The Amiable Atheist

(Via Amiable)

I was raised religious. My mother was Baptist, and my father was Seventh Day Adventist. When I was young, we moved a few times, so we were always sampling different churches in the area to find the right fit. I went to Calvary Chapel, Episcopalian, Evangelical Free, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Latter Day Saint, and Catholic church services. When we finally settled down, we decided on a small Baptist Church in our rural town.

As a young girl, I was very familiar with Bible stories, I prayed often, and went to church regularly. I accepted everything that my family and the church told me because I trusted that they knew best. I remember being so concerned with not sinning that I would pray for forgiveness if I let a mean word slip or if I was disobedient to my mother.

When I was 15 I went to a Baptist summer camp. It was a great experience. I was surrounded by other young people who loved the Lord, there was great music, and lots of fun. During an emotional sermon I stood up and "accepted Jesus into my heart". I cried, and everyone cheered for me. I felt completely filled up and good.

When I got home from the camp, those feelings soon faded as I realized I could not maintain that kind of elation in my daily life. I began to discuss baptism with my pastor, but everything seemed hollow and meaningless. When I was baptized at 16, I felt nothing and knew something was not right. I stopped taking communion and started doubting the things taught in my Sunday school class. I remember sneaking onto the computer one afternoon when nobody was home, and googling "atheism". To me it seemed like a dirty, evil word and I was frightened of being caught. But I just wanted to know, did they have any valid points? But my guilt over this urge was overwhelming and I didn't look any further.

At 18 I went away to college and during my freshman year I took a course on the religions of the world, anthropology, and geology. Learning about the many different religions in the world made me wonder, how could all of the others be wrong when they were all so convinced of their beliefs? In anthropology and geology class I discovered that the real world contradicted many of the stories in the Bible that I had been taught to interpret literally. The world was millions of years old, and humans had only been alive for a fraction of that time! At first, I began to accept the fact that perhaps the Bible was not to be taken literally, but that God was still important and my faith was not at odds with science.

But the more I learned about science and the world, the more I realized that my religion was just plain wrong; my Bible was filled with cruel and ignorant stories and it could not explain how the world began, and my fellow believers were sometimes intolerant and hypocritical in the name of God.

This is when I realized that I was an atheist. Since that point, I have never regretted this discovery. The only time I have felt a loss, is when I instinctually begin to pray at moments when things aren't going my way. I have to stop and laugh when I realize I am talking to myself.

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