Raised Anglican, but never really could reconcile science and religion. It took a lot of courage to admit to myself that I had never believed, but it feels great!!
My story... ~This is long. Apologies in advance~
I was raised Anglican. My mum took us to church every Sunday. I thought it was really boring and my brother and I got in trouble almost every Sunday for making really bad jokes and making fun of the artwork . My dad really didn't care - he would come on xmas and easter, but that's it. My mum was, and still is, involved with the church - she has bible studies 2 or 3 nights a week and still goes on sunday mornings. I never questioned religion because I thought that whatever my parents told me was right because they knew best. They're incredibly smart people and are very worldly. But what kept me in religion so long was that I was terrified of going to hell.
I went to a fundamentalist christian school from age 6 to 13. But while I saw people all around me who, by all appearances, where firm believers, I couldn't do it. I found memorising bible verses indescribably useless and boring. I couldn't sit still during prayer time and always felt silly talking to myself. But the biggest problem I had was that we were told if the bible and science disagree, the bible is automatically right. We were fed "evidence" that carbon dating is flawed, the earth is only 6000 years old, etc. I took it in and regurgitated it out, but never really believed it.
Although I never believed, I always really wanted to, out of fear mostly. I still went to church every Sunday until I was 20 or so, but it was less and less inspiring every time. Halfway through university I stopped going, because it was just not worth it. I was also trying to reconcile what I believed (religion) with what I knew (science) and I found the two irreconcilable. I studied the historiography of the bible and found it full of anthropological/sociological phenomena, politicised edits, contradictions, and plain old made-up shit.
But I still held on... I dated an arrogant atheist who insulted my mother for being religious. I was so offended because I think being a christian in name was part of my identity. I broke up with him (not because he was atheist - because he was arrogant ).
After university I went to live in Japan (2x) and New Zealand (2x). I have had to rethink a lot of what I was raised with. The Japanese have their own 'religious' traditions, but they're more like cultural guidelines. I really liked that, and had to rethink what I believed and why. Inexplicably, I was still clinging on.
I dated another guy (my current partner) later who is also an atheist, but is not arrogant about it. I could talk to him about how I felt without him jumping down my throat for being "religious". I told him I thought it was all silly, and that I didn't think I had any faith at all. He didn't try to convert me - he just advised me to read a book by Christopher Alexander. I read it and loved it, and realised I didn't have to defend my nonexistent faith anymore. It was so freeing.
I told my mum just a few months ago that I was agnostic, and she was disappointed. I will not apologise for it. I said that I can be a good person without believing in god, and that I can love and appreciate the earth and its creatures without resorting to the supernatural. She understood but was still "disappointed" and kept sending me books in the mail about coming back to christianity. It pisses me off.
So just yesterday, I told her I was atheist. She was so upset. Her first words were "[my partner]'s influence no doubt". How insulting. I have been mulling the question over for years and she treats it like a snap decision. I told her how offensive it is that she won't respect my belief or lack thereof. Her reply, strangely enough, was "I'm offended that you say you're atheist". (um, what?)
I'm NOT afraid of coming "out" as an atheist. I'm happy to explain to anyone why I am. And most of all, I'm happy to talk to people who, like me, have "hereditary" faith from their upbringing and parents and cannot let go of it because of the fear instilled in them. It makes me so happy that there is a community online where we can share our stories and take action to reduce the stigma against atheism!
City and State (For Member Searching)
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My favourite authors, essays, videos, etc
My favourite authors are Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, among others.
''Across the world, and increasingly in Europe and the UK, a unique Christian evangelical movement is growing. Cat McShane meets the British families who believe that almost all forms of birth control and contraception are an abuse of the gift of…