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I am very confused.

I am only 17 years old. I have gone to church for as long as I can remember. But for the past couple of years I try to avoid it as much as possible. I really find it hard to believe in god. I honestly don’t remember ever truly believing in him. I blurted it out when I was with my friends one night and they were shocked. A few of my closer friends already knew and they don’t judge me. Even though some of them are very religious. But some of the people were really freaked out. They started to kind of yell at me and say all this bad stuff to me. They kept wanting to discuss it with me. They don’t understand why I don’t believe. I find it very hard to explain to people. I just know that deep down I don’t want to. But I can’t. It doesn’t feel right. It seems to me like it is just a way to make people feel better when they are dying. It is normal to feel guilty? Or even wish that you did believe in god? Am I even atheist after all? I just need sme guidance.

Posted: February 26th 2011

Eric_PK

People freak out for various reasons.

Some do because they honestly believe that you are now going to hell and it bothers them.

Some do because they themselves are desperately trying to believe and whenever anybody doesn’t it scares them.

Some of them never really understood the point of the Golden Rule.

You can’t control how they behave, and it’s really their problem, not yours. My experience is that if you are a non-believer it’s usually best not to talk about belief with those that do believe; they have a hard time understanding your perspective, and it’s very easy for things to escalate.

As for being confused, it’s normal. You were taught your religious beliefs before you could rationally evaluate their truth, and that buried the belief pretty deep. Your rational mind has now decided that it doesn’t belief but it’s fighting with your emotional beliefs.

I suggest you go to the forums at ex-christians.net. There are a lot of people there who have gone through exactly what you are going through and can help.

Posted: February 28th 2011

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logicel

If you have no god belief, you are an atheist.

Feeling uncomfortable about trying to explain why you are an atheist is normal in a society where the majority are god believers. I say simply I have no god belief because there is no evidence. And there isn’t any. Then I end the conversation. There is nothing to discuss. Ask them to show you the same substantial, interlocking, inter-disciplinarian evidence for their particular god that backs evolution. Until then, there is no reason to have god belief. Or you can do as my husband, who says he is not interested in that kind of thing without even mentioning he has no god belief.

I also felt from an early age that god belief is ridiculous but that I could not explain it so I kept my lack of god belief to myself until about a decade ago. I just got fed up with the passive-aggressiveness of religious believers (who though seemingly nice, have no intention to let your lack of god belief be easily accepted), and now I have no problem stating that I have no god belief.

Give yourself time and hang out with other atheists. There are many atheists on Facebook. Find some fairly well known atheist, befriend them, and then add to your atheist friend list. When I was struggling to feel comfortable with being an atheist, there was no net. So please use it to your advantage—to build your confidence and to learn how to be an fulfilled, at-peace, contented atheist.

Posted: February 28th 2011

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brian thomson www

You don’t say what kind of community you live in, but it sounds like the kind of community where being religious is associated with being “normal” and “good”, and anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the religion is an “outsider” in some way. I can assure you that the whole world is not like that, even in countries that have strong religious histories. I presume you’re in the USA, parts of which are very “immature” in religious terms: European countries seem to be better able to handle a mix of religious and non-religious people.

Objectively, it should not be up to you to explain why you don’t believe: not believing is the natural state of affairs. You were born not believing in a god, and would have remained that way as you grew up without the influence of the people around you. Of course children need guidance and education, but that doesn’t have to be religious in nature: it can be about the way the world actually works, as opposed to the way some people wish it worked.

Posted: February 27th 2011

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Steve Zara www

All kinds of feelings are normal in this situation. I wouldn’t worry about trying to label what you are, just explore your beliefs.

As for what others are doing, I think that strong reactions to atheism can be motivated by fear. Others can fear that atheism is true, or that if they face challenges to their faith they will find it lacking. After all, why would someone confident in their beliefs be so defensive? Think of any bad reaction as the other person’s problem, not yours.

Do I wish that I believe in God? Not a chance! Why would I want some all-powerful mind monitoring my every thought, my every action? I don’t want to be a pawn in some eternal game. I don’t want my life to be planned out by a power over which I have no control.

I rejoice in the freedom we have because there is no God. We can create our own reality, make our own choices, love who we want to love, be who we want to be. I think that is simply wonderful, it means that there really is meaning in our lives, the meaning we make. Meaning imposed by God isn’t meaning, it’s commandments. I believe in liberty and democracy, and neither are possible if there is an ultimate celestial authority.

Atheism is freedom.

Posted: February 27th 2011

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SmartLX www

I don’t know about normal, but it’s certainly very common for people to feel guilty when losing their faith. I call it “faithdrawal”. It tends to fade over time, so try to put up with it for now.

It’s just possible that you do still believe on some (subconscious?) level, but you don’t know it or you deny it. Many Christians think that all atheists are like this; that’s going way too far, but you can’t rule it out for every single self-proclaimed atheist.

So go and figure out what you believe, or don’t, and why. It could take a while, but once you peg it you’ll be much better at explaining yourself.

Until then, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your Christian friends. Listen to their arguments and judge them on their merits. Look up anything you haven’t heard before. See whether there’s anything to it all.

Posted: February 27th 2011

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