I suppose I’ve always been one of those created in such a way that I cannot believe. I grew up with well meaning relatives who tried to instill in me, that which they in turn had instilled in them as children. The story of how the almighty lord created the heavens and the Earth in 6 days, then rested on the 7th, the story of Moses drenched in blood and vile imagery presented to a child that was denied the chance to watch “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and read “Conan” because it was “too violent”, I suppose that’s when I first realized religion occupied a special position in human consciousness.
I do not doubt the good intentions of my indoctrinators, I mean after all if you are a decent person, and you believe that everyone who doesn’t agree with your religion is going to face eternal damnation and torture, it makes a lot of sense to attempt to “save” as many of the people you care about as possible. This is of course; if one has enough disconnects to view any organization, “flock” or god as a source of positive values, when its founding principles are based on judgment, damnation and destruction.
As the proverb goes “The path to hell is paved with good intentions” and I suppose the behavior of many of the religious people who have crossed my road, are in fact on that path. I never understood the mental disconnect required to be able to intellectually defend bullying and threatening children.
Belief for me was elusive after I discovered that the Easter bunny and Santa Claus were not real, after all at least I perceived there to be some evidence for their existence unlike the almighty god I was told was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The Easter Bunny left an egg full of sweets for me once a year, Santa left me presents and the Tooth Fairly left money under my pillow, god was suspiciously absent. I will however admit, that I took significant joy from watching the faces of my indoctrinators when faced with my reluctance to believe and how quickly they grasped for Argumentum ad numerum, only to be faced with the words of Bertrand Russell
“The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a wide-spread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible”
It was an eye-opener for me to see the disposition of people I had viewed as kind-hearted and wise, change to the direct opposite, and start making thinly veiled threats, argumentum ad baculum so quickly. Yet I found myself faced with countless arguments I could not answer. After all, my atheism at that point was a mere seed, it was an intuitive decision, which I could not explain, nor really defend when faced with mountains of religious quotes, and arguments which I had never faced before.
I owe my ability to discuss, to debate and to judge claims based upon their merits to the work of Professor Dawkins and his comrades in arms, while my atheism developed innately, I was given the gift of rationally and logically assessing claims, “theories” and the most cherished one of them all, a view into a world that up until that point had eluded me.
I grew up in a very small town, where John Grisham and Stephen King are considered literature and where science is regarded as a waste of time, through the works of Professor Dawkins, I was introduced to a world of wonder I hadn’t dared imagine existed, not only a world of science, but a world of art and literature, which gives me more joy than I ever experienced while in the grasp of the “almighty”.