sent in by Botond Balázs
I didn't choose this. If I could choose, like Cypher in The Matrix, between happy ignorance and heavy-hearted knowledge, I don't know what I would decide. But, sadly or fortunately, if one has the blessed talent of logical thinking, and the courage to use it on every idea one comes across, even if one's whole previous life is built on that particular idea, then there is no choice.
Neither I had a choice when I was sitting in the park of a village church somewhere in rural Hungary, when I was only 14, thinking about death and what is beyond it. My previous school, which is one of the most renowned Catholic high schools in the country, had organized that retreat. We had to sit in the park and think alone about faith for some minutes. The topic came quickly, because the garden was full of old graves of monks who lived there before. I thought what an awful life those could have, who don't believe in God and afterlife. They expect death to be the end of their individual existence. The end of their existence... I feared the thought of my poor little life coming to an end. I quickly thanked God the gift of faith. There was still some time left, the whole park was quiet, so I continued thinking. How could the atheists see us and our beliefs? How ridiculous could we be? That was the time, when I first realized the absurdity of my whole belief system. We went back to the church, and the songs, prayers and priests quickly blurred this heretic thought. But that was the first time when my oh-so-stable fortress of faith began shaking.
This was rather an intuitive than a logical thought, but it planted doubt in me, that is, something was wrong with the Church and God. First, of course, the fuss about sex. I was (and am still) a teenager, in an all-boys school. I rarely met girls. The more interesting it was to think about them and see them in the street or on the metro. My parents have raised me in a religious way, but they didn't talk to me about the teachings of the Curch concerning sexuality, as I later realized, because they didn't believe in it either. I naively thought that sex was something beautiful, interesting, nothing to be afraid of. It was a shock to learn in RE classes that sex before marriage is the dirtiest degradation to the level of animals, and who are doing that are only "shagging like dogs". And by masturbation we are soiling the sensual pleasures, which have to be the reflection of God's love, with our egoism. That was the first time when I disagreed on something with the Church.
Then the sacrament of confession. If Jesus really saved us from sin, and we honestly regret our failures, why do we need to tell them to an old man we don't even know? And how could a virgin have a baby? What is "one god, three persons"? Who was Jesus? They told me he was wholly human and wholly God. How was this possible? I was told that it's such a big mistery that men can't fully grasp.
I also discovered one of the most powerful arguments against God, the problem of evil. Why is there unnecessary suffering in the world? I wasn't satisfied with the conventional answer, that "God works in mysterious ways". Throughout all my childhood they had been preaching about free will, again and again. They said that men can choose evil because God gave them free will. But if God also has free will, why does he always choose good? And when we pray to him to enlighten the minds of politicians, or we want him to convert someone to Christianity, don't we harm the free will of that person?
There were too many contradictions in Christianity. As I progressed in my studies, I could express them more precisely. The God hypothesis, with given conditions (unnecessary evil), is untenable. We have always created aid hypotheses to support it. We invented Satan, as the primary source of evil. But of course God is greater than Satan - and there comes the next problem, that why the omnipotent, benevolent God doesn't stop him. After telling this to Christians they always started some vague monologue about free will.
Sure enough, every discovered contradiction made me more and more disappointed, because I didn't want to believe that I'm nothing more than some kilograms of matter. Then my emotions slowly calmed down, perhaps because of the movie The Matrix, which gave me a lot of strength to accept reality, anyhow it looks like. I think that God, as Christians believe, doesn't exist. Of course I can't say that there is nothing out of this universe, but If i said anything about it, that would be an unfalsifiable claim. There is equal chance of the world being a single atom of a greater universe, or the eye of a huge chicken. This is the base of the Hindus saying that an elephant is holding the world on its back, and it stands on the back of a turtle. Disprove it, if you can, you pagan!
Many believers say that atheists are egoist people who make they own self their god. I think this is exactly the opposite. Theists try to prove at any price that there is afterlife, what they have is not enough for them. When they do something good, they know that it will be remembered and rewarded later. I don't cling to the tought of afterlife. I accept that I'm part of this Universe, and I can do nothing but obey its laws. I try to make the most out of my life, here on earth. I would like to see people caring more about each other and the planet. We don't have another chance, and the extinction of the human race is also a *real* danger.
From a certain point of view my life is more empty this way. I miss someone, it is a bit like losing a beloved relative. At the age of 18, when you are full of plans, it is not easy to live in the shadow of death, but i have no choice.
I finish this story with a quote from the holy book of another religion, Tao Te King: "Truthful words are not beautiful / Beautiful words are never truthful."
Sorry for any mistakes in my English. As you could have guessed, it is not my first language. I hope you still enjoyed my story.
Became a Christian: 0
Ceased being a Christian: 16
Labels before: Catholic, Taoist
Labels now: Atheist
Why I joined: My parents raised me as a Christian
Why I left: I thing Christianity is absurd
Email Address: sir_leonardo_86 at yahoo dot com
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)