Lately, I've been reading different stories about how people became atheists. As personal stories about internal conflicts and realization usually are, some of them were emotional, sad and some even downright enraging.

After a while, after each such story I finished, I started getting this annoying feeling, this sense that something was missing. Eventually, I realized, I was jealous. Yes, jealous! Why don't I have this sort of story? Where was my heroic struggle to get to the truth? These people I was reading about, they've struggled, lost and sacrificed, they've gone through ordeals of self-doubt, denial and defiance. Why was I so lacking in internal conflict? These people were ordinary people who achieved a form of heroism. I wanted that too.

Maybe everyone wants to be a hero, maybe it's just me and my love of epic fantasy and science fiction that engendered this feeling. I'll never be a sword wielding warrior or a powerful wizard or a Jedi, but couldn't I just have a real story of my own where I'm the hero discovering the truth about myself and the world around me? Apparently not.

So despite this lack of a personal triumph, or, rather because of it, what I'm trying to say is this:

Thank you!

A great big freaking thank you!

To my parents who never forced any dogma upon me, be it political, religious or otherwise. Thank you.
To my sister, who loves me despite having been an obnoxious brat. Thank you.
To my friends who never once spoke a word of judgment (and still don't) against me despite some of them having entirely conflicting perspectives on life from my own. Thank you.
And lastly, to my wife, who is probably a deist but didn't let that stop her from being with me. Thank you.

Maybe I had a boring life without any stories in it with me as the hero overcoming self-doubt and sacrificing connections to family and friends, but you've got to give credit where it's due when you have it so easy.

Views: 16

Comment by Robert Ferentz on March 10, 2010 at 11:29am
@Johan de Haan: That's very true, however I wasn't implying I had no story, just not one with me as a self-conflicted hero in the middle of it.
Comment by Reggie on March 10, 2010 at 6:43pm
No gripping narrative for me, either. I did make the journey from being religious (Christian leaning Deist) to an all out Skeptical atheist, but it was long, drawn out, and without any excitement.
Comment by Prazzie on March 10, 2010 at 7:35pm
Having been through the drama, I'm jealous of those who grew up seeing the truth clearly. Being raised religious changes your personality and not for the better.

I was raised in a religious white family during the Apartheid era in South Africa. Double whammy. I still resent the bullshit I was force-fed as a child. Not being the hero also means not having to carry the scars - and that's a good thing.
Comment by Reggie on March 10, 2010 at 7:46pm
The grass is always greener....
Comment by Jim Scotti on March 11, 2010 at 2:00am
I can't say I had some dramatic story of my conversion to atheism either. As with most young kids, I was brought up with the usual religious stories (I have fond memories of studying a childrens bible, for example) and at an early age accepted these stories as the truth. But as I grew up and my interest in science blossomed, I gradually found religion to be unsatisfying and even silly. Eventually I concluded that religion was silly superstition. I'd say that most of my evolution away from religiosity and superstitious thinking took more than 10 years, though most of it was complete by the time I finished High School, some residual affects lasted for quite some time. It took even longer before I could stand up for my beliefs confidently enough to be free in discussing my atheism. It helps to run in scientific circles where the fraction of non-theists to theists is quite high. I've been protected in the University environment my whole adult life..... Interestingly, though I didn't realize it at the time, my journey out of the religious quagmire really began during the 6th grade when my folks enrolled me in a parochial school for that year & I saw religion more closely than I ever had before.
Comment by Kris on March 11, 2010 at 3:16am
I was born atheist, then became Christian, and then atheist again. :p

But really no adventure here either.
Comment by Reggie on March 11, 2010 at 7:30am
I was born atheist, then became Christian, and then atheist again.

Haha. Very true. I guess I'll have to amend my own story to reflect reality better. We've come full circle.


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