really useful to me.

How would others who have left a faith feel if they were invited back for a special event, or even just a random church service? (I'm guessing this would not be a possibility in the more fundie beliefs, I'm thinking of more free n easy religions.)
Unlike you my loss of belief occurred over a much longer period of time. Somewhere along the way I came to the realization that skepticism is far more useful than belief and so I have tried to believe as little as possible since then. I confess that I am not always successful though.
I stopped worrying about tempting fate...i know it's not a big change, but i'm pretty liberal anyway (i always supported gay marriage, i'm pro-choice, i support death with dignity). so, i gave up knocking on wood and crossing my fingers and not saying bad things about people in case they came true. now, if i say i hope someone dies in a fire, and then they do...i will feel bad, but not guilty.
:D
I gave up Lent for Lent and only feel guilty about feeling guilty.

I think remembering that I don't like people saying bad things about me is what stops me from saying bad things about other people. That makes more sense in my world.
I don't think my rejection of christianity changed my position on any other topic. Honestly though, I hadn't asked myself that question before, so I will be giving it some thought.
I can say that, since I left religion, it's been more important to me to be of some use on this planet; to be helpful to my neighbors and community. Maybe that's just maturity kicking in, or my mother in laws' good example, rather than anything to do with rejecting christianity.
I do eat less meat; no beef or pork, but I still LOVE chicken. I can leave god, but I can't leave my chicken! I don't think that has anything to do with being atheist, but maybe.
I do value each day on earth more, knowing that this is IT!
Well, immediately i threw out ghosts. Much earlier, before becoming atheist, i gave up hunting. Now, i'm trying to avoid beef, and chicken on steroids:) I've actually always wanted a cow as pet. I saw a video of this asshole sort of water boarding ((by spraying hose on cow's nose so it had trouble breathing)) a cow who was a little cripple in a slaughter house. The whole thing just makes me sick and mad. I'm trying to refine my diet with dairy and other protein, but it's rough because i'm hypoglycemic and require extra calories, because i work outdoors. I'm getting there. With age, i've just become more tolerant of many things, and try not to judge people. I can't drink because i have hypoglycemia, but that may help me in the long run? I don't mind it when others drink, but i'm a hard ass when it comes to drinking and driving.
To be honest i never had any faith to begin with my parents never made me or my siblings go to church because they said when they were kids they hated it and always got in trouble both sides of their family are very religious however and i always have arguments with them they usually are very short consisting of my grandma saying that ill regret not having faith when i burn in hell but my response is usually ateast hell is free back when the holy roman empire was around and christianity was the new trend you had to pay (indulgences) to insure your passage into heven.
Strangely, belief in some kind of god/oversoul was the last thing to go - and actually allowed me to see my other more profound stances more clearly. I would say that it was my core values that finally forced me to let go of god.

I think the trigger was coming close to the real possibility of death about six years ago. I had struggles with the idea of not existing versus eternal life for a long time. Intellectually, I came up against the 'how can a being who exists imagine not existing?' paradox. Surely, eternal life was extremely problematic as I had long ago realized that I was a different person every day and would have to be even more different if I existed in non-corporeal form.

Then someone mentioned the thirteen-and-a-half billion years before I was born that, at the very least, I couldn't remember - and oblivion became a simple concept to accept. A huge amount of fear left me that day - to my genuine surprise.

So, while I have always lived with great intensity - I settled more into the moment and the time at hand. I started becoming more productive - writing more and creating more. I started researching more areas I was interested in and I became clearer about things like just why compassion, kindness and generosity are so valuable and necessary. When this is all there is - the whole 'make the best of it' philosophy only becomes stronger.

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