I will start with a short anecdote 

When the war started 20 years ago in my country I didn't know very much about my religion, especially what it was called because I didn't know others existed. In my eyes all I had to do is believe in god, fold my hands in prayer and ask for little things to happen and learn bunch of thing from the catechism. My priest came to me and asked me what my fathers faith was. I didn't know. Then he sad something and I agreed because I believed he sad the name of my faith. This became a serious problem and everybody stated jumping around and asking me what did I do and why. There was panic because of me and it had something to do with 'the war'.

Later I discovered that my father was born in a small city which was know as headhold of same strange religious group called the 'greek orthodox church' (it's not that small in world sense, but it was almost unknown in my country.) I have to point out that Croatia is 99% catholic, the rest is 'not good to be' during the war. So my priest concluded that my father is not catholic and therefore I was not catholic and can't become one. My parents were in uproar and had to find their christening certificate to prove that they were in fact catholic. The good thing was that only my fathers certificate was needed because my mother was born in another country (very wrong country at that time).

Because my parent were born during the socialism they denoted them selves as Yugoslavs and forgotten all about their christening certificates because it was not good to be religious openly during this times. Finally they somehow managed to find them or made copies to prove they were a) Croats b) Catholic. If they couldn't prove this (because of something a foolish six years old child said) our house would probably be burn down. Not just because of all this stupidity, but because everybody envied us and all they needed was a reason to burn our house down. Many houses across Croatia burned down and this was very serious.

The reason why they weren't born in the city and country I was born in, was because their fathers had jobs that needed them to move around a lot. They spent most of their lives all across former Yugoslavia. even when my father started working he worked in many places very far away from home but he never asked us to move because he didn't want us to grow up as he and my mother did.

The bottom line was that I was christened, took my first communion and even had that last important thing however it was called, who cares, by that time I was completely uninterested in this 'god' that loved only specific people with strange hand movements, while droning strange words in strangely lit big houses and so on. I just didn't care about religions that made you kill each other while no one actually believed in all of it, it was just something to separate us, to make us different because we couldn't find anything else.

Did I believe at all?

When I was young I believed that cartoon characters were real, I also believed that god was real (notice I write god with lower case all the time :D). I stopped personificating inanimate objects when I reached the 'age of reason', don't really know when that was, I was preoccupied with my own fantastic inventions. I was a daydreamer. To this day I wrote down my dreams and my imaginations but I never ever did anything with them. 'To become a writer' was just a dream to me. Everything is a dream to me: what I'm going to do when I finish my studies?, where am I going to be?, who will I marry if it ever happens?, do I want to have children or not because there are to many of us?

When I lost my religion I didn't know what to do. It's like being kicked out of a football team. You did this every because other people did it and then you wake up one day and realise that you don't want to be a part of it and there is nothing else that you can do so you pretend just to be apart of something. I pretended to be religious for a long time because everybody were religious. Later I started loosing friend over this. People change and more of them became passive around religion, while other became more fired up. This is even now the grate divide that no one talks about (except priest, of course).

The whole thing started during the war. I was just a small child then. People were on brink of death every day. There was a surgeon that came to our house a lot, he was a good friend, he helped so many people to cheat death, to laugh at it's face. If there was no war there would be no dying, But nobody cared to ask this questin. Why? Because my country was in war every fifty years at least. It was something every generation had to go trough. It was considered normal. Did I mentioned that the surgeon was a devote catholic? I didn't see him as one.  All I've learned from his vhs tapes of half dead people living again in his hospital was that human science and humanity can save lives while nationality and religion tries to extinguish it.

I was always surrounded by encyclopaedias and I learned every day something new. there was no god there in the texts because most of it was written by socialist that ruled my country for fifty years, and when socialism fell, religious revival started. During this time I had to pretend I was religious catholic. It was almost shameful.

When I was around 14 years old I met first person that was a devout socialist and didn't attend religious education. To this time I didn't know that this was a choice, I thought you had to be religious even if you were not. Finally my eyes were opened and during high school I attended Ethics class and forgotten all about my strange religion. I was finally an atheist, but then I realised something very strange and frightening. Everybody who attended Ethics class were religious, they just weren't catholic. Some were muslim and some were eastern orthodox. Again I was alone with my beliefs.

To this day I am surrounded by agnostic socialist (yes, being a socialist doesn't mean that you are atheist, they actually believe there is a god just not the one catholic or others believe in, to sum it up, they don't like priests), active catholic (the ones that go to church every Sunday, they read mostly theological books), passive catholic (they don't go to church, have a lot of premarital sex and swear, but if you mention something against catholic church YOUR OUT LINE) and muslim (they are very rare and yet again there are different kinds, but non are extremists, some eve eat pork and love it).

In other words I am atheist because I've been through so much. I just can't believe there is a good, just, merciful god that knows and sees all while the world slowly revolves around the sun, while little children die of aids, while people smoke aids drugs (whoonga) instead of curing themselves, while people go to extreme lengths to turn the world into their own image because only when there is no other religion, no other basis for morality and laws, no other vision of universe, no other truth only then they will feel secure in their own little paradise. Makes me sick!

Views: 24

Tags: atheism

Comment by James on January 29, 2011 at 8:34pm
Very interesting story Gregor. Thanks for sharing and welcome to T|A!
Comment by Albert Bakker on January 30, 2011 at 7:28am

Yes, thanks. You would suspect when people could think rationally about religion and the real world such organized superstition has, judging from recent history, the very first place in the world where Catholicism would go extinct would be Croatia. Instead again, or rather still, to it's eternal shame it's way more Catholic then Vatican City.

 

Comment by Gregor Basić on January 30, 2011 at 11:50am
@Bakker, Same thing happened in Russia after Berlin wall fell, it is now know as Easter Orthodox Church revival. The more you oppress them the stronger they get, that is why I think the neo atheists shouldn't be arrogant as they are, I just say, let them be, maybe there will be more of us and less of them.
Comment by Albert Bakker on January 30, 2011 at 4:19pm

Yes sure, Russia too. Oppression goes hand in hand with collectivism, ignorance and religious escapism. Maybe it's just a phase, like going through puberty and they'll wise up later.

But "neo atheists" don't oppress anyone. Neither are they arrogant as such, at most brutally honest. Sometimes they're even wrong about stuff.

I'm a classical atheist though, I'm never wrong. But the flipside of that is I'm arrogant.

Comment by Gregor Basić on January 31, 2011 at 11:37am

I just believe that we will go nowhere with arrogance. It's like fighting fire with fire. I don't believe that works, it just makes more fire. When I speak to a religious person I try not to be condescending/patronising/arrogant, so when I speak to a religious person I try to be gentle/humane/emphatic. Only way to change people is to make them see you as a good roll model.

p.s. English is not my first language, but it is my second, still it takes me at least 10 minutes to write this small text :(

Comment by Albert Bakker on January 31, 2011 at 1:36pm

You are right about that. Your strategy would work much better.

My initial remark about Catholicism in Croatia was meant to be about Catholicism, rather than about Croatians, since Catholicism has an extremely, I mean really extreme, sordid track record there.

English is not my first language either, but it's the lingua franca of the world community.  A beneficial side effect of successful cultural imperialism. Until we all have to all learn Chinese and our keyboards get expanded with 1500 keys or so, let's count our blessings. Hvala Gregor for your patience.

Comment by Gregor Basić on February 1, 2011 at 7:02am

Don't worry if you say something bad about Croats because I don't see myself as one, my ancestry is long and just a part Croatian, then mostly German and lot of other stuff, I even have one Chinese grandgrandgrandmother. My ancestors were sea captains ;D

p.s. And Chinese don't have keyboards with 1500 keys, they have normal keyboard like us, they just use them in a different way, you have to press more keys to get one sign.

Comment by Albert Bakker on February 1, 2011 at 8:04am
Haha, I'm glad to hear that.  And great consolation about the hardware aspects of learning Chinese. I haven't got much room on my desk as it is.

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