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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

Your Stories of Atheism: From The Closet And From India


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.

Our first story this week is from Angela:

I have always questioned different things in the bible but being raised in church all my life, living “the christian life” and “backsliding” every single time,singing in the choir, even teaching Sunday school, I always felt empty and alone.  I always felt like a failure because I couldn’t be good enough.  I heard people in church say they knew with out a shadow of a doubt that they were going to heaven and I always wondered how they could have such confidence, for I surely did not.
As and adult, out on my own, I would go to church for a while, drop out, and start up again.  The need for comfort and fear of hell always brought me back to the familiarity of church/god. I stopped attending church for the last time about  a year or so ago.  The last time I attended church was for Easter of 2014, when I went with my mother.
As I began to research and study and continue to do, as I wish to learn as much as I possibly can, I’ve learned so much about what I have been taught and believed for so much of my life is completely & simply, not true.  My son has been the driving force behind my finally deciding/admitting that I really am an atheist.  I simply no longer believe in any god.
I have not told many people about that, especially my mother and family members.  It’s hard not to speak up when things are said that are so preposterous and unbelievable but I have to remember that I believed it too at once time.  I feel like a sell out too because I want people to be enlightened.  So many people find so much comfort in the big lie and I do not wish to offend people, especially those I love.  I’m struggling with this and hope I can find a way to come out as an atheist at some point and time.  The fact that I’ve come out as bi recently doesn’t help my argument either, because everyone will say I’ve just gone completely over the edge now…LOL…and I work for a small “mom & pop” company where the owner and his wife are “religious” as well as prejudiced, bigoted, christians…If they only knew!
Thanks for reading.  I welcome feedback and/or advice.  Thanks again for the opportunity to share my story.

The next story is from Parantap:

I’m grateful to be born in a secular home. Although, my parents are believers, yet they are tolerant of other religions and culture. They are more spiritually inclined individuals rather than pious ones. Especially my mom, who always encouraged me to read classic and contemporary literature to make me understand that humans face similar suffering everywhere in the world, just in a different socio-economic or political setting. The concept of universal solidarity was inscribed in me since childhood. Therefore, religion was one concept I never liked since the beginning. Seeing all the strife and cold war between Hindus and Muslims in India (I’m an Indian), I became fed up with this fervent hatred. In India, many Hindus secretly despise Muslims, although too scared to say it out loud but they are always bitching behind their backs. Yet, when some radical fanatics form a group then they can gather enough courage to resort to extreme violence also. The hatred of being ruled over for 800 years by Muslim invaders is like coded in the majority and it seems as if they are seeking retribution for all those years of suffering (obviously, it weren’t they who suffered). A majority of Muslims too are a fine bunch, who get offended at practically anything and get agitated easily or resort to violence (although, this trend is changing with the present generation which is much more docile than the previous generation). We’ve been a victim of cross-border terrorism, state sponsored by Pakistan, which makes matters worse in India and the web of hatred too complicated. Comparison of every Muslim with the terrorists is another sickening practice. What we fail to understand is that they too are exactly like us with similar fears and joys, ambitions or mid-life crisis. The fact that I have to point out all this makes me even more sad. I firmly believe that reinterpretation of Quran to modern liberal ideology can solve the problem of radical Islam in two generations, and an average Muslim has nothing to do with the violent verses of Quran, because as he/she fails to acknowledge them, it proves that they don’t follow it. So I guess my disenchantment with religion is perpetual.Since, I’ve grown up and started to question the world around me, I’ve always been agnostic. I never believed that a person was controlling the universe, I was just unsure of the nature of such a force. Maybe it was merely energy, metaphorically given a conscious form. These kinds of thoughts plagued my mind often as I was slowly moving away from the concept. Admittingly, it wasn’t until I watched COSMOS last year that I became a full blown atheist.  I was always on the border, but COSMOS forced me to choose a side and I happily chose atheism because if common sense cannot tell us not to kill or be an asshole (pardon my French), religion definitely cannot. The staggering immensity of Universe and our humble place in it cannot be compared. Even a quark compared to the Milky Way cannot analogize it perfectly. God is either ineffective or stupid to place an egotistical minority in a speck of dust to praise and worship him or if none of them then to follow his divine will.I would like to point out that being religious does not definitely mean that the person is intolerant, stupid, violent etc. As atheists, it is our duty to state our arguments with respect for the other. Judging someone based on their belief or disbelief is wrong I try to refrain from doing that. I’ve seen many atheists take a moral or intellectual high road even before the discussion and try to make a believer look like a dumb fool or rub it in their face.  If there is one thing we should learn from science, it is humility, which we must follow at all cost.

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

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