I've posted this on other places like reddit, but I wanted to post it here to reach out to local austinites and introduce myself in a way.
I became an atheist less then 6 months ago and it's been a long journey.
I was born into and raised mormon. My family moved from Indiana to Nevada and back to Indiana while I was growing up. I went through a typical rebellious phase as a teenager and was inactive for a time, but it was what I knew and believed in. I would defend it at every turn and was utterly confused that others did not understand and/or accept what I had been taught.
I also had massive guilt trips and depression for not living up to "mormon standard" of perfection that no one can meet. I would constantly beat myself up and feel like shit for acting on the raging emotions and hormones of growing up.
I was planning on going through ROTC at Purdue and go into the military when I graduated (was a childhood dream of mine), but at the last minute I was disqualified for medical reasons because of my hypoglycemia.
I lost my motivation for going to college and crashed and burned my second semester playing video games all night. I took a break and then went back to fix my grades. Before my first week of exams my car broke down, I became sick, and missed my exams. I withdrew after that.
I moved to Nashville, TN to live with some friends and get a fresh start. I fell in love for the first time, but the relationship fell apart because of our religious differences (southern baptist and mormonism do not mix).
A year later I was still having a hard drive moving past my ex. I had an aunt and uncle in Austin, TX who offered to have me live with them for a time, provided I went to church again to set an example for my cousins. I'd never been to Texas before and I needed to get away form everything reminding me of my ex so I went for it.
After going back to church in Austin I realized how much I believed in mormonism and decided to rededicate myself to it. I was going to go on a 2 year mission like all mormon males do. I decided to prepare for my mission that I would study out church history and what people were saying against the church so I would be prepared for the hard questions on my missions. I was like Alice jumping down the rabbits hole.
I spent the next month, on average 2-3 hours a day (I had just quit my job and had no idea what I was going to do to support myself) studying out church history. Ironically I did most of my research in the two weeks I was in Utah attending my two brothers' weddings. I was surrounded by my extended family who were all devout mormons.
The more I searched the more troubled I became. There were different accounts of the first vision? What? Joseph Smith had 30+ wives? What? The archeological history of the Americas contradicts the story in the Book of Mormon? No archeological evidence for the Book of Mormons? What? Joseph Smith's translation of the Egyptian papyrus that led to the Book of Abraham, which contains a lot of the unique doctrine of mormonism, completely wrong? What?
The oh shit and what the shit (Mass Effect 2 anyone?) moments kept coming and coming. Eventually, with all of the evidence in front of me, I had no choice but to come to the realization that mormonism was false. I couldn't lie to myself. So i resigned from the mormon church (a process that took 4 months I might add).
Believing in mormonism for almost 22 years, needless to say I was both devastated and liberated at the same time. When I resigned it felt like a wait had been lifted off my shoulders. At the same time it was incredibly hard as I had to exam everything I believed in and based my life on. I had "died" and needed to reinvent myself.
At first I turned to Christianity, but within months I applied the same reasoning to Christianity that I used to leave mormonism and I realized that it was false as well. So I became agnostic.
I examined many religions over the next 2 years, and while many had good merits there was nothing that did not contradict history and facts. I know faith is believing in something that cannot be proven, but faith should NEVER contradict fact.
About 6 months ago I was talking with my girlfriend about religion and I realized that I did not believe in a deity or supreme being. There just wasn't the evidence to support one. While I am willing to examine the idea of a supreme being if there is evidence supporting one, but I find no evidence that supports that claim.
So I became an atheist, and had to reexamine everything all over again. I am an atheist who is dating someone that believes in god, which is...well its cause me to doubt and second guess which sucks...especially now that I feel like I've awaken to a new world, and I'm missing my chance to explore that world and get to know myself and what I stand for.. so yeah, i'm having problems reconciling being with someone who believes in god when I do not and wanting to explore new things and ideas when i feel like i have to hold back..idk..shes an amazing girl, but she believes in a god and I don't, and I'm not sure if I want to be in a relationship like that. yay for confusion lol.
But anyways, this has been my journey, and while it has been a very long and hard one, it has been so worth it. I felt like sharing because I need to share and reach out to others who understand. (and any advise about relationships between an atheist and someone who believes in god would be appreciated)
I can't say that I have been in a such a relationship like this; however, I do understand that communication is a very important aspect for success. If you're hiding your disbelief from your girlfriend and causing yourself to feel like it's holding you back, then you need to talk to her about this. Otherwise, you're just going to become what it is you've been working on getting away from. You never know, maybe she is going through some questioning times and is afraid to talk to someone openly about it so she just keeps the faith, or maybe not.
This is just another one of those stepping stones that you come across in these major life changing times that you're going through. Times like these come throughout life and it's the earlier ones that help you get through the later ones.
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From the officers:
The ACA Lecture Series continues Sunday, March 8th at 12:15pm at the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon. Ryan Bell will talk on "My Year Without God: Now a Permanent Condition."