How I Came To Be A Non-Believer

21 May
Melissa Lee (a.k.a. LilaMae)

by Melissa Lee (a.k.a. LilaMae)

Ok I thought this might be a good post to start with. The following is a forum post (which forum, I can’t remember) I made a few years ago – long before I entered the glorious world of organized skepticism – explaining to someone how I came to be a non-believer. I’m what you’d call a “convert” skeptic. I was anything BUT a critical thinker my whole life. I was into astrology, palm reading, conspiracy theories, homeopathy, numerology, and countless other crap that I cringe at the thought of now. Posting this now is really meta. I think you’ll see why.

Um let’s see. I should probably start with how I came to be a non-believer and skeptic (I know I shouldn’t conflate the two, but they were simultaneous transitions for me).
It was abooooooout 10 months ago. To say that this was a momentous event in my life is an understatement – it deserves a term with much more gravitas- like transcendent epoch or cathartic apostasy.

So lately I’ve been trying to piece together the chain of events that led me to becoming a non-believer. (BTW, I still have a problem using the word “atheist”..I know, I KNOW…I’m happy to take shit for it.)
This was actually pretty cool to look back on now. From what I can remember, it went like this-

1. Heard Susan Jacoby interview on NPR, enjoyed it and wanted to check out her website and read her new book (The Age of American Unreason) Website mentioned she was in town for a Humanists’ convention(or gala?).
2.”Humanist”? What’s a Humanist? Further investigation revealed this was essentially kind of another word for *gasp*…ATHEIST. Frightened but still intrigued.
3. Unfortunately – and this drives me crazy – I cannot remember how this next step happened, but I know there was a link between 2 and 4.
4. I was searching for science-y related podcasts and I came upon the Skeptics Guide to the Universe (if you’ve never listened to this podcast, you need to go to iTunes immediately and download it)
5. Slowly, sloooowly over the course of many episodes of SGU and exposure to the world of skepticism and critical thinking, I start to question my beliefs.
6. Anger
7. Bargaining
8. More anger
9. Depression
10. I’m never going to see my grandma again?! Holy fuck!
11. Really serious depression
12. Time
13. Carl Sagan, Eugenie Scott, Phil Plait, Richard Dawkins, Ken Miller, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Michael Shermer, James Randi and, of course, Steven Novella and all the skeptical rogues of the SGU
14. Catharsis
15. Epiphanic joy

I do not regret one second of the painful transition. I would never go back.

There are no words to explain how it feels to have such an awakening. I am so thankful to those who helped me get here, I couldn’t, for the rest of my life, express my gratitude enough. To be able to see the world clearly as it is — not distorted by some mystical belief or religious dogma. To let go of all the mind-clutter of superstitious, pseudo-scientific, bullshit nonsense that for so long misled and confused and deceived me. To be able to feel joy and awe and wonder at the amazing beauty of this new-found world. And to feel such excitement for a future now filled with so much possibility that was never there before. I am a changed person. And I am so grateful.

That is my experience.
-Melissa

BTW, I still have a problem using the word “atheist”. But I’m still fine with taking shit for it.

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2 Responses to “How I Came To Be A Non-Believer”

  1. The Secular Buddhist May 21, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    You know, if you’re not comfortable with “atheist”, we can always start using “heretic”, “blasphemer”, or perhaps “apostate”, which are clearly much more user friendly.

  2. biodork May 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    Lady, I have noticed my reluctance to use the word atheist in the past also. About a year ago, I had trouble calling myself an atheist in my own mind. But having a supporting community of smart, friendly, kind, moral – and dare I say “normal” – people who don’t believe in God, who are proud to call themselves ATHEIST, has made it easier and easier to own. And the more comfortable I am with that identification for myself, the more comfortable I am with wearing it for others to see. The Out Campaign has definitely got the concept nailed.

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