Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

How I became an atheist

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Many of the stories in the bible have some insight into human nature but many are full of hatred, revenge, persecution and prejudice. The bible has to be seen as it is: a book written in ancient times. It has historic value, that’s all. But it’s filled with ignorance, with an almighty revengeful god that scares people.  In those days, with few rules, rampant illiteracy and no knowledge of science, the figure of god was used to put people in line. Nowadays we have information, law and education.

For instance, if the crop was bad or if there was a bad storm, people thought it was “god”  being mad at them because someone  in their tribe had “sinned”. Now we know they are natural phenomena.

The most enlightening thing that happened to humanity is Scientific development. How can these religious ignorants reject evolution when it is more than proven (DNA sequencing, for example, which has demonstrated the human migration pattern-did you know that the Irish have the same genes as the Basques in northern Spain-they were Celts whowent to the British Isles?).

I have always been fascinated with Science.  Science is based on facts and investigation.Since I was a little girl I have never been a believer of fantasies and myths. I stopped believing in Santa around the age of 6 (it was already my skeptical nature showing) while other kids were almost 10 and still believed in “him”. I started seeing that some nuns were not good and saintly people, but very troubled women.  And when I was around 11, at Catholic school, I started noticing that many priests acted “different”. Now I know they were closeted homossexuals (the Church has been the hiding place for gay men for centuries-it was the only way they could be accepted into society-homossexuality in those days-until the 60’s, was considered an awful disease). So skeptical I became.  Additionally, I would raise questions to myself about the impossibility of many things religion taught us:

1) How could all animals in pairs come to Noah’s ark?

2) What was the selection criteria for people going to hell, heaven and limbo? How could hell affect them if they were already dead? What would people do in heaven all day for ever and ever and not get flat bored? How could one man (“God”) have so much power-like a dictatorship?

3) And the role of the catholic church (it’s the biggest just because it is the oldest) during the Inquisition?? They were murderers! And the role of the Catholic church during the Second World War genocide? They closed their eyes and allowed the killings because the victims were jews!

So these questions swirled in my mind since an early age while others never stopped to think about them and accepted all these teachings blindly.

At 13 my parents enrolled me in confirmation classes. Me and my best friend at the time (very very intelligent,  she is now a famous journalist in Brazil) would play table tennis and totally not pay attention to the brainwashing, ooops, class.  We would make fun of everything. I was alway skeptical. The whole hell and heaven thing for me never made sense. I questioned everything.

At 18 I told my parents I no longer wanted to go to church. Sometimes I would go with a friend of mine only to have something to do as if the church was a social club to see and be seen. Just like most poor people do when they go to their Baptist or Evangelical church/mass/religious event. A social club for the poor. We would stand at the very end and check the scene. This was a small hip church which attracted younger people instead of the little old ladies.

In my early 20’s I liked to read Scientific American and was fascinated with articles about evolution. Things started to make more sense to me.  In my late 20’s I helped a 3rd grade kid get better grades in Science at school. That year he was studying zoology. That’s when the whole thing hit me: we are all related!! All of us animals! There is a clear sequence. Some animals share stomachs and hearts, some have lungs, but they all have links to us. You can see the clear development of fish into reptiles into mammals. That is when I became firmly an agnostic. I was a bit afraid of using the word atheist because of its negative connotation. Many Americans still equate communists with atheism. That is one thing that Marx and Lennin got right, the atheist side.

Forward to 1998. I already had good internet access. I started browsing sites like www.freethought.com

I was really flabbergasted. What I was always thinking had a confirmation. There were people out there, many people, who thought just like me! Then I found the American Atheists site and I joined some local meetup groups. How wonderful it was to meet intelligent  folks who called themselves atheists and have some really intelligent conversation!! They helped me become an OUT OF THE CLOSET atheist. I was not afraid of calling myself an atheist to people anymore. I even became very proud of doing so. I am fortunate though to live in an area where there are many intellectuals. The Washington D.C. suburbs have high income and educational levels. I also work with Scientists, most of them atheists as well. So I have never encountered prejudice. Some of my more religious friends continue my friends but know they cannot talk about religion to me.

Now I am an activist. I am being helped by the New Atheism movement which is making it more mainstream and understood. Let’s stop equating religion with morals. I have plently of morals and so do my children and we are atheists. No hypocrisy here.

Richard Dawkins actually suggested using another name for atheists, like Brights. That is a good name in the sense that most atheists I have met are exactly that: bright. But I still think we have to take the stigma out of the word atheist and see it as what it is: a person who does not believe in god nor likes religion but other than that is very very normal. And good. And moral. And well behaved. And respectful of others. Ellen Johnson of the American Atheists is an example. A family woman. Margaret Downey of the Atheist Alliance as well. Married for 35 years. Kids. I am like them.

Religious talk baffles me. People seem so childish when they say things like: “god wants me to….”. Wake up folks, there is NO god. There is you and the people who like you and love you and will be there for you.

October 2, 2007 Posted by | atheist | 14 Comments