First this week, a submission from Wales, from “Welshman”:
The next is from Duncan:
I grew up in a home with parents who were both Christians. They never went to church that often but at their insistence as well as the religious basis of our education system my brother and I were both altar boys in a Catholic denominated church. As far as I can tell the only reason that I went to church and ‘believed’ when I was young was because of the fear of my own mortality and eternal damnation. Because my ‘faith’ was based on something I feared, it had no real roots – as a result my commitment to the church and the process of being a believer was not sustainable. As I got older, I also thought about my mortality less and less and the church really just became a nuisance. The trouble was that in our conservative society it wasn’t even a consideration to say that I doubted, we had teachers that preached hell and damnation and I had many friends that would have distanced themselves from me for any admission of being less than a good and committed Christian. Subsequently, I shelved those doubts and carried on with life avoiding conversations around spirituality, religion or god. When I was 30, my younger brother died really suddenly of meningitis. We’d been best friends, business partners and the closest thing that I’ve ever experienced to what I guess people refer to as a soul mate. I was like a rudderless ship caught at sea in a tropical storm and my personal behaviour reflected that turmoil. Two or three years after his death I found myself in a rehabilitation centre because I’d been abusing prescription tranquilisers. The program I was on lasted a duration of 5 months and was based on the 12 step program. I was lost, afraid and broken and for the first time, I made a conscious decision to find god. I was baptised in a swimming pool on a sweltering hot day in a desert town in the middle of nowhere. I prayed every day and I sang with fellow believers – all people who were battling various forms of addiction. I’d finally found god with one slight issue – I hadn’t, what I’d found was a crutch to replace the pills. When I left the program the bible and god faded from my thoughts over time and once again the good was relegated to a dusty shelf in a room that was never used and life carried on. I then met someone who changed my life forever. There was a guy that I worked with who was a staunch Atheist; he would argue science vs religion at any given opportunity. For the first time in my life I’d met someone who was both vocal and passionate about not believing. His conviction gave me courage to look at god and religion critically for the first time in my life. I very quickly migrated from quiet doubter to passionate non-believer. The one thing I realised that was my prior religious belief system and behaviour set that accompanied that belief system had truly blinded me to the realities of the state of this world.
Thank you Duncan. I’m sorry to hear about your brother. Your story is proof that atheists who are outspoken make more atheists.
The final story this week is from Chris:
I don’t think I ever believed in God. I never had a reason to, really. I was never so desperate to have something explained to me with an answer I could “understand”, that it had to be God who did it. That being said, I identified as religious when I was younger. My mother took me to a church one sunday. I was probably 7 or 8, and I rather enjoyed myself. I got to hear stories, meet other children, and had alot more freedom there than I would at home. This convinced my mother I was religious, and we went far more often… Even though she hates church (she is religious, but hates organized religion). But, while I was there, I never believed what they told me. It was all a story to me. Similar to how we view Greek Mythology now. We stopped going to church within a year, however. Due to my Mother simply not wanting to. It wasn’t until the age of 13 when I realized I didn’t believe in God. It wasn’t a shocking realization, or an upsetting one. It was just… There. Nothing in my life changed really. To me, it made sense. I thought- “What God could allow my brother to suffer the way he does?”
Thank you Chris, and I am sorry to hear about the loss of your brother as well.