Home > Atheism, Religion > My Journey to Atheism

My Journey to Atheism

I’m often asked how I came to be in the position I’m in now, that of an atheist. Most often it’s a question posed with a tinge of pity or sympathy, as though it is an inquiry about how my mother died, or why I think we just lost the big game. On the contrary, I cannot express just how much better my life is now that I’ve stopped believing in fairy tales. Sadly my “journey” isn’t an action-packed saga, packed with moments of clarity or grand revelation; rather, it’s a slow, unintentional progression from the formidable years of a young boy who was indoctrinated into Christianity through fear, guilt and false promises, to the man typing this blog post free of the need for eternal life, “salvation” or daddy’s approval.

To be honest, it’s really just a happy accident, a process as subject to chance and luck as rolling a dice. A better analogy is that I had the good fortune of sneezing out a giant loogie that had been lodged in my nose for most of my life; I didn’t even know it was there, nor that it was the cause of discomfort, but once it was gone – oh boy! – life was good after that.

Jesus Christ, that was a big one.

I was raised Catholic; that is, I was sent to Catholic school from 3rd grade all the way through high school. (My mother claimed she was Protestant, though I can’t recall ever seeing her pray, read a bible or any of that.) I suspect that she just sent me to Catholic school because it was nearby and we didn’t have a car, and because she equated a religious school with safety and love. I suppose this is the part where most people begin to recount incidents of religious extremism, or nuns beating youngsters with rulers, or of boys being molested by a priest. None of that ever happened. It was a pretty normal school, one I imagine wasn’t very different from the average public school (save for the abundance of crucifixes in classrooms and hallways).

I grew up believing in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, simply because that was the only option presented to me. I knew there were other religions, but if you tell someone that their god is the right god and the only god enough times, they’ll believe it. And so I did. Outside of being required to attend mass with the whole school once a month (and hitting up Christmas mass every few years) I never attended a mass by choice. I guess you could say I was a moderate, in that I believed in God but didn’t do much about it.

Years passed, and I continued believing and not doing anything about it. Ironically the real change in me began when I attended Franciscan University of Steubenville, a Catholic institution (read the bit on their front page about “integrating faith and reason in the pursuit of truth and right living” for a good chuckle), which I attended because I didn’t have to pay tuition. I learned a lot about doctrines, dogma, and about what the bible teaches us. The more I learned, the more I questioned. Can this really be the truth? Can this angry, cruel, jealous god really be the creator and orchestrator of the universe? I would have friendly debates with my buddies (always under the guise of playing “devil’s advocate” for fear of being ostracized) about contradictions of the bible, about the gaps between events and their eventually being written on paper, about the incredible logical leaps and flips necessary to believe in a god who so poorly conveys his messages – and they would all come down to the same thing:

Faith. They had it, I didn’t.

Nope, not feelin' it.

At the time, that didn’t really bother me. It seemed like a temporary condition, like “I don’t have faith right now, but I’ll come around eventually”. But I never did come around. Thank goodness. Because the kind of faith I didn’t have was blind faith. The kind that even reason and logic cannot break. The kind that makes people believe the most ridiculous claims without a shred of evidence, when all signs point to another truth. It became clear to me no amount of fooling myself would make me a believer.

So, I finally took the leap of admitting to myself that there was no god, no son of god, no heaven or hell, none of that bullshit. It was so liberating! But it was also a little scary. Suddenly, I felt alone. All those years of feeling like a god was watching over me, that Jesus was by my side through the good and the bad – all gone. I think that’s the most underplayed element of this kind of conversion, the thing you don’t read about very often, but it’s the one that is most vivid in my memories. That feeling of being honest with myself that once I die, that’s the end for me. It felt good to be free of the mental shackles, but it wasn’t very comforting.

Over time of course I realized that this made me more appreciative of the time I have on this planet, the time I have with my friends and family, and I was oddly infused with hope. A hope that if I can make the leap towards reason and a more humanistic view of life, others can too.

They do. And I am not alone.

  1. osafra
    March 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Hey welcome aboard the ‘Atheists Ship’. You are not alone.
    From your story, you became an Atheist because you were introduced to the wrong God. They introduced you to the angry, cruel, and jealous, God, who robs Peter to pay Paul. That male chuvenitic genecidal, and egoistic God, (borrowing a few words from Richard Dawkins) who chooses one people over the rest of the peoples of the earth; The God who sends fire and brimstone and water to destroy His own created beings: No wonder you could not ascribe this beautiful Creation to him.
    You concluded also that after you mastered enough courage to sneeze this boggie out of your nose, life was good. You were free. Yes you were free.
    Life was good, and you were free, because you rejected the lies.
    You have rejected the lies and the deceptions they fed you with in their kind of religion.
    So now, I can reason with you and your kind, who are bold enough to see through the lies of the church hierachy.
    You see, now you seem to be very appreciateve of life on this planet, time with your friends, and above all you have hope. You have become more humanistic. That means ‘Love’ have found a place in your heart.
    Dear one, I want to submit to you that this is exactly the sort of life Christ Jesus came to show us. This is what the TRUE GOD seeks for humanity. The true God who does not kill, who does not destroy, who never gets angry, and never jealous; the true God who loves all humanity the same.
    So you see, you have now found the true ways of the True God, because you have become bold enough to reject the lies of the False god. Let me be the first to welcome you into the kingdom of our God and Saviour Christ Jesus.
    My dear, let me be frank with you. Atheists are the true children of God Jesus. Because Atheists are what they are, not because they do not believe God. No. But because they simply cannot accept the type of God they were introduced to.
    Just ask yourself; What if you have been told the truth. What if they have shown you the true loving God who never gets angry, never jealous, and never destructive? I bet you will still be with him. I could tell from your script that you are a peace loving progressive person; And this is Christ Jesus.
    Now you are free. It is my prayer that you continue to seek the truth, and I promise you, you will be free indeed. And you know who said that? Christ Jesus!
    Dont forget that Christ Jesus was also an Atheist in his time. He rejected the cruel jealous God the fathers were serving. The reason they killed HIM.

    • March 7, 2011 at 12:56 am

      I’m curious – does this approach work often for you? Honestly?

      • osafra
        March 7, 2011 at 7:08 am

        I dont know what exactly you are curious about.
        Is it about the truth? Or something else?
        Well you might be. Because they have persistently lied to you that Atheism is ‘evil’. Atheist are destined for hell; Atheists are ungodly. etc etc etc. Do not worry. They are all lies to confuse the intelligent ones.
        They have destroyed God, and have raised the devil Satan to sit on the throne of God as God. And he is rulling humanity into chaos and destruction; All in the name of God. And they are forcing everyone to worship this devil, decieving the world that this devil is God.
        He kills and maims and destroys and causes sufferrings to millions of earth peoples; And no one is allowed to question this God about his evil actions.
        They use words like blasphemy, sacrilege, heresy, and the likes to frighten the few bold intelligent ones who have the guts and wisdom to probe a little deeper.
        So the smart ones like isaac Newton of the old order, and Richard Dawkings of the new order, and people like you, and a host of others, have opted out of the ‘confusion’ of the ‘God delusion’, and have attracted the Atheists tag. (the Godless)
        Little do they know that ‘Atheism’ means ‘the worship of the Only True God Christ Jesus; And Atheists are the true children of the true God Jesus. Atheists hate wars, cruelty, and exploitation of fellow man. Atheists are peace loving and kind to humanity. Are these not what Christ Jesus preached?
        If you hate liars, does that make you a bad person? The fact that we reject the evil God they preach to us in the churches, does not make us ‘Godless’. Rather it makes us TRUTH SEEKERS.
        I believe in Jesus Christ. Therefore I am an Atheist.
        Like Jesus, I do not accept the lies and the deceptions they have woven around the ‘word’ of God in the Bible. They have covered the truths in the Bible, and they have flagged up all the evil therein as good.
        They have held the whole world captive for a long time. That why Jesus said we shall one day know the truth; and the truth shall set us free.
        Atheists have seen through the veil and have broken free from the web. What is needed now is for us to be pointed to the True God of Love, and we will draw all humanity to this True God of Peace, and Love, and Goodwill, towards all Creation.
        This we will do, in the name of the True God Christ Jesus.

  2. March 9, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    I don’t think you understand what the term “atheist” means, friend.

    I was asking if your strategy of trying to convince people who don’t believe in any god that they actually believe in god because god is shitty actually works. Because most atheists I know would laugh their asses off at this reverse-psychology nonsense you’re trying to pander here.

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