What do Billy Graham, Charles Darwin, Paul the Apostle, Mother Theresa, Richard Dawkins, and YOU have in common? They, you, and everyone were all born without beliefs in any god (Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, Gilgamesh, Zeus, Poseidon, Odin, Baal, Thor, Anu, etc.). Of course we are all born without knowing a whole lot of things like who has been president, how to do math, speak a language, and grasp science, but unlike these useful fields of study that help us understand and navigate through our shared corporeal experience, myth-based beliefs are learned strictly by insulated indoctrination.
Many of us have been indoctrinated as young children into believing a variety of god-myths via religious institutions. Our parents and/or other family members may have taken us to Sunday school and church every Sunday. Perhaps you attended a synagogue, mosque, or temple of some sort. Some of us were required to attend summer Bible school, Bible camp, religious youth groups, ministry programs like AWANAS, or confirmation classes. Whatever our indoctrinated experiences may have been, the good news is we are all capable of being de-programmed from the mind manipulating instructions that were forced upon us as young, impressionable children. We can all become “born-again” atheists!
It’s important to recognize the psychological stress many god/ religious believers go through when their religious faith begins to wane. For example, entertaining doubt over 2000+ year old Mediterranean legends is considered to be a thought crime within the Christian faith that is punishable by eternal torture to the most painful and unbearable degree. If you have decided to move past this fear and see where your growing skepticism will lead, you are to be commended! You’re becoming a freethinker so you might be just about ready to self-identify as agnostic, which is where some people land for a while before realizing that atheists also recognize the possibility of a god(s) existing.
To be 100 percent certain about claims that we haven’t been able to verify is a mistake. Atheists understand that anything is possible, which is why we consider probability instead of possibility when it comes to the existence of a god(s). For example, you might hear an atheist argue, correctly, that the existence of a flying spaghetti monster is also an unproven possibility but is just as likely to exist as the Abrahmaic god Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship. We should be able to confidently dismiss both gods until and if good evidence is revealed to suggest otherwise.
The time that immediately follows your divorce from god belief is quite possibly the most intellectually rewarding time of your life. This is especially true now more than ever since there have been so many wonderful books, blogs, and websites published that help crystallize myth related doubts while enhancing knowledge of science, philosophy, and reason.
The Minnesota Atheists and American Atheists both have websites that are well maintained and updated with new articles and information. The RichardDawkins.net website is one of the most visited atheist websites in the world so you’ll want to check it out if you haven’t already. As for blogs, just go to FreeThoughtBlogs.com for dozens of daily entries by some of the most popular and well respected atheists that include PZ Myers and Greta Christina.
Now let’s talk about books. There are many genres that new freethinkers might find interesting: Critiquing the Bible, autobiographies about losing religious faith, science (including evolution), journalistic, philosophical, humorous, or whatever. Below is a list of books that have been discussed at local Minnesota Atheists book clubs that are great reads for anybody including new freethinkers:
--Ayaan Hirsi Ali
God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everying
End of Faith
Letter to a Christian Nation
The God Delusion
The Blind Watchmaker
40 Days and 40 Nights
Breaking the Spell
Why I am not a Christian
Be sure to visit our meetup page and if you're interested, join one of our book clubs scattered around the Twin Cities! And please consider being a member of Minnesota Atheists. It's an affordable membership and you'll get a monthly newsletter delivered directly to your door (or you can opt for it to be sent to you electronically). Your donations go toward speaker's fees, radio and cable access programming, festival celebrations, and so much more.