Are you a lifer?

How many of you out there were either raised in a secular non-religious environment or have come to realize that you’ve never believed in any god/gods? I was born and raised Catholic, but by the time I was about 15, I realized that I didn’t believe any of the crap that I was forced to participate in.
So I have concluded that I’ve never believed anything happens when we die, you’re born, you live, you die, the end. The very first tattoo I got was of a headstone with the inscription THE END on it. I still believe it, when we’re dead, it’s just lights out, nothing more.
I’m 62 now, and I have no fear of death and have been a life long atheist. Anyone else come to that conclusion during your adulthood? How old were you when you came to your senses and decided to live your life as you see fit, not the way religion dictates you should in order to get into heaven?

1 Like

I was reared devout bog Irish catholic. IMO the most ignorant, superstitious, bloody minded, bigoted and hateful bunch in a pernicious religion.

Growing up, I would sometimes ask questions :

At say from 12 to 15:

Dad: “Shut up” he would explain

At School :One of the learned brothers, trained in theology would answer knotty questions by saying: " Oh, that’s a mystery of faith, we just believe it"

On weekend retreat at a local monastery at 16: “our Library’s just down there, help yourself.” That was when my loss of faith began. It became complete when I was conscripted into the army at 20. There was no one to insist I go to church or observe any other christian ritual. My dog tag said “RC” (Roman Catholic) I did that because I didn’t want to stand out. There was no category of ‘atheist’ for one’s dog tags. The army was very much a case of “go along to get along”. Probably still is.

For the next twenty years, I looked for supernatural meaning. I found none. One day I simply realised that I had become atheist. Couldn’t pin point exactly when. It was a long process.

I envy those who reach that point with the ingenuous certainty of youth and never look back.

My parents were schismatic in their birth religions…My Father was High Cof E and a dedicated Freemason of high rank while my Mother was brought up in the Presbyterian tradition. They agreed not to push any faith upon us.

Fortunately my Grandfather (whom I lived with) was a a card carrying socialist and freethinker who would not allow the dour, wally faced misters and wee free missionaries in the house.

When I was aged eight Papa at my request gave me an illustrated bible, then when as I questioned the more ridiculous stories took me to Paisley Library, introduced me to the librarian and my questioning ways continued. Much to my wannabe devout Nana’s distress. Many late night discussions with Papa as we tramped the Scottish Highlands, crisscrossed Europe behind what was then the Iron Curtain, and plain just enjoyed ourselves discussing my day’s discoveries. I disbelieved at aged 8.

In my rather swell English school ( I won a scholarship) religion, like Queen and Country was a mantra, hymns and prayers every day, evening prayers, grace before meals, it was just a (more boring) part of life. It never affected me. As a “foreigner” I was unmercifully bullied anyway and so in retaliation I used my (by then) well honed research skills to question everything these English buffoons held dear. I produced facts, not wishlists much to the chagrin of the History Master and the delight of the Greek and Latin Masters…yes I knew the truth behind the facades the controllers of the public used to further their aims. It entrenched my contempt for “royalty” and unquestioning obedience and of course the limp wristed tick a box C of E christianity

It culminated with me emigrating, on my own, to Australia at age 13 (14 to the Aussie authorities) as I changed my birthdate…I then embarked on a spiritual journey/search for some 15 years as I explored religions, sects cults and “nones”. I ended up in zen ( I practiced a very traditional martial art) where the question of a “god” or “gods” was irrelevant to the personal journey. We just did not ask the question.

I then (when time permitted) continued my study of the wild claims of religions when presented by those convinced it was their mission to approach me. That led to the hobby I still have today, that of 1st century history and the founding of the Messanaic traditions. 30 years later, I can say with some conviction I am still an atheist agnostic. I do not believe the claims for a god of choice, I do not know if there is a “higher power” but should there be such a thing, I am sure it did not originate in 1st century Palestine.

3 Likes

I was not raise religious and the family was not religious, howevever, I was introduced to it in elementary school. My mom apparently thought it was a good idea and it kept me away from her an extra hour a day. I reminded her of the asshole that she divorsed and she let me know it daily, “Your just like your fucking father!” Religion was probably a good thing as it kept her from killing me. (Hyperbolically speaking.)

I was primed to be saved in my teens, when I was shuffled off to the bible belt where I failed a second HS in Kansas and then a third in Alabama. Praise the Lord though, because he was holding my hand. I lost my calling in Kansas when I decided to be a preacher.

I ended up visiting as many churches in the small town as I could think of, or that were around me. (I like to claim that I visited every church in town but that probably isn’t exactly true.) I went to black evangelic Baptist Churches, Catholic Churches, Nazarine Churches, Calvary Churches, Mormon Churches, Crazy Dancing in the Isle Churches and Solemn Serious God is holding a sword over your head churches.

That pretty much did it for me. (It was all made up.)

2 Likes

You lucky bastard.

I’ve only been to Scotland twice. Last time was in 2000, backpacking. Did a lot of walking. Came across from Belfast to Troon. As far north as Skye, finishing my journey at Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness. Some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen. Some terrific train trips and wonderful walking. For me, back packing was more about the journey than arriving.

When I got back to Cambridge, where I was staying with friends, I was half an inch taller. I had been carrying this A frame back pack see----

Sometimes stereotypes are real : Portrea on Skye, stayed with a Mrs Mc Cleod. ,The house was on Stormy Hill road. At breakfast, I was asked " How would you like your eggg?" Good digs though, clean and in the centre of the town.

Me too, for a short time. Even eventually managed to solve a koan. Without effort or conscious thought. The answer came some time after I had dropped it…

Right now I’m learning a very Zen thing; to paint bamboo. It’s been about 3 months now. A few mores years would probably help. A few more months, then I’ll drop it for a year.

Me too. I’ve long thought it was more likely to be in the Indus valley if anywhere.

Hey, you immigrated to Oz at 13, alone? Farrrk! How on earth did you manage that? I wasn’t aware unaccompanied minors were allowed even in the 50’s/60’s

I was 53 before I felt comfortable travelling by myself overseas. Still don’t like travelling alone.

I lived there from Birth to age 4, it is actually Port Righ (Portree to the English). I lived in town but my Aunt Aggie and Uncle Wille were crofting ( took advantage of the Act) I spoke both English and the Gaelic until I was 5 and went to my grandparents in Paisley. One of the toughest streets in one of the toughest schemes in Scotland…

It was very much alive but we ( there were about twenty of us on the Ship) all had (or in my case forged) parental permissions and had undergone at least 3 interviews. We also had to work or school at the direction of the Government for two years, no criminal activity (repatriation) . At that time leaving school was 14 and I had done the equivalent of the leaving certificate ( 5 O levels) so was “work ready”. We had “Guardians” here so after orientation at the migrant camp were farmed out to various homes, some like me worked and studied part time, some studied, some like my friend got unlucky and ended up in farm school in WA…he hated it. Burnt down a police station in the wheatbelt and got himself repatriated. Met him by chance years later in South Africa, a respected lawyer and family man.

First job was at Myers in the furniture department, proved to be too thin and small so was transferred to the canteen. I think 16 year olds were allowed to migrate on their own recognizance with guardians permission etc etc until the mid eighties. I left again just before my 19th birthday full of hope, music and determined to make it big in the business…LOL. Naive, brave little bugger I was then and definitely the blackest black sheep of the family to all except my Papa.

An interesting life. Good thing you’re smart. Or perhaps it was the combination of early upbringing and brains which made you so adventurous.

I left home at 18 to work and live in Melbourne. Serving in Malaysia and Singapore was just adventurous enough, and not through choice. Never regretted it thought.

At 13??? Pickle me grandmother. I was the shortest in a class of 46 boys, at exactly 5 feet tall. Never felt short, it was just that some of 'em were bigger than I. Not at all timid, fought back and won against the odd bully… Such a move never entered my head. A pity really. Could have moved to Canada where I had a large extended family. Getting away from my arsehole father and brutal school would probably have changed my life. Or not, who can ever tell about such things?

Did you keep your Gaelic? Given the times, I’d be surprised if you did. I understand that today kids are encouraged to keep their first language, or indeed an exotic second language such as Scots Gaelic.

I should clarify, I applied when I was twelve and 10 months, it took 13 months to get approval so I arrived just before decimalisation…fuk I hated that damn song. I only had to add 3 months to my age (with the connivance of the officials) to be legal on landing. Dollar Bill and Australians Keep The Wheels Of Industry Turning - YouTube

Sadly that went very quickly, speaking gaelic wasn’t encouraged at school, it wwas punished and a “teuchter” was not welcome in the street, barely more accepted than the Catholic Irish at the time. Last year I took it up again and now watch “Scottish Weather” on SBS much to the astonishment of Mme who cannot understand a word and has the English disdain for native language. I tease her unmercifully.

Words like clouds, cloudy, Rain, showers, Low pressure are repeated very very often making it much easier to learn…even Captain Cat has gone from that monicker to “Cat cudromach” (An Important Cat) he seems to prefer it. I have fewer holes in my leg.

I guess I’m a lifer as I’ve never believed (in god, or Santa Claus for that matter). It helps that unlike my friends; I didn’t have someone at home filling my head with lies about these topics at an age when I might have been vulnerable to such things.

1 Like

Unfortunately I didn’t escape my family’s passed on beliefs system until I was probably 49. I’m sure sometime in my 30s I began relinquishing the last of my beliefs of a supernatural entity. But I didn’t or couldn’t admit to myself the truth, mainly because my wife and all of our families and friends, as far as I’m aware, live a form of christian influenced life, most attending churches.
I think I was 49 when I got into a debate with a theist about ‘god’s plan.’ In that debate I angrily blurted that I didn’t believe in any gods, much less any divine plans that controlled anyone’s lives. I think I shocked him and myself. We ended the debate by agreeing to disagree.
I’ve marked that time as my epiphany, though now I don’t remember the date. But that was the time I had declared to myself what my actual beliefs are and are not.
My only regret is that I hadn’t had the courage to state my stance to myself earlier.

2 Likes

Don’t kick yourself mate. I think it’s a big deal for anyone managing to get away from ingrained religiosity of childhood. No matter what age.

Atheists make up about 15% of the world population. A distinct minority.

It’s my position that (a) for most people, religious belief is an accident of birth. (b) that religious beliefs and world views are absorbed uncritically before the age of seven.(c) Few people ever seriously question those beliefs. If they did, there would be vastly greater numbers of atheists

.–And dare I say it, far fewer capitalist exploiting we the people. If a great many more people seriously questioned our system, there wouldn’t be any capitalists either. But, I’m an ignorant man, I can’t demonstrate that claim to be true. I guess it’s a pretty naive perception of human beings

“If you could reason with religious people there wouldn’t be any” (Greg House)

My parents were a mixed marriage, as my father was Jewish and my mother was Presbyterian.

I was brought up in a very secular household, and I was given a lot of familiarity with both religions–so I could understand the culture somewhat–but I didn’t have belief rammed down my throat.

My parents did raise me to believe that there is a lot of evil and nastiness that comes from religion . . . especially war, but also the oppression of women, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the sense of entitlement that lets us believe that we can destroy the natural world.

If anything, I’ve had feelings that tend more toward agnosticism than atheism, but that was when I was younger.

I started reading works by Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Desmond Morris, Freeman Dyson, and so forth when I was younger . . . and found myself in agreement which much of their thinking.

Lol - I was just thinking of that line and :boom: Boomer - you quoted it! What is that saying??? …fools seldom differ? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:. I enjoy House but dislike the commentary all the time by the folks around him on his personality. The guy I dislike and would watch like a hawk is Foreman. Arrogant dick with no sense of himself.

I liked House for a while. Went off the show after a while because I couldn’t empathise with House.

Here in Oz there is one pervasive rule about how to behave; “Don’t be a cunt”. House was certainly that, all the time. I thought he was lucky that one of the staff did do him an injury, like fucking up his other leg. In too much pain to behave as a human being? Oh, I’m truly sorry. Now fuck off.

“Great minds think alike, but fools seldom differ)” (anon)

"It is usually used in situations where two people have the same tastes, ideas, opinions etc. It basically means that both these people could be equally brilliant, hence the similarity in their brilliant ideas (great minds think alike). Before they get all carried away though, the saying goes on to remind them that a possible explanation is that they are both equally stupid (fools seldom differ).

Thus, concurring with a person’s view could indicate that you two are both wonderfully brilliant, or incurably stupid."

My father was an atheist from a young age, and was appalled at the cruel and indifferent hypocrisy of the members of his local chapel. My mother still believes, and sent me and my siblings to Sunday school from a very young age, but I grew cynical and suspicious of the evasive and ambiguous answers the priest used to offer when I questioned some of the things we were taught, and I’ve been an atheist pretty much since childhood. It comes up occasionally, but religion is not a hot topic here most of the time.

Never raised with god - parents weren’t religious, I’ve never believed that stuff. I find atheists challenging because so many are wrapped up in the “shaking off the chains of religion” thing…I just can’t relate - not interested

My grandmother, perhaps in her best attempt to see me not turn out like my abusive, alcoholic biological father, took my mother, sisters, and me to Catholic church services occasionally and apparently. I was so young that I don’t recall any of it.

My mother shitcanned my father by the time I was five and, though she was a lightweight Catholic, believed that raising a child “in” a particular faith made no sense. Likewise, my eventual stepfather, a professional scientist, had no interest in nor time for religion whatsoever. And so we were a notably nonreligious household.

One of my sisters became a Southern Baptist upon leaving the nest. The other sister believes there’s a god and belongs to a local Lutheran church but hardly ever goes. Religion, to me, has always been a conspicuously anachronistic notion and I’ve been an atheist for as long as I remember remembering anything, though only discovering the label around the age of twelve.

4 Likes

Took me about 49 years to fully escape. Small town dot-on-the-map in the middle of The Bible Belt. Raised in a mix of Baptist and Methodist. Church every Sunday morning, most Sunday nights, and occasional Wednesday evenings. Surrounded by friends and other family of denominations ranging from Church of God to Pentecostal to Calvanist to Zionist. Oh, and the KKK were a common (and accepted) site in my area during my earlier years. Because of this, I saw some of the best and the worst of religion. Which probably explains why none of it ever made any sense to me at all starting when I was about 6 or 7.

As I got older and was given the option, I gradually started decreasing my church attendance. I was never comfortable in a church, and that carried over into my adult years. The more I experienced and the more I learned over time, the greater the conflict became between my Christian indoctrination and what I was seeing/learning in reality. Got to the point where I avoided any discussion about religion like the plague. I knew I didn’t believe in most of what I was taught, but the fear of Hell and Satan always kept me from questioning it all too deeply. Plus, the term “atheist” was BEYOND any evil known to Man. You would actually be better off and get more sympathy/understanding by claiming to be a child molester. To say the least, I was mentally torn between two worlds. And that psychological battle in my head caused me a butt-load of anxiety and resulted in some really fucked up decisions over the years.

My path to “freedom” didn’t start until I met my wife in 2011. She was a Yoga Instructor at the time, and she’s Pagan. She is also a research fiend with extensive knowledge of different religions, Christianity in particular. She opened my eyes to things I had never known, and it helped me start to understand all the things that never made sense to me. It was a long and sometimes torturous journey, but in December of 2017 I joined the AR with some reluctance. As, for the very first time, I designated myself as an Atheist in the course of creating my profile. I haven’t looked back since.

I’ve said many times how I am a bit envious of those here who never had to grow up with religion the way I did. Although, knowing the things I know now, I have to admit I am somewhat thankful for my experiences. Because of my early indoctrination, I now have the advantage of fully understanding how/why religion has such a powerful hold on a vast majority of society. As such, it allows me to better relate to those who are starting to question their faith. It also gives me the insight to be able to better counter those who try to defend their chosen god. Granted, it would have been nice to have “escaped” much sooner in my life, no doubt. Even so, those years of doubt/anxiety/indecision I endured are the very thing that make me appreciate my freedom so much more now.

6 Likes

Helllll-oooooo-ooooo! Anybody here? Yoooo-hooooo… (echo-echo-echo)…

I’m still dancing … I hope. lol

Concerning the effects of religion on me, I now understand that i was exceptionally fortunate I was in a church that was very soft on the fearmongering.

Of course I was aware of hell, but our position was that if you went to church and looked decent, you got a pass.

Then again, I don’t know if it was supposed to affect me, I was a shit-storm of a wild kid.