Someone said to me in a PM “May I ask if you were always an atheist or became one? Can I ask why?”
This was my response, I thought I’d post it:
You can ask me whatever you like. I was born an atheist of course (nobody’s born religious, you have to be taught it by someone else). I was raised christian and believed in god, heaven etc for as long as I could remember. I’m glad I was never made to feel really guilty or afraid or like I needed god though, I was more kind of casually brainwashed. Anyway, I grew up going to church, sunday school and a catholic elementary school/junior high school and when I got old enough to seriously think about it all, the idea of hell was very troubling to me. If god would send someone to hell when he’s all-powerful and could fix them or teach them or even blink them out of existence, how could he be a good person?
I remember asking myself if I would send someone to hell and what they would have to do to deserve it, and after thinking about it for awhile I concluded there’s nobody that deserved it. Even hitler for all the pain he caused would, in an eternal punishment, start to feel more pain than he’d caused – double the pain he caused, triple the pain, ten times the pain, a million times the pain. No matter how evil someone was an infinite punishment would always be overkill, it would always be unjustified. So I kind of lost faith in my religion but believed for like a year that god still had to exist and it had to be the god from the bible. I didn’t realize why though but it was just indoctrination – if I’d been raised muslim I’d be sure “god” must somehow be the god of the koran.
So I figured god was okay but we somehow screwed up the message. Or maybe the bible and the idea of hell was sort of like training wheels, something to help us be good but that we were eventually supposed to discard and stand on our own two feet and do the right thing for the reasons god would do it and not out of fear or self-interest. I thought about the “new” testament and wondered if there would be a “new new” testament to replace it someday. Or maybe the new testament was god’s last communication until we get our act together and it’s some kind of test, or maybe it’s his last communication for all time and now we were on our own. I even thought what if god died to create the universe, used himself up or somehow had to be destroyed to make it happen (sacrificing himself like jesus in the bible) and dying the way a parent dies and their children have to carry on on their own strength. I thought what if he somehow planned a series of cause and effect events that would lead to the bible being “inspired”, like a delayed message.
A lot of stuff was going through my head. Eventually I started looking into philosophy and getting into debates and realized the idea of a god didn’t make sense for various reasons I won’t bore you with (and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to hear anyway) and found out how many similar religions there are and the whole “they can’t all the true” thing – eventually I stopped believing. I only realized I was an atheist when I came across the term atheist for the first time and realized it applied to me. To this day I’ve never read a book about atheism or why there is no god, just snippits here or there. Anyway, I was open to the possibility of a god (and still am) but once I started looking for good evidence (better than other religions) I found out there was none, so I stopped believing. Then I did the unthinkable – actually started studying the bible. It took becoming an atheist for me to seriously read the thing, lol. I was absolutely shocked at what all was in it that nobody told me about. It reminds me of a passage from richard dawkins:
“Winston Churchill’s son Randolph somehow contrived to remain ignorant of scripture until Evelyn Waugh and a brother officer, in a vain attempt to keep Churchill quiet when they were posted together during the war, bet him he couldn’t read the entire Bible in a fortnight: ‘Unhappily it has not had the result we hoped. He has never read any of it before and is hideously excited; keeps reading quotations aloud “I say I bet you didn’t know this came in the Bible… ” or merely slapping his side & chortling “God, isn’t God a shit!”‘ Thomas Jefferson – better read – was of a similar opinion: ‘The Christian God is a being of terrific character – cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.’”
I then looked at history and saw that “religion” was kind of a monster, it was the driving ideological force behind almost every evil I had ever heard of, everything from the holocaust to 9/11 was done in the name of god. Every minority that, to my knowledge, had ever been persecuted it turns out the bible was the main or often sole justification for persecution, and against civil rights – it was the main justification of slavery, oppression of women, oppression of (and violence toward) gays, anti-semitism, you name it. It was then that I went from simply not believing in god to actively being anti-religion.
I’ve softened a bit since then and while I still think “religion” is bad, I see what it could be and what parts of it are good and bad, and am more depressed at how jesus’ teachings, most of which are truly beautiful, are always turned into something so ugly and opposite. Like the republican party.
Anyway, that’s my “journey” in a nutshell, sorry it’s so long.