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A Question For Atheists.

(249 Posts)
DioneTheDiabolist Tue 26-Mar-13 21:09:49

When and how did you decide that you didn't believe in god?

Trills Tue 26-Mar-13 21:15:42

You make it sound as if believing in God is that default state of mind.

That's not the case for everyone. Not everyone is brought up to assume that God exists.

My person story. My parents were not particularly religious, but they are also not particularly inclined to think about things very hard. They probably tick the "Church of England" box on the census because "that's what you do".

I spent some time trying to be a Christian at university. I stopped when I realised that no matter how much I would like there to be a God, and no matter how much I thought I would probably be a kinder person if I thought there was, I hadn't at any point thought that God was real the same way whales are real or Bill Clinton is real or the Sahara desert is real (all things that I have never seen but strongly believe exist).

I also disagreed with the opinions of a number of people on what God would be like or approve of, but that's not a reason to doubt the existence of a God, just a reason to doubt the validity of those who claim to speak for him.

BikeRunSki Tue 26-Mar-13 21:16:54

Catholic school, age 6.
In a spectacular bit of timetabling, we did cavemen and the Garden of Eden on the same day. I noticed the discrepancy and asked my dad. He said "Well some people believe this, other people believe this..." and we talked about the various options of creation/evolution. I went with the science. Ended up with a degree in Geology and Physics.

Trills Tue 26-Mar-13 21:17:12

Now I would call myself an agnostic atheist.

I believe that we cannot know that God does not exist, but that there is no good reason to think that it does, and especially no good reason to think that any particular existing religion has a good handle on what it would be like or would want if it did exist.

hermioneweasley Tue 26-Mar-13 21:18:25

Reading the God Delusion.

EasterBunnyLebowski Tue 26-Mar-13 21:21:41

I was brought up catholic and knew it was complete bullshit even as a child.

Refused to go to Mass from 13. Got removed from R.E. at 15 for daring to challenge the utter bollocks we were being taught.

All babies are born atheist. No-one is born with a belief in a higher power. Religion is an insidious curse inflicted on innocent minds by their deluded parents.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 26-Mar-13 21:22:11

Apologies Trill, I do not think that belief is a default state. I phrased my question as I did because most people, especially 30/40 years ago, subscribe to some form of religion. Even if it's just for the hatch, match, despatch ceremonies. After I had hit post I realized my mistake.blush

Thurlow Tue 26-Mar-13 21:23:06

There was no 'decision'. It wasn't as if I was breaking away from any pre-held beliefs about God. There was no revelation.

It just never made sense to me as a child, and as I got older I was able to understand better how I felt. To me, to concept that there is some form of ultimate power/intelligence who created and manages everything is utterly illogical. The more I read about it - books like The God Delusion, for example - the more my opinions became set.

Can I ask back if you believe that believing in some form of god is the default position?

Pascha Tue 26-Mar-13 21:24:48

I consider myself athiest. I don't know of a time when I was anything other. I have no belief, and don't consider the possibility of belief. My parents went to church, I went to sunday school, it was all just stories to me.

mrsbungle Tue 26-Mar-13 21:25:07

I've never believed, even as a child. I thought it didn't make any sense at all.

WhispersOfWickedness Tue 26-Mar-13 21:26:01

I have a catholic mother, so was brought up with her desperately hoping that I would believe. Gave it a try when I was a teen but just couldn't reconcile it, something just doesn't sit right.

That's not to say that I don't think there are plenty of good things about religion, I have thought on several occasions that it would be quite useful to believe! I just can't make myself feel something that I don't feel.

Wigeon Tue 26-Mar-13 21:26:24

I have never believed in God. It's the same answer to a question such as "when and how did you decide that you were not a Hindu". Well, I just never was and I still am not. I have probably got a bit more certain about my atheism over time, but possibly just moved a bit along the continuum from agnostic to atheist.

DioneTheDiabolist Tue 26-Mar-13 21:27:38

Hermione, what were your thoughts regarding god before you read The God Delusion?

technodad Tue 26-Mar-13 21:31:15

I was born not believing in god, and can not remember ever being given an argument that was convincing (despite various tax except institutions trying). I even voluntarily went to church to try to work out what it was all about.

My first memory of actively being aware of other people believing was at primary school when were we all made to worship. My first memory of thinking that I didn't believe in something that others seemed to believe in is probably when I was about 7 years old, when I would get very upset and couldn't sleep because I didn't like the idea of infinite nothingness once I die. Of course I didn't realise that being dead, I wouldn't be aware of it grin.

My first memory of the fact that their are different religions were from when some kids in my primary school bullied the JW kids for bring different. I liked the JW kids (because they were nice kids) so I found that very confusing.

kissmyheathenass Tue 26-Mar-13 21:31:21

Religion was not a part of my life at all despite being raised c of e. Then in my 40s I started thinking more critically, read the god delusion and discovered the wonderful Christopher hitchens. I consider religious belief to be insane and ridiculous. Now I am vehemently opposed to religion and its hypocrisies and I consider myself an antithiest. My children are raised as atheists though very gently so.

technodad Tue 26-Mar-13 21:32:03

I never believed in the great spaghetti monster either by the way.

kissmyheathenass Tue 26-Mar-13 21:33:52

Dione, I would assume anyone reading the god delusion to be veering towards athiesm. I tried to pass it onto a Christian friend and was met with a glare and a change of subject!

LadyKinbote Tue 26-Mar-13 21:34:39

I believed very briefly aged five because I was told Bible stories at school as if they were real, but just learnt to differentiate between different types of stories as I got older. (Didn't mean that to sound quite as snarky as it came out!). Why do you ask?

Startail Tue 26-Mar-13 21:49:27

My DDad is an evangelical atheist so I guess I was always brought up not to believe in God.

First time I remember I was at infant school probably Y2.
CofE school, Cannon came once a year to ask bible questions, have class a certificate went away.

However, my class mates were a bit in awe of him and no one would put their hands up. So I answered 90% of the questions, so he'd go away and we could do something more interesting.

I was a bit blush at him giving me a certificate all to myself, since even at 7 I didn't believe a word of it.

Greatly amused my mum who stuck the certificate in my scrap book.

thecapitalsunited Tue 26-Mar-13 22:01:38

I've never believed in any gods as I was brought up atheist.

bringonyourwreckingball Tue 26-Mar-13 22:09:07

I just never believed, parents were not church goers and school was fairly neutral so why would I ? And my experience of religious education at school was pretty toxic as 2 separate teachers told me my Disabled sister brought it on herself

AKissIsNotAContract Tue 26-Mar-13 22:11:32

At primary school. I was sent to catholic schools against my wishes until I was 16. Annoyingly, my mum now realises she was wrong as is an atheist herself!

narmada Tue 26-Mar-13 22:14:19

It was never the default option for me, being religious or believing in God, I mean. Mum and Dad are apathetic about religion although my mum would probably describe herself as broadly Christian. I am not really sure she believes in God though...

My own atheism was firmly cemented in my late 20s when I worked alongside a born-again Christian. We got on like a house on fire, but we had lots of long chats and I found it really hard to empathise with her religious thinking. She wanted absolute certainty and an outside authority who could be relied upon to provide the last word, morally; I absolutely did not. For me it's nothing to do with not believing in a supernatural being, and everything to do with not believing in a 'higher moral authority' IYSWIM.

Gone off on one there a bit, sorry smile

marthastew Tue 26-Mar-13 22:15:06

I have never believed in god/s. I was raised as an athiest.

HesterShaw Tue 26-Mar-13 22:17:04

After a fervent stage in my teens, I mainly assumed there had to be some kind of deity. I would pray when I remembered to do, but disliked organised religion and the set responses you get in Anglican churches. I also disliked the extremeness of more evangelical Christianity. I was brought up in a casually Christian house, though my family were never churchgoers.

Over the last couple of years I have gradually come to realise there is no God. It didn't happen suddenly, but now I am definite. It's a relief. It's a relief to know that the bad things in the world are not caused by a vengeful deity seeking to punish us, but are often caused by bad luck and physics. And I now find myself getting offended sometimes by the assumption that religious people have that people are no good unless they believe in God - that they are incapable of goodness, kindness and thoughtfulness.

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