General Question

Seek's avatar

Why are you a ____?

Asked by Seek (34714points) March 6th, 2013

If you are a Christian, why are you a Christian?

If you are a religious Jew, why?

If you practice Buddhism, why did you choose that philosophy?

If you are an atheist, why?

In short, why have you chosen your label?

Please bear in mind that this is in General. I’m not looking for tangents, arguments, or ridicule. This will be a civilised discussion on the philosophical choices we have made.

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82 Answers

DigitalBlue's avatar

I’m an atheist because I don’t believe in any gods. Pretty cut and dry.

tom_g's avatar

I identify as an atheist (or more specifically, an agnostic atheist) because I do not accept any of the god claims that have been presented. This doesn’t exclude the possibility that there is a god. But since I am not a theist (a-theist), this works for me. Others here reject the modern use of the term and prefer nontheist. That’s fine as well, but part of my identification is also a “taking back” of the term and “coming out” in a way. Note: My atheism is a specific term used to address one thing: belief or lack of belief in a deity or deities.

mattbrowne's avatar

I could give you dozens of reasons why I am a Christian. Your question inspired me to decide which one is the most important one. So based on my thoughts for the last couple of minutes, let me put it this way:

“Of all world philosophies and world religions out there, for me personally, Christianity offers the best way of turning the replacement of hatred with love into a permanent mental habit.”

Community and rituals are good reminders for this important mental habit, because in the heat of the moments, day after day, it’s easy to form more destructive mental habits.

Let me make it very clear that to me there are good alternatives to Christianity, which might work better for other people on their quest of living a good life and be a good person. I am totally against any claims that one particular world view is the only one true way.

RandomGirl's avatar

Many people would say I’m a Christian simply because I grew up in church. While I think that fact did contribute to my acceptance of Christ earlier than later, I believe I would’ve searched all my life for Christ, no matter what. For the few years as a young teen when I wanted to rebel against anything and everything around me, I basically gave up being a Christian. In effect, I cut God out of my life. For those few years, I was the most miserable I’ve ever been in my life. There was an internal emptiness that I couldn’t fill with anything or anyone. I finally realized what was missing, and realized my “quest for truth” was just leading me right back to where I started. As much as I hated doing what my parents wanted, I really started growing in my faith. My life felt complete for once. THAT’s why I’m a Christian.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I used to have a little faith. Adults tell you there is a creator, it must be true. Then I woke up one morning, and there’s coffee cups and tissues all over the kitchen table, my favorite uncle is gone at 23. A few months later, my grandfather runs to town, but hits a bridge a mile from the farm, and he’s gone. Then a few months later my mother yells for help, my father has pulmonary edema, and he’s turning blue. We tried, but he’s gone. That’ll teach you life is just one big crap shoot and there is no plan. Shit happens. It happens every day all over the world. Did a god protect those kids at Sandy Hook?

kess's avatar

to identify with what is considered as greater than themselves, so as to create a purposeful Identity…

They label gives Identity to the purpose.

Now since that/any label is never quite accurate in the description of the man, Argument begin among the different labels and within the label itself.

There is a label which does do that.but since it is so all inclusive and purpose beyond this physical world, most will not dare begin to imagine it, so as to even accept it

tups's avatar

I am not religious nor am I an atheist. For many people, it’s either one or the another, but both terms are extremes and there’s a lot in the middle.

rojo's avatar

Why am I an Apatheist?

Because I am not a Christian, nor a Muslim, nor any other religion that requires I believe in a monotheistic diety who created man in his own image or for his own purposes.
Nor do I believe in a panoply of gods, all or any of whom involve themselves directly in the daily activity that we call life for their own amusement.
Nor a god or gods who wants and needs my worship.
Nor that will punish me if I do not conform to some other mans interpretation of what a particular supreme power demands.
Nor one who will reward me for being subservient with promises that if I put up with the pain, fear, anger, angst, suffering and such that are a part of this life, it will get better in the next. Life is what life is and what we perceive as good and bad are all a part of it.

Yet, for all that, I am not an atheist that does not believe in a higher power. It is of comfort to walk among nature and feel that I am a part of a much larger whole.

For me, what it boils down to is;
If I believe in a god, does that make it so? I think the answer is no.
If I do not believe in a god, does that make it not exist? Again, no.
Incidently, if my answering yes to either of these two questions makes it so, does that not make me a god?

So, in my personal reality, does it matter to me, whether or not there is a god? No, I am just happy to be here.

ragingloli's avatar

I am an atheist because I was born an atheist (like everyone), I was not indoctrinated during my childhood to follow a religion, and I have not converted to a religion on my own because there is no evidence for any of the gods religions have claimed to exist.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I am a Christian because after 40 years of researching my own and other religions, converting from a childhood religion, I feel the most comfortable worshipping God and treating people as well as I can.

I tried not believing for a few years and was unhappy and made some dumb mistakes, then realized I don’t have to justify my beliefs to anyone, just do what makes me happy, which is believing in God as my Higher Power.

Whether the logic and science are there to back up the Bible or not, believing makes me a better person, and holds me to a higher standard of behavior in life. It’s good for me.

ebasboy's avatar

It is matter of programming why I am a Christian. I believe I was just programmed to be one of those under grace. Life is lived the way it should be, we are belivers because we are compelled by nature to choose what we chose.

I am one because I was compelled to be by Grace. I am a Christian just fulfilling God’s plan

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

I don’t identify myself as anything really. To me, I believe you can’t say a definite answer. You can say you’re an atheist because you don’t understand how there can be a God, but you can’t disprove there’s a God either. It’s something you can’t seem to prove or disprove therefore it will always be a giant question mark until the day one could find a way to prove or disprove it, if ever possible. I like to think there’s some sort of “life stream” so to say where we all end up. We ourselves can be gods in the very end. I’m not particularly fond of strict organized religion that argue on beliefs rather than practices. But I believe that in a sense all religions have some kind of truth, though they were blurred terribly by man. I think of every religion as having a radio, and each gets the same transmission in the air but they interpret it differently. I’m just a simple life form trying to make my way through the universe, with the same questions everybody else has.

Coloma's avatar

I was raised with a very diverse religious background, everything for Methodist, Presbeterian to Morman. gah.
I am a member of the church of nature. I do not believe in the christian god, but I do believe in the interconnectedness of everything. Every day, every living thing on this planet awakes to another day of survival in the great cosmic jungle.
I also do not believe that man holds dominion over all other “lesser” life forms.

Every life form has it’s joys and sorrows and whether that is a human struggling to earn their daily bread or a squirrel trying to cache enough acorns to survive the winter, we all dance to the same tunes of nature and the universe.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Coloma Love that answer, I feel much the same.

SamandMax's avatar

I am a helper.
I believe in the more truthful notion of “being in it together” (which is something that completely escapes David Cameron but that’s politics).
I was raised to give a damn. So that’s what I do.
I’m all in favor of helping out on an individual basis, as something I want to do – let me be clear, I was raised to care, but I had the choice to either not give two hoots about anyone or anything at all.
I won’t fall in the category of what religion am I, because I don’t believe in religion. It’s not the religion that matters so much as what you believe and how you act based on what you believe.
I’ll let 1 Corinthians 13 do the talking for me.

rebbel's avatar

I am connected to @Coloma.
And all other living creatures/things, great and small.

Pachy's avatar

I am a Jew because my parents were Jews and their parents were Jews, etc. etc. I was reared a Jew, identify as a Jew, and love being a Jew, though not a particularly ritual-minding one.

Ron_C's avatar

I am a born again atheist and my saints are Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. All of this is a result of going to Catholic School. I suspect that I would still be a Catholic if the nuns didn’t fill our lessons with religious bullshit.

ucme's avatar

Hey, i’m not on that list…bigot ;-}
Yeah, I label myself as agnostic & I wear it well, because…well because, err, oh I know, because I prefer to keep my powder dry given the enormous potential ramifications, best of both worlds I like to call it.

Seek's avatar

@ucme The CYA method.

tinyfaery's avatar

I am an atheist because, so far, I have yet to come upon a religion that is empirically identifiable and does not have wacky, gross, murderous rules, a reprehensible history and beliefs that make me look like a fool for believing it.

reijinni's avatar

In my case what I’d really wanted to do is to stay home and watch TV instead of going to church and TV got me away from the church. And when I got that chance I enjoyed it. What kept me away are all the disgusting fundies with their poisonous talk and BS. Right now I am comfortable with me not having a religion even though there are people that suggest that I get one.

ucme's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Yup, that arse can be peppered with splinters from all that fence sitting though, maybe best to cover-up.

Blackberry's avatar

I’m a gamer, because I believe video games keep my coordination and mind fresh while also providing entertainment. It is also an inexpensive hobby. It’s a win-win.

PhiNotPi's avatar

I am an agnostic atheist (a person who does not believe in god but does not claim to have proof.

I wasn’t so much raised atheist as much as I was raised not religious. I didn’t go to church, so I didn’t pick up on any religious beliefs. I am not inclined to start believing in any particular belief system because I don’t see them as having convincing supporting evidence. They either contain things that have no basis in observable reality, or they contain things that are easily proven/disproven using science.

This does not mean that I don’t believe in a “higher purpose.” Instead of it being something God tells me to do, I consider my higher purpose to be in the form of an inherit responsibility towards the future of humanity. I should work towards a better future for humanity not because some God tells me to, but because I actually care about humanity.

As far as I can tell, there is only one real thing that can’t be explained by science: the first person perspective of consciousness. Science only makes sense when you are observing stuff from the outside. It could explain how every neuron in my brain works, but it can’t explain how I am able to experience it first-hand. I won’t, however, describe myself as belonging to any spiritual belief system, because all belief systems extrapolate beyond this fact and offer no convincing evidence for those additional beliefs.

Jaxk's avatar

I neither believe nor disbelieve. I consider myself agnostic. I have difficulty defining what a god is. Is it merely someone/something with greater technology than us? I really can’t put my finger on it. I definitely can’t get behind organized religions. If there is an entity so all powerful, why would it’s only concern be that we worship it. If there is a god, it must have some greater concern than whether I worship it.

The world is a brutal place. It always has been. Regardless where you fall in the animal hierarchy, life is brutal. All animals fight for for food and dominance. And they do it in a very brutal way. We are no different. So whether a god allows bad things to happen is not a make or break decision for me, he merely lets things play out. Given what I believe, I’m willing to let things play out til the end. At the end, I may make a different choice.

Sunny2's avatar

I’m a secular humanist, although my faith is difficult to maintain when I read the daily news. If I’m not right and we can’t get things done together, then we shall all perish together.

forestGeek's avatar

Agnostic simply because logically I cannot know one way or another, and therefore I really don’t want to live my life wondering or worrying. I’ll be fine either way. I was raised Catholic and I am certain that’s not for me.

fremen_warrior's avatar

I guess you could brand me as an atheist dabbling in Zen. As to the why of it, I dislike the idea that there could be anything that should be revered more than my own self – hence the atheism. I do believe, however, it is in my nature, and my best interest, to better understand me, my role in the universe, and the universe’s role in my life, and I think the simplicity of Zen offers me the best perspective on reality.

The idea that the same stuff that makes up my body is part of what makes up the rest of the material universe gives me peace of mind – no matter how far I will end up from “home” I will always be home, because home is around me and within me, I am it and it is me, I am the walrus.

I do not understand what it was exactly that led me to atheism, and got me interested in Zen, but I am happy to have stumbled upon it.

Rarebear's avatar

I am a skeptic because “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” —Philip K. Dick.

cookieman's avatar

I’m an agnostic because I don’t believe in any gods – but I might be wrong. Not so cut and dry.

Shippy's avatar

I don’t have a label. Labels are for lost people who wish to belong. I have a personal relationship with God. I am happy with what I am, which is not a label.

Labels are so 1980’s.

wildpotato's avatar

I am Jewish by ethnic background and identification but am not religious. I am agnostic about theism because I have never taken the leap of faith, yet have felt desire to do so. I’d almost certainly be in rabbinical school by now if I believed in God.

You asked about religious philosophy, and because I do not conflate that with religious belief I will answer that bit separately: I follow Alfred North Whitehead’s thought about how God might exist in a logical sense (as the actual occasion with the highest level of self-determination, and who can only affect other actual occasions [every thing: bullets, cancer cells, atoms, humans] to the extent that they are not self-determining [which depends on their level of complexity]). This last also determines my take on the theodicy problem: God is not omnipotent.

LostInParadise's avatar

Given that religion = belief in God + leap of faith, I am an atheist because:
1. Belief in God without a leap of faith is meaningless
2. I can see no reason to make a leap of faith in any particular direction

woodcutter's avatar

I don’t even think about it in my daily life. So that leaves it to the rest to call me whatever they want if it is important to them..

deni's avatar

I’m an atheist because I do not agree first of all with the traditional idea of any “God”. Secondly I don’t need something like that in my life to make me feel better when I’m down or whatever—I have the night sky for that, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the desert. I don’t need to artificially create a scapegoat to plant all of my problems on. Also I like the idea of controlling my own life. I like to take credit for great things I have done. (AKA if I was in the Super Bowl and threw the winning touch down pass I’d be all HELL YEAH THAT WAS ME! Not “Thank you God for completing that pass” for example)....I could list reasons all day.

deni's avatar

Oh, also, any almighty God would not have made humans to be the way we are today. We are terrible.

SuperMouse's avatar

I am Bahá’í because…

I searched and searched and searched and never stopped believing that there had to be something greater than me, than us humans. Finally I found a faith that makes sense. A faith that believes that the prophets of all the great religions are manifestations of God and they were all the perfect manifestation for their times. That man is put on earth to learn and practice virtues such as love, honesty, faith, etc. That there is no hell, only degrees of distance and closeness to God/enlightenment. That science and religion are in complete agreement and that “If religious beliefs and opinions are found contrary to the standards of science, they are mere superstitions and imaginations.” It all made perfect sense to me and I believe that Bahá‘u’lláh (the earthly manifestation of God for our time) got it right.

cookieman's avatar

I am a fat man because I eat too many cookies.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
Response moderated (Off-Topic)
filmfann's avatar

I am a Christian. My Mother was a Christian (Southern Baptist), and she had her children in church with her every Sunday.
While I was growing up, my friends in school were mostly atheists, Catholics, and Jews, mostly. I was surrounded with materials of other faiths, and I did examine a lot of it. I have a healthy respect for Catholicism, but I understand the difference between what they believe, and my faith (American-Baptist). Why did I stay with Christianity? I felt the Lord in my life.

Qipaogirl's avatar

I grew up raised in one faith, and never felt comfortable with it. When I reached adulthood, I enrolled in a comparative religion course. We compared and contrasted several faiths. This was how I was able to find a belief system that aligned with my personal feelings and beliefs. It is difficult to practice let alone believe in something just because you are told to do so. Switching faiths was my first truly adult decision, and I have remained faithful to and happy with my choice to this day!

Prosb's avatar

Just as a note, when most people use the term atheist, they do not mean the correct definition of the word, which is “the belief that god(s) do not exist”. We use the term atheist as a placeholder for lack of belief, rather than belief in non-existence.

On a similar topic, the term agnostic is compatible with religious and non-religious views, because it is “the view that the existence of any god is unknown, and probably unknowable”. Which, to be honest, seems to be the only option available, since you can not disprove any “god”, and as of yet, no gods have given evidence of their existence.
It is entirely separate from your faith or lack thereof.

It is for those reasons (at least in part), that I am an Agnostic Atheist.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I am a man because I was born with a penis. Not my decision.

I am a father because I used it. My decision.

rooeytoo's avatar

@zensky said it best and I am stealing his line, I am a god fearing atheist. No other words needed.

rojo's avatar

@rooeytoo I have often wondered about that phrase. Why is so much emphasis put on “God Fearing”? What is it in the human makeup that says that you must “fear” your maker in order to properly worship him/her/it?

rooeytoo's avatar

@rojo – I think fear of punishment is what kept people in line for a lot of centuries. Now nobody seems to fear anything and the world is going completely nuts! I don’t speed because I fear losing my license. I don’t do a lot of things because I fear jail.

But maybe it is just a phrase or colloquialism. Someone recently asked how to get her kid to behave to a teacher she didn’t like. I said we behaved because we feared punishment from teacher and parents if we were disrespectful to authority of any kind. The OP said she didn’t want her child to do anything out of fear. Hmmmmm, personally, I don’t think a healthy fear is such a bad thing really.

RandomGirl's avatar

@rojo: Christians should be more careful when talking to people outside the faith to make sure they can’t be misunderstood. When we talk about “the fear of God,” we’re referring to a healthy respect for Him, since He created us and the world around us.

rojo's avatar

@RandomGirl Thanks, I will have to do more research into it because my initial reaction is that this is more rationalization than actuallity. After all, it is just as easy to say “heathy respect” or “reverence” for and then the meaning requires no translation. I guess it could also be another mis-translation. I will look into it.

GracieT's avatar

@rojo, I think that the use of the word fear conveys a different meaning in the 21st century than it did in Bible times. I read once that it didn’t
mean then what it means today, but rather a strong respect.
Obviously I wasn’t there then so I may have misunderstood, but that’s the way I remember it being explained.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@RandomGirl When speaking of the ‘Fear of God’, I definately mean a healthy respect, but I also literally mean ‘fear’ as well. To me He is a God of Love as well, it’s a dichotomy much like the rest of us. All of us are capable of righteous anger.

Anyone who can do the things He has done, you know, like turn rivers into blood, plagues and even send the Angel of Death to Egypt, there is reason to fear God’s wrath. The moneylenders in the Temple, there are many many examples of incurring the wrath of God.

Seek's avatar

@KNOWITALL That’s my favourite Jesus story. Well, that and his response to being waked up by the apostles in the garden.

Finally, the perfect meek and mild whatsisface does something normal-guy like, and beats the tar out of some jerks doing what they plainly shouldn’t be doing.

It also contributed to my first inclination that my church wasn’t all it was cracked out to be – when the pastor (my step-uncle) started hosting Forex training classes in the youth group room on Tuesday nights. Uh… how is that not moneychanging in the temple?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr There are tons of things that make you go ‘hmmmm’, kind of like Abraham and Sarah, and him sleeping with the ‘slave’.

I sure wish I could see the water turn to wine and walking on water, and healing people though, how cool would that be?

ragingloli's avatar

“I sure wish I could see the water turn to wine and walking on water, and healing people though, how cool would that be?
That is nothing special. Even Naruto can do that.

Seek's avatar

@KNOWITALL Those aren’t even a little impressive, certainly not when you’re working with what it supposed to be an “omnipotent” god.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Well I’ve never seen that stuff, so I’d be impressed – lol

KNOWITALL's avatar

@ragingloli You’re silly! :)

mattbrowne's avatar

I sure don’t wish I could see the water turn to wine and walking on water, because I think it’s the opposite of being cool. It would be the most scary thing that has happened for the past 13.7 billion years. It would scare the bejesus out of me (pun intended).

If we can’t rely on reliable natural laws we are doomed. Nothing could be predicted. No safe landings of airplanes. No hurricane Sandy evacuations. We couldn’t even walk on the earth and be sure that we don’t get sucked into the superheated core of our planet.

But thanks to all the electrons on the ground we remain floating slightly above the sidewalk while taking a stroll. That’s wonderful. And no human can walk on water. Pond skaters can. And that’s wonderful too.

I want a reliable electromagnetic force. I want an orderly universe, not arbitrariness.

Healing people though, yes, that’s really cool, and that’s why we have cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction therapy. Thinking the right thoughts can make us well, thanks to neuroplasticity. I think Jesus Christ made use of this power. He was able to deal with some diseases, but not all. Jesus wouldn’t have been able to heal a type 1 diabetic, for example. Neuroplasticity can’t deal with this.

Our brain is powerful, but there are limitations. What our brains can manage is handling symbols and metaphors and parables. Art is the native language of the symbolic brain and 40,000-year-old cave paintings show this. Oral traditions invented metaphors so stories could be memorized in a better way. The use of metaphors is an art too. And Jesus walking on water is a great one for sure. But the deeper meaning isn’t that he really physically walked on water. Thank God!

Seek's avatar

I can turn water into wine. Just give me some honey, some dandelions, a little yeast and about six months.

mattbrowne's avatar

Good plan. Let’s hope it’s methanol free wine ;-)

Seek's avatar

OK, might as well answer this myself. I was hoping to get more thorough answers from the religious among us. Forgive if this is beyond your tl;dr threshold, I know my story is convoluted.

I grew up with a nominally Christian mother (her family never really attended church, but believed in God and Heaven.) and a somewhat-practicing Buddhist father who had been raised in a Catholic household. He had been kicked out of his Catholic high school for stealing a bottle of communion wine and drinking with his friends on the handball court.

While I was never Christened, we did occasionally (I’m thinking mostly Easter and Christmas and baptisms) attend Mass. Daddy taught me how to say the Hail Mary and the Paternoster, and gave me a pretty green rosary (I wish I still had it…). I remember sitting on the floor in front of one of his bookshelves reading the comic-book-like Children’s Bible. I liked the battle scenes: David vs. Goliath, Samson beating the bad-guys with the donkey’s jawbone…

After my parents split up, my mom met this guy who, lo and behold, was the brother of a pastor. We went to their church a couple of times, where I attended Sunday School. It didn’t become a habit, but I liked the atmosphere – there were kids to play with and all kinds of attention. Any “divorced kid” knows how starved for attention you can get when the entire world is full of drama that doesn’t directly involve you.

Other neighborhood kids would invite me to their churches – “The bus is coming! Ask your mom if you can come!” and the answer would invariably come from my stepfather: “You’re not going to any heathen church. If you go to any church you go to the family’s”.

One day, I was running about the neighborhood with a bunch of kids, and we did a tear-through one of the girls’ houses. Her mom was having a Bible study done by one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. She was in a long blue dress and her hair was all the way down to her knees, and huge and curly… she looked like Rapunzel all grown up, and she had the most welcoming, warm, amazing smile. She invited me to sit down and listen to the story. She told me about heaven, and what a wonderful place it would be, and how much God wants us to be there with him, and all we have to do is read this book and believe what is in it – every word – because this is God’s word, and his instructions for how he wants us to live. And if we do that God will fill us up with himself, and we’ll never be lonely or weak because we’ll have God inside us all the time, and there’s no greater love than that.

I was sold. And I was all of ten years old.

Turns out, that woman just happened to be from my now-step-uncle’s church, so stepdad was sort of guilted into letting me go to church with her. That woman became a second mother to me – more mother than my own really – and I strove every day for ten years to be more like her. When she died at age 42 due to a heart defect, I was devastated but somewhere I knew it was okay, because she was in Heaven.

Her husband, who was one of the most pious men I could imagine, didn’t take it so well, and in a matter of months started distracting himself from the pain with another woman. Note: woman. Formerly married, divorced, mother, maybe a little young for him but certainly not scandalous (save for the time lapsed since his wife’s passing).

The pastor – my step-uncle – completely ostracized him. He called a meeting of the tithe-paying members of the church – pretty much the whole church – and told them lewd tales of the assistant pastor’s indescretions. Publicly shamed the man in front of what should have been the support system helping him through his time of mourning.

If I had to choose one exact moment when I realised my church was not infallible, it would be that meeting.

Over time, it became harder for me to “pray through” – we were a Oneness Pentecostal sect, and believed in “speaking in tongues” as a sign of closeness with God. I found myself repenting my lack of faith more and more often, but never really feeling the Holy Ghost anymore.

I faked my way through for a long time believing it was my fault, some sin I didn’t know I was committing that God was upset with me about, and I’d fight back through somehow, but little doubts started creeping in. When the visiting “healer” completely failed to heal anything, three visits in a row, for example.

By this point I was married. I had never had a good relationship with my mother, but one day we got into an argument about something incredibly stupid, and she decided the best way to win was by pinning me against the wall by my throat and repeatedly punching me in the face. (Not the first time she had done this. It was known as the “mom maneuver) Well, this time I was 21 and living on my own, and no longer dependent on her charity for my survival. I called the cops, and she was arrested for domestic battery.

Two days later, I walked into the church, and people visibly turned away from me. Not a word was spoken. I was asked not to take my place in the A/V booth, someone else had it covered. And the sermon was about honouring your parents.

I did not return.

But I was a good Christian girl, and had to find a new church. I started attending our sister church. Found much of the same attitude there, so it didn’t last long. Not surprising, as my stepfamily had several other members in that church as well.

So, since I couldn’t go to either of the churches in the area that were our particular denomination (and certainly couldn’t go to one of those heathen churches where women wear pants and cut their hair and paint their faces like Jezebels) I started studying the Word myself, at home, alone, and “fellowshipping” with other True Believers on the internet.

Eventually, I found my way to the Myspace Christianity chatroom. Since there was no “atheism” chatroom, atheists would congregate in Christianity and spark debates and discussions with the believers there.

Oh, how I loved those chat sessions. I’d spend hours and hours playing the apologist, explaining away biblical errors, defending the faith…

I managed to gain the respect of several of the hardcore atheist debaters because of my raw knowledge of the Scripture. Ha ha, no “Christians don’t know their own bible” crap would fly here!

But through those debates, I began to actually realise that the errors were there. That some things didn’t make sense. Why would a loving God play Russian Roulette with Job’s family? what did he ever do to God?

I realised that if the Bible had this many errors and this much evil, it was not the word of my God (that loving, snuggly heavenly Father I had been drawn to). And if my god were real, he was no longer worthy of my worship.

For a time, I tried to find who the “real” God was. That didn’t last too long, as I had no better reason for believing in any god than I did for believing in the one I had just forsaken. So I tried pantheism – maybe God is all around us, in every thing that lives. But that just seemed unnecessary – why worship a tree? It’s not like the tree can appreciate the effort.

So, I became a self-proclaimed “apathist”.

Eventually, I visited the bookstore. Something I do often, of course, but this time, I did my favourite thing – wandering aimlessly around the store, waiting for a book to “call to me”.

That day, I bought two books: “Celtic Magic” by D.J. Conway, and “The God Delusion”, by Richard Dawkins.

I was sold on “The God Delusion” from the title of the first chapter: “A Deeply Religious Nonbeliever”. Holy crap, this book is about me. I took it home and immediately sat down with it and a pen, underlining every word that resonated with me. I still have that copy of that book, and most of it is underlined. ^_^

One section that is not only underlined, but boxed, starred, and highlighted, is as follows:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

YES. I’m not the only one. This other, obviously intelligent person has come to the same conclusion as I have.

I’m not the only one.

The sigh of relief at that point was incredible. It still took me a year before I admitted atheism to my husband (and another two and a half for him to agree with me), but knowing that I was not alone was powerful in the extreme.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr phew, that’s quite a story! I really enjoyed reading it, thank you for sharing this with us (And I don’t mean it in the “thank you for sharing” kind of way lol). If you ever decide to write a book, I’d be more than happy to be the first to read it. Cheers!

(I’m somewhat disappointed though that you skipped the word “uberfundies” in this post :P)

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Yes, thanks for sharing, truly. The similiarities in our stories, seems to be abusive mothers and a lot of religion. And both our churches let us down when we needed them.

Seek's avatar

Thanks, all. @fremen_warrior I was trying to not cast undue negativity on any one aspect of the story. ^_^ I do rather love that word, though.

antimatter's avatar

I am a Pagan, people wish to ignore us because some of us have crazy but cool ideas.
I got a very long story why I choose Paganism but not in the mood tell my story, and it’s late need to go to sleep.

Seek's avatar

@antimatter I certainly hope you come back and grace us with your story another time!

LostInParadise's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr , That is quite a story. What I find particularly interesting, and I am sure that this must apply to many others, is how tightly you hung onto your faith in the face of so much uncharitable behavior on the part of the faithful. It shows just how strong a hold that religion can have on someone.

Sunny2's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Thank you for sharing that. I hope you kept a copy of it. It’s part of you. I wonder how many of us also have a path to disbelief.

AdamF's avatar

I’m an atheist because…

I’m lucky enough not have been indoctrinated into a religion as a child

I’m lucky enough to have been born into circumstances (first world, not impoverished) where I had access to sufficient knowledge to find evidence-based answers to my questions

I don’t accept a worldview before it passes a minimum standard of evidence and reason and relatedly, I’ve never heard a convincing case for theism

I have arguably better moral standards than those commonly attributed to god(s)

@Seek_Kolinahr Inspiring story!

Paradox25's avatar

“Why are you a nonreligious theist?”

Personal occurances concerning out of body experiences, ghostly encounters, strange events which occured after the passing of a few people whom were close to me, along with talking to others who’ve had similar experiences as mine. I’ve become even more convinced when I’d researched subjects such as mediumship, clairvoyance, telepathy (especially in siblings/parents/children), near death experiences, etc and had found that many respected scientists, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement personel, psychologists, etc came to the same conclusions that I did.

I accept the evidence for what many term as the ‘supernatural’ or the ‘paranormal’, along with trusting my own senses, along with trusting the anecdotals of others that I knew/know very well. My ‘beliefs’ have nothing to do with religious indoctrination, for I was never religious and I was formerly a skeptic myself. I’m still not sure how I would define ‘God’, though much of my research does seem to suggest that there is likely a higher power or supreme Mind of some sorts. Theosophists call this alleged force the Absolute, some ancient Hindus call it the Brahma, Christians call it God, Muslims call it Allah, Wiccans call it the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine, some Spirtualists call it the Great Spirit or simply Mind, some New Agers call it the cosmic consciousness and so on.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

I have not answered this question.

I believe in God. I was babtized as an anglican, but my roots really lie in the catholic church on my fathers European side. As of today though I would say I have no religion. I respect the catholic religion as I respected my biological father and anglican religion was more forced as a child since we didn’t get any other choices. But my dad used to always tell me about his catholic roots and his European roots and I have travelled to that side of the country once.

At about the ages of 15–30 I abandoned all ideas of God having bipolar hit me full force and so I lived life on the edge.

When I finally found the pill that helped me gain normality so to speak. Then my husband had an accident and through that I was lead back to God and which I think I am now starting to figure out is back to the catholic path. I prayed each day in the small catholic temple in the hospital. And He never left me alone.

But now I continue on a path. I have a few videos from a special jesuit in the Vatican that I look up to. This jesuit has made me understand everything I talk about. I smile because I understand him and myself better lol.

A Vatican scientist.

Part 2

Was the bible meant to be taken literally?

The not-so new Atheists.

So my next trip is back to my European roots to Vatican City, and I may not come back. :)

tom_g's avatar

^^ Wow, That “The not-so new Atheists” is 1 minute, 51 seconds of possibly the worst thing I have witnessed on youtube. 43 seconds in and you’re faced with straw men, a couple of lies, and ad hominem already. 5 seconds later you get to the meat of his “argument”, which again starts with a premise based on straw man – then skips all of that tiresome work of building an argument and just goes straight to assertion by 1:05. He then circles around to one of his straw men and wraps it up in another nice big ad hominem. Then, where there should be silly clown music and a “this is just satire” disclaimer, we’re left with some dramatic piano music.
You could teach a semester on this 1:51 youtube video.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@tom_g jesuit brother Guy Consolmango is not just a religious roman catholic but also a scientist and it is what he does. I am sorry for the short video, maybe I should’nt of posted that one the other one where he gets more in detail is not on youtube and is an hour long, that is the only part I could find of it.

AdamF's avatar

@nofurbelowsbatgirl People who drop that many logical fallacies in under 2 minutes, don’t magically get more logical the more time you give them.

They just pile the bullshit higher.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

It’s alright. Apparently I am an open source for bull out here since I am a zealout and a fanatic as I was told by someone else, so I might as well live up to at least that side of Why are you a___?

Why am I a zealot and a fanatic? I have no idea. I suppose it’s because I am passionate where others may be passionate for a different reason, so we collide, I tend to collide with many people because I don’t belong here.

Anyway, I mean wow I know a little about logical fallacies but call me a fanatic and zealot again today because I can’t figure it out.

AdamF's avatar

@nofurbelowsbatgirl Just to be clear, there’s nothing I wrote that was in anyway suggestive that you were a fanatic. My point was purely that I didn’t have any expectation that this person’s arguments would get better in a longer video.

Spotting logical fallacies is something that takes time to learn, as does understanding the terminology.

There’s a nice introductory summary here to a wide variety of common fallacies if you’re interested.

OneTruth's avatar

Your question doesn’t mention Islam, but I believe you won’t mind a Muslim provide a thorough reply to your question.

I was a born-to-be a Muslim at first (and I am grateful for that). I am not sure if “born-to-be a Muslim” is a correct phrase actually. Someone borns as a pure, innocent human with all potential and capabilities to become anything, good or bad. Free will is what is given to us, which makes it wonderful to live, have choices, to believe or not. We could have as well been created as androids who believe and obey by default, and who do not think, question or disobey. So, I am grateful for the free will and the intelligence we were given.

I said I was born-to-be a Muslim because I was born to a Muslim family, in a country where the majority of people are Muslim (only the Creator knows who are really Muslim). Though we had the tag “Muslim”, in my childhood, I don’t really know how much Muslim my family and I were as we were not a family who practiced Islam as it should be practiced. I can’t say anything about any specific person in my family or in my community but when I look back to that period, most of us were “kind of” Muslims, but not true Muslims as we were supposed to be. Not that we were bad people or did bad things but Islam is a lot more than just being a good person.

One of the things that I remember from my childhood is that before I learned reading, I was made to memorize some of the important prayers and parts from Quran in Arabic (which is not my language). After starting school, I remember being sent to the Mosque to learn how to “read” Quran, in Arabic. I wish it was a course to learn how to “understand” Quran in my own language. But anyway, without knowing what it said, I learned how to read it in Arabic, and for a long time I thought it was enough.

During 12–18 ages, while I was strongly identifying myself as a Muslim and trying my best to be a good person and to stay away from the major sins mentioned in Quran (surely I made mistakes and commited sins like all people do), I did not have a strong foundation for my belief and understanding of the Creator, of Islam, of the universe, of people and I had a lot of questions “why, how, etc.”.

Anyway, as years passed and I grew up into an adult, my heart and mind inclined to learn more about the religion I was tagging myself with, to better practice it and to live my life as the Creator wants.

So, I started reading Quran in my own language. As it is a large book with a lot of information and instructions, I needed to read it again and again to better understand it. In time, it became a habbit to continue reading Quran. Once I finished it, I continued to read it from the beginning. Not that I read dozens of pages a day, but more like one or two times a year.

In my first couple of readings, many things did not make sense to me, even though I was (am) a Muslim. I was even thinking and openly discussing with others that “The Creator can’t have said that”, “Why is this like this?”, “This doesn’t make sense”. For a long time, I was in the mindset of thinking that the Creator should be the way I would like It to be. Could I be any more wrong than this? Whenever I hear a comment now that questions the why of something about the Creator (e.g. why does the Creator allow…?), I smile and remember that I was once like that, asking similar questions. Think for a moment, if you were “the” Creator, would you be a Creator the way you are / you want to be or would you be a Creator your creation wanted you to be?

As I read it multiple times and as I grew older, 20–30, a lot of my questions were answered and a lot of things that once didn’t make sense, made sense. Reading Quran was (is) the most peaceful time of my day and it felt (feels) like I am in direct communication with the Creator.

At every new reading, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before and learned new things and found answers to my questions.

In short, I was a born-to-be Muslim but then I chose to be a Muslim after truly learning what it means to be one.

Fast forward to today, I continue to try my best to be a good man, a good Muslim and live my life as best as I can in the way the Creator wants. I still have questions for sure (actually, I got one main question), but they may never be answered, or perhaps they may be answered in the Judgment day, I don’t know. But what I learned as the core of belief is that to believe means to not try to make sense of everything, because trying to make sense of everything may as well turn into creating your own Creator the way you want It to be or behave. The Creator is the Creator and It is the way It is.

Here is a detailed explanation of how I understand the Creator and the creation.

Seek's avatar

Thank you for your answer, @OneTruth

OneTruth's avatar

@Seek Thank you too, for your question. It is always interesting for me to hear/read about the reasons and mindset of those who don’t believe in a creator, or who believe differently than I do, partly to see if there is any question that they have that is still unanswered for me.

I just stumbled this site today while writing a Q&A sites related article and noticed a question about relationships which kind of forced me to join to put a reply, then I checked further questions and came across yours and felt like answering. I like this site’s concept, I guess I will keep checking it.

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