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Was there a catalyzing event, person or perhaps a book sealing it in your mind forever the abandoning of the religious faith and "crossing over" into agnosticism or atheism?
With me, I had always had problems with the faith thing but just couldn't exactly figure out what it was. After explaining my predicament, a Miami radio talk show host recommended a book for me to read. I was inclined to trust his recommendation as not only was he an Atheist, raised in the Jewish faith, he was also gay. I immediately went out and bought and read the book. It was a VOILA moment. Like blinders had fallen away from my eyes, I understood what it was that I couldn't put my finger on before.
The book is entitled "FAREWELL TO GOD" by Charles Templeton, a former Canadian evangelist getting his start in association with a young Billy Graham. I'll be forever grateful to the man who recommended this book to me. I highly recommend it to whoever else who is on the fence no knowing what to believe.

By TheLiberalGent7
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5

I don't know how many former clergyman are in this group, but I proudly consider myself to be one after 20 years at the altar as a priest in the Anglican Church. It was a gradual process for me, but the one seminal event in my life happened when my wife and I lived in Hyderabad, India for 4 years. While we were there, I thought it would be a perfect time to study all sorts of religions besides my own.

In 2012, I traveled alone to the eastern coast of India to a town called Puri...and a 1,200 year old Hindu festival known as the Jagganatha Rath Yatra. I must say that most Americans are not used to seeing 1.3 million people crowding onto one main street in a small town. In India, or anywhere else!

While I was there, I was surrounded by professional Indians, doctors, lawyers, professors, librarians, you name it. And there they were, worshiping a God that I knew nothing about. They were sincere. They were devout. They were worshipful. And yet the nagging, still small voice in my head kept saying, Hey! You are a priest! Shouldn't you be telling all these people that they're going to hell because they don't worship Jesus? I answered and said to myself, Yeah. Right. That sounds kind of ridiculous doesn't it? And that was the whole point.

I began to question whether or not my mythology was any better than Hindu mythology. Turns out, it's all mythology. All storybook stuff. Day by day after that I began to make my way clear to not practicing as a Anglican clergyman anymore. I am now retired, and living happily as an atheist. I have a lot more free time on Sunday, I'll tell you that!

Wow! I enjoyed this story. I am a big fan of Christian and Hindu mythologies. I have been fondly involved with both Christian and Hindu beliefs, and the study of comparative mythology. Personally, my view is that mythology underlies virtually all of sociological aspects of human life. Its not only including "religion" but a society in all its parts. This is studied more in anthropology though. But personally I started more of a total atheist, but liked the whole fantasy aspect a lot of religion. Like why do people worship fictional things at all? Seems very odd to me. But I see it more like people want to live a life with some supernatural meaning. No one wants to be just a creature bound to this drab species, but a special person with a special mission. So I have tended to explore these facets much more recently.

I agree all religion is mythology. At the same time, because I know some people need it to get by in this world I can support their need to do this.

@argo Absolutely. That is the freedom I have today. I don't have to be Father Scott. I don't have to be right all the time. I don't have to pretend I have all the answers. If I have a religion today, which I don't think I really have one, it is... "Whatever floats your boat". I live in Utah amongst Mormons. 20 years ago I would have found this to be impossible. Today? If they are happy, I am happy for them.

4

George Carlin, he allowed me to laugh at something which was always held in high regards. Once you can laugh at authority though, questioning it soon follows.

Seph Level 5 Apr 18, 2018

Thanks for posting. Carlin has always been a favorite atheist and philosopher of mine.

actually there are many more than 10. The Christian 10 commandments were taken from the Egyptian Book of the dead, so really all of his premises about "only 10" is just not accurate.

@welkden3 ok

4

The day I lost all faith was in a dream. I was a teenager being chased by a monster. Suddenly something clicked in me. I stopped, turned, and roared back at the monster. It ran from me then. I woke, and began laughing. From that day I never felt fear again. Which incidentally is what religion relies on. So I no longer believed in religion, or as I call it, fantasy, again.

Meiliken Level 6 Apr 17, 2018
3

The Mormon church has all its teen members read the bible over a period of two years, old testament one year and new testament the next year. It is supposed to help one's faith. Ironically fo rme, readign the bible just made me conviced it was only a bunch of made up stories. Of course I always had doubts.

I think for a person who has doubts, readign the bible will only confirm and enlarge the doubts. However a person who believes it to tbe true without having read it, will not be bothered by wha they read so much when (or rather if) they do ever read it.

snytiger6 Level 9 Apr 18, 2018

I'm curious ... did they have you do the same with the Book of Mormon (or for that matter Doctrines and Covenants or anything else they regard as god-breathed)? I read some of the Book of Mormon and found it even worse than the Bible in the sense that it seemed to be imitating the style and cadence of the King James Bible but not doing a very good job of it.

I enjoy the made up stories part. Because it really shows how much religions operate under blind trust.

@mordant Well, yeah, the other two years of high school was one for the Book of MJormon and the other for the Doctrine and Covenants & the Perl of Great Price.

The Book of Mormon was an imitation of how the king James version of the bible was written, but unlike the bible the Book of Mormon is one continuous story form one generation to the next, mor elike a novel written in biblical imitation form. If you did nto look at actual history, archeology or science, as a story, the book of Mormon makes a lot more sense and is more logically constructed, mostly because it was doen by a single person. It is unvelievable in the sense of the angels, super natural occurrences, and there was a lot of Western Culture put into it, which did nto exist in pre-Columbian America. Two major things Jespeh Smith got wrong was before Europeans, all trade was done by barter and trade, while the Book of Mormon has the use of coin, and also there were no metal weapons in the Americans prior to European explorers bringing them. There is no evidence that such technology existed, either with bronze or iron, prior to Europeans coming to the Americas. There is also many mistake regarding animal life and crops mentioned in the Book of Mormon, which did tno exist prior to Europeans bringing them. The errors int he Book of Mormon require some education to catch. So, if a person bought into all the god, visions and angels nonsense, unless they were educated well, the falsehoods of the Book of Mormon are a lot harder to detect than with te bible.

@snytiger6 Thanks for the clarification. I can see how single authorship would make the Book of Mormon more internally consistent in some ways, although obviously if impossibilities are written into it, they are still a problem. I learned something from you today, thanks for that!

@mordant I just finished reading "The Portable Atheist", and evidently the Quran also has the single authorship thign goign for it, although from wha tI read, it is a lot mroe inconsistent and full of errors and often lacks continuity. Thsi is in part due to the fact that Mohammed never actually wrote a book, but his aritings from throughout his life were fathered and put together after his death and edited to suit the ideas of the various persons who did this. There were actually many Quran versions. Add to that tha Mohammed often changed his mind and you have lots of contradictions.

Anyway, my point was that single authorship seems to help people believe. The Book of Mormon is much more consistent and has a lot better continuity than other religious booiks.

Another problem I have with the Book of Mormon story is that supposedly Joseph Smith translated it off of ancient writings engraved on flatt metal plates of gold. The Book of Mormon is about 500 pages. From what I have seen when translating to one language to another the page coutn remains about the same even when using an Asian pictogram language and English, the page length does not vary greatly. So, all accounts of the "golen plates" has them about the thickness of about 50% larger than a thick phone book. Yet, there had to be about 500 metal plates thick enough for engraving. That would be much larger than described and also be too heavy for any man to actually lift. Even it were only as large as described it would still be at least 200-300 pounds.

Joseph Smith was quit esimply a con man.

When it comes to other "prophets", in ancient times peopel who were mentally ill were sadi to be "touched by the gods", and it is possible for a metnally ill person to behave and act very functionally, and those persons who heard voices and saw visions which could not be seen by anyone else were simply mentally ill. If you see the movie "A Beautiful Mind", it is about a mathematician who did great work for which he won a Noel prize, while experiencing schizophrenic delusions. Inspiration, as far as religion goes, often comes out of insanity.

@snytiger6 Well stated. I love that John Nash (A Beautiful Mind) learned to identify his hallucinations. He would ask a trusted student or confidant, "do you see a man standing over in the corner staring at me"? And if they didn't see it, then he assumed it was just a hallucination that he could safely ignore.

That is a great metaphor for anyone to ponder. Religion is, I think, actually a default state for most people, it is succumbing to the sloppiness and disordered thinking to which humanity is prone. Learning to identify your biases and illusions / delusions and compensate for them effectively is how you improve your connection with reality. Understanding that you are very prone to confirmation bias, agency inference and the like, means that if you take that seriously you must learn to identify bias in yourself and guard against it -- just as Nash had to guard against his hallucinations.

3

I came to my senses after recovering from a suicide attempt 8 years ago and going off my psych meds. My mystical bent completely evaporated.

3

I enjoyed that book!

Spooner Level 6 Apr 17, 2018
3

Ticks.

TerriCity Level 7 Apr 17, 2018
3

I always thought of religion and going to church as a chore. When I gained a choice on whether or not to spend my Sunday singing songs I don’t like or playing video games the choice was clear to me. After getting a little older, I considered going back to try learning faith again, but the feeling to learn about a faith that has a very judgmental core really didn’t appeal to me. Nothing really clicked with me and I let go of it, in a similar way that Bill Burr described his method of quitting. That being said, I think faith is good for some people. I don’t mind hearing someone’s excitement nor do I mind seeing the positive inspirations that religion can give.

It’s like that awkward moment in curling when ya just let it go!! Ha ha!

3

My "run away from jesus" moment was when my 9 year old autistic brother was diagnosed with cancer. Flash forward 5 years later all is well except a kidney MIA. As a freshman in highschool I couldn't understand why a "loving" god would give a child cancer, troubled me for years and pushed me to question things. The deciding factor was reading the bible, nothing made any sense, if that was supposed to be god's word he's a homocidal maniac.

3

The book that turned me against Christianity, or any other organized religion, was by Thomas Paine. I finished Age Of Reason on a friend’s patio because my younger brother was threatening my life at home. When I closed the book I sighed and was done with that question. At the time I was a baptized Mormon of 4 months. Eventually, and by threat of being mean to any visiting Missionary, I got out of the LDS Church. I’ve never looked back but settled on Zen and become a Dudeist Priest.

rainmanjr Level 7 Apr 17, 2018

Another gem!

3

Cosmos. I read the book the same time the series was on PBS, I was 14

mortalman Level 3 Apr 17, 2018
3

I try not to let my mind get sealed. Once I do that - I can't learn anything new.

HeraTera Level 7 Apr 17, 2018
2

I was born a skeptic.

2

I 'drifted' into atheism fairly early from a Catholic upbringing. I went through a "new Age" phase, still somewhat searching. I was always interested in scientific discoveries & science-fiction, so leaned to a more rational outlook even during my teen "woo" years, which were also filled with psychedelics, so there's that!
I ended up a non-believer, with some philosophy under my belt, but it was sorta just there, something I would usually state as just "I don't believe the stories". After reading Dawkins, Hirchens & Harris, & then Dennett, & now many others, my atheism came into focus. I am a proud & active atheist, with much more grounding & a solidification of what was before very inchohate.
Those books weren't necessary to my unbelief, but they did aid greatly to understand why I didn't & to realize I wasn't alone!

2

The book God is not great... How religion poisons everything... Christopher Hitchens... Sealed the deal for me... raised luthran... NEVER accepted it... not to mention (when I was young) I was scared shitless of Hell...

Thatguyy Level 4 Apr 17, 2018
2

A well-written book may help some to find heir voices on what about religion bothers them. I did not need a book. Simply experiences merged with reasoned analysis to provide a sound basis for rejecting religion.

wordywalt Level 8 Apr 17, 2018
2

When I started school I was given a set of encyclopedia and a dictionary.
That, along with life itself, solidified my nonbelief.

Should add I was never indoctrinated into religion, so I didn't have far to go.

2

Growing up and being a very socially awkward kid.and taking a little longer to read than most kids. When I finally learned I couldn’t stop. I started picking up books way beyond my years. And I had an obsession with the Middle Ages. Knight in shining armor ideaology. But the books I read were real. Showing the truth of the church and what they were actually like. And throughout the years always studying and questioning I started seeing inconsistencies everywhere with the idea of a single god. And even the people that choose that idealism. That life was only about the morals you chose. Not trying to be moral for yourself but for a unknown life after death led to more immoral decisions than if you only believed in being kind because it is the right thing.
So when I was about 13 I made the decision that I will live as moral as I can. But I will not do it to the immoral code of Christianity. And I will spend the rest of my life trying to figure out what is truly right. But I will be the “knight” standing against the tide of major religions and their evil for those who choose smaller ideals.

Ryan86 Level 4 Apr 17, 2018
1

I have not heard of that book.

1

A deceit, not in my own religion, but by a Mormon, that was the final nail in the coffin. However, for my entire life I never really believed, early on it was, if they teach kids there is a Santa Claus isn't that the same as teaching there is a Jesus... or a Moses,,, or Joseph Smith.

Those names you have mentioned did actually existed. Maybe with the exception of Joseph Smith, none of them wrote about their thoughts about themselves. It was always other men who put the words in their mouths. It's the religion that tells people that something you don't see, touch, smell, feel, or taste, exists and wants you to believe it, and to make sure believe it, it has created two places to either punish you for not believing or reward you for believing. Heaven and hell. Again, places from which no one ever came back to attest their existence. From the very beginning men has created the religions to explain the unexplainable because we are mortals and want to believe the end is really not the end.

@coreten We have no proof either Moses or Jesus existed, only Joseph Smith. Yes, there seems to have been someone preaching, I always said "Jesus" was the Billy Graham of antiquity. I never bought the Mary was a virgin fable either. Just imagine your daughter coming home and trying t tell you it was immaculate conception.

1

For me it was a gradual thing. I left Christianity a long time ago (50 years), but still believed in God, though not a personal god. I messed around for a long time with various new age type things, then fell in more with Zen and Taoism, which don't refer to god, but I still believed. But then gradually, through much reading of philosophy and science, I quit believing.

0

Few have heard of Charles Templeton.... he was a right wing theist and suddenly he wrote the book... was a big surprise to to us here in Canada... A long time ago...

blzjz Level 6 May 7, 2018
0

For me it was in 4th grade. I could not articulate what happened to me then, but I remember being shocked and stunned when told by our parish priest during a class disucssion on avocations, that only men could be priests but that girls can grow up to be nuns as brides of Christ if they wanted to. I didn't want to. Being seen by my religion as "less than" made me confront every single "god is all loving" concept I was ever told since birth. It showed me that religion was created by men for men. Ideas and (MY) beliefs came forth as I grew and allowed me to evaluate my relationship with a deity. I have great faith in many things, but I have no faith in religion whose essential need is to identify and diminish my place in this world.

Religion is a business and I am not for sale.

welkden3 Level 4 Apr 19, 2018
0

My deconversion was a long and slow one. I tried, really tried to believe but now that I think about it I always had doubts. I wanted to believe because all of my family and friends believed so it must be true, right?
I thought the problem was with me. That I just didn't have enough faith. Now that I reflect back I can see what the problem was.
I have always been logical and pragmatic. Studied engineering and architecture. I realise architecture is about imagining and creativity but I was( am) a builder first. I studied E and A to better myself at building.
So the whole god thing always had to sit by itself outside of the real world that I worked and lived in on A daily basis.
Finally, the evidence won out and I abandoned my belief. Lost family and friends over it but that is what Jesus said would happen. Right?
Yep. Exactly.

0

Like someone else said, I think I was born skeptic. I was raised in a Christian home, we went to a Methodist church. But from the time I was really young it never made any sense to me. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I learned what agnostic meant though, and atheist. I was an adult before I became really truly comfortable in myself and my beliefs though.

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