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Author Topic: Why did you leave religion?


lt_zippy2
Administrator
Posts: 140
Why did you leave religion?
on: July 9, 2011, 18:44

This is a question that has always interested me partially becuase I can't answer it never having been religious.

What makes people leave religion?

After reading Darrel Ray's research I thought this might be an interesting piece of research. What actually gets people to leave religion. Is it the intellectual arguments? Is it emotional reation to hypocracy or as a result of abuse? What causes people initially to doubt and whay drives people to leave?

If you were previously a believer what did it for you?
Is there any actual research out there, and can we use this to help deconvert people?



JohnHunt
Boron
Posts: 7
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: July 9, 2011, 20:48

I was never religious: saw the light at the age of 10 or 11, when attending "confirmation classes". And, miracle of miracles, my parents didn't protest when I voted with my feet.

The first job application I received demanded to know my religion: long before monitoring for Equal Opportunities was invented. But, over the following decades, religion declined steadily in the UK.

However, concern about religious revival and its increasingly pernicious demands led me to become officially debaptised, [May 2008]. Bizarrely, this involved following a ritual prescribed by the Church of England: although no priest was required to officiate.

Discovering the the First Church of Atheism [ http://FirstChurchOfAtheism.com ] in June 2009, I duly became an ordained minister, the better to preach the rationalist gospel. [No fees required, or study for indoctrination.]

Over the past couple of years I've been amazed to discover that, far from being built on a rock, or even sand, christianity is founded upon a veritable cess pit. In addition to Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, a host of biblical scholars, historians, and other authors have been documenting the Holy Shit for a couple of centuries. The only mystery is why, given the ever-growing mountain of evidence, christianity still has any followers at all.

And, as judaism and islam are from the same "abrahamic" stable, they share the faecal stench.



charly0
Hydrogen
Posts: 3
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: July 9, 2011, 20:57

In my case I was a good informed biblical evangelical. But I got interested in early Christianity - first 300 years. Read a lot! I found out that my God set up the very worst communication system imaginable. Okay, no damn GOD. Godlessness makes much more sense anyway, I love it - all this in my 70s if you can imagine that!

In my later reading I was/am amazed to find out the correlation of orthodox Christianity with ALL the paganism that went on before - I would never have looked at any of that stuff pre-atheist. ^_~



Graham-
Martin-Roy-
le
Calcium
Posts: 1161
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: July 9, 2011, 22:30

Religion never really took with me. I was baptized CofE and sent to a Sally Army Sunday school until, at the age of 14, I was given the choice of continuing or leaving. I left and have never bothered with it again.



DavidFlint
Hydrogen
Posts: 1
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: July 11, 2011, 14:57

There's clearly no one answer to your question. I was never very religious and abandoned religious beliefs between the ages of 16 and 18 as I learnt more about the alternatives to Christianity. I've heard several leading British Humanists, eg Barbara Smoker, describe a loss of faith following intense study of that faith so I guess that's one common pattern.

Probably what's needed here is some real research and I know of one UK academic - there are probably others - doing it.



HibernianH-
eathen
Hydrogen
Posts: 2
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: July 11, 2011, 22:37

You will no doubt get a wide range of answers to this one, so here's my tuppenceworth: I stopped believing in my early teens, and as I can recall there were 2 main reasons -

- There was a bereavement in my immediate family, plus some other personal issues going on in my life, which gave me cause to think about the idea of an afterlife. I came to the conclusion that religions preyed on peoples' fear of their own mortality, and that a lot of their success in keeping adherents was down to offering false hope in the face of the most frightening reality of human life.

- I had Catholic priests in the family (2 uncles), and one of them in particular was an obnoxious character. He became a priest at a time and in a culture where most Irish people were automatically deferential to priests, and he expected that deference, especially from women. I felt he was quite chauvinistic towards my mother, and generally I just didn't like his attitude that he was something special just because of what he was - having someone like that visiting regularly put me off religion in general.



Guest
Hydrogen
Posts: 1
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: July 14, 2011, 23:03

I have just left my church after 7 years of Christianity. I am 36 years old and have always been a "logical" person. I now work in IT but before that I was a helicopter engineer in the Royal Navy.

I spent 3 years in bible college and was heavily involved in the Church, now I believe it all to be a man made sham.

I am writing my story now in all its glory and my reasons WHY I have left Christianity behind. Once its finished i would be glad to donate it to this site if anyone would like to read it?



moreisgood
Hydrogen
Posts: 1
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: July 15, 2011, 10:49

I grew up as a Presbyterian, but I realized that as I grew older I couldn't bring myself to respect the teachings of Christianity. That goes for pretty much every other religion out there, minus Buddhism.

Obviously since I can't respect Christianity, that's why I left it. But from the beginning I was very skeptical about it. It wasn't until recently that I realized that I was an atheist. I've been raised to think atheism was a horrible thing. I guess you could say I was a closet atheist for a while, but hear me when I tell you this. Telling myself that I am an atheist was like lifting a giant weight off my tiny little shoulders. Such a liberating feeling!



philter
Calcium
Posts: 24
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: July 18, 2011, 16:13

To be honest, because I have an IQ larger than my shoe size.



anthony
Hydrogen
Posts: 1
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: July 27, 2011, 21:02

I was for a time as a young child dragged to the kingdom hall of jehovahs witnesses with my mother, so from very early on began to investigate why my (of course not truly mine but my imposed) beliefs differed from my friends I quickly realised after a little reading that as bonkers as the teachings were they were no less so than any other religion. As a result I rejected religion very early on, however leaving god behind 100 percent was a lot more difficult. Every bit of my rational mind was telling me god doesnt exist but those years of youll go to hell etc meant it took longer to be a convinced atheist.



Guest
Hydrogen
Posts: 1
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: August 1, 2011, 03:59

I am writing this whilst sat in a mosque. Specifically, I'm in the only toilet in the mosque that has a lock on the door, frankly the best place to be if you ever find yourself in on of these vile places. At least in the toilet you'll get some escape from the indoctrinated sheeps that are just too ready to do anything their religion requires of them, because they wouldn't know logic or reason if it slapped them in their faces. I can hear the rumble of their synchronized prostrating from the floor above as hundreds of knees go to the ground, followed by their hands and foreheads; a motion I know all too well. I can almost hear the friction burn from the cheap, rough carpet against everyone's knees and foreheads, not that this toilet seat is anymore comfortable on my perfectly formed, atheist ass. Why is an atheist in a mosque, more so, why is he taking refuge in the toilet? Welcome to the life and times of a muslim turned closet atheist.

It's the first night of the month of ramadan, which means all these part time muslims are going to fast; no food in daylight hours. Oh, and the extra long, special edition, two hour prayer session every night. And waking up in the middle of the night, every night, to whisper bullshit to a mythical being, because apparently that's what he wants, but doesn't need, but will burn you for eternity if you don't do it.

I'm asian, I was born in England and have lived here all my life. I'm in my early twenties, and live at home with my parents and siblings. Coming out of the closet would cause more problems than it would solve, so it's not an option. That's why I'm forced to play along. I've had to come to the mosque with my dad, luckily for me he loves attention so he goes straight to the front row to show off his religiousness, I linger at the back, and as soon as the prayer starts, I'm out. I came straight to this toilet, locked the door and let out a sigh of relief. If it wasn't for my phone, this extra long, special edition, two hour prayer session would feel a lot longer.Thank god for smartphones, oh wait, I mean thank science. Sorry about that, twenty years of indoctrination is hard to shake off.

When it comes to indoctrination, I've been round the block. I'm talking going to the mosque for two hours a day, every day after school as a child, and even through summer holidays. I had a short run at a weekend islamic faith school. I've wasted countless hours of my life at islamic talks and lectures. I've done the whole chanting bullshit in the dark routine more times than I care to remember. Islam takes over every little part of your life. I'm not allowed to sneeze, without following it by saying "alhamdulillah" out loud enough for everyone around to hear. Don't talk while you eat. Don't use your left hand, the devil does that. Don't wink. Don't whistle. Don't laugh too much. I can't even begin to tell you how ridiculous some things get. The point is, I have had religion shoved down my throat since birth. It took me twenty years to realise the truth, and it was far from an easy process.

I was never satisfied with the concept of god, and I felt guilty about this. I always had doubts and questions, and I felt like I was the problem. I'd always actively look for signs and proof for god; "seek and ye shall find". We all know how it works, if you look for something hard enough, you're going to find it. All good things get attributed to god, and reaffirm your belief, bad things get dismissed and / or attributed to the devil. All this however, still didn't satisfy me. I'm a smart guy, I went to private school (a christian school, hyms and bible bashing every other morning, so I'm fairly clued up with christianity). I have a degree in bioscience. It was at my time in university where the change from islam to atheism happened; it took about two years.

I was determined to settle my doubts once and for all. I began by reading the quran in an english translation, I got to chapter four and realised all I was reading were paragraphs of threat after threat. I soon realised that my search for evidence and proof would have to be directed elsewhere. My focus was instantly switched to two of the biggest arguments that constantly came up against religion; the theory of evolution, and the big bang theory. Being a student of science, it wasn't difficult for me to understand the finer details of both theories, and to my surprise and delight, something finally started making sense. All of a sudden I found myself in a world where logic and reason were king, it was so wonderfully satisfying. It was addictive, I wanted to read more and more, and in the process I ended up discovering a man who is nothing less than a hero...Richard Dawkins.

With my knew found knowledge my eyes started to open, very slowly, to the reality of things, but I could not yet let go of religion. The guilt was so strong, I felt atheist inside, but I felt wrong for it. I decided to discuss religion with some of my friends at university who were muslims, and for the first year or so I would talk about my knew found atheism as if it was a disease that I needed curing of. But the more I learnt, the more my eyes opened, and the truth started becoming so clear that religion began to look ridiculous. I was standing on the shoulders of giants. I could see everything for what it was. Everything began to make sense, for the first time in my life, I felt at peace with the world around me. I didn't have to feel guilty for being human anymore. I began to change my perspective and rather than talking to my friends about it in a way where I was asking them to make me religious, I was talking to them like they were the ones who needed help to see the truth. I flaunted my atheism proudly. I felt such strong emotions of anger, and I still do, for all the problems religion caused me in my life, as it still does. I became a passionate atheist. I lost a lot of friends by revealing the truth about my atheism, but I realised I didn't care for friends like these anyway. One of my best friends is a muslim, and he knows what I think of religion, and even though he doesn't like talking about it - which I can completely understand having been indoctrinated to that level myself - he's still there as a friend. It's friends like these which are the ones you want to keep around. Not ones that are so arrogant, and ignorant, that they're willing to cast you out for religion.

Now, I'm very comfortable with my atheism, and very passionate. I do not feel any guilt at all, and in fact, I enjoy actively insulting religion, because I want to give it its due disrespect. Don't get me wrong, I'm not an asshole who's going to find religious people and bully them, or go down the street preaching, but if they're going to come preaching to me, they better be ready for me to put them straight. However, having said that, it is easy to get angry over this, but it's important to remember that these people have been indoctrinated, and it's probably not completely their fault that they've become arrogant, ignorant pricks. It's very hard to talk sense to most people of religious beliefs, and trying to talk science, logic or reason with them is not going to work, as they have been preindoctrinated with responses (allbeit illogical and irrational) to most things you or I can say. But it doesn't matter because I firmly believe that religion is dying out, and I think soon we will have a world where free thinkers and science will rule. I think that with each knew generation, more and more atheists are being born, and the education system is helping the process and giving the free thinking ability to people like me, to realise the truth ourselves.

To sum up I'd say the reason I left religion was a combination of being educated in a way to be able to think logically and with reasoning, and being aware of the doubts and unsatisfactory answers that religion gives, then being determined enough to think about it and maybe do some research. I feel if anyone goes through this sort of process, it is difficult not to realise the truth, yet we have doctor's and scientists who are still religious. I guess all that proves is that there's a difference between being academically smart, and being able to think freely. Perhaps it's just in the genes. Having been on the religious side, I know how easy it is to dismiss any and all arugments for bullshit, no matter how good they are. Being indoctrinated means you have an auto response to everything anyone does or says against your religion, it's built in to your brain. Even as I had doubts about my religion, I would still defend it blindly against any arguments. If you're not willing to open your mind, no amount of evidence is going to change what you believe. When you're indoctrinated, fear and guilt holds you back from being open minded. I don't know how many people have had success with converting a devout religious person, but I feel that if the person isn't willing to open their mind to possibilities themselves, then there's nothing you can really do for them. It's a shame really, however, this is my first post as an atheist on a dedicated forum, and I've barely scratched the surface here...my biggest project is yet to come.

This is the Scientist, killing one god at a time.



Graham-
Martin-Roy-
le
Calcium
Posts: 1161
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: August 1, 2011, 09:47

@Scientist, thank you for sharing that. I hope that, in the not too distant future, you are able to come out fully as an atheist to your family. In the meantime, don't forget to share this on converts corner on RD.net.



Letsgrowup
Hydrogen
Posts: 1
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: November 14, 2011, 21:10

Wow, Scientist I found this very sad and at the same time heartening that even in such circumstances an intelligent person will find the will and rationale to think for themselves. I admire you for that and for your posting. I hope it will help others and I'm sure it will. All the best,



Guest
Hydrogen
Posts: 2
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: November 18, 2011, 01:40

I found that to be a very interesting read, congratulations on discovering rational thought and reason, and I too hope that you would be able to come out of the atheism closet but I can appreciate how hard that may be for you.



Alcuin
Administrator
Posts: 911
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: September 28, 2013, 19:57

For me, Scientist's story is the most striking and detailed. I wonder how he got-on.



TheSkeptic-
alBear
Boron
Posts: 7
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: September 30, 2013, 00:29

Never left religion, as was never religious 🙂

Guess I was just lucky.



Graham-
Martin-Roy-
le
Calcium
Posts: 1161
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: September 30, 2013, 14:53

I guess that I was religious as a small child, just like I believed in Santa and the Tooth Fairy, but religion itself never stuck with me so I never really left it either.



Virtus83
Calcium
Posts: 438
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: September 30, 2013, 17:32

I basically spotted far too many inconsistencies in Catholicism as a young teen, then found out how many other religions there were, then finally after reading classical Greek and Roman histories saw how clearly that religion is simply a form of political mind control on a huge scale. The rest I simply continue to laugh at, until I get angry at how much damage these ignorant shits cause the world over!

@Scientist

That was a textbook description of how people who feel as you do, should try to break the chains of indoctrination, (The toilet is optional I suppose). 🙂 Bloody good effort!!

I'm also glad to have a perspective from the Islamic side of the spectrum as that seems to be quite a closed off and insular group, making it difficult to get any feedback from those such as yourself.

Stick with us buddy!!

On a general note, it's really good to see all the new respondents on here now, I hope you all take the time to put your thoughts into the main forum debates too.

Thanks all!



Zool
Neon
Posts: 17
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: November 28, 2014, 08:50

2 words for me: common sense. That's why I soon gave it up.

Santa - proved not to exist (family members / other kids spoiled that fairytale). The existence of supernatural beings in general (including ghosts and ghouls) - pretty much explained away.

Then there was the fact my father hated religion and seemed to blaspheme with every other word at times.

Science was to later nail the coffin shut for good. I mean, why else would mankind have an atavism such as the appendix if evolutionary theory wasn't true? Dinosaurs being very cool, too. 😀



Simontheat-
heist
Hydrogen
Posts: 3
Re: Why did you leave religion?
on: March 29, 2015, 14:19

I was raised as a Quaker, which is probably as harmless as religions get. The were alot of nice honest but misguided people at the meetings. But at the age of 13 I was hooked on science. I realised that it was the other side of a coin. When you read these old religious texts you are reading about a world which has so little meaning with todays world it is pretty meaningless. It's ok to kill people who are the other religion and it's ok to kill the if they are the same provided that the religious leader says it's ok. You shall not fancy your neighbour's ox!! Phew pass that one as I only like his wife, his daughter, his car and his huge flat screen telly.
These books are so meaningless that they have people to interpret them (and no doubt put their own spin) on the words. So what would you do to put your own spin on the words, if you wanted to perpetuate your religion and maximise your power over your followers? You would want to have more followers, so increase the birth rate by banning birth control and reducing the power of women over their reproductive system; you would want to know who is a follower and who isn't through regular stocktakes of followers (called worship); you would want to know what they are thinking through confessions. So it's a dictatorship, by another name.
At school I was made to sing meaningless hymn's like, "All things bright and beautiful". How about the all the All things dull and dangerous, he supposedly made them too.
I watch the news saddened when I see that another religious fanatic has maimed, killed, tortured. The sons without fathers the fathers without sons. The bombed cities, the displaced persons. The hate passed on to the father by his father to be passed on to his son. The endless cycle of meaningless violence. So I personally put religion in the same place I put; The tooth fairy, Jack frost and Father Christmas; they are someone else's mumbo jumbo, not mine. Don't try and get me involved, don't spend my tax money on it don't make it part of the law and don't force my kids to listen the that rubbish at school. Teach them instead about religion and how it effects overpopulation, religion and war, religion and the spread of HIV, religion and detrimental effects on scientific discovery.

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