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Atheists & Agnostics: advice on the experience of losing your religion

  1. Misfit Chick profile image94
    Misfit Chickposted 7 months ago

    https://usercontent2.hubstatic.com/12987469_f520.jpg
    That's me in the corner...  As someone who lost their religion a long time ago; I've recently realized how normal my spiritual story actually is. I already knew that it wasn't unusual - but 'normal'?

    Now that I think about it, it does seem as if the scales are tipping. More formerly-religious folks are embracing Atheism than ever before. I am an Agnostic and often feel way outnumbered by Atheists and religious folks both, ha!

    I attribute this masse spiritual shifting to the information age and the internet. While there is MUCH garbage out there; people are capable of doing their own research, seeing the truth and realizing our reality - even if we still manage to get things mangled. At least we are attempting to discover the truth - and that is a step in the right direction.

    This is the jist of this discussion... I remember a few decades back while I was still in my religion and very dedicated to it. I could not begin to comprehend how other believers that I knew could suddenly 'not believe', anymore. I remember thinking that they must be mad at God for some reason; and I was often told that 'those people weren't saved to begin with - they couldn't have been'.

    Bottom line is, Christians 'think they know' - but, they don't. They have the same questions I did about believers becoming non-believers; and these dismissive explanations give them a reason to continue believing in their religion unquestionably. Because if you actually KNEW WHY former believers no longer believe... that is the scary part, isn't it?

    Having gone through the experience of going from absolute belief to my current 'beliefs' - and knowing what a HARD, slow, painful, frustrating path it is to spiritual FREEDOM... I would love to hear about the experience of others who have fallen out of their religion - whatever one it was.

    And, more importantly - since I would imagine that there will be all kinds of perspectives in here; I think it will help people who ARE questioning their religious beliefs to watch and maybe even take part in the discussion.

    We all come to that spiritual fork in the road in our own time; and we make our own decisions surrounding which way to go, stay or turn back. Most of us didn't have much help, at all - when I made my 'wrong' decisions - judgement and rejection is what I got from my religious family and community.

    But, we are no longer alone. What was your 'wake up' moment if there was one? What was the experience of losing your religion like?

    1. Paladin_ profile image85
      Paladin_posted 7 months ago in reply to this

      I hate HubPages' forum format, because the available word count gets progressively smaller with each reply, extremely limiting the things one can express.  That said, at the risk of self-promotion, I'll answer your question with a link to my own enlightenment story:

      http://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy … Killed-Him

      1. Misfit Chick profile image94
        Misfit Chickposted 7 months ago in reply to this

        *I* don't mind, at all - in fact, I think a collection of links up here would be good - however, it does go against HP's 'rules'. I have my own story within my spotlight articles; but I won't share it up here because I don't usually get away with it. I like the forum for this subject because it does allow for more room to respond, as opposed to the Q&A format. People can 'cut' the previous response down, if they want - it does get tedious.

        1. PhoenixV profile image79
          PhoenixVposted 7 months ago in reply to this

          I was the opposite. I was atheist now a believer. I read your hub and feel you have good spiritual instincts on some things. I wonder if spiritual instinct won out over dogma along the lines. People can still believe without dogma.

          1. Misfit Chick profile image94
            Misfit Chickposted 7 months ago in reply to this

            Thank you, it is nice to get an occassional positive review from a 'believer' - I wrote my hub in an attempt to explain how I 'came out' of my beliefs because so many Christians (including my mother) just don't understand how the flip is possible; and they are AFRAID of people who fall away from those embedded beliefs. I think that the conclusions I've come up with are actually pretty AGREEABLE with Christianity - but, I've been called a 'Diest' by a few people. Which does not sound all that insulting. It seems to be the 'believable middle road' - for me, anyway. smile

            1. PhoenixV profile image79
              PhoenixVposted 7 months ago in reply to this

              Máx Planck was a Deist. There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. . . . We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.

              1. Misfit Chick profile image94
                Misfit Chickposted 7 months ago in reply to this

                That is one thing that I have only begun to brush the surface on - how our minds supposedly create our 'reality'. One of the things that I have come to semi-understand is that reality is created when people agree on it. People CAN 'think up' a singular reality, but it doesn't 'solidify' until more than one person agrees on it. Am I getting close? Do you have a good point of reference to start with this seemingly complicated topic?

                1. PhoenixV profile image79
                  PhoenixVposted 7 months ago in reply to this

                  I chose that particular Planck quote because it was similar to What I thought you were expressing in your hub. Some things are  difficult to relate to or express, like understanding or knowing  barometric pressure changes or atmospheric pressure, or what creates the wind etc, we just see the leaves on the trees shaking, yet we feel not even the slightest breeze on our cheeks and are left wondering that we see the effect and maybe not the evidence. A better question for me is how do i get that R.E.M. song outa My head  lol

    2. HeadlyvonNoggin profile image86
      HeadlyvonNogginposted 7 months ago in reply to this

      I agree this is an important discussion to have. It's a necessary step in our search for truth. For younger generations to question and test the ways of their forebears. If you never sway from religion, never question, then you can never really understand or appreciate it for all it is.

      I used to be in the more traditional vein of belief as well, and I know and understand the fear and guilt associated with questioning. It feels like you're faith is slipping to even have questions. But the fact is, whatever we are, however we are, we are inquisitive by nature. And if God is the truth, then He should have no issue with questions.

      I find it sad, but true, that there is indeed a shift going on. Not that I'm a fan of organized religion. I'm not. I am a believer, but I don't associate with any specific denomination and I don't attend any churches. But I do find spirituality to be a very positive thing. It's unfortunate that there's such a wide misunderstanding in our modern culture regarding science and religion. There's this misconception that science has somehow become an opposing view to religion. That you can only accept one and reject the other. That science in some way nullifies spirituality. This cannot be further from the truth.

      We should be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. Just because people throughout the centuries have used religion to achieve their desired ends doesn't mean it's all just BS.

    3. paradigmsearch profile image91
      paradigmsearchposted 7 months ago in reply to this

      Empirical observation and intelligence are indeed the usual reasons people lose religion. smile

    4. A Thousand Words profile image79
      A Thousand Wordsposted 7 months ago in reply to this

      First of all, I want to thank you for writing  this post. It was so eloquently put.  We don't really see a lot of that in hubpages anymore- especially not in forum posts that are about religion. So, I appreciate that you wrote this, and how you wrote it, more specifically, as somebody who used to be a Christian myself and who is no longer. I can say that my experience was rather interesting and I won't say that there was any one moment where I believe it happened it was like this collection of things and it was something that happened over time. I grew up  around it. My father was very devout (didn't grow up with him in the house). My mom wasn't really devout, but she still used to bring me to church when I was little. She wasn't super gung ho or anything, and she had her own opinions. I actually regret that when I had become more devout, a lot of the ideas that I had I kind of implanted into her mind because I guess, as hard as her life has been, she was in a very vulnerable place and so now she's more religious than I am. Which is ironic in a way, I guess, but yeah, it was a combination of moments. And I was always the person who would be in conversations with people who would say "oh you must have never been a Christian because you're no longer a Christian. Because no real Christian could ever stop being Christian. If you stop being Christian, that means you never believed in the first place." I know now that that's really a really ridiculous way to think and I feel like if karma is real, it really has shown me a lot about myself because a lot of things that I used to say to people and a lot of opinions that I used to have,  as time has gone on and as I lost my own faith, I have come to the place where I am now I experiencing a lot of the things I judged other people for. It's ironic in a way, but it's okay because I feel like I've learned a lot and I've grown a lot and I'm finally comfortable and confident in myself and who I am in my own skin. I don't beat myself up for being a sinner. I don't think lowly of myself in that regard and I have tried to avoid that whole the self is God type of idea also. Because to me it's kind of like the extreme and I don't actually agree with it because the nature of knowledge and how our brains work.

      There are facts that are facts so far as we know through testing and research, and then there are facts that we find later due to more research weren't actually facts. The nature of knowledge is tricky and while I don't adhere to any particular belief system, and I prefer science and the scientific method over spiritual explanations of things- that's not to say that I don't have any spiritual beliefs. I just think that a lot of people don't know the difference between a belief and knowledge. I don't believe that knowledge will ever be able to say whether or not there is a God or some Godlike being or existence because that is impossible in my personal opinion. So I look to the scientific method for the search for truth and I have certain opinions and beliefs that I do not consider fact. Just an idea I play around with on occasion.

      1. Misfit Chick profile image94
        Misfit Chickposted 7 months ago in reply to this

        Thanks for sharing this. It does seem that most of the people who talk about the topic of religion in HP are somewhat on the extreme sides of their beliefs - whichever side they are on, pro or against. I think the majority of us fit into this in-between slot, even if we are 'still believers' - because many of us are curious and still seeking our own conscious on the subject. Like you said, its not a 'fast' thing to lose your religion (NOR is it a necessary thing - although realizing truth is good). It took me a couple of decades, at least; and I'm sure things 'started' before that, even.

        And now for a really really wild notion... I read all kinds of stuff, and I always take everything with a grain of salt. I pin more of a 'that's interesting' attitude on it; and then forget about the subject until it comes up again, ha!

        Supposedly, a couple guys from the 'Philedelphia Experiment' age were sent into the future; and one of them stayed there for I think sevenish years before returning. I want to say that he was in the 2700's. He had a lot of things to say about what the future was like; but the most interesting thing that I noted was that there is supposedly a major breakthrough that is going to happen regarding science PROVING the existence of a 'soul' within us (roughly fifty to eighty years from now). This event supposedly significantly changes the world; and their religion is more unified - and YES, they still have at least one that most people agree upon.

        True or not? Who knows... but science is delving into all kinds of metaphysical areas these days. The things that have been happening in Quantum Physics have been really interesting. I think we will be very surprised in the end - how much the spiritual and the scientific actually agree (once we get past the delusions).

      2. Say Yes To Life profile image86
        Say Yes To Lifeposted 7 months ago in reply to this

        Were you in a cult once? I think you may have mentioned it somewhere.

    5. Say Yes To Life profile image86
      Say Yes To Lifeposted 7 months ago in reply to this

      It was VERY painful.  All these years later, I still struggle with it.

      I was a devout Christian most of my life.  Even having my life threatened by being in a cult in "Los Angeles county", with the minister and his wife laughing at me for suffering a nervous breakdown as a result, didn't deter me - not immediately, anyway.  I first gave the matter thought when I had to leave my beloved Seattle behind to be rescued by my brother, then I was forced to sit helpless while his daughter was lured into dropping out of high school to join a cult.  It bothered me tremendously that my brother needed my help, and I could not offer it.  If things had worked out for me in Seattle, she could have lived with me there, and attended my wonderful church and any number of excellent schools.

      What really killed it for me was the PTSD flashbacks I started experiencing 3 years ago.  Why would I, or anyone, choose to join a cult????  The only real answer I can come up with is that we're taught to NEVER question Christianity.  That explains why it produces the most cults - because it is one itself.

      This is forcing me to become more humanistic and responsible in my thinking.  With my charity ghetto background, the process is agonising.  Where it will lead, I have yet to find out.

  2. Link10103 profile image79
    Link10103posted 7 months ago

    Can't really say I lost my faith since I never had any. I went to church growing up but it was more my mom taking me and sending me to the kids group so we could watch veggie tales for 3 hours.

    If anything, my "road to" agnostic atheism started here on HP. After Bubblews went to crap I started going here and kept seeing posts about religion. Philosophical thought is always interesting so I asked people questions regarding gaps of logic and overall flaws I saw in their posts. Big mistake...

    Not that I think it would have turned out much different had they acted differently, but some of the more hardcore believers on this site definitely turned me away...

    1. Misfit Chick profile image94
      Misfit Chickposted 7 months ago in reply to this

      That actually happens to a lot of people - they aren't really 'believers' even though they grow up in a religion. But, you know enough to have opinions and/or ideas that can be explored in places like this. I think that is a good thing.

      I grew up in churches that were over-zealous with 'witnessing' to others and getting them to come to church. I honestly don't remember ONE of these over-zealous people ever bringing anyone into the fold. However, there were a few people that were far more humble in the faith that did much better.

      I was never a 'witnesser' - and that is one of the things I always felt condemnation over. But now I see it more as something I didn't do - because deep down, I wasn't really sure about how right it was to 'convert' people. I was someone who was deeply into Christianity for years; but there was always something that didn't feel quite right. I feel much better about the 'beliefs' I've come to, now.

      Other people talking about these things - no matter from what direction - definitely helped prod me into doing more research beyond the holy book that Christians are instructed not to look past. The fact that most versions of Christianity discourage people from looking beyond what they have been taught has been one of the most harmful things about that religion.

      In reality, life and death are so much more simple, ha! smile

      1. Link10103 profile image79
        Link10103posted 7 months ago in reply to this

        I think I'm a slight oddball of the group, because I've never actually read the Bible except for what, 5 minutes of Genesis?

        I just find it astounding that as someone who barely has any knowledge of the Bible past a few of the more famous stories, I can sit there and see the blatant irrationality, to then get crapped on for "not understanding". Though it's funny when people say that to me seeing as how they can't actually be bothered to explain anything themselves, mainly because it doesn't make sense to begin with...

        1. Misfit Chick profile image94
          Misfit Chickposted 7 months ago in reply to this

          No, you're normal, LoL! Many 'christians' have not read the bible for the same reasons you have not. And anyway, I'm not sure it would help - that's why we have preachers, cuz the bible is confusing. The various denomenational interpretations need to be explained, etc. And then, AFTER you 'get it' - you can go off on your own and see these 'interpretations' in the bible for yourself. You know, as backup.

          This is one of the reasons why Christian devotees often brush people off in such a condescending way when you get into conversations with them - because you never took the time to figure it all out (for youself!) as they have. THEY know the 'truth' but you don't - and IF you are also nonreceptive, then you're considered to be useless to argue with because 'god' hasn't opened your eyes, yet. Poor you. wink

          That is actually one of the excuses they give for when believers like me fall away from the religion: we were never 'saved' to begin with. It's infuriating, as if we don't have brains of our own. Insulting, condescending... maddening.

  3. AshtonFirefly profile image83
    AshtonFireflyposted 7 months ago

    For me, it was basically years of one agonizing, painful process:

    The fear of hell and the habitual need to cling to the safe was eventually overcome by the need to discover truth via sound logic and true objectivity.

    I thank Descartes.

  4. Kathryn L Hill profile image85
    Kathryn L Hillposted 7 months ago

    I never had religion. I was lucky.

 
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