Let’s start with how I became an Atheist, or rather how and why I declared myself an Atheist.
I wasn’t raised in any religion or church, and for that I am thankful. The idea of God or higher powers was never really brought up, it wasn’t discouraged either. I was left to my own thoughts, devices, and discoveries on the issue. I even attended a church service or 2 while playing basketball for a church team. Right from the start I took issue with the blind following, the lack of real intellectual discussion, the suppression of ideas, and the scare tactics. Without going into too much detail, I was not happy with my church experience. However, I still hadn’t declared myself an Atheist, if asked I said I was agnostic. And I was. I really hadn’t made up my mind on the issue, but I knew that the major religions (Christianity, Islam, etc..) were not the ones.
In 2002 I packed up with my soon to be wife and moved from the east side of the state of Michigan to the west side of the state.
I had been warned about the conservative, religious mindset that dominates the area. I didn’t worry about it or take any issue with that at first. Remember, at this point I still haven’t declared myself as an Atheist.
Then I started to notice things. In Grandville I can’t get an alcoholic beverage on Sunday. Weird. People lead people in prayer during “Secular” events such as fund-raisers that are not sponsored by churches.
Then came the catalyst….
I took a job where everyone is some denomination of christianity. The work emails regarding ‘guardian angels’ , signed ‘your brother/sister in christ’, the amazingly uninformed opinions and world views that are based strictly on bible interpretations or things pastors/preachers say. This was enough to deal with. But then…. I was given a bible. The lady giving it to me was/is trying to change me to a “good person”. I don’t need her anything for that, I am fine on my own. What really frustrated me was that she knows nothing about me. But because I am not a Christian, I cant possibly be good. Ok.
This is the point that I decided to face this religion thing head on. Figure out what I believe. Do I believe in an all powerful god? Is organized religion, such as Christianity, the right path?
I spent time talking with people, reading Bible verses, learning about religion in relation to historical events, and learning scientific theories. I even spent time studying the writings and theories of several theologians, philosophers, atheists, etc.. And as it turned out….I have always been an Atheist. A controlling force in the sky who watches over us, and knows everything we do, and someone we are supposed to have a relationship with is downright laughable.
Without evidence I refuse to believe it. This idea works with any other piece of information I am presented with. I need evidence.
On top of that, the suppression of ideas, free-thought and personal freedoms that religion imposes on masses of people disgusts me. It can not be helpful for human development.
So, to sum up. I have always been an atheist. I knew it. I never wanted to say it. I did not know what it would mean to say it. How would I be treated? What would people think of me? I overcame that. I am a reasonable and logical person. If anyone thinks bad of me because I demand factual evidence to back up claims that are being made then they are the ones that look bad, not me.
Thank you for the bible. Lady, if you are reading this, you helped me declare my Atheism. You helped me get active in Atheism discussions, clubs, and connect with other Atheists. Probably not the outcome you wanted.
I am an Atheist. Don’t give me anymore bibles.