How and when did you stop believing?

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What have you lost faith in during your life? When did it happen and how did you figure out what was really going on?

I stopped believing in the tooth fairy when I was about four or five. I'd written to the tooth fairy (in my kindergarten scrawl - asking for more money I think), but then a few weeks later I found that letter in the bottom of my father's filing cabinet. Busted. I was pretty gutted for a few days. Then I got angry. Why had my parents lied to me? Did they think it was funny? After a while though,(as kids do) I worked out that I could use my knowledge to my advantage to scam larger tooth bounties from my parents. It's always easier to manipulate the system when you know that there is a system. Still, the fact that I'd been lied to stayed with me for years.

With religion, I was raised Catholic (more-or-less, they were't particularly dedicated about it). I remember doing some sort of Christian correspondence course because my mother wanted me to learn more about it. I could read and write, but not at a high level so I must have been about 7 or 8.

I remember reading about Jesus and the loaves and fishes, thinking "Wow, I can't wait to learn how to do this myself. I'll be able to take one toy and turn it into hundreds of toys... Awesome"

From that point on, there was no single 'AHA' moment, just the slow realisation over the next few years that none of it was true. Again, it really pissed me off. Partly because my parents had lied to me again. Mostly it was that if magical-Jesus-powers didn't exist - I wasn't going to be able to develop them myself... There was going to be no magical toy duplicating awesomeness in my future. That part still sucks actually ^_^

What about you guys? What happened to you?

Well early on in life I had lost the faith that I could make a perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The day I realized that was the day I lost faith in humanity. I mean it's truly impossible to have the perfect jelly to peanut butter ratio. It will always be uneven...no matter how hard we try...

If you were looking for a religion answer out of me here it is. More or less last year.

I guess I never believed. I just thought it was like Jack and the Beanstalk, a nice story but that's it.

Well, my mother and grandmother (whom I have always lived with) are not religious. The other people in my life, other family and friends, were also non-religious. So that rubbed off on me and I honestly didn't care about religion at all. The only true exposure I had was RE back in primary school, and I mostly used that time to daydream. There was a very brief period where I used God's name in a serious manner, but I never worshiped him or prayed to him. Thankfully, that was just a small stint and I've never used a deities name seriously again.

So yeah, I'm about as atheistic as they come.

We had this exact topic about a week ago. I don't know what else can be said.
We all start and stop believing in things every day.

hmm let me see...
the tooth fairy I never bought into, and we never really went with it in my house anyway (the idea was absurd to me anyway)
Santa Claus, well that I did believe in for a time. I was a bit sad when I found out it wasn't real as it was nice to think there was some magic in the world.
I never held some grudge against my parents for being 'lied' too though as it was obvious the whole Santa thing was for our enjoyment and it was easy to see the effort and money my parents used to keep a smile on our faces.

on religion/faith, I quite enjoyed listening to bible stories as a child but I never thought of them as anything more than lessons in morales.

the last thing is sadly people.
as Ive gotten older I've realised people will not give a seconds thought to using you or betraying the trust. I'm not talking about bitchy teenagers either but full grown adults that constantly feel the need to get one over on other people.

I wasn't raised religiously so the only contact I made with religion was morning school prayers and obligatory school visits to the church. Fun times.

I wouldn't really say that I stopped believing, because, to be quite honest, my "belief" was tenuous at best. The only reason I "believed" was because everyone around me told me to. Being a child who didn't know any better, I did what I was told. I "believed". I guess you could say I grew out of it.

wintercoat:
I wouldn't really say that I stopped believing, because, to be quite honest, my "belief" was tenuous at best. The only reason I "believed" was because everyone around me told me to. Being a child who didn't know any better, I did what I was told. I "believed". I guess you could say I grew out of it.

That's precisely what happened with me. That and being infinitely curious hence I read and watched everything. That kind of put it in perspective for me.

I started reading advanced level books at a very young age. I also had a fascination with a number of older pagan tales, particularly from the greek and viking cultures. My parents made the "mistake" of giving me a somewhat "noob friendly" version of the bible. Given that context, I immediately noticed the links between the story traditions used there, and those used with other groups. This prompted a little bit of research into the nature and history of Christianity. Let's just say that what I found caused me to be done for good with the whole damn thing.

To my regret, I let this revelation cause me to become somewhat hostile towards Christianity and its practitioners. I have since learned to appreciate and respect all faiths for their own merits, even when their ugly side rears its head.

I was never taught to, so I never started to.

My mother is a christian and a bit airy fairy and my father is a down to earth kinda guy who is fairly atheist. I like my father a lot and i guess his influence wore off on me. He always made little jabs at religion in a light hearted way, and even though for a while i was religious, i gradually changed my definition of god until it become nothing at all. Before that I believed in the Omnissiah. I NEVER worshiped anything and i never will. My father taught me that and i agree with him. He said (paraphrased):

"Son dont you EVER listen to someone who demands you worship them or never question them. The best of men earn your respect and admiration by being the greatest among equals. Anything that demands worship wants you to crawl and debase yourself for its gain and the moment you agree youve put yourself down as an object of egotism to whatever youre attempting to appease. If someone tells you that they are innately better than you, that you OWE them devotion you kick that person out of your life immediately. Nothing that rules through power and fear deserves worship. Nothing deserves worship full stop. Its the most selfish and disgustingly egocentric things to want and you should never desire it."

My faith in the idea of limited government and personal responsibility was greatly shaken during the 2008 crises. I watched some of the wealthiest, most powerful people on the planet go before our Congress in the USA and tell our government that they needed handouts. And they got them. I'd read one monster got $2.5 billion.

How the hell do I honestly write that a career option welfare mom has no right to government largess to survive when some super wealthy guy tells our government he needs a bail out? And gets it.

It makes you think, best I just get mine and to hell with everyone else. But I don't. I have to hope there is a better way.

September 12, 2011. The date looks significant if you squint at it, but it isn't. It's just the day that the part of me that had faith in God died; or maybe it died a long time ago and I hadn't noticed. Either way, a voice in my head said, "This is all there is," and no one argued back against it because there was no counter-argument to make. The voice was right.

Stopped believing when I learned more about the world and the people in it. I learned about the hundreds of millions to billions of Japanese, Hindu, Chinese and Arabic people of this planet and their religion. And I thought, "if the Christians are right, the vast majority of folks are going to be sent to hell to be tortured for all eternity. And they will think it is justice that they burn".

I thought of a 10 year old Persian girl, in Iran, who died due to illness, or maybe a car accident, and how Gentle Jesus and God would throw her into a burning lake of fire for daring not having read a Bible. I thought of all those Chinese kids growing up on the mainland, who died before they even reached their teens, being horribly tortured for all eternity because they didn't have the good fortune of being able to go to Church on Sunday. I thought of Anne Frank and Gandhi - do they belong in Hell? What good god would sentence them to hell? What about all those concentration camp jews who never accepted Jesus in their heart - are they destined for the eternal fire pit, having just died in a mortal one?

No, Christians, I am not angry at God for sentencing people to hell. First of all, I don't really believe in the Judeo-Christian God as most would understand him. Secondly, if there is a kind, loving God, I don't think he would allow hell to exist. What I am angry at, is that so many people think that it is JUST and FAIR and GOOD that God is going to send all those brown and yellow folks to burn. Forever. That is what I hate. How religion tells people that a whole swarth of the world's population is going to be burned forever, and what's more, DESERVES TO BE BURNED. That is what I hate. This belief by so many ostensibly good and nice people, that whole populations deserve nothing but pain and misery because they don't sing praises of Jesus.

Now I'm aware that not all Christians believe this - some Christians have altered their beliefs so that Hell either doesn't exist or isn't a place of torment. That's fine. I have no problem with those Christians. But the fundamentalist Christians who really do believe in Hell and believe God sends people to it, and has no problem with the idea of children being tormented in a place like that, I have a problem with them. I don't like their beliefs and their attitudes and their sheer callousness. To be perfectly fine with the idea that your conception of a just and loving god will toss little 10 year old Xue or 11 year old Shi into the lake of fire because their parents didn't give them a bible when they were born.

I couldn't believe in the religion my school taught me after I had this realization. If there is a god (and I hope there is), and if that god is kind and loving (and I hope that if one does exist, it is), then that God would never send anyone or anything to hell. Not even Hitler deserves eternal punishment. He might deserve 100,000 years of punishment, but not even Hitler deserves everlasting punishment. No one does. And to sentence people, good, decent people, to eternal punishment for the crime of not believing in God, is insane. It's just insane.

Gorfias:
It makes you think, best I just get mine and to hell with everyone else.

It's always been like that with unfettered Capitalism. Corporations get enough money and influence to leverage any sense of rivalry and fair competition out of the market. They socialize the losses and privatize the gains, they establish monopolies and cartels etc.; that's why you need government intervention and protections.

-Get assaulted randomly outside a nightclub because someone was emo about his breakup.
-Begin a lifetime of reading true crime and murder novels as well as crime shows.
-Now absolutely no faith in humanity and indeed, convinced that I'm surrounded by serial murderers
-Yay?

I normally say "I lost faith the moment I was able to look at the whole thing logically" but truth be told I don't think I ever had faith. My parents had me Christened, yes, but beyond that we were a completely non-religious household and the only time religion ever came up for me was in Primary school where the head-teacher used to end an assembly by reading a story from the Bible. And even then I never connected those stories to any greater concept than just "all these stories are boring, why can't they write some decent ones?"

Then came Religious Education in secondary school and if I wasn't already a total athiest by then god knows that would have made me into one.

Skeleon:

Gorfias:
It makes you think, best I just get mine and to hell with everyone else.

It's always been like that with unfettered Capitalism. Corporations get enough money and influence to leverage any sense of rivalry and fair competition out of the market. They socialize the losses and privatize the gains, they establish monopolies and cartels etc.; that's why you need government intervention and protections.

Actually, what you really need is good people working for the common good in the private sector and the public sector. Unfettered democracy is 51% of the people voting they get to pee in the cornflakes of the other 49%. After this last election, I greatly worry we are close to this now.

Gradually, over time, as I grew older and appreciated more and more intellectual pursuits. Something about religion always bothered me when I was a kid, and it wasn't until I had the propert cognitive tools to ask logical questions that it was revealed to be nonsense to me.

GunsmithKitten:
-Get assaulted randomly outside a nightclub because someone was emo about his breakup.
-Begin a lifetime of reading true crime and murder novels as well as crime shows.
-Now absolutely no faith in humanity and indeed, convinced that I'm surrounded by serial murderers
-Yay?

I'm glad I got to ask my question.
I hope you have a nice life, sad to see you go.

I'm not sure I like this thread format very much. I mean, there's going two be two groups of people viewing it:

1. Theists.
2. Atheists.

The Theists will just be offended by the inevitable patronising tone, so it's no good for them.

The Atheists simply bundle together for a collection of pseudo-intellectual mutual masturbation, so it's no good for them either -unless they enjoy being covered in eachothers' disbelief juice.

Can we give these ones a rest, maybe?

Like a lot of people, I suspect, there was no one moment when I suddenly went from Christian to Atheist, it was more a gradual process. In fact if you include the few years I called myself Pragmatic Agnostic it took about a decade.

However, there is one particular moment I remember that had a big impact. I was in a confirmation class when I was about 10 or 11, and the vicar, who was (and probably still is, because as far as I know he's still alive) a lovely man, offered as a counterargument to atheists, that someone wrote the bible down. Now even to little 10-11 year old me, that seemed a flimsy argument.

Other stuff like Santa I just grew out of, like most people I guess.

Gorfias:
Actually, what you really need is good people working for the common good in the private sector and the public sector.

But that doesn't occur when your entire corporate structure is oriented towards short-term profits, golden parachutes and lobbying the government into removing competition. Such people wouldn't survive long as the head of any corporation as they would stand in the way of profit maximization in the short-term (even if their approach may be more amenable to long-term survival of the company). You're ascribing moral values to entities that are based on being amoral devices for money generation. People with a moral bend are removed.

Skeleon:

Gorfias:
Actually, what you really need is good people working for the common good in the private sector and the public sector.

But that doesn't occur when your entire corporate structure is oriented towards short-term profits, golden parachutes and lobbying the government into removing competition. Such people wouldn't survive long as the head of any corporation as they would stand in the way of profit maximization in the short-term (even if their approach may be more amenable to long-term survival of the company). You're ascribing moral values to entities that are based on being amoral devices for money generation. People with a moral bend are removed.

It is also bad when government is run by people that think good things are fine, but you can't do them unless elected, so, getting elected is all that matters.

What matters is that people at the top, both in the free market, and in government, are good people. They should want to do the right thing, even when doing a bad thing might work better.

I worry we're in a phase when those in government are willing to do a bad thing because, what really matters is, "we won. Elections have consequences."

Gorfias:
It is also bad when government is run by people that think good things are fine, but you can't do them unless elected, so, getting elected is all that matters.

What matters is that people at the top, both in the free market, and in government, are good people. They should want to do the right thing, even when doing a bad thing might work better.

I worry we're in a phase when those in government are willing to do a bad thing because, what really matters is, "we won. Elections have consequences."

I'm sorry but that sounds almost like the Anarchists that say "Anarchy would totally work if only people were nice".

EDIT: And I guess that does make sense considering there's a certain overlap to Anarcho-Capitalism after all.

Well, yeah. But that's not how the world is, so it doesn't work out that way. You can't base your system around hoping that people won't abuse it in any way they can, because they will.

i didn't really start.
looking back i think its probably because i read Greek "mythology" before the bible...

I believed because I was told it was true from a young age, I was indifferent for a few years and when I left high school I reevaluated my beliefs to find a few of them baseless, a personal god was one of them. I now think the idea of a personal god is repugnant.

I went to a catholic school, so like everyone else there it was scrubbed out of me completely over about four years.

I can't say. It's just that their is a lack of proof, and I am the one that only follows proof. I also have to disagree on how space, and time joined with each other in a super powered explosion, because that offers little proof as well.

Gergar12:
I also have to disagree on how space, and time joined with each other in a super powered explosion, because that offers little proof as well.

Okay, nitpicking.

The big bang was not an "explosion", because there was no space to explode "into". With our current model of the universe, there's nothing "outside" it, it encompasses everything that exists, so before the big bang, nothing existed at all.

You're right in that there's no definite evidence as to what exactly happened at point zero, but that's why they build the LHC and all. Still working on it. The current data does support the big bang interpretation down to 0.0000....00001 (40-ish zeros) seconds after the big bang. The answer to "What exactly happened at the time of the big bang?" of course, is "We don't know yet, but we have a pretty good idea of what happened right after, and how."

How? I stopped believing when I started seeing. (How you interpret this is up to you to decide) I started seeing when I took LSD, and then proceeded to smoke Salvia Divinorum while under the effects of LSD.

When? When??? LOL

I find it so, coincidental (rofl), that the captcha says "Question Everything" as I write this post.

I am actually a recent "Apostate" from Islam. I grew up in a very religious Muslim household with a fundamentalist father who hammered Islam into my head constantly. I believed strongly until I was about 15, then at 16 it started decreasing, then 17 was when dad's grip on my mind had loosened and I doubted a whole lot, then at 18 I was getting tired of no good answers coming to me. 19 was when I started giving up on the faith because I was opening up my eyes more and more to all the BS (partly thanks to my sister). Age 19-20 (last 2 years) was when I became truly comfortable with saying that I am an ex-Muslim. I was always a rationalist and very logical but my father did a very good job of keeping that at bay...for a while. I'm 21 now and I call myself an Agnostic Deist.

As soon as I was old enough to read. My parents had an encyclopedia set that I soaked in like a sponge. It greatly improved my vocabulary and opened my mind to scientific theory. That combined with my ADHD, or inability to sit still for 2 hours, meant that I was most unwelcome within the walls of a church. When I wasn't constantly questioning the bible school teacher, I was squirming like I had a bad itch I couldn't scratch during sermons. Eventually my family just stopped going to church largely due to peoples' adverse reaction to me (teehee) and it became easy to choose my own path as it were. I chose the path less traveled.

I began my loss of faith (if you can call it that, being indoctrinated without choice...) on my 8th birthday when my brother died of complications from pneumonia. I was told by many family members that it was "god's will" and "he's in a better place" and "is one with god" and many other mouthfuls of falsehoods of why my brother was taken from me.

After having to go through the motions for the next 7 years I continued my attempt at convincing myself of faith by then having to confirm it (as the sacrament) at 15 years old. I graduated from my Catholic high school and once I left the house of my father, was free to seek out what information on faith, the history of my so-called faith, and conflicting views of Catholicism.

By 20 I didn't consider myself a Catholic but still recognized as a Christian.

By 23-24 I lacked any real faith in religious dogma and found it counter-intuitive to their actually being a god (i.e. institutions claimed to be holy and went against their very own teachings).

By 25 I had began to listen to people like Pat Condell, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan and other visible and vocal atheists who used logic and reasoning to push their points; two things that I was always taught not to apply to religion.

Now at 31 I've confidence in my own lack of faith and cherish the fact I have doubt about the world around me, knowing that I do not know what was before and what is to become after. At this point I've helped other's by giving them the freedom of exploring their own faith but still suffer from guilt of teaching I was drowned in as a child, only to have to critically think about what I was taught and where it came from - I am still un-educating myself on the indoctrination of my childhood.

I am an atheist and a heretic: I am without faith and embrace the ability to choose.

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