2/05/2012 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Dave J ~
Many of the stories I've read online are from an older generation. Baby boomers growing up in the 50's or 60's with overbearing religious parents or grandparents. I come at atheism from a slightly different perspective.
I grew up in the 90's. My parents are devout Catholics. My older sister has cerebral palsy so while Mom and her 3 sons went to church, Dad stayed behind. This may have been well intentioned but in hind sight, it probably just became a cop out. As a child I was an altar server. No I wasn't abused. My priest was one of the nicest and most intelligent people I've met and I considered him to be a good friend of mine. As a child, I went to Catholic schools and was very devout in my faith, to the point of discerning the priest-hood.
Before I continue some may be skeptical of my atheism because of my young age, but I honestly can't see it fading. It started about 7 years ago when I was in high school. I was no longer the blind child who said prayers every night but I was still very Catholic. At my Catholic high school I was top 5 in my class, achieved the highest test scores and held positions of leadership. I wasn't particularly popular, but I had a close niche of friends and I was fine with that. Interestingly, my atheism began to cultivate the same time my depression did. I had the high school relationships that I thought would last, but of course did not. That will get any kid down, but if it was that alone, "No problem, this is just God's plan." as my mother always said. What began it all was my relationship with my father.
A functional alcoholic, my father always made ends meet for his family and I never went without. My father had inherited mental issues from his mother so I suppose the vicious cycle was eminent. My father was mainly emotionally but sometimes physically abusive. He is the type of man that once he gets rolling, he just won't stop. He once told me during one of his rants, "You're really unlucky that your mom came home. I would have just knocked you out. What you're gonna get now is much worse." I was 14. Eventually his behavior took its toll. How could someone who is supposed to love me unconditionally treat me the way he did? As told by the 1999 film Fight Club, "Our fathers are our models for God," I began to think maybe God didn't love me either??
For a couple of years this was in my head but I tried not to think about it. Then when I was a Junior in high school, it came to a head. I was severely depressed and suicidal. My father was going on a rage about something my brother did, but my brother had fled home so my mother and I were the only ones he could take it out on. Specifically me. Every day I came home from school a feeling of dread pitted itself in my stomach as I grabbed the door knob to my house. That day, my father told me how worthless I am. That no one cares about me and that if I ever did anything like my brother, "I'll f***ing kill you."
I couldn't take it anymore so I ran to my room and prayed as hard as I could. I was either going to feel better or kill myself (an event I had planned out) because I couldn't take the abuse for another day. Though I calmed down, it was that day I was sure my prayers weren't being listened to. They weren't even leaving the confines of my bedroom. Instead of God, I thought of my sister. She was born with a condition that would never allow her to live a full life. She can not learn or love. She'll never have any of it. So if I kill myself because of my dad, it's a direct slap in her face. That thought was enough to keep me alive.
It has been a long road dealing with my depression issues, but I have not contemplated suicide for a year and a half. The major reason for this is my atheism. I'm an imperfect person, but I believe a damned good one. I don't need to worry about what happens to me when I die. I don't need to worry about what God would think of what I'm doing. I live for myself and for my sister. I live for the people I love.
In my college studies I studied Biology and further understood how the universe works, Biologically, physically and chemically. It just makes perfect sense now that God has no place in any of it. Those who live with that delusion and under the weight of religious obligation are simply adding unnecessary baggage to their lives. Stop using God as your excuse for the good/ bad things that happen in life. Just live it. That's what I've done and I've never been happier.