Your Stories of Atheism are heartbreaking, triumphant, angering and inspiring. They are written by you, for you in this ongoing series about how you came to identify as an atheist. If you want to send me your story, you can email me here. Please note that by doing so, you give me permission to publish it here as part of the series. If you wish to remain anonymous, please say so in your email otherwise, I will use just your first name. To read other stories, click here.
Our first story this week is from Anonymous:
I was born in the Philippines. I’m considered as Roman Catholic, my parents doesn’t know I’m an atheist and I don’t know if I will ever tell them. I was very religious as a kid, I prayed before and after meals, before I went to sleep and went to church every week. When I was eleven I started questioning my beliefs, “If god loved me then why did he let this happen to me?”, “If god existed then why is he so cruel?”. My questions kept adding up since I was exposed to the world’s cruel reality earlier than most people. “If god doesn’t want the same sex to get married then why did he create LGBT (Lesbians Gay Bi Trans)?”, which can not be helped because science has proved that it is not a choice but something we are born with, same goes with animals. I had so many questions back then, which were stupid questions because in the first place… he doesn’t exist. I stopped praying but I still went to church because my family would never allow me not to.
When I was in 8th grade, I didn’t believe in religion, but I believed there was a god. I joined YFC (Youth For Christ) where we worshipped god once in a while. I started praying again, that club had a great impact on me but still, I never stopped asking questions. I loved reading books, I always read on Ebooks. I also loved googling questions I have because I always search for answers. I was not satisfied with the knowledge my family and community gave me. I knew there was more to learn, I can’t possibly just sit there and accept what I’m taught. I learned self-education. So then I started reading about religion, I studied them and read the Christian Bible. I realized how cruel it actually was, how we never really actually followed the writings inside, and it was a disaster. Religion was altered because we couldn’t possibly live our lives through it, the priest interpreted it differently…sugarcoating. At first it was hard for me to let go of my faith because I invested so many years on it, but I learned common sense. I read a lot, I craved for knowledge and the truth. I started to love science, it answered my questions. Going to church every week makes me want to puke, hearing some guy spout BS infuriates me. I can’t do anything about it though, I don’t want to risk my current relationship with my family so I just play along and pretend I agree with their stupid “god is love” conversations. Besides, I can already tell that they are going to disregard my point of view and become furious if they knew, they wouldn’t even bother to let me talk, so what’s the point? Right? That’s the problem with most religious people, they would never consider the other person’s perspective. People would be able to understand science if they tried, but they have no motive to even study it because they think that all the answers are in the bible. It’s hard for me to be an Atheist especially in this place where religion is necessary to be moral for most people. I only personally know two atheists in my life and I’m physically far from them right now so I really struggle for intelligent conversations that actually makes sense. All you really need is to be sane, receptive, open-minded and curious as a human being to be able to understand that the big bang, evolution and that the world is not only 6000 years old is a fucking fact. It’s a fucking fact weither you like it or not.
I became an Atheist because I learned self-education. People should try that, step outside of the cage you were raised in, see the bigger picture and know that not everything you’re taught is true.
I’m bisexual and I find nothing wrong with that, I’m not held back by religion like most people, I am educated, I don’t need a book to tell me that murder is wrong.
I’m 16 years old and an Atheist not because I’m a rebel or because I worship satan or I never read the bible, but because I’m not one of those people who relies on religon because they are too stupid understand science.
Our second story is from Tristian:
I can’t say I was raised religiously, even though I did quite a bit of church attending and hanging out at the gospel radio station my grandpa used to DJ at each Sunday. Life was rough growing up, and by the time I was 17 years old, my mindset was pretty much “eff you, God.” I met a Church of Christ preacher in January 2011 who had moved next door to us the month before, and I went ahead and did some studies with him.One night in September 2011, I couldn’t stop thinking about how terrible an eternity in Hell would be, so I got baptized after 2 a.m. (reference to Mark 16:16). From then, my journey was a bit similar to Matt Dillahunty’s. I had an obsession with knowing why other people didn’t believe in God, and would spend hours at a time on the internet looking up arguments, stories, and watching Youtube videos from people like Kingheathen, and eventually The Atheist Experience. I learned that there are people who stopped believing in God for bad reasons, but others who have a point. One thing in particular had to do with the supernatural, and also belief in Yahweh vs belief in any other god. I would ask my preacher about other gods, but he and others would act as if the deeds of other gods made them imaginary (like striking someone with lightening bolts).
I confess that in my early days as a member, I would log onto atheist websites with a predetermined mindset to try and disprove anything a nonbeliever would have to say because of my fear of Hell. That fear caused me to play some mind games with myself. During the summer of 2012, the Wednesday night class that was studying with went into evidences that were supposed to strengthen a person’s faith, from purpose to archaeology, but it didn’t take long to see some of the flaws. One thing that really bit me was when the teacher told me you’re supposed to believe that life without a god is meaningless, and that is because I’ve been on the other side before.
I spent 8 days at a preacher training program at the 84th Street Church of Christ congregation in Oklahoma City in July 2013. I gained quite an appreciation for what a preacher has to go through to get lessons prepared. I also had more of a fair mindset regarding nonbelief. After returning home, I was asked to do some sermons. My congregation knew how obsessed I was over the topic of atheism, and I kept wondering if eventually my preacher was going to ask me to preach about “evidences” or “fruits of atheism.” On December 20, 2013, I left a message on the congregation’s answering machine that I didn’t believe in God, and even if he did exist, I wouldn’t worship him. They didn’t get to hear it until 9 days later.because they hadn’t checked the messages.
There’s an elderly lady who is a member there. She gets the bulletins prepared and does other work, all while walking with a cane and being on a portable oxygen tank. She messaged me about coming to her place to talk, and had a couple of the other members pick me up. It turned out to be an ambush. We had what almost felt like a court hearing at her apartment. I was being interrogated about things like whether I was using atheism as an excuse to harm myself or someone else. I tried explaining my reasons for my nonbelief but it was almost like me and them were on two different planets. I finally stormed out after one of them acting like me studying this stuff was a joke. I ran to my aunt’s house nearby, doing whatever I could to fight back tears, and almost felt like I was hyperventilating. I logged onto Facebook and found one of the members had posted some crap about me on their status, saying they couldn’t understand how I could go from preaching the word to suddenly deciding I don’t believe, or maybe I was just a fake and don’t care about rules because “they are no fun.”
There’s one person from the congregation who has been the best thing ever, whom I’ve been able to be as open as I can be to without them throwing a blind accusation at me, and have given their honest thoughts rather than telling me whatever I’d want to hear.
Aside from that, I pretty much live a quiet and private life these days. I still keep in touch with some of the members, trying to be as classy as I can be, but there’s no doubt that life has become rougher since I was a Christian. The suicide thoughts and attempts I have had years ago have increased, and fear of Hell definitely plays a part in that.
Tristian, I am so sorry that this has been your experience in leaving the church. I hope that you join us heathens in some chats and discussions on social media so you can feel less alone. I can’t imagine what this experience feels like, but I know it must be difficult. There are loads of us out there ready to welcome you into the fold. Check out my followers on Twitter for some of the best nonbelievers out there: @godless_mom
Image: Creative Commons/Pixabay