Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Used to be an Atheist

atheism, atheist, naturalist, religion, jesus, bible, god, christian, christianity, stupid,

"I used to be an atheist, just like you."

Heard that one before? I'm hesitant to call bullshit on this, ever, because it's arrogant at best to tell someone you know them better than they know themselves. Plus, it irritates me when I tell people that I used to be a Christian, and they reply with "No you weren't. Not really."

However, atheists do hear I used to be an atheist, just like you a lot. A lot more than is reasonable, really. Atheism is growning in the US, but we're not that much of the population. I suspect that a lot of people who used to be atheists may actually have been agnostics or unaffiliated ("don't cares"), or they're just saying that, but obviously I can't say for certain.

Anyway, it turns out that Makarios used to be an atheist, just like me.

An Atheist Pointed Me Toward Jesus

Ironic, isn’t it? probably not. It was about thirty years ago now. None of my friends were Christians. really? in the US? even now with the rise of unbelief three out of four USians are christians. it seems very unlikely that neither Makarios nor any of his friends were christians. I thought Christians were idiots. meh. They believed in things that were simply false. silly, and obnoxious when they attempt to legislate their beliefs, but i never really use the word "false". Worst of all, Christianity threatened the good things in my life. you know, like intellectual freedom. That I knew for a fact.

Then, one night I was sitting at a party oh, those good things. sigh. when the woman beside me (even though we worked together I can’t, for the life of me, remember her name), an atheist comma said, “Is life ever a bag of shit.” oh look, it's a stereotype. funny, i know lots of atheists, in real life, from blogs, from the SMRT board, and not a one of them is a stereotypically depressed atheist. i'm a disgustingly cheerful atheist. it's appalling how perky I am.

I looked at her kind of like, “Are you nuts? We’re having fun!” funny, if someone said that to me, i'd actually ask her why she said it. i wouldn't just give her a look. is this poor woman depressed? did someone close to her die? was she diagnosed with a terrible disease? we'll never know, because Makarios never bothered to find out.

Well, that comment stuck. yes, random things possibly drunk, possibly clinically depressed people say often stick in my head. I couldn’t shake it. The reason I couldn’t shake it is because I knew she was right. fantastic. two depressed atheists. Our world is broken, and no amount of logic is going to fix it. i don't even know what that means. “We” what's with the sarcastiquotes? are broken, and no amount of wealth or education is going to fix us. who is this we, and what do you mean by "broken"? No amount of sacrifice what? or effort or logic or reason can make our fundamentally flawed character right. my character is just fine. i have no idea what's wrong with yours, though lots of people have good luck with prozac. The reason that logic will never heal us is because a lack of logic is not our problem. it's not my problem, but it most certainly is yours. at least, one of yours.

From that night on I looked at my friends, I listened to our conversations, I observed our relationships, I evaluated our goals and what we thought was important, I analysed the things upon which we were building our lives and I realised that my friends were some of the saddest, most pathetic people on the face of the earth. nice. really nice. LOOOOOOOOSERS!

And DUH! I was one of them. i for one am glad you don't count yourself as one of us anymore.

We were hypocrites to the core. yes, all atheists are hypocrites. to the core. all of us. Pretending we were happy when we were terribly dissatisfied, wouldn't he opposite of happy be sad? confident when confused, courageous when afraid that's not hypocrisy. most people who do courageous things admit that they were quite frightened at the time, because courage and fear are not mutually exclusive things., friendly when judgmental yeah, that's atheists. spleenweasel., kind when cruel is this some sort of 80s power ballad?, compassionate when self-obsessed. We were seriously damaged and wounded individuals. i suggest counseling.

The question of course is why. wait, I know! it's lack of jesus, isn't it? huh, so why am i none of those things? Why is our world broken? Why are we incapable of changing ourselves and our societies? you mean like when the US abandoned slavery and gave women the right to vote? Why do we continue to hurt those we claim to love? here's a clue: we always hurt the ones who love us, they're the only ones we can hurt. Why are we unable to shed our corrupted self-love? so, you hated everything about yourself and everyone around you, but were possessed by self-love? do you read what you write, Makarios? Like most people I wanted to know if there was a philosophy, a belief system and way of thinking that explained the why of our damaged world. puh-lease. i got one for you: life sucks. get a freakin' helmet. More importantly, I wanted to know if there was a philosophy or system of belief that provided a workable solution to our sad situation?

more than 75% of the US is christian. there are millions and millions of christians worldwide. christianity has been around for about 2,000 years. if christianity is a "workable solution to our sad situation" why hasn't it solved anything yet?

All systems of thought, it seemed to me, were incomplete, incoherent or incomprehensible; all that is except Christianity. which provides a convenient answer for everything: god did it. None offered an coherent description of our dilemma. None offered a means of redemption, forgiveness, and change. none? really? judaism doesn't offer this? islam doesn't offer this? hinduism doesn't offer this? buddhism doesn't offer this? of course they do. that's the freakin' point of religion. None, except Christianity, offered a known and knowable Saviour. None except Christianity had a Saviour that was solidly grounded in history. don't study much about other religions, do you? None except Christianity had a beginning that was practically begging the seeker to check out the facts, to look at the historical claims to see if they were true. i've tried that. you feel free to. there are no historical facts that prove the resurrection. sorry.

Our problem is not what we do. that would be exactly humanity's problem. Our problem is who we are and only Christianity identified that problem and provided a solution for that problem. it is fun to make baseless assertions, isn't it?

It still took me about a decade of searching and questioning and weighing the evidence before I turned my life over to Jesus, but I am so very thankful that I did. good for you. leave me out of it. I am so very thankful for that atheist. so thankful you say nasty things about atheists every chance you get. She pointed me away from the absurd, contradictory and incoherent life of a naturalist, i'm positive you don't know what a naturalist is.


a person who studies or is an expert in natural history, esp. a zoologist or botanist.
an adherent of naturalism in literature or art

and toward the most fulfilling, and exciting journey possible. She pointed me toward freedom and Truth. She pointed me toward Jesus. well, at least i don't have to claim you anymore. go nameless, possibly clinically depressed atheist!


  1. I realize that every religion has it's fair share of crazies, but why is it that the Christian ones seem so damn vocal?
    And honestly, how does one go from being an athiest to being Christian. It seems like a more organic move to go the other way. But then again, very little about this guy's brand of religion makes sense to me anyway, so I can't fathom why anyone would chose it.

  2. Here's my problem...

    When Christians say they "used to be an atheist" its really just a method of trying to argue from personal experience. But when Atheists do the "I used to be a Christian" gig, its no different.

    This is why i generally feel its more honest just to say what we are now unless asked in the context of discussion. When we throw out used-to-be's and such we're inviting the obnoxious eye rolling no true scotsman arguments.

  3. PF you will like this, a bit off topic though. My mom was talking to me the other day and saying how Christianity was the only religion that was started by a man claiming to be God's son that, Buddha nor Mohammad did this.

    First I said well Buddha didn't say anything about God and strict Buddhists are atheists.

    Second the Greeks and Romans had all sorts of stories of people who were children of Gods.

    She responded saying she didn't know that about Buddhists. Then she said oh yeah about the Greeks. She also pointed out the Greeks had Gods for just about everything. I decided not to point out that Christianity grew up under the Greek/Roman pantheon.

  4. My nephew told a few friends of his that he is an athiest, and one of them asked him what that meant. "I don't believe in god," he replied. "Oh, so you're jewish?"

  5. That is funny. I now remember why we were talking about religion, I told my parents I had become Jewish. Their response was well you are already circumcised.

  6. See, when you have the truth and others don't, how is it possible to *not* be a condescending a-wipe?

    I could say just as much about how miserable I was as a Christian, how it made me suicidal and hate life in this "vale of tears" but I'm doubting Christians would accept this as good enough reason to ditch Jesus.

    All Makarios has demonstrated is that once again, some Christian preyed on someone who was emotionally hurting and sucked them in with promises of love and unconditional acceptance and forgiveness. Typical of a cult.

  7. Oooo. You don't know a depressed atheist? Well, I would like to introduce you to me. (In fairness though, most of the atheists I have met online are better adjusted and happier than I am. I just need to finally get the balls to ask for some SSRIs).

    I find it strange that he accused his friends of "hypocrisy" for pretending to be what society expects them to be (friendly, happy, confident, and courageous) when they are not, since it would only be hypocrisy if they were themselves expounding upon having such qualities are of the highest virtue. I find it similarly strange that the entire story amounts to an argument from incredulity (saying that Christianity is the only coherent religion) and a dash of "I believe it because it makes me happy" placed just slightly out of sight. Anyway, Christianity's identification of the "problem" of humanity is overly simplistic and incredibly unhelpful (ascribing everything to an inherently sinful nature) and giving a solution that helps to add to the problem by causing more divisiveness and due to tacitly suggesting that irrational and violent behavior is acceptable if you either become Christian afterwards or are instructed by God to do it. Either he sold out for easy answers, or he is not telling the whole story here.

  8. I don't know if this Makarios guy was an atheist, so much as extremely shallow.

    She pointed me toward freedom and TruthThis is where we're going wrong. We're clearly talking at cross purposes. He's off looking for Truth, and we're only looking for the truth!

  9. "don't study much about other religions, do you?"

    Maybe he was in a Christian bookstore?


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