Tag Archives: david g. mcafee

Signed copies of ‘Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist’ now available

Signed copies of Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist are now available for $20 (U.S. shipping) or $25 (international shipping). Please send payment to David@DavidGMcAfee.com on PayPal and include your shipping address.

Thank you!

Signed copies now available!

Signed copies now available!

American Atheist Magazine Publishes ‘Disproving Christianity’ Excerpt

Click to see American Atheist Magazine’s publication of “Morality Versus Worship” from “Click to see American Atheist Magazine’s publication of “Morality Versus Worship” from “Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings.”

AA Mag, Winter Edition

American Atheist Magazine, Fourth Quarter

Christianity and other Secular Writings.”

BOOK LAUNCH, MOM, DAD, I’M AN ATHEIST: THE GUIDE TO COMING OUT AS A NON-BELIEVER

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — BOOK LAUNCH, MOM, DAD, I’M AN ATHEIST: THE GUIDE TO COMING OUT AS A NON-BELIEVER

It’s official! My new book, Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-Believer, is now available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon. Within the next month or so, it’ll be made more widely available for iBooks, the Nook, etc.

In Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist, I discuss what it means to be “out” as an atheist in one’s personal and professional lives, as well as share some best practices for handling conflicts that may result from religions discussions. The book also includes the testimonials of six atheists from varying regions and backgrounds sharing their de-conversion in hopes of helping other non-believers who might be facing similar circumstances.

But, as I try to make clear throughout the book, it’s not only a guide for atheists who come from religious families and have as a result been afraid to voice a lack of faith. In the book, I also discuss the importance of establishing a sense of community among like-minded individuals and share ideas about how to talk about religion in a civil and respectful manner, topics that can be important to the most seasoned heathens. The book also includes a directory, which lists helpful secular organizations, websites, and social networks, and a chapter of Frequently Asked Questions, where I address everything from Pascal’s Wager to the Meaning of Life.

Amazon link (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Dad-Im-Atheist-Non-believer/dp/1908675047/

Amazon link (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Dad-Atheist-Non-believer-ebook/dp/B00AQ419BO/

The Secular Store (T-shirts): http://www.thesecularstore.spreadshirt.com/

All the best,
David G. McAfee
Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-Believer
Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings
“Like” me on Facebook
 

Media notices:

*Please e-mail me (David@DavidGMcAfee.com) if you’re interested in scheduling a speaking engagement or interview.

*Secure review-only PDFs will be provided by e-mail to authors/writers interested in reviewing the book or publishing excerpts.

From the back of the book:

This essential guide to coming-out as a non-believer has been written to make it easier for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, and non-believers of all ages and backgrounds to be open about their non-religiosity while minimizing the negative interactions in familial, social, and professional circles.

As a survival guide for non-believers who wish to come out, this book provides advice and resources for those interested in publically rejecting religious dogma as well as real stories from non-believers who have experienced coming-out to less-than-supportive family or friends.

Whether you’re new to disbelief and looking for the cleanest possible break from your former faith or you’re a lifelong atheist who wants to establish a sense of community with like-minded people, this guide provides useful resources including: tips for handling potential conflicts with believers, the author’s answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on behalf of believers, and numerous references to support groups, services, and advocacy organizations dedicated to non-theists.

From dealing with grief from a secular perspective to handling potential clashes in religious worldviews between significant others, this book offers multiple perspectives from non-religious individuals who have generously shared their experiences to help those atheists who may find themselves in similar situations.

About the author:

 David G. McAfee is a journalist, a religious studies scholar, and author of Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings. He is a columnist for Canadian Freethinker Magazine and a contributor to American Atheist Magazine. Mr. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with a dual-degree in English and Religious Studies with an emphasis on Christianity and Mediterranean religions. After experiencing discrimination within the American public education system as a result of his secular activism, David G. McAfee sought to publish Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist to help those who fear similar professional or familial consequences to their public non-belief.

Check it out on Amazon!

Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-Believer

Ode to Reality

We walked on the moon, minds cannot bend spoons;
No one can foretell whether or not the end will come soon.
Psychics can’t read minds and crop circles aren’t signs;
You can’t tell a person’s future by looking at their hand or its lines.
Gods don’t talk to men or otherwise intervene;
And no one can tell the future, not even in dreams.
Crystals don’t heal and Big Foot isn’t real;
Prayer doesn’t affect outcomes, regardless of how it makes you feel.
Personality types aren’t determined by month of birth;
And aliens, if they exist, have likely never visited earth.
The real world is beautiful, there’s no need for more;
Don’t cling to conspiracies or religion or folklore.

Religion across the world – Interviewing the founder of Global Secular Humanist Movement

Religion across the world – Interviewing the founder of Global Secular Humanist Movement

David G. McAfee | Faisal Saeed Al Mutar

As a secular activist in America, I always find it interesting to learn about the viewpoints of other advocates for non-belief in other areas of the world – especially in areas where the religious fundamentalism is perhaps the most extreme. For the last year or more, I’ve been writing a book called, “Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-Believer” (release, Sept. 2012). In the course of that writing, I became very interested in reading the “coming out” stories of atheists from around the world. In some regions, this act is certainly more serious – and more dangerous – than in others.

Faisal Saeed Al Mutar is the founder of the Global Secular Humanist Movement on Facebook. With more than 84,000 fans, the group aims to use critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry – rather than faith and mysticism – in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions.

Faisal is a 20-year-old Iraqi writer and advocate for freedom of thought. Recently, Faisal sat down with me to discuss his upcoming projects and religion’s powerful influence throughout the Middle East. Here is a transcript of the conversation:

1.       What is “secular humanism” and why did you found the Global Secular Humanist Movement on Facebook?

I think there have been many definitions proposed to identify what Secular Humanism actually means; they all go back to the same principles that we, as a species, can have fully ethical lives relying on ourselves using reason and science to solve problems without the belief in the supernatural.

I can simply define it as, “Doing goodness for goodness’ sake.”

There are many reasons why I founded the Global Secular Humanist Movement (GSHM); the most important one is to discuss ideas and realizing that you are not alone. I have received many emails and messages from members telling me how happy they are to find other people who think similarly on these issues, many friendships are being created and many ideas are being discussed.

I think what makes GSHM different from other Humanist councils or movements is that it’s a movement without leaders and without a rigid platform. I never claim to be leader or anything of that kind, I am an administrator, my job is to stimulate discussions and share views that sometimes even I don’t support just for the sake of stimulating a debate and listening to multiple views.

We emphasize a lot on individual thinking and individual freedom, we ask people to think for themselves, think critically about issues that matter to their lives and our planet in general.

At the end, we humans are responsible for fixing the world and making it a better place to live. There can’t be any real solutions if we don’t first acknowledge that there are problems and that Gods, miracles, and apocalyptic beliefs are not the answers – because they are based on fiction and not facts.

2.       Were you ever religious? How did you become a secular humanist?

No, but I used to a Deist. I was interest in science and philosophy since I was a child, I used to believe that God – or whatever you call it – is a grand scientist and a philosopher and Science and Philosophy are the languages of God; I used to consider Scientists to be prophets because they are sharing the language with us, after a while I realized that God that I used to believe in is actually the one I created. Just because I had interest in these topics, I wanted God to be this way.  I never believed in religion in any day of my life because I think it’s very incompatible with the beauty of the universe and I find it to be so trivial.

3.       Being born in Iraq, you’ve experienced a type of religious fundamentalism that rivals most others. What is the most heinous act that you’ve seen committed in the name of religion?

Unfortunately, yes. Iraq’s history is filled with religious wars since its existence.  The most recent one is the civil war between the Muslims that led to thousands if not millions of deaths and injuries. I lost my eldest brothers and my cousin, I lost many friends because of the civil war, I used to witness 100s of dead bodies on my way to school, suicide bombers, beheadings etc. That caused me to have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that I am struggling with it every day.

Most of these crimes – if not all – are committed under the name of religion, if you think about it logically, what would lead a young man in his 20s or 30s to blow himself up and kill 100s of civilians? Money? Being famous? No. It’s the reward in heaven and indoctrination with hatred since a very young age.

4.       Is there a law against blasphemy in Iraq?

Constitutionality speaking, no we don’t. But Iraq is considered a failed state, that’s according to foreign policy institute.  It’s mostly under the control of religious militias either of the previous regime (Saddam Hussein), Al Qaeda or Iran sponsored militias. You may be killed/prosecuted at any moment from any of these militias; you may be killed not only for being an Atheist, you may be killed for being a Christian or being a member of other sect in Islam. Atheists are very small minority in this country but definitely they are also a main target.

5.       Why do you think religion is such a powerful force in the world? Is secular humanism the force you expect will help diminish the hold that religion has?

I think religion’s power differs from a region to a region, the most extreme forces can be found in the Middle East or countries Like Pakistan, Uganda, etc. But in places like Western Europe and North America, religion is on decline due to the rise of enlightenment and scientific development.

These are the main enemies of religion. In my opinion, the more we know about the world, the more we realize the religion offers no answers and has no evidence to support it. Because Secular Humanism is based on the values of human freedom and scientific inquiry, it will definitely overcome religion as time passes by and scientific knowledge becomes more accessible in the world.

6.       As a fellow young secular writer, I wonder how you answer the charge that perhaps you’re just too young and inexperienced to understand faith or “God.”

I have written in previous articles that I don’t believe in religion not because I tend to ignore it or I have hatred for it, but because I understand it, I spent many hours reading the religious scriptures. People don’t realize that books like the Quran and the Bible are the CLAIM – and not the EVIDENCE. As a student of philosophy, when I read the religious books, I examined their claims and looked for the scientific explanations and realized that they don’t match. My non-belief in God is no different to me than my non-belief in Unicorns or Astrology, there is no scientific evidence to support them and I see no reason to believe them. I don’t claim that I know all the answers, there is nothing wrong with ignorance if you admit it, It led to me to be more humble and more into  inquiry when I don’t know the answer, I suspend judgment as simple as that.

Faith is simply a way to make ignorance holy – and to be satisfied with it. If someone can present me a scientific proof for God, I am ready to change my mind.

7.       I read that you’re working on a book called, “Dogma.” What can you tell me about it?

My book is divided into many parts.  It talks about dogmas in general, whether they were religious or political, and how dogmas suspend us from finding better solutions and better answers.

8.       Aside from GSHM, have you founded any other pages, sites, or projects?

Yes. I consider the United States Secular constitution to be one of the best man made documents. I worked with friends to translate the U.S constitution Bill Of Rights into many different languages and uploaded it into my website http://www.faisalalmutar.com/BillOfRights/.

I conducted many interviews with Middle Eastern free thinkers and women’s rights activists – You can check them in my website www.faisalalmutar.com.

I am also working to create a media company called Secular Post to discuss ideas from Secular perspective.

I am the Admin of Daniel Dennett fan page (unofficial) as well as Facebook for Science https://www.facebook.com/dailyscientia.

9.       My next book, which releases in September, is called Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-Believer. Do you think “coming out” is a real problem for non-believers in Iraq and around the world?

For Iraq and the Middle East in general, of course it is because there are no laws to protect freedom of religion and freedom from religion. I think with the rise of Atheism in United States, many people will accept it just like they are now accepting that some people are Homosexuals. It will take some time and many struggles but with the free market of ideas, I think religion will lose the competition, just like Racism and Slavery ‘partly’ lost a while ago, Religion at the end is a slavery of the mind, but most people who fall into it don’t know they are slaves and that’s the biggest problem we are facing.

10.   Do you think secularism is gaining traction in the modern world? What can we do to speed up that process?

I think it is, more people need to come out, and more people need to speak out. There is nothing wrong with basing your life on reality and support Human Rights. The world would be a better place to live in if dangerous delusions are out of it.

11.   Anything else you’d like to add?

I think that most beautiful thing about being a Humanist is that I don’t claim to know things I don’t know, there is nothing wrong with that, it motivates me to know more, it motivates me to be humble person as well as it makes me honest with myself and people around me.

While we do know that we are living right now, so let’s make the best of our lives, let’s work together to reduce suffering and most importantly improve education and make it more accessible to all people around the world because we can’t make the planet a better place unless we innovate and understand what problems we are all facing and work individually or together in fixing them.


About the author:
David G. McAfee is a journalist, a religious studies scholar, and author of Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings. He is a columnist for Canadian Freethinker Magazine and a contributor to American Atheist Magazine. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with dual degrees in English and Religious Studies. You can “like” his Facebook Page or follow him on Twitter.

Global Secular Humanist Movement

Global Secular Humanist Movement

Press Release: Secular Author Offers Free Book to Interested Parties

For Immediate Release:

Secular Author Offers Free Book to Interested Parties

LOS ANGELES— David G. McAfee, author of Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings (http://www.amazon.com/Disproving-Christianity-Secular-Writings-revised/dp/0956427685/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1338253896&sr=8-3), will be giving free PDFs of his book to interested parties who e-mail him requesting it, McAfee announced on his website (www.DavidGMcAfee.com) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DavidMcAfee7) on Friday. Disproving Christianity was published by Dangerous Little Books (www.dangerouslittlebooks.com) in January 2011, and is a critique of biblical literalism.

“If someone is interested in my work – and they can’t afford the book or they’d like to ‘try before they buy,’ I’d be happy to send a PDF,” McAfee said. “I just ask that – if they enjoy the read – they leave an Amazon review.”

McAfee said he will continue to send out the free PDFs to anyone with genuine interest until the launch of his next book, which is set for mid-August. The new book will be titled “Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming out as a Non-Believer.”

“I know that people will buy the book if they can,” McAfee explained. “But, for those who can’t, or those who have a vague interest in secularism or religious studies, this is perfect. They can check out the whole book and then decide if they want to support my work by purchasing a copy.”

Requests for a free PDF can be sent to David@DavidGMcAfee.com.

About the author: David G. McAfee is a journalist, a religious studies graduate, and author of Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings, a critique of biblical literalism and a refutation of Christianity’s key principles. He is a columnist for Canadian Freethinker Magazine and a contributor to A merican Atheist Magazine. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with dual degrees in English and Religious Studies.

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/DavidMcAfee7
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/davidgmcafee
Website: http://www.davidgmcafee.com/

Image created by Gordon T. Crowley

Image created by Gordon T. Crowley

Christianity Lesson #14

Christianity Lesson #14

Christianity Lesson #14

Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #5 – Julia

Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #5 – Julia

Each testimonial featured in Atheists Coming Out will help give insight to the large percentage of atheists who, for fear of rejection or misunderstanding, have not been open about their lack of faith. I will choose five (5) of the featured stories to be included in an upcoming book on this very topic. To submit your 1000-1,500 word de-conversion/coming out story, please send it to David@DavidGMcAfee.com with “Atheists Coming Out” in the subject line. Please feel free to share this page to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to participate.

Prior posts from Atheists Coming Out
Atheists Coming Out – New Series – “Born Atheist”
Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #1 – Jason of Godless Living
Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #2 – Cleta Darnell
Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #3 – Hugh Kramer
Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #4 – Elizabeth Rouse

 

This week’s feature is by Julia:

My parents met each other while both attending a small Bible College in Houston, Texas. My father, a New Yorker raised in a Catholic Church, had a “born again” experience while serving in the Marine Corps. Once discharged from the military, he decided to attend the small Houston bible college with the hope of becoming a missionary in Africa. My mother is from Arkansas and was raised in a Pentecostal Church. She left home at the age of 18 to attend the school. They married two years after meeting one another at the college. Needless to say, I grew up in a very religious home. I don’t recall a Sunday morning or a Wednesday evening that we weren’t in a church service or bible study. At the age of five, I accepted Jesus into my heart and was “saved.” To this day I can still remember showing them the heart that I made in Sunday School that said, “I asked Jesus into my heart today.” To my parents, following Jesus was what we lived for and was something that was never to be doubted.

At a very young age, I remember having questions about the Christian faith. One specific question I remember asking my father was, “As Christians, how do we know that we’re right?” I think I questioned this because I had neighbors and classmates that were from different denominations. I also couldn’t understand why a loving God would only reveal himself to certain people while much of the world wouldn’t know him. As a child I remember my heart aching for them. I couldn’t understand why we were so special to have the revealed truth while others didn’t.

Growing up in a very religious home and having parents that were fanatical Christians, there were many discussions of Heaven and Hell. I was taught that people who didn’t accept Jesus into their heart weren’t “saved” and would go to Hell when they died. I was also told that I could go to Hell if I didn’t ask for Jesus to forgive me of my sins on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this caused a tremendous amount of fear and guilt. While I wasn’t a perfect child, the fear of dying and going to Hell led me to be a well behaved child until my teen years. As most teens do, I went through a little rebellious stage. This is when my guilty conscience started to affect me almost daily. I had visions of what Hell looked like and how I would suffer there because I didn’t always make the right choices. This was painful for me. I don’t think I will ever understand why my parents thought that it was okay to let their children suffer in this way. I have three other siblings that also dealt with this and still believe this to this day. I am a mother of two small children and I have a baby on the way. I can’t even imagine making my precious children suffer in this way. I’m completely aware that my children will hear about God, but I’ll stand up and protect them from ever being tormented with threats of eternal damnation. My oldest son, who is at the time of writing nearly six years old, has asked many questions about God. Family members and classmates have talked to him about God. My husband and I have explained to him that we don’t believe in God, but that many people do. We’ve explained that he’ll understand this more as he grows older. He says that he doesn’t believe in God and compares Him to the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus.

For the first thirty years of my life, I was a Christian and believed that Jesus was the only answer. I attended church and longed for a deep connection with God. On many occasions, I would pray and ask God to reveal himself to me. I wanted to see miracles and have personal experiences with God. While there were times I thought I may be experiencing God, I often wondered why I didn’t experience Him like others did. I wondered if I just wasn’t good enough. I later started to question if God was even real. I wanted to believe that some of the good things that happened in my life were the result of God being present, but I often wondered if giving God the credit was just what I was taught to do when something good happened, and that it really didn’t have anything to do with him at all. I wondered why everything had to be accredited to God?  These questions started to haunt me. At first it, was difficult to accept that I was questioning God’s existence. It went against everything that I was taught and left me having more fears. I dealt with these thoughts for nearly a year before I was vocal about it.

Accepting these feelings and expressing them to my husband wasn’t easy. Church had always been a part of our life. He was a former worship leader and Bible School student. At the time I started seriously doubting, we had adopted a much more liberal faith and were attending an Episcopal Church. I found myself not wanting to participate because of my doubts. When I first brought up these things to my husband, it was difficult. At that point he and I weren’t on the same page. He still believed and found it difficult to consider questioning his faith. Most Christians believe that when two people marry, they become one, and I feared that this could possibly tear us apart. He worried about what we would teach our kids. We continued to attend church and I became more vocal about it for several months. My husband started to research how the Bible was formed and, along the way, discovered that he may have questions after all. After much study, we finally came to the realization that it wasn’t crazy of us to question things. My last prayer to God was just over two years ago. I decided on that night that if I didn’t get answers and hear God’s voice, I was no longer going to live as a Christian. It goes without saying that I didn’t get answers. I’m almost 33 years old and I’m now an atheist. I’ve never felt so free. I’m free from the guilt that once tormented me. I’m free from the thoughts of Hell. I no longer believe in God. My life no longer revolves around this imaginary creator that lives in the sky. I believe that life is too precious to live in constant fear that there is a higher being that controls what happens to us when we die.

While this new outlook on life has brought me much liberation, it wasn’t without its share of pain. Coming out as an atheist had social ramifications that I underestimated. Given my family’s religious background, this didn’t sit well with them and created some tension that still exists today in some respects. I know they feel like I’m just lost and I’m afraid they’ll never understand how I feel about these things. They’ll never understand the liberation that I feel as an atheist. Our friendships also suffered and we’re still in the process of rebuilding our social lives. Living a suburban life in Texas hasn’t made it easy, but we’re trying. No matter what, I’m happy to say that my husband and I now live godless lives and enjoy what each day has to bring.

Julia

http://www.facebook.com/anatheistgirl 

 

To submit your 1000-1,500 word de-conversion/coming out story, please send it to David@DavidGMcAfee.com with “Atheists Coming Out” in the subject line. Please feel free to share this page to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to participate.

Thank God I'm an Atheist

Thank God I’m an Atheist

Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #4 – Elizabeth Rouse

Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #4 – Elizabeth Rouse

Each testimonial featured in Atheists Coming Out will help give insight to the large percentage of atheists who, for fear of rejection or misunderstanding, have not been open about their lack of faith. I will choose five (5) of the featured stories to be included in an upcoming book on this very topic. To submit your 1000-1,500 word de-conversion/coming out story, please send it to David@DavidGMcAfee.com with “Atheists Coming Out” in the subject line. Please feel free to share this page to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to participate.

Prior posts from Atheists Coming Out
Atheists Coming Out – New Series – “Born Atheist”
Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #1 – Jason of Godless Living
Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #2 – Cleta Darnell
Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #3 – Hugh Kramer

 

This week’s feature is by Elizabeth Rouse:

When I was a child, there was no god in my house. We didn’t go to church or have family prayers. My mother was very young and I don’t think she had time for god. It wasn’t until I was 10 that I was introduced to the church community. My aunt’s father-in-law was the pastor of a Baptist church and suddenly became very passionate about the word of god. She starting having conversations with me that I never thought about like “Where did man come from?” and “What happens when we die?” I all of a sudden had so many questions that I needed answers for. So every Sunday she would take me to church. I made a lot of friends and became saved. As I grew older I didn’t go to church as often but that was just because I was becoming a lazy teenager not because I didn’t believe.

My first boyfriend was very religious; in fact, our first date was at a church event. Surrounding myself with Christians helped stifle my need for more answers. Being around my aunt and my boyfriend’s family made me think if these answers are good enough for them then obviously they must be true, and if I have more questions, then all I need is faith. It was at this point at the age of 14 that the cracks in my beliefs started to show.

At the start of my freshman year of high school, I had a lot of friends and seemed happy on the outside. However inside, doubt started eating away at me. The Church’s answers were becoming less and less satisfying for my growing mind. More and more questions were going unanswered. I starting doing research on my own and I found that many of the scientists I was starting to admire where atheists. Sadly, as my love for philosophy and science grew, I could feel the distance grow between me and everyone I was close with. All our conversations seemed silly and childish. After I worked up enough of a defense to support my new belief, I decided it was time to tell my friends about it. I didn’t think it would be too bad, I mean they were my friends after all. I knew there would be a lot of questions, which was more what I was preparing myself for. I was very mistaken. I was met with a lot of anger and frustration. They had no interest in what I had to say and just immediately starting to talk me out of it. When I said I didn’t want to be convinced otherwise, they wanted nothing to do with me.

Only halfway through my first year of high school, I had to start over. Being from a very religious community, it wasn’t easy. I was no longer afraid to be myself and for the first time the world made sense to me. But it took me awhile to find friends that understood that, even if they didn’t agree with it. I was the topic for a lot of prayer groups and I was well known throughout the school. I was no longer shy about my thoughts or feelings and I wanted others to know that. I was in the principal’s office a few times (once for wearing a homemade Darwin shirt, and another because I wouldn’t stand for the pledge of allegiance). I was never afraid to argue my case and I never received punishment.

I am now almost 24 years old and happily married to my high school sweetheart. We have two beautiful children and I’m hoping that my story inspires them to be them, and know that no matter what struggles you are faced with all you need to get through it is belief in yourself! Looking back, I’m proud of myself for sticking to my guns and not let anyone make me feel inferior.

To submit your 1000-1,500 word de-conversion/coming out story, please send it to David@DavidGMcAfee.com with “Atheists Coming Out” in the subject line. Please feel free to share this page to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to participate.

Mega Preacher

Mega Preacher

Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #3 – Hugh Kramer – LA Atheism Examiner

Each testimonial featured in Atheists Coming Out will help give insight to the large percentage of atheists who, for fear of rejection or misunderstanding, have not been open about their lack of faith. I will choose five (5) of the featured stories to be included in an upcoming book on this very topic. To submit your 1000-1,500 word de-conversion/coming out story, please send it to David@DavidGMcAfee.com with “Atheists Coming Out” in the subject line. Please feel free to share this page to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to participate.

Prior posts from Atheists Coming Out
Atheists Coming Out – New Series – “Born Atheist”
Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #1 – Jason of Godless Living
Atheists Coming Out Series – Featured Story #2 – Cleta Darnell
 

This week’s feature is by Hugh Kramer of Los Angeles:

Hugh Kramer
http://www.examiner.com/atheism-in-los-angeles/hugh-kramer
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Age: 59
 

Some people experience epiphanies; something occurs, perhaps even something ordinary and in an instant, their previous worldview shatters and they are changed forever. I envy those people for my progress to new ways of seeing the world has always been plodding and often painful. My personal transformation from theist to atheist took place over more years than many of my readers have been alive. I never intended to become an atheist and in some respects I was only dragged into atheism kicking and screaming. Experience and what Martin Luther, the father of Protestantism, called “Die verfluchte Huhre, Vernunft” (That damned whore, Reason) are what dragged me there.

I did have some small advantages though. I grew up in Los Angeles, which is not a particularly religious town and was raised in a not-particularly religious Jewish family. We took the existence of God for a given and observed a few of the major holidays but otherwise the only strongly-stressed Jewish rule we were taught was to live life as good people. By the time my parents decided I needed to learn more about Judaism in preparation for my Bar Mitzvah (the Jewish coming of age ceremony), I was too old (11 going on 12) for the transplant to take. I still believed in God and still considered myself Jewish, but I couldn’t take all the dietary and other restrictions seriously.

The next transformation didn’t take place until I got to college. There I discovered science and philosophy. Oddly enough, it wasn’t the works of greats like Hume or Locke or Nietzsche that had the biggest influence on me. It was something I read before them that made me receptive to new mental landscapes like theirs. I’m almost ashamed to admit that it was an otherwise stupid piece of nonsense called “The Crack in the Cosmic Egg” I was assigned to read in Sociology 101. It was mostly New Age woo (unscientific, non-evidence-based assertions), but the central concept, that there was more than one way to see the world (what German philosophers call “Weltanschauung“) struck me almost with the force of a revelation. I feel stupid admitting it now but the idea had just never occurred to me before. As this new thought gradually sunk in, it had the effect of opening me up to new ideas and concepts. I was still vaguely theistic, though, because I wanted to believe in a fair universe; that there was some kind of balance between good and bad or right and wrong.

That idea started teetering because of another book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity by behavioral psychologist, B F Skinner. The book argued that free will was an illusion and that belief in individual autonomy was hindering both the scientific understanding of psychology and the development of a healthier, happier society. While I found those ideas convincing at the time, what I took away from the book more permanently was an understanding that the evidence-based scientific method was probably the best tool mankind has ever developed for the accurate evaluation and acquisition of knowledge… and because it provided techniques to compensate for personal bias, I decided it could be applied to personal knowledge as well. I reexamined a lot of beliefs at this time that I had taken for granted. Some held up under scrutiny. Some didn’t. I changed my stance on the Vietnam War, for instance. More importantly, I took another look at my ideas about religion and found them wanting. There was no good evidence of a balance in the universe between what I thought good or bad. There was no good evidence of any force personally interested in it or me either. I couldn’t prove there wasn’t some kind of supernatural force behind the universe but I also couldn’t see that the claims of special knowledge of any religion had more than faith going for them either.

So I became an agnostic. I remained one for decades. It took the events of 9/11/2001 to change that. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t think religious fanatics were nuts (so nuts in fact, that I coined the word “fanutic” to describe them). It just hadn’t been brought home to me before on such a personal level how dangerous to the modern world religion could be.

And it wasn’t just Islamic fundamentalists that scared me. I began to notice how religion also provided cover for extremists in America and in my own community. I saw them attacking civil rights for women and homosexuals. I saw them trying to undermine science in the classroom and in scientific research. I saw them infiltrating the military, the judiciary and school boards; all in an effort to roll back the clock to a time when human rights were dispensed at the whim of divine autocrats (or at least their self-styled interpreters) if at all. I could not prove there were no gods, but it had been a long time since I believed in any. I called myself an agnostic, though, because I’d felt no pressing need to make any declarations about it.

Now I did.

I still can’t prove there are no gods, but I think them highly unlikely and don’t believe in any. More than that, I think the belief in such supernatural overlords is, in essence, an embrace of the irrational and dangerously skews a person’s perspective even in its milder forms. In its more virulent forms, I think it’s a malignancy that eats individual freedom and threatens the existence of a civilized world.

That’s why I became an atheist.

And an activist.

– Hugh
http://www.examiner.com/atheism-in-los-angeles/hugh-kramer
 

To submit your 1000-1,500 word de-conversion/coming out story, please send it to David@DavidGMcAfee.com with “Atheists Coming Out” in the subject line. Please feel free to share this page to ensure everyone gets the opportunity to participate.

Hugh Kramer - LA Atheism Examiner

Hugh Kramer - LA Atheism Examiner