Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(1195)

Jan 30, 2013

f you see a ghost, then pray to Jehovah because it’s a demon that might try to possess you. Don’t worry about your dead cousin; we’ll see her once we are all resurrected in the New System of Things. Don’t have any children in this system, because you never know when Armageddon will start.

Those are some of the main tenets of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and if any of it sounded like total baseless, delusional drivel, then you are most likely a fully functional, sane member of society. If what you read made nothing but sense to you, then I would seriously suggest that you reevaluate your perception of reality. This kind of fundamentalist nonsense is what I had to listen to and speak about day-by-day throughout most of my childhood. Every action and goal was done and set with these core beliefs (among several others of varying lunacy) in mind. The Bible was a book that had to be taken literally and wholly as the inherent word of the one almighty creator, Jehovah God. That meant that for the greater part of my development, every person I knew and formed any kind of relationship with believed that: we were divinely created with a purpose, our mortal bodies would one day be resurrected, there is a malicious being composed of pure evil who tries
to tempt us with his demonic minions, God’s son was born of a virgin and came back from the dead three days after his crucifixion, there was a Great Flood that engulfed the entire earth, and that the entire Universe is no greater than six thousand years old. And this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg; it’s the paroxysmal quark within a molecule of dihydrogen monoxide floating just centimeters above.

There are an innumerable amount of facts that one must deny in order to believe such fanatical absurdities. But for most of my life I didn’t have much of a choice. I had to mindlessly regurgitate everything that I was taught to accept as truth. And for a long time I thought, "my parents know best, and the elders know best, so they must be right". There was no questioning any detail of any part of the doctrine, and frequently I would hear about how "outside research" was discouraged. Much to my surprise, I found that outside research was any means of looking into the religion from outside of the community. We had to blindly follow everything from inside of the box, and we could never step out to see the big picture. If it weren’t for the formal and loving behavior of everyone within the congregations I was a part of, the dogma alone would have lead me to reject any and all forms of theistic and supernatural belief.

Both of my parents brought me up to be skeptical of anything I was ever told. Of course, they only taught me this to be weary of the dangers that could come along by interacting with strangers. They never meant for this kind of behavior to lead me to questioning my beliefs, "our" beliefs. But naturally, I grew suspicious. It became more and more apparent that the validity (or lack, thereof) of my religion was equal to that of every other existing faith. I noticed how the heads of the Kingdom Hall (the meeting place for Jehovah’s Witnesses) would often teach that every other religion was false and somehow put into motion by the Devil himself. I kept hearing the what, but never the why. Why were these other religions false? Give me a few logically sound reasons. Give me evidence. And no matter where I looked or whom I asked I received the same responses, all of which lacked any sort of concrete basis in observable or demonstrable fact.

I can remember several points in my life where I would just be sitting in the thin-aired, painfully still, unnervingly silent space that was the Kingdom Hall. The voices of the elders giving talks were so low and monotonous that, when combined with the utter dullness of the entire grey room, I couldn’t help but flutter my eyelids and watch the blurred figure at the front of the stage as I drifted in and out of consciousness. I was of course delighted when I found that my tenth grade biology class was a totally different, active, and highly social environment. School was always a place where I could actually learn and be satisfied with all of the knowledge I had accumulated by the end of the day. Everything was hands-on, and every question that I had would be answered in a well founded, no bullshit fashion.

Before long, I found that my education would constantly direct me to concepts contradictory to several of the claims made in the Bible: claims that played a central role in my indoctrination. It became obvious that the world wasn’t nearly as young as I was originally led to believe. We have lead from uranium in rock minerals, among other elements, that enable us to use radiometric dating, so we know that the Earth is at least 4.5 billion years old. Background radiation experiments have demonstrated that the Universe is at least 13.5 billion years of age, and that it has been expanding since its very beginning. We know that light has a fixed speed, and we can measure the vast distances between celestial bodies. We know that Andromeda is the nearest spiral galaxy to our own Milky Way, and we are separated by approximately 2,500,000 light years. These are undisputable, scientific facts that one even learns in high school. How could anyone ever think that
the entire existence of everything has been only for no more than a few short millennia? Did God speed up the photons so they could reach our eyes in time for us to appreciate the stars? Was radioactive decay invented to trick us, better yet, to test our faith?

I soon discovered that the very root of my religious views were based on nothing more than childish mystic tradition and lies from a severely gender-biased compilation of ancient texts that had been edited to the point of disfigurement by scribes, who would in most cases be considered illiterate in today’s standards, throughout history. I found that the very literature that I was once forced to consider as being holy or "divine word" was infested with a positive view on genocide, infanticide, and rape. While doing independent research, true, yet horrifying information was revealed to me. Not only was it Christianity that brought about such atrocities as the Crusades and the Reconquista, but also most, if not every major religion has resorted to physical violence, and in many cases hindered the progression of society. Not only did I decide that I never wanted to be a part of this madness, but I realized that I had never truly believed any of the
insanity theistic belief had to offer.

I was now free to live in a world of clear, coherent thought. I could unapologetically accept reality, be pro-choice, pro-stem cell research, pro-gay marriage, and pro-science. I was no longer burdened by a book that told me to be sexist, homophobic, and generally ignorant. I was free to live out my dreams of being an optimistic influence and, one day, help to steer humanity in a positive direction. Never again would I be encased in a box of unenlightenment. I could finally escape into the cosmos and soar through the fluid dust of a dark nebula, bathe in the emissions of a pulsar while chasing around its beam of light, watch generations of organisms evolve and diversify with time, and gaze into the soul of an event horizon. The imagination was my playground, and forever knowledge was bliss. I was an atheist.

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