8/30/2010 | Share this article:by Mandy ~
I would like to start by saying that I have not come to this decision lightly. I have done my research. I have pondered the consequences. I still have things to learn.
Image by ♥KatB Photography♥ via FlickrWhen I was in high school, I was "on fire" for "the Lord." I prayed every day, went to church three times a week, and went to all the Christian concerts and volunteer efforts. I tried to do what I thought "God" wanted me to. It worked for me then. Looking back, I feel like I was devout because I hadn't really experienced much of the world (which, admittedly, I still haven't). I only knew what I had grown up around, which was fundamentalist, conservative Christianity. I *knew* that homosexuality was a sin, hell, even *thinking* a "bad thought" was a sin. As a result, I felt guilty all the time. I fell into a deep depression because I felt like I wasn't "fulfilling God's given role" on this earth. Maybe God had already used me for his purpose, and that was it, He was done with me. I began cutting, scratching, and burning myself, which made me feel even guiltier, which in turn made me even more depressed. I had an abusive boyfriend at the time. I felt I wasn't a good women because if I were "Godly" enough, he wouldn't want to berate, hit, and cheat on me. I wanted to die, I just couldn't do it because I was a coward. I would never be able to take my own life. So I stopped trying to be a good Christian. I stopped caring.
Christianity was all I knew. It's the only set of rules I learned to live by. I had to do something, so i concentrated on work and just being happy with my boyfriend.
On top of my depression, I had anxiety attacks. I thought that since I didn't care about my faith anymore, I wasn't a "True Christian" and that I was going to hell. I would have anxiety attacks often, I couldn't breathe. I felt unreal, fake. The thought of burning in hell forever really, really scared me.
Then I came across vegetarianism. I don't know why, but I loved the idea of going veg, so I did. Soon after I realized the deplorable ways animals for consumption are treated and went completely vegan (abstaining from all animal products). I had a new mission. Save as many animals as I could.
Being vegan raised many questions I had about my Christian faith. Why would God not only allow, but encourage, eating animals? They have families, the cry out when in pain, they feel happiness and sadness. There's no way I could feel comfortable with a God that condones the murder of sentient beings. Then I started to realize the way the God of the Bible viewed women. Sure, some had "standout roles", but only in *their* place. If you're telling me those parts of the Bible aren't literal, or are outdated, then I can't be a Christian that picks and chooses my "favorite" parts of the Bible. It's all true, or none of it's true. Then more I really looked at my religion and saw it how I see "other" religions, like Islam or paganism, I could no longer believe. I could no longer believe that scientists are lying or "making mistakes" on things like carbon dating and how old the earth is. Scientists are experts in their field because they test and retest, and if they get a different answer, they change their opinions to fit the world around them, not the other way around. The world is old, there are many things that the human race has been wrong about, we need to continue forward and fix these things.
Instead of worshiping a God and trying to be good in order to not go to hell and be rewarded in heaven, I do good because all sentient being deserve it. I can have a good time for my own sake, to discover the world with what little time I have left. We are all entitled to live life the way we want, and I refuse to believe certain will be punished for all eternity because they don't believe the same way I do.
However emotional that all sounded, the real deal-breaker was that as an adult, it made no sense to me. Just as I know Santa cannot be real, I believe God is not real, either in my former religion or all other existing religions now or in the future.
I still have anxiety sometimes about there being no afterlife. I fear death greatly, but no matter how hard I try, I cannot believe that my future is predestined by God. I do good because I honestly care. That is all I have to give. That has to be enough.
Sorry this was so long, and if it is jumbled or I'm rambling. This was my first time, and I suppose a rough draft, of explaining to someone why I'm an atheist.
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