*Even though everyone’s path to atheism is different, I wanted to write this for those that think they are alone. I want to let people know, you are NOT alone! I also want to make sure the religious people reading this know I did not awaken from my religious coma lightly and that it can be done no matter what religion you were indoctrinated with.*
I am an atheist. Those four words seem easy enough to say, but honestly, they were the four hardest words I have ever had to say out loud. Before I begin my personal journey, let me tell you what I am not. I am not a witch. I am not a devil worshiper. I am not in a religion of any kind. I do not hate god/s. (How can you hate something that is not real?)
I know that everyone’s process of becoming an atheist is different, but this is mine:
For me, becoming an atheist was a very long and sometimes painful process. I was raised Christian, but never very strict. We went to church twice a month and I was involved in the kid’s activities. As I got older, going to church was just something I had to do because my mom wanted to. It never really felt right or natural, but it was the norm. I would pray to god for typical kid things; help with homework, getting a car, my mom letting me go out with my friends, etc. Looking back I see how shallow it was, but isn’t that what most prayer is; shallow?
When I turned 18 I found out that my ancestors were from Israel, making me Jewish. That was the start of my process I guess. Even though Christianity comes from Judaism, they are two different religions. It was very confusing for me. I sought out a Torah and found some Jewish friends to try and explain what being Jewish meant. I even dated a Rabbi’s son. I tried to immerse myself in the culture, but I quickly learned that I was definitely not cut out to be a Jew; birthright or not. Too many rules! Can’t eat dairy and meat together. Separate silverware for meat and cheese. No bacon!! I couldn’t take it! LOL After that, I was more confused than ever.
For months, I had no idea what I was. Was I a Christian who had Jewish blood? Was I supposed to be a Jew? Should I pray to Jesus anymore? When I was through asking the inane questions, I started to ask the right ones. How is it possible I could be both? Why, if one religion thinks they are right over the others, do so many religions exist? What does that mean?
Then I saw a movie that would change my life forever. I am sure most of you have seen it, “Religulous” by Bill Maher. I always liked Bill Maher because of his political leanings, but I never paid attention to his anti-religious ramblings before. After watching the movie, I literally sat there for a hours just thinking. All of these religions exist in spite of each other. So many gods and different worship practices. Nothing made sense about it. “Religulous” opened my mind to the possibilities out there. I never knew what atheism was or what it meant to be an agnostic before that. Never even crossed my mind to learn. But that’s what I started doing after that very moment; learning.
For years I went through life as an agnostic. At first it was the fear that if I said there was no god I would be punished somehow. (I blame my religious upbringing for that fear). I started reading more about science (a subject which never interested me, nor could I grasp very well in high school). At that point, my son was 5 and really into science. Believe it or not, my little 5 year old helped me with the process. It was his inquisitive nature and need to learn that drove me forward. He would ask questions and we would spend time looking up the answers together.
It was not until a year ago (my son was 11), that I fully admitted I was an atheist. I didn’t do it to be antagonistic or vindictive. I was just finally able to overcome my deep seeded fear. I sat in my room and said it out loud to myself several times. (I think I was still waiting for a god to come and strike me down). After the 4th or 5th time, I started to feel….. free. I felt like I had been released from some sort of invisible prison my mind had on me. I could see things in a new and clearer light. I was able to begin to ask more questions and search for more answers.
I have not stopped asking questions since that moment. If I do not know, I find out. I look for evidence and search for scientific thesis. When I was religious, I could never do that. If I had a question, the answer was always “God says this.” Or “God wants you to do that.” Looking back, I can see how robotic and controlling religion is, but while you are in it, it is commonplace.
It’s not easy being an atheist. There is no one to pray to for comfort or solace. If you have troubles, you cannot let them go to “god”, you have to learn a whole new way of dealing with life in that respect. It has made me stronger, though. It has made me look at creative ways to problem solve and helped hone my critical thinking skills. I can say without a doubt, that I am happier being an atheist.
I woke up from the cloud of delusion and fairy tales and officially stepped into the world of reality.