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. The first story this week is short and sweet and comes from Jonathan Tweet (Hey! That totally rhymed!):
In college I bought into New Age thinking, with the material world understood as a manifestation of the spirit world. Then I noticed that the authors I read would mix in things I couldn’t believe in, such as astrology. Couldn’t they tell that astrology was bogus? I realized that if you judge beliefs by how you feel about them, then there’s nothing to keep you from believing in attractive nonsense. So I switched to expecting evidence and went back to being an atheist.
The next is from Kouf Daddy:
And finally we have one from Ploratus:
When I was young, my uncle took me in as a foster child. My cousins and I were required to go to the Pentecostal church every day, and twice on Sunday. We built, then attended the religious school. The family was very religious. I often wondered what was wrong with me. Why didn’t god answer my prayers, come into my life, and make me speak in tongues like he did everyone else around me? I was often told that I wasn’t really trying. I was denying god, or that I had not really repented. But I did! I gave it everything. Even when they anointed me and put their hands on me in prayer service, nothing happened, but it was always my fault. I wrestled with the guilt for many years. I drank, did drugs, and hated myself, because after all, god hated me too. I tried to end my life but even failed at that (I woke up from all the pills two days later). Later, I got married and had two children. Of course I was going to raise them in the religious faith. I didn’t want them to go to hell. That is when everything changed. I would read to my babies every day. We would read from the bible too. Instead of reading what the minister cherry picked for us, I started from the beginning, and read to the end. It wasn’t easy, because Genesis was horrible. It made no sense, and was completely barbaric, and disgusting. Some of it I did not read for my children. It was just inappropriate. I read the whole thing a couple of times. It was when my oldest came to me for permission to be baptized that I realized I am an atheist. I asked her why she wanted to be baptized and she stated that everyone else in her Sunday school was doing it. We had a long talk. I showed her in the bible how many different ways to be baptized. She had no clue which one she was supposed to choose. I agreed with her, and we talked a lot about it. She quit going to Sunday school that week. After she grew up, and attended college, she was so curious that she majored in religion, and philosophy. She is now an atheist too. She often thanked me for talking to her about religion, and letting her make up her own mind. We never did Santa either, because I just could not lie to my children about one magical being, then expect them to believe me about another, or anything for that matter. We talked about the possibility of heaven, and it occurred to me; I wouldn’t want to spend eternity in a place with all the judgmental/intolerant jerks. And where the hell is Hell? Below what? The earth isn’t flat! Embracing my atheism has helped me beat depression. Living in Mid-Missouri while I earn a degree to end my disability (Horrible work-related accident), I am all alone now. It is so hard to meet people in a religious town. There are a few young people at the college that I get along with, but nothing meaningful (I’m 51; A non-trad as they say). My children, and my x-wife have nothing to do with me anymore. They totally embrace alternative medicine, and holistic-healing to the point that they think the scientific world, and the government is a giant Bilderberg conspiracy lead by reptilian overlords from another planet (I can’t make this stuff up). I begged my daughter to vaccinate my grandchild, but that is pretty much when they put me in my place, and closed the door on me. But I do have a lot of hope for the future. I am meeting a ton of very nice people online, and once I graduate, I will move from the area. I am upbeat, and enjoying the heck out of life. I no longer have the guilt from my religious failings. I am free to think, and am learning so much about logic, philosophy, and my career goal (computer science). Life is a beautiful, wonderful journey, but it would sure be nice to share it with someone.