The first story this week is from Darrell:
Father never talked about religion as long as I knew him but mother liked the idea of God but avoided church. Her father studied to be a priest until he became disillusioned with the hypocrisy. Grandfather later married a good protestant girl. They came to a decision to not discuss religion. When mother was a young girl she chose to become involved with the United Church. She even taught Sunday school. When mother and father married the minister suggested mother bring father to church. In the end father was stronger willed and they soon stopped Sunday church but insisted both of my older brothers attend Sunday School. I refused to go. When the minister said to force me, mother became offended a cut all ties to church.
My first exposure to Christianity was the TV. Mother often tuned into religious TV. Whether Sunday Evangelical programs or seasonal Jesus movies it didn’t matter. When I went to Kindergarten the day began with a Bible reading, mostly out of Genesis. Even at a young age I found the stories silly (and boring). TV ministers obviously cared more about money and none of it made any sense. There was no one event. Atheism seemed to be my natural state.
Here is Moe:
Becoming an atheist was a long, uninteresting, arduous process. No traumatic events, no “a-ha” moments or anti-religious awakenings. So I’ll spare you most of the unimportant details. I’ve always had doubts, but figured since I hadn’t really read the bible, I probably just didn’t understand completely. This really came out when I tried to explain to my ex-mother-in-law (a devout Baptist) why I thought the Bible was full of shit, then realized I had no idea what I was talking about. So I tried reading it. But seriously, “tl;dr.”
Fast forward a few years to when a friend of mine lent me a series of graphic novels called, “Preacher.” In one book, the main character points out that God is a selfish prick. Basically, he’s sitting there in Heaven, surrounded by a choir of angels who unquestioningly adore and worship him, but that’s not enough. So he creates humans just for the sake of hiding from them, testing their faith, then punishing the ones who don’t worship him. It was worded much better in the book, but you get the idea. Fast forward a few more years to when I was working on a YouTube video about Sandy Hook. One of the recurring themes was “Jesus called his children home,” or “God has a plan.” I would read these posts and wonder if anyone thought about the actual mechanics of a child being shot and killed. There was no instantaneous, glorious rise to Heaven for these kids. There was fear, panic, pain, suffering, and confusion. The last few moments of these children’s lives were unfathomably miserable. And that’s God’s plan? What an asshole!
At this point, I was in more of the “no religious affiliation” camp. I wanted nothing to do with religion one way or the other. Didn’t need it, and didn’t feel the need to speak out against it. That is, until one day when I was wasting a morning on Memebase. I kept seeing the “Looks like we’ve got a badass” image, and wondered, who is that guy? I found out it was Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I watched the Big Think interview from which the image was taken, and that was it; down the rabbit hole. I found videos by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. I watched debates and interviews. I found other YouTubers who were creating some really great content criticizing religion, discussing science, and mostly saying what I was already thinking. I was inspired.
I decided to shift the focus of my own videos from the disjointed ramblings of a drunk redneck-wannabe, to more well-thought-out presentations against religion. I found a strange satisfaction in debating the topic. I started linking to blogs, websites, and articles, and was pleasantly surprised to find that many of my friends and acquaintances were like-minded. Of course, I received some push-back, and even lost a few friends.
Fortunately, I haven’t been ostracized or abused by family and friends as so many other atheists have. In that respect, I’m lucky. So, that’s the meat-and-potatoes of how I became an atheist. I’m not sure where else to go with this. Like I said, it’s not a very interesting story. More like a 30-something year war of attrition…and religion lost. Sorry God (no holy.)