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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No worries. Hope you like it. I love his points about "christian children/jewish children".
My conversion story is probably the same as many but the brief summary goes: Grew up in a non-observant Christian household, around 15 like many teenage boys I was looking for answers and fell in with a bad crowd (evangelical Christians). My mother died unexpectedly about a year into my folly into faith and I plunged even deeper in. Yes I was one of those people you see on street corners, preaching the word to any who would listen. What saved me was, that as a seeker of knowledge, I read the bible deeply and talked to the ministers and it didn't make sense. And when at around 18, I realised that I was the only person in the church taking it seriously, I decided it was time for a re-appraisal.

So my conversion was one of skepticism and enlightenment. There were 2 very difficult moments during my fall from grace. The first was when it hit me that all of the people I knew who had died, including my mother were gone. No meeting upon high. It was as if they had died anew. The 2nd difficult passage was when I realised I had to give up the mysteries of the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, telepathic powers, pre-cognition et al. I loved the mysteries of the world and it seemed I had to give them up.

It has been 28 years since that difficult period, and I have regained some of that love. The mysteries I llove now are to do with the unanswered questions of science and people. I can get lost in a text describing the current theories on dark matter or on behaviour of masses of people under different stresses.

So yes, as part of my conversion I had to change more than just my theism and for me the world af analysis and skepticism has filled the gap.
Nope, I pretty much stayed the same. My views are partly what made me leave religion even before I stopped believing in god.
I'm not definitely sure that changing my political beliefs is related to my giving up my former Jewish beliefs/practices. I used to not know the difference between the Democrats and the republicans. Then for awhile I thought Republicans were evil shmuks and Democrats or liberals were good. Then, Before the first term of George W. Bush, in September 2008 I suspected that I was a republican, but was still afraid to vote for republican candidates. But for the 2004 election, I became confident and started to vote for all republican candidates. You see, being from a Jewish family, I heard about the Holocaust, and I came to see that the Democrats are too weak regarding defense and warding off evil dictators and genocides. Furthermore, when I started to work at paying jobs, I realized that taxes suck. The republicans have historically been in favor of a small government, and I now think the government should be very small, except for a large powerful military. Everything that can at all possibly be handled by private organizations, should be. Even money can be produced by private organizations instead of the government.
Things happened really gradually for me. My earliest memory of real religious skepticism was in 7th grade. I think I was about 15 before I called myself an Atheist. I had blooming beliefs that came soon after. In the case of homosexuality I don't know what my prior beliefs were or how I came to be so passionate so fast. I strengthened my feminist tendencies. In the case of abortion, I went full circle. I realized I was somewhat liberal. I learned to be a critical thinker, and realized that I couldn't count on teachers, parents, or friends to do that for me.

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