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 comes from K. She says,
Thank you, K. I am glad you found my blog, too!
Here’s a story submitted by Carson:
Growing up in South Carolina, which is one of the main parts of the Bible Belt, you can imagine what my childhood consisted of: Go to church Sunday, pray before your meals, never go a night without praying to God and thanking Him for everything He did for you, read your bible every day, never be rude to your elders, and just an infinite amount of the dogma that I subscribed to. I have only been an atheist for about two years, and that transition was incredibly difficult not just for myself, but for the people around me. When I was 16, I started volunteering at a megachurch and made some of the closest friends there that I still have today (I did lose some along the way though). I would volunteer and teach kids about the love of Jesus and how he can save us from all things. I know this because I felt the presence of something and forced myself to believe that God was there and He was the one that would help me change my ways. The church would teach about homosexuality in a way that was convincing, “It is wrong, but it is still our job to love them and show them Jesus.” It would teach about tithing ten percent of your income because it wasn’t ours to begin with, it was a blessing. Doctrine like this was something that I could get on board with and I was fully convinced that this was how the world was made to work. That is, until I started noticing some odd things and doing actual research on other religions. Being the valedictorian of my high school, I felt like I would be smart enough to be able to reconcile science with religion (if only I knew how wrong I was then). I had always accepted things like evolution and the Big Bang because I always held the view that science is barred by nothing and is where knowledge about the universe stems from. So I went to work reading my Bible, trying to find where anything may truly contradict science and religion, and after looking at apologetics websites, I was convinced that the Bible flowed in accordance with science. My curiosity finally got the best of me and I decided to google “reasons god does not exist” because I felt confident enough that I could refute anything said by a wayward atheist. That was when inconsistencies began popping up, doubt started to enter my mind, and I began to question my faith. At first, it made me feel like a piece of shit because I was doubting a god who loved me and would never leave me, but then I realized that it was nothing but lies that had been placed in my head because it is the most common religion both in the South and in the country. I started following YouTube channels that would talk about god in a way that would refute his very existence, and it slowly started making sense. It took me well over two years after finding that to finally have the courage to tell myself I was an atheist, and it took many months after that to tell anyone else. During that time, I still served at the church and I began to feel as if I was teaching children what equated to a lie, but I knew I couldn’t leave because I had watched these kids grow up and respect me, just as much as I had loved watching them grow in Christ. So for that time, my time spent at the church was almost more of a guilt trip than anything, and it killed me inside to finally step away from the church. This was because it would mean that I was giving up friends that I had known for a significant portion of my life, and I would have to stop volunteering with these kids.
And finally, an anonymous contributor tell the story of how a priest nearly decapitated him for asking questions:
I was raised with christian bible studies everyday at school but i also liked to sneak read science fiction, by 11 I had my doubts about the bible myths and constantly questioned the preacher in class, who believe it or not had exactly the same name as me . time after time he couldn’t answer the questions of an 11 year old, one day after yet another reasonable question he snapped, went ballistic, grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and shoved my head into a meter long paper cutter guillotine and threatened to decapitate me immediately in front of the terrified class if I didn’t stop asking questions (the ones that made him look like the dickhead he was) they took him away of course. That’s how I became an atheist. It was my first win against the religitards.