The journey to atheism has not been an easy one for me. It has been filled with fear and doubt, only to discover that I have been wasting precious moments of the only life I will have. That realization has been very liberating. It has helped me to become a more understanding, forgiving and compassionate person, and has led to a more happy and fulfilling life.
My mother and father were both very young when she got pregnant with me, and they married. When I was about 5 or 6, they separated, and my mother moved in with her boyfriend. I have very few memories of the time with my mom and dad, but according to my family, both had an affair. After the separation, my father visited me a couple of times and then I didn’t see him or hear from him again until I was 13.
My mother had four more children with my step-dad, and we were physically and emotionally abused and often went hungry. We never received medical care either. I was 8 years older than the oldest of them, and being the step-child, received the majority of the abuse, along with my mother. I could never understand why she didn’t just leave. There was even a year we lived without electricity. I often prayed during these times and felt completely abandoned. I was a good kid. I made good grades. I was responsible and stayed out of trouble. I did the best I could to protect and take care of my siblings. Why wasn’t God protecting me?
When I was 12, I escaped the abuse. Life became normal and as I started to fit in, I wouldn’t allow myself to question the group mentality of anything. I grew up in rural east Texas. Everyone was some form of Christian. My family believed in God, but didn’t attend church. My Grandma studied her Bible and told us the occasional story. I also attended church with my friends. So through my youth, I attended Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ and, my favorite, Pentecostal.
My first question about religions was, “Who is right?” There are so many religions, and each person is inclined to believe their religion is true and all who do not have the same belief system will not be saved. But what about those who can’t be convinced because they are just as convinced as you that their religion is the right one? I’m told they will not be saved no matter how well they live their lives. But what about those who know nothing of Christ? I’m told they will not be saved. This seems horrific to me, but it must be so. I’m told it is so by every person I know and trust.
In the midst of this came my understanding of science and introduction to evolution. For me, this was something that made sense. I had already questioned Noah fitting two of every living creature on a boat to save the world, and the virgin birth. Evolution made so much more sense, but how does that fit into the Bible’s version. There must be a God because everyone I know and trust says so.
Eventually, I grew up and moved away. That’s when I met my first atheist. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe I had met someone who so boldly admitted they did not believe in God. I said “You will go to Hell for that.” He said “where do you think you’re going?” Talk about light bulbs. Here I am afraid to even question the existence of God, yet I don’t live my life like Christ. My chances at Heaven are no better than the atheist standing before me. That is when I began to notice that MOST Christians don’t follow Christ teachings.
This led to an internal conflict I struggled with for many years. The realization that there might NOT be a God was more than I was ready to accept. I made justifications, such as the Bible is metaphorical, and Adam & Eve is the metaphorical version of evolution. As I discovered more inaccuracies and injustices in the Bible, I discovered more ways to justify them. Inevitably, I had to give up on the Bible. My final justification before admitting I’m an atheist was that there is a God, but the Bible is not his word. These were men influenced by God, but their own personal prejudice and experience was also an influence on their writings as they were mere men, and therefore imperfect.
I have finally come to the conclusion that there is no God. Now, I don’t have to constantly ask why of the world’s injustices and atrocities. The world is unjust, and there is no supreme being who can reach down and save us with a miracle. We are here, this is our only life and only we can save ourselves.