I haven’t been an atheist for long, really.
Back at the beginning of 2008, on an old (and long-since-defunct) blog of mine, I posted the following. It was one of the last things I wrote publicly as a believer, and I was barely a believer at that. I was on a lot of online forums, arguing with devout believers about the things they believed that didn’t make sense to me.
It’s interesting to look back on it now and see myself struggling with different ideas. I’ve overcome the challenges I faced then and become a much more content person, but this little glimpse into the past could provide some helpful insight, I think, to people who wonder what it’s like to go from believer to nonbeliever. (By April of the next year, I’d posted about why I was an atheist. Somewhere in the middle of that, I’d lost the last dregs of my faith.)
Without further ado:
Eight days ago, a lifelong Christian posted on Reddit’s /r/atheism forum, saying that he was going to spend a week trying to think like an atheist, so he could get to better understand our perspective. Yesterday, he wrote a follow-up post summarizing the experience. In short: he no longer considers himself a Christian, distrusts the authority of the Bible, and has tons of questions (about his own Christian beliefs) left unanswered.
Reader Alex recently asked a question in a comment on an older post:
Hi Mike, I’m sorry for my hard words, but there is no other way to tell it. I just read what you say in “About Me”. The very important question that you should pose to yourself some day, when you feel strong, is the following: Considering that just very recently I was stupid enough to be fundamentalist Christian, how can I be now so sure that being an Atheist is very intelligent?
In other words, if I was so wrong before, how can I know I’m right now? It’s a perfectly fair question, and it’s one I’ve asked myself several times. And there are several reasons I think I’m smarter now.
Thoughts from a Godless Heathen has been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information. That said, let’s continue!
If you’ve got some time, I recommend perusing The Lens, a blog by my twitter friend Ali. Ali, a former Muslim, lends an interesting perspective on the intersection of religion and culture that I and many former Christians have likely never seen.
From what I’ve seen, Islam seems to be more deeply embedded in the culture of its followers than the beliefs of most Christians are embedded in theirs. This is something I’m only just coming to recognize, but it’s an important point. When I tell people I’m an atheist, they tend to get a little freaked out by it, but it doesn’t shake their world off of its foundations. When an ex-Muslim tells other Muslims that they’re an atheist, it’s not so simple. The Godless Monster related it this way over on Hemant Mehta’s blog:
I get sick and tired of running into other Arabs and have them ask me if I am Muslim and then hear them respond to my declaration of non-belief by saying, “No!!! Once a Muslim, always a Muslim! You can NEVER go back! Never say that!”
I had to fake I was a believer at a cousin’s funeral when I was in southern Lebanon last month. How humiliating. It just wears you down emotionally after awhile. The entire culture and religion is obsessed with compliance and subordination and woe be to those who rock the boat or betray their own kind as I have. You former Christians and Jews have no idea how lucky you are.
I agree, and the more horror stories I read from former Muslims, the more I realize how smoothly my ‘coming out’ has gone.