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Daniel Sherrell: Atheists Were Just Hurt

By February 4, 2013

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Daniel Sherrell, who now appears to be calling himself Dan O'Brian, believes that a person can't have any authentic, reasonable basis for starting down the road to doubt and disbelief in the existence of gods. Regardless of the reasons offered by atheists now, he can't conceive of their having started down the road due to anything other than some personal hurt or offense.

You're All Perverts!
You're All Perverts!
Photo: George Marks/Getty

Although he is by no means not the first or only Christian to assert such a thing, Daniel Sherrell expresses it very simply and directly -- more so than most, I think. This of course doesn't rescue the position by making it an more reasonable or any less bigoted, but it's helpful sometimes to reduce a position to its simplest and most direct form in order to best understand it.

For all of you who were religious before you turned to atheism, why do you believe there is no God? Oh, you may back it up with current facts, but something started you on this path before the facts came into play.

Maybe religion left a bad taste in your mouth. Maybe someone did something to you. Maybe God didn't come through for you like you wanted him to. Whatever formed your opinion about God, scientific evidence probably didn't play a huge role in it.

And all this talk about God being a totalitarian, or asking unreasonable human sacrifice from Abraham, or not being the God we think he is doesn't back up your point. It just reveals your hurt.

Source: Daniel Sherrell

What basis does Daniel Sherrell offer for his position? Nothing. Certainly some people who are atheists today started questioning and doubting the existence of gods because of bad personal experiences, but so what? Some Jews are greedy and some black people have committed crimes. Does personal experience with such people justify declaring that all members of those classes must be so characterized? Of course not.

But that's the evil at the heart of bigotry. It relies on a small, limited, flawed data set to make derisive, negative conclusions about an entire class of people. It doesn't even attempt to be rational and instead leaps immediately for rationalization This is because the denigration of one class is necessary for propping up one's own group -- in this case, Daniel Sherrell's Christianity.

February 4, 2013 at 2:11 pm
(1) Leabrand says:

As a child I attended Sunday school while my mom (dad less frequently) went to church. The crafts were fun and the stories entertaining and although I don’t remember which fable sent my skepticism bell off I do recall questioning my “teacher” on some far-fetched nonsense. I know I was under 7 at the time because we moved and didn’t attend the same church anymore. Apparently her answer was at least inadequate if not a total blow off because after that I began to regard bible stories the same way I did fairy tales.

When I became old enough to no longer believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy god got tossed in with the rest of the make believe flotsam. In junior high my mom insisted that I take the classes her church required before becomming a “member”. That was the last straw in my credibility basket – I spent most of those sessions arguing with the instructor. So no crisis of faith, no unanswered prayers and no, no science yet. I suppose you could call it a “crisis of reason or believability”. Science serves as some substantiation but it was never the basis of my disbelief.

I’m always sort of perplexed by people, especially those who I otherwise view as intelligent, who have continued to cling to this one, fanciful, illogical myth while disregarding all the others. Perhaps unfair (?) but I tend to think of believers the same way I do of addicts – they use it as a crutch and need help.

February 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm
(2) Dean J. Smith says:

I remember the first hurt that started me on the road to atheism: I was very devout and set out to read the KJV Bible. Then I read it again in a Modern English Version, in hopes that the King’s English had confused me. The Bible didn’t make me an atheist, but it certainly cured me of being a Christian. I suppose you could say I was hurt by the discovery that the God described in the Bible was so small as to be indistinguishable from an ancient Near Eastern King with super powers: barbaric, egotistical, and vain; with the power to do whatever he wants to anyone and you daren’t say it’s wrong because he’s the king and he can have you killed or tortured.

February 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm
(3) Cousin Ricky says:

“Oh, you may back it up with current facts, but something started you on this path before the facts came into play.”

Even ignoring the gross generalization, so what? What matters is that the facts did come into play.

Also, tu quoque, Mr. Sherrell, the difference being that, in the end, you don’t have the facts.

February 4, 2013 at 5:58 pm
(4) Liz says:

There’s no way it could be all those contradictions in the Bible…

Nor could it be seeing all those “good” Christians doing bad things and justifying them… or very wealthy, greedy Christians…

Nor the idea that there are so many religions with conflicting beliefs all condemning the beliefs of other and proclaiming their way is the only one, an idea that comes into conflict with believing in an all-knowing all-loving god who would condemn people to eternal damnation for ignorance….

Nor the lack of any evidence whatsoever…

No, atheists just had something bad happen to them at some point and they are pouting about it.

February 5, 2013 at 8:42 pm
(5) TJOzzie says:

Sorry, Daniel. I’m one atheist who doesn’t buy your BS for a second. I grew up happy and healthy as a Catholic, living on a farm. I went to a Catholic grammar school, as well as a Catholic high school. My theism took hits from the fact that what the nuns and priest were trying to tell me about creation, in particular, didn’t mesh with what I saw at home on the farm (facts). When I questioned it, I was told that it was not to be questioned. This got me thinking (I was only in 2nd grade when this started). I began to look more critically at what we were being taught. This, combined with being a voracious reader, made me question more and more of what I was told. Their explanations, when they gave them, made no sense – even to a little kid.

I, like many atheists, have read the Christian bible from cover to cover. Reading this mostly nasty diatribe further turned me from religion as it is internally contradictory, hateful, often arbitrary, and could be used to justify all sorts of nasty things. So, no, it wasn’t that ‘god didn’t come through for me’, or because ‘somebody did something to me’, but because science is testable and consistent, and its facts matched the life I saw around me. It was because none of the religion did, and even a 7-year-old could start to see it.

I’m now 55, and came out to my parents and friends as an atheist over 30 years ago – after I’d spent many years looking hard at the world. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought critically about my beliefs as well as those of people around me. I keep coming to the same conclusion.

February 8, 2013 at 4:09 pm
(6) Bill says:

I have been an atheist since I was six years old, when I no longer believed in Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny because they never made any sense because they were not present in my life accept in stories and pictures made by adults. Where were they? Sitting under a rock?

February 8, 2013 at 7:46 pm
(7) Brian Pell says:

I can not ever remember believing in god. My school was religious and I quite enjoyed the sermons, but the thought of praying to or glorifying a god never occurred to me.

February 9, 2013 at 12:34 am
(8) Tom Edgar says:

At 86 yrs I really do have to search when the disenchantment happened.
I went to a Church School, won all the religious studies classes, and it was thought I was destined to be a Priest. But they had overlooked my intelligence.

I think my Prime Minister’s reply to a brash journalist enquiring why she didn’t believe in God….”I’ve never seen the reason why I should. Next question please.” In other words it was an irrelevance.

My case. I have also looked but never have been given a sound reason to believe. having endured WW2 and other instances of madness I can honestly say. God never appeared to the seriously wounded, helpful Medics maybe, Gods never.

February 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm
(9) Deb says:

So what if I turned to unbelief after being a Christian, after being hurt by the church and god? Mr. Sherrill, why should you be able to think that it invalidates my unbelief? Aren’t Christians supposed to be like their Christ? Isn’t their god supposed to be moral, like keeping promises, or answering prayer? I was a Christian for 40 years, and only when my taught beliefs didn’t work for me when I needed them to work, did I begin to look for answers to build them up. I was unable to get any answers from the bible or the church, and in fact, found out that what I had been told was not happening for me as I had been told that it would. Church people and god weren’t there for me like they were supposed to be, and yes, that hurt. They were worse to me than the many unbelievers that I knew that came to my aid. And they continued to assure me that the way I was being treated was what their god taught. So what better reason to leave than that??

February 10, 2013 at 10:31 am
(10) Ray says:

You don’t become an atheist because of some personal affront.

I have always been an atheist because I was raised in a non religious household. My father told me when I was young that he was an Atheist, and suggested I wait until I was an adult until I investigate religion.

My friends, especially Catholic ones, told me I would go to hell if I didn’t believe in God. I asked them to prove it, and all they would say is that their preist told them that.

I remember one particular week when one of my Catholic friends was carrying a small box with a bunch of small envelopes. He showed me them, and they had a message telling him he ought to give a dime a week(a good sum in 1950) of his allowance to God. I was 10, and smart, and thought that was outrageous to steal a kids allowance by using fear tactics.

I later, at 11 and 12, went to Hebrew School, at my choice, just to observe. One day, our Orthodox Rabbi, who I liked, told the Moses story,how a God helped the Jews escape Egypt. I responded with :
“WWII ended only 7 years ago, and 6M Jews were murdered. Where was your God, playing Golf?” No good answer, and I never again considered that their might be a God.

I have always thought that people who later became Atheists, after being religious, did so because they finally escaped the nonsense pounded into their heads as children. They grew up and learned to think for themselves. If their were no Parochiol schools, their would be a lot more atheists.

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