Promoting a comment of general interest

Since it will be otherwise buried in the endless thread, I thought it might be a good idea to put this plea for help from someone calling themselves “EvolutionSkeptic” up top.

Hey, so some of you may remember me (one can hope). I found this thread that some people told me last time to find when I wanted to ask a question. Since I have one, I thought I’d check in. Hope everyone is doing well.

All right. I read “Why Evolution is True” and “The Greatest Show on Earth,” as recommended by several of you. After that, I also started reading some of the stuff on Dawkins’ site, because I really liked his calm approach to the subject.

After reading there and a good bit here, I’m actually getting a little afraid, and this is where my question comes in … I can recognize the validity of evolution and that it’s true. This began to make an impact on my belief in God, but I still felt like he could have set the whole thing in motion.

But the more I read there and here, the more I’m questioning that, the more I worry that my faith may be in danger. Since you guys were so helpful the first time, I thought maybe I could come to you to ask a couple of questions again …

  1. I truly don’t mean this to be insulting, so please don’t take it that way, but what is your motivation to live a moral, upstanding life without the guidance of the rules of God and the Bible? I know you guys do this, but I’m not sure I understand how it works without concrete guidance.

  2. For those of you who were once Christians (I’m guessing there are some), how did you reconcile your atheism/agnosticism with your relationship with your Christian family/friends? How do you tell them? Do you still go to church for the fellowship but just don’t pray/participate? Did you lose friends/family in your process of change?

I hope I’m not interrupting a conversation here, but any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading, if you actually got this far.

I’ll give a quickie version of my answers, but this is one probably better answered by the diverse views of the hivemind.

The first question is backwards. There’s nothing especially moral about the guidance of priests; you might as well put all your trust in the guidance of boy scout troop leaders and Republican congressmen, that is, don’t. We should aways be skeptical of authority. At least most boy scout leaders don’t start out by claiming the imaginary mantle of divine will. But otherwise, I live a moral life for the simple reason that I empathize with my fellow human beings and have a desire to avoid doing them harm that’s almost as strong as my desire that they avoid harming me.

Answers to the second question will vary a lot. I grew up in a very casual religious tradition, and leaving was completely painless, and no, I have no interest in going back to church ever. Other people will have far more stressful stories to tell. I was one of the lucky ones.