By Bob Patterson
While at our community of reason bible study (Sunday), I became aware that many ex-Christians, having become atheists, felt a loss in the process. Some even said they almost wanted to return to their previous beliefs for the comfort it provided. I thought this very interesting and different from my experience with religion.
First, let me say my parents agreed to have NO religious influence over me, as my mother had been a Catholic and my dad's family, although claiming to be Christian, didn't regularly attended church. So how did I get involved? Simple, It was the neighbors who took me to church with their son, who was my age. I remember liking the singing and the people, but the Pentecostal hell, fire and damnation didn't make much sense at all. I was only six or seven at that time.
I attended this church until I became a boy scout and switched to the Methodist church. There was a lot less hell, fire and damnation in Methodism than Pentecostalism, I noticed. I tried to be a 'good' Christian, earning both my Eagle Scout and God and Country awards.
By now, I was sixteen years old and discovering the sciences. It quickly became blatantly obvious that religion and science were incompatible. I then found my new friend Steve was an atheist, as were his educated parents.
It was all over. That was IT! No more would I demean myself by praying to or pretending an imaginary god who never responded.
The feeling was one of relief, not the feeling of having lost a friend. I was OUT of a mental bondage that was never completely comfortable anyway!
That was 57 years ago and I have never once regretted my escaping the mental confinement of religious belief. I realized I never had an imaginary "friend," just an adult imposed constraint.
Today I recognize that religion is another form of child abuse, and I do whatever I can to help expose this. My feeling about religion today is much the same as "buyers remorse," at having been duped. This may sound a bit bitter -- I'm not, this is how it happened.
I hope this can help another person struggling to break the bonds of religious confinement.
Note: My friend Steve is still my friend and has his doctorate in nuclear physics. My son Steve was named for him.
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)