Thursday, June 14, 2007

In the beginning...

I have never believed in a higher power. At least I don't think so. When you're a kid and your mother tells you something, you accept it as fact. That's not really faith is it? If it is, I lost my faith at age eight (at least I think I was eight, it could have been earlier). I still remember the moment pretty clearly, surprisingly.

My family never went to church, but my mother is very religious. She read me Bible stories and tried to teach me the way of Christianity. One night we got to the story about God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, and at the moment he was about to do so, called the whole thing off. I asked my mom why God did that and she said that God was testing his faith.

That was all it took.

My mind started making connections. God is omnipotent and omniscient right? He knows all and sees all. He should know whether Abraham is faithful enough shouldn't he? Also, if God loves us, why would he do something so mean?! I decided this story wasn't true. There was some mistake. But I kept thinking and came to the conclusion that, if this story was so obviously flawed, how could I trust any of the stories? Clearly I could not. It occurred to me that the children's Christian books my mom read from weren't that much different from any of the other books. They all had pictures and stories. Maybe people just started believing it, not knowing that it was just a story? I decided to go with that, and didn't really think much of it for a few years, but I never believed any of those stories my mom read me again.

Fast forward a few years (again, I can't remember exactly when this was... some point in early adolescence). My best friend invited me to church, so I started going with him. I still didn't buy it, I just wanted to hang out with my friend. But that's where the trouble started. It seemed like every youth group meeting on Wednesday nights, someone new had accepted Jesus as their savior. I felt like something was wrong with me! I now wanted to accept Jesus, but I thought that I should feel something, and know that it was what I should do. Since I never felt that, I began to feel like there was something wrong with me.

For years after this, I would go through phases.

Phase 1: Actively pursuing faith. I would read the Bible (not just for academic purposes), I would pray. Ultimately, I would realize that I was getting nowhere closer to believing, and that my prayers were never answered.

Phase 2: Totally rejecting faith. I would come back to not believing and not caring. The whole thing was stupid right? Why should I bother?

Phase 3: Doubt. I would begin to doubt myself, doubt my quality as a person, since I was obviously missing something.

Repeat.

Eventually 1 and 3 became less serious, and as I learned more about other religions (and that millions don't believe at all), I accepted what I had known all along: God does not exist. This was about 10th grade.

After my realization, I became very vocal about my lack of faith. It didn't go so well most of the time. I had no clue people could be so uneducated! When I would say that I don't believe in God, the most common response was always "You're a Satan worshipper?!" This leap of logic is exasperating! If I don't believe in God, why should I believe in Satan? Isn't God necessary for Satan's existence?

I became quite angry with the entire institution of religion. I frequented chat rooms with a friend who had also recently lost his faith, and we would just start attacking religion, regardless of the topic at hand. Believe me, I got into more arguments than I can count, but a few times I actually changed some minds. It helps when you know more about the Bible than the people defending it.

From what I can tell, most people have this disillusionment and anger. I never felt remorse for it until a few years later. I cooled off.

Fast forward another few years-- the past six months or less. It occurs to me that, while my methods were crude at best, unacceptable at worst, perhaps I wasn't wrong to actively try to change minds. We seem to be at an important time in the battle between science vs. religion. It shouldn't be a battle, but we play with the cards we're dealt. If gone unchecked, the US could turn to a Christian nation. The ten commandments could become law. Maybe it's a little far fetched, but it IS conceivable.

Thus, this blog was born. I hope to help spread a greater understanding of atheists, non-theists, agnostics, anyone with a naturalistic world view. We aren't immoral, we aren't evil, and we certainly don't worship Satan. In fact, the atheists that I know are some of the most moral people I know!

We're becoming a persecuted minority, and we can't sit back and take it.

5 comments:

CHADMAC said...

Welcome to atheist blogging! If anything, it helps you get stuff off your chest that you can't really voice to those around you.

As for your early experiences, I remember going through similar thoughts at a bible-camp type deal when I was nine. The only difference is that, after I realized that the stories made no sense, that was pretty much it. Maybe it was because I had my brother around to help confirm my thoughts, so I didn't really think I was missing anything.

Intergalactic Hussy said...

When I came out, one thing my mother said "you used to believe in god", where I replied, "No" and gave her a look as if to say "you haven't been paying attention".

I always criticized (and even snickered at) "the system", organized religion, and the afterlife from a very young age. I just wasn't aware that atheism is the absence of belief and not the wholehearted conviction (though many agnostics seem to think so).

I was raised reform Jewish. My Dad's an atheist but REFUSES to admit it in order to keep that tie to the diminished Jewish people. My Mom believes in god, but not much else.

I was always confused and lost when it came to the "big question" of god. I never prayed but would talk (in my head) to the stars at night - I'm an only child. Kind of weird, but less ridiculous than the idea of talking to god. And it helped me figure things out.

I have never felt so free and happy when I finally said, "yes, I am an atheist, dammit!" LOL

The Anonymous Atheist said...

chadmac: Maybe it was because I had my brother around to help confirm my thoughts, so I didn't really think I was missing anything.
I missed out on that. I was an only child, and my friends were pretty religious, except for one Jewish guy who I started hanging out with by the time my beliefs were getting more solidified. Religion was never seemingly a big deal with him, so it was comforting.

IH: I never prayed but would talk (in my head) to the stars at night - I'm an only child. Kind of weird, but less ridiculous than the idea of talking to god. And it helped me figure things out.
If it's weird, then so am I. I used to do the same thing. Not so much talking to the stars as if I expected to have a conversation with them, but simply expressing my wonder at the vast unknown! It's amazing up there.

I have never felt so free and happy when I finally said, "yes, I am an atheist, dammit!" LOL
Amen! (no pun intended)
It was very liberating to just finally give it up. I was done, and I knew it, I knew the inner struggle was over, and I've never looked back!

As for your dad being atheist, I found out, maybe 3 or 4 years ago, that my dad is agnostic. He believes that it's just inconceivable that everything got here without some help, but he thinks the Bible is bunk, and that religion is one of the worst things to ever happen to the planet. I don't know if he held his tongue so long because of my mom or not, but that skepticism is one thing that I'm glad I got from my dad.

Cragar said...

My best friend invited me to church, so I started going with him. I still didn't buy it, I just wanted to hang out with my friend. But that's where the trouble started. It seemed like every youth group meeting on Wednesday nights, someone new had accepted Jesus as their savior. I felt like something was wrong with me! I now wanted to accept Jesus, but I thought that I should feel something, and know that it was what I should do. Since I never felt that, I began to feel like there was something wrong with me.

I don't know if you read some older posts on my blog, but it was very similar for me and I can relate. My parents weren't avid church goers but were religious. It was my best friend that got me involved. And because of the pressure I felt to be "saved" I actually started studying the Bible, and the more I studied, the less credible I found it.

The Anonymous Atheist said...

cragar, it's definitely the way it happened with me. I doubt it's rare, honestly. Thanks for coming by :)