Differences between ex-xtian atheists and bought up atheists

I’m an ex-xtian, FUNDAMENTAL xtian to boot, did the whole Blou-kappie, lang rokkie, sunday school teacher thing in my youth and refused to listen to Depeche Mode because of their Blasphemous Rumours song. Anyway, I’m outspoken about my non-belief in social environments and will take on a xtian any day should they start the discussion (argument). I note with my sons though, that they simply couldnt be bothered to get into a discussion with religious folks, they simply shrug it off with a “whatever floats your boat” attitude and go seek alternative company. Whilst I have “issues” with people attempting to "de"convert me, my sons just ignore them.

My S/O is the same, as an ex-fundy he is an agressive atheist and has roaring fights that stops short of violence with his mother. He pointed out the difference between the approach of PZ and Dawkins - Dawkins being an ex-xtian and PZ most likely a never-were.

Were anyone here raised as an atheist or in a non-religious home, what are your observations in this regards?

Raised Christian: Church school, chapel 3 times a week. I don’t get into arguments with the religious because it is a total waste of time. We come at the subject from fundamentally different directions–to them faith is more important than reason; to us reason is all. There is no meeting of the minds; their viewpoint cannot be changed. So I walk away and find sane company.

I was raised in a church-going protestant home in N.Ireland, but you could call me a raised atheist, as I never believed, and my family have pretty much come to realise that they never really believed either, just went along with social convention.

I am interested in taking on the religious, but at the same time realise how pointless it is, having had some experience in discussing evidence and reality with people who believe in all sorts of woo. The mind has an extraordinary capacity to dismiss what it does not want to accept, that goes way beyond reason. Keeping the discussion centred on reason is therefore not possible.

It is usually the ex-fundies that become the most vehement atheists. Not sure why; perhaps they are just more intimately acquainted with the kind of harm such beliefs can inflict. I was raised secular, but was a fairly assertive atheist in my youth. As I got older, I got ever more mellow and, dare I say it, sort of spiritual, in a vague, non-religious but mystical kind of way. Nowadays I mostly cannot be bothered to get dragged into religious debates. I have heard all the arguments, from both sides, a million times over.

I’ve been brought up as the single child in a fairly stable and generally happy household. We did not do Bible study as such, and my parents were certainly not fanatical church goers. Still, I was expected to attend Sunday school and KJA (a church initiative for the youth, featuring fun events like Sunday night koffiekroeg, beach outings and watching Fiddler on the Roof).

In later years, there was also that examinable theology-lite course on Heidelberg Catechism, which, whether you studied or not, directly culminated in a full-blown Dutch Reformed Church membership. I seem to remember a lot of round stamps that we had to stick into a white folder, one for every year of completion.

Meanwhile at home, religious impositions were more or less restricted to the muting of the blaring theme music to the A-Team so that my dad could say grace before meals. Now that was annoying: our TV at the time - an old Telefunken PAL colour that outlived three successive family dogs - had no remote control, even when it was still a young TV. If you are the only child never encourage your folks to purchase a remoteless anything. I found Sunday school utterly boring (in Afrikaans there is a wonderful term describing exactly this: sielsdodend), and I was probably not a very good Christian.

I can recall only one occasion during my early teens when I was so completely convinced and overpowered by the holy ghost, that, while walking home alone late one night after “koffiekroeg” I found myself loudly croaking “Praat ek mense engele tale” in my tortured pubescent range. But it was only that once, and I never again experienced such a mindless certainty about anything supernatural. During the next twenty years, my Christianity became an ever growing source of embarrassment. I became ever more uncomfortable with it. Something wasn’t quite right - little did I know. When asked to do a prayer in public, it felt very insincere, and always cut it short to a few sentences. Then in my thirties, I decided to call it a day.

Would it have been any different if I grew up completely godless from day one instead of letting my faith peter out from that day when I loudly sang 9th symphony spin-offs in the streets? I think yes. Try as I may, and even though my religious upbringing was very mild in comparisson to some of my friends, it still left a bitter taste, and maybe some resentment, that I was exposed to religion at all. Because of it, I suspect I am perhaps too aggressive and proud an atheist. But then again, I was only a lackluster Christian, and, just maybe, it is now time to strive towards exceptional atheism. :stuck_out_tongue:


God wasn’t ever really mentioned in my house ( in Wales) and I was allowed to pretty much run free- and so started an early love affair with nature where I kind of explored and wondered and found out answers. I got sent to Sunday school once- lost my crayons down the 13th century church underfloor heating and loudly proclaimed that God had stolen them and never went back!School days were unreligious - it’s compulsory to do Religious Studies up to age 16 - but it is a very objective look- comparing different faiths and their beliefs/ festivals and issues, why people do/don’t believe etc… never . ever “instruction” or prayer though- something I think SA education could most definitely benefit from.

I never believed but was kind of sat on the fence didn’t give it lots of thought and energy kind of agnosto/atheist. Islam didn’t bother me much in the middle east for 2 years at all - I liked the fact that they were interested in your lack of belief and never tried to convince you otherwise- then - I came to South Africa and I’ve never felt such anger and frustration at Christians in my life and seen views that are so incomprehensible when coupled with the surroundings (human and physical) or seen people so cocksure that they are right and feel the need to inflict it on others so much. In the last 2 years it has led me to really read a lot more, watch lots of documentaries and really take my lack of belief to another level- I don’t think there’s many situations where it doesn’t pop up.

Here’s a picture of God with your crayons…

I still have mine, its filed neatly behind my first “getuigskrif” - from the dominee of course. There was a lot of pomp and ceremony every year-end when you collected your new “star”. I recall my mother crying when I eventually collected the gold one which meant I could finally be “confirmed” in the faith and start taking part of the more cannabilistic ceremonies the church had to offer. I feel nauseous just thinking about it now…



I have to confess I’m way more “strident” in online forums and mailing lists than I am IRL. I realised through my de-conversion that this was going to be a no-go topic in friendly conversation and social settings. I know all too well, having been thoroughly indoctrinated, that argument, especially in an “unstructured” real life conversation, is futile. The best one can do is make people doubt, and I throw in a friendly jab every now and then just to try and gently push people to think. But my deconversion came from my own reasoning and observation, and I felt extremely alone during that time. To my shame, I actually recall a time I (thought I) was razor sharp at generalising god beyond all scrutiny, and actually bluntly told a friend about halfway through my deconversion not to read “The god delusion” because it probably wouldn’t tell him much.

Minta… I mean Rigil: I also went to an NG church in early life and recall HATING those damn exams you had to write to get a silly little star. Besides you seemed to get it anyway no matter the effort made. My parents moved to the “Hervormde Kerk” though and they had no exams, happy days. I was bored in sunday school but found them “insightful”. It hurts to even admit it in public.

So yes I was a good old Christian in my day loved by all in the ‘gemeente’. Now I don’t find myself being strident IRL but online and on mailing lists, as you well know, I can be a hoot!

At my worst I tell people bluntly that god doesn’t exist, but that is to a select few friends who know me very well.

I try to keep it calm (er) IRL also it took me a while to realise you can’t argue or agree with someone when armed with reason and logic when the other person is armed with neither, you might as well be having two totally different conversations! In most cases I use “your imaginary friend in the sky” every time instead of God because it sounds ridiculous even to them to phrase it that way, and they quickly start sounding insane.

It must be a really tough time losing faith and the many things you once gave value to, especially with religious family and people around you as well.

Well he certainly seems to be enjoying them! Maybe he’ll grow into his head soon as well! :wink:

All my friends know Im an atheist. I have many conversations with my Christian friends and over the years it has tranformed from arguments to sharing our different experiences. Since I think religion is of little importance to reality, I don’t care anymore if my friends believe in god as I once did. I’m not as angry anymore. I have realised that we are all falible and there are some things I do which are probably also silly. I don’t bring up the subject of religion with them to argue but if we are watching TV and there is something about religion - I will make my comments and if my friend doesn’t like me sharing my opinion then I dont consider that person a friend. If they bring up the topic of religion, I am completely honest with them but always try to describe my de-conversion as my own experience. So its gloves off but I’m not trying to KO the guy (not sure if I could since I doubt my own beliefs as much as I doubt theirs!).

All in all, its a very different conversation when as an atheist you describe how you felt and experienced the pitfalls of religion. Since religious people generally react positively to displays of emotion and feelings (since this is what binds them to their religion) they tend to listen a bit more to what I am saying. And I always ask a lot of questions - we take it forgranted that religious people actually haven’t asked alot of questions we assume they would’ve throught about long ago!

To me a lot more puzzling are the friends who have become xtian after some time as non-believers. I would have thought they (normally quite well educated, even learned) have sufficient reasoning capacity to be able to separate fact from fiction. (wtf!!)

This is a bit new to me, (I’m not saying you are wrong of course) I always thought that it would be pretty much impossible to go the other way. Once you learn how to think a bit more critically, and some of the more obvious holes in the plot are pointed out to you, it is hard to “unsee” them. (for me, anyway.) Something really serious would need to happen to change my mind, flaming chariots and jesus dropping in for dinner comes to mind.

The premise you’re using is that logic and reason would save the day (as’t were). Example that comes to mind is a person who sails the oceans of the world and after any years of atheism has experienced ‘stuff’ in narrow escapes which told her godditit; another guy (a biker) was ‘pulled from the teeth of death in narrow scrapes at high speeds’ thus godditit. This breakdown in critical thinking strikes me as a denial of the reality and the sheer physics of their experiences; despite their obvious mental capacity, the notion that they were ‘saved’ by a god is not only self-serving but childishly naive…they believe it 'coz they want to. What gets under my skin is their supercilious superiority when they speak about their personal relationship and good fortune with God and then they look at the likes of myself with Jesus-sheep eyes.

^^^ This.

I’ve had to deal with quite a few of these type of arguments in the last week after my house burglary - “God was looking after you and barred the passage in your house with angels which is why they didnt bother you…” its enough to make you want to weep in frustration.

Yeah we were “lucky” in the sense that they didnt disturb us in our beds, but if the gods were really looking out for me, it wouldnt have happened at all. That said, I’m an atheist, so perhaps it was a matter of the Devil looking after his own?

What a friend we have in Satan. >:D

Don’t you SEE?! God’s angels came to your heathen household to save your heathen ass while some poor god worshopping family on a farm somewhere got shot to shit. Mysterious ways Faerie! This all makes sense in the BIG plan! Behold! God exists!

That said, I'm an atheist, so perhaps it was a matter of the Devil looking after his own?

Sister, I’m quite sad to see you’ve renounced the great as-yet-perhaps-existing creator in favour of the red dude. I will keep you in my prayers.

I wonder, actually, if satanists are bad because they denounce the christian diety, aren’t christians equally evil because they denounce the satanist’s diety?

Whereas the predominant driver in skepticism based atheism is logic, religion is rather driven by emotions. This would leave two avenues leading the atheist back to religion. The first possibility is that the atheism was never based on skepticism and logic, but something else such as emotion. In such a case a reversion could easily happen. The other possibility is that the person experiences an agonizing conflict between rational logic and emotions such as the fear of hell and the reward of eternal life. When these emotions become overbearing, the person then succumbs to the illogical. This may be a contributing factor why elderly people tend to become more religious.