Reposting this from the main forum to Recovering from Religion.

 

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

Views: 120

Replies to This Discussion

I can honestly say I never had any faith in religion to begin with. They got me a little bit in 3rd grade but I was never a full-feldged, chest-beating, mea-culpa member of the flock.

Can't remember if it was the Jonah popping out of the whale's belly, or Adam's rib hopping out to form his life-long companion. To me, this was too much even for a six year old.
My circumstances were similiar, but probably happened faster. My faith fell over about 6 months, but as soon as I let it go, my political views also fell. Frankly, it was harder to let go of my political "team" than it was my religion as I was proud to call myself a Conservative. My positions on social issues fell very easily and quickly. I was damn glad to get rid of them as they always bothered me some. You are right, critical thinking is the key.

Thanks for the feedback
I did not change any of my deeply held "beliefs" as far as humanism and my liberal agenda is concerned. What I did have to think through is the superstition I had. For example, being raised as a reformed Jew, I had to purge the idea of the "Kona Hura." (I'm not sure of the spelling.) In Yiddish it means a jinx. I am still struggling with that one. When I became an Atheist, I had to get rid of the idea that astrology, and many new age ideas are not true. I also still need to work through the fact that when I pass a car accident on the road, I used to say "Thank you it's not me." Now, I say thank you, but I feel silly; who am I saying thank you for?

I also realized that being an atheist is even harder than being jewish or gay. We are the last "hated" group. I joked with a friend that I would like a coming out "parade," an Atheist Pride Parade.
I had long held on to some new-age ideas and the the thought of some sort of afterlife. These were the last beliefs to go and the most painful. Both of my parents had died several years earlier, and I had to come to terms with losing them all over again. I think that was the only reason I held on to my meta-physical beliefs as long as I did. I wanted those beliefs to be true, so I pretended they were.
I think it is comforting to believe in an after life when people you love have passed away. I had to consciously stop those thoughts.
I also started to watch my language; I don't say "Oh God!" anymore. I actually say, "Oh gosh!" It sounds corny to me, but nobody seems to have noticed it yet.
Well said. I think this is the last step for many people. I can say it was for me. It took me several years to leave the idea behind when my beloved grandfather died in 1980. By 1985 or so, I let go and can say that was the beginning of the end for all superstitious ideas.
Darrel
I didn't really lose any other beliefs becuase before I was Atheist I really didn't have any beliefs because of my mother just told me what to believe.Now I am full of beliefs and can debate anyone.Now I can think for my self.
I thought this was very well said. It's true. As a child I believed what I was told. I had no beliefs of my own. It took a long time before I could undo what had been done. Also, I hate to say it, but my mom felt that religion was so important. After she passed, I missed her terribly, but I felt freer and able to change my beliefs without hurting her feelings. She was the only person who I would do whatever she said, because I loved her. Now I know; that blind obedience does not mean "love."
Its funny to see the transformation of individuals before one own eyes. Its even more amazing when its you. As a former pentecostal minister I held some very stern and dangerous beliefs. Believing that homosexuals, witches and anyone not the my own church fold were damned to an eternal hell.

When I cast off the shackles of ignorance many of these dangerous beliefs fell and I can see clearly for the first time in my life. I no longer care about gays marrying, entering the military or whatever they choose to do.My political alliance went from the far right to the middle. I think for my self and no longer vote along party lines.

The funny thing is that I had an email conversation(debate) with a friend who is still a christian minister. After telling him that I gave up my faith he asked "why do I continue to do good?" I still go see sick people in the hospital, coach little kids sports teams, call former christian friends, care about animals, the environment, etc. He, and many others, cant imagine WHY any on would do good things if there wasn't a invisible camera in the sky watching their every move. He has confessed that today I'm more of a christian than many ppl that he knows. (Considering Christianity's history of violence i don't know if I should be flattered!)

Freedom from religion has been the best thing to ever happen to me.
"Its funny to see the transformation of individuals before one own eyes. Its even more amazing when its you."
Yes, it is. Funny, but also a little sad that it took so long (in my case anyways), but better late then never I suppose.

"Freedom from religion has been the best thing to ever happen to me.".

Me too. Congratulations L.
Mine was a more holistic experience. I held conservative values when I was young and Christian. Going out in the world I realised that all those beliefs were utterly hateful and wrong. It was embracing feminism and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transexual (GLBT) rights that made me realise how horrible my religion was. Like many recovering xtians rather than become an atheist outright I started shopping for another religion. Using the filter of women's and gay rights I soon realised that they were all as bad as each other. So I guess losing my deeply-held beliefs made me lose my religion rather than the other way around.
Good question. Leaving religion changes everything. This Christ or Allah nonsense so distorts and corrupts one's worldview, that it affects every minute of life.

They say life is to sacrifice and get to heaven. Pleasure is "an occasion of sin." Sick.

Let's have fun and enjoy every minute of our brief life span.

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