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Old 01-08-2013, 07:51 PM
 
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I'm just curious to see what different atheist and agnostics backgrounds were. Growing up, did you ever attend church, or did you grow up in a non-religious household? Is your family(grandparents, parents, etc) religious? If so, what do they think of you not believing? And was there an experience that made you atheist/agnostic today? Just wondering.

If you used to be religious, how old were you when you stopped believing?
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Old 01-08-2013, 07:59 PM
 
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Parents of two separate religions (Dad Jewish, Mom atheistic Protestant). Never attended any kind of services, never baptized, never bar Mitzvah'd. Celebrated both Xmas and Hanukkah, though. None of us four adult kids (born in '51, '54, '57, '61) is particularly religious, though one or two (not me) may believe in some deity. Is this helpful?
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Old 01-08-2013, 08:02 PM
 
Location: Columbia MO
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My parents weren't at all religious (and I grew up in the 50s) but they would go with my maternal grandparents to church on occasion. My father found religion when he got Alzheimers. I am not kidding.

I can't ever recall believing the Christian mythology. Good music, though, and some really nice architecture in Europe, and I enjoy reading the KJV Bible for the richness of the language. But believe in it literally? Never did.
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:23 PM
 
Location: Boone, NC
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I was raised in a not very strict Catholic family. We did go to Mass every Sunday and I went through Confirmation in 8th grade. I had a slow transition, first from Catholicism to non-denominational Protestantism, than the 'liberal' Church of Christ, and I spent a few weeks trying Unitarianism as well. The original crisis of faith was triggered by my mother becoming ill and other traumatic personal events.

However, I didn't just quit in a huff. I did a lot a lot of thinking, a lot of reflection, and a lot of reading. I read through an Apologetic's Bible in it's entirety and C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. Eventually by the beginning of my senior year of high school (August 2011) I stopped attending religious services all together. No big "coming out" moment, just an evolutionary (pun intended) process of self-reflection and study.

My mother is okay with my non-belief, other family members...my aunt especially...are not and are still hostile toward me for it.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:27 PM
 
Location: State of Superior
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Another kid growing up in the 40 s / 50s, that saw early on the Religious teachings were not for me. It was a personal thing, as it always should be. My family was old world, Lutheran based German heritage . I went once to the Sunday services at my Dad's request. ( he never went). I quickly saw that it was not for me. I don't even remember anyone in the family going to church. I am sure way back my grandparents did, it was never discussed.Life on the Farm kept us all busy, even on Sundays.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xboxmas View Post
I'm just curious to see what different atheist and agnostics backgrounds were. Growing up, did you ever attend church, or did you grow up in a non-religious household? Is your family(grandparents, parents, etc) religious? If so, what do they think of you not believing? And was there an experience that made you atheist/agnostic today? Just wondering.

If you used to be religious, how old were you when you stopped believing?
I think you will find a pretty wide variety of experiences here. I come from a very religious family.
I cannot remember a time in my life when we did not attend church. I was "saved" at 4, rededicated my life at 7 (just in case I was not cognizant enough for the first one to count), baptized shortly thereafter. I was active in Awana, my entire family did BMA (Bible Memory Association), participated in Good News Clubs. As I got older my entire family was intimately involved in church we were there every time the doors were open and sometimes when they were not (we had keys ). I was homeschooled from the 5th grade through the 12th grade, my family had nightly devotionals, we studied, prayed, and served together. We sang in various churches in the area, and I helped lead worship in a couple churches. When I went to college, I was very active in the Baptist Student Union, and the Assemblies of God Fellowship, as well as my local church. I met my wife while leading praise and worship for a student rally. I played in a Christian Rock band for local youth functions. over the next several years, my wife and I were very involved with our local churches. I was on the church council, led worship, and was involved with a local Christian school.

I was a very devout believer, who studied very hard to understand the Bible. Because of that I went on a doctrinal journey from Southern Baptist, to the Assemblies of God, to a more Reformed Baptist stance. I fervently sought God, and had many experiences that, at the time, I believed were God's supernatural interventions in my life.

Eventually I hit a combination of burn out, church politics, and a lack of follow through from God on the things he clearly promises in the Bible. Slowly I began to see that there was a total lack of actual activity by God in not only my life, but the lives of everyone else I knew. They were not better people for knowing God, they were not being supernaturally conformed into His image. Instead they reshaped God into the image that was demanded by their doctrines. At some point I gave up. I prayed to God and said, " I am so tired. I have prayed, I have sought, I have studied, I have put my whole heart into finding you. There is nothing else I am able to do, nothing else I have to give." I got nothing in response. I was forced to come to the conclusion that God either does not save by grace alone and asks more than I can give, has predestined me for hell, or does not exist. Over time I was able to see that most of what I believed was essentially programmed into me. I was experiencing life in a certain way because of my preexisting belief, and not believing because God actually did anything.

In a way I have a conversion experience, because once I stopped worrying about what God expected of me and followed my own conscience and reason I have had a much greater experience of the "Fruit of the Spirit" e.g. peace, joy love, patience, understanding, and the like. Leaving my faith has made me a better, more fulfilled person. Both my wife(she deconverted about the same time as well) and I would agree that I am a better person for having left my faith behind.

I am not sure what my family thinks. I have made a conscious effort not to rub it in their faces. I will not lie about it, but I don't go out of my way to discuss religion with them. It is not worth damaging the relationship by arguing against a faith position.

-NoCapo
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:29 PM
 
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Eventually I hit a combination of burn out, church politics, and a lack of follow through from God on the things he clearly promises in the Bible. Slowly I began to see that there was a total lack of actual activity by God in not only my life, but the lives of everyone else I knew. They were not better people for knowing God, they were not being supernaturally conformed into His image. Instead they reshaped God into the image that was demanded by their doctrines. At some point I gave up. I prayed to God and said, " I am so tired. I have prayed, I have sought, I have studied, I have put my whole heart into finding you. There is nothing else I am able to do, nothing else I have to give." I got nothing in response. I was forced to come to the conclusion that God either does not save by grace alone and asks more than I can give, has predestined me for hell, or does not exist. Over time I was able to see that most of what I believed was essentially programmed into me. I was experiencing life in a certain way because of my preexisting belief, and not believing because God actually did anything.
I could have written this paragraph. It describes the process in which I currently find myself.
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Old 01-09-2013, 02:29 AM
 
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I am an atheist because I grew up in a religion-free household.
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Old 01-09-2013, 05:09 AM
 
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I was never religious at any time. In fact I was a little slow to realise that other people were. I thought the bible that was read to us in school was just "story time". I read a LOT when I was that young so it seemed natural to me that other people would read their stories too.

Then, as now, I found there were a lot better stories (fiction and non fiction) than what was being read at me by teachers and from the pulpits. Certainly a lot better and less insulting to our intelligence and humanity than the Jesus myths.
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Old 01-09-2013, 06:41 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by dmills View Post
I could have written this paragraph. It describes the process in which I currently find myself.
Same here, except I'm the end product of that process.

I grew up in Bible churches (IFCA = Independent Fundamentalist Churches of America). I attended an IFCA Bible Institute (Grand Rapids School of Bible & Music, now-defunct little sister to Chicago's Moody Bible Institute). "Saved" at age 5 in a Good News Club, and like NoCapo, pretty much in church whenever the doors were open. Was church pianist and organist in various churches. Edited a church newspaper and ran the offset press myself (dating myself here). Taught Vacation Bible School as a high schooler. And so forth.

The incredible self-absorbed hubris of fundamentalism undid me as much as anything. I seriously believed that prayer and faith handled everything. I met and fell in love with a woman who had some mental issues but I had been taught that all that mattered was that you married a "good Christian girl" and god would take care of the rest. Her mental health deteriorated gradually, she refused all treatment and counseling, and after 15 years dealing with schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder I finally took my two children, then 14 and 7, and left her (waking up with someone standing over you with a butcher knife has a way of clarifying what one must do, however taboo and unthinkable). The stigma in my mind of divorce, the death of the dream of being a one-woman man for life, the obvious failure of god to come through for my wife, all combined to destroy my faith -- although it took another decade and a half and the loss of my second wife, a devout Methodist, to a bizarre rare illness, to get me to fully let go of my old identifications.

It was particularly difficult for me, given how my expectations were set, to let go of the orderly fundamentalist narrative of How Life Is Supposed to Work: love god, serve him, pray and study Bible regularly = guaranteed success. Once I heard a pastor opine that the church is the only army that shoots its own wounded ... it was one of the few honest declarations ever to come from a pulpit. In Fundy-land, if your life goes to (expletive deleted), then it's your fault somehow -- or Satan's fault, but he can only operate if you "give him place" to do so. On the other hand if all goes well, God takes the credit, because it'd be prideful, ya know, to acknowledge your own hard work or good decisions or even just plain dumb luck. It's a system of thought and practice that strips people of their personal dignity and worth and cedes it all to god by way of his intermediaries on earth.
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