Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(914)

Jan 30, 2013

“Religion ist Opium fürs Volk” Karl Marx

I wasn't the first time that I heard this quote, but I never really understand and did comprehend what stood behind it. The first time I really began thinking about it was when we studied the quote in religious education (catholic) at school.
As one may or may not have guessed from my quote I'm from Germany, a country of rather moderate religious belief but in which its impact on politics and everyday life can still be felt (church tax, veto against advanced stem cell research, a rather offended attitude when criticizing the church, the pope [“…the guy with the funny hat on…”] ). I grew up in a catholic family, my mother's family's side was nevertheless atheistic. My grand-parents were all scientists (so were my parents), so my main interest has always lain in science (astronomy, physics, chemistry). I simply enjoined discovering more and more how nature actually works, science calmed me down because it offered me a firm halt within the world. By my catholic parents I was brought up to be tolerant, respectful and peaceful, I regarded religion as a part of culture that everyone needs. I really had no reason to blame or question my parents for their beliefs or our church. Until I turned 16 and started preparations for my confirmation. I never really bothered about things from the bible, I just accepted them, but the longer we studied the bible in the lessons the more and more those unlogical, strange stories disturbed me. Things like the virgin birth, the inaccurate birth dating of Christ, the unnaturally long solar eclipse during the crucification that through accurate calculation turns out to never have taken place, the arc and so one. My fellows and I argued with our pastor/teacher about the translation error of the virgin birth but all he returned were those bible doctrines, so complicated and nebulous that nobody dares to question it. The same with the whole-man-whole-god-jesus-thingy, It just didn't make any sense and it didn't satisfied my curiosity. During my life I learned and worked out that the universe got to make sense, otherwise we could throw natural science out the window. So I silently passed through my confirmation and concentrated on the next goal; the german equivalent of Sixth Form at school. In religious education in the Sixth Form I met a now very good friend of mine. The whole three years till graduation he opened my eyes on the topic of religion. We talked about Freud, Marx, Feuerbach, Schopenhauer and their views on religion. Our religion school teacher (!) showed us errors in the bible, mistranslations, portions which we're entirely maid up and fractions which were completely copied or rewritten from sumeric mthyologie (like the story with the flood, the creation story). Parts in the bible which are clearly wrong, stolen, copied or mischievously add by later Apostels without knowledge of Jesus and by which cold-blooded wars have been fought. By the end of my final year the belief that religion (especially the christian one) is something special and accurate which has to be respected had fallen of me. I stood there with my clearest picture of the world for years: the bible screams from errors, contradictions and copyright infringements. All of this was invented, pumped up, glued together and morphed by many untrustworthy figures, especially the Holy Catholic Church. I looked at the bible from a logic point of view and the “walls came tumbling down”. I felt more free than ever before. I wasn't afraid of religion or “god” any more and I finally had the bravery to speak up against it in class. My classmate and I were always joking: “We're some of the best pupils in this religion class…and we're both atheists. Curious, isn't it?” And ever since we fiercely talked in class about those “radical atheist like Mr. Dawkins” I wanted to read the God Delusion and see if my classmate and I were alone with our ideas and opinions or not. And I just found exactly what we're talking about for three years in this book. We weren't just some crazy guys. The book appealed to me from the very first passage; the language is calm and the arguments are clear and intuitive (unlike church doctrines). It didn't felt like reading a book, rather like someone sitting right next to you and talking to you. I stopped every once in a while to think and rethink about what I just read and what I've learned and found out over the years. This book really helped to calm and order my mind and feel much lighter now.

[ I still honor the values my parents taught me because they are self-evident (respect, warmth, honesty, truth, peace) and don't need to be explained through religion because they lie in human nature. But just several month ago my father really shocked me and proved again the problems with a religious upbringing. My grandmother said during a dinner talk that it would be very unlikely that angels exists. Once they were gone my father became furious, saying things “like for an atheist like my grandparents there will be no life after death, how can they dare to talk like that”. I just shock my head in dismay. The only family member I can't reasonably talk about this is my little sister. One is for sure: I will keep religion away from my kinds]

Max Wimmer
19 years old
Frankfurt, Germany

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