Hello! I call myself Atomliner. I'm a 23 year old male Political Science major at Utah Valley University.

From 2009 to 2011, I was a missionary for the Mormon Church in northeastern Brazil. In the last month I was there, I was living with another missionary who I discovered to be a closet atheist. In trying to help him rediscover his faith, he had me read The God Delusion, which obliterated my own. I can't say that book was the only thing that enabled me to leave behind my irrational worldview, as I've always been very intellectually curious and resistant to authority. My mind had already been a powder keg long before Richard Dawkins arrived with the spark to light it.

Needless to say, I quickly embraced atheism and began to read everything I could about living without belief in God. I'm playing catch-up, trying to expand my mind as fast as I can to make up for the lost years I spent blinded by religious dogma. Just two years ago, for example, I believed homosexuality was an evil that threatened to destroy civilization, that humans came from another planet, and that the Lost Ten Tribes were living somewhere underground beneath the Arctic. Needless to say, my re-education process has been exhausting.

One ex-Mormon friend of mine introduced me to Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, which I read only a few chapters of, but I was intrigued by the concept of Bayes Theorem and followed a link here. Since then I've read From Skepticism to Technical Rationality and many of the Sequences. I'm hooked! I'm really liking what I find here. While I may not be a rationalist now, I would really like to be.

And that's my short story! I look forward to learning more from all of you and, hopefully, contributing in the future. :)

Showing 3 of 5 replies (Click to show all)

Welcome to LW! Don't worry about some of the replies you're getting, polls show we're overwhelmingly atheist around here.

1JohnH7yI am Mormon so I am curious where you got the beliefs that Homosexuality would destroy civilization, that humans came from another planet, that the Ten Tribes live underground beneath the Arctic? Those are not standard beliefs of Mormons (see for instance the LDS churches Mormonsandgays.org) and only one of those have I ever even encountered before (Ten Tribes beneath the Arctic) but I couldn't figure out where that belief comes from or why anyone would feel the need to believe it. I also have to ask, the same as MugaSofer, could you explain how The God Delusion obliterated your faith? It seemed largely irrelevent to me.
3MugaSofer7yWelcome to LessWrong! Good for you! You might want to watch out for assuming that everyone had a similar experience with religion; many theists will fin this very annoying and this seems to be a common mistake among people with your background-type. Huh. I must say, I found the GD pretty terrible (despite reading it multiple times to be sure,) although I suppose that powder-keg aspect probably accounts for most of your conversion (deconversion?) I'm curious, could you expand on what you found so convincing in The God Delusion? I think we can all say that :)

Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

by orthonormal 5 min read1st Apr 20131761 comments

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If you've recently joined the Less Wrong community, please leave a comment here and introduce yourself. We'd love to know who you are, what you're doing, what you value, how you came to identify as a rationalist or how you found us. You can skip right to that if you like; the rest of this post consists of a few things you might find helpful. More can be found at the FAQ.

(This is the fifth incarnation of the welcome thread; once a post gets over 500 comments, it stops showing them all by default, so we make a new one. Besides, a new post is a good perennial way to encourage newcomers and lurkers to introduce themselves.)

A few notes about the site mechanics

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EXTRA FEATURES:
There's actually more than meets the eye here: look near the top of the page for the "WIKI", "DISCUSSION" and "SEQUENCES" links.
LW WIKI: This is our attempt to make searching by topic feasible, as well as to store information like common abbreviations and idioms. It's a good place to look if someone's speaking Greek to you.
LW DISCUSSION: This is a forum just like the top-level one, with two key differences: in the top-level forum, posts require the author to have 20 karma in order to publish, and any upvotes or downvotes on the post are multiplied by 10. Thus there's a lot more informal dialogue in the Discussion section, including some of the more fun conversations here.
SEQUENCES: A huge corpus of material mostly written by Eliezer Yudkowsky in his days of blogging at Overcoming Bias, before Less Wrong was started. Much of the discussion here will casually depend on or refer to ideas brought up in those posts, so reading them can really help with present discussions. Besides which, they're pretty engrossing in my opinion.

A few notes about the community

If you've come to Less Wrong to  discuss a particular topic, this thread would be a great place to start the conversation. By commenting here, and checking the responses, you'll probably get a good read on what, if anything, has already been said here on that topic, what's widely understood and what you might still need to take some time explaining.

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A note for theists: you will find the Less Wrong community to be predominantly atheist, though not completely so, and most of us are genuinely respectful of religious people who keep the usual community norms. It's worth saying that we might think religion is off-topic in some places where you think it's on-topic, so be thoughtful about where and how you start explicitly talking about it; some of us are happy to talk about religion, some of us aren't interested. Bear in mind that many of us really, truly have given full consideration to theistic claims and found them to be false, so starting with the most common arguments is pretty likely just to annoy people. Anyhow, it's absolutely OK to mention that you're religious in your welcome post and to invite a discussion there.

A list of some posts that are pretty awesome

I recommend the major sequences to everybody, but I realize how daunting they look at first. So for purposes of immediate gratification, the following posts are particularly interesting/illuminating/provocative and don't require any previous reading:

More suggestions are welcome! Or just check out the top-rated posts from the history of Less Wrong. Most posts at +50 or more are well worth your time.

Welcome to Less Wrong, and we look forward to hearing from you throughout the site!

Note from orthonormal: MBlume and other contributors wrote the original version of this welcome post, and I've edited it a fair bit. If there's anything I should add or update on this post (especially broken links), please send me a private message—I may not notice a comment on the post. Finally, once this gets past 500 comments, anyone is welcome to copy and edit this intro to start the next welcome thread.

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