The Deprogrammed Atheist vs. The Non-deprogrammed Atheist

Today I have been reflecting on the difference between me as a not-yet-deprogrammed atheist for 35 years and me as an almost deprogrammed atheist. I first became an atheist in 1975 after studying evolution in college. I kept my beliefs to myself, although if anyone asked, I would admit that I was atheist. I never read any books about atheism and I never learned much more about my atheism, until recently.

As a not-yet-deprogrammed atheist, I was not upset by religion. I could easily go to church for a friend or relative without any negative emotions. In fact, after having two sons, I joined my wife's Catholic Church so that we could be together as a family and my sons would get training in "morals."

However, just about the time the priest pedophile scandal started to gain visibility, I started to have feelings of disgust about priests and going to church. I continued going to church until my sons grew up and I found out they had both independently decided that there was no god.

Once I knew my sons were atheists, there was no reason for me to hide my godlessness. I read Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett. I began befriending atheists on Facebook.com and Atheistnexis.com and getting up to date in the latest in atheist thought.

Now that I know what damage religion has done and is still doing to the world, I have become passionate about my atheism and anti-theism. I have never in my life been so passionate about anything that did not have to do with my family or me. I am really a different kind of atheist than I was a year ago or 35 years ago. Although I do feel more anger and disgust than I used to as a still-programmed atheist, I definitely feel it was worth the anger and disgust because now I feel more like myself than I have ever felt before. I feel like I have been hiding or being someone else for 35 years.

Before my new awakening, (dare I say re-birth?) I still had remnant religious thoughts. For example, as a not-yet-deprogrammed atheist, I use to believe:
1. Overall, religion is good because of the good things churches do, such as giving food to the poor.
2. It is okay to pray to yourself because it is like giving yourself positive affirmations to improve your life, e.g. “Help me be more successful.”
3. Religions help people be good by giving them morals. The Bible teaches people good ways to live.
4. Jesus existed and the historicity of the bible is pretty accurate.
5. The universe has some fate for me and is giving me signals as to the right direction to take.
Although these troubling thoughts still creep into my consciousness, at least now I know that these beliefs were blatantly false and I can easily detect them and reject them when they enter my mind. Now I wonder how many other not-yet-deprogrammed atheists there are in the world. I give Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett a lot of credit for helping to elevate atheists from the not-yet-deprogrammed to become deprogrammed atheists.

One reason why I am publishing the blog, beside its self-therapeutic value, is that I thought it would be beneficial to find a better name for these two types of atheists. Not that we really need more labeling in this world, but being aware that these two types of atheists exist and being able to discuss them might help people advance from not-yet deprogrammed to deprogrammed. I am looking for a better way to describe these two types of atheists. Some of the ideas I have had are as follows.
Not-yet-deprogrammed atheist: Naïve atheist, infected atheist, uneducated atheist, programmed atheist, or recovering atheist.
Deprogrammed atheist: Informed atheist, educated atheist, cured atheist, recovered atheist.
Does anyone out there have some ideas for what to call these types of atheists?

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Comment by D R Hosie on June 29, 2010 at 2:28pm
Does this mean we can't still be friends? If and when you're finally able to see the light, give me a shout-out.
Comment by D R Hosie on June 29, 2010 at 2:08pm
Danny, I at least appreciate the courtesy of providing a link to the response you quote from. It at least gives people the chance to read and decide for themselves - something I am sort of counting on here. :)
Comment by Sonny Mobley on June 29, 2010 at 1:06pm
Good post, buddy! I enjoyed reading.
Comment by D R Hosie on June 29, 2010 at 12:51pm
My comments here are for Danny.

Danny, You are the one doing the over-moralizing here. We all categorize, as a means of establishing useful terms that, as symbols, we can use to help better understand the world around us. That is only moralizing when it comes to making bombastic truth statements - as you have been doing here. I don't think Rudy is looking for anyone to especially agree with his post, so much as it is an attempt to further verbalize and open the subject up for discussion among thoughtful participants to this discussion.

It's rather ridiculous to declare that you 'disagree with this post.' You disagree with even broaching the subject, or just that no one other that yourself enjoys your own 'higher view' of (apparently any) situation?

Your continual practice of refusing to read for understanding, but rather, accusing most of the writers on the site of trying to deliver some sort of self-sanctimonious moral judgement on people that think differently from them, is disingenuous, and only serves to magnify the irony of your own self-sanctified and accusatory treatment of those you choose to pick on.

And I say 'pick on,' because you continue to revealed yourself to be a verbal bully, in your abusive treatment of the people and positions you choose to step on.

As I indicated to you before, it's real hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel, when you've got your head that far up your ass.

Speaking strictly for myself now, I think you either need to learn to extend yourself in a more understanding and discursive form of communal participation here, or waddle off into the sunset with your head still up your ass - my apologies to the admins.

( BTW, in order to fold up a gasbag, you have to first let out the air.)
Comment by Prog Rock Girl on June 29, 2010 at 8:55am
I agree that non-deprogrammed would still believe things like "everything happens for a reason", and other such nonsense, maybe think the Bible is true or that beliefs should have respect--religion is a "get out of jail free" card when it comes to the questioning of screwy beliefs and practices. I don't think it's necessarily a deprogrammed atheist who is angry, though. It's understandable to get angry at some of the things going on in the name of religion or to debate with people logically. I think to some extent, though, being excessively angry about religion means that religion still has power over the person, though, and it's about their personal experience. Getting past that is like getting past any other bad experience. A person can learn to do something constructive about it (like to help others not have that bad experience), and hopefully they won't be angry forever.
Comment by Garrick McElroy on June 29, 2010 at 6:54am
Deprogrammed atheist: Blasphemers, heretics, witches, demon-infested

Not-yet-deprogrammed atheist: Misguided, lost sheep

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