Okay, so this isn’t really a conversion story – more of a strengthening of a lack of faith. Right from when I was little, I was convinced God was a fabricated myth. I often used to proclaim ‘God isn’t real, but Disney is’. Touché. Anyway, my maternal grandmother (and grandfather, before he passed on) are devout evangelicals, and so are my mother’s siblings and their children (here in reference to their adult children – I now appreciate there is no such thing as a Christian child). When my mother was a teenager, she met her first husband, moved away from Somerset, and genuinely because Agnostic. This is a decision for which I have everlasting respect for her – otherwise I would probably have been indoctrinated into religion now.
Her family sort of see us as the ‘Heathens’ in a sort of friendly, ‘we’re-related’ way. When I visit them, I have to do what they do; pray, go to church, etc; and when they visit us; they simply have to not bother, except (ironically, might I add) when I became a Godparent to my niece. Don’t understand why they Christened her because they aren’t religious. Godparents are meant to bring their goddaughter (In my case) up religiously; I intend to simply show her moral values. Anyway, I digress.
Three years ago, I first met my girlfriend. Her and her whole family are Christians. OK, not a problem, I thought, and it hasn’t been really. I mean, I’ve been to church with them occasionally, had religious debates with them and stuff, and they accept my stuanch atheism and anti-theism. I have had times when I feel threatened and forced upon, but I use what I consider rational thought to block it out. But a few months ago, after meeting my girlfriend at a wedding, my aunt (yes, on my mum’s side) emailed her saying that she ‘was the answer to their prayers that could lead our family to finding God’. Needless to say; I was angry about this – emailing her about a personal matter such as religion behind our backs! Of course, to them it was okay, because they were doing it ‘in the name of God’. But to us it was basically treachery.
I have not, or will not be, moved to religion by threats of fire and brimstone, or promise that a miracle to heal me of Cerebral Palsy will work if I believe for long enough. Basically, one Saturday afternoon in a busy Cardiff road I was stopped by some Christians. They had seen me in my wheelchair and asked if they could try and heal me. I thought, go on then, let’s see what you can do. So they danced around me and spoke in tongues for a while, and then they asked me to get up and walk around (I can walk a bit!). So I got up and walked around, and they asked me if I felt any different; I didn’t. Because of this, they told me I needed to have faith and pray. Then I saw through their lies. It was a con job. Eventually if I read the Bible/pray enough, I’ll become Christian because I want to be healed; but I won’t be. These people kept ringing me, asking if I’d been healed; I rang my network provider and blocked their number.
I have been an atheist for a while, albeit with a lingering fear of possibility of a vengeful God’s existence. I often used my disability as an argument against God, and by and large it has persuaded me. But then I read The God Delusion, and realized the evils and atrocities of religion. Now I have no fear of God’s ‘wrath’. And while I am not actively interested in evolutionary biology, I believe that it provides an adequate alternative explanation of the workings of the world.
And send from me a personal get well card to the brilliant Atheistic philosopher, Christopher Hitchens.