I’ve been following a lot of political and religious debates lately and I thought it would be interesting to share my experience and perspective on the transition into Atheism. Or shall I say more of an identification of self…
Like everyone brought to religion, I was born into one and baptized as Christian when I was still a baby, like it is the tradition in our majorly Christian country. As years went on, I was attending Sunday school (which is really called more like “religious teaching” if I translate it very roughly from my language, we had it on Thursdays if I remember correctly so it kinda sounds even more strange hehe), was attending Sundays in church and all the other stuff related to Christian religion. And this is really where my religious beliefs and experiences sort of depart from the stories of others that have left religion behind them and moved on to Atheism or any other God-less belief or way of thinking.
The major difference between my experience and experience of majority of others is that my experience with religion wasn’t hostile at all. I’ve actually had quite some fun in those years, mostly because majority of those at the Sunday school were also my schoolmates so we were hanging out there even outside school and our free time. Which was cool. We were basically just hanging out with a bit of a religious tone to it. We were thought about God and Jesus and all that, but primarily it was basically spending time with friends. I mean, it was quite common that we played football with the pastor at the end of the Sunday school during spring or summer time. Or we often even shortened the religious part and went outside to play football together. Those old fanatic religious people were probably looking upon as with disgrace, but if I think about it, this should really be the way anyone is ever brought to any religion. When it’s primarily about spending time with friends and being thought religion second. I mean OK, accepting religion should be a decision of each individual, but if you’re indoctrinated into one by your family, it should be this way and no other.
The only thing that I never felt comfortable with was the confession of my “sins” to the priest. Not because I had plenty of them, but because I had none apart from the usual stuff every kid does and shouldn’t really be blamed. I was basically brought to a point where I nearly lied about my sins just so I could confess some. Which sounds immensely moronic now that I think of it, but as a kid, you were expected to tell how you sinned. It’s not like anyone would have believed you, if you just said: “Hello, I haven’t really sinned since my last confession, have a nice day, bye.” I know, it’s stupid, but that’s one of those negative parts of religion that isn’t really helping anyone or anything.
Now, lets talk a bit about my family a bit… They are all sort of religious, a bit more from my mother’s side, but if I take it as a whole, we are basically religious or Christian only as far as tradition goes. You know, sort of a ritual like any other in our life, like celebrating birthdays, celebrating New Year, celebrating this and that etc. It was never about the God, his salvation of our sinful souls or his forgiveness for our petty existence. I was never ever told in my life that I’ll go into hell if I don’t believe anything related to my religion. I was told about it, but never threatened with it directly. As years have progressed, my entire family, particularly my father and also his mother (my closest grandma) started questioning God and religion as a whole. Mostly parts in which the all loving God somehow forgets about the van full of kids that was involved in a tragic accident or how little kids are brought to world with most horrible disabilities. How can there be this all loving, all powerful God who allows such horrible things to happen. And I don’t blame them, because there is no answer from religious folks that will satisfy my curiosity and questioning in this regard for as long as such horrible things will be happening. The other part was the “morality” part that is so often thrown at us Atheists, like how can we be moral if we don’t believe in God. And I’ve had a very nice example in my own family tree. I have two cousins who were not baptized as far as I know, they were not attending Sunday schools, they were not attending church on Sundays, they were not thought about God or religion, they were not thought the 10 Commandments and they weren’t thought how to be “good”. And despite all this, they are both probably the nicest persons I know in the whole world. Which even further reinforced my belief that you can be a good person even without any God in your life and being good is something everyone is born with. And not the other way around where everyone is born with this god awful sin and we need to be somehow forgiven and led by the almighty God like some mindless sheep.
So, my family was certainly a huge contributor to what I’ve identified myself as not that long ago. I was indeed brought into religion by them whether I liked it or not, but then again it was never in a hostile, damaging way so I don’t really take it as offensive or something I’d blame them for.
And this “not long ago” that I’ve mentioned few words back, is when I stumbled upon Youtube videos from The Amazing Atheist (TJ) and Jaclyn Glenn (don’t really know how, I just came across them). This was really the first time I’ve finally identified myself as a part of some group that doesn’t really believe in any Gods and deities and I felt like I should finally start openly identifying as such. And I’ve identified myself as something I was already the whole time. Yes, I was raised in a religious family, but my family didn’t have extremist views on it, I frankly never really believed in stories about God and all that. They were just stories for me like any other fictional stories from cartoons or movies.
If I look at my life, I was really more of an Atheist with religious traditions. I’ve never really transitioned from religion to Atheism, I was unknowingly that way the whole time. I just got an official label now.
The only God which I somewhat symbolically have in my life is the Egyptian God of Sun “Ra”. I’m saying symbolical because I don’t believe in it as such, but since I love the Egyptian mythology and the sun is always taken as a symbol of positive thinking, something that defines every new day with the sunrise or how it can make a bright side of every negative dark thing, I’ve taken it as my own personal God in a way…
That’s why I still think its nothing wrong by being spiritual or religious, if it’s per your choice and you’re not doing stupid things in the name of the religion, then go for it by all means if that is what helps you in your life in one or another way. I’ll still express my views on it just to a point where each individual can start questioning religions on their own. Because when you realize how ludicrous the whole idea of Gods is on your own, it’s thousand times more powerful than if someone is brainwashing you with “there is no God you fool” kind of stuff.
Learn something from my story, learn from stories of people who “converted” to Atheism like the one from Jaclyn or MrRepzion and maybe follow my small guideline that I’ve created over the years….
“Listen, learn and question everything.”
Because you might either identify yourself as an existing Atheist (like I did) or you might actually find out on your own that you can be an even better person without any God or religion in your life…