Ok, so I know I've been a member on TA for about a month now but I thought it's time to join the club, and share my story. :)

I grew up in a "good christian home". I went to church every Sunday. I even thought the story of Noah's Ark was quite amazing at one stage. My dad, still a devout christian, would take every opportunity he could to remind us to be grateful for all that god has given us. There are old photo's of me, as a kid, standing next to the nativity stand at the church we went to. All in all, I generally don't have bad memories of when I was a christian. It was a relatively good life. I was accepted by most people and it was easier to make friends. Even if something traumatic happened in my life (and it did), it only served to push me further into the "comforting" arms of the church.

When I started learning a bit more about the bigger picture of life, I naturally started having questions that were not so easy to answer by the church. Like evolution, my transition from christianity to atheism was achieved in slow gradual steps (relatively, lol). I found that the more questions I asked, the more I seemed to be alienated from the rest of my church "friends". A lot of the questions that I had, were ones that they didn't appear to have an answer for, and they would give me the good old "god works in mysterious ways" answer. But the more I got this answer, the less I was satisfied with it. I would occasionally see something on TV or in a magazine about some or other scientific principal. I didn't understand a lot of what I saw at the time, but it raised more questions still. Questions like "If we were god's special creation, why is the universe so much massively bigger than us?", or "Why were there dinosaurs, and why did god destroy them all? (understand, I still believed in god at this point)". The more questions arose, the more I doubted and my faith weakened. I eventually became "spirtual but not religious" and started exploring other religious concepts. I thought that perhaps god existed, but didn't exactly focus on a single channel to him. For a while, I believed that our spirits existed in another plane/dimension and we would essentially tailor make the existence we choose to be born into, to increase our spiritual "education" as it were, re-incarniting after each life. Kind of like a new age sort of (messed up) buddhism idea. I was lost in what to believe. This progressed for a while, until I became agnostic. I was still not ready to let go of the concept that a creator was responsible for the existence of everything, whether it be some scientists creating a simulated universe and we were an experiment, or a super advanced being created us and has died or moved on. I was in a state of perpetual confusion and would answer questions on my belief system with "I don't know". The worst part is I had no one to discuss these thoughts and ideas I had with because religious discussion is considered taboo in social gatherings. People in SA would rather avoid the topic altogether than discuss it.

It took a friendship I developed with an atheist to get me "off the fence". We got into a discussion about it, which was like a huge release for me because I got to put all my thoughts on the table and have them challenged and tested. My friend is well researched and referred me to Chris Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins and immediately I was hooked! It was like the chains had been broken and my mind was free to wander and explore and actually get some answers (if not all). I was all of a sudden, enlightened.

I started to see christianity from an objective point of view and I didn't like the picture. Suddenly, all the piety and goodness I believed blindly before looked like a mask hiding a darker and more sinister operation. At first, I got angry because I started seeing the wars and separation caused by religion over time. I got even angrier when I researched a bit more into history and discovered the true culprit behind the dark ages and my blood started to boil when I learned how the massive collection of scientific intelligence was destroyed at the Library of Alexandria because the new young christian religion deemed it heretical. That anger stayed on for a while but as I researched, read and consumed more material by prominent scientists and atheists, the energy from my anger transformed into an incredible thirst for knowledge. I had bitten the proverbial "apple" from the "tree of knowledge" and I was addicted!

After watching Carl Sagan's brilliant series, Cosmos, I discovered a deep burning passion in me for astronomy and cosmology. That passion has inspired me to consider studying astrophysics at university (admittedly an ambitious goal). To me, the more I explore the discoveries of our universe, the more I get convinced that a god in the christian, islam or whatever sense of the word could not exist. There simply is far too much evidence against the concept and no evidence for it.

Today, I am experiencing, for the first time in my life, an honest and true love for life and knowledge free from conflicting ideologies that make no sense and just don't fit. I am thoroughly excited for what the future holds. :)

And that's my story. For those of you who made it this far and haven't dozed off, well done! You can probably tell that there was no real huge moment for me in my journey to atheism, but small steps as my knowledge and freedom to think increased, and I'm only just beginning to touch the surface!

Glad to be a part of this site where I am able to share this story in comfort and freedom. Thanks for reading and I'm looking forward to sharing ideas and discussing/debating/developing my knowledge with you all.

Views: 38

Comment by Shirley Ruth Whitton on June 12, 2011 at 6:54pm

Casting away the shackles of religion is euphoric.  I can't describe the freedom I feel by no longer thinking "Why, god, do you allow these things to happen????"  I have FAITH and hope in the reality of science and its discoveries, past, present and future, and feel I'm going forward and not stuck in hopelessness about certain events of the past.


The downside (although knowledge is golden) is spending so much time at the computer finding out what people who are far more intelligent than I am, are writing about.....particularly here at TA.  Here at the computer I have my scribble book and the list is growing.


I really like it here and am about to read the current Sunday School!!!

Comment by Ron V on June 12, 2011 at 7:06pm

Welcome- and I agree the mental freedom of non-theism - whether a freethinker, ignostic, agnostic, atheist, etc.- is absolutely wonderful.



(knowledge bless)

Comment by Kirsten on June 12, 2011 at 7:50pm

   We're glad to have you here. There's nothing quite like knowing you really aren't alone (or just crazy) to make self-exploration enjoyable, rather than terrifying or shameful. 


   I'd really encourage you to look into the astrophysics as well. I had a great friend who went into it and absolutely loved it. The community is very, very interesting to talk to and the work itself is pretty awesome. The more people we have in science the better off all of humanity will be.


   Welcome, and enjoy!

Comment by Jon van Rooyen on June 13, 2011 at 7:06pm

Thanks for the replies and the warm welcome.

@Shirley - I think the beauty of learning is that once you begin, it keeps on rewarding no matter when you begin. The reason I referred to my interest in studying Astrophysics as "ambitious" is because I messed around a bit in high school and was, quite frankly, more interested in the ladies than learning, so I just sort of coasted along not really pushing myself! (no regrets, right? :P) So ultimately, I have just created more work for myself to achieve this goal of mine. The good news is, I seem to have developed a good understanding of mathematics and science by voluntarily learning it on my own, so here's hoping that will make it a bit easier to get into.

@Ron V - Thanks for the message. I absolutely agree that opening one's mind to new material is wonderful! I feel like I have a lot more room in my head to fill with real knowledge, now that I've disposed of the "god of the gaps" :)

@Mean Flower - I've already experienced some of the folk on this site with whom I can relate, having been here a month. I'm surprised it took me so long to find a site like this. Glad I did. :)

@Kirsten - I'm glad I'm not alone, but I'm still pretty sure I'm crazy! You have to be to survive in this world right? hehe, only kidding. I'm getting in touch with the University of Cape Town this week to set up an appointment to establish what my options are for myself. Then I can take action. I must say, it will be awesome to experience the student life (I didn't attend university after school). I think  a lot of my friends will probably be jealous! :) My hope in studying astronomy is that I can perhaps at least make some small contribution to the work so many great scientists have achieved before me. Will keep pushing for it. :)

Damn, it's 1am in the morning here. Really need to do something about this insomnia!! hehe! G'nite all and thanks again for the replies.


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