Some people become atheists post religion, and some have been that way as long as they can remember. So what's your story?

Views: 430

Replies to This Discussion

Underneath all the external trappings and time spent deeply entrenched in The Church, I think I've always been an atheist, or at the very least, agnostic.  My parents forced me to attend Sunday school and catechism classes when I was a kid, but I ended up having the minister ask me to leave because I "asked too many questions."


I later had the full-blown born-again fundy experience, read the bible cover to cover several times, prayed daily, taught Sunday school, functioned as worship leader, song writer, musician/pianist, and held many other positions in the church over the years.  I never considered my continual questioning of everything contradictory to my faith (although others in the church did); in my own concept of god, I thought he would want me to question everything, because that would only serve to strengthen my faith rather than diminish it.  What finally turned me on the organized and church aspect of christianity was the rigid gender roles/subtle sexism (if god accepted all as equal, and I'm supposed to have a personal relationship directly with him without the need for an intercessor, then why was the ministry so hell-bent on me needing them to be my spiritual "heads?") and the financial and sex scandals of the church organization I was involved with.


My belief system continued to evolve further and further away from christianity.  I took a belief quiz at once, and my ideals/values indicated that I was neo-pagan, so I explored that for awhile.  I was never able to fully accept it.  For me, it was simply trading one ideology of magical thinking for another.


The pivotal, turning-point moment for me came when I had my first child, who was born prematurely and had a very rare genetic disorder that was not compatible with life.  During the 4 days I had with him, and in the aftermath of his loss and my grieving process, it became more and more crystal clear to me that I was not neo-pagan at all, but rather atheist.  I wasn't angry about the loss, I didn't blame a non-existent god, I understood science well enough to "get" the deal with his genetic disorder...but I became very, very angry with the christian platitudes that were offered to me as "comfort."  It was absolutely ludicrous (and insulting) to have people tell me that my dead baby was now somehow magically transformed into an angel who would then watch over me for the rest of my life, and whom I would someday be reunited with in a mythical place called heaven.  I was his mother, his bizarre to be told that now that he was dead, somehow god was going to make him caregiver over me.  It was during the grieving period when it just all became so clear to me how crazy and bizarre and fantastical religious claims about death (among other things) were.


It didn't hurt that my ex-husband's very religious mother made an issue out of whether or not our baby was baptized before he died.  It was insulting enough to be told he was an angel now, but even worse to have it implied to us that if we didn't have him baptized before he died, there was some cruel and sadistic god who would send him to hell or purgatory or limbo or some place of suffering because of something we failed to do.  His genetic condition caused him enough suffering as it was, and she was seriously going to claim that god would allow him eternal suffering because of a ritual left undone?  Are you fucking kidding me?!  And after he passed, I was expected by his family to never mention him again, because it was just "too painful" for them to even hear his name.  Really?  He was my baby, but it was too painful for them?


I had 4 beautiful days with Ian.  His short life, and his death, could be called by some a very spiritual experience for me.  Certainly, it came with a great deal of epiphany, but I think it would more accurately be called deep, and meaningful, and yes, enlightening.  Because being his mother for 4 days, and then having to dig deep within myself to find the courage to let him go and take him off of life support because it was the right thing to do, because I loved him and didn't want him to suffer needlessly just because I wished I could have more time with him, well, I can tell you, those are truly defining moments in a person's life.


His life was short but beautiful.  His death was also short but beautiful.  But the truly beautiful thing about my baby boy's life and death is how it brought me to the epiphany that life could be beautiful and deeply meaningful entirely without religion.  That people could find the courage within themselves to do good, and do what is kind and right, without religiosity or religious morality dictating what that "should" look like.  That I could be free to grieve his loss in the way that was healthiest for me, that I could see his life and death as something positive and, strangely, life-affirming.


To quote Damon Fowler:  "Every second of life is precious when you don't get eternity."

Religion didn't seem to be very important in my earliest years. We didn't pray or go to church except for maybe twice a year and then whenever someone died or got married. Strangely, I ended up in Catechism in preparation for First Communion. Somehow I botched that up and didn't attend when I was expected but I got another chance at it when I hit 4th grade. That was the year I started to attend Catholic School. It was totally voluntary. I wanted to go because my neighborhood friends went there. I made it through First Communion that year being very skeptical about the whole body and blood thing. We were taught that "amen" means "I believe" and that when you receive Communion you are expected to reply "amen". What bothered me more would have been being the only student who didn't go through with this. Everyone else did it and believed. I must have been doing something wrong.

Sixth grade brought my third year of being an alter boy and also a heavy dose of science. This increased the amount of conflict I had in dealing with a resurrection, miracles, and the existence of God. Again, I went along with the duality because there's no way that a bunch of adults could be wrong about this. For a short while, we had an occasional visit from Father John on Wednesdays. It was our opportunity to talk with him about God. I didn't say much; I didn't have to. The class asked every question that I had. It was like we had discussed what to ask him just moments before he walked in. He was calm and pleasant as ever, but I noticed something peculiar about his responses. The answers were a bit to the side. There was little that was a very direct from him.

I left Catholic school for 7th grade and returned back again for 8th because my naivety got me in trouble. I went through with Confirmation with the same result as Communion. I knew things were "all in His timing" so I just waited patiently afterward. I thought this was supposed to be a big deal, big enough that I should notice something happening but I didn't.

High school came and went without any religious influence and I started getting caught up on all the secular things of which I had been unaware. When I finally left home at 20 I bounced around from church to church, from non-denominational to evangelical. I did some soul searching. I was convinced I was doing it wrong and really wanted to know Him. I asked Jesus into my heart. I cried. Nothing.

My wife and I got married at Silverwood Mennonite Chuch in 2000. We were both believers, and very minimal at that, but certainly not Mennonite. That was from her side of the family. I would probably still be a minimalist believer in the Christian god if it were not for another dose of evangelism. Some members of her family were a bit extreme. Religion wasn't just a part of them, it was them. This created conflict. I never liked being unsure about things that should be so important, so I was forced to try it again. The exception this time is that I took a different approach. My research started with understanding the meaning of words, ones that i taken for granted such as belief and knowledge. The internet proved to be a wonderful tool for finally getting some objective answers. I was fascinated with the amount of knowledge out there. The more knowledge I gained, the less I believed in God. After a hard year of digging, my conflict was resolved. I came to the realization that I did not believe. I was atheist and I found it to be reasonable.


I don't think religion ever jived with me from early on. Even as a kid the stories sounded so absurd. All I had to do was crack open a story on Greek mythology and go 'Wow, these sound equally ridiculous.' I did experiment with the ideas of Buddhism, Wicca, and other spiritualist religions in the hope that I wouldn't turn out to 'just be an Atheist', because my dad didn't like that idea. But I was always an Atheist, I think. Nothing else ever made sense.

The church I was born into gets ALL the credit. It founded a xian school with a curricliam that infussed biblical stories and the creation as truth to be made unaware of actual facts as a young person. The plot twisted for me when I didn't go to a xtian college like the church desired I was shocked and awed to enter this world of information that the church viewed as "worldly" and evil. Once I was able to seperate fact from fiction for myself I was immediately skeptical of the bible and found real answers in books that are not fictional but factual. Ater a few years I am comfortable in admitting that I am an Atheist and I now celebrate xmas by taking the christ out and I now look forward to Sundays. I really wish everyone in this world could feel as free as I do now because I sure was made to feel cut off and alienated when I was under the magic spell of religion.


Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today



Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon



© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service