I read Douglas Adams’ notes on the RDF website, and it rang a familiar bell. Like him, I struggled quite a bit for twenty years or so, until I got some “guts”, and started reading. I started with Origin of Species, and graduated to others like Pierre Tailhard de Chardin Louis Leakey among others. But it has been a long “tutorial” and not an easy one. Most of my siblings have disowned me, but that’s too bad – their choice. I sided with science and reason, and have left religious faith in the trash can where it belongs.
I have included a small item on my “conversion” which I hope may inspire other strictly-raised catholics to jettison their fear and confront the myth-makers, liars and pederasts of the church.
My deconversion from a roman catholic to an atheist was gradual and had many separate threads running through it. First, I started to doubt my religion when I was an altar boy who assisted the priest at services, and culminated when I was a student in university studying for a liberal arts degree and taking biology to relieve the boredom. My atheism grew from then on as I read more about evolution and several books about religion over the years from university until sometime later (I will speculate about ten years). I gradually realized I was an atheist after a few people asked me what my religion was. There were several incidents of what one might call spiritual trauma during my growing years, from a sexual incident with a priest when I was an altar boy, and reactions to my parent’s ultra-catholic home (we prayed every day) to the punitive atmosphere of a catholic grade school and a catholic boarding school where physical discipline was what today would be classed as not just immoral, but illegal.
These “traumatic” happenings may have contributed to my rejection of catholicism, but I really do think my conversion was from a “believer”, to someone who did not let “belief” enter into too many of the serious problems of life. The serious questions of life were considered from a rational, scientific viewpoint with no room for any belief-based explanation. It seemed to be a “bridge too far” to place my trust in something that was not as definable as religious belief is, and even though there were many shortcomings in looking for answers in human rational and scientific methods, it was far better than placing any trust in any belief. Putting trust in a belief system is to me, a crap out, or as the hippies would have said, a cop out. To give up on thinking is like giving up on finding a good mate – you get what you wish for.
My experiences as an altar boy have left indelible scars on my mind – I still wrangle with my mind over the question of how or why was it me he picked on. As a catholic you are led to believe that you are a bad person, full of sin, and when a priest sexually attacks a young boy he really does a job on cementing that feeling in the young boy. I have been told I should forgive him his transgression. But I know I would not. Even if he were here today (he is dead) I would want some revenge. I don’t dwell on what form this revenge would take, but there was a time when I was younger, and I thought of many ways of making him suffer as much as he made me hurt.
I gradually became a non-believer as I matured and saw the discrepancies inherent in all systems of belief. For those who ask what is wrong with religion, I would respond by stating that the more a religion (substitute belief system) asks you to believe, the more it is inversely proportional to the accuracy of the belief system. In other words, the more they ask you to believe, the less truth they have in their system. The human mind may have many weaknesses but it has the capability to deal with ethical considerations much better than any religion. A quick look at history will reveal that. The Inquisition didn’t form outside of religion and many of our natural concepts (like sex) have been debased by religious belief. It’s time to start anew, as some religious fundamentalists would say, but I don’t think they have any clue how to do that, though they claim the only way is through a return to faith-based living. Such trash!