Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Journey To Atheism

As far back as I can remember, my family was at church every time the doors were open. I remember reading my dad’s bible at the breakfast table and having bible study before bed. It was the only thing I really knew.

I will never forget the day I got “saved.” It was in the gym at Glenville Bible Baptist Church. I was in the AWANA club which is basically boy scouts for Christian kids where games and achievements revolve around brainwashing kids to be little bible thumpers. For a couple of days afterwords I felt pretty good about my brand new redemption but nothing really changed after that.

I’ve always considered myself to be fairly intelligent. Not to brag or anything but I can tie my own shoes, I dress myself in the morning and I know how to make a bowl of cereal. I’ve always been a deep thinker. Even when I was young I would think about everything from the molecular composition of furniture to the galaxy and the cosmos. At that point I still thought that god had created it but it just seemed so completely irrational to think that one being was in control of it all. Despite everything I was ever taught, I doubted.

If you really want to feel insignificant, watch this video. Sorry, it’s really long but this is the kind of stuff I used to think about.

I always felt wrong for thinking that god wasn’t real so I ended up convincing myself that the devil was responsible for my doubt. I remedied it by praying for faith - basically lying to myself. I used to look at clergy and other people I went to church with and wished that I had the same faith that they did. I hated myself for it. It bothered me for a long time.

Growing up I was taught that homosexuality and Christianity shared a dichotomous relationship. The two were mutually exclusive and tragically many people still believe that. I was also taught that homosexuality was a choice and nothing else. But let me ask you this - How can it be a choice when so many people out there, at the expense of being gay, have endured unbelievable amounts of adversity? They have been denied basic rights, they have been beaten and killed, and they have been shunned by their families. Do you really think they would go through all that pain and torment because they WANT to be gay? Don't be so naive. Not to mention the multitude of studies that have shown genetic differences between heterosexual and homosexual men.

Here are a couple videos that do a lot better job addressing the issue. PLEASE watch these videos.

So if homosexuality is something predetermined at birth and there is nothing they can do to change it, then why would it send them to hell? That’s like saying that all left-handed people are going to hell. (Which I think is entirely true) The dots just don’t connect in my mind. I see it as a major flaw in Christianity. One that can't be overlooked.

On a side note – and a very important one at that – I can understand how people believe in religion. Some people need it to get by in life. I view it as a sort of placebo for coping with life’s curveballs. But what I don’t understand is how people who believe in love and understanding and kindness can be so heartless towards homosexuals. It’s disgusting to me. In my eyes, people who disrespect homosexuals in ANY way are completely and utterly ignorant. I know, I used to be one of them.

Being in the military I have had the opportunity to talk to people of all faiths and all backgrounds and have been given the privilege of seeing things from different perspectives. A friend of mine introduced me to the story of Horus; this was probably the catalyst in my questioning religion. The story of Horus closely parallels the story of Christ, yet it had been in circulation for centuries prior to when Jesus walked the earth. 

If you’re interested here’s a link I found on it. 

How can we accept one and not the other? As far as I’m concerned, Christianity is the copycat.

During my tours to Iraq I was exposed to things normal people aren’t. I watched a friend of mine hold back tears as he told me about how a day earlier he’d pulled one of his buddies out of a truck after it had been blown up by an IED. He told me that when they were trying to get the severely burned Marine to safety he spoke his last words as his charred flesh was literally falling off as they tried to carry him. He said that all the other Marines in the truck were killed and accounted for except one. They could only find pieces of him. I’ve had friends physically scarred and maimed; a friend who had half his face ripped off in an IED attack, another friend shot through the face on Christmas day. Eight very good men died on that deployment. I grew up being taught that god is all-powerful and all-knowing and is in complete control of everything. If that’s the case, I don’t want to know him. He is the epitome of evil for having allowed those kinds of things to happen.

And I can no longer accept the “god has a plan” excuse and “it all happens for a reason.” It’s a cop-out. It’s an excuse for a flawed and archaic ideology.

But let’s entertain the idea that everything does happen for a reason, and that god does have a master plan. Let’s try to think of any possible explanation for the following story.

This is a true story I came across while working as a military, political and economic analyst for a few different African countries. It takes place in a remote village in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A village is raided by rebel soldiers. During this raid many people are ruthlessly killed and all their belongings are taken to subsidize the rebellion. A woman and her husband futilely take refuge in their home. The rebels break in and start to hack the husband into pieces with machetes as the wife watches. Then they scatter his remains throughout the hut. They then make the wife pick up the pieces of her husband and arrange them on a table as if he were some sort of anatomical puzzle. Once she was finished, she was forced to lay on top of her dead husband as they took turns raping her. When they were done they made her eat her dead husband’s penis.

I know that Christian theology would say that God didn’t explicitly DO this but he ALLOWED it to happen. But that’s still not good enough for me. According to the same theology, divine intervention is extremely common. So why didn’t it present itself in this extraordinary situation? Because god has a plan? Not buying it.

And this is a microcosm of the brutality that occurs in the world EVERY day. But people don’t see, nor do they care about these kinds of things – partly due to a natural psychological ethnocentric mentality, and partly due to their satisfaction with living life willfully ignorant to the world around them. So that’s what allows people to continue in their blissful existence only left to excuse trivial misfortunes as “god’s master plan.” I would like to see those same people give me one good thing – conversely equal to the pain and suffering – that came out of this, or could come out of this.

My purpose for saying these things isn’t meant to insult or to proselytize, just to answer questions. I only want you to know the reasons why I no longer believe in theism - in any capacity. Ally, in her infinite wisdom suggested I explain my 'sudden' change as it appears to everyone around me. It's taken me a long time to come to this conclusion and it wasn't easy. I've finally found the strength to make the leap from the fence to the greener grass and now that I'm sure about where I stand, I've been vocal about it.

All I ask is for you to continue to show me respect. I’m still the same person; I just look at life differently.


  1. That's why I go with the Greek/Roman Mythology, they had the right idea, that the Gods/Goddesses were just as fucked in the head as us mere mortals are. Plus Zeus and the rest were always banging humans.

  2. Well put Aron. It's all about respect. We respect those who believe, and just want the same in return. I am not in a "crisis" mode. Religion became very popular in the 1300's onward as a way to educate the masses. As people started living in "civilized" developements, they needed a way to teach people about the basics. At the time it was useful. Most people couldn't read, and they went to church to learn about the word. Through the word they would learn basics like don't cheat on your spouse, don't kill other people... Can we forget evolution? I'm not just talkin' science stuff... I'm talkin the evolution of religion. It has stayed EXACTLY THE SAME for 1,000 years!

    If you look at the artwork that was commissioned by the church back in the 1500's-1600's this was used to communicate to the masses. Again, people couldn't read. They communicate to stay in line thru cryptic messages that convey fear and shame. Those seem to be two major parts of most religions.

    What blows my mind, is how offended believers become when it is stated that we don't believe. They view it as a negative. However, if you really boil things down, Christianity is very based in the negative. It is focused on things like sinning and going to hell. It tells STORIES of terrible tradgedy and strife. As a non-believer, I feel I am actually a more positive thinker. I see the wonder and amazement in everything. I strive to find out more about how it works, and how it was made. I don't think, "Wow, god made this cool thing."

    I would like to give a shout out to religion for teaching people the basics on what not to do. After that, I think it's a bit outdated seeing as though it has not received a makeover in such a long time. It's like having a 1,000 year-old Grandma telling you what's relevant in today's world.

  3. Aaron, I'm not going to go on and on and preach to you. I just want to tell you that I love you like a grandson and know that you are one of your dad's greatest joys.

    In life we will find ourselves unsure of what has been taught to us and this is such a normal thing. As adults we have to find the answers for ourselves. I know you dont feel this way right now but the answers to your questions will change with lifes different twists and turns.

    I respect you for standing up for what you believe in. One thing God has given all of us is a brain and mind of our own to come to our own conclusions.

    My comment on the bad things that happen in the world is that there is EVIL in this world and it will always be here. Yes I believe that SATAN has a lot to do with that and God does give everyone free will.

    I am not your run of the mill Christian. I dont go to church, I believe that homosexuality is a birth defect in most cases and I believe without a doubt that there is a GOD.

    I saw a young girl who was so lost and feared that she would never be a responsible adult or a good parent. This girl found the LORD and your dad and there is nothing in the world that could convince me that GOD had nothing to do with that.

    I've visually witnessed the birth of everyone of my grandchildren and nothing in the world can convince me that GOD had nothing to do with that miracle.

    Like anyone who has found something that they are passionate about you are expressing your new found beliefs and you are excited about it. I think everyone understands that and we all love you.

    I think we can agree to disagree and still all love each other and be respectful of each other.