I can’t tell you at what specific age I was when I lost faith.
During my childhood, my parents were very involved with the church. I went to church every Sunday and helped clean the church during the week. I went to Sunday school, and this is where the trouble began as far as my faith is concerned.
My father loved to read and he often bought National Geographic magazines and I would read them after he was finished. These magazines clashed with a lot of what my Sunday school teachers were feeding me.
I remember them telling me that believing in Jesus was the most important factor when it came to being saved. The problem for me was geography and time periods – how could the Native Americans know of Jesus, for example, when Europeans hadn’t yet discovered North America? How could isolated tribes, which I’d read about in my dad’s beloved magazines, be expected to know about Jesus when they had no opportunity until recently to have heard about this savior?
Noah’s Ark was another big one for me. I knew there were millions of species, and I couldn’t imagine a ship large enough to house them all. How did Noah keep the carnivores from eating the other animals?
When I asked questions I was usually met with either condescension or anger. Eventually, the Sunday school teacher didn’t want me attending any more. They told my parent’s that I might corrupt the other children with my strange ideas.
However, I still believed because my parent’s told me that Jesus existed and so it must be true.
It wasn’t till my late teens and early twenties that I really began to examine my beliefs. I began to devour books on the subject and watch debates between theists and atheists. It was around that time that I began to write about religion and I embraced my atheism as well as my skeptical nature in general.
Where I live in Canada, faith doesn’t play a super-important factor in my day-to-day living. As far as disadvantages go, I don’t think there are many. Sometimes I feel a bit uncomfortable when everyone decides to pray at a special event, social gathering or at work etc. It’s not that big a deal though.
I’ve had a few uncomfortable moments with family members over my lack of faith. A few of them (and one in particular) told my mother that I had strange ideas about religion and faith after I challenged him for saying that he could prove Jesus existed and had godly powers.
I’ve been called many names by religious people online, but I don’t mind that much and I actually think such treatment has its advantages because it helps me hone my arguments and learn how to shrug insults off.
I recently went to a Catholic funeral and had a hard time not laughing when the priest began swinging incense around and chanting in a melodic voice. I couldn’t believe people thought watching a grown man do that was normal. I could also feel the congregation’s eyes on me when I refused to close my eyes or bow my head when they wanted to pray.
However, that last part might have been my imagination at work.
The advantages are immense in my opinion. It has allowed me to shrug of the guilt that comes with Christianity, such as the blood guilt of Jesus’ death, the idea that I deserve eternal torment and so forth.
I find atheism liberating. I can face death on truthful terms and I don’t have to rely on magical thinking to explain things I don’t understand.
Plus I get to sleep in on Sundays. Win, win in my books.
Where I live, religion is sort of in the background and while some people still look at me funny if I say I don’t believe in God, I don’t really suffer any extremely difficult to manage repercussions because of my lack of faith.
I’m thankful for that. I’m also thankful to have been born in a country that affords me the luxury of being able to criticize religion or bad ideas in general without worrying about being beheaded or thrown in jail.
Thank you to Godless Cranium for this weeks Insight into atheism were you live.
This is my second of the INSIGHT guest posts, which will provide a glimpse into the lives of atheists around the world and an opportunity to connect with bloggers of a similar nature.
Follow for more and thank you GC for the perspective!