Sent in by Athey
My whole family is Christian. Some stronger then others. My mom has told me stories about a short stint in her youth where she decided she was catholic, but primarily because the sermon was in Latin and that was really cool. Haha. Once the church she was going to switched to English and she could understand what they were saying, she lost interested and gave it up.
I was baptized. Had god parents. Was occasionally taken to church (but only really when my grandparents were visiting or some relative or family friend had died). And grew up knowing the basics of the kid-friendly bible stories. My mom never really pushed any serious religion onto me, but I never knew about any other options. I didn't realize that there was an option to Not believe in god. I never heard anyone even mention that.
I remember being young and hearing the term Jewish and knowing enough to realize it was something different then what everyone I knew believed, but that was all I knew. No one ever really educated me about religions. It wasn't a topic that was discussed.
I loved science fiction and history. My mom and I watched tons of Star Trek. I remember my science classes in 3rd grade, and doing little experiments with batteries, copper wire, and light bulbs and how awesome that was. Electricity was so freaking cool to me as a 3rd grader. And the cabbage juice experiments we did! Taking this stinky yellowish liquid and adding various different liquids to it and each one would change it to a different color. Bases and Acids. Really simple introduction to chemistry, but it was fascinating.
I loved watching the discovery channel and the learning channel, and Nova on PBS. Anything on the stars, or ancient Egypt, Greece, china - it was all fascinating.
But most strongly, I remember in 4th grade when I first heard the term "Evolution". It was like an amazing light bulb suddenly came on! It was like "Wow!! Here's something that makes sense!" Something that's real! Something that you can see evidence of. Something that doesn't sound like a child's fairy tale.
One of my cousins was very... VERY religious and she stayed with my mom and I a couple times through the years when she needed help and no other family member offered to take her in. It just so happened that she was staying with us the year I discovered Charles Darwin and had my little revelation.
Imagine an 8-year old girl having a VERY LOUD argument with a 29-year old evangelist about evolution in a Burger King at 9pm at night - haha. It really happened. I don't remember exactly how it started. I'm pretty sure she said something that just dumbfounded me. Something that seemed so ridiculous to me, but she honestly believed it with every bit of her. I was astounded into an argument.
But I was 8 years old. I'd never even heard the term Atheist. I honestly didn't even realize that there were people who didn't believe in god. But in my mind I honestly didn't see how any of it (Christianity) could make sense to anyone. I mean, how was any of this different from the Egyptians believing in Isis and Ra? Or the Greeks with Zeus and Aphrodite? But I thought my disbelief was something to be afraid to admit. That I'd get in trouble if I let anyone know that I didn't believe any of it.
I remember one day when I was 10 and I got up the courage to tell my mom I didn't believe in god, and... nothing. No big deal. In fact... she didn't really believe in it either. Not so strongly anyway. She told me that she was 'Agnostic". I'd never even heard that word before.
Many years later when I was in high school my mom and I had a discussion about religion and she was telling me what she did believe and I told her she was a Buddhist. She thought that was funny.
For most of my life religion (or my lack there of) didn't play any role in my life. I rarely even gave it a thought at all. My husband isn't very religious, but I don't honestly know where he stands on belief in god simply because we Never talk about it.
And then I had Kaya. My little baby girl. She was born in May 2006, and suddenly I realized that I was going to have to teach this little girl something about religion.
My mom didn't really believe in Christianity for much of any of my life, but she never discussed it with me. I guess she figured I could make up my own mind on the matter, but I was never given anything to work with. I don't want to do that to Kaya. I want her to know about everything. But what does that mean? What do I tell her?
I was talking with another woman who is an atheist and has two children, an 11 year old and an 8 year old. She told me that one day her 8-year old daughter came home crying, saying that the kids at school had told her she was going to go to hell for not believing in god.
I still have no idea how to handle this the best way. But suddenly it's important. Where in the past I could laugh off some religious extremist, now I worry about my daughter. When can I explain things so that she'll understand it? What will the kids at her school say to her? How do I protect her from the ignorance of blind faith?
I don't have the answers, but I'm still looking. I guess I can just do my best and hope it works out.
Was: Catholic Methodist
Now: Agnostic / Atheist
Converted because: Born into it
De-converted because: Realized it was ridiculous
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)