Confessions


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.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

36 thoughts on “Confessions

  1. john zande says:

    Reblogged this on the superstitious naked ape and commented:
    An outstanding essay on faith, on journeying through faith, on questions, on honesty, and the answers found. Enjoy!

    Like

  2. mixedupmeme says:

    I agree with john. Your story is well written. You calmly but firmly state your reason for not believing. You move through your life giving the steps that led you to atheism. I think (don’t know) that if those wavering would take time to write down their thoughts, it might help make the leap.
    I don’t have a story of is there or isn’t there a god. Deep down I just thought it all rather silly. Just took reading on the internet …. surprise surprise…. that there were a few others that agreed with me.

    Getting it out from the deep down of me is a big relief.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Thanks Meme, I think growing up where I did, such a thought was not just possible. Everyone I knew went to some church, not believing in god was unheard of. Thanks to the internet, we can all meet and share our stories.

      Like

  3. foolsmusings says:

    Amen 😛 It sounds like your journey has somewhat paralleled my own. People should dedicate themselves to the service of humanity, and not some man or god. Well done. !!!

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  4. And to think, the journey has just begun…

    Great essay, Makagutu!

    Like

  5. emmylgant says:

    Nicely done.
    ” 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.” Oh, I am so there!
    Thank you for putting it so well.

    Like

  6. rautakyy says:

    You mention reading Ayn Rand. Why do you suppose so many of the so called “neo conservatives” celebrate her, even though she was an atheist

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    • john zande says:

      They love her selfishness. “Selfishness is a Virtue.” (actual quote).

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      • makagutu says:

        I think selfishness is natural.

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        • john zande says:

          I’m not so sure. A mother (typically) isn’t selfish to the needs of her child. Societal groups would be impossible if selfishness ruled.

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          • makagutu says:

            why is the mother concerned about the welfare of the child? We may say the child is dependent on her to survive which is true but she draws a benefit from it. That benefit may not be obvious but it is there.
            Societies exist despite selfishness. Your first concern is yourself then everyone else. If someone tries to convince you differently I think they are missing something.

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            • john zande says:

              A wolf doesn’t survive by itself, rather in the pack. The benefits of ordered society outweigh the pleasures of selfishness and so we’re naturally inclined to fall in behind the idea, and defend it. That action, though, IS selfish because we are, in fact, looking out for No. 1 by simply reinforcing the group. Sort of a self-serving system. Selfishness feeds selflessness. Selflessness feeds selfishness.

              Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      I can’t say I know. I however liked the fountainhead since it was the first novel I read with architects as a major characters, you see am one of them, and I identified with her main character’s[ Howard Roark] sense of independence.
      So even though the book doesn’t argue directly for atheism, it asks one to be TRUE to themselves.
      I don’t like people who lick ass and in a sense the antagonist ( Peter Keating) got to my nerves and represented at least to me a majority of people I see around.
      Lastly the romance in that book was at a level that I liked so much.
      Maybe you could explain to me why she is loved by neo conservatists

      Like

      • rautakyy says:

        I have no idea, since I have never read any of her books, but if you think they are any good, perhaps I should. I am totally willing to accept john zande’s evaluation, as I have found that he is a brilliant fellow, and knows a lot about the neo-cons.

        I found out about the love the neo-conservatives have for Ayn Rand (and especially to the book “Atlas Shrugged”) some time ago, and it has intrigued me, since they otherwise seem not able to accept anything from an atheistic source. I was only asking, since you had read one of the books by Ayn Rand and thought your insight might give me an idea without me having to actually read any of her books. But perhaps I should, since it is such an exeptional connection between her and them.

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        • makagutu says:

          the fountainhead is a good read. Most people dismiss her other books that they repeat the philosophy she developed in the fountainhead. I can recommend fountainhead, the rest I haven’t read.

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  7. violetwisp says:

    This is a lovely piece of writing. I love the conclusions you come to. Thanks for pointing me here.

    Like

  8. Howie says:

    Excellent read Makagutu! I share your humanistic sentiments and you have expressed them very nicely.

    I’ve seen some theists claim that almost all atheists come from conservative evangelical backgrounds and that if they were only introduced to a “proper” view of theism then they would see the error of their ways. Your experience (and others I’ve read) is very diverse and shows this claim to be wrong. Reasons to doubt the existence of gods aren’t dependent on some particular version we’ve been introduced to – no matter what our background we’ve thought it through and it just doesn’t make sense to us.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Thanks Howie, am glad we have met. And thanks for your comments. The theists who say that the atheist has not searched for god truly is being dishonest. There was never a time in the period of my believing days that I ever thought for a moment god didn’t exist. In fact, I looked for god earnestly and with all sincerity but he just didn’t show up. I was left with myself at the end.

      Thanks for reading

      Like

  9. […] would submit my confessions not as my best post but that post that aside from my about tells you about me. You see, I think […]

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  10. Tish Farrell says:

    Thanks for bringing me here. You have certainly given religion(s) your best shot. A v. interesting safari, Noel.

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  11. archaeopteryx1 says:

    I find I DO agree with this piece of wisdom you were given:

    “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.”

    It is my personal belief that no honest labor is without honor, as the laborer brings his own honor to the task.

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  12. […] first confession was a story of how I became clever, saw the light and left the faith I had been brought up in. The […]

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