The Day I Learned There Was No GodI didn't come from a very religious background which is ironic as I grew up in Ireland! My father was church of Ireland (Anglican) and my mother was Lutheran but not practicing, of the two my father was the most religious and in a way I think he was a searcher, always looking for something outside himself that he could blame or hold responsible for whatever was going on in his life at the time. Even though we never went to church (except December when we celebrated St. Lucia at the Lutheran church in Swedish) he would come in my room at bedtime to say a prayer.
In school we had the usual religious education which was church of Ireland and which as a child I completely accepted but never felt happy with. I was terrified of war (it was the 80's) and natural disasters (Ireland never had any), every night I would have a list of stuff to pray about I'd get upset if I left out anything- it was almost like OCD!
The things I couldn't fathom as a child were mostly from the old testament- if god and heaven were so great why did Satan leave? Why would a loving god kill all the first born sons in egypt? Burning down cities and sending plagues must have killed loads of innocent children who were just living there.. Why after seeing a sea part for **** sake would you revert to paganism and build a golden calf? Anyway these were the questions in my childish brain (without the swearing). Then when I was 9 a new girl came to school, we became very close and one day we were talking about Christmas and Santa- I think I was saying that I know Santa doesn't exist but I'll pretend that he does to get the presents. She said that she has always known he doesn't exist just like god, but her parents do Christmas as a family celebration to mark halfway through winter. Well I was very surprised, I asked did she believe in God, and she said "no" and I said "what about when you die? " and she replied "you die and there's nothing, it's like when you sleep you don't know you're asleep" and from that moment I felt liberated!
Since becoming an atheist at 9 I can appreciate some peoples need for mystery and spirituality but personally I don't share it. I love taking ownership of my own life, living in reality and being responsible for my own happiness, I love nature and humanity and I think everyone has to look out for each other globally. I embrace evolution and feel that humankind's next step is to realise that religion holds us back, that morals do not come from Jewish rituals and laws created 2000 years ago but that we are a social animal that has always created codes in order to live as a group!
I feel as an atheist it is my duty (well one of my duties) to be the best person I can be, and to raise my kids to be great human beings so that I can prove to myself and others that religion is not a necessary component to being a good, caring, sharing, responsible person.
People seem to be afraid to say out loud that they are atheist, they might be afraid to offend people, while I never preach atheism I have no problem telling people when the conversation steers in that direction. I think we atheists need to be more actively vocal especially when it comes to education syllabus's and religiously sympathetic laws.
It is great to be in charge of your own destiny. Peace!