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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

Your Stories of Atheism: From Dogma to Dawkins

This is an ongoing series featuring your stories of how you came to identify as an atheist. If you want to send me your story, you can submit it here. To read past stories, click here.

Let’s hear from Karmen, first:

Where do I start? I was raised in a hardcore Catholic family. My parents didn’t use birth control because it was forbidden. They had 5 children due to this and everything about the way we were raised was religious, strict and really fanatic about the Bible, church traditions, everything. I am the 4th of my siblings. All my life I questioned this ’cause it all seemed like nonsense to me. I told them when I “pray” I felt like I was talking to myself. I was forced to go, study the bible. The first time I asked myself what is this? Why am I here? Wtf? I was 6, in the ceremony of the first communion… I never liked it. I never felt anything inside of me. The Bible stories were ridiculous to me and I was told I needed to pray so ‘God’ gives me faith.. But I constantly said I didn’t want to go there and that I cannot believe in something I can’t see.. Years passed.. At 18 years old, I stopped going and never looked back. After that I started reading and educating myself with Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. I realized I am an Atheist and I despise religion. Not only because what it has done and does to our civilization but what it does to my family and how my parents are fanatics brainwashed by it and how my childhood and teenage years were affected by it. I just simply cannot believe in God and in his plan.. Or Gods. I believe in Evolution and Reason. I look for my own answers like if there’s an afterlife etc. Now I’m 26 years old and I have a son who I’m raising neutral about it. Living in a third world country (Dominican Rep.) which is poor with poor people/education system and everybody believes in God or belongs to a church is hard. But I’m trying to balance things out.

Here’s Mimi’s story:

While never indoctrinated in my childhood home (no one religious lived here) my 1970’s K-9 Waldorf education leaned in a heavenly direction. Although I don’t recall questioning the existence of a god, my young self never liked the concept. Yet I continued through life on God auto-pilot until one random day in my 20’s I decided I was agnostic (baby steps) and somewhere around mid 30’s embraced (in utter secrecy) full blown atheism. It was our beloved Richard Dawkins “God Delusion” that gave me the courage to yell it from mountain tops, and further encouraged by Bill Maher and the other Three Horsemen…

Kaity’s story is sad, but I have a lot of respect for the strength she appears to have:

I was abused my whole life and always thought to turn to God for help. When I was 18 I was going to church every Sunday and Wednesday, I did 4 bible studies a day, prayed every hour, even studying to be a youth minister. The reason I did all of this was not to strengthen my relationship with God, but because I was struggling with self harm. I had been cutting myself for 5 years and tried to commit suicide 5 unsuccessful times. One night, I prayed to God to take me home, to love me, and I was yelling at him for abandoning me. I then cut deeper than I ever had and I thought I was dead for sure this time. But I wasn’t. I woke up and was rushed to the hospital. There, I was treated for my wounds and got stitched up and sent away to a ward. I realized then that God was not real, and even if he was, why would I follow someone who would let a small child go through that? While I was in the hospital, I decided to read the Bible. And never in my life have I ever been more confused. It was full of contradictions and horrible messages. I decided then that I was better than this phony religion and I shouldn’t let it run my life.

John’s is short but to the point:

I’m an atheist, because I’ve read the bible. Plus, I’m not superstitious.

Finally, here’s Joseph:

For a long time I really wasn’t that religious and I resisted going to church but I considered myself a believer. Anytime I did go to church I kept having doubts. Kept in the back of my mind thinking this sounds ridiculous. It was difficult to be around a lot of believers because I felt alone in this belief. I felt guilt for not having the same feelings about religion everyone else did. I got older the doubts didn’t go away and I kept seeing more that made me think it wasn’t real. I tried to put it out of my mind kept believing in a god but not really any christian sense of god. I also saw how Christians acted towards other people and I found it atrocious. I know now that’s not a good reason to doubt but it made me think there was something wrong with religion. The biggest thing to happen was to discover youtube atheists. Started watching the debates and videos describing why they didn’t believe. The fear of the word atheist held me back a little and slowly over time I began to accept that I was an atheist. I still live in an area where religion dominates the culture. I live in Oklahoma where religion is the center of life and everyone starts with god and the rest is below that. Felt really alone for a long time till I started running into atheists around here and there. Tornado ripped through my town and an atheist outs herself on live TV. I am certainly a minority here but at least I know there are some reasonable people around me. That is just the story of how I became an atheist. Why I am atheist is that I find it hard to believe any one religious group could have the answer on a god when so many have conflicting ideas. People can’t honestly say they know for sure there is a god. If you don’t cherry pick from the religious texts you can find all kinds of inconsistencies and falsehoods in the writings. If you objectively read from those texts you can see it plain as day. How can one find objective truth in a book like the bible that’s been written rewritten modified copied by hand over and over. How can we believe that a group that once believed being sick was caused by evil would know the truth about a god. God filled the gaps in our ignorance as we learn those gaps in our knowledge become smaller and smaller. The god that filled a whole universe now only occupies a few small places where some fear to just say we don’t know.

If you want to send me your story, you can submit it here. To read past stories, click here.

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