What was your tipping point?


What was the tipping point that made you finally call yourself an atheist?

I’ve shared a bit of my story and my struggle with schizoaffective disorder. Before I sought treatment and was medicated, I thought my auditory and visual hallucinations were spirits. While I’ve never been religious, I was always searching for an explanation for what I was experiencing.

My tipping point was taking Risperdal. It was the first antipsychotic medication I tried and it seemed to do the trick. I quickly learned that I no longer need to search for an explanation because the spirits weren’t real. Seeing is believing and they were no longer there. The hallucinations were the only thing connecting me to any sort of belief in the supernatural. At that moment I realized religion was absolutely useless in my life. It never made sense to me anyway.

So Risperdal was my tipping point. What was yours?

 

Comments

  1. says

    I never had it. I think the main reason was I looked at a lot of medieval art. Most of it is religious and it’s really bad, child-like, and stupid. There’s only so much imagery of saints being beaten and flogged that you can take before you realize “this is your kink, not your religion, isn’t it you christian pervert?”

    It’s interesting that you had hallucinations that gave you the power of belief. On occasion I’ve discussed religion with the faithful and sometimes I get the “sensus divinatus” argument: I feel like there is something there. My usual comeback is “how can you tell a sincerely held belief from a sincerely held delusion?” If you were hallucinating supernatural things, and that was the basis of some of your belief, that’s a case in point of what I was talking about.

  2. says

    What was the tipping point that made you finally call yourself an atheist?

    I was about six years old. I had just found out that Santa was fake. I had been previously told that there is a God and that you can pray to him. My mom was taking me to a clinic so that a dentist could fix my teeth. While I and my mom walked to the clinic, I prayed to God, “Dear God, please make the dentist sick or not at work so that I don’t have to get my teeth fixed.” My prayer remained unanswered, the dentist was there waiting for my appointment. I concluded that God must be fake as well just like Santa.

  3. brucegee1962 says

    It may have been something I read here.
    There are two kinds of belief in the world: the kind that is based on evidence, and the kind that isn’t (what religious types laud as “faith.”)
    Aside from some artwork, music, and perhaps if we’re being charitable architecture, every major advancement that has improved peoples’ lives has come from the former type of belief.
    This should be clear to any rational being. Therefore, no rational being would require the second type of belief as some sort of test.
    Any being capable of creating the universe would have to be rational.
    So either no god, or a god who doesn’t care whether we believe in her or not.

  4. publicola says

    My tipping point came, of all places, in church. I was attending Sunday Mass, and Father C. was delivering his sermon. I always liked Fr. C. He was what I thought a priest should be: quiet, unassuming, humble and dedicated. Then he uttered this line: “If you need something, pray to God and he will answer your prayer”. A switch tripped in my head. “That’s not true!” I thought, and that was my tipping point. I was 19 at the time and had just finished my first year of college as a science major. I was learning that things my parents and nuns taught me were the work of God actually didn’t need a god to bring them about. My mind was opening, and I was seeing things in a new light. All I needed at that point was for Fr. C. to nudge me over the edge. At first, I became agnostic, but after a few years I eventually became atheist, and have been ever since. And that, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story.

  5. vucodlak says

    The short version is:
    Hell.

    The slightly longer version:
    Several people I cared for deeply died. They weren’t Christians.

    My beloved, for example, had been raised to be Christian by her late mother, but she’d stopped believing long before I’d met her. Her father was abusive in every sense of the word. God never did a damn thing to stop the abuse, but according to the religion she’d been raised with, she was to submit to her father no matter what. By the time we met, she’d long since told God to get fucked.

    I appreciated her sentiments, even as they scared the hell out of me. I was convinced I was damned to hell, but too scared to actually turn my back on Christianity. I spent a lot of time groveling, begging forgiveness for that which I’d been told was unforgivable, begging God to at least speak to me, to give me a sign that I might, somehow, be redeemed. The stony silence that greeted me was all the more terrifying- never once did I feel the “leading” or “presence” that so many of my peers and teachers claimed to feel. I was far too scared to rebel.

    Then she died. It was a senseless, cruel death. Suddenly I had a different perspective on hell, because every church I’d ever attended taught that she, the person who taught me what love is, was burning for all eternity. That she deserved hell, for refusing to submit to the father who regularly beat and raped her and the god who let it happen.

    I could sort of buy that I deserved hell, at least enough to be too scared to question it, but her? No way. For what? Because she was violent in defense of herself and others? Because she liked sex, or smoked pot? Because she was a thief? Because she cursed the family and faith that betrayed her?

    Or take my mentor, who believed in people the rest of the world threw away so much that she died protecting perhaps the most worthless of those people (yours truly). She literally sacrificed herself for another, and somehow she deserved hell, just because she never believed? No.

    My friend R, who didn’t believe in a god who hated him for being what that god supposedly made him? Did he deserve eternal punishment, doubly damned (I was taught) by his lack of faith and his suicide? No.

    I came to realize that no one deserves hell. It took a while, but eventually my anger was stronger than my fear. I turned my back on the God I’d been raised with, and went looking for another. I didn’t find the answers I expected, so I walked away from religion altogether. I was an atheist for about 7-8 years. Now I consider myself an agnostic theist, but that’s another long story. In any case, I still have no use for the Abrahamic faiths.

  6. says

    I don’t recall the exact age and didn’t have the word. But all I saw was hypocrisy everywhere I looked – home, government, school, etc. Anyone who said “I’m a man o’gawd!” was given a free pass for immoral actions and everyone had agreed to play along and turned a blind eye. It made zero sense.

    “Man o’gawd”, similar to man-o-war, toxic and dangerous.

  7. Trickster Goddess says

    For me it was when I was 9 years old. The day in Sunday school when they taught us the story of God ordering Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. I still remember clearly as we were driving home I pondered with dread the question, what if God orders my Dad to kill me?

    I concluded that a god who would do something like that wasn’t any kind of god worthy of being worshipped.

  8. snarlymon says

    My moment happened one starry night in the Utah desert. I became an agnostic my sophomore year in college after being brought up in a liberal protestant church. I had nagging doubts about my faith for a long time and learning about other religions beliefs in high school social studies class made me wonder why Christianity was any more correct than any of the other strange religions. In college my intro classes in sociology and anthropology furthered my doubt as they broadened my understanding of how religions shaped society and introduced me to the concept of ethnocentrism. Still, I felt I could not be sure so I remained an agnostic.
    Then I moved to Utah. Why is a longer story but let’s just say I was young and it involved a woman.
    If you have ever spent time in Salt Lake City you realize that it has a split personality; a semi-theocracy majority alongside a cross section of other beliefs. Being exposed to Mormons and their history and dogma opened my eyes to the possibility that religions are simply made up, sometimes from whole cloth. If Mormonism sprung from Joe Smith translating golden plates using seer stones in a hat, perhaps the council of Nicaea was nothing but a bunch of men making up dogma. At the same time I became interested in philosophy and understood that you could be a moral person without religion.
    This clarified many of my thoughts so one beautiful fall evening I found myself in Capitol Reef driving to an overlook shortly after sunset. The rocks were still warm from the sun, but a cool breeze washed over us as the Milky Way rose over the horizon. There, surrounded by incredible beauty, everything coalesced at once. The creation story of science was far more compelling than the myths of religion, and Human beings created Gods, not the other way around. I felt a sense of peace sweep over me as I let go of the last vestiges of religion.
    That was when I became an atheist.

  9. publicola says

    @8: Yeah, I’ve been there. There’s no better substitute for gods than nature. I traveled West from the East coast on my Honda 550 many years ago. I was already an atheist by that time. The experiences I had were transforming and transcendent: sitting on the edge of a high cliff in the Badlands at sunset with nothing but the sound of the wind in my ears; seeing the Grand Tetons rise abruptly out of the plateau; hearing the surf thunder against the rocks and watching the pelicans dive for food off Big Sur; standing humbly at the base of a giant sequoia; looking at the Milky Way in the dark of the Utah desert; seeing the awesome majesty of the Grand Canyon in the golden light of early morn; exploring the wonders of Carlsbad Caverns, and, finally, feeling wrapped inside the ancient solitude of the Appalachians. This the church I attend now, and I highly recommend it, even if it’s only your back yard.

  10. says

    Interesting.

    I never had a tipping point because I never was anything else but an atheist. I did believe in some superstitions and spiritual mumbo-jumbo when I was young. But I shed them all slowly over time and I cannot pinpoint any precise time that made me discard them. It was a process that started at about 18 years of age (start of my university studies) and ended about the age of 30 (the time when I read The God Delusion and began to be passively involved in YouTube atheism-skepticism circles, which has taught me a lot about critical thinking before it all went south due to misogyny). But I do not remember believing in and deity of any sort, not even in Baby Jesus who brings Christmas gifts. If my parents lied to me about that, it was so early in my life that I completely forgot about it.

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