Is There Any Lingering Theist In Me Five Years Later?

It’s been almost five years since I very suddenly lost my faith and three years since I started identifying as an atheist. When I look back it amazes me that after twenty years of being an extremely sincere and genuine Christian that within a few years my brain would see all those things that I believed in so dearly as pure fable. And all the Christians can save their, ‘she wasn’t a true Christian’ nonsense. I absolutely was.

But I was pondering whether I ever have doubts about my atheism. Do I ever wonder if there is a god?  Does that question ever factor into my life at all anymore? I’m not completely closed to changing my mind about things. I value reality above all else. If some evidence convinced me that my current take on reality was wrong I’d be willing to shift my thinking. It’s reality after all! Not much point sticking my head in the sand about reality!

But even with that taken into consideration, no, the god question never factors into my thinking anymore. It would almost be like asking someone if they spend time wondering if Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is true and how that might impact their life. It just doesn’t factor in at all. And I’m not saying this to convince anyone of anything. I just find it interesting that once my brain realized that what is in front of me is reality, I just settled in to building my life around that and all the god stuff drifted away never to be seen or heard from again.

A big part of me can’t believe that just a short time ago I believed all that stuff. Was I a different person then? How could I have thought that was all true when now it seems so ridiculous and awful? The changes in my thinking have been so drastic, and looking at it impartially, that fascinates me! I guess once you choose a way of looking at the world and take on its methods of discerning truth, everything else follows. A Christian worldview told me a story and then told me that the Bible and prayer and visions were the way to discover truth (and threw in the threat of hell to make sure I didn’t doubt any of that). But once I pulled away from that and started demanding proof for the things people were telling me about the world, everything changed. Evidence is an amazing filter. Once I applied it my world changed – and for the better.

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9 thoughts on “Is There Any Lingering Theist In Me Five Years Later?

  1. I have found that people often ask me why I no longer believe in God. My answer now is to explain that the burden of proof is on believers, and so far they have not done a good job of convincing me that such a being exists. There answer is that such knowledge requires faith, which is no proof at all.

  2. Brenda,
    That sounds exactly like something I could have written as I think about those same things.
    I’ll add some thoughts to each of your paragraphs:

    I’ve only been an atheist for a year and a half, but my main difference was once I lost my faith, I identified as atheist right away. The main question I asked myself when I lost my faith was that if there was a god, why would he have allowed me to believe in another god for 30+ years? I couldn’t answer that question, so I had to be honest with myself and say I didn’t believe in any gods. And yeah, I was a true Christian too!

    I also wonder every once and a while if there could be a god. Then I realize that if there is, since it doesn’t seem to impact this world in a way that I can know it’s there, it does me no good to worry about it. If I should know something about it, it should tell me. Otherwise, I’m sticking with atheism.

    One thing that I find interesting is that when I would drive home for lunch from work, that was usually a time I would pray. Now every once and a while when I drive home, I think to myself “Wow, I spent all that time talking to nobody and wondering what it thought of me.” Then I smile when I realize I don’t have to worry about that stuff anymore. But I don’t think of god or praying when tough decisions come up. Recently, my wife was having issues with her job. When we were Christians, we would have prayed and prayed and waited for an answer on what to do. Of course, nothing would come and we would just hope that god was listening. The biggest thing though is that added more stress to the situation! I always thought prayer and believing in god would make things better and easier, but now I know it made it worse! Not having to worry about if god is listening and if he doesn’t answer your prayers trying to figure out why, makes things SO much easier.

    I can’t believe I used to believe that stuff either. It’s brainwashing, pure and simple. I actually went to the website for the church I used to go to because I wanted to watch one of their Sunday services now that I’m an atheist. I was BLOWN AWAY at how horrific the message was. I couldn’t believe I would have sat there as a Christian and excused the ridiculous things this pastor was saying, believing he was doing god’s work. It really was a “way of thinking” which is scary in a way. Everything would filter through my Christianity, and to know that way of thinking was wrong, well let’s just say I’m so glad that I got the chance in my life to live without it. Skepticism is the way to go! I used to be skeptical about everything but the biggest question in life about there being a god/afterlife. I’ve now corrected that 🙂

  3. Brenda, I am a fairly recent “convert”, if you’d like to call it that, to Christianity, and in comparing my own conversion to your “de-conversion” or what have you, I am really struck by the fact that we both cite reason and evidence as two of the main factors spurring us to change sides, so to speak.

    So, I must ask: What really clenched it for you? What convinced you that Christianity is false? What convinced you that God does not exist? I ask only because I didn’t believe in God or in Christ’s divinity until two years ago when I actually began looking at the evidence, and saw that a lot of it points to Christ, that a lot of it corroborates historical/geographical details from the Bible, that there are good reasons to believe in an infinite-personal Creator of the universe. Have you looked into these matters much? I mean, as someone who had grown up assuming that the only way to be a Christian was by blind faith, I was stunned!

    I go to a church where about 40-50% of the congregation is from an atheist/agnostic background. Conversions happen everyday, literally; it’s very much the norm to see a college-educated atheist or agnostic come to our Bible studies for a few weeks or months and wind up accepting Christ. I was one of them. So, to hear of someone abandoning their faith–especially after 20 years–is quite surprising to my ears. Anyway I was just wondering what your thoughts would be on this.

    • Hi Leggatt. Thanks for your comments and questions. Someone asked a related question just recently and I think I’m going to make a blog post that will answer both questions. I’ll do it soon so stay tuned on my main page for my answers.

    • Leggatt, I left the Catholic Church at 17, convinced that they were nothing but an authoritarian structure that had nothing to do with any gods. This is after graduating from a Catholic high school.

      Several years later, I found the Baha’i Faith and was amazed that it seemed to answer all the questions that never seemed to make sense, such as: why are there so many religions? How could only one be true?

      I spent 14 years as a Baha’i, but I never gave up skepticism. Still, I never really knew anything about religion, either. I read science books and wasn’t afraid to learn anything.

      Then one day I was reading a book and suddenly realized I no longer believed in God. I wasn’t looking for it; I wasn’t unhappy with the religion, but I had to face the reality that religion is a delusion, gods don’t exist, and that we all have to face life on our own.

      Since then, I’ve read countless books and listened to innumerable arguments and made some pretty good ones myself – I finally faced the reality of religion, and the moral of my story is that when you say you use reason and evidence to support belief, I have to think that you and I are looking at the same evidence but you must be far less critical about it than I am. Either that, or you use the word, ‘evidence,’ very lightly.

      Belief has little to do with knowledge or rationality; it is the product of a different part of the brain entirely. My position is: if you have to believe something, it’s probably not true. Perhaps you could examine whether you believe because of evidence or if you’re fitting the evidence to what you believe. This is called confirmation bias. Even though I stopped believing in the Catholic Church, I did not, at that time, have enough knowledge to really form an opinion about my belief or lack of belief. The Catholic Church teaches what they want you to believe and evades anything that would cause you to disbelieve. How about your religion? Does it do the same?

  4. I find this post to be interesting, maybe because my answer to this is that I still have some lingering theism, both from a sense that there must be (even though there really is no evidence for) something outside of the observable cosmos. Also I am influenced by liberal Christian thinkers such as Paul Tillich, John Shelby Spong and Marcus Borg, and their non traditional views about God. So in the end I guess it is more complicated than a simple statement that either there is, or is not, a god. Oh well.

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