I believe that everything that has happened was supposed to happen because it happened...not that the things that happened have been pre-destined but just that they can't be undone once they are done...that I must take each occurrence in my life as an opportunity to learn something that I did not know before. I also know that I am lucky to be able to say something as self centred as this, especially since this is an evolution of a far more ridiculous statement that I had made maybe more than once when I was still not ready to have my parentally transmitted faith challenged. I know now that a challenge to my faith offended me not because of my faith but because it was a challenge made against my father who I believed just could not be wrong, he COULD NOT be wrong about this. I had ultimate faith in my fathers religious judgement, this faith was greater than my faith in a god.
I have always known that my religious faith was really not faith at all but an infantile fear that really stuck with me through the entirety of my memorable childhood, a defining moment in that recognition happened when I was 5 or 6 and my fathers church did a Saturday school for kids at the time...I remember vividly one of the youth church leaders who may have been like 17 was telling us the story of Noah's ark and the flood, I thought of god as a man who looked like mr. clean with a beard and I had a terrifying image of a giant mr. clean commanding the waters to rise to the point where it would drown everybody in the world and I wondered "wait, is this the good guy?". I thought his logic was skewed but I knew that he could see my thoughts and I had questioned his goodness in my thoughts, I hoped that the brevity of the skepticism would save me from hell , as you can imagine, this really weighed on me, I would ask him all the time to not send me to hell, I would speak aloud and wait for clues from him that would let me know that god was not angry at me for my sinful thoughts. God never answered me, and so I knew that I must pray harder. It was difficult, knowing that i was born cursed, I could not understand why an all powerful, all loving god would create his children sick. I spent childhood grovelling for mercy from my wretched sinful ways, as a self fulfilling prophecy I was a wretched and sinful child, I brought much stress and drama to my parents lives, Christianity didn't necessarily scar me, I wouldn't blame it for that but I know that it affected my worldview in not so positive ways from early on but I had to accept it based on the perceived infallibility of my father. I was very conflicted to say the very least.
When I was about 11/12ish after a tumultuous school leaving/transferring saga I began to have sexual feelings, I started to masturbate at around this age, never was my belief in god as horrible as it was at this age, firstly, I knew, based on Christianity that the feelings I was experiencing were sinful, secondly, I felt as though god were watching me indulge in this shameful behaviour and third, experiencing an orgasm was traumatic, it was one of the most amazing things I discovered my vagina could make me feel and as such it was followed by feelings of tremendous guilt and shame. Sometimes I shudder when I think of that feeling, still today, it comes in very rare but very meaningful flashes. Anyway I have digressed, around this age, I accepted that I was damned, I was a filthy masturbating heathen, below the standards of who god could save. I was going to hell; a place like this was made for people like me, my slate was stained beyond any chance of cleanliness and so, around this age, I think I began to be more objective about god, I still didn't question his reality, just his motive. It seemed that my pleasures made him unhappy...I knew that he was likely schizophrenic and for whatever reason, he was also omnipotent, I thought it wise to follow him as a method of self preservation prior to the feelings of my inevitable damnation. At this point in my life though, I didn't care anymore, I was born broken, the pastor was constantly preaching about these imperfections that we were born with, I could no longer deny them or seek redemption. I grew older, my behaviour more rebellious, I can't remember exactly when but we stopped having to go to church with my father, I was home schooled for some time and returned to public school at the age of 14, going into the completely alien social system of high school was a huge point in my personal development, in high school, the rebellious phase had set in completely, I rejected religion, I decided that I could do what I wanted with my body and I began to question gods existence though I was still afraid of hell, atheism in a Bermuda public school is an act of bravery that I had not been able to commit, I would arbitrarily change my "religion" day by day just for the sake of being difficult, even though I still semi believed in something all knowing and creative, Christianity offended me, it was a pretentious faith system and an obvious lie. When I lost my faith it was during my heavy metal phase, just for controversy, I would do "satanic" rituals and pretend I was a satanist, I used to enjoy the shock in the faces of my peers when I would make up incantations and pretend I knew words to invoke evil spirits, burn candles chanting, asking to be possessed by gods of the underworld, this was fun and I took pleasure in the gullibility of my peers. The most difficult thing about being an atheist is admitting to it to the people around you, I only knew one atheist in high school, that was Tania and I admired her admission of her lack of belief, I didn't really join her at that stage. It took me up until 2010 to embrace and admit to people other than myself that I did not believe in god. I wish I'd have come out before, so that my father could not insultingly assume that being in england has been the reason I am an atheist, like I couldn't have come to the conclusion that there is no all knowing, all loving, all seeing man in the sky that created everything without having to move thousands of miles across the globe. The truth is, going to church began the unravelling of that belief when I was 5, faith is stubborn. Faith is childish and pervasive but that isn't why I'm an atheist. My childhood belief that god was a psychopath didn't make him any less real to me, I never had problems not believing that god was who the Christians said he was but as I got older, more inquisitive, I began to ask my father more questions and he would give me answers that just weren't satisfying for me. I became an atheist because it was clear that god just did not exist, even with my limited understanding of the available evidence, I knew it was ridiculous that such a being could have created this universe. I believed however that religious opinion should be respected based on the grounds that they helped people deal with the crises of existence. I gave up on that belief when Amiya started school. Religious people, generally, are disrespectful of alternative viewpoints, how dare they teach my child the nonsense of creationism and tell her that Jesus died for her sins, I would never tell a child of Christian parents that her Jesus was a plagiarised fairy tale for the weak-minded. And so I am an atheist now, who won't shutup about it until children are no longer indoctrinated with these confidence deflating nonsensical and bigoted values, religion deserves as much respect in the public sphere as fairy tales do. The only place that religion should be taught is in a history class, the religions of the world are, no doubt, gems of cultural insight but nothing more. I am in vehement opposition with its current role in bermudian culture, as my atheism develops, as I consider the destructive effects of teaching children about god, I become what some people believe is obnoxious, but at least not more obnoxious that the countless holier than though lower case "c" sunday christians that populate Bermuda and demand not respect but dominance in the espousing of their absurd beliefs. I won't fight them but I will continue to challenge their beliefs, and oppose their right to claim special treatment based on their beliefs. Bermuda needs a larger uprising of non religious voices because it is a disgrace that in this day in age we have laws governing our country that deny equality not based on morality but on religious prejudices. Down with god invading the lives of Bermudas secularists.