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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

Your Stories of Atheism: Sobriety Is Easier Without God

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 is from Brenda:

I was sent to Sunday school every Sunday. I remember thinking, when I was around 6-7, that Noah’s ark didn’t sound real. I mean, how did polar bears, kangaroos, billions of different species of insects, etc, fit on a boat manned by just a few people. You’d never sleep trying to clean up all the poop, & feedings.
But being an obedient child who didn’t make waves, I never told anyone how I really felt. After turning 50, I had made friends with atheists. I slowly started letting my true feelings show, & have felt so free ever since.
I found an awesome book called Christian Mythology for Children. My daughter let me share with the grandkids, but she wants them to think & decide for themselves.

and here’s Anonymous TB:

How I became an Atheist.
The short answer is: IHHDRG
Internet, Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins. (then Ricky Gervais) I was with my mother at a doctor’s appointment when I was 10 years old. There was a children’s bible/book about Noah and the Flood. The fact that God drowned everyone didn’t register to me—however the fact that Noah was 500 years old when he entered the ark did. I asked my mom if that was possible. She replied that it was in the bible and it was true. From that day on—I had always questioned other events that were in the bible (I was raised a catholic) such as walking on water and raising someone from the dead. Things weren’t adding up. However I still attended Sunday mass until I was 43.
A couple of things about me—I have a very good sense of humor (I am extremely funny). And I am a recovering alcoholic. I am 50 years old and have been sober since I walked out of Detox on my 43rd Birthday.
I started drinking daily the summer I graduated high school (first day out of High School sports– 1984). I drank every day for 25 years (minus one January I set a goal to go 31 days without drinking). I knew from the very first year that I drank every day, that I was an alcoholic. I would try to cloak my alcoholism with different excuses. [Everyone does it—my family does—it was the weekend—it was a special occasion ..etc.. and the one most often used—I would lose my best friends if I didn’t drink and I couldn’t live without them]
During these times I would always tell myself—this is God’s plan. If it wasn’t his plan, I wouldn’t drink like this. He is the one that will help me if I need it.
That never seemed to work—I loved to drink beer—but I knew I couldn’t drink my whole life without catastrophic health consequences. So on Sunday’s I would pray that God’s plan would soon take hold and I could “control” my drinking. The answers and results were always the same. I never changed and continued to drink every day.
I was married at 30 and had two children in the next 5 years. I always drank at home and never missed anything with the kids, family, or friends. I was never in any legal trouble and a very active member of the community. Durning all these years I kept wondering– what is God’s plan when my children were old enough to realize their dad was an alcoholic? And how would I be perceived to them?
During this period in my life at 35—I went back to college and earned my BS degree in Business Administration. (Still drinking 12 to 15 beers a night) One of the courses during my night classes was “7 religions of the World.” This turned out to be a watershed moment. This was when the seeds of doubt about any religion germinated in my head. From that time on it snowballed into Atheism. I had been watching Hitchens doing guest appearances on talk shows and it really came together for me.
Two “ah ha” moments that cemented my belief system. The first one was in Hitchens book (GING) when he explained how the bible was written and by whom (over 100’s of years and by people that didn’t know JC—AND I realized that computers were pretty scarce during that time). The second one was when I saw Dawkins in a debate on Television for the first time and he replied to a question about being raised a certain way from a certain area—and he replied if your were born during the ancient Greece you would have believed that Zeus was one of your Gods. Sobriety at 43 was very difficult at first (January 2009)—I still had this tiny nagging thought that there was a God that would help me. Then God is not Great came out in 2009. After I read that book—voila –full blown atheism! That nagging thought went away. Sobriety became easier once I got rid of God and the false sense of hope. I had been asking God for help for 33 years and never heard or felt any reply. Once I realized I was in this (sobriety) alone it made my decision making easier. I just recently realized that when I used to say “I didn’t want to lose my friends” I was really saying “I didn’t want to lose my best friend—beer”. I have spent thousands of hours reading books and watching YouTube videos of Hitchens/Dawkins/Harris. As well as following Gervais on Twitter. And now–following many people on Twitter such as yourself. For that I thank you very much. (you seem to have my same sense of humor). The last thing I do at night is to read my IPad in bed (Twitter). I enjoy your tweets. I find this is a positive way to end my day be reinforcing my beliefs and continue my life’s goal. The search for the truth.
My life story is actually quite fascinating and I could go on forever—but life dictates that I work and be a husband and father. Thanks for the forum to share. This is the first time I have put my thoughts and experiences in writing. It felt great.

Thank you, TB. I am so glad to hear you are sober. Congratulations on your recovery and thanks so much for the kind words!

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

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