Tag Archives: religion

Atheists Should Stop Trying to Destroy Religion

Atheists Should Stop Trying to Destroy Religion

By David G. McAfee, author of The Belief Book

I’m an atheist who studies religion. You might think that seems contradictory, but to me it makes all the sense in the world. I’ve never been religious, but I have always enjoyed learning about how religions start and spread, how they interact with and influence one another over time, and the psychology behind the ideas themselves. I’m incredibly interested in beliefs and myths and understand that there are good and bad aspects of faith, so imagine my surprise when people assume I want to “destroy,” “obliterate,” or “abolish” religion altogether just because I’m not a believer.

I partly understand the assumption because I know a lot of non-believers who want to do exactly that. I’ve heard people, who often call themselves “anti-theists” and who others might call “Fundamentalist Atheists” or “New Atheists,” refer to religion as a “cancer” that they want to surgically remove from humanity. But calling religion a cancer implies that it is always bad in all circumstances – that it isn’t beneficial to anyone and is dangerous in all its forms. Can we really say that’s the case for religion?

Rape or religion?

I consider myself a fan of a number of works written by Sam Harris, a neuroscientist and author often referred to as one of the “Four Horsemen of the Non-Apocalypse,” but he said something I think was off in a 2006 interview with The Sun Magazine. He is quoted as saying, “If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.” He went on to explain that “more people are dying as a result of our religious myths than any other ideology.”

While I agree with Harris that religious extremism is dangerous, I don’t think religion itself is inherently evil and I certainly wouldn’t say it’s worse than rape. Religion isn’t a crime or a violation – it’s a tool. It’s been used to justify violence and bigotry, yes, but (due to the contradictory nature of holy texts) it’s also used at times as a means to promote well-being and reinforce positive ethics.

To answer the rape or religion question simply, think about all of the instances in which you think rape is completely acceptable and then compare that to the number of times when religious people are harmless. Think of your friends or relatives who quietly practice a religion without affecting others because it makes them feel good or because it provides a sense of community. Rape always causes harm – there are times when religions do not.

Wiping out religion.

While Harris’ scenario was hypothetical, magical, and – he admitted – inflammatory, there are many people who actively seek to destroy faith-based belief systems entirely. Some anti-theists hope to outlaw faith by enacting some sort of (unenforceable) thoughtcrime legislation, others think ridicule alone will completely eradicate supernatural beliefs, and a small number of these anti-theists want to end religion so badly that they see violence as the answer.

Recently, I was approached by a self-described anti-theist who suggested that killing every single religious person – man, woman, and child – was a viable “cure for religion.” This would be almost negligible if it were just a one-off occurrence, or if the person was saying it for shock value, but I’ve heard this proposal a number of times and this particular individual stressed his military background and demanded a logical rebuttal to his position. I told him that killing all religious people to end religion isn’t just a disturbing thought, it also wouldn’t work.

The urge to believe.

As someone who studies comparative religion, the idea of obliterating faith-based practices through genocide is especially confusing. It is well established that religion itself is a cultural universal and that it likely has or had evolutionary benefits, so why wouldn’t new religions arise after the mass deaths? History and anthropology tell us that new systems would arise, and they would look a lot like the old ones with different names and stories.

You can’t remove religions by force, either by banning them or by killing those who believe, because the feelings and circumstances that caused us to create them have remained largely unchanged for hundreds of thousands of years. The urge to believe still exists inside the minds of people, as does our desire to know “the unknown.” The fact is that we will probably never completely outgrow religion. We are prone to superstition, organization, and wishful thinking — and religions are often forged when those tendencies are realized.

Pascal Boyer, Henry Luce Professor of Individual and Collective Memory at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, says his research suggests that “atheism will always be a harder sell than religion because a slew of cognitive traits predispose us to faith.”

Is Religion on the Ropes?

The Pew Research Center recently released a report indicating that “the Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing.” This is good news because it shows that people are less likely to identify with a restricting dogma, but it doesn’t mean religion is coming to an end any time soon. In fact, more than 70 percent of American citizens still identify as Christians while the “unaffiliated” make up only 22 percent and atheists only three percent.

That isn’t to say religion will always be as strong as it is today, however. Tufts University Professor Daniel C. Dennett, another one of the so-called “Four Horsemen,” recently argued that “the future of religion is bleak.” I agree with the thrust of his article – that there is a rising tide of secularism in the age of information – but even he clarifies that this won’t mean an end to religion.

“If this trend continues, religion largely will evaporate, at least in the West,” Dennett wrote. “Pockets of intense religious activity may continue, made up of people who will be more sharply differentiated from most of society in attitudes and customs, a likely source of growing tension and conflict.”

What can we do?

So, if you can’t enact a successful prohibition on religious ideas, and it won’t work to kill all believers, how do we fix the issues that stem from or are justified by religion? We work to reform religion – to fight against the aspects of it that are harmful and allow people to practice those that aren’t – and promote secular religious education to help people better understand religions and how they arise.

I, for one, don’t hate religion. It’s not that black and white for me – I don’t have to either endorse all actions done in the name of religion or condemn its practice entirely. I hate religious extremism, but I don’t hate meditation or meditative prayer; I hate that religious ideals have consistently impeded science and invaded secular governments, but I don’t hate food drives and soup kitchens; I hate the “God is on our side” mentality and that millions of people think that religion is necessary to live a happy and moral life, but I don’t hate peaceful religious practices or people who happen to believe differently.

Are all religious people extremists? Are they all against science and in favor of knocking down the wall of separation between Church and State? Do they all hate people who believe differently because they’re evil? The answer, in each case, is “No.”

Fundamentalism as a common enemy.

Religion is not something you can simply erase; it’s an integral part of our history and (for better or worse) it will help shape our future. Religion was man’s first attempt to explain the unknown and it continues to be an inspiration for major (charitable and horrific) acts around the world every day, so it will likely exist for the foreseeable future. But does it have to exist in a stagnant state as it has for thousands of years? Many people, whether they identify with a tradition or not, think we can change religion for the better.

When reformation (and not extermination) is the goal, we atheist activists can find common ground with many believers. I know many Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists who would agree that fundamentalism within their respective religions is a problem that needs to be stopped – just as most atheists I know would never advocate violence against believers.

There are other areas of agreement between the rational but largely silent non-religious and religious majorities. I think most religious people and most non-believers, for instance, oppose things like Young Earth Creationism being taught in science class and are in favor of things like same-sex equality. If we work with open-minded religious people, we may be able to reduce religious extremism without eliminating anyone’s freedom to believe or worship and without killing anyone. I think it’s worth a shot.

Ultimately, you have to decide: do you think belief in god(s) is our biggest problem right now? Or organized religion? Or, like me, do you see scientific illiteracy and civil rights as the key issues?

Can we debate religion in a friendly manner?

Can we debate religion in a friendly manner?

David G. McAfee is a Religious Studies graduate, journalist, and author of The Belief Book, a children’s book explaining the origins of beliefs and religion, and Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-believer. He is also an editor for Ockham Publishing and a contributor to American Atheist Magazine. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with bachelor’s degrees in English and Religious Studies with an emphasis on Christianity and Mediterranean religions.

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My talk for Houston Oasis – “How to Discuss Controversial Topics”

On Nov. 16, I spoke for Houston Oasis, a freethought community in Texas. It was my first experience with what the media has labeled an “atheist church.” I didn’t know what to think before, but now I know that this group is nothing like a church. There was no charismatic pastor-figure, no prayers or hymns, and no rituals. It is a large group of like-minded thinkers who meet weekly and provide free daycare. Here is my presentation on how to discuss controversial topics in a friendly and effective way.

If You Love Jesus, You Are Religious

If You Love Jesus, You Are Religious

By David G. McAfee

It’s perfectly understandable, in my opinion, to find good things in the teachings of Jesus Christ or any other figure, mythical or otherwise. But to base your life on the teachings of Jesus as they are portrayed in the Bible and claim that you are not religious is disingenuous.

“It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship!”

Without the religion, without the archaic and flawed holy texts, there wouldn’t be anything for you to manufacture a “relationship” with. Without the wars and forced conversions key to the religion’s spread across the globe, it may have died out long ago like so many others have. If that were the case, you wouldn’t know the characters of Jesus or God or Muhammad or any of the tales and myths associated with a particular faith. Religions concern themselves with preserving and worshiping these myths as realities, without regard to substantial evidence to the contrary.

If not from ancient religious texts, where does one glean knowledge of Jesus’ teachings? Can’t one simply be a good person without doing it in Jesus’ name or because he would have done the same? The fact is that without cultural indoctrination, all of us would be atheists or, more specifically, while many may dream up their own Gods as did our ancestors, they would certainly not be “Christian” or “Jewish” or “Muslim” or any other established religion. That’s because, without the texts and churches and familial instruction, there are no independent evidences that any specific religion is true. Outside of the Bible, how would one hear of Jesus? The same goes for every established religion.[1]

More importantly, what are Jesus’ unique teachings that are so crucial as to be valued above those of all others? I often challenge Christians to give an example of any of Jesus’ alleged ideas that were new to humanity, never used by anyone who lived before, without a definitive and novel answer. For many Christians, Jesus is worshiped in such a way that his followers actually change his teachings, sometimes to an extent that his original (biblically-attributed) claims are forgotten or marginalized. It is for this reason that, if a person needs a life advisor, I usually recommend a living person with fluid ideas over archaic and stagnant scriptures for guidance.

What other baggage does Jesus have?

Jesus claimed to be God incarnate  (John 10:30). It is taught in the Bible that “Jesus” and “Yahweh” are the same omnipotent Creator, that the former was simply the latter’s physical form while on earth. This was no doubt a way for Christians to justify the blatant worship and idolization of Jesus, in light of the Old Testament God’s warnings not to worship “other gods” – an idea that is common in the Hebrew Scriptures and is highlighted in the first four of the Ten Commandments, which leave out such atrocities as rape and slavery.

This means that, according to Christian doctrine, and according to the vast majority of modern Christian denominations, Jesus IS God. Jesus is the same jealous and angry God that abhorred homosexuals and condemned them as “an abomination.” He is the same deity that gave instructions on how to beat slaves and the same divine Creator that suggested the stoning of non-believers and disobedient children. You have to accept the good along with the bad… after all, he came not to abolish the Hebrew laws, but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). The jealous and angry God that justified the killings of millions and set plagues on first borns is the same God that Christians believe came to earth in Jesus. Whether Christians choose to obey early Old Testament laws or not, the deity hasn’t changed.

“But that’s the Old Testament!”

What we consider “moral” has changed greatly since the days of the Old Testament. The outdated moral laws present in the Hebrew Scriptures demonstrate Bronze Age ideals – and it’s understandable that modern Christians distance themselves from that era as much as possible. But to discount the entirety of the Old Testament is to discount the religion’s history and the actions of God “Himself.”

So, before you claim to hate religion and love Jesus, take a look at what Jesus claimed and understand that the Christian religion was built upon those teachings.

David G. McAfee is a journalist and author of Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide to Coming Out as a Non-believer and Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings. He is also a frequent contributor to American Atheist Magazine. McAfee attended University of California, Santa Barbara, and graduated with dual-degrees in English and Religious Studies, with an emphasis on Christianity and Mediterranean religions.

"I hate religion, but love Jesus!"

“I hate religion, but love Jesus!”


[1] Quote from Mom, Dad, I’m an Atheist: The Guide To Coming Out as a Non-Believer.

David G. McAfee Interviews A Member of Westboro Baptist Church

David G. McAfee Interviews A Member of Westboro Baptist Church

Religious people claim that it’s just the fundamentalists of each religion that cause problems. But there’s got to be something wrong with the religion itself if those who strictly adhere to its most fundamental principles are violent bigots and sexists.

Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based fringe religious group headed by Pastor Fred Waldron Phelps Sr., has become synonymous with extreme Christian fundamentalism especially as it relates to the group’s attitude toward homosexuals. WBC purports to represent primitive Baptist and Calvinist principles, and its members travel the United States picketing funerals of soldiers, well-known members of the LGBTQ community, and anything else likely to gain media attention. They have held more than 50,000 pickets in more than 915 cities, according to their website.[1]

WBC often preaches against the “God loves us all!” mentality that some cultural or liberal Christians have adopted, instead choosing to highlight the many times in the Bible in which God expressed his “divine hate.” Here are just a few of the church’s frequently cited biblical passages[2] about the hatred of God:

*Leviticus 20:23 – “And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.”

*Deuteronomy 32:19 – “And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.”

*Psalm 5:5 – “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.”

*Romans 9:13 – “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”

On Jan. 12, 2014, members of WBC made stops throughout Los Angeles picketing various “Whorehouses,” “Dog Kennels,” and “Child Rapists” also known as liberal protestant and Catholic churches before making it to the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, where they protested those who will “try and preach Paul Walker into heaven.” During the WBC’s exhibition, I met up with lifetime member Isaac Hockenbarger to ask a few questions about cults, faith, and science.

David G. McAfee: Would you consider the Westboro Baptist Church a cult in any way?

Isaac Hockenbarger: I don’t care what you want to call us. If we’re a cult, well then our charismatic empathic leader is Christ.

McAfee: So, you don’t have a problem with the technical term “cult”?

Hockenbarger: I don’t care what you call us because, quite frankly, what Christ said was “If you love me, the world is going to hate you.” How awful a thing is it to call someone a cult? It’s pretty bad. The world hates us.

McAfee: I for one don’t hate Westboro Baptist or any other church. And there’s a factual definition that determines whether or not it’s a cult, but I argue that any major religion is just a larger version of that.

Hockenbarger: The brainwash of God loves everyone is sad. It’s spelled out so many times in so many different ways across the Bible.

McAfee: Do you think that your sect of Christianity is more biblically literate than the majority of other denominations?

Hockenbarger: I don’t think you can call yourself a Christian without being biblically literate, and it’s an everyday thing. It’s constant learning. The most fundamental law of logic is that if there is but a single counter-example to your theory, you are wrong. As it is written, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” We can’t just change definitions of words because we don’t like them. Hated means hated, but we aren’t talking about human hate. We are talking about a fixed determination to punish those who don’t follow his commandments.

McAfee: I agree that the Judeo-Christian god is portrayed in most of the Bible as hating homosexuals, or whatever your version of hating is, but you’re working under the presupposition that Christianity is true and that all that exists. You’re really just working with ancient texts like everybody else.

Hockenbarger: We could work under the presupposition of atheism being true, and what then?

McAfee: Since there’s no evidence to support the existence of any deities or supernatural entities of any kind, not believing should be the default position.

Hockenbarger: We can all think that we’re the smartest people in the world and ‘Stephen Hawking it up’ and what would it gain us?

McAfee: Intelligence, intellect, and education. By pursuing scientific advancement we can understand how the world how it actually it is.

Hockenbarger: If you’re right, so what. If I’m right, you’re screwed. That’s the simplistic version.

McAfee: That’s called Pascal’s Wager, and it’s long been debunked. But the typical wager there would be that you lost nothing. You guys have kind of lost your whole lives, following this really extreme sect.

Hockenbarger: What would you have gained?

McAfee: Living an evidence-based life is great. You don’t just listen to whatever your family tells you, or your culture or anything. You just look at facts.

Hockenbarger: You keep acting like you don’t want to offend me by saying cult, but you tell me I listen to my family. No, I don’t.

McAfee: Just like any Christian, you were born into a family and you listen to them. It’s still indoctrination if it’s a small cult or a big religion. You teach your children something and you don’t allow anything else other than that.

Hockenbarger: That’s a lie. We live absolutely normal lives.

McAfee: Are you encouraged to question your actual faith and interact with people who have left the church?

Hockenbarger: Absolutely, people leave all the time. Most of my family doesn’t belong to the church anymore.

McAfee: And you have nothing against them for that?

Hockenbarger: No, absolutely not. But I’m not buddy-buddy with them.

McAfee: Why not? They’re still your family. Have you been taught not to be “buddy-buddy” with them?

Hockenbarger: Because it’s simple. They went their way, I’m going my way. It’s in the Scriptures.

McAfee: But what if you look at the Scripture from another religion? Why is your religion’s Scripture the “right” one?

Hockenbarger: It’s what you choose to believe, just like you can choose to believe in the Big Bang, or whatever.

Click for video.

Click for video.

Exposing Christians To Secular Material: Response To William Lane Craig

Exposing Christians To Secular Material: Response To William Lane Craig

By David G. McAfee
 

Christian apologist and philosophical theologian William Lane Craig was contacted this week by a Christian who read my book, Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings, and was subsequently finding it “hard to believe in God.” Craig’s response: “Quit reading the infidel material.”

The question, posed in this week’s Q&A section of Craig’s site, was published alongside Craig’s answer and entitled, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” The anonymous questioner stated that he or she “wants to believe in God,” but is having trouble believing after being exposed to Disproving Christianity, Richard Dawkins, and atheist friends.

“Hi, Dr. Craig, I’m currently reading ‘Disproving Christianity’ by David McAfee. I’ve also been listening to Richard Dawkins. I want to believe in God, but I’m having trouble with my faith. I’ve always been a Christian, but since I started talking to my atheist friends, I find it hard to believe in God. When I think about it, it doesn’t make much sense to me to belive in a creator of the universe. It makes even less sense for me to believe in a God who intervines in our lives. Please, I want to believe in God, any suggestions?”

Craig begins by saying that he is “utterly baffled” by how many “ill-equipped” Christians expose themselves to material that is destructive to their faith.

“I remember vividly that when I first became a Christian I was very careful about what I read because I knew that there was material out there which could be destructive to my newfound faith and that I had a lot, lot more to learn before I was ready to deal with it,” Craig wrote. “Do we forget that there is an enemy of our souls who hates us intensely, is bent on our destruction, and will use anything he can to undermine our faith or render us ineffective in God’s hands? Are we so naïve?”

Craig goes on to offer the questioner four “suggestions” to help resolve his or her crisis of faith.

  1. “Make first and foremost a recommitment of your heart to Christ.”
  2. “Quit reading and watching the infidel material you’ve been absorbing.”
  3. “Begin a program of equipping yourself in Christian doctrine and apologetics.”
  4. “Attend some apologetics conferences.”

If Christianity is the transcendent truth and superior to all other faithful and non-faithful worldviews, as Craig believes, then why does it need to be protected from criticism? Why do Christians, in Craig’s view, need to “equip” themselves before being exposed to such material?

My view is the opposite. Where Craig says “believe,” I say investigate. I would never encourage an atheist to avoid the Bible, for example, out of fear that its strong arguments might compel that person to believe. In fact, I frequently encourage the opposite approach: I recommend believers and non-believers alike educate themselves about all of the world’s religions, including a basic understanding of the traditions’ core tenets and Holy Books.

If you study comparative religion, it’s more difficult to be religious because the great faiths are all very similar at the most fundamental level. Each organization has similar cult beginnings and “prophets,” they each began as local and cultural myths before being applied to a global context, and they are almost always spread through a combination of violence and proselytization.

Non-believers don’t have to be fearful of theistic material because there’s simply no evidence for the existence of deities, therefore every argument is automatically philosophical in nature and regards a general “higher power,” and not any specific deity – like Jesus or Allah.

All that said, I’m encouraged by the original questioner. This person decided, against Craig’s advice, to seek out material from someone else’s perspective. They didn’t let the fear of damaging faith keep them from exposing themselves to multiple sides of possibly the longest debate in human history. For any other believers who wish to do the same, please send an e-mail to DisprovingChristianityPDF@gmail.com for a free PDF of my first book, Disproving Christianity.

"Garbage In, Garbage Out"

Q&A on William Lane Craig’s website.

Dozens ‘Turn To Christ’ In Public School Prayer Rally

Dozens ‘Turn To Christ’ In Public School Prayer Rally
By David G. McAfee

 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation on Thursday said it wants four Georgia public school teachers involved in an impromptu “prayer rally” to be permanently removed from duty, and approximately 50 student participants disciplined.

The prayer rally began in a coach’s office at Lumpkin County High School at about 7:30 AM on May 1, according to media reports. One student claimed that “between 12 and 15 fellow students turned their lives over to Christ during the prayer.” Continue reading

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

Disproving Christianity: Refuting the World’s Most Followed Religion

Press Release- For Immediate Publication

Disproving Christianity: Refuting the World’s Most Followed Religion

by David G. McAfee

 

               Secular activist, author, and student of Religious Studies, David G. McAfee recently published a controversial and thought-provoking book: “Disproving Christianity: Refuting the World’s Most Followed Religion.”  Mr. McAfee is working to obtain dual degrees in Religious Studies and English from UC Santa Barbara and has been a regular contributor for American Atheist Magazine and a columnist for Canadian Freethinker Magazine, in addition to maintaining his own website featuring secular literature- www.DavidGMcAfee.com Continue reading

We are all Born Atheists: I Just Stayed that Way- PART ONE Childhood and Religion

We are all Born Atheists: I Just Stayed that Way Part ONE

By David G. McAfee 

Please ‘follow’ me on Twitter for future updates

 

My Childhood and Religion

            Everybody is born as an atheist and, without submersion into religion as a child, we would most likely maintain that position… more often than not, however, this is not the case. My parents were not religious people… They may have abused substances religiously- but church was probably the last thing on their minds. When I was two years old, my parents divorced and began their separate lives pursuing drugs to feed their addictions. Clearly, they felt that they were unfit to properly care for their child (though they were always a large part of my life and, for the most part, acted in accordance with standard human morals and decency)- my grandmother thankfully volunteered to care for me until my mother or father could afford (financially and emotionally) to raise me. She never mistreated me or abused me, but she was the first person in my life to introduce me to religion and the authority of the church. Continue reading