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How did you become non-religious?

Jun 16 2006
My withdrawal from religion

I recently found this website, so my post is almost a year later than the others, but I'll add it anyway. It'll help me describe it to myself if nothing else.

My experience was a slow one and comes from several angles:

1) My mother's people. I never knew them until adulthood (my parents separated when I was a year old; i ended up in the US w/ my dad). I've discovered my other family line of adventurers and free thinkers. My break w/ religion began way before this discovery, so I can only wonder if a skeptical turn of mind is an inherited trait? My American fam, whom I love dearly, are all homebodies. They rarely ever leave NC and their comfort level "out in the world" is much lower than mine. I believe their religion is sort of a "crutch' in their lives - they lean on it for reassurance and the homey feeling they get from religious tradition and knowing that they are in the "right" group, safe in a Savior, etc etc... They don't think thru the worldwide implications of religion, they don't see the harm done sometimes to humanity (ex: the inquisition) when religion intrudes into politics and public policy (not just here, but in Muslim countries - how they treat women, for a modern example)...Something in me was always skeptical about our self-proclaimed monopoly on "truth"... My european family, who were wanderers, travelers, traders, etc were never ever as insular as my American fam. So i must have gotten some of my wonderment and skeptcism from them in my blood - I've felt it from a young age.

2) The lack of logic in religion. I mean, we use science (based on observation, testing, and re-testing until the pieces "fit") to explain things, like in our medicine for example. All the Christians I know adore doctors. My very religious grandparents would do anything a doctor told them - "he's a good christian doctor" - almost blindly without understanding or wanting to understand the background information or the training the good doctor possessed. (I'm not knocking the doc, christian or not. Just my relatives:). They accept the medicine because they see it [u:3e11bc83a3]work[/u:3e11bc83a3]. But they're opposed to stem cell research as somehow "evil" based on their religion.... I've never understood that.

I realized thru reading that one foundation of the biology the doc practices is Evolution. And then I discovered that with evolution you didn't need a 7-day creator. Thats a simplification of how it all fell together, but you get the idea...It was a long process over time to understand the links in the chain, but when I got thru it - IT MADE SENSE. Whereas the Bible was a mass of contradictions when I really studied and thought about versus just accepting the Sunday sermon.

Which leads to: try as she might, my grandma could never answer the deep questions of How and Why that I asked as a kid.

"Grandma, how do you know the Bible is true?"

"It's true because its the word of God" she'd say, pointing to the Bible on the coffee table.

"well, how do you its the word of God?"

"It says so in the Bible, honey" pointing again.

And round & round it went - circular logic that I came to recognize as self-referential nonsense, that never leads to a meaningful conclusion. In defense of my grandma, please understand she was born in 1906 in rural Alabama where the Bible probably never had much informational competition...

3) I always loved history. And I came to question how a wandering tribe of nomads in the desert could write something like the Bible. Looking into that, I discovered things like how the Bible is a compilation of stories, told and re-told; translated, re-translated and mis-translated over the ages. As I heard educated religious authorities explain certain stories and miracles, and how "_____ could have really happened!" (as if to prove the Bible was true), and the skeptical scientist scholars using similar explanations, but using them to show that it wasn't a miracle at all, I came to understand that if some of the Bible stories/miracles had natural causes or were mistranslations, why accept any of it? Maybe there's another explanation for every "mystery" in the Bible....It seemed to me that religion was reaching to science to prove or justify its position without realizing it really did the opposite. Ever notice how in vogue it is to use scientific sounding phrases in business and everyday life? People want the "legitimacy" scientific language offers, but don't want inconvenient conclusions. This pushed me further down the road of skepticism.

I once thought about the decisions I've made over the years, and the successful ones were almost always the result of thinking them through. Not all of them, but most. At the same time, the ones where I relied on advice from someone or some authority figure with a religious bent, or I just prayed about it and hoped for the best, were the ones where the decision ended up being wrong. Again, not all, but most.

This led to the realization that "religion" based decision making isn't decision making at all - its more like random chance. And if a logical analysis of a problem works better in everyday life, then maybe people who rely on reason (like scientists, who are skeptical by virtue of their work) are indeed "right" in their thinking. And if thats the case, I wanted to be in those ranks - another move away from religion.

I still believe in spirituality. I can't quite help it for some reason. But organized religions of blind faith just don't work for me anymore.

Thanks for reading, and apologies for any typos and the sentences that don't 'read' very well.

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