Sent in by Jonathan S
It took me a long time to figure it out... but it finally happened. I’m 18, and I make absolutely no claim to being the most intelligent person alive, but I’m now an atheist. I refuse to say agnostic, as it is quite possible to be an agnostic theist as well.
I was born into a Christian family, and dedicated into Christianity (Pentecostal, if you find that relevant) by my parents. They raised me up in their beliefs as they swore to, and until 12 weeks ago, I had attended church every week, disregarding some holidays. I had my first communion at four years old, and was baptised at 12. I started to go to youth at 13, with probably now my most hated youth pastor. I’ll explain why later.
I started switching between churches, not particularly fitting into the perfectionist style that my parents’ church portrayed, and leaving eventually as a result. My life group, which I still attend at the moment (They aren’t threatening at all, and I’m good friends with a few people that go), strengthened my belief in God temporarily.
But my conversion to Atheism all started with a Christian youth conference called Planetshakers, in Sydney. It was an amazing time, and my parents put off our return trip home so that I could attend the last night with a few of my friends.
And my conversion is thanks to that decision.
I won’t go into monstrous detail (partly because it’s very personal, but also because it’s very long), but I had what I thought was a word of god that night. I followed it, and spent half the service meditating on that, as opposed to actually listening to the man up front. It really interested me afterwards, and really strengthened my belief in god. I vowed to actually follow up and actually partake in what every person should do before they really call themselves a Christian; analyse their own beliefs.
Once we arrived home from our trip, I spent weeks analysing the Bible, not what it taught me, but watching it for inconsistency with my own beliefs, and the actions of Christianity as a whole.
I soon realised that the Bible was quite far fetched. It taught great morals (which the church didn’t follow, but nevertheless), but the stories it tells are, in most cases, utterly ridiculous. This wasn’t what converted me, but it was what grabbed me and made me follow on to the next step.
It was then that I started reading up on atheism, and proof that god doesn’t exist. And whilst mostly subjective material, there as one article that I read that hit on one of my major concerns. I won’t go into a monologue, as you can find the article at
It was right at that point that I realised that I didn’t believe any of it. I’d spent years of my life conforming to a world that I didn’t really believe in, though I admit I tried to.
I don’t go to church each week any more, my Sundays now being spent going to friend’s houses for a few hours, or going for a walk. My parents still haven’t found out about my conversion yet, and I’m hoping I have a few months to leave home before they find out (I’ll tell them myself once I leave home, my father and his family are anal about Christianity). My good friends know, and whilst many of them are Christian, I was surprised to find that many of them are willing to accept the conversion, although there were some that were totally hostile to the concept of atheism. Needless to say, we don’t keep in contact any more.
I’ve met some great friends in my absence from the religion too. We have more in common than just a shared belief, which leads to great communication, and interesting conversation, as they can talk about more things than just how god saved them from an eternal fire. Although I still have many of the morals that Christianity teaches... I feel no need to follow them where it seems wrong to do so.
I have just one question though. I don’t talk to people so that I can have deep theological discussion, yet I find 90% of the people who ask me this question then monologue about Jesus Christ and point out my eternal damnation and basically all the "die in a fire" propaganda that I've already refuted as scare tactics. It doesn't help their case that I've looked through every book and seen every DVD regarding converting unbelievers that they have fifty times already.
So I ask you, how do I tell people I’ve never met, when they inevitably ask me about my religious beliefs, that I’m atheist, whilst avoiding theological discussion?