Before 1990, I was a confirmed Presbyterian. I grew up going to Sunday School and then church every week. I grew up with a Christian family, but I’m now an Atheist. “What changed you?” is a question many people have asked over the years. The answer is quite simple, Modern World History in tenth grade. The teacher was not very good and he had an odd idea about the meaning of the word modern. The class began with cavemen and almost got to the Vietnam war. In 1990, Vietnam was something that should have been covered with some depth but that wasn’t how it worked out.
The class extensively covered the Greeks and Romans and it was during these discussions that my mind clicked. The class as a whole found the religious beliefs of these cultures ridiculous and it was through their laughter that I saw faults with Christianity. I began to ask myself why it should be any better than the Greeks or Romans. I couldn’t find a good reason. All of these earlier religions believed as strongly as Christians of today do so what makes either belief any better? This was the point I realized that the idea of God or any god for that matter didn’t make sense. It seemed too obvious that all of these beliefs were made up by people to explain the world around them.
So, in a tenth grade history class all of my belief structures had changed. I can’t say that the world changed a lot for me at first but I was surprised at the views other people had of me did. I’ve always been the same person. I care for others and do what I can to help out those in need. I’ve never been one to hurt another even when justified. These things didn’t change but telling people I was an atheist changed their view of me completely. Some viewed me as if I were the Devil and others wanted to “save” me. I remember the look on my Mom’s face when I told her that I didn’t believe in God. It was a look of sadness. The first words out of her mouth were “what did I do wrong?” She thought she failed because I didn’t believe in God. It was a reaction that shocked me. I don’t know what I expected when I told her but it wasn’t that. I didn’t view it as something that was wrong. I didn’t try to change her or anyone else, so it didn’t make sense to me.
Even to this day I haven’t tried to change anyone’s beliefs. My view on religion is that anything that makes you happier and doesn’t hurt anyone else is okay by me. If God existing in your mind makes your day go a little bit better than go for it. I will gladly talk about my beliefs. I also love to discuss religion. I might not believe in it but I am fascinated by religion. I don’t want to change anyones beliefs but it’s interesting to hear what they believe and why.
It’s been twenty years since I became an atheist. I don’t think it was a choice, you can’t decide what you believe. You can decide what you tell other people about them and how you show your beliefs but your feelings lie inside of you and can’t be changed just by wishing. That’s the problem with people trying to convert others. You can share your beliefs but you can’t force them to believe. It would be much easier to become a Christian again and not feel left out. As an atheist, I belong to one of the most hated groups in the country. I’m okay with that. There is no part of me that doubts that I am right and that’s all I need. I can’t deny that and lie about it no matter how much easier it would make my life. As I’ve told my Mom, I’m a good person and that’s all that should matter. There isn’t anything wrong with me and I don’t need to be fixed. I’m an Atheist and I’m proud of that and feel no need to hide it.