It seems like some of the people who define themselves as "strong atheist" were never "real believers" in religious gods, while others started out as strong believers. In some cases, they were strong believers in especially rigid sects. I'm curious about what led people to not only lose faith but also become what they define as "strong atheist". In my own case, the loss of faith was due to reading the Bible. Being raised in a fundamentalist Baptist background, I was taught that either it's ALL true, or it's not - that we couldn't pick and choose. I started out as a strong believer in the Bible and the Baptist church. Then literal readings of the Bible led me to realize that the internal contradictions could not ALL be true. So I lost faith, completely.

The "strong" atheist part was due to excesses and psychological and physical brutality that I see in religion, and the lies and hypocracy that I saw in both my original church and in the powerful leaders on a more general national, and international, basis. Even stronger with recent events, in the US and in the Middle East.

What leads others, or most people, to "strong" atheism, as opposed to just not beleiving?

Tags: atheist, strong

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A Spiritual Journey

My parents “had to get married” very young due to my approaching birth then someone remove the skin from the end of my penis for religious reasons soon after I was born. At six weeks I was blessed and given my name, as I grew I was taught that I was “Chosen” by god and to be prejudice towards others that were not “chosen”, I was told to not hang out with people that were not Mormons (unless I was trying to convert them). I was taught words like “bum fucker”, “fag”, spick, and “half bread”. I was taught that black people were being punished for not taking Jesus’ side in an argument in heaven. I was told the world was coming to an end in my life time and I needed to prepare for “the second coming of Jesus”. I was surrounded by Mormons and Mormon thinking. When I was 6 years old, right after my second brother was born my Mother and Father were married in a Mormon Temple in Logan Utah and me and my two brothers were sealed to my parents at that time. The next 4 kids were “Born under the Covenant” and the boys were circumcised. I was baptized at the age of eight by my father who soon after became unworthy and was not able to baptize my siblings.

While growing up my mother went to church on and off for a few years but, my father worked on Sundays so he did not attend church services very often. We kids were forced to go to church where the other kids and my teachers would tell me my parents were going to hell because my dad worked on Sundays and my mother and father did not come to church or pay their 10%. For a short time we tried to have “family night” (like all good Mormon families) but, my father would always be asleep or coaching little league, My mother and I tried to read the bible to my brothers a few times during “family night” and that is when I started to think and question the bible and or god, I think I was about seven at the time. I was afraid to tell anyone about my thinking and wondered if I was going to hell because of my thoughts. The girls in “The Mormon Church” were told not to date me unless I was planning to go on a mission for the Mormon Church and I was not going. My mother and father wore the magic underwear and me and my wife to be would not be sleeping in magic underwear.

My family 6 generations back are Mormons. My mother is only half Mormon; my father is all “Jack Mormon”. So, 3 of 4 of my grandparents were of Mormon descent, my family were Mormon Pioneers and for 3 generations polygamist. My grandparents were not “active” in any Church but; the 3 sets of Mormon grate-grandparents were very active in church activities and paid their 10% to the LDS Church. My father’s mother and father were inactive Mormons as was my mother’s mother. My mother’s father was from Nebraska and not Mormon. All four of my Grandparent were full blown alcoholics or had drinking problems sometime during their lives. They were “Great Spirits” if you will.

When I went to church the other kids, my Sunday school and Seminary teachers would say that my parents were going to hell because they did not go to church or pay their tithing. Sometimes I told my mom I went to church when I did not because church made me feel bad about my family and church is was stupid.

I thought I was going to hell for thinking about sex and I thought God was watching me masturbate so I tried to stop. I was exposed to very heavy guilt that was unnecessary for children to go through. When I was 12 years old the bishop ask; me if I masturbate (WTF) I don’t know what I said, but I was shocked. When I was about 13 a janitor at “the church” followed me up a ladder in the church gym and grabbed my junk.

I was a Mormon Cub Scout a Webelos and then a Boy Scout (for only a couple weeks) I passed the sacrament when I was twelve. I went to “seminary” in 9th 10th and 11th grades because it was an easy class and all the girls were in seminary. Then in 11th grade in March of 1976 my son’s mother and I ran away to California for a few weeks. In 1977 I married that same girl and had a son that we had circumcised then when he was 6 weeks old in the Mormon Church he was blessed. I believed in god but did not go to church since I was about 14 years old. I believed in an afterlife but, not like the Mormons do. I was baptized at the age of eight and 10 years later I was a blasphemer, married with a son. We had him circumcised and blessed so other kids would not make fun of him in the locker room.

Sometime around 1983 I stopped believing in a personal god (most days) but, was afraid to say so out loud in case there was a god for a few more years. If there was a god I hated him who wants to be in heaven wile your friends and family are burning in hell. God loves you but, he will burn you forever. You heard it before sounds like my dad.

I have tried many “spiritual paths” over the last 30 years including Bill W.’s own form of “spirituality” (faith healing) I faked it but I never made it. I have prayed in all the big famous churches in Manhattan including St Peters. Here are a few of the spiritual quests I have been on; Mormonism, Baptist, Catholic, Buda, Hinduism, Zen, Mediation, Yoga, Unitarian, Agnostic, ad infinitum.

I have come to the conclusion that man made god.

I have prayed thousands of times for god’s help for me and/or my son. I have prayed alone and in groups, I prayed with church groups, Zen groups, 12 Step groups and alone even from the tops of mountains. When I was a boy I asked God to make my father stop beating my mother and the rest of our family including me. When I was a young adult God would not remove my father’s mental illness and he would not stop the judge from giving my son back to his mother.

Religion hurt me and my son and if you don’t believe that just look at me it I am a nut case.

A much smarter man than I has said; “Many of my fellow atheists consider all talk of “spirituality” or “mysticism” to be synonymous with mental illness, conscious fraud, or self-deception.”

The dream is over: God does not answer my payers, and god does not answer your prayers.

I must believe in me. The dream is over. .God is a concept:  http://youtu.be/rq6ulGCounc

I am a polyatheist there are millions if not billions of gods I do not believe in. I believe an Atheist loves his fellow man not some fake god. I believe a hospital should be built instead of a church.

I think that most atheists are strong atheists. There is a huge stigma surrounding atheism, so it's kinda like jumping into a cold swimming pool. You have to dip your toes in a engulf yourself slowly, well, you don't have to, but it certainly feels that way for most I would say. 

Maybe I am projecting my own view a bit too much, but that's how it was for me. If you live in America especially, declaring yourself an atheist is something the vast majority of people will not see favorably. However, for me as I furthers my knowledge in science, philosophy and history I began to see it's just simply foolish to follow any organized religion. The next step was looking at the infinite regress of a creation theory of any kind. 

I do consider myself a very staunch atheist, however, with this clim we can not deal in absoultes, because we simply can not make those claims with any degree of intellectual honesty. I am passionate about the truth, and science is the best method available for discovering and explaining truths. So while I will never make the claim there absolutely is no God, it is possible. I don't believe it's possible, it simply is. We can make some pretty strong claims against creation because we can figure that the probability of creation is very very low. We can not disprove it is possible, but we can come very close to ruling it out. In fact the probability is so very low, that it just becomes mostly implausible. 

My point is, I think it's all about confidence in what you're claiming. I became a strong atheist by researching both sides and educating myself as much as possible. As the creation theory became less and less plausible, I became a "stronger" atheist. The problem is the massive social stigma in my opinion. We have made great strides in reducing that stigma, and I believe we will eventually eliminate it. The sooner the better in my opinion as I actually see religion as toxic to our society in so many different ways. We will all be better off when we can all get away from this archaic nonsense. 

I was always kind of a lazy christian, being raised by an atheist and a lapsed primitive baptist. Only when I got divorced and read the bible to figure out why my prayers weren't answered that I lost all faith. I was a soft atheist for a while, dealing mostly with separation of church and state and the evolution "debate." After a while, I even grew tired of that. I finally decided to be as confrontational as they are and as offensive as I can. I am a huge fan of Christopher Hitchens and have taken his "seek out argument and disputation for their own sake" to heart.

I guess for me it was when i started studying history and I realized the christians didnt always look like good guys. I was agnostic in like 5th grade and then a depressed but strong atheist by the time i got to high school 

What made me become a "Strong Atheist"? - The constant hammering of being told to have respect for those who wouldn't even dream of granting the same to me. My skin has become thinner not thicker over the years and I now lash out at everyone who oversteps that line without exception, friend or foe.

 

I grew up in a Baptist household, but I was never convinced from the start. My father was a preacher & he use to simulate the act of catching the holy ghost which looked like he had a seizure moment which was bullshit. My mother raised me as a single parent & she was never was big on religion. She use to tell me to choose if I wanted to believe in a god or gods or not. My grandmother forced me as a child to be baptized & once she realized that I never went to church or paid my church dues I ask her to stop paying them for me to discontinue being associated with her church. What makes me a strong atheist in which I also trust that all atheist are strong atheist is the fact that I have been & will always be an empirical individual who uses deductive reasoning & the scientific method to explain any and everything that I had questions about. I personally feel religion should only be referenced as the history of explaining how primitive men & women thought processes were during the bronze age of man used to explain phenomenon that they could not explain until the tool of science freed us with the power of knowledge using empirical evidence. If it was up to me if humans did not use the practice of using the scientific method & common sense in their daily lives. There should be penalties & punishment for using any religion to live by before the facts of empirical evidence.      

Religions make hating a virtue. The evil people are clearly defined, god hates them and so should you. Doing what I can to help to eliminate the needless hatred and the needless suffering engendered by religious myths is my gift to the future. Just like the people in the past payed it forward so I can have what I have today I will do the same for my descendents.  We seem to have gained a large amount of ground in a short amount of time.

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