Since many of you would be wondering where I had gone by now, I thought I’d show some life signs. So let us not waste time and get down to business…
Now that Tyson has opened his heart for us by sharing his transition of thought on religion, I feel compelled to do the same. I now consider myself not only an atheist, but as regular readers know, I’m “aggressively” so.
I have never been religious, but I once thought most things the bible described were true, in that common cherry-picking way. From when I was young we went to church on Sundays. Sure, listening to the preacher was sometimes dull and boring, but I didn’t complain, I had enough patience for an hour or two.
I am the kind of person who values knowledge and reasoning and because of that I started to realize something wasn’t right. Christianity was described by this book, the bible. However, I started to understand that just because something was written down didn’t mean it was evidence, since it might not correspond how things really are. And the statements themselves seemed either very improbable or quite opposed to our modern life. My assurance of both the validity and usefulness of religion started to diminish.
Although this happened gradually there was a defining moment when, like a switch, my disbelief was affirmed. One of the members of the congregation had sustained a rare illness during the night of a hospital visit to which cause I am unaware. This illness is in normal cases fatal but he survived, but not without permanent disability. The “price” of being alive was a paralysis of most of the body and loss of speaking; he now communicates by (slowly) typing a keyboard which accompanies his mobility scooter. During the night he also had a near-death experience which strengthened his belief further. As a result he started missioning in our town.
One day, I was about 13 years old at the time, he found me in my usual neutral but slightly bored state in the church waiting for the church service to start. He asked me, with the help of his computer generated voice, “Do you believe in god?”. I actually knew he couldn’t know I wasn’t too sure of this god concept any longer, this was one of his preprogrammed questions I had seen him use in town. But the question taxed me. I remember asking myself what to answer. I could not make myself answer yes… I then knew I could not believe.
At that point my parents only occasionally required me to go to church, and they had me attending a public elementary school, not a religious school from the start — of both I am very grateful. This meant I had a free environment for contemplating the facts and arguments. I chose to call myself agnostic, and still do in a particular sense, because of the following: The existence or non-existence of a god have no bearing on the human situation. We would be humans, with the same conditions and possibilities, no matter what. God doesn’t matter (but would he reveal himself he is welcome to join us as our peer).
The last stop is a very resent one. The reading of Sam Harris’ The End of Faith a few years ago made me realize the cause and effect in religion was more involved than meets the eye. By reading books from the so called “New Atheists” I came to understand that I was atheistic by definition. Agnostic just didn’t suffice because when it comes to the assertions themselves –e.g. the existence of a god — there is an infinite number of unverifiable things, yet we don’t believe them. I also had to be, by the believers sense, aggressive. Of course this doesn’t mean “stop believing, or else… ” but rather “we have to talk… NOW”.
It seems to me that most people that follow a religion do it because they have been taught to do so by their parents. But in the end all societies are secular, they just doesn’t know it yet. It only takes them to understand what they gain and what they liberate themselves from in order to accept advancement.