I am an atheist, this is not news to those who have been following this blog, but I have not always been one, except of course when I was born and before my parents took me to church. I was baptized in my absence, not as you think, rather because at the time of my baptism I was too small to notice or to comprehend why anyone would pour cold water on my fore head, if you get what I mean.
When I became of age, I attended catechism classes and got confirmed in the Catholic faith whatever that meant. Growing up in our family, church was the one place you had to have a good reason to miss. It wasn’t all bad though, we did very little work on Sunday. I can’t say it was so solemn. I don’t remember if there was a lot of hell fire teaching, you see I didn’t know I’d someday write about it, but I remember we didn’t have to attend Sunday School since the other children were dimmed by my parents either too young or not too smart, no, they didn’t say that, all I know is I didn’t attend Sunday School.
I don’t remember reading the bible much as a teenager, I used to read in church, but that was all the reading and once in a while when we prayed together as a family. In high school, I was in an Anglican run school, I joined the born again band for a one term and got bored by the time the holidays came and remained a practicing catholic, if going to Sunday mass, makes one. Campus was different. We had a course unit for a semester Introduction to Philosophy, the first time I interacted with logic, ethics, and logical fallacies, it was love at first sight, but our relationship ended almost with the end of the semester, though the memories lingered on. I tried Opus Dei for a while. The priests said all work is a prayer, they said some nice things, I remember one center director saying if you are a sweeper, do sweep that when the time comes for you to go the other side, it will be said of you; here lived a great sweeper. I left after some time, well after reading the story of Jose Maria the founder, and the stories of the popes[ the earlier popes were bad asses I tell you]. I tried Ignatian spirituality, seeing god in everything, for some time. There were the group meditations, where we were to listen to our hearts, I must say I tried but my mind always went where it chose. It is only lately after reading MT that I know, there was no way I was going to keep my mind from wandering as it chose to do. I think this was one time I genuinely looked for god and at the end only found myself. If there was a time I should have said god didn’t exist, this was it.
I was studying architecture, and among other things, we were told we were creators like gods, there was nothing really special about god. Then I began to ask myself, why would god care so much about Sunday and not Monday and who decided which day should be the day of worship. At the same time, I had friends, Muslim friends, who asked me how did Jesus dying help humanity, Mary, Trinity and so on. Things that were, as you know, impossible to explain. I sought the help of an uncle of mine, an ex-seminarian, a Greek and Hebrew scholar and his answers were not conclusive. But, I still remained a believer. I read some articles written by Muslims about bible inconsistencies, well before that time, it had not occurred to me there existed any inconsistencies in the bible. I saw no reason to continue going to church, there was nothing in my estimation the priests would teach me that I couldn’t learn by myself.
Towards the end of last year, I read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and decided I was going to believe in myself and no other. I decided if gods existed, I couldn’t help them and they would care less. I didn’t call myself an atheist then, I just didn’t believe anymore the bible stories. They became impossible to believe. So I stopped praying, stopped going to church, it occurred to me it didn’t really matter whether I prayed or not. Before I started reading books on atheism, I was fairly convinced that Jesus wasn’t special or that he didn’t exist. I asked my friends whether he was the son of god literally or metaphorically; if literally then god had to have a dick and balls and you know what else and didn’t respect marriage or family for that matter and there was no way David would be his grandfather unless David was god’s grandfather, and if he was metaphorically then there was no difference, the bible calls everyone who believes a son of god.
From the beginning of this year, I have looked at the arguments for the existence of god from the medieval philosophers, so called church fathers, the refutations to the arguments and I know all those who insist there is a god haven’t met the burden of proof. I have looked at cosmology, evolution and I know the universe doesn’t need a god neither does it show there is one. I can’t say there isn’t one, I don’t know but I will live my life like there is none.
You may ask me, what difference does it make whether you believe or you don’t, a lot I will tell you. Before I tell you the difference it makes, allow me to digress a little. I was lucky in my development that I learnt not to fear death, I have only wanted to die a peaceful one, that is, to wake up and find I died in my sleep. To continue with the story, I realize if gods exist, we can’t help them. It is beholden upon us to help our fellow-man. I now know the more we love our fellow-man, the least space we have for gods who don’t need our help. I know tradition, even with claims that it is good for society, are mainly meant for control and are of the same origin as religion, that is, superstition, fear and not reason. I know we live in an intelligible world, that is both natural and materialistic. Since I am here for a short time, in as much as I am interested in knowing the origin of the universe, my main goal is to live mankind better when I depart. Anything that can’t stand reason has to be left and to this end, I travel light, no superstition, all joy and fun as we travel in the journey of life. I don’t need transcendence to give my life meaning, I create that as I go along.
I hope that my christian friends will read their bibles, not the parts read by the pastors, no, the whole book and see what atrocities are contained there in and ask themselves if that be the work of a loving and just god. If you don’t believe in Zeus or Allah, why not use the same reasoning to see that your god is also just a creation of mind as the rest of the gods. I want us to say humanism is the only religion and liberty the only creed. Freedom to think, freedom from superstition, freedom from all forms of slavery! We must stop feeding priests by the honest labour of our hands, they do not mediate between us and gods, no they only peddle fear and superstition. Let us not build churches instead of schools and hospitals. We can’t exempt church property from tax, if god exists, he can meet the tax burden. If anyone is to be exempt from tax, then let us exempt the orphan, the poor widow, the aged but not church. Lastly let us not teach children this horror called god, let the children grow to learn free of superstition, from ghosts holy or otherwise and let us all strive to make the lives of each one of us as pleasant as is humanly possible.
As I finish the story of my religious journey, should I in my old age say I believe in god, please do know that it is old age and frailty of my faculties. I can’t help gods, they can’t help me but I can help my fellow-man. I believe all men are equal, and that no man has the right to enslave another. I believe that if a man has a right to live in dignity, he has a right to die in dignity and lastly that the more we free ourselves of religion the greater our progress will be.