An atheist in Arizona

I became an atheist at the age of 50. I had been a Southern Baptist Deacon, conservative Republican, NRA member, and supporter of people like Ted Cruz. So in other words, I was a misogynistic, nationalistic speciest who prioritized the fictitious life to come over this life.

I’ve been in the tech sector on the business generation side, so I was/am well traveled and work with execs from across the country. I have a BBA from one of the nation’s largest business colleges. Still, I was under the impression that there was an unseen order to reality and that god was real. I could tell that the Bible wasn’t literal in most ways, but I none the less thought it was true in a deeper, more profound way.

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Early in the Summer of 2015 I happened to see a walking-with-dinosaurs type program about the early days of the dinosaurs as life emerged from the Permian Extinction. Included in the program was a dog-like creature called Thrinaxodon. It was a mammal like reptile that appeared part dog and part lizard. The circumstances of its existence couldn’t have been worse; it and the few other life forms that made it through the Permian Extinction are arguably the most abused specimens in the history of life. Just about all life on earth died, and these guys barely made it.

The program made the point that all mammals are related to Thrinaxadon, but that isn’t what hit me. What hit me was how unkind and unfair the whole thing seemed for this dog like creature (I love dogs). A cornerstone of the Christian faith is that people don’t know god’s ways but he is in control and makes all things work together for good. The Permian Extinction makes a mockery of that belief. No plan could include the needless suffering of so many animals 251 million years ago. The fact that it was a dog type victim allowed the whole thing to filter past all of the mental barriers of my religious delusion.

This event was one of the two moments that created the epiphany needed to dismiss all supernatural belief. I pursued more insight, which included David Attenborough’s “First Life” BBC program. I then wanted to hear debates with leading Christians, and in the process I came to know Christopher Hitchens via Youtube debates. His reasoning and mockery were extremely effective on me, and as a proof point to one of his arguments he mentioned Lawrence Krauss’ work on something-from-nothing. I followed up on this and listened to Krauss’ arguments and that was it. I was finished with faith.

Here is the reason that Krauss’ work is so important: Existence. I don’t mean our existence, I mean existence in general. Most educated Christians believe in god and at the same time recognize that we aren’t the center of the universe, that demons don’t cause illness, and that Noah probably didn’t have an ark with every single creature. They, like me, were raised our whole lives believing that there is this unseen but incredibly important dimension to life. They, like me, look for the kind of evidence that we rely on for every other decision in life, but we don’t find it except in a few spots. Those spots are in the current unknowns of science, especially the origin of life from non-life and, more importantly for many, the mystery of existence itself. It was destabilizing to me to realize that there are really good working hypotheses about how the first self replicating molecule evolved. That left existence.

If god is the creator, which is arguably the most common description of god in the bible, then he had to create something. If he didn’t create the universe, then he isn’t a creator and the bible is wrong in every conceivable way.

Lawrence did two things at once. First, he described a plausible means by which something can come from nothing. The other thing was within my mind; in reading what Lawrence Krauss hypothesized, I could see that, whether he had it perfectly correct or not, the final answer will be scientific. It will not be supernatural.

I am embarrassed by what many of my fellow atheists must think of me right now. It is silly to go so long in life without making that connection. Still, that is pretty much what happened. I knew the bible thoroughly. I taught adults the bible, I read it over a dozen times cover to cover, and have some knowledge about ancient Hebrew and Greek. I was personally instrumental in convincing hundreds of people that Christianity was true. I was deeply convinced of the truth of the bible and Christianity. I was perfectly wrong.

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When I realized that I had been so gravely mistaken, it was the most pivotal occurrence in my life. My positions on every front had to be reconsidered, my family had to know, and I had to come up with new meaning in life. Because of a matter that was in the news in that time frame, which was the Kentucky clerk who wouldn’t marry gays, gay marriage was the first to be considered. I changed my position on gay marriage, abortion, capitalism, the nation-state model, morality and ethics, animal rights, and many other things.

I think the single hardest thing was something that someone who has always been an atheist might not understand. I genuinely thought that if there was no eternal life then there was no real meaning to life. It is so silly to me now, but I had that deep conviction for decades. There is a lot to discuss on this point, but I’ll leave it alone to keep this short. But this issue was the single heaviest anchor that bound me to the Christian faith.

I abandoned the Republican party and volunteered for Hillary and local Democratic politicians. I am now a secular liberal progressive humanist. My immediate family has been split on this whole issue, and I saw some members vote for Trump. My extended family almost entirely voted for conservatives, and best I can tell everyone in my community voted Republican.

Becoming an atheist for me was like waking up. Imagine a person who wears kaleidoscopic eyeglasses. The person sees everything that a non-theist does, but it is categorized and set on edge in a way that distorts its place in reality. All the images and colors of the world are the same, but they are mistakenly segmented and disassociated from each other in a way that severely distorts reality. Imagine that visual analogy applying to just about everything. I didn’t have to relearn things, but I had to resort the whole lot.

A few luminaries of the atheist world were especially helpful to me, and they are Christopher Hitchens, Lawrence Krauss, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. Youtube was the best medium.

I was really hoping to make this a short piece, so apologies for the length. I am so very glad to be free of that delusion and I deeply appreciate being able to hear from other atheists. I am from a ranching background in Texas, and live now in the mountains of Arizona. I currently live in a Mormon community, so I am absolutely drowning in mysticism. That said, a community of fellow atheists is like oxygen to me, so thanks a million for being here and for reading this.


Thank you for the post (received anonymously over at Atheist Republic) and for contributing to my Insight guest posts, providing a glimpse into the lives of atheists around the world and an opportunity to connect with bloggers of a similar nature. If anyone would like to contribute theirs, feel free to comment or email me at sam@livingwithatheism.com

AR is a great place to meet like minded atheists and they are very active on social media, in particular their Facebook page, which can be viewed here.

Thank you for sharing your story!

An Atheist in India

I personally never took religions seriously. I had been an avid reader since I was young, and I read Bible as well when I was staying in UK. I simply treated the scriptures as I would treat any other work of fiction, and picked up the next book when I had finished reading it. It came as a genuine surprise to me when I interacted with people who actually took the scripture not only seriously but also literally.

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Hey guys! What’s up with y’all? I’m Aayush, here to a share experiences and give a bit of insight about life in India from an atheistic perspective.

The thing about India is that even though it is still a developing country, it’s actually ahead of some developed nations when it comes to secularism. The primary reason behind this is that majority of the population is Hindu. Unlike religions such as Islam and Christianity, Hinduism doesn’t have a history of attempting to spread itself through war. Don’t get me wrong, Hinduism has its fair share of problems, such as caste discrimination, child marriage, and such, but religious expansion through force isn’t one of them.

The religion has a place for atheists; you can be a ‘naastik’ or unbeliever in Hindu religion. Some people call themselves Hindu atheists, though I have absolutely no idea how that’s supposed to work. It’s probably people who have lost belief but are too afraid to leave their religion.

I haven’t encountered many discussions on religion in my 17 years in India. It’s not like a taboo subject per se, but people tend to keep it to themselves. Hindu religion does have a ton of deities, and it becomes difficult to keep a track of all of them. You gotta be careful or you might misplace a few. (That was a joke. I know. I’m terribly bad at them)

Most Hindus I’ve encountered aren’t religious. Unlike other religions, there isn’t a concept of permanent heaven and hell, but of reincarnation. Do good things, you become human. Do bad things and bam! A cockroach. There are supposed to be like seven lives, after which you sort of retire and take up rent in heaven or hell.

The good thing is that it doesn’t matter whether you believe in the gods or not. Your actions are judged and not your beliefs, which is sort of a refreshing change in organized religion.

The bad thing is that there are tons of things that you should do, though there’s nothing fixed as to how Heaven Points are allotted per action. For instance, you’re not supposed to cut your hair on certain days. Either you get heaven points every time you don’t cut your hair on those days, giving bald people extreme advantage or you lose points every time you do cut, again giving bald guys an advantage. This does explain why many of the Hindu priests are bald with only some hair intentionally left at the back of the head.

Religious discrimination isn’t common, though there are sometimes religious riots. I’d blame the riots partly due to bad blood between Hindus and Muslims following the Partition of India and Pakistan. Most of the time, people get along just fine, and science isn’t forced out of the classrooms.

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Evolution isn’t contested arbitrarily, and religion is kept out of classrooms. There are a bunch of laws stopping any religious teaching in schools owned by the state, and even in private schools, there is rarely any religious teaching.

We do have to stand up for the morning prayer which is kinda annoying, but not that big an issue.

I never had to go to any temple on a regular basis the way some Christians go to Church on Sundays. To be honest, life is kinda unaffected by my religious beliefs, largely because no one asks about them. I have a copy of Dawkins’ God Delusion lying on my shelf for all to see. My mom does believe in a superior force watching over and dad does pray daily, but I’ve never been pressurized towards religion. So yeah, with deep regrets, I admit my lack of problems as an atheist. There are a lot of problems as a middle class guy in a developing country, but I’d hate to bore you with them right now, especially since you’ve been so nice and tolerated me this long.

Over here religion is a subject people don’t ask about, because frankly, why would it matter to them? It’s a satisfactory attitude; one which I wouldn’t mind spreading.

 

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Thank you to thevacilando for contributing to my Insight guest posts, providing a glimpse into the lives of atheists around the world and an opportunity to connect with bloggers of a similar nature. If anyone would like to contribute theirs, feel free to comment or email me at sam@livingwithatheism.com

If anyone, atheist or otherwise would like to read more from Aayush and his purpose for life, click here.

Thank you for sharing your story!

 

An Atheist in Canada

I can’t tell you at what specific age I was when I lost faith.

During my childhood, my parents were very involved with the church. I went to church every Sunday and helped clean the church during the week. I went to Sunday school, and this is where the trouble began as far as my faith is concerned.

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My father loved to read and he often bought National Geographic magazines and I would read them after he was finished. These magazines clashed with a lot of what my Sunday school teachers were feeding me.

I remember them telling me that believing in Jesus was the most important factor when it came to being saved. The problem for me was geography and time periods – how could the Native Americans know of Jesus, for example, when Europeans hadn’t yet discovered North America? How could isolated tribes, which I’d read about in my dad’s beloved magazines, be expected to know about Jesus when they had no opportunity until recently to have heard about this savior?

Noah’s Ark was another big one for me. I knew there were millions of species, and I couldn’t imagine a ship large enough to house them all. How did Noah keep the carnivores from eating the other animals?

When I asked questions I was usually met with either condescension or anger. Eventually, the Sunday school teacher didn’t want me attending any more. They told my parent’s that I might corrupt the other children with my strange ideas.

However, I still believed because my parent’s told me that Jesus existed and so it must be true.

It wasn’t till my late teens and early twenties that I really began to examine my beliefs. I began to devour books on the subject and watch debates between theists and atheists. It was around that time that I began to write about religion and I embraced my atheism as well as my skeptical nature in general.

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Where I live in Canada, faith doesn’t play a super-important factor in my day-to-day living. As far as disadvantages go, I don’t think there are many. Sometimes I feel a bit uncomfortable when everyone decides to pray at a special event, social gathering or at work etc. It’s not that big a deal though.

I’ve had a few uncomfortable moments with family members over my lack of faith. A few of them (and one in particular) told my mother that I had strange ideas about religion and faith after I challenged him for saying that he could prove Jesus existed and had godly powers.

I’ve been called many names by religious people online, but I don’t mind that much and I actually think such treatment has its advantages because it helps me hone my arguments and learn how to shrug insults off.

I recently went to a Catholic funeral and had a hard time not laughing when the priest began swinging incense around and chanting in a melodic voice. I couldn’t believe people thought watching a grown man do that was normal. I could also feel the congregation’s eyes on me when I refused to close my eyes or bow my head when they wanted to pray.

However, that last part might have been my imagination at work.

The advantages are immense in my opinion. It has allowed me to shrug of the guilt that comes with Christianity, such as the blood guilt of Jesus’ death, the idea that I deserve eternal torment and so forth.

I find atheism liberating. I can face death on truthful terms and I don’t have to rely on magical thinking to explain things I don’t understand.

Plus I get to sleep in on Sundays. Win, win in my books.

Where I live, religion is sort of in the background and while some people still look at me funny if I say I don’t believe in God, I don’t really suffer any extremely difficult to manage repercussions because of my lack of faith.

I’m thankful for that. I’m also thankful to have been born in a country that affords me the luxury of being able to criticize religion or bad ideas in general without worrying about being beheaded or thrown in jail.

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Thank you to Godless Cranium for this weeks Insight into atheism were you live.

This is my second of the INSIGHT guest posts, which will provide a glimpse into the lives of atheists around the world and an opportunity to connect with bloggers of a similar nature.

Follow for more and thank you GC for the perspective!

The new Amazon advert is anti-intelligent design!

Okay beautiful people of WP, I would love to hear what you think of this new advert I found being shared on social media.

It tells the story of two old friends, an imam and a priest, buying each other the same present for their shared ageing problems. 

In an attempt to promote togetherness, never a bad thing, Amazon is receiving brownie points for this ad. It’s what we want to see after what has been another successful season for the terrorists. Will this end terror? Does this make sense of worship? Sadly, no. 

To need knee pads is a sign of bad design. If they need assistance to pray to God, don’t they have an additional duty to praise Amazon? Online shopping is the true saviour here.

That’s the stairway to heaven?

They have been there for WEEKS now. I don’t know what happened to the owner of these ladders…. I’m guessing that mid section had a part to play.


A place of worship built by creative people, receiving donations from very hard working people, repaired by skilled people to praise a God that did not play any part.

To say we deserve the credit is not selfish, it is fact.

Is God limited to purely human abilities, just on a larger scale?

If God can create earth and it’s life out of nothing, why can’t he rid the world of corruption in a similar fashion? Take the case of Noah, as this event has been talked about in my blog recently. 

If he wanted to wipe out the evil population and start over, drowning is a very immoral way to do so. We put dogs down in a much more humane way. Imagine those suffering from terminal illness opting for euthanasia being drowned. We are more civilised, why can’t God be the same? 

Maybe he took pleasure out of a more painful death. Again, something I don’t agree with. The millions of men, women and children that apparantly perished in excruciating pain because of the immoral decisions of others. Not to mention the countless number of animals.

Is God unable to start over in a much more civilised manner? Or does your God enjoy watching a much more traumatic process unfold?