I was raised in a nondenominational Christian home until I was 17 years old. For most of my young life, I attended church any where from three to seven times a week. I was active in choir, youth group, puppeteering, dinners, just about any church activity I was asked to participate in, I did. I was sent to a Christian summer camp every summer for one or two weeks, as well. I had faith, I believed, I was sold. Between the ages of 18 and 23, I rejected the church entirely and have been an atheist ever since. At 31, I am at peace and happy with my choice.
Now, I have no intention of belittling others’ religious experience. I still believe that the basic tenants of Christianity; faith, hope, love, tolerance, forgiveness, joy, are all positive and to be encouraged. If believing in God gives you these things, go for it. I am here to explain, in a respectful way, why I am an atheist, not to attack religions as a whole. I am, however, unafraid to attack the things I was was told, taught, and exposed to in three different churches throughout my formative years.
First of all, people always ask me why I don’t believe in God. The answer to this is logic, pure and simple. I became an adult and saw the horrors of the world. The doctrines I was taught as a child failed to add up. Suffering was either a test or a curse from God. Really? What do newborns do that enrages God? What about the faithful who never abused their bodily temple with drugs or alcohol and still died horrible, protracted deaths? If such things were a test from an omnipotent being, it was a cruel and vile God to be sure. At first this angered me at God, and then I realized another jarring truth.
Organized religion is nothing but a method of control. Think about it. Here is a group that will tell you exactly how to live, what to think, and how to spend your money. In fact, they have a vested interest in controlling you. Should they fail to do so, the tithes stop rolling in, and all the members of the church would have to work actual jobs to live. They’d have to pay taxes on their properties and buildings. I’m not saying pastors and the like live excessive lives, but how nice it must be to have everything provided for them and all they must give in return is countless talks about the same old book, repeatedly. They have no reason to ever want that money to stop coming in. If you hand a church your money, realize you are being manipulated.
After much searching and reading, I just had to accept that there is no God. There is no vested interest in atheism. I belong to no such group, I now keep all my earnings. I realized an absence of God once again through common sense, in a thousand little ways. I didn’t just wake up one day and decide. It happened over time. And the first time I wrote ‘atheist’ on a form, I felt at peace with that label. Lightning didn’t strike. The devil didn’t tempt me, God didn’t curse me. Nothing changed. I have the same success and failure rates at my goals than I did as a Christian. There is no God. I have never received a vision or saw any kind of miracle or proof to the contrary. It’s voodoo, a charm people believe in.
Contrary to popular myth, I didn’t become an atheist and then lose all morals. In fact, I still have a very high moral standard for myself. I practice non-harm. In any given situation, I think, who will be harmed? My rule is that I cannot harm others or myself. The only exception is that it is okay to offend the religious sensibilities of others’, simply because they are invalid as an argument. I don’t need a vengeful God leering over me to enforce this. Conscience is enough. Every issue had to be re-evaluated using my budding new theory of life. Wait, is being gay really wrong? No. Any act that is reasonably non-harming to two consenting adults in private is fine. Same with BDSM and any other sexual practice, according to my religion-free brain. Is abortion okay? No, there is harm to both mother and the unborn. However, as the harm is taking place in anothers body, I cannot personally tell another what to do with it. So the choice is no for me but left free to other ladies to decide for themselves. Every choice with me is a question of harm: emotional, physical, or mental. If there is no harm, there is no wrong. There is a lot of harm in forcing others to your own will or that of your god.
This is just a short description of my conversion to atheism. I realize I may be attacked, told I am going to Hell, and all manner of nonsense. But, I also see that very few atheists will speak out. I’m not afraid. There is nothing to be afraid of. I am not a monster. I’m just different. I am an honest and moral individual with no over-seeing organization to control me, and I realize that frightens some people.