From The Freethinker UK
When I was growing up in a religious Polish family I found myself really close to the church.
I spend years helping with all all the ceremonies, and watching people who were attending them. I could not speak against the religion as this would have been unacceptable, but what I could do was simply observe and learn how mass manipulation works.
Once a week we also had a 45-minute lesson about a god and all aspects of the religion, but answers to our questions were never given. To be honest, there was no time for questions as part of the “learning” was to prepare us for yet another initiation into the religious hierarchy. Bad examination results would prevent one from moving up to the next step of the religion ladder, a failure that would have proved unacceptable both to my parents and whole community.
The process was like being on a train speeding towards a bizarre destination you really don’t want to reach. But all the other passengers on the train would try to stop you from jumping from it. The message was clear: you will die if you do so.
Many years ago when I was just a few years old, my parents made me believe in many unreal things and stories. My favourite one, as probably for any other kid at that age, was the story of Santa Claus. There was no reason not to tell a child this beautiful story about the old man from the North Pole who once a year visits all kids to leave presents for them.
I still believe that concept behind it is pretty good. There is surely no harm in the magical tales we tell our children because all fantasies will soon be recognised for what they are when adults stop pretending and kids happily accept the truth. This moment changes not only way kids perceive reality but it shows them too that the communities in which they live in can accept reality mixed with fiction without any problems.
Except when it comes to fantasies based on religion.
From Graceful Atheist
These kinds of messages have become cliché, but I find the need to write it anyway. Mostly this is an attempt to communicate to my friends and family as succinctly but thoroughly as possible the what and the why of my deconversion from Christianity. This is also for those of you readers who have had doubts and have struggled to keep them contained.
What I am
I am no longer a Christian. In the summer of 2015 after it became increasing more difficult to hold my beliefs against surmounting evidence to the contrary I admitted to myself I no longer believed. I was a Christian for approximately 27 years, until the Jenga tower of contradiction between belief and facts came crashing down. I could no longer sustain the mental effort it required to maintain belief against the overwhelming lack of evidence for that belief.
I am an atheist. Others, wiser than I, have pointed out that this does not tell you very much about me. To say that I am not something is not very descriptive. The list of things I am not is infinite. But I am not afraid of this moniker. I am not a theist. This means I do not believe in God or gods. I do not believe in the supernatural of any kind. The natural is more than sufficient.
I am a humanist. This means that I believe humanity is the most precious existence in the cosmos. It means that loving people trumps ideology. Julia Sweeny said it better than I can. In “Letting Go of God” after tentatively putting on the “Not believing in God glasses” she says:
And I thought wait a minute, wait a minute, what about all those people who are unjustifiably jailed? … There is no god hearing their pleas and I guess this goes for the really poor people too and really oppressed people who I had this vague idea that they had a god to comfort them and then an even vaguer idea that god had orchestrated their lives for some unknowable grand design. I walked around and thought oh, no one is minding the store! … And slowly I began to see the world differently.