Converts, Tue, Jan 29 2013 #(1314)

Jan 29, 2013

Like many others, I too was born into a flavour of Christianity. I use the term ‘flavour’ because my parents generation were the 1st Christian generation of their rural Nigerian village. Due to the influx of missionaries to Africa in the early 1900’s, my parents were fortunate to benefit from the great kindness of a number who brought with them – western medicine, enlightened knowledge and subsidised education, with the ‘only’ requirement for eligibility, being the acceptance of their Christian religion. Unsurprisingly my parents home town village is now predominantly a society of Christian believers, in which some beliefs of a bygone era linger on intermingled with their new found faith. Unfortunately this practice of effectively ‘forced’ conversion is still the primary method of missionaries across the world.I had trouble with the plausibility of claims proposed to me in Sunday school from the very beginning. “Why doesn’t God just get rid of Satan?”, “If he can see the future, why did he put the tree in the garden in the 1st place unless he wanted them to eat it?”, “Did Adam and Eve children have sex with each other?”. All youthful and playful questions of a maturing reasoning, the last of which earned me a severe reprimand (or punishment lashings by Sunday school teacher if I’m to speak plainly) and a reputation as a trouble maker and blasphemous sinner. Needless to say my inquisitiveness waned from that point on.By my teenage years, our family had emigrated to Northern Ireland. At this point, I was a believer. A frequently backsliding believer, but a believer non the less. More accurately, I was acutely conditioned to the “belief in belief”. I could see no other way of life than a belief in the Christian God. The devastation caused by the religious segregation and conflict in Northern Ireland did little to re-ignite critical thinking on the religious topic, I merely went along with my parents wishes on a Sunday while enjoying the fruits of teenage freedom in the western world.It would take a David Attenborough documentary (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gfa88SeNohY) to re-ignite my curiosity, however, my “belief in belief” would hold me back from the real acceptance of an atheistic viewpoint for years to come. The world of YouTube, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris would slowly arm me with the ammunition to finally affirm to myself that I longer needed to keep up the pretence that I believed things I’d never been able to believe. A revelation I can tell you has been the most liberating aspect of my existence thus far. An appreciation for Science, Love, Compassion, Empathy, Nature all followed. As you very eloquently said, “there is grandeur in this view of life”! Keep up the good work
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