The first story this week is from Ava:
I was raised in a Southern Baptist church, my father was even a deacon and, since it was a small church, he preached to the adult Sunday school class. Basically, I was surrounded by this stuff since I was a kid, but even as a kid I had questions and some of the lessons I was taught made me uncomfortable. I learned not to ask questions because it made others uncomfortable and I never got a good answer. So for a long time I simply put it out of my mind, but since I’ve gotten older and especially since I’ve come to accept my sexuality, I began to question religion again. I don’t remember what specifically started it, but I began going on the Internet and learning more about atheism and the more I read the more I agreed with them. Many of the points raised were issues I’d had problems with as a kid. I now feel so much better because I know there is nothing wrong with me. It’s strange that it took losing my faith in God for me to see how diverse and wonderful the world and the people who inhabit it can be.
The next is from Beatmeister:
I don’t know if I ever really believed. The first time I distinguished between fantasy and reality was Christmas, specifically Santa Claus.
I believed in it for a couple of years until, at about five, I had a feeling no one could visit seven billion people in one night…and that kids in many countries don’t get gifts…also, “Santa” was in my parents handwriting.
From then on…books(fiction), tales, stories were fiction. I realized reality is filled with fiction, which included the bible. Being a budding non-believer, I was subjected to a few years of religiosity by others, not so much my parents whom gave me tremendous freedom. It always intrigued me that people were as religious as they were, or not very religious but Christian, because it meant precisely nothing to me…I was already interested in science, logic, reasoning.
Religiosity had almost no place in my mind/life except noting others adherence to it.
I knew I had never been “touched” by God or bestowed with faith in Jesus, but tried to accept Jesus anyway–It felt stupid. I knew nothing would happen. It was more of a test; “I’ll play your game” SURPRISE! nothing happened, no magic, no faith, just as I suspected.
I watched Exorcist alone in the dark when I was thirteen…it was funny to me. Clearly, I was already atheist.
Didn’t believe in God or demons or possession.
I accepted Satan into my heart in high school (knowing he doesn’t exist).
Again, nothing happened except that I learned Satan means “adversary” The historic adversary of the church/religion was SCIENCE! I became loosely Satanist (atheist) after that–they have a great set of ideals. I would play a theist devil’s advocate to a couple atheists in high school…But just for fun, to explore their atheism.
Basically, I was never a believer.
I infinitely thank my parents for not being religious, it really fostered my critical thinking and intelligence.
Finally, here’s an anonymous submission:
I was never raised with a strong religious background….sort of – “religion light”. So, when I was young I believed there was a god, but wasn’t very knowledgeable about religion.
As I got older – I had lots of questions but no-one to go to with them. I would wonder – why would a kind, forgiving and loving god allow people to suffer….or scare them with burning in hell? At some point I starting thinking prayer was – odd. I mean – if there is an all powerful being – would he micromanage every ones lives? Would he care if someone passed their college exams when there was famine in other countries? Would he worry if you made it to the concert on time if there was a war going on? Wouldn’t he step in and help children w/cancer and not help people get great parking spots.
This was just odd to me…..I also noticed friends who were afraid of things because they could go to “hell” for doing/saying things. Slowly over time – I came to the conclusion….that religion’s primary function is to control the masses.
Then I realized it was a copout. Like – you mess up (even big time) you can say “God will forgive me” – something awful happens “It was God’s Will”. Which in turn makes people less responsible for their own actions. Pretty much you can do any kind of horrific action and be forgiven and saved…..that makes no sense….since people who made minor “mistakes” were doomed to hell…
I have to take full responsibility for EVERY action/word that comes from ME, I can’t use god as a way out – because it’s NOT his will – he won’t forgive me – because he doesn’t exist…..it’s ALL on *ME*….EVERY THING I do and say – is completely on my shoulders – and I need to be able to live with myself and forgive myself….I find that I tend to be kinder and more careful then most “religious” people.
Ah but I wander in my thoughts. Silly thoughts like “God created man in his image” – makes *NO* sense….but Man creating god in *HIS* image does….because wouldn’t man create something he could wrap his head around?
Why is a kind and gentle religion soaked in blood? I mean more bloody wars have been fought in the name of religion then I can count.
I wondered about mythology – they used “gods” to explain things they didn’t understand (thunder, lightning, the sun, etc). I think that’s how religion evolved. Even if you compare Christianity to Mythology (my daughter did a HUGE project on this her senior year) Christianity actually “stole” much from mythology.
Ultimately – it was a long road for me. So much to think about….so much to process (I haven’t touched on most of it here). I made the journey alone…..over the course of many many years.
Not many people in my life know I am an atheist. I have not come to the point that I am comfortable with saying it out loud to people….tho I hope to get there.
Sorry this goes in many different directions. This is the first time I’ve been able to “vocalize” this with anyone outside of my immediate family.