My "conversion" to Atheism came in the 5th grade. In my science class (at a public school), the lesson was on evolution. After class I asked my teacher how could evolution be correct when the bible says the world was created a different way? Her reply was that it was up to me to decide.
I thought I would agree with evolution, just because she was a science teacher, so I said I believe what the textbooks say.
Her reply "I beleive in Jesus, and those who don't are going to hell"
I thought that was a cruel and scary thing to say to a 5th grader.
I had no idea what to say or how to rebut her but she turned me from skeptic to true blue atheist that day.
I have never regretted my decision.
I just wish I could have a conversation with that woman today..At 40, I now know how to rebut delusions.
I have lived the last 30 years without bowing down to a god and am no worse off (in some cases much better off) than my fellow humans who do believe in an invisible sky being.
I have 2 children - one 22 (a humanist) and one 8 (undecided) and I will not allow then to bow down to a god either, despite pressure from good "god-fearing" family members.
I live in a small town, and am proud to have an evolve-fish bumper sticker.

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Quite an experience for a 5th grader.

These are the stories that make me hate those who attempt to impose their beliefs on others. I am fully supportive of peoples right to believe what they wish, but that gives them no right to make ME believe what they want.

That being said, perhaps you may want to let your children make their own choice? I don't mean to question your parenting, but you said that you would not ALLOW them to bow down to a god. I am supportive of teaching them what you believe, and encouraging them to believe in truth, and that which has evidence to support it, but should they not be free to decide for themselves? Is it otherwise no different than the indoctrination done by theists?
Hi Peggy- welcome to AN. Your story reminds me of an experience I had in 6th grade. I was spending the night at my friend's house (at the time I didn't know what fundamentalist meant, but if I did, that would have described her). Anyway, her version of bedtime stories was to read revelations to me. It was horrible and I cried myself to sleep. I wish I had seen the light then (pun intended), but it took me 25+ years plus to put the fantasy of Jesus in the same category as Santa Claus. Kudos to you for being so farsighted and aware at the age of 10.
Hi Peggy. I grew up in Michigan. Lived in Caro, Garden City, Detroit, Westland, Guilford, and Ypsilanti. Spent 6 years on the Ypsilanti City Council as a radical hippie in the mid 70's. Michigan has a lot of religious fanatics, but is more tolerant than many parts of the country.

Hmm memories... Kroger's, Vernor's, Faygo, Hudsons... You're on the West side of the state so maybe you don't remember the Belvedere construction adds "We do good work!" :-)
I grew up in a fairly isolated and religious home. I grew up going to a small church, which our family left at one point to go for a number of years visiting other churches and spending nights with my father reading from the bible to my mother, my brother and I. I had two volumes of golden book encyclopedia in the house, volumes A and E. They contained pictures of archeaopteryx the reptile bird in one and Eryops, the giant salamander like creature in the other, but most memorably, there was a large phylogenetic tree in the inside cover. My parents did not accept evolution and preached against it, every religious institution to which I was exposed did the same. However, the books somehow managed not to get thrown away (probably because I was the only one to read them). I built up a great compartmentalization in my mind between the scientific and the religious. At one time I decided that I would use my biological knowledge to overturn evolution. I came up with an argument that I had never seen in creationist literature, and I thought that I would change the world. Two things changed that. I took an intro zoology class in which the instructor gave the anatomic and physiologic evidence for evolution, which blew my mind. Then I visited the MSU drosophila (fruit fly) genetics lab in which it was pointed out to me that fruit flies share genes with humans for producing eyes. The realization that we are related to flies with a common ancestor which may have been able to see was a world changing moment for me. It wasn't my converting moment, but it solidified my scientific side so that on the painful day in which the rational and irrational sides of my mind went into full combat, reason had a better chance.

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