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← 'I have never been happier' says the man who won gold but lost God

'I have never been happier' says the man who won gold but lost God - Comments

Big City's Avatar Comment 1 by Big City

Looks like Richard has been doing some research since talking to Bill Heine!

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 10:08:00 UTC | #254457

Jeff (HandyGeek) Handy's Avatar Comment 2 by Jeff (HandyGeek) Handy

I think I need to listen to the interview again.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 10:33:00 UTC | #254475

JerryD385's Avatar Comment 3 by JerryD385

Not only is this fascinating, but it boosts my confidence in the notion that anyone can use critical thinking and reason to overcome delusion.

Attributing winning a gold medal to god leaves a huge emotional impact, and before I read this article I would have assumed that such a thing would overcome any doubts or reason in his mind. As an example, I've heard Bill O'Reily use his career as proof of god. That may have been arrogance more than honesty, but this guy seemed like the real deal. Yet he was able to drop his delusional worldview with critical thinking.

This story should be read by believers, not to rub it in their faces, but to say, "drop the crutches of faith, it will be alright."

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 10:45:00 UTC | #254486

Matt H.'s Avatar Comment 4 by Matt H.

If there is no God, does that mean that life has no purpose? Does it mean that personal existence ends at death? They are thoughts that do my head in. One thing that I can say, however, is that even if I am unable to discover some fundamental purpose to life, this will not give me a reason to return to Christianity. Just because something is unpalatable does not mean that it is not true.

Jonathan Edwards

Well done that man.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 11:12:00 UTC | #254509

severalspeciesof's Avatar Comment 5 by severalspeciesof

Glory be to reason!
And hallowed is its result!

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 11:24:00 UTC | #254517

FatherNature's Avatar Comment 6 by FatherNature

Thanks for this. It's the sort of uplifting news I've badly needed after being assaulted for so long by depressingly irrational politics.

Score one for our team.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 11:26:00 UTC | #254520

Big City's Avatar Comment 7 by Big City

"It was as if during my 20-plus-year career in athletics, I had been suspended in time...I was so preoccupied with training and competing that I did not have the time or emotional inclination to question my beliefs. Sport is simple, with simple goals and a simple lifestyle."

I think this touches on a huge factor of religion. It's easy to live a life without questioning what you were told about existence, to maintain the level of critical thinking that you applied as a child. Especially when you're surrounded by people who agree, it takes no effort to concede. It is much more difficult to essentially pause your belief to think about it.

I think that the 'simple life' aspect is pivotal. 'Do what you're doing and don't complicate things by thinking about outside perspectives.' This is essential to the religious worldview. Coincidentally, I believe it is also conducive to being a Republican.

edit: I do agree with Matt @ 4, though. This is a triumph, and it's inspiring to see him state his reasoning so clearly.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 11:28:00 UTC | #254522

MedMonkey's Avatar Comment 8 by MedMonkey

This story reminds me of the radio episode "Deception" on WNYC RadioLab. They talk about a study which shows that successful athletes tend to deceive themselves more than the average joe and not just about "being the best" and "being invincible", but about anything that otherwise would seem distasteful, such as "Have you ever thought about rape" - answer "No".

There are plenty of problems with the study (surveyers assume everyone at some point thinks about certain things), but it definitely highlights the benefits of living in a delusional fantasy land - these same people also tend to be happier and more content. Are there any studies out there that claim ignorance isn't bliss?

At least Jonothan Edwards gives me incredible hope.

I don't feel that my life has a big, gaping hole in it. In some ways I feel more human than I ever have. There is more reality in my existence than when I was full-on as a believer.

Even though he's British, maybe some of his intellectual candor will cross the ocean and infect this country where it seems athletics and academia are culturally diametrically opposed.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 11:30:00 UTC | #254525

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 9 by Stafford Gordon

I found this so heartening when I first heard about it last year; and I find it no less so now.

Well done him.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 11:41:00 UTC | #254535

Freethinker15's Avatar Comment 10 by Freethinker15

I only found out from a friend that Edwards was an atheist a few months ago, and I couldn't believe it. I had always found him to be so obnoxious with his faith, e.g. when it was reported that god told him to give up jumping. I mean come on, get real.

I'm glad to say that my opinion of him is now changing.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 11:52:00 UTC | #254546

LetMeBeClear's Avatar Comment 11 by LetMeBeClear

Welcome...look forward to seeing you at converts corner.

One problem with conversion is we strive for the most intellectual of people to convert, when we should be desiring ordinary people with average educational background to convert.

I want more articles like this one...displaying the fact that even the average educated person with radical indoctrination can still be healed.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 12:46:00 UTC | #254591

GregPhillips's Avatar Comment 12 by GregPhillips

My respect for this man has just skyrocketted. I can barely believe he is the same man I dismissed as one of the most outspoken Xtians in the media has made such a dramatic turn round!

That just goes to show that Songs of Praise is enough to drive anyone away from God :)

I hate that fucking show.


Tue, 21 Oct 2008 12:54:00 UTC | #254597

D'Arcy's Avatar Comment 13 by D'Arcy

The force of reason got the better of Darwin's belief too. And there are plenty of others whose lives suddenly have no room or time for God. I'm lucky; I never had time for God!

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 13:00:00 UTC | #254605

Vaal's Avatar Comment 14 by Vaal

This is an old story, but an interesting one. I always wonder why one athlete considers God on his side, yet all the other athletes beside him are also praying to their God to win. Who does God choose? The most faithful, or the fastest runner? Is God that bothered to pop down from on high to watch the Olympics? Maybe it isn't Yahweh but Zeus/Jupiter, after all, Mount Olympus was his home.

Even the other week on X-Factor (yes, I am ashamed to say I watched it), one girl was convinced that God was personally responsible for her success. What did God have against the other poor contestant, crushed at losing (and in my opinion, unfairly, as she was a much better singer).

I wonder if it ever crosses her mind that the Creator of the entire Universe could possibly be interested in championing her to win a tacky TV talent show? You would almost think it preposterous :-)

I would remark, that Jonathan Edwards seems to have thrived since he saw the world around him without the rose coloured spectacles of religion. I commend him, especially as it could not have been easy on his family, friends and marriage.

Do you know who he is now Richard? I guess you aren't much of a sports fan :)

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 13:12:00 UTC | #254611

Szymanowski's Avatar Comment 15 by Szymanowski

If there is no God, does that mean that life has no purpose? Does it mean that personal existence ends at death?
Those two conclusions are correct (though the questions are non-sequiturs). Somebody get this man a copy of TGD!

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 13:35:00 UTC | #254626

mmurray's Avatar Comment 16 by mmurray

Great article but it has been posted here before,1340,I-have-never-been-happier-says-the-man-who-won-gold-but-lost-God,Matthew-Syed-The-Times-Online

in June 2007. If the most recent convert to atheism we can find is over a year old we look a bit desperate. I suspect the link to put a comment on the website is a little redundant. (Edit: Actually the link is still active.)


Tue, 21 Oct 2008 14:16:00 UTC | #254647

gazzaofbath's Avatar Comment 17 by gazzaofbath

Wow - I'm interested in sport and I knew years ago that he was a prominent - almost fundimentalist - believer. Wasn't he one of those who wasn't happy taking part in events on a Sunday? He was a great athlete.

This is the first I knew of his atheism - I think it takes a really special mind to have been indoctrinated for much of its life and then to break away in middle age.

I hate to be a points scorer but I think it more than counters the apparent movement of Anthony Flew in the other direction - depressingly, it seems, in his dotage.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 14:42:00 UTC | #254666

amalthea's Avatar Comment 18 by amalthea

First I've heard of this. I always admired him, and many other athletes at the time, but switched off when he was being interviewed. The news may be old, but the basic message is the same, anyone can overcome their childhood indoctrination.

I think it's a point we don't address her too much. I was pretty much agnostic as a kid, then grew into atheism, but I really can't imagine how difficult it is to change from being a dyed in the wool religious type to throwing that all away, dropping the crutches and possibly losing your family.

Congrats and support to anyone who goes through that.


Tue, 21 Oct 2008 15:34:00 UTC | #254701

beanson's Avatar Comment 19 by beanson

He doesn't give a catalyst for his doubt- what did he read, who did he talk to - did he have a Damacene deconversion-

I'd be interested to know (eg did he read TGD?)

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 17:59:00 UTC | #254783

njwong's Avatar Comment 20 by njwong

16. Comment #268241 by mmurray on October 21, 2008 at 3:16 pm
Great article but it has been posted here before,1340,I-have-never-been-happier-says-the-man-who-won-gold-but-lost-God,Matthew-Syed-The-Times-Online

in June 2007. If the most recent convert to atheism we can find is over a year old we look a bit desperate....

I do not find any problems with reposting articles that have been posted before, as there will always be new readers visiting this site for their first time. Reposted articles will still be fresh for the new visitors.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 19:04:00 UTC | #254827

Alternative Carpark's Avatar Comment 21 by Alternative Carpark

So what does he want, a medal?

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 19:52:00 UTC | #254876

aprilmb's Avatar Comment 22 by aprilmb

Maybe there is hope that more will follow the same logic. I shudder when I hear politicians who aspire to world leadership invoke some deity or another, as was the case in Canada after our recent election, and as is happening elsewhere. Which brings me to another point - the headline - "...won gold but lost God." You can't lose something that doesn't exist.

Edit: #22 Alternative Carpark - that's really funny!

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 21:44:00 UTC | #254916

Disbelief's Avatar Comment 24 by Disbelief

Comment #268375

I think he addresses the inspirational value that religion had on him when he said:

"Looking back now, I can see that my faith was not only pivotal to my decision to take up sport but also my success," he says. "I was always dismissive of sports psychology when I was competing, but I now realise that my belief in God was sports psychology in all but name."

I don't think this aspect of religion is a bad thing if it is channeled into triple jumping however if you are a xtian then you also believe that adultery is wrong, gays are evil, women are inferior to men, etc.

Having a positive mental attitude can enable you to achieve great things but you don't have to buy into all the other rubbish that religions espouse.

You don't need god to be great.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 21:55:00 UTC | #254922

Roy_H's Avatar Comment 23 by Roy_H

"Edwards's faith was never an optional add-on. It has been fundamental to his identity �" something that has permeated every fibre of his being �" since his trips to Sunday school in the company of his devout parents; since he went to a Christian youth camp in North Devon and devoted his life to Jesus, tears streaming down his cheeks and his face glowing with divine revelation."

Yes he was suffering from "The God Delusion"! Indoctrinated as a child by devout parents. A classic example of been given a metaphorical set of blinkers to put on.
I here stories like this and it reminds me of that classic scene in "Father Ted"

Even an idiot can see quote: 'its nonesense isn't it?'
By the way, if you have Google Earth and you type 'Father Ted' you can zoom in on the actual house where the series was filmed.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 21:55:00 UTC | #254921

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 25 by mordacious1

"Why the sardines? They have been chosen by Edwards to symbolise the fish that Jesus used in the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. They are, if you like, the physical manifestation of his faith in God."

Sardines ARE a good symbol of christianity. Once you get into it, you notice something smells fishy.

Tue, 21 Oct 2008 22:00:00 UTC | #254923

AForce1's Avatar Comment 26 by AForce1

Whenever one sees successful athletes from Catholic countries like Spain or Poland, they offer some kind of thank you to the sky as if to say "thank you god". Spanish footballers are very fond of kissing 2 fingers and offering them to the sky. Why don't they offer 2 fingers to the sky when they miss an open goal? If god helps them score he must surely mean them to miss. Or am I being too atheist?

Wed, 22 Oct 2008 00:27:00 UTC | #254958

Disbelief's Avatar Comment 27 by Disbelief

Comment #268518

Sorry I misunderstood what you meant by unaddressed.

Specifically it is hard/impossible to be delusion free and simultaneously believe that there is a force greater than yourself backing you in your lofty ambitions, or that achieving your lofty ambitions are your divine purpose in life. As a rationalist, atheist you realize that the universe is pitifully indifferent to humans and their ambitions and that there is no higher power that wants you to succeed in your goal.

I totally agree and the positive mental attitude that athletes try to attain is overcoming their rational mind telling them that they may not actually be the best at what they do.

A little bit of self delusion isn't necessarily a bad thing.
I don't know about Twain but I fear death - I'm not finished being great yet.


Wed, 22 Oct 2008 00:57:00 UTC | #254974

Mrs Gregory's Avatar Comment 28 by Mrs Gregory

As someone who is originally from the north east of England, I saw Mr Edwards on the TV all the time. Generally more often than not he was spouting on about God and Jesus. I remember one Sunday morning watching a BBC programme (a religious one) and Jonathan Edwards was been interviewed. The interviewer asked him as he had just bought a £70,000 Porsche, how did this sit with his Christian principles, especially as people were starving to death in Africa for the want of a pound. After a slight pause Mr Edwards replied he was comfortable about his purchase of said 70k Porsche as god must want him to have it. I nearly fell of the sofa laughing at the man and then I got really angry. You can really justify anything as long as you believe your god wants you to have it or do it.

I'm god smacked (pardon the pun) that he has lost his faith, reading the article its clear that he was indoctorated from early age by his parents; it's no wonder he turned out to be a bible basher. Anyway good for him that he has questioned the lies and Bronze Age myths his parents forced upon him. Reading this article I believe there is hope for other people to cast off the straight jacket of religion.

The world is a fascinating place to live Jonathan and you don't need imaginary friends to make it that way. Your purpose in life should be to live it to the full as we only have a short time but to revel in it.

Wed, 22 Oct 2008 01:09:00 UTC | #254980

Chris Davis's Avatar Comment 29 by Chris Davis

Ha! Proof that all that exercise is bad for your brain:

While he was doing all that running and jumping, his cerebra were receiving too little oxygen - it was all going to his laigs! As soon as he slowed down and relaxed, rational thought returned.

I'm staying here on this couch, lest I suffer the same derangement.


Wed, 22 Oct 2008 02:26:00 UTC | #255014

V'Ger's Avatar Comment 30 by V'Ger

"Just because something is unpalatable does not mean that it is not true"

These words should be tattood on a few people I can think of ;-)

"Mr Edwards replied he was comfortable about his purchase of said 70k Porsche as god must want him to have it"

Brilliant reply! Should have just said "God is a capitalist wanker, fuck dead babies - he loves his cars". Anyway Everybody knows God only drives Alfa Romeo's ;-)

Wed, 22 Oct 2008 02:28:00 UTC | #255016