Well I better tell a little about myself first. I'm a senior in High School in the Memphis city district here in Tennessee, pretty much dead center in the bible belt. My family moved here not for religious reasons but rather my father got a better job at FedEx. My father I've always considered a neutral person, he leaned towards the liberal but he hated the idea of two separate parties dividing our government, he couldn't abide the fanatics of religion and always told me to think for myself. He even went as far as to introduce me to philosophy such as Plato, Nietzche, and George Orwell. Really he's been my inspiration for just about everything and yes he does believe in a God but strangely also holds ideals in Buddhism. He even has a Golden statue that as a kid he told me to rub the belly for good luck just before school, heh good times. Anyway, my mother on the other hand... a bit of a difficult situation with her, she's made it her duty to give me a verse from the Bible everyday. As a child I was forced to attend church and really I didn't see it so bad. Got to hang out with other kids but for some reason.. I've always felt so empty inside when I hear the preacher speak. I liked the songs for they rhymes not the message and I always felt awkward during those bible circles they did. I never mention how I felt to anyone but deep down inside I resented everything they said with a passion. I doubted their words and their beliefs and looked back on the Crusades, Salem Witch Trials, the Holocaust, and just about everything religion had ever done to divide people and I just feel... angry. The thought of being an atheist passed my mine but it was just one of those words you don't remember very well and slips into obscurity every so often.

I bottled all that up though, locked it up into the corner of my mind to gather dust but still it lingered and twitched as I grew older. I just became a senior that little blemish in my mind hasn't just been twitching but its been growing. I stopped going to church long ago but I still tried to fit in with the rest of the Christians in my life. Most of my friends, my girlfriend, most of my family, and my parents are Christians, some of them very faithful, imagine the dilemma that'd come from admitting I've been lying each time said 'God'. I never had a problem with religion as long as they didn't force their ideals on me and each time they did I felt that empty feeling inside me grow like a pit. The word atheist has sprung up in my mind again. So far I've done my research and the belief fits me.. strikingly well but I don't know if I'd be able to admit it to anyone or to let it fester again. I know for a fact my father will accept it without question and even poke fun at me for it but my mother I have no idea. Some of my friends will remain while my girlfriend will most likely dump me so I could see admitting the equivalent of a slur word here in Tennessee wasn't very beneficial except to my conscience. I'm not sure if I want to admit myself to believing in nothing, just seems so empty. I've thought about believing the Buddhist principles like my father with Karma and gentleness to all things, I've already done that in my life, but still the festering dislove I feel for the Church remains.

I just don't know anymore where my beliefs lie. Before typing this out I thought it strange to ask what my belief should be on an atheist site though I doubt I'd get much more support from the Church, mosque, or maybe a temple. All I know is, Christianity and God isn't my belief and never was the problem is I don't know where I belong

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Well, I'll start off my reply with, I'm glad you have given atheism the time of day to be given great thought to. Coming from a Catholic AND Protestant background(grew up in seperate homes, Mom is devout Protestant, and my Dad is devout Catholic. talk about effed up eh?) , I have faced many of the trials you face now. If your girlfriend is truly a Christian, should not be judgemental of the fact that your seeking out knowledge of something over bells and whistles and false myths, why would you date someone only on religion? If you guys have something you truly believe special, then she should understand. If not, that leaves you open to a new relationship. Something more "open" perhaps? You have great potential, and I hope you will read some books by like-minded individuals. I would recommend (as starter books) God is not great by Christopher Hitchens, and the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, or even The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris (which is crazy promoted by amazon in ads on this site amazingly)

Good Luck with "coming out" (although I don't understand why this would be so difficult.. it's not like your telling your family your gay, not that there is anything wrong with that, I just imagine that to be a harder conversation to have with the fam..) let me know how it turns out ok?
Heh it was actually books that got me thinging like Nietzche's Antichrist and other philosophy books that really set me to thinking about my surroundings.

And you're right, I probably won't be anything like coming out of the closet >_< That'd be a tough thing. Still I'll start of slow and easy. Maybe if I get the chance I'll read those books you pointed out. Thanks Nic :D
The complete works of Robert Ingersol (19th century Atheist) are available free online - they are great reads. I read Ingersol when I was your age and he really solidified my Atheism.
Exactly. Keep asking big questions, and you'll always get big answers. Praise Jes... ermmm... Darwin?

Joking.

really though. ask big questions.
I'm 33 years old, and *I* am afraid of what coming out to my family will result in. There's no way in hell I'd come out if I still had to live with the people. BUT, I'd still be reading the books that set my mind at ease, you really don't have (and it sounds like *you* don't need) to believe in anything. You can be an atheist Buddhist, I doubt that kids in high school in the Memphis area would be much more accepting of a Buddhist in their classes than an atheist. KWIM? Learning about science and reality can take the place of studying religion, if you want it to. If your girlfriend will dump you if she finds out you're an atheist, well... she doesn't sound like a good catch to me. ;)
Coming out of the atheist closet CAN be a lot like coming out of the gay/lesbian closet for some people- just read some of the posts on this site. I'm not trying to scare you or anything, I just want you to be fully informed of what 'could' happen if you decided to come out to your family. You're 17? At that age your mom could decide to 'force' you to attend church again, and do lots of stupid shit to try to 'save your soul'. I'm sure dealing with their jesus remarks and bible verses right now is MUCH better than becoming her number one jesus project with ALL of her jesus attention on YOU until you move out.
Actually I am 18 so I guess she can't force me to attend church really but the thing is is that I don't want to make a huge deal out of it. Part of me just wants to just suddenly go at the dinner table," Oh by the way, I'm atheist." Sort of an offhand comment.

And I know for sure about the one sidedness of Memphis >< Atheists are the pariah but racism is big too for just about any race here.
You need to be who you are and not what other people want you to be. Your friends and family should support you no matter what you believe, but unfortunately, that's not usually the case when it comes to evangelicals.

You are NOT alone in your disbelief. You'd be surprised how many people are agnostic/atheist but are afraid to talk about it openly.

Maybe you should visit the people at a local atheist group to see how well you fit in there. Here's a Memphis group you might want to check out. http://www.meetup.com/atheists-591/
Well said John. When you start caring what others think is when you start letting people bully you into believeing fallicies.
The short answer is to consider which side holds people through fear, and which is willing to accept people for who they are.

I was like you. Growing up a very devote Christian, I still could never feel comfortable in the church, never liked gospel songs, hated singing with the group, and thought people with their arms reaching up looked like idiots. And that was when I was extremely devoted!

When leaving one religion we tend to want another to fill the void. And that is where I realized that religion in general is no good. When we feel a need to fill in the void of belief, we've missed the whole point. Anything not found within is false. A spiritual tradition should be about helping a person find this within, not telling them what they should believe in. Even if the god of the Hebrews was real, doesn't it stand to reason that such an all pervading being would want us to find the way, not have the way shoved down our throats?

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