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“I became one of those hated liberals…”

October 17, 2010

I’m currently reading Dan Barker’s book “Godless” and, though I am only two chapters in I’ve already run across a few quotes that rang true with me and I thought I would share here to see if they generate any discussion. These are all from chapter two.

“After a couple more years of evolving theology, I became one of these hated liberals, in my own mind, though few people suspected it. God did not spit me out of his mouth.” (page 37)

“People sometimes ask me, ‘What was the one thing that caused you to change your mind?’ I guess they are thinking that if they can ‘fix’ that one thing, then I will go back to faith. But there was no ‘one thing.’ It was a gradual process. It would be like asking, ‘When did you grow up?’ We can all point to a general period in our lives, but not to a specific moment.” (page 41)

“I did not become and atheist because I wanted to join a club. I was not converted by the ‘atheist movement.’ I saw no atheist evangelist on TV who persuaded me to change my views. I came to it all on my own, and that’s how it should be. Almost every other atheist and agnostic I have met since then, who raise raised religious, tells the same story: it is a private, independent process of free thinking. That is what gives it strength. It makes my conclusions my very own, valued because of the precious process of being forged and proved in my own mind.” (page 42)

I didn’t come to atheism by reading Dawkins or Sagan or Barker. I didn’t come to it by watch­ing YouTube videos explaining why people laugh at creationists or pointing out the errancy of the bible. It wasn’t from reading the blogs of well-known, very vocal evolutionists and atheists on the internet. I read and watched these things because I had already come to the understanding that they were right and the faith, which I had been taught for so many years, was wrong.

As is seen in my own story this was something I struggled with for years, it developed slowly. I remember having doubts as a young teen, perhaps maybe even as young as 11 or 12 but def­initely by the time I was 13 and 14 I was questing my faith on the very deepest levels. These doubts grew as I studied the scripture and theology more. I was seeking truth and I began to realize that truth was not to be found in religion.

I am, indeed, one of “those hated liberals.” I have been for quite some time, ten years or more. I vote Democrat, I support gay marriage, I believe that we should have universal health care in this country. I am even pro-choice. (I do think that abortion is a terrible thing, but I think that there are times when it must be an option. I think that, rather than demonizing abortion we should be doing more to prevent the unwanted pregnancies in the first place. I also believe that, if at all possible, adoption should be considered as an alternative to abortion. On the other hand, I understand that pregnancy and childbirth are not easy things to go through for a woman and who am I to tell them that they must do so?) These are all things that my family (with the exception of my oldest sister) do not know about me. These are things that I learned along the way as I sought truth.

(Just to dispel any confusion the Christians reading my blog may have:  I did not become an atheist because I became liberal.  I became liberal while I was on the path to find truth; the same path took me to atheism.  I am quite aware that there are many liberal Christians and churches that support them; I am not abandoning religion because of my liberal views.)

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. godlesspaladin permalink
    October 17, 2010 2:31 am

    I think Barker (and you) are right, it is a gradual process of exploring and thinking on your own. That’s how I came to it as well. Yeah the youtube videos, books, speakers, etc where interesting and thought provoking, but they weren’t what did it. I feel the fact that it does have to come from within makes it all the more powerful. Learning to trust myself and my ability to reason, even if my conclusions ran contrary to what other people said and threatened, was the hardest thing to do.

    • October 17, 2010 12:42 pm

      Yeah, for me it was similar to when I stopped believing in Santa. I was young, about 5 or 6, and had figured most of it out on my own. I asked my mom one day near Christmas if Santa was real, that I really thought he wasn’t. She didn’t really respond then, but later that day my mom and dad both told me the truth. After that I tried to hold on to my belief in Santa (I’m not really sure if it was because I really, really wanted to believe in Santa still or if I was just scared I wouldn’t get any presents on Christmas that year if I didn’t believe in Santa anymore) but I couldn’t.

      This has been similar, except that I haven’t asked my parents of God is real. The difference here is that they aren’t actively telling me a lie, they tell me what they believe to be true, it just happens to be a lie. With Santa they knew it was a lie.

      Now, my grandmother brings up an interesting case, she believes in Santa even though she knows he isn’t real. I’m not sure how that works out. I have a suspicion that she believes in God even though she knows that he isn’t real either. Or she just goes to church for the social aspect and doesn’t really care much either way about God. I know she isn’t deeply religious like my parents.

  2. October 17, 2010 9:31 pm

    Your story reminds me a lot of Dan Barker’s, which I read not long ago. Very tough, and I sympathize.

    My story is on my web site (http:\\www.mountaintrail.us\wonderings). You might find some encouragement in it, too.

    I hope you can get a more satisfactory job soon, and soon be free to find and follow your own path.

    • October 17, 2010 9:46 pm

      I should stop listening to the news. Just heard one of our politicians on the radio talking about how it will probably be two or three years yet before our unemployment rate is what is in normal times. :D

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll join into some of the conversations I try to start. I’ll go check out your story!

    • October 17, 2010 11:52 pm

      Seriously, though, my situation could be a hundred times worse, and I feel like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders since I admitted to myself what I knew already.

  3. October 18, 2010 4:22 pm

    You know what I can’t stand? When people tell me I don’t believe in God because I don’t want to be accountable for my sin. Or because of bad experiences with church people.

    A few weeks ago a coworker implied that I stopped believing in God because a church treated me badly and I corrected him and told that I lost my belief in God due to lack of evidence.

    He had the nerve to say, “See, I think that’s bull.” Well fuck you very much! So blissfully entrenched in your own ignorance that you can’t even entertain the possibility that someone might not actually agree with you for a valid reason.

    I don’t know why, but that is one of the few things that can really send me over the edge angerwise.

    • October 18, 2010 4:29 pm

      Yeah, I’ve seen some people using this line of reasoning in relation to people who have left the church (I saw one person using this to “explain” Dan Barker’s leaving the church even).

      I have no animosity toward the church in general or the churches I attended specifically. I haven’t changed my lifestyle since becoming an atheist. I don’t go out murdering every night or raping women every weekend. I don’t even go out and have sex with prostitutes. I haven’t been stealing things, cheating on my taxes, or lying about things (with the exception of my belief in God).

      I suspect that if I do end up getting a lot of this sort of thing in response to my non-belief that I will end up being one of those bitter atheists I’ll be speaking about in my next post.

      • October 18, 2010 4:33 pm

        You might become me! We could join forces and together be unstoppable!

        I am just highly insulted that someone thinks I’m stupid enough to trade eternity in paradise for, what? Listening to secular music? I did that anyway! Having premarital sex? HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT I LOOK LIKE?

        But really, more along the theme of this post: atheism is what happened to me when I finally came to a point in my life when I could no longer lie to myself. My marriage and my faith in God were two casualties of that, but that is the price you pay sometimes for the truth.

        • October 18, 2010 4:41 pm

          Hell, I thought i was being terribly sinful the first time I smoked a pipe or had a beer, then I realized that neither of these things is mentioned in the Bible.

          I’m sure that if there had been girls lining up to have premarital sex with me I would have done that even when I was a believer. I would have loved to find out for sure, though!

          I had wondered about the marriage, never felt it was my place to ask either of you about it though. I am very glad that I haven’t got that sort of thing to worry about.

          I am also very glad that I am being honest with myself. Did you ever have any idea that I struggled with my religion way back when you met me?

  4. October 18, 2010 4:44 pm

    I certainly have some missed opportunities from my teen years that I regret. Le sigh.

    No, I had no idea at all! You hid it very well.

    • October 18, 2010 4:47 pm

      I guess religion has made me an expert at hiding things!

      • October 18, 2010 4:52 pm

        Ugh, yeah. Did you have any idea of how much I hated myself because I “struggled” with an “addiction” to pornography? I seriously thought I was the worst man alive.

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