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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First off; Hello all I'm new here

That being said, I too never really looked at it as losing faith but as gaining knowledge. By this I mean religion had too many holes in its story for me to ever really fully grasp dearly. I was raised in a Episcopal household by strict religious followers. Even as a young as I can remember I was always questioning the stories told to me in Sunday School or read nightly as some part of bonding technique my parents would force upon myself and 3 older brothers. I would constantly find myself in trouble with church leaders, my parents, and brothers because of my constant questioning. (I've always been extremely interested in science, especially biology) I would read my biology book from school, then from reading of Darwin and his escapades compare it to the ideologies of the bible. For some reason I was always drawn more towards Darwin.

Any way to the point... Over time I lost many beliefs; theory of afterlife, ghosts, anything truly religious in nature. I do agree with Mr. Dunn when I did finally rationalize that this really is all there is to life..It did push me to complete ALL of my goals, instead of picking and choosing and falling back on the easier goals and letting the tougher ones flutter away...I officially said good bye to religions grasp on me when I was 16 years old (5 years ago). Since then I've questioned more things, felt more creative, and have become a lot happier. I write poetry and other things now about everything..Read all books (including religious) with a neutral mind and am able to pull more from the morals instead of having slanted views...

lol I feel as if I'm rambling. So thank you for reading and good posts all :) (I didn't mean this to sound cocky/arrogant in any way if it came across that way)
Ive been struggling to give up being too opinionated, arrogant and cynical. I was that in spades when I was an evangelical, and it often manifests itself in my atheism. The challenge for me has been to be gracious, kind, positive and stop being divisive. I struggle with that almost daily, but I sure hope I can give it up along with my previously held delusions.
When I became agnostic (later transitioning into Atheism), I went from a Republic to a Democrat. I didn't have a political agenda; it just felt right. I vote for Bush Jr. the first time because I was pro-life. (It was also the first time I could vote.) I liked Al Gore and all he stood for, but I was like most Christians.

My core values and ethics remained the same. I was never one of *those* Christians.
"Leaving religion has been like peeling away the layers of an onion for me. One bad layer comes off and then another one reveals itself, etc"

Nicely stated, Deb. I'm finding the same with myself - and am wondering "where does it stop"? If I keep peeling back the layers, what is left?
I never had much faith to being with. There were fleeting moments of "god", but ultimately my beliefs I held before I took a godless position, were the same after (gay rights, abortion, separation of church/state, etc.). I've always had a problem with supernatural elements, as they usually conflicted with what I personally believed, and I also didn't care whether or not I was pleasing god or being a good Christian, because I knew I was still a good person (a little cold-hearted, but still good).

Of course, my beliefs got me in trouble at the church I went to (voluntarily) as a teenager. However, I was pretty okay with going to hell (if it existed) for what I believed, because once again..I didn't give a crap lol. During a spirited debate on abortion, I got posed with the question of:
Youth Pastor: "If you accidentally got pregnant, would you kill that precious blessing from God?"
Me: *thinking face* "Yep"
YP: "Why? Even if it meant you'd burn in Hell for all eternity?"
Me: "I have things to do besides raising a kid. I'd probably burn in Hell anyways for the out-of-wedlock acts that got me pregnant in the first place, so why not cement my name on the list."
A peer of mine: "That's kind of cold!"
Me: "That's me."
+1 Total pwnage.
Hi Larry,
I'm a recently 'converted' atheist in the process of realigning my beliefs and think I understand where you are coming from. I'm constantly questioning everything --whether it's eating meat or using too many paper towels:) I was never a hardcore Christian or anything but becoming an atheist made me realize how much blind faith and superstition I had to lose. I was disconnected from this life and didn't really think this was it -- rather, there was probably some heaven where everything would make sense and we wouldn't have to worry about global warming, antibiotics in our hamburgers, gay marriage, etc. Now, I enjoy being in nature so much more and I CARE so much more about others and making this one life great. I've always been supportive of gay marriage out of empathy but now I'm uber supportive because it makes no sense not to be. One other thing that has changed is my relationship with my fiance. We both became atheists at the same time (luckily!). At first, I was honestly very frightened and unsettled at the thought of never seeing him in some after life...then we both realized our new views strengthened our relationship. They say that 'those who pray together stay together' but I feel like those who truly value and enjoy each other with a love that requires no interference from a deity have a pretty solid foundation.
Thanks for sharing Annie,
I like everything you wrote, but especially agree with this statement:

"Now, I enjoy being in nature so much more and I CARE so much more about others and making this one life great"

I care much more for ALL people now, not just people like me. I used to think I cared about everybody, but when it really came down to it, my actions didn't support those beliefs. I'm certainly not where I need to be yet, but at least I'm on the path to getting there.

Thanks for sharing your experience and welcome.
it's a chicken and egg thing. I gave up eating meat (chicken, but not egg). I turned towards a-theism too (I'm reluctant to use the expression "losing faith" due to the negative connotations of the word "losing", whereas I see it as a positive change in my life). But if the two things were related, I like to think that both were down to me developing my independent thinking, rather than one being the result of another. It was all part of free-thinking, making my own mind up about things that were important to me and things that were not, or were irrelevant, or seemed morally wrong.
I lost my deeply held belief that I'd go to hell for farting in church.
Absolutly..In fact I would hope that when someone realizes that they were wrong about one thing, that they DO take the time to re-evaluate their life and their beliefs on things. I have been reading a lot of Michael Shermer recentally and have been becoming a skeptic, as well as an atheist. It is good to evaluate all your beliefs because often they are influenced by your religion/culture/socioeconomic status/country that you live in.
Have you ever seen Richard Dawkins "The Root of All Evil"? He makes a lot of interesting points to that extent about religion. I always tried to have a soft spot for it, but when you really break it all down, it is blind faith, which can lead to the kind of thinking you mentioned (god's will, fate, etc.), which in turn can lead people to act in irrational ways.

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