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For those that are struggling with religion: From the Non-Religious that escaped it

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posted on May, 5 2015 @ 03:33 AM
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We see a lot of topics go through here that are from individuals who are struggling to find any form of piece in religious settings. Conversely, we also see highly religious individuals here who enjoy spreading their beliefs as strongly as possible, despite evidence that goes against their beliefs.

What I think we need to see more of is the stories of those individuals who where as fanatical as some of the members we see posting here, yet have escaped religion's chains.

There was a massively tragic story I read a few years back about a woman who grew up in a family whom were very religious. At a young age she had been raped by her church's pastor. She goes on to say how much of a struggle it was to grow up with that terrible history, and how difficult it was to overcome that event. However, she said that what she found more torturous, more unbearable, and more horrible than that event was the concept that all of her friends and family that did not follow her parents' beliefs were undoubtedly going to burn in hell for their lack of faith (or their faith in the wrong god), for the rest of eternity.

I feel as though the concept of religion is placed on this pedestal where it comes off as this innocent, shining light where no one is allowed to say anything bad about it, or even bring up the notion of a hypothetical situation where whatever gods they believe in may not exist. Yet the damage it leaves in it's wake is so ferocious and terrible that it would be irresponsible not to discuss the negative aspects of organized religion.

As I brought up previously, one way we may be able accomplish this -in a non-aggressive manner- is by hearing how some of you have managed to find more happiness and clarity outside of religious doctrines, beliefs, and ideologies.

______________________________________________________

Personally, I have never been religious. However, my father's side is deeply Jewish, and my mother's side are devout Catholics. I grew up feeling that what either side was saying about how the universe worked, how things came in to being, or any of the stories in their religion's weren't really resembling what was happening in reality.

Early on I discovered that both my father's Jewish side and my mother's Catholic side tended to pick out the pieces of each part of their scriptures that each individual enjoyed, and then claimed that that was what their religions represented (despite the contradictions each one of them had within the same religion).

It seemed as though their religious texts were just fairy-tales, for adults. It especially seemed so when I had a deep fascination with biology; particularly zoology. This fascination of mine allowed me to see how beautiful nature is without all the supposed magic of a mystical invisible god who just created whatever he wished. The concept of how old the universe really was, and how long it took for organisms to become what they are today, and the astronomical chances that occurred for us to even be here seemed so much more romantic and interesting.

With religion, all the exploration was taken away. I was simply told "god did it" to all my questions. So often that it seemed was more of a way of my parents saying "I have no idea, but here's a solution so I can get out of the conversation." Apparently, religion knew everything! There was nothing left to discover when god supposedly filled the gaps of my questions.

As I researched more and more into Biology, Evolution, Zoology, Genetics and so forth, it became immensely clear that religion was just a tool in which will ease the minds of those who do not want to explore, learn, or discover. It was just this veil where an individual could hide from the unknown; perhaps that's comforting for some, but that "unknown" is still there.

I grew up, traveled the world, worked with endangered species, and feel as though that veil would have never lead me down this lifestyle. What's worse is that I know my relatives and friends still live in a way which restricts their access to information beyond the realms of their churches. I find it sad that they do not get to see the world as it is in reality, but instead feed all their time and energy into something that is doing less good than those religions make themselves appear to be doing. What's even worse is when I see my friends have children, and I know that they're spreading this misinformation unintentionally to them.

I feel that I want to do something about it, but on the other hand, society is at a point where religion is still this protected topic; something not to be discussed.

Fortunately, with the advent of more accessible global communication and education, we are starting to see a greater up-rise of individuals who feel the same way, and who are realizing the issues Religion tends to cause.

So what's your story? How did you escape religion, and what do you feel about religion's existence in modern society?
edit on 5/5/15 by Ghost147 because: Spelling mistakes





posted on May, 5 2015 @ 04:14 AM
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I gave my 20 bucks to J.R. "Bob" Dobbs.
I get eternal salvation or triple my money back.



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 04:26 AM
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Conversely I was a thieving violent little mongrel, didnt not believe in God but certainly didnt care.
i grew up in a spiteful family and angry home. learned that anger and how to show no sadness and compassion,.
Self was all I cared about
Once someone preached the gospel of Jesus to me and I heard it, years later a christian befriended me and I started going to church, I have been going since.
It's true that i am no saint, no perfect christian, years of abuse and anger and problems I have had to overcome, slowly slowly, its hard and it takes time but where I am now to where i was.

Yeah

I met a girl once who was abused at her school as a little girl, her life spiraled, she was into self abuse and hated herself. horrible story, One day she found Jesus and found herself, again no overnight miracle. from what i have heard she is growing in self respect and life.

Ghost feel free to tell your story but dont make this thread a lie.
Christianity has helped many.



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 04:58 AM
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originally posted by: borntowatch
Ghost feel free to tell your story but dont make this thread a lie.
Christianity has helped many.


I'm not saying it doesn't or hasn't. Religion has helped many, but in the total scope of things, misrepresentation of reality is never a good thing.

I watched this incredible debate just the other week between Archbishop John Onaiyekan, Ann Widdecombe, Christopher Hitchens, and Stephen Fry about if the "Catholic church is a force for good in the world." I strongly suggest watching the entire thing. I realize it's quite a long video, but it presents both sides very well, and the audience votes on the winner. The thing is, the audience votes on which position they believe is correct before the debate begins, and then again afterwards.

The results are very shocking.




posted on May, 5 2015 @ 05:02 AM
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My parents became Christians after conceiving me. They became good friends with the pastor that lead them to Christ and became some of the founding members of the small church I would eventually become a part of myself. I don't really have any negative experiences with church, save a few when I was older. Everything was great. Great community, great inspiring lessons, and great after church potlucks! There was never any pressure on me to believe. I can't recall what exact age I was now, but it had to be between 7-9, when I made a conscience choice to accept Jesus as my Lord and savior. I must say, it was the first powerful experience in my life. I honestly felt the spirit of Christ fill me up and I began to cry with joy. Now, as an atheist I don't attribute that feeling to Jesus filling me up with his spirit, but you can imagine how it impacted me at that young age.

Things were great for me as a child. Christianity to me was all there was. It was the truth. The few people in my life that I realized didn't have as strong a relationship with Christ, I felt deeply saddened for. I remember one Christmas where I set out to write out the whole Bible to give an uncle who isn't a believer. I didn't understand how anyone could not want to know Jesus Christ.

I have always been into the mysterious and unexplained. Growing up I had books about spontaneous combustion, UFOs, Bigfoot, frogs raining from the sky.. You name it! At the time I never questioned my beliefs, but I questioned plenty of other things. One night around twelve maybe, while listening to the radio I discovered Art Bell. The broadcast was about Bigfoot. It may have been one of the early times he had Bugsy on. Needless to say I was hooked. From that day forward I listened to that show loyally. To give you an idea of my obsession with the show, I had (and still have) tons of them burned to compact discs and listened to them multiple times. Well I have Art Bell and crew to thank for opening my mind up to many things. True and false things, of course. But still, my mind was open to a vast amount of possibilities.

I became interested in other religions, and mythologies. Through my general interest in the subjects I began to realize that Christianity didn't hold all the answers. It is important to note that I had already stopped going to church at this point, for various reasons. But I still considered myself a Christian, however lukewarm I may have been. For awhile I tried to fit all these other things into the Christian world view. Then I began to shed some of the stricter dogmas and began to wonder if all religions had a piece of the puzzle. Maybe there was a God but in the imperfect minds of men we misunderstood his message. Maybe there was one true God, but different cultures understood him differently. All wrong about him on many accounts, but all sharing an underlining similarity. That being, there was something divine.

This was a bit before 2012. While I never believed in the 2012 stuff, it had peaked my interest in things like the pineal gland, astral projection and remote viewing. I also became super interested in UFOs and aliens again, and became familiar with conspiracy theories about the Nephilim. Basically my brain was awash with curiosities about this and that. I don't know that I held any firm beliefs in anything at the time. Though I still considered myself Christian, and still prayed albeit less frequently.

Eventually I lost interest in taking a lot of that stuff seriously and went full lukewarm Christian. Ghosts, Sasquatch, Aliens etc. took a back seat to NWO conspiracy theories. It put me in a bad place for a long time. Too much doomporn is never good. By now I had also become more keenly aware with a lot of issues with the Bible itself. Vague prophecies, inconsistencies, lack of scientific credibility, and especially a God with very human characteristics. You created EVERYTHING man, why are you jealous?!

I knew I didn't believe anymore. But I couldn't let it go. Even with all the evidence against it shouting at me in the face, the prospect of "What if I'm wrong" loomed large. There was a period where I had resigned myself to hell even. Figuring that God has no interest in an analytical guy like me who didn't want to ignore things not adding up. But eventually I did it. I had to say it aloud.

Shortly after I relapsed. A mixture of new world order conspiracies, alien agenda conspiracies, and zealous Christianity, pulled me back. I started reading the Bible again. I listened to sermons online. I prayed vigorously for all sorts of things. Forgiveness for my absence, forgiveness for my sins, for more faith. I prayed for forgiveness for having two Freemason grandparents, even. This went on for weeks.

Needless to say, God wasn't there to answer. It was then I realized I'd been a fool. I went back to my stance of "not a Christian anymore". Eventually I decided to call myself an agnostic. Then, one day on YouTube I discovered Matt Dilihunty and Aron Ra. Two outspoken atheists. After listening to them debate theists for a bit, I realized I fit the atheist category a lot better than agnostic. Taking up that label for myself lifted the final weight of doubt from my shoulders.

My position has only been re-enforced from consuming various atheist and theist media. Also, from coming to places like ATS where it is debated. Everyday I know I made the right choice for myself.

I don't mind religion in modern society. Until it starts hurting others. The Christians that push or twist laws for their agendas. Such as treating homosexuals as sub human, or teaching creationism in the classroom as if it as a place next to real science. Those are just some examples of negative things I don't like.

I see some positives too. More on a personal level with people. While certain critical thinking skills may go ignored when it comes to their faith it doesn't mean they are entirely stupid. Plenty are smarter than I'll ever be. Some people I know, I truly believe need religion in their life. Jesus is their rock.

So in short, it has its pros and cons, same as anything really. I only hope it evolves more positively than negatively as we continue into the future. I say that about any religion, not just Christianity.

S+F Ghost.

I do feel us atheists and agnostics need to become more vocal. Not militant, mind you! But there are other people who question their beliefs and may not know where to turn. Or who need support once they've left it. It can be hard to do depending on their situation and where they live.


edit on 5-5-2015 by WakeUpBeer because: typo



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 05:10 AM
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a reply to: skunkape23

You were scammed man.

I'm an expert guitarist and all I had to do was stand at the corssroads late one night and give up my soul. Which, I wasn't even using. So it was a bargain.

Sorry about your twenty bucks.



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 05:30 AM
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a reply to: WakeUpBeer

Wow, fantastic story WakeUpBeer
Very well written.

It appears that you may not belong to religion anymore, but you most certainly belong to ATS, haha.



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 06:41 AM
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originally posted by: Ghost147

originally posted by: borntowatch
Ghost feel free to tell your story but dont make this thread a lie.
Christianity has helped many.


I'm not saying it doesn't or hasn't. Religion has helped many, but in the total scope of things, misrepresentation of reality is never a good thing.

I watched this incredible debate just the other week between Archbishop John Onaiyekan, Ann Widdecombe, Christopher Hitchens, and Stephen Fry about if the "Catholic church is a force for good in the world." I strongly suggest watching the entire thing. I realize it's quite a long video, but it presents both sides very well, and the audience votes on the winner. The thing is, the audience votes on which position they believe is correct before the debate begins, and then again afterwards.

The results are very shocking.

Be interesting if we saw the same thing in relation to atheism being good for the world, mao, Stalin, pol Pot, you know the list of atheist psychos.
Yes men are evil, be they religious or nonreligious.
Its a people thing not just something you can blame on religion only.

There is something very warped about your attitude, you act like a fundamentalist Christian, like a religious pharisee, you are right and the rest of the world is wrong.

Get a grip, we are all the same



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 06:53 AM
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originally posted by: borntowatch
Yes men are evil, be they religious or nonreligious.
Its a people thing not just something you can blame on religion only.


Completely agree with you, born. However I think the reason religion gets blamed when it's the case of religious tyrants is because often they construe their beliefs to justify their actions. Sometimes they believe God himself spoke to them and told them to go to war. This is one of the negative things I feel can be negative about religion.

Of course the atheist tyrants we've had are no better. The difference being their atheism wasn't a motivating factor for their actions. Perhaps anti-theism was. But as you say, men are capable of great evil. Whatever their beliefs or whatever they use to justify it.


edit on 5-5-2015 by WakeUpBeer because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 07:28 AM
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originally posted by: borntowatch
Conversely I was a thieving violent little mongrel, didnt not believe in God but certainly didnt care.
i grew up in a spiteful family and angry home. learned that anger and how to show no sadness and compassion,.
Self was all I cared about
Once someone preached the gospel of Jesus to me and I heard it, years later a christian befriended me and I started going to church, I have been going since.
It's true that i am no saint, no perfect christian, years of abuse and anger and problems I have had to overcome, slowly slowly, its hard and it takes time but where I am now to where i was.

Yeah

I met a girl once who was abused at her school as a little girl, her life spiraled, she was into self abuse and hated herself. horrible story, One day she found Jesus and found herself, again no overnight miracle. from what i have heard she is growing in self respect and life.

Ghost feel free to tell your story but dont make this thread a lie.
Christianity has helped many.


I have heard so many stories from thieves, murderers, and violent criminals, finding religion and making thier lives "better". If you need the fear of the boogie man to keep you straight, then by all means keep it up. You will never find more devoutly religious folks, than the ones recently locked up for violent crimes. They are so godly. They are the ones who want forgiveness the most. This is how religion works. Everyone feels like a piece of crap at some point but when you've hurt someone so bad that they won't forgive you, why not ask an invisible sky buddy to forgive you instead and then you can pretend your not a piece of # anymore.

As for your friend, such a horrible story. That sort of trauma is hard to come back from. Religion becomes the blanket she can hide her head under so she can pretend the world is safe, then by all means, she can have it.

I have spent my life trying to unthread all of the fantasy bull# programming out of my head. Sometimes it's hard to believe what people will tell themselves so they don't have to deal with the world as it is.
edit on 5-5-2015 by Woodcarver because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 07:49 AM
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Great story wakeupbeer. Watching dawkins, dilahunty, Ra, Hitchens and others helped me put my beliefs in perspective. They let me know that there were others who were as passionate about the truth as i was. I didn't know how to express all of the things i was thinking when i was younger. There were no atheist support groups or shows i could watch to get the knowledge i wanted. They put in a lot of leg work and opened up a lot of resources i would have never had without them.


a reply to: WakeUpBeer



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 08:08 AM
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S/F Ghost!

I'm here, just to let you know. My story is readily available on ATS, but right now I don't feel that posting it again would be helpful, as many Christians get upset just seeing my avatar.

I agree with you entirely. The main thing I have an issue with is teaching a religious myth to children. Children are not equipped to understand the nuances, metaphors, and line between facts vs speculation. Religion is for adults. If people are exposed to it in their teens, and make a genuine choice about whether they'd like to accept the dogma, that is one thing. It is invariably the people who were taught that "only one way is correct and all others are wrong" that are damaged and have to struggle to leave it behind.

Adults have enough life experience to consider the options and decide which advice or belief system to accept. Kids do not. You see, parenting is the key, not churching. borntowatch's story is poignant and powerful, but I have to ask, "Where were his parents? Why didn't they guide him toward more productive behavior?" It isn't "church" that kids need, it's capable parents, critical thinking skills, and unconditional support and guidance. And that goes back to 'family systems'....every generation carries forward the quirks and dysfunction of their predecessors, and it takes a strong person to look at their 'family history' and see it for how it affected their own lives and narrative.

Truly, even ONE adult in a child's life who is able to provide that kind of nurturing is enough to tweak the trajectory just a bit, and can make a difference. Kids need caring adults who pay attention to them and adapt to the child's style of learning and help the child identify their own strengths, weaknesses, emotions, personality, etc. and that the child is "good enough" without being perfect or expected to live up to some impossible standard. Without that, we would all flounder. It's the shaming and torture/destruction part that doesn't help. It just doesn't help anything for a little kid.

The fact that many who hit rock bottom (whose lives are out of control) turn to Religion to prop themselves up for lack of anything else that works is testament to how it can help. Some people even feel that without religion they would "become" mass-genocidal maniacs - so, whatever. There are better ways to learn how to cope with life and overcome weakness, but for some I guess it's the only thing that works.

Good dialogue. Let's hope it stays civil and respectful.


edit on 5/5/2015 by BuzzyWigs because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 08:14 AM
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a reply to: Ghost147
I did a thread in 2012, in which I shared the "Cliff Notes" version of my story.
One Man's Journey

The bottom line to it is, the truth became more important to me than what I wanted to believe. It was only then I was able to realize I had been living a lie for a very long time. The evidence against any religion or faith on earth being representative of an entity humans refer to as god is overwhelming.



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 08:38 AM
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I was born and Raised into a Christian household.

At the age of 12 I already started the process of free thinking, and escaped the church.

Its ashamed kids are force fed religion. I hope to offer my children all sides of the spectrum.



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 08:38 AM
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a reply to: Ghost147

I think the main reason religion helps people is you are forming a community or group which is fun. Like being in a fantasy baseball league or a book club or whatever. It is socialization with like minded people. I personally believe a huge part of the success of the church is just that alone. Add in some of the Holier Than Though feelings and a certain demographic really starts to like it. Id wager the majority of people who follow Christianity have never read the bible, but have heard plenty of scripture in church. That bothers me a little...to people losing their faith that are Christian id suggest reading the bible...and interpret it yourself...then seek out someone who has studied it for better interpretation. Personally I think its just a good book on moral philosophy with some great stories but if that is what floats your boat then awesome...go for it. I support people being happy more than anything else.



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 08:42 AM
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a reply to: rockpaperhammock


I agree with the ideas that you've posted but...

Its ashame that the majority of Churches and yes I mean majority are full of corrupt people.
Most Churches just revolve around politics and gossip.

Then again who needs a Church to practice their religion.



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 08:55 AM
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a reply to: frostie

Oh sure...its a business. I was telling a friend the other day about this church that was basically going out of business so they changed their sermons to be completely centered around revelations...and people loved it! Lots of money involved...means I don't trust it at all.



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 08:59 AM
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a reply to: rockpaperhammock

"Non-Profit" .. what a joke.

These churches are filled with fake Christians anyway. The ones who attend church purely for the social factor.



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 09:19 AM
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originally posted by: Woodcarver


As for your friend, such a horrible story. That sort of trauma is hard to come back from. Religion becomes the blanket she can hide her head under so she can pretend the world is safe, then by all means, she can have it.

I have spent my life trying to unthread all of the fantasy bull# programming out of my head. Sometimes it's hard to believe what people will tell themselves so they don't have to deal with the world as it is.


Funny how you see it was the boogeyman, it was never the boogeyman I was afraid of, fear didnt motivate my change, it was love that motivated my change.
I was angry at the world, now just sad, sad for people just like you, people who are intolerant and selfish

and seriously woodcarver you would have to be completely mindless to think anyone can cover their heads under a blanket of religion, christian atheism or whatever. There is no fantasy programing, reality is out there in here everywhere.
Has someone cut your eyes out, you have a sack on your head.

The difference is that it will all be over soon, that justice will be done, evil destroyed, wounds will be healed and the broken will be repaired, made anew.

Your assumptions are so invalid it actually makes me pity you.



posted on May, 5 2015 @ 11:49 AM
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a reply to: borntowatch


Funny how you see it was the boogeyman, it was never the boogeyman I was afraid of, fear didnt motivate my change, it was love that motivated my change.

Sure about that? Or were you feeling guilt and shame, and needing someone or something to absolve you of your wrongdoing? Are you sure it was love that motivated your change? Or was it an easing of your conscience that you perceived to be love?


I was angry at the world, now just sad, sad for people just like you, people who are intolerant and selfish.

You keep throwing this accusation around hoping it will stick. The accusation doesn't become true because you have pronounced judgement on someone. You might want to look at the "beam" in your own eye, instead of the "mote" in someone else's eye. You call anyone who disagrees with you and your faith, "intolerant and selfish". Is that what it means to be a good Christian?


and seriously woodcarver you would have to be completely mindless to think anyone can cover their heads under a blanket of religion, christian atheism or whatever. There is no fantasy programing, reality is out there in here everywhere. Has someone cut your eyes out, you have a sack on your head.

People use religion and anything else they can rationalize to blanket their pain and/or conscience. Our society is replete with it. I think it is you who needs to take the sack from your head. I disagree there is no fantasy programming. Christianity is saturated with it. Nevertheless, it is not alone by any means in that respect.


The difference is that it will all be over soon, that justice will be done, evil destroyed, wounds will be healed and the broken will be repaired, made anew.

You mean when god "pours out his wrath" on the heathens, and anybody who has disagreed with you and your faith? You mean when he takes vengeance for you during the "tribulation"? Will that make you feel better, knowing that god murdered billions for you and your fellow believers? That anyone that doesn't belong to the clique doesn't deserve to live? They must be condemned and punished eternally? And yet you speak of intolerance and selfishness?


Your assumptions are so invalid it actually makes me pity you.

I don't think it is Woodcarver that needs to be pitied.

It is this kind of attitude in the church that was instrumental in my conversion from Christianity. The bible is full of intolerance for anyone outside of the groupthink.




edit on 5/5/2015 by Klassified because: edit




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