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12/16/09                                                                                       View Comments

Another Catholic Breaks Free

by Freed Albert

La leçon de cathéchisme - Jules-Alexis Muenier...Image via Wikipedia

For anyone who was raised Catholic, you know what it means to be indoctrinated. In Catechism we had to memorize answers to questions like, "What is the one and only true church?" The answer: "The one and only true church is the Catholic Church." There were a whole host of rules we had to obey like never setting foot in another church, attending mass every Sunday, not eating meat on Friday, women wearing hats to church, etc.

Sometime during my youth, the Catholic Church began to change some rules. Mass was said in English rather than Latin. Then suddenly we could eat meat on Friday. Then women could wear hats to mass. This is when it began to dawn on me that the rules, which I had been led to believe came from God, were actually just made up by men who could change them at any time. The veneer began to crack.

When I got married at age 20 (because my girlfriend was pregnant), the priest insisted that we recite an oath, before he would sign the marriage certificate, that we would not engage in the sinful methods of birth control. I recited it, all the time thinking, "How the hell do you think I got into this predicament in the first place?"

The more I thought about it, the angrier I became over the Church's prohibition against birth control. Over the years, when I wasn't struck by lightning for not attending mass, I began to consider myself non-denominational. Then I began to consider myself an agnostic. But I still couldn't describe myself as . . . dare I say it . . . as an Atheist.

But then my daughter-in-law gave me Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion. Suddenly my eyes were opened. Dawkins gave me confidence to disbelieve all of the superstitious myths that had been stuffed into my head over decades. He unlocked the chains and freed my mind.

Suddenly I found myself reading more and more atheist books, and they made me feel good. I was able to think of the world and my life in terms of science rather than myth and superstition. Wow! What a revelation!

I'm born-again, but not in the way Christians use that term. I am born free, and it's now clear to me that our species, for millions of years, invented religion to explain all of the mysteries of life (thunder, lightning, illness, pregnancy, etc). They had no scientific knowledge whatsoever, so this is perfectly understandable. But now our species is preconditioned by our genes to believe in the supernatural. It takes courage and insight to break free. But once that occurs, we see all of life in a new perspective. I am very happy to now call myself an Atheist. Thank you Richard Dawkins!