Free to Think and Question

(Via Peter White)

I was raised a good Christian in a place where religion was a way of life. I lived in the province of Quebec which, at the time, was almost a theocracy. The laws of the province prevented the dissemination of birth control information and divorce was not possible. As a result Quebec had the highest birth rate in Canada. I was a member of a small minority of people who spoke English and were Protestant. I never understood why French speaking Catholics hated us as a group and I had to defend myself from attacks both physical and verbal.

I was as fervent a believer in God and Christianity as anyone. I loved the idea that there was a being who loved me and protected me from harm. I felt safe as long as I knew God was on my side and I tried hard to behave in a proper Christian manner.

Around the age of 9 I started to notice things that didn't make sense to me. The people who were teaching me to be a good Christian didn't seem to follow their own rules. I was not treated especially well by any of them. I thought they must be either very stupid or insane. How could anyone risk an eternity in Hell by not following the rules that God made? Since I was much younger and probably not as smart as any of the ministers or Sunday school teachers I reasoned that something else must be happening.

After a year or so of trying to figure out why the people in my church didn't practice what they preached, the reason struck me one day. They didn't want me to treat them the way they treated me. Then it started to make some sense. The threats of eternal damnation were their protection from evil.

Over the next 5 years or so I noticed more and more things in all religions that made no sense. I had the privilege of attending school with children from many countries who belonged to many different religions. That gave me a perfect opportunity to make comparisons. I had a few friends who were very interested in religion and we spent a lot of time reading the Bible. We stumbled on many passages that nobody in church ever mentioned. That made me even more suspicious of religious teachings.

By the time I was 15 I had become absolutely convinced that no religion had any basis for its beliefs. I rejected any supernatural explanations for what we see in the universe.

During my last year of high school I went to live with my older sister and her family. My sister's family were Jehovah's Witnesses and tried hard to convert me. We had regular debates on many subjects and I had to do a lot of research to defend my beliefs. As a result my atheist position became increasingly solid as one religious argument after another was shown to be false. I have continued looking into religions and to this day I have not found a good reason to believe the teachings of any one of them.

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