(this is a reply to "RE: ", about whether people leave religion suddenly or
Never having been religious, I can't provide much personal insight, but
among people I know who have told me, it always seems to have been a
situation where there were gradual components, but then there was one even
or instance when they *really* gave it up.
- A friend of mine was raped, went to her bishop (Mormon) to confess about
it, he said things like "you knew what was going to happen when you let him
into your room when your parents were on vacation and now you're just trying
to say it wasn't your fault because you feel guilty", she never went to
church again and had a lot less respect for the religion after that, but it
was only after studying it for a while that she came to the more ontological
conclusion that was false.
- Another friend was born outside Utah, and then moved here to go to
college. I'm not sure how pervasive the Mormon religion is in everyday life
if you're a minority, but she said that it was definitely different here.
She had a mental breakdown (she didn't give me any details on this), and
then one day was just sitting and thinking about it, went out and bought a
coffee maker (Mormons cannot drink coffee), and never went to church again.
- My dad was Catholic and went to Catholic school. One day a priest came to
talk to his class (it was in elementary school) about foul language. The
priest had a chart which detailed how long you will spend in purgatory for
each bad word you say. For example, it said something like "S--- 60
days", "F--- 120 days". My dad remembers thinking that that's pretty
steep for a God who is supposed to be forgiving, and also wondering how the
priest came to know this information, since it doesn't seem to be mentioned
anyplace in the Bible. He came to the conclusion that it was pretty much all
a bunch of bullshit.
I imagine that people who come into religion have similar experiences, they
have something going bad in their lives, they want someone to tell them that
it's all ok, they ponder religion for a few moments then reject it, and one
day, maybe after something particularly painful, or maybe after having a
very emotional experience with a religious person, they "know" that God is
watching them and they drop all their resistances.
Come to think of it, I bet that most serious changes in beliefs are this
way: a sudden paradigm shift, accompanied by small changes in the details of
your beliefs before and after the shift. I remember being in flux about gun
control (but more for it then against it) until reading an essay which
framed the debate in a way I had not considered before. Same with quantum
physics, I used to be fairly certain that the evidence for psychological
effects in determining a quantum state were very solid, and that this said
something profound about the relationship between mind and matter. There
were certain things that needed to be accounted for, but overall the
evidence for this seemed so strong that there could be no other explanation,
then I read about something called "the transactional approach" which
explained it without mental effects, and since then I've found myself losing
beliefs which relied on mental effects as a premise.
Zeb Haradon (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My personal webpage:
A movie I'm directing:
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