My path to atheism started with a single question. One question that I asked of my Southern Baptist minister. “Brother,” I asked “if the Earth is so young then what about dinosaurs that lived many millions of years ago?” It was an innocent question, born from my absolute love of dinosaurs as a child. “Dinosaurs are a myth created by scientists to test your faith,” he replied. “Has your faith been tested,” he asked? What I am sure now was in innocent question from him, was at the time a very intimidating topic for a 9 year old kid. I was instantly worried that if answered wrong I would either be punished or would lose the love of the congregation and my family. Telling him “No sir my faith is strong,” was the first time I ever lied to my pastor.
The truth was, my faith had been tested, and it had been found wanting. I struggled with this until I was about 12 years old. I had to somehow reconcile my faith with dinosaurs. I resolved to find some link between the biblical story of creation and my most favorite of all creatures. I decided I would read the bible from cover to cover, surely they were in there somewhere. That experience of reading the bible at age 12 was, I believe, one of the foundational building blocks of my atheism today. The things I was reading in the bible had been watered down and fed to be by our pastor to make it seem like the God of the bible was an all knowing, unconditionally loving god. Sitting there reading about the atrocities of the bible, my innocent view of God and creation were shattered.
By the time I was 16 I had completely stopped going to Church. At this point I was desperately trying to find some way to hang on to my faith. I looked to different religions, hoping to find one that would restore my less skeptic, less cynical, less real view of the world. I wanted to be able to believe in a creator. I wanted to believe that God had a plan for all of us, and that everything would work out. I wanted to believe that God was just testing me, and that I would pass his test and be welcomed by him. As evidenced by my current atheism, that never happened.
Over the years I have come to terms with being Atheist. For a long time I held out hope that I was wrong, and that God really was up there somewhere. I even went so far as to pray occasionally during tough times. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I truly did shake all thoughts of there being a magic man in the sky looking out for me.
What has surprised me more than anything, is how liberating Atheism is. To know that there is nobody out there that will make everything better has forced me to stand up and take charge of my own life. I have stopped waiting for God to make things better, and have resolved to make them better on my own. I am my own person now, without the safety net of faith. It feels good…