Judas and Cain
Why I Am An Atheist.
(PZMyers is looking for submissions for a regular feature on his blog. While I won’t be doing that, it is a good topic, and one worth revisiting.)
I was raised in a strict Presbyterian household that went to church every Sunday. I liked church, everybody always was so nice. And the Music! Oh I love church music…
Things went along swimmingly until I was 13. At that time, it was decided that we should study the great stories of the Bible. Among them were the stories of Cain and Abel, and the story of Jesus and Judas. Once I’d actually read the stories, I was startled by the unfairness. God was a just god, everyone knew that! But this was horribly unfair.
And so I began to ask questions. What was I missing? These grown-ups were all really smart, surely one of them could explain it, my dad who was an actual genius…the reverend who spent his life studying this stuff. No one could explain to the satisfaction of a 13 year old why a just and loving god rejected perfectly good produce in favor of a living sacrifice, causing the “first murder”. No one could explain why Judas, that poor patsy, has been criminalized even though he had no choice in the matter, and “God’s plan” could not have gone forth without what he’d done. Eventually, it always boiled down to “having faith”; something you feel, not something you can learn. And I didn’t feel it.
I began to find more and more issues in the Presbyterian church, especially once I grasped the true nature of women within Christianity; virgin, whore, or mother. I wasn’t particularly interested in any of those things. I wanted to be a mechanical engineer in the Navy.
I quit going somewhere during high school, being that I was involved in sports plus working part-time gave me an excuse. I still felt a lack, however, because I was the only one around that didn’t believe in something. I felt like there was something wrong with me, so I kept searching. When I went to university, I tried a ton of different religious things, eventually settling on paganism for a while. It was the only thing that didn’t seem violent, harm none and all that. I tried really, really hard to believe, but I just never really did. Eventually, I gave up and just stopped doing anything of that nature. But I still had questions, questions that no one could ever answer. Where did we come from? Why am I here? What am I supposed to do with my life? (Things that most twenty-somethings go through I imagine.)
I knew next to nothing about science upon graduating from high school. The only thing I knew about evolution was that it was something the scientists had dreamed up to get God out of the picture. I wish I was joking. Oh, sure, we studied Mendel and genes, and I made a DNA molecule for a science fair, but I never really understood evolution until I was almost thirty. No one ever put in a format that I, a very bright student, could really grasp. I imagine my parent’s certainty in the church didn’t help with that. (They weren’t fundies at all, were actually fairly progressive for their time. They just never questioned their faith.)
I believe it was a news article (back in the days of paper) that made a question hang out in the back of my mind, driving me crazy until I looked it up (in an encyclopedia no less!). Eventually I taught myself enough to get a pretty good grasp of how science explains just about everything, and what it doesn’t explain, it offers a pretty damned logical guess. (I became aware of the rigor of peer review and how the bad science and things that didn’t work were winnowed away. And knowing how things really worked made them only more incredible to me.) Having this knowledge cleared away the last of the fantasy cobwebs that were still hanging around in my mind. Religion doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t work.
I am an atheist because I’m a logical, rational, intelligent human being.