My transition

(Via Danelle Pack)

My transformation into the Atheist I am today happened in stages.

It started four years ago. I was raised as a Christian, and even called myself born-again. I married a non-believer. He would never have called himself an atheist to my face, but I knew he had doubts. He liked to paint me a picture of believing in a “higher power”. As a “born-again” Christian I felt this was acceptable. I would show him the “true” path. A year into my marriage I started to notice the gap that my faith caused in our relationship. Moved by what I thought was the Holy Spirit, I decided to educate myself on the arguments. I wanted to witness to him. I gathered many Christian apologetic materials and consumed them.

While I was in this fervor, a close and respected friend said to me “Why have you chosen this God, and rejected the others?”. This question stumped me. I had no response. How could I have chosen this God? I hadn’t “chosen” him at all. He was the only one I knew. I scrambled to solidify my knowledge about my own beliefs. I started to read the bible, cover to cover, for the first time.

I was appalled, even disgusted, by what I read. This was not the God I learned about in Sunday school. He was mean, vindictive and sadistic. And this flood, how could there have been a worldwide flood without leaving some kind of scientific evidence? My eyes and mind were opening, slowly. At first I thought I had just “chosen” the wrong God. I even bought "World Religions for Dummies" to research different beliefs.

The turning point was the May 2007 GOP Presidential Debate. The candidates were asked if they believed in evolution. Three raised their hands. For most people it seems it was a shocker that three presidential candidates didn’t believe in evolution. For me it was this reaction that was the shocker. I had no idea evolution was so widely scientifically accepted. I hadn’t realized that this theory had been around for 150 years and was still growing and solidifying. My mind began to expand exponentially and I started to educate myself, not just on evolution, but on physics, astronomy and critical thinking. I realized that this life, this universe, is plausible without a creator. The word “Atheist” still scared me. I started to devour Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, any and every author on the subject and I became a very proud Atheist.

Three months ago I came out to my mother and father. My mother stated she would have rather heard I was dying of cancer than that I was an Atheist. I realize the pain I have caused her, and it still weighs heavily on my heart, but I am now able to have a more open and honest relationship with her. On the flipside, I learned that my father is a closet agnostic and our relationship is closer than ever.

As an Atheist, I have never felt more alive and more grateful for this life.

My Story

(Via Pockets)

I grew up in a loving Christian house; my father went to parochial school until he was in high school. My mom has always been active in church for longer than I can remember.

I started going to the local Catholic Church from the time I was baptized (infant) till I was probably about 4. The rotating priest (our town was too small to have a full timer) was pretty anti-kids so my mom decided that she had had enough and we started church shopping. For a few years we (my mother, younger sister and I, my dad said he did his time in grade and middle school and was out on good behavior). We ended up at the Episcopal Church down the road. It was full (relative term) of really good small town people. (see Eddie Izzard’s portrayal of the Anglican church for a really good representation) As I grew up I became more and more disenfranchised with organized religion. God was never in church, the only awe inspiring moments was walking around in the woods behind my house and coming into a clearing overlooking some valley.

By the time I got to college I had a pretty cynical view on religion. My favorite phrase was a bastardization of Nietzsche “God is dead, and the church killed him”. I got into the business department, while most of my friends that I have made got into science (CS, Chem, Biology). After I graduated I met my wife. She is a twice a year type catholic, not very religious but has a strongly ingrained belief in god. After moving over to the “big city” we moved in and prepared our full mass wedding. At this point I still had a fairly deist view on religion. There was probably some kind of higher power that created us but had lost interest a long time ago.

Ironically my rocket ship to atheism started at Christmas last year, I got an ipod by my in-laws. I started getting into podcasts, particularly science based podcasts. I started off with TEDtalks then moved into the skeptical arena. I started off with Skeptoid hosted by Brian Dunning. This consisted of short (5-15 min) blurbs about various science, pseudoscience and paranormal phenomenon. This took me to Skepticality hosted by Derek and Swoopy. Their podcast is about an hour and is filled with everything skeptical. I think the highlight of the podcasts are the interviews, with everyone from Niel DeGrass Tyson to James Randi to Michael Shermer to atheist rapper Graydon Square.

Through the journey I was exposed to many views and people that I had not heard about, Michael Shermer, James Randi, Phil Plait, The Skepchicks, Scott Sigler, and many more. I learned about and purchased Julia Sweeney's "Letting Go of God".

Lately I have gotten into a routine of keeping up to date with the podcasts I enjoy as well as reading science based nonfiction. I am currently reading "The Science of Good and Evil" by Michael Shermer. It takes a look at individual and group morality from an evolution standpoint, including the origin of religion and the role it played to our ancestors.I have also read "God Delusion" and "God Is Not Great" and have a laundry list of books to acquire.

I have told most of my friends from college that I am an atheist, and more recently I told my wife in definitive terms what I do (not) believe in. She was shocked at first, but we have talked and everything is back to the way it was before, we both love and respect each other. Now we are looking to the future and deciding what is going to be best for our kids when they appear. I would consider myself half in the closet, my family and in-laws don’t know and some of my friends don’t know. But its more of a “you haven’t asked” position. I don’t think if asked I would lie, but I don’t think I am going to get a big A tattooed on my forehead either.

That’s my story; I want to thank this website for the catharsis that it creates for people like me who were “deconverted”. I have to say that I have been moved by quite a few of the previous posts, and am grateful that I came to my conclusion in such a gently way.