Your Stories of Atheism: How Letting Go Of The Answers Leads To Truth
Our first story this week is from Brandi:
I’m an atheist because at a young age, things that were being taught to me by older family members did not make sense, but what I learned watching Animal Planet and the Science Channel and in my science classes did. I remember once seeing poor, starving children on one of those Sally Struthers commercials and asking my mom why God didn’t help them and give them food like he did us. She could only say that we could not know why God did things but that it would all make sense in the end. I did not want to wait that long to know something that could give those children food. Another time I remember being scolded for singing all the time (because I did as a child), so I made up a song about Jesus and sang that. Everyone loved it and told me how talented and sweet I was. I knew what I was doing. Later on in Social Studies classes at school I learned about other cultures and religions, and how religions had risen and fallen throughout history. I connected the dots. I realized the religion my family had taught me was just like these others: contingent on time and place, presented as unquestionable fact, and explained perfectly natural events with supernatural causes. I realized the “Jesus” everyone around me worshipped and looked to for guidance was just like “Zeus” and that hundreds of years from now my children would be learning about all the strange customs and rituals these “Christians” had and how we now refer to their collection of stories as myths. The thing that finally pushed me over the edge and made me consider religion, and particularly the one that had been taught to me, as it had been fully revealed to me was when my great aunt gave me a Q&A book for kids about the bible. She nor my grandma had ever said anything about dinosaurs but knew I was extremely interested in them. I also knew that dinosaurs had never been mentioned in any of the bible stories I had been taught in Sunday school. I looked through the book for anything about dinosaurs. I found a section about them, but it told me they did not exist! I knew then (having such an interest in biology and paleontology and knowing the methods used to study fossils) that they had it wrong. I realized that what religion was was knowing the answer before you’ve studied the data, and I knew that was impossible. I would say I had emerged as a fully-aware atheist by the age of 12, but had been living unaware as one since I could detect the blaring inconsistencies between what my family told me was the absolute unquestionable truth and, well, reality. Up until that point, I think I had dismissed religion as uninteresting BS and at most a tool to manipulate. Magic stories had no substance to a brain that craved information; I wanted to know how everything and every creature around me worked, how they lived, and how they had come to be so wonderfully adapted to their lifestyles and environment and “God just made them that way” did not satisfy my curiosity. When I realized that religion would flat out lie to you to save face and to protect it’s “truths,” I realized it deserved more than my disinterest; it deserved my contempt.
The next one is from Will:
I less “became” an atheist than I admitted that I didn’t know. Honestly, it was those three words that changed my entire worldview. Growing up christian, especially of the small town conservative, baptist variety, you weren’t allowed to not know the answers to the big questions. You were allowed to not know what you wanted for dinner that night but you damn sure were not allowed to not know if there was a god, that church was good, and that the right thing to do was just a prayer away from being certain. If you didn’t know, you’d fake it. That was the way of the world and there was no changing it. Admitting that I didn’t know opened up a whole new world to me. All of a sudden everything was new, the world was so big, I was so small, and life had meaning again. I didn’t exchange one conclusion for another one, I just dumped my previously held conclusions I’d been carrying my whole life. Admitting that I didn’t know took all the meaning behind my blind belief in god that had been hanging by a thread for a while so, I gave it up. That easy. I became an atheist for moral reasons. The chief of which being honesty. And honestly, I don’t know if there is a god and if I don’t know, I have to look at the evidence and the reasons to believe and.. I find them pathetic. All this is why my greatest animus is not belief in itself. I could care less. But what does really get me is the type of strident arrogance that can only come from ignorance.
And finally, this one was submitted anonymously: