Roots of my atheism
From the IAmAnAtheist feedback form:
Recently I’ve discovered that this feeling I’ve had for as long as I remember has lead me to distinguish myself as an atheist. Before, I thought atheism was as bad as religion in the aspect that it was claiming something definite. (i.e. There is no God) But after years and years I’ve realized that being an atheist is just saying that you are unconvinced with the “proof” and “logic” of religions, and tend to veer more towards the actual, tangible proofs of science and common sense rather than fables and hopes. (otherwise known as faith and prayers) I never realized the significance people put on religion until I went to a Catholic school and learned more of the Bible that I distinguished myself as Atheist. I’m starting a blog on Bible studies and I’d really like to hear your story on how you came to be an atheist, and what obstacles you had to go through to get there. I’m really confused as to how religion is even relevant at all in our modern society, and I’d like to know if religion was something you had to break out of, or if you were given all the facts to decide yourself, without any outside pressure. (such as religious parents, adamant on your faith)
I definitely agree that atheists who claim with certainty that no deities exist can be as bad as the most annoying religious folks (although not all of them are, by any means). I agree that being unconvinced is sufficient grounds for atheism.
My own story of moving from Catholicism to atheism isn’t particularly exciting. I became very interested in morality and ethics in high school, but didn’t find much in the way of real moral teachings coming from my religion. After a bit of flailing around for answers, I decided to read the Bible myself. I immediately had many, many questions, and began to discuss my concerns with my best friend who had recently converted to a rather fundamental version of Christianity. She consulted with others of her faith, and their conclusion was that I really wasn’t supposed to be reading the Bible that way and shouldn’t be asking so many questions.
This freaked me out.
I was brought up to ask questions and try to find the truth. Being told that searching for the truth was somehow bad set off alarms in my head and not only made my hyper-critical of religion but also frightened me away from my religious friend (a big mistake — to this day I wish I’d had the wisdom to preserve that friendship).
I finished reading the Bible (in several translations) as well as other religious texts. Another revelation came after reading the Satanic Bible when I realized that the philosophy set out in that book wasn’t much different from Christianity in terms of philosophical robustness.
Not having found a moral system that I could adopt as my own, I decided to see if I could puzzle one out for myself. I quickly realized that I had to have a worldview before I could have a moral system, so I tried to develop one. It took years, but I eventually concluded that only an atheistic worldview would allow me to both look for the truth and also reject false beliefs on grounds other than personal preference. This worldview also implied a moral system. Once I was able to develop my 2Q process for sifting through beliefs, I felt confident that I’d finally found what I was looking for — a coherent, justifiable moral system and a means of detecting and rejecting flawed moral systems and worldviews.
Only after going through all this did I really consider myself an atheist. I never set out to “lose” God — it was just a natural part of my search for moral truth. That is why I refer to myself as a moral atheist.
You asked about roadblocks from my family, etc. My family was religious, and I did have to deal with questions about why I had “rejected the church,” etc. Fortunately, by the time I considered myself an atheist I had good answers for these questions. I also was leading a good, moral life and never treated religion with hostility, so this made it difficult for anyone to argue that I was sinful or evil or whatever. I gladly and openly shared my thoughts and concerns with my family, and we’re all now godless (to be clear, my sister became an atheist before this, via another path).
It’s not a very thrilling story, and I definitely didn’t have many of the roadblocks others have had to overcome, but that’s it in a nutshell. Thanks for asking.