How Does Your Background Influence Your Atheism?

Interesting question posed by fuzzybunn on Reddit:

Are atheists the world over the same?

Would you expect an atheist raised in a Buddhist or Hindu context to have similar beliefs as one raised in a Christian context?

Let’s expand it a bit more.

How is a second- or third-generation atheist different from an atheist coming from a religious background?

How is a person who came to atheism at a young age different from one who became an atheist when he/she was older?

How is atheism different for the person who came to the “God may not exist” realization by himself or herself, compared to a person who was convinced of that fact by someone else?


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com Bad

    At least back a decade ago, it was often noted that there are atheists that were raised in Catholic schools, and then there is everybody else. For some reason, Catholic school engenders a level of spite for religion that many atheists with liberal Protestant backgrounds generally just don’t “get.”

    I think you see this dynamic a lot less these days, in part because of the huge influx of younger atheists at the bottom who are as fired up about being anti-religious as the old Catholic stereotype, and a few prominent voices at the top who also fit the profile, but as far as I’m aware, break the stereotype in that they didn’t go to the Catholic school.

  • Jason

    I can only judge this based on my personal experience and my relationship with other atheists I know, but it does seem that ex-Catholic and ex-fundamentalist Christian Atheists seem to be more vigilant and aggressive than other Atheists. Also, where you are from/where you live seems to be a major factor. When I lived in the States, it seemed that the Atheists there were far more aggressive than the ones in Korea, where I live now. Oddly, the Atheists I know who came to it themselves at a young age seem to be more friendly than those who came to it in college or via influence from others.

    Of course, I have no proof for any of this… it is simply what Ive experienced.

  • i.p.

    Speaking as someone who came to the conclusion ‘there is no god(s)’ one would have to say that the ‘first’ generation atheists are on the whole much more activist and interested. Mostly because the cause is more personal for them.

    [disclaimer: all of the above are 'opinions', held by no-one in particular...]

  • Sondra

    I think there is some truth to the Atheist-raised-in-Catholic-School stereotype, simply because the Catholic church and Catholic parents can be so oppressive to differently-minded people.

    I was catholic and home-schooled, so I got a double-dose of religious brainwashing every day, and I remember feeling very resentful about it. And while I can be very vitriolic when talking about religion to the non-religious, I tend to not to argue with religious people in general because it always feels so pointless.

    Another reason I don’t like to argue with religious people comes from the fact that other peoples’ beliefs were forced on me throughout my entire childhood. I know how frustrating and annoying that can be, and I hate pushing it on someone else.

    That said, the minute people start going on about “the decline of morality” because of teaching of evolution or the ten commandments not being displayed publicly, I either get all fired up or get all fired up and leave the room, depending on the company.

  • Jonathan

    Briefly, I went to a school with religious affiliations for a time, though I wasn’t aware of religion to the extent that I am now. For a time, I prayed before going to bed and worried about going to hell. At some point, perhaps when I was 9 or 10, I seriously started to question the bible, then religion, and finally god. What’s interesting is that while this transition was frustrating, it wasn’t particularly difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I resented religion, but for quite a while I was content to be a relatively quiet atheist until I was much older. For many others this wasn’t the case. They had to bleed before they came out the other side. Relationships ended, families were broken … lots of emotional stuff that I didn’t have to deal with.

  • sasha

    i’m from a hindu background. my family is very secular though (we live in canada) and i think my dad is actually an atheist but is just “culturally” religious. my mom is kinda crazy though and seems theistic. its funny because she doesnt even seem theistic in the “hindu” sense. she believes in all this new-age nonsense and considers accupuncture to the solution to all life’s medical ailments. she also attributes everything to god’s punishment and prayer, which is very disturbing.

    anyways since the rest of my family is hardly religious at all i wouldnt really have a problem saying “i dont believe in god” if the topic ever came up :s at least.. my brother would agree with me for sure and my dad would probably concur

  • Pseudonym

    I feel a bit silly chiming in here, but…

    I’m not an atheist. I was brought up in a liberal Christian denomination.

    I really do think, though, that if I was brought up conservative Catholic or some brand of fundie, I would be an atheist now, and probably quite an angry one.

  • Mark C.

    How is a second- or third-generation atheist different from an atheist coming from a religious background?

    I’d think it would be similar to the ways in which immigrants to the U.S. or the Founding Fathers were different from pro-democratic republic people today–namely, the former had experienced tyranny and were aggressive about freedom, but the latter are passive because they already have it. The only difference, or at least the major difference, in the present-day scenario is that no matter what the religious views of one’s family members, almost everyone else is religious.

    How is a person who came to atheism at a young age different from one who became an atheist when he/she was older?

    The young deconvert is probably more comfortable, less anxious, less conflicted, etc., simply because they’ve had more time to let the knowledge sink into others’ heads if they came out early on. I would also guess that they’d feel less inclined toward activism because of this, and because they have fewer commonalities with those who deconvert later on.

    How is atheism different for the person who came to the “God may not exist” realization by himself or herself, compared to a person who was convinced of that fact by someone else?

    Well, for one, assuming the one who convinced the person was an atheist, the latter scenario at least ensures that there is one other person with similar opinions to talk to, whereas the former scenario makes no such guarantee. Though I’m sure there would be different implications for emotions present among these two scenarios, I can’t make any more informed guesses.

  • Adrian

    I think there are huge differences between atheists in different countries. In the US especially in cities where there is a very strong religious culture, atheists tend to be strong free-thinkers who have thought about the issues deeply and chosen, often through rationalism, to reject religion. It’s not an easy choice and it’s not taken lightly.

    But in other parts of the world like much of Europe and even in parts of Canada where I grew up, religion is more sort of a curiosity or a quaint part of our cultural history. There, atheists are much more common and so many haven’t seriously thought about theological questions or haven’t had the pressure to join. I’ve met some wild kooky, irrational atheists. Just look at much of the New Age movement – many of them are atheists, but are as irrational as the day is long (and it can get pretty long up north).

    Sam Harris has talked about a world where the word “atheist” ceases to have meaning. That is already the case in many people’s lives, but when that happens, the irrationality and gullibility doesn’t disappear, it gets redirected.

  • http://amiable-atheist.blogspot.com amiable

    all i know is that i am from a southern baptist family and i am quite passionate about my atheism. and i live in germany surrounded by other atheists who don’t really give religion a second thought.

    perhaps american atheists have more to be angry about than atheists in other parts of the world.

  • Ada

    There are most definitely cultural differences.

    I live in Denmark, which is said to be one of the most atheistic countries in the world, but I (an American) don’t really agree with that description. People here are apathic about religion. I don’t consider a person an atheist unless they actually believe that the likelihood of the existance of a deity is negligible. That’s quite a bit different to me than just not caring if there’s a deity or not. I don’t know many native people here who would actually tick the “atheist” box on a survey, though they probably live their lives with little, if any, more spirituality than I do.

  • SarahH

    I’m not an atheist. I was brought up in a liberal Christian denomination.

    I really do think, though, that if I was brought up conservative Catholic or some brand of fundie, I would be an atheist now, and probably quite an angry one.

    It seems like you’re implying that atheists from Christian fundamentalist backgrounds have been victimized/traumatized in some way that turned them away from Christianity and that, had they been from “liberal” Christian homes like you, they might still be Christians. You sound genuinely sorry for them, and I think that’s nice in a way, but also pretty condescending.

    I think that for a kid who’s naturally inquisitive and skeptical, growing up in a fundamentalist home highlights the inconsistencies and logical problems with religious belief even more clearly than in a less vehement environment. Liberal Christians, IMO, do have a lot of moral high ground over fundamentalists who emphasize hell and conversion and sin constantly and don’t do anything productive.

    Still, that doesn’t mean that liberal Christianity is somehow immune from rational criticism, and I think it’s a bit… off-kilter to suggest that fundamentalism spawns angry atheists who might have been progressive, liberal Christians otherwise. The atheists who grew up in fundie homes might be more angry, but I don’t think their atheism is usually a direct result of the type of religious home they were raised in as a child.

    I was raised as an evangelical fundamentalist and it took me years to make the transition from those beliefs to liberal Christianity, liberal Quakerism, agnosticism and eventually atheism. I think my upbringing left me with some rare insight into the fundamentalist Christian community and real empathy for people, like my family, who truly believe that sinners are going to a horrible hell. I understand their motivations and can see more nuances in what’s often perceived as one-dimensional offensive behavior. I don’t think I would still be a Christian if I’d grown up with liberal Christian parents – taking college courses in religious studies, philosophy, psychology and neurology are what led me to my current beliefs and conclusions, not some sort of rebellious backlash against a traumatic upbringing.

  • http://www.deliberatepixel.com Jen

    I was raised in an entirely secular way, but I don’t think that means someone else “convinced” me to be atheist. No one ever told me there was no god. There was simply an absence of religion, and that meant I explored many different ideas on my own. I experimented with Christianity, because that was the larger context I lived in, and I tried various denominations. I also studied Buddhism. Nothing ever stuck (although many Buddhist ideas still make more sense to me than any others). I always came to realize that I simply didn’t believe it, or have any need to believe it.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    I’d like to hear from atheists raised under the Soviet Union.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    I’ll add my own anecdotal story. I’m a 2nd generation atheist from the American South (formative years in the deep South). So even though I had no de-conversion experience, I had to deal with the religious pressures of the community at large. For example, I remember to this day of sitting in a circle in kindergarten and the teacher having all the kids tell the group which church they went to. As everyone spoke-up in turn around the circle, I was in terror about what I was going to say. That was tough for a kindergarten kid.

    In high school, almost every fundi girl took it as a personal mission to convert me and get me to go to church. I guess I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the “true believers” after that. I liked the attention. As a reaction to this, I made a tee-shirt that said “I swear to God I’m an atheist”.

    Recently, my wife (who is a conservative “liberal Christian”) starting wanting to take the kids to church, any church. One of her friends got her to start going to a church which had sermons tailored for the “unchurched” which sounded seductively attractive. But the congregation was filled with the same fundi-types I knew so well back in high-school. My own blog is a reaction to my experiences of going to this church and the small group we joined. I like the people. They just believe crazy things… like biblical literalism… demons and all.

    In summary, as a 2nd generation atheist, I have normally kept my thoughts about religion to myself through most of my life. Only through conflict with the larger religious community, have I publically reacted and become vocal and appeared to some as an “evangelical atheist”.

    I probably wouldn’t have a blog nor regularly be checking in with this website had it not been for my wife insisting that we all go to church. Interestingly, my wife is getting a little tiered of going and my kids absolutely hate going. 3rd generation…

  • Alex

    I’m technically a third generation British atheist, as, although I was not raised specifically to be an atheist, both my parents and grandparents have been atheists.

    I came to my beliefs through rejection of various religious doctrines and my study of science and philosophy, as my parents were encouraging of my investigations, even taking me to a Hindu temple.

    I consider myself an antitheist, simply due to my hate of untestable dogma presented, and acted upon, as fact, which extends beyond the scope of religion.

  • Almond

    It seems like you’re implying that atheists from Christian fundamentalist backgrounds have been victimized/traumatized in some way that turned them away from Christianity and that, had they been from “liberal” Christian homes like you, they might still be Christians.

    I think there might be some truth to the idea that “liberal” Christians might be less likely to deconvert, simply because they don’t have to think as much about what Christianity entails.

    When I was still struggling to achieve faith, I often wished that I could be a Christian without having to accept the literal truth of the Bible, and it was my knowledge of the Bible that created most of the struggle in the first place. I think if you could just take comfort in the idea of a God who loves you and is taking care of you without worrying about the nonsense His Word lays out for you, there would be a lot less incentive to buck the tide and think through your faith.

  • Robin

    My sister and I were raised in a secular family more or less as atheists, although in retrospect, I think that that may have been kind of an accident. My father was raised Catholic and is still mad . . . My mom’s family was pretty dysfunctional, and it’s still unclear to me what her parents tried to raise her as. Consequently, they didn’t push us in any direction at all. Interesting experiment.

    I was really interested in mythology and folklore as a kid, so by the time I cracked a bible in highschool, I was pretty well versed in all the earlier stuff, which seems to be a fairly unique perspective.

    When I was younger I was more pushy about telling people. I think that’s the age when talking about yourself and arguing different points of view is most exciting, and a healthy part of development. I never felt angry about it though. (I did grow up and go to school in the Northeastern part of the country.)

    Now that I am a little older, that part does not seem as important to me. I’m more interested in the political implications. One thing that I do notice is the community aspect. I have moved around a bit in my “young adult” years, and those with religious practice have an instant community waiting for them where ever they go: a new church.

    PS Jeff – When I was a little younger and single, I felt about the Christian Coalition boys the way those fundi girls felt about you. Must be a girl thing.

  • http://merkdorp.blogspot.com J. J. Ramsey

    In my case, I had mostly positive personal interactions with most of the Christians, who were mostly to the right of our own Mike Clawson but to the left of the Religious Right, so I didn’t have quite the chip on my shoulder about Christianity that I’ve seen other atheists have.

  • Darryl

    Ideological commitment is directly proportional (most of the time) to the effort expended to gain it.

    This is why it’s easier for the person raised in a religion, who has led a comfortable life, to let go of faith than it is for the recovering drug addict that was only saved by his religion. And why older African Americans that struggled with racism and fought the fights to desegregate the South and get civil rights can’t so easily let go of their view of America.

    This is why the followers of a movement are bound to be less committed as time passes than the leaders that started the movement. Which is also why our form of government is slipping through our fingers–who is prepared to say today “Give me liberty or give me death?”

  • Aspentroll

    I live in Canada, probably one of the least religious places in North America.
    I have been an atheist all of my 73 years and because of that I do not worry about all the things
    that can not be proven at his time. I think that only people who have been indoctrinated into religion have these worries. It seems really simple for me to decide which of the two sides to believe. I really cringe when I hear what the religious people believe about how everything happened and other supposed facts of the bible. Common sense dictates that the scientific view is the easiest to swallow, at least for me.
    The definition of atheism is simple, no belief in any god(s) or supernatural entities.
    Since I have never seen any god(s) or anything supernatural, I naturally believe they don’t exist. All religious people pray about just about everything, if they were truthful they would all say that it doesn’t work. I will be a believer when “God” suddenly decides to show up for work and actually does something credible. My proof would be: all amputees with their limbs regrown, all cancer
    gone forever, all human problems corrected, etc. Until then I am content to
    go on as I am, being a good living person without regrets or worrying about an imaginary Hell or Heaven. I put it all down to
    freethinking.

  • Xeonicus

    One thing that I wonder… when people lose faith in their religion what makes them opt to follow no religion as oppose to another religion? I know that during the process in which I slowly lost my faith, I tried on buddhism and even wicca (lol) for awhile.

    Another thing I’m sensing is that a lot of people seem to indicate conversion to atheism is more likely in the case of an oppressive, guild-ridden religion like catholicism or fundamentalist christianity, and less likely in the case of a casual, liberal protestant religion.

    I see the logic in that, although in my case that’s not how it worked out. I was raised in a fairly laid back, liberal methodist environment. My grandma was pretty religious, and my parent’s took my brother and I to church fairly often, if not regularly (though our attendance was sporadic). I think my mom was more interested in taking us to church when we showed interest in it, but had no real agenda as far as forcing it on us. When we lost interest, she stopped taking us.

    I “think” I believed in God up until I was about 18, though there was that little nagging voice in the back of my head that kept asking “are you sure this is for real?”. I joined a “bible club” in high school for a brief time, and I think it was an effort to try to convince myself it was true and explore it in-depth. As you can guess, it didn’t convince me… in fact, it had the opposite effect.

    For awhile, mostly in college I started believing that maybe there was an ambiguous “divine” force that ruled the universe, or that “maybe” such a thing existed. This eventually evolved into me realizing I was agnostic, though at the time I didn’t fully understand what that meant. Later, within the fast few years (i’m 26 now), I fully realized I was more or less an atheist. I don’t really feel any different now than I use to though… I wonder if, while growing up,I was always just an atheist searching futilely for the mystical and never finding it.

  • Darryl

    When I was still struggling to achieve faith, I often wished that I could be a Christian without having to accept the literal truth of the Bible, and it was my knowledge of the Bible that created most of the struggle in the first place. I think if you could just take comfort in the idea of a God who loves you and is taking care of you without worrying about the nonsense His Word lays out for you, there would be a lot less incentive to buck the tide and think through your faith.

    While I was transitioning away from faith I did ponder the possibility of being a liberal Christian. I thought that since I had devoted so much time to religion such a faith would permit me to jettison the unbelievable without losing everything I had accomplished. I knew that many people took this option, whether they were deliberate about it or not. But, in the end, I couldn’t do it. A liberal Christianity just didn’t give me anything worth the trouble that I could not get, and far better, elsewhere, except for the community–I miss that still.

    I have pondered over the years about religion and its persistence here and how I ought to regard it, since it’s a fact of life. Joseph Campbell suggested that new myths might arise that would take the place of the old myths that we know as the great faiths. I’m not so sure. We may be living in a time when new faiths of such power that they spread the world over are no longer possible. We may simply continue to revise and extend what faiths we already have.

    Being surrounded by believers I am bound to recognize the compelling narratives and stories transmitted in the great faiths. It must be that these stories provide enough benefit to believers so as to overcome religion’s worst aspects and outlast its primitive features. For the “common man,” his religious practice provides perhaps the only occasion for him to separate his mind periodically from the crude world and reflect upon ethical and transcendent values in solitude and in society of his peers. Religion becomes the place of thought, meditation, silence, and contemplation of what is most vital and what is good, and of ethical action. It becomes a place of restoration and refreshment. Perhaps any good story would do as a frame on which to hang all this, but, for better or worse, we have what we have.

    Religion used to be all this for me, nevertheless I have gone beyond it, and I’m a better person for it. There is nothing better than to be fully alive, and one cannot be that unless the mind is free. I had to shed my religion to free my mind. It is entirely possible to devote oneself to a religion and have a free mind. Strange but true.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    You can chalk me down as one of the deconverted “liberals”. I went to a Jesuit Catholic high school. If you didn’t know, the Jesuits have a long tradition of promoting education, and are considered to be the intellectual part of the Catholic Church. I deconverted at the end, because I guess I was disappointed at how poor apologetics are.

    As for how I turned out, I’m one of those strongly skeptical-aligned atheists, and I’m not particularly anti-religious, though obviously I still care about the issue.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    As for the deconversion rate of fundamentalists vs “liberals”, there are statistics that definitively show that fundamentalists have a poorer retention rate than other Christian denominations (though not all these deconversions are to nontheism). But they still have a net growth rate because of a high rate of conversion. (I cite my current reading, The Authoritarians, p128).

  • Pseudonym

    Sarah:

    It seems like you’re implying that atheists from Christian fundamentalist backgrounds have been victimized/traumatized in some way that turned them away from Christianity and that, had they been from “liberal” Christian homes like you, they might still be Christians.

    I’m implying nothing of the sort. Like everyone else on this thread, I only speak for myself and my own experience.

    Having said that, I do agree that if you haven’t been victimised, and you haven’t ever been force-fed anything that’s intellectually dishonest or objectionable, and have been taught to think for yourself, then there’s essentially no reason to be hostile to your upbringing.

    I know some atheist ex-liberal Christians. The one thing they all have in common is that none of them feel the “New Atheist” anger.

    Mind you, this might have something to do with living in a fairly secular country. Americans, in a sense, have far more reason to be angry about the way that religion is manipulated in some parts of the political sphere.

    Darryl:

    While I was transitioning away from faith I did ponder the possibility of being a liberal Christian.

    Speaking personally, I think that very few, if any, people would have much reason to “convert to” liberal Christianity. As an observation, most of those who do tend to be middle-aged people who are trying to rediscover spirituality, possibly as part of an “is this all there is?”-type mid-life crisis.

    We liberal Christians don’t go seeking people out. (We do seek out the needy, like the hungry and the homeless, and try to service their needs, but that’s a different issue.)

    Instead, on “spiritual” matters, we just try to be there if someone comes to us looking. I hope we can help them find what they’re looking for.

    Perhaps any good story would do as a frame on which to hang all this, but, for better or worse, we have what we have.

    I think there’s a lot of truth in that. Lots of stories follow the Campbellian mythological structure, and people really do seem to spend an unusual amount of time taking part in those stories. Just take a look at a Star Trek convention.

    miller:

    You can chalk me down as one of the deconverted “liberals”. I went to a Jesuit Catholic high school. If you didn’t know, the Jesuits have a long tradition of promoting education, and are considered to be the intellectual part of the Catholic Church. I deconverted at the end, because I guess I was disappointed at how poor apologetics are.

    The Jesuits are fairly liberal, yes, though not as liberal as this Protestant.

    I think their problem is precisely the problem of focussing on apologetics. To most liberals, religion isn’t something you believe in, it’s something that you do.

    Anyway, I’ll bow out now and let people talk about their backgrounds and their atheism. Thanks for your contributions, everyone, I’ve found them fascinating!

  • Aj

    It’s a rationalization to suggest that “angry” atheists have been hurt by religion. To protect the faith of the believer. They don’t have to consider that what they believe is bullshit, if they refuse to believe that their are rational atheists with reason to lack belief. For similar reasons some religious people refuse to believe that there are atheists, they believe atheists secretly believe in God.

    Many of the most damning criticism of religion comes from the British, many from secular families, taught in one of the most liberal forms of Christianity imagineable. If you read them, they’re angry at the harm religion does, and it seems to me if you’re not angry about that, you don’t give a shit about people. There points about religion being irrational nonsense are not presented in an angry way, it’s presented in a way that makes it clear they care about what’s true. Sometimes merely caring is seen as angry to the apathetic religious.

    Perhaps it’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what anger is, but I suspect it’s prejudice. Many people have been indoctrinated to believe in a stereotype of atheists that biases them in reading atheists in a certain light. Even some atheists are biased in this way, the ones that prefer to call themselves agnostic. They’re always talking about the “shrill” tone of books like the God Delusion. Of course it isn’t, if you’ve read books from other authors on different subjects. A lot of the parts that are meant to be humour are bizarrely mistaken for being “shrill” or “angry”.

    I’ve noted that many atheists who lost faith later on in life have lost it in an irrational way, through the loss of someone, rejecting all religion because the religion they believed was wrong, and seemed to be based on what they wanted to be true.

    Many atheists I know about raised in liberal christianity left faith earlier (early to mid teens, sometimes earlier) than their counterparts from fundamentalist christianity who seemed to wait for college to doubt. Fundamentalists fear college will free their children from indoctrination, they create separate colleges to keep the indoctrination flow steady. I suspect fear is the tool used to keep fundamentalists from questioning their beliefs longer than more liberal christians.

    I guess I’m a second generation atheist, with non-religious parents, that are probably best described as agnostics, they don’t seem to have any views on the subject. I didn’t lose faith, I never believed in the first place, and my position didn’t change to “atheist”, I was always an atheist, I lacked that belief. I still look at it in those terms, I don’t see why I should believe in any religion, they’re all equal claims with no evidence. None of the religions I’ve read about are a great hypothesis that solves anything for me.

  • Aj

    -double post-

  • Pseudonym

    I said I’d bow out, but I think this deserves a clarification:

    It’s a rationalization to suggest that “angry” atheists have been hurt by religion.

    I’m sorry if I gave the impression that I think this is true. It’s no doubt sometimes true, but there are different kinds of anger.

    I think that the biggest mistake that both sides have made is throwing everyone from the other side into the same category, when in fact, there is a huge variety of attitudes and experiences on both sides.

  • Steven Carr

    Personally, I think there is a big difference between atheists who have read the Bible and atheists who have not.

    Atheists who have not tend to say things like ‘Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God;’

    Atheists who have read the Bible tend to say things like ‘Jesus said….’

    It really annoys Christians when Jesus is quoted, rather than praised and worshipped!

  • Mriana

    There is one group of atheists not mentioned here that I have noticed. Some come by it via studying religious texts- ie Robert Price and Dan Barker. I see a vast difference between Dan and his wife- his wife was raised by atheists parents and he was not.

    I can’t quite put my finger on it enough to put it into words, but it seems to me, that those who have studied religion thoroughly and intensely- much like Bob and Dan have- are a bit different. Bob enjoys studying different religions and Dan has studied at least Xianity intensely. I haven’t met too many other atheists, except maybe Richard here, who can use the Bible and maybe other religions in a way that can make some religious people think or even debate them like Dan and Bob can and do. I’ve met many more atheists who could careless about any of it than I have those who have knowledge like those two. I think it takes a lot of talent to say, “Now wait a minute!” and then write or say something in rebuttle like Bob does or even the talent Dan has in debating Xians using their very own book.

    Steven Carr said,

    June 23, 2008 at 12:44 am

    Personally, I think there is a big difference between atheists who have read the Bible and atheists who have not.

    Atheists who have not tend to say things like ‘Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God;’

    Atheists who have read the Bible tend to say things like ‘Jesus said….’

    It really annoys Christians when Jesus is quoted, rather than praised and worshipped!

    Yes, precisely. I see a difference too- a big difference. Personally, I don’t mind being almost as knowledgable as Bob and Dan, although sadly not as knowledgable, because I can get to some Xians and hopefully plant some seeds of doubt that way, even if it does tick them off. I also enjoy learning from people like Bob and Dan too, probably because we have a common background.

  • Darryl

    I studied the Bible and theology intensely until I understood it as well as I needed to, and then up until the point I realized it was not salvageable as a true faith. Once I realized that, and came to an understanding of what it was (as opposed to what it claims to be) in the context of knowledge and experience, I gave up that pursuit as a waste of my life and returned to music, my first love that I never should have abandoned in the first place. Oh, my youthful naiveté–damn those revival preachers! Ah, well, I can’t say that it wasn’t interesting. You do learn a lot about human nature that way, though I wouldn’t recommend it.

    I am yet amazed (though I shouldn’t be) that people still believe that stuff. I wonder if a day will come when the average, educated person wouldn’t think twice about believing a religion?

  • Tim Plausible

    I grew up un-churched in a house where my parents were nominally Christian, but never went to church and never talked about religion except at Christmas (and not much even then). So I had the luxury of growing up questioning, exploring, and generally making up my own mind. I really, really wanted to be a believer for a long time (mostly out of fear of death), but always had the questions. I didn’t completely accept my atheism until after I was out of college.

    It was a long road, but I think it was good and healthy. More people should grow up that way, I think. Allowed to question, seek, and make up their own minds without interference at early ages.

  • http://www.jungeschweiz.blogspot.ch Ebi

    Im was born in Turkey and grew up in Switzerland with two different parents, one who believes only in god who brings justice and peace and happiness and my father who is an striktly atheist. My mother doesnt believe in any religeous things, just that there is a god who is with her through hard times and so on….
    We did grow up in a family without any religeous influence… my mum just believed for herself and my father tried to tell us why he doesnt think there is a god. But he always said you will find out by yourself…
    In Switzerland they thought it would be better to convert to Christianity so we could integrate better. So we went to the church like everybody else. But till I was 12 I didnt really think about religion cause I really had a lot other things on my mind. After that I was very sceptical but didnt know any other kid to talk about that…. I felt like that being in that religion made me get closer to the people there.. so I didnt say anything.
    Now that I am 20, I feel better about coming out with my spectic and be open about my atheism. I do have a lot christian friends but I dont talk about religion with them because I feel like they can believe what they want.They know that I dont believe in god though. It has to be their own decision to convert, if it doesnt come from them it is not true…


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