As an atheist columnist, I am bombarded by the assumption that I must have experience a tragedy in my life that made me an atheist. That is not, however, the case. In my role, I have had the opportunity to speak with many atheists around the world about why they are atheists and overwhelmingly they report that it was a progression, just as it was for me.
There was a time when I believed in God. There was no particular reason for it other than it was the norm. As far as I knew, everyone did. As a young girl, I went to church regularly, trying out different denominations of faith. I did this on my own without any family members. My natural curiosity led me to look for answers that I figured could be found only in church.
The older I became, and the fewer satisfactory answers I got, the more skeptical I grew. I went from believing without question to formulating my own theories about religious stories and religion in general.
When I entered college, I went to a Catholic university. It was not that I was Catholic (I wasn’t) that prompted me to attend that school, rather, it offered an excellent education. While there, as was required, I took classes in theology and philosophy. These classes were enlightening and convinced me that those who were involved in putting together the bible and formulating religious law were flying by the seat of their pants, motivated by a desire for power, money, and control.
I went from being skeptical to a stance of “I believe in a god, just not the god you do.” However, as I continued to question, and the more I was let down by the lack of answers that religion had to offer, the more I looked toward science for answers.
While I found that science did not have all the answers, science offered evidence for things that were contrary to religious contentions. For example, many religious people believe that Earth is between 6,000 and 12,000 years old. Science on the other hand offers evidence that suggests that it is around four and a half billion years old.
Ultimately, I found that I could not say with any certainty that there was a god and felt that it was idiotic to say I believed in something that I could not say for sure existed. I was also frustrated that so many questions in religion were answered with phrases like, “Only God knows,” “That is not for us to know,” and “God has a plan.” That seemed wholly ridiculous to me. Those aren’t answers. Not really.
I decided that to believe in the way that some religious people do, myself included at the time, was the epitome of ignorance. Rather than be closed off in that way, I decided to let go of tradition and look at things logically. And, logic told me that it was irrational to believe in a god of any kind.
For me, my journey to atheism was a gradual one. And, I didn’t decide that I wasn’t going to believe anymore. It just occurred to me one day that I didn’t.