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Saturday, June 25, 2011

becoming atheist

This is part 1 of 2.
In this first part I will tell you how I became an atheist.

I do this for two groups of people out there:
Group one: Those who feel weird about not having a clear opinion about what they are, not sure if they are atheist, people on their way out of religion.
Group two: Religious people who honestly want to know how someone "loses faith".

When I was about 17 my mother told me how she found faith/god one day. It was kind of her special experience on a pretty sad day when she finally ended up in a good mood. Not going too much into detail here, it is her personal story.

But this is how it started that religion played a role in my life. I was a little kid and until school started religion did not play any role in my life. Not at all. We had Christmas and the Easter bunny but I didn't know about the religious part of it.
So when my mother found religion it was on me to chose for school which religion lessons I would like attend. Catholic or protestant. So I was six years old by that time and I had to chose. I chose protestant because I liked the teacher. And I liked the stories he told us in the religious classes. We read together from our book and so on, he was fun. But after half a year he left the school and we got a different teacher and so I asked if I can switch over to catholic. So I got to switch.
On weekends I would get lessons from a nun at the place my mother lived with my brothers. The lessons where about God and about right and wrong, heaven and hell. It was for me to be prepared for my baptism. I liked the nun, and I liked church service. It was all in all a really good experience, nothing bad at all.
The day when I got baptized was great. Everyone was happy, I got to hold that huge candle, got a nice dress. I did not understand why it had to be done but it was definitely a good experience and I knew that now I am a member of the church, officially.

I can't remember my father sticking around a lot with us. He was mostly not home, I do not have a lot of memories of him. My mother and father were married at the time but it didn't work so well so sometimes he was there, sometimes not.
At some point we moved to a small village in Bavaria and got pretty active in the church community. Choir and bible week and youth groups and and and. They were very active there and we where very involved.
We went to church every Sunday. The Priest was really nice and he made church service for children very interesting and interactive.
This was about the time when I first heard about sin and hell and heaven. And as everyone was afraid of sin and hell of course I was also. I wanted to be a good kid. So from the moment I learnt what sin means I was very afraid to go to hell. I would tell my mother literally everything and she would send me to the priest to confess to get clean again. And I did that a lot.
First communion was important for me. We got told we get to kind of marry God. We had to be good kids, confess before so we are without sin.
I had nothing to confess. There was nothing at the moment I had to step into the little chamber where my group did the confessions. So I said that I dropped my guinea pig by mistake. I got to pray one prayer 6 times. But the prayer had nothing to do with my confession, for me it made no sense, though of course i prayed.

Shortly after this, maybe I was about 10, my parents divorced and I had to stay with my father. He did not believe in God, he did not send me to church or talk about religion with me, there was no prayer before eating. Nothing. I asked him about it, and he said "because I don't believe there is a God"

This was the first little seed in me.

For kids the adults and especially the parents are always right. So I had something contradicting in my mind now. He was the first person in my life who did not believe something that played a big role in my life before.
Religion took most of my spare time until that point. I had some different opinions about some things in religion but I had not questioned the fact that there is a God. It was just given and totally logical. There is the big father in heaven who is looking down and helping and thinking of me and hearing me.

The seed my father planted in me was good. It made me think. Even when I had moved to my mother shortly after. For some reason it made a lot of sense to me that there might not be a God.
I had a pretty difficult, hard time back then already. And I had been taught that God is loving and caring and all-knowing, that God will help those in need, that all I had to do was pray to him. Well I did pray but for some reason nothing ever happened.

I remember actually arguing with my mother about the fact that I did not want to go to church anymore and she told me to go. So of course I went, the priest would have noticed me not being there anyway and I did not want to get in trouble.

This was when my choice was pretty much made. And I sinned for the first time without confessing. While my mother was at church service I took something like 1 or 2 DM (deutsche mark) from her purse and before church i went to get some ice cream.
I didn't tell her and I didn't tell the priest. I told no one and i was not afraid to go to hell. My problem with hell was solved because if there is no God there is no hell. It was my own choice to do right or wrong. For a few weeks I chose to do that with the icecream, and at some point I actually felt bad about it. Not because of hell but because I started to realize that this is not my money, that someone worked for it, and it is not fair to take it, so I decided to stop it.

About one or two years later we moved into another village.
I went to church there exactly once, I hated it and I told my mother that I won't go again. And she accepted it.

I didn't know the word atheist by that time but I knew that I do not believe in God anymore.
It felt weird. I was 13 by that time. Sometimes I found myself feeling observed. I had a weird feeling that someone is observing everyone of my steps but never revealing himself. Somehow the whole religious life before had not worn off at all. Sometimes I felt I had to pray, sometimes I felt I should go to church in the old village, sometimes I missed the activities. It took me about 4 years (10 - 14) to really get over it.

Then we moved again, into a bigger city nearby. Religion didn't have any role in my life anymore but the fact that i felt I had to believe in something. This was the only thing remaining. "I can't just not believe in anything" So I started looking for the right religion. I read about a lot of different ways of believing, systems I liked and did not like. What I liked a lot was Buddhism for the simple fact that there is not God but Buddha who is no god. I also started being interested in witchcraft a little.

When I was 15 I got the third catholic sacrament. I didn't do it for me but for my mother who would have been very sad otherwise (though she wouldn't confess that).

When I was 21 I switched over to the protestant church. I did not believe in it at all anymore, neither in Buddhism, witchcraft was interesting for me though. Very interesting indeed. I switched churches for the fact that for my profession I had to stay in some church and I got to the point where I hated catholic church so I left.
Privately I got very active in witchcraft which, by now, I would call it a religion but that's a topic for another day.
It stayed like that until I was 25. Though the more things I tried to do with all my cool witchcraft powers and energies from the universe, the less it worked.
And I discovered that in fact I can't do anything without actually doing it instead of just thinking it. And I started reading a lot and trying even harder and even more but nothing worked.
I used the Internet to find out more, watch clips, read things. About witchcraft, about different religions.
And during all the searching and reading it became clear to me that all these believe systems are bogus.

I am 27 years old now at the time I am posting this, and only now I can say I am almost completely free.
I am atheist which means I do not believe in God. I would say I am agnostic atheist because I can't know but evidence points against an existence of a God.

I am also a Freethinker, and this is what I will talk about in Part 2.

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