I wonder if anyone who's gone from faith to non-faith has done it relatively easily?
I ask because, for me, it's not really been that tumultuous. I guess it has a lot to do with my upbringing. Despite my family being really religious, it has also always been very liberally religious.
My mom's dad is an RCC Deacon. My dad is a Hazzan.
Despite this upbringing, I don't feel like I was brainwashed.
I remember very clearly in CCD being taught that Hell did not exist, Noah's Flood was an allegorical story and, if it happened at all, it was a local event, Genesis is not meant to be read literally, etc. This was taught to me by the nuns and even the priest. I spoke with my old priest about 6 months ago, and I was shocked by how much anger was in his voice when we discussed the current Pope. This RCC priest hates the Pope. My mom's dad shares this feeling, and I just found it that it's a feeling generally shared by the parishioners of the priest's church (St. Theresa's in Trumbull, CT). They all think that the current Pope is the worst thing to happen to the RCC and will facilitate the downfall of Catholicism as a whole.
Jewish Sunday school was even more liberal because of the value Jews place on education. It was a lot more like supplemental school that enforced my education in science (including evolution), math, social studies, history, etc, though I also happened to learn Hebrew, the prayers, and so on.
I'm guessing this is why it was so easy for me to lose my faith. Sadly, my dad and my mom's dad both agree, though they don't see it as a positive. :(
It was, however, quite disturbing over the summer when we moved from Georgia to Florida... we found some old tapes, and on one of the tapes was me as a very young boy making up songs... about God, angels, and Jesus. I guess my family at the time thought it was cute... but listening to it over the summer, I was seriously perturbed. It actually pissed me off and I begged Mom to destroy the tape. I think I got her to see why I hated it so much, but I also know that she doesn't agree. Hell... for all I know, she never destroyed the tape. But it disturbed me deeply.
I still find myself relying on old teachings, of course. I catch myself praying sometimes, I respond to a sneeze with "bless you", and most often, when something goes wrong, I'll actually look up at the sky thinking "why do you let this happen?" even though I know there's no one up there. I have to admit... the one thing I miss is having someone to blame for all the bad shit I can't seem to control...
But what about y'all? Is there anyone here who finds it easier than others? Is not having faith a relatively easy day-to-day thing, without that much serious relapse? If so, why?
Whenever things are going really badly for me, I catch myself thinking, "If the Catholics are right, I am going to hell."
I'm not sure the fear will ever really go away but I can counteract it with logic.
Yeah, I have moments like these too, and as you said, I don't know if the fear ever goes away, I just hope it does.
Hi Mary, I used to have a similar fear when first questioning the existence of god(I was raised catholic too) but recently I find solace in the fact that Jesus said "blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of god" And I consider myself a humanistic philanthrapist and try to treat all lifeforms with respect so IF god were to exist then surely i would meet the criteria to enter heaven.
Of course I now recognise that heaven/hell are a kind of emotional blackmail that has be engrained on our society, nevertheless I appreciate the concept of these abstract realms is difficult to shake off for us ex-belivers in the abrahamic religions.
I used to mentally say "God bless him/her" whenever I thought something hateful about someone else. It's actually a habit developed recently, but it's dying a little tough.
I'm worried about the interpersonal thing when I "come out with it" but, other than that, it's been wonderful for me :)
I actually enjoyed church when I was a kid. Most of the time, I wanted to go. Maybe it was because life at home was a bit of a mess. At least, at church, most of the people acted like they thought I was ok, even if the reason for salvation was because we were all sinners. At least at church, I was no worse than anyone else was.
Anyway, as I got older, I liked the music, and the show of the whole thing. It was a place associated with comfort, and nice, warm, fuzzy feelings. But, then, when I got even older, and I had prayed, for help, or for things that I thought seemed reasonable to ask for, I started seeing the problems. I started seeing things as they really were. I saw verses about god supplying all my needs, and yet we lost jobs, and houses, and ended up in bad situations, and in need. I saw verses about how humans were supposed to forgive, just because someone asks, and not expect them to do anything to make up for it, but god couldn't forgive without someone(even if it was another part of god) having to die for it.
Anyway, I had a harder time giving up parts that I liked, like the chance of an afterlife, than I did believing in prayers being answered. And, I had a hard time giving up my social life, which was attached to the church. I have made other friends, and I have learned to put much more into living this life, because it is the only one we ever had any certainty of having. It is a lot better. So, I guess I could have put a shorter answer and said," no, I think some of the rest of us didn't have as hard a time as others becoming atheist".
It was a long hard journey for me. I was brainwashed as a child and still suffer anxiety about some things. I wrote a long blog post on here about some of it so I won't rehash all of it here. Halloween still scares me because of all of the bullshit I was told when I was little about it being Satan's most holy day. I still refuse to be alone on Halloween even though I know none of it is real. I still get a sinking feeling in my stomach when christians go on about hell. I just solidified my atheism last month after 34 years of confusion. I have actually had to make a list of all of the things that convinced me that there is no god so I can read it every time my brainwashed mind starts to kick in.
I haven't had to deal with a lot of family drama surrounding my atheism because my family was already a disaster and I am not really close to any of them. My husband grew up in a christian family but became an atheist many years ago. I remember sobbing sometimes because I was convinced that he was going to hell. Luckily this has never been a problem in our marriage and we are now in agreement about the whole god issue.
Emotionally for me it has been a rough road but I am glad to have finally found the truth.
What i find hard is separating tradition from belief. I still say "bless you" but i don't actually believe there is a demon coming out of the sneezer's nose. I still celebrate Christmas and Easter because they are family traditions, but i don't believe Jesus was a god. Actually, i found not blaming god for the bad stuff in my life the easiest part! It was either believe god was unfairly picking on me, or let go of the notion all together and just accept that i was going through a lot of hard times... some of it my fault, some of it just a case of life can suck at times.
To be honest, it wasn't that hard a journey for me. Church ceased to have any major impact on me once I left for college in 1968, and from that time to about perhaps five years ago, I was apathetic at best about religion in general. One of the things about congregationalism is that the sell isn't all that hard, they DON'T lean on hellfire and damnation (at least not at the church I attended), and the adults around me in the congregation were friendly and welcoming people. The PROBLEM, as I have stated repeatedly, is that there was no direct experience to corroborate all the talk.
My transition from apatheism to atheism probably started with the whole christian attack on the GLBT community. I couldn't help but notice that they leaned so hard on Leviticus 20:13, yet most of them didn't even know that the same book of the bible instructs them NOT to eat shellfish (Leviticus 11:9-12). The election of Benedict XVI and his early talk about "dialogue" didn't help matters, either, as I knew he was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under JPII ... and as such in that position, he was about as interested in dialogue as Hitler would have been with the Jews. I wrote my piece "Habemus Papam" about that back then. A few years later, in response to the then-running NPR series, "This I Believe," I wrote though didn't submit my own essay on the topic, which opened with the blunt statement: "I have no faith." It wasn't until I joined the online site, "The Experience Project" and found a considerable atheist community there that I finally at least began to come to terms with the fact that I was, indeed, an atheist.