This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Out of the Darkness - an atheist's conversion story

Out of the Darkness - an atheist's conversion story - Comments

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 1 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 14:20:56 UTC | #904206

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 2 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator - link to blog

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 17:01:03 UTC | #904243

potteryshard's Avatar Comment 3 by potteryshard

While having a conversation of philosophical and forgotten relevance my wife (who believes in neither god nor religion) commented that my atheism wasn't very comforting. This is amusing on several levels, but the significance re this discussion is that free thinking stands in sharp contrast any doctrine intended to provide that false sense of comfort. Free-thinking is not for the intellectually timid.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 17:14:36 UTC | #904245

.'s Avatar Comment 4 by .

Free from the fear of a jealous, nightmarish god

I can relate to that - I remember attending a "Gospel meeting" at a baptist chapel (in Wales) as a teenager, and hearing the preacher talk for an hour, vividly describing how unbelievers would be bodily resurrected and cast by a vengeful, just and holy god into the lake of fire, to burn in agony for eternity.

I find it hard to understand how I ever believed in such a monster, but it shows just how powerful and dangerous religious indoctrination is, particularly when used against young minds.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 17:23:30 UTC | #904249

Wayne Tomsett's Avatar Comment 5 by Wayne Tomsett

Apologies for the link, thanks to Amplified Atheist who first hosted this piece.

Indeed, in many respects religion is the path trodden by those who shirk at the challenges one faces when first getting to grips with the complex aspects of the natural world, as the imminent conclusion is that it all works without god. This truth can be a hard one to bear for the lifelong faithful

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 20:33:33 UTC | #904331

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 6 by Alan4discussion

Comment 5 by Wayne Tomsett

Welcome to the discussions. If you have looked over earlier discussions before joining you will see the determination of some theists in denying the truths of reality.

There are also interesting science discussions here on big issues.

Sun, 01 Jan 2012 23:25:38 UTC | #904376

ShesTheBeth's Avatar Comment 7 by ShesTheBeth

Thanks for this post. I always enjoy reading personal stories of revelation. Plus, being someone who was raised as an atheist, I often find new words while reading these mini-bios. 'Pentateuch' is a new word for my vocabulary.

I sometimes feel I've been very lucky to be ignorant of the 'horrific, nightmarish atrocities of the Pentateuch' and have a hard time reconciling that people would actually allow such bizarre stuff be taught to their children. (See that? I used 'Pentateuch' in a sentence!) At 50, I am now in almost a constant learning cycle with regards to this, as I keep finding people more open and willing to discuss their childhood religious education and experiences. I knew none of this as a child, and, at times, it makes me feel as though I'm on the wrong planet or something; these strange beliefs and intricate, weird ideas are so foreign to me. Growing up, I generally thought everyone pretty much thought the same way I did. There was no reason to suspect otherwise, as no one ever talked about religion around me. Even though some people claimed to be religious, I just assumed they didn't REALLY believe. Not REALLY. But I've come to know this is very much not true. Some people really do believe in gods and monsters. In as much as this new movement away from religious superstitiousness has made me feel more connected to people, I sometimes feel as though the divide between how I think and how others think is VERY wide.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 15:51:13 UTC | #904547

abminara's Avatar Comment 8 by abminara

I did not realize how fortunate I was to be born in a secular household before reading this story. There was some amount of belief in the supernatural - soul, ghosts, spirits, etc. on the part of my grandmother, but that was nothing that I was brainwashed into.

A slight change came when my father died when I was 5.5. I don't remember it, but apparently, many bad things happened to me in the next 40 days (there's a cultural tradition in Armenia, where I was growing up, that says that the sould of a died man roams the earth for 40 days, before going to heaven or hell), so my grandmother insisted on getting me baptized in order to keep the evil spirits away. Of course, nothing really changed, in fact, just 3 months later I fell off a ledge at our summer house and broke my left arm, but the family was pacified.

I never wore a cross, and never had any kind of strong beliefs. My real interest was science, I spent hours reading kids' books featuring astronomy, paleontology, and biology. I can not imagine what it would be like to grow up and be told that there is a god that watches and judges everything you do. I sincerely feel sorry for all those, who did grow up that way, and am happy for those, who were changed by the voice of reason.

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 23:04:13 UTC | #904669

raytoman's Avatar Comment 9 by raytoman

I've been an athiest for almost 50 years.

Waynes excellent post makes it weird that 6 billion still believe religious crap!

Mon, 02 Jan 2012 23:49:33 UTC | #904681

Wayne Tomsett's Avatar Comment 10 by Wayne Tomsett

Thank you all for the kind comments. I feel sad that those who finally make their own way in the world after a lifetime of faith based education and childhood, have become so far indoctrinated as to ignore the evidence of the truth of the cosmos and humanity's creation. We are fortunate to be such a naturally curious species, it's a real shame when this curiosity is blunted by theism and deism. I am one of the lucky ones, when I left the faith insulated environment, despite a couple of years of remaining true to my beliefs I never let my curiosity be dulled. It was a gradual, natural shift towards atheism via my interests in natural sciences.

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 09:17:29 UTC | #904829

SuedeStonn's Avatar Comment 11 by SuedeStonn

Congratulations on your escape from Alcatraz! Always nice to read that people are brave enough to look at the world without 'God-colored lenses' and realize that there is no substitute for reality. It isn't always pleasant and fair, and I'm fully as depressed by my fellow humans on as many subjects other than 'God', but I refuse to give in and take the easy road out.

For myself I never had to 'escape' from religion as my family never went to church, nor did my mother or siblings (as far as I know). I think it was generally believed but never discussed. By something like osmosis I was a believer, though not exactly one of the 'faithful', just the basic communal belief that seeps into everyone where religion is present. After a couple years in the military I got out and was visiting a friend and thats when my brain started to ask questions (I was about 20 years old). Over a case of Natural Light (HAH! I just saw the joke in that, the name of the beer and what really happened! too rich. ;} my friend Chris and I were discussing 'God' and existence, and basically came out with probably not but who really knows. Chris would later get religion, though I'm pretty sure it was forced on him by his wife. In any case I was well on the path to being an atheist.

Admittedly I never read a whole lot when I was younger, but when I was about 13 or 14 I started reading comic books. I'm a big X-Men fan and recently started collecting again (sci-fi/fantasy junky, and even like religous movies provided the story is good). Wow, does this stuff really exist? It was years before I came to the conclusion that superhuman people didn't, but it was fun while it lasted (I always wanted to be Colossus ;}. But if superhuman people don't exist, what about 'God'? Here it is: Batman? Okay, I can buy that. Superman? Not a chance in hell. God? YOU BETCHA! HE'S THE MAN! ... C'mon, people! You know this ain't right! Read some of the cosmic comics, you'll get a low level, basic understanding that omniscient and omnipotent are really just ideas and not humanly possible. So basically, through comics (and Ayn Rand) that A is A and reality is reality.

Some years ago I also gave up 'wishing', found that it was actually counterproductive. If I 'wished' for something and didn't go after it, I didn't get it. Period. Valuable lesson, that one.

Religion is also a scam as far as I'm concerned. There is absolutely nothing a preist can teach the common person they cannot figure out for themselves given even a little effort, such as morals. It is the best way to get something for nothing, and they actually feel good about themselves (deplorable). To be blunt there is no need for religion, its purely want, a way to make people feel good even though its a false promise. Bottom line: it's gotta go.

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 12:19:23 UTC | #904885

Nordic11's Avatar Comment 12 by Nordic11

living without an invisible friend to back you up and bail you out when things get complicated.

But I like my invisible Friend.

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 19:33:59 UTC | #905044

Starcrash's Avatar Comment 13 by Starcrash

That's inspiring. Not only is your story interesting, but it's very well-written, too. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Feel free to share it with the Catholics, too.

Tue, 03 Jan 2012 22:43:00 UTC | #905098

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 14 by Tyler Durden

Comment 12 by Nordic11 :

living without an invisible friend to back you up and bail you out when things get complicated.

But I like my invisible Friend.

But he's invisible, and imaginary, just like Santa, the tooth fairy, or the Easter bunny - how does that make you feel?

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 01:41:03 UTC | #905140

Nordic11's Avatar Comment 15 by Nordic11

But he's invisible, and imaginary, just like Santa, the tooth fairy, or the Easter bunny - how does that make you feel?

Tyler,

You should know by now that we have a difference of opinion. Invisible but not imaginary So I actually feel great about that..

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 18:22:50 UTC | #905338

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 16 by justinesaracen

Nordic,

Ah, c'mon. If your friend is undetectable and the only way you 'know' he is there is that he is in your head, that, by definition, is imaginary.

There is no difference between you and the people who are institutionalized because they hear voices that make them do things.

I have invisible 'friends' too, extremely vivid and lively ones, but I'm a fiction writer, and even though my characters elicit my affection, and remain with me long after the publication of their novel, my rational brain reminds me that I created them in the first place.

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 18:49:47 UTC | #905344

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 17 by Tyler Durden

Comment 15 by Nordic11 :

But he's invisible, and imaginary, just like Santa, the tooth fairy, or the Easter bunny - how does that make you feel?

Tyler,

You should know by now that we have a difference of opinion. Invisible but not imaginary So I actually feel great about that..

Hi Nordic,

I know. Your concept, feeling and attachment to your particular god exists only in your head, nowhere else. We can replicate such phenomena in the lab: the God helmet.

If you get a chance, read The "God" Part of the Brain by Matthew Alper.

Can you imagine RD asserting the evidence for evolution was somehow invisible?

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 19:23:16 UTC | #905350

Nordic11's Avatar Comment 18 by Nordic11

Hi esuther

Ah, c'mon. If your friend is undetectable

I never said that. I've got plenty of tangible reasons to believe; they just don't pass the scientific method test, which is the only criterion RD members will accept. This just becomes one of those circular arguments that gets us nowhere.

Hey Tyler,

If you get a chance, read The "God" Part of the Brain by Matthew Alper.

That's interesting; I've never heard of it. Perhaps I can pick it up on Amazon.

Got to go for today. I'll check in tomorrow.

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 19:41:37 UTC | #905353

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 19 by Steve Zara

comment 18 by Nordic11

I never said that. I've got plenty of tangible reasons to believe; they just don't pass the scientific method test, which is the only criterion RD members will accept.

Do you know that the scientific method test is the same method that police use to investigate a crime? Why do they use scientific techniques? It's because crime is a serious matter, and people want to know the truth. Not opinions, not feelings, not gossip, rumour or tradition, but truth.

There is nothing nasty or biased about the scientific method. It's not designed to annoy believers or supernaturalists. It's not tarnished by association with certain philosophies. It's what you use if you want to know what is true about the world.

If you have what you say are tangible reasons but they don't meet scientific criteria then you can be sure that your reasons are not adequate to support your belief that your belief is true. Science doesn't reject some evidence because science is biased, science rejects some evidence because the evidence is rubbish, because it is unreliable or likely to be the product of delusion.

Science has looked back through space to hundreds of thousands of years after the origin of everything. It has looked down to below the size of the proton. It knows the parts out of which we are made, and it knows the principles that control how those parts fit together and work together. Science knows the four forces of nature, four particles of matter (three quarks and the electron) that build the human-scale world in which we live.

If you claim more than that, and you want to be treated with respect on a forum dedicated to reason and evidence, you had better come up with some really good reasons for belief that can be tested against reality. That needs science, because science is the way we find out what is true about what is real.

There are plenty of other ways of getting knowledge. I can read up about the story of Harry Potter easily enough, and that is knowledge. There are other ways of finding out what is true. That there is a proof of Fermat's Last Theorem is true. Anyone with sufficient mathematical knowledge can check this truth. But the only way to know what is true about what is real is science. It's not just one method for doing this, it's the only method for doing this, because what else can we do to test what is true about what is real other than to test against reality? No amount of speculation, of logic, of tradition, of private mental experience will do. If you can't or won't test what you believe then you can't have justification to say that the subject of what you believe is real.

Wed, 04 Jan 2012 20:12:57 UTC | #905357

DefenderOfReason!'s Avatar Comment 20 by DefenderOfReason!

Comment 15 by Nordic11 :

But he's invisible, and imaginary, just like Santa, the tooth fairy, or the Easter bunny - how does that make you feel?

Tyler, You should know by now that we have a difference of opinion. Invisible but not imaginary So I actually feel great about that..

The invisible and the nonexistent look very much alike.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 06:18:59 UTC | #905440

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 21 by justinesaracen

Nordic,

I'd be interested in knowing what those "tangible reasons for belief" are. If god actually HAS revealed himself to you, then perhaps I am missing something. Please share with me your revelations. As rationalist, if can 'touch' (the meaning of 'tangible') these proofs the way you have, I promise, I will become a believer.

Thu, 05 Jan 2012 10:16:00 UTC | #905469

raytoman's Avatar Comment 22 by raytoman

[Edited by moderator to bring within Terms of Use].

There is, and there never has been any proof of any superstition and that includes spirits and gods and devils and vampires.

What Nordic should focus on is why so many believe in one of the thousands of religions and hundreds of thousands of gods.

It's called brainwashing or indoctrination from birth and is the key to the power and control mechanism that is religion.

There was recently a TV programme on identical twins, shown in 2 parts.

Identical twin sisters who were seperated at birth were brought up in different families met for the first time as part of one of the largest meetings of identical twins. One was a devout Christian (don't know which of the thousands of subsects of the Christian subsect of the Jewish religion) and the other was a devout Jew (don't know which of the original Jewish Sects but she was definitely not one of the Muslim sects of the Jewish religion).

They were identical, agreed on most things but each knew their religion was the right one and would never question their beliefs (brainwashing).

All religious people are atheist about all religions and gods but theirs. Atheists just go that one god further. How can any intelligent person believe that their superstitionn, with zero proof, must be right and all others (practically identical) wrong, to the extent that they will kill and die for their superstition? Do they not consider this conundrum and try to find out? Is that not dumb?

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 00:58:39 UTC | #905698

justinesaracen's Avatar Comment 23 by justinesaracen

Nordic? Hello? Are you still there?

I'm still hoping for an answer. I'd love to find god if he/she/it's really there.

I'd have a few questions for him/her/it, of course, but let's do this one step at a time.

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 10:23:33 UTC | #905801

Nordic11's Avatar Comment 24 by Nordic11

Hi everyone,

Sorry. I was without the Internet yesterday (long story). Let me know if you are still reading this thread. I hate writing answers no one will read.

Thanks,

Nordic

Fri, 06 Jan 2012 13:24:01 UTC | #905852

raytoman's Avatar Comment 25 by raytoman

Nordic, god didn't invent the internet, humans did. Interesting that.

God did however keep people ignorant and illiterate, still does. He uses his representatives on earth who managed to hold humanity back for tens of millennia. In spite of this, in the past 500 years or so we have discovered and invented lots, in spite of religion which invented him.

Have you read up on the Investigations into Roman Catholic Priest Paedophilia in Ireland and Holland and Boston US? You claim to be one (Catholic) so I would expect you to comment and then justify your support for this odious organisation, or better still, wise up.

Have a nice day, millions of catholic children won't!

Sat, 07 Jan 2012 23:36:33 UTC | #906365

Anthroponym's Avatar Comment 26 by Anthroponym

Alright, just to set the book straight. You rejected God. Do you have a list of reasons why God is worth rejecting?

I believe I've got two for sure.

  1. You can't detect him.
  2. He dooms unbelievers to forever in hell.

Sat, 14 Jan 2012 22:34:08 UTC | #908336

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 27 by susanlatimer

Comment 26 by Anthroponym

You rejected God. Do you have a list of reasons why God is worth rejecting?

Which god?

Sat, 14 Jan 2012 22:44:08 UTC | #908341

Anthroponym's Avatar Comment 28 by Anthroponym

Catholic God, so the God of the new testament, and old.

Sun, 15 Jan 2012 01:02:08 UTC | #908379

Quine's Avatar Comment 29 by Quine

Comment 28 by Anthroponym:
Catholic God, so the God of the new testament, and old.

Hebrew theologians would not agree that it is the same deity. I usually ask Christians, "How would you show that it is? And, you might start by showing evidence that it exists, at all."

So far, no good answers, and no evidence.

Sun, 15 Jan 2012 01:27:30 UTC | #908386

AndyT_81's Avatar Comment 30 by AndyT_81

Hi all,

Comment 22 by raytoman :

They were identical, agreed on most things but each knew their religion was the right one and would never question their beliefs (brainwashing). All religious people are atheist about all religions and gods but theirs. Atheists just go that one god further. How can any intelligent person believe that their superstitionn, with zero proof, must be right and all others (practically identical) wrong, to the extent that they will kill and die for their superstition? Do they not consider this conundrum and try to find out? Is that not dumb?

I've heard the whole "one God further" thing a lot, but I really don't see why it should concern a monotheist who has reasons to think that God is necessarily exclusive (and yes, there are such reasons).

What is most disturbing about the above is that here is a supposed free thinker and "progressive" essentially dehumanising his opponents, making them out to be brainwashed zombies with absolutely no good reasons for believing what they do. I guess it's easier that way, because then you don't have to ever seriously consider the idea that your opponent may have good reasons for believing as they do, and therefore you don't have to bother about ever seriously engaging them.

Sun, 15 Jan 2012 05:13:02 UTC | #908443