Essay:Change inside of me

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I guess I can say that I have done a pretty complete u-turn from where I was two years ago, for reasons that I myself am still trying to figure out. Just two years ago, I was an old-earth creationist, and a staunch believer in a god, and firmly against both abortion and gay marriage. As I write that comment, I simply scratch my head and wonder why I thought that particular way.

I suppose I can credit my thoughts and beliefs to my parents, my mother is a "liberal-conservative" Catholic, in that she voted for Obama because she believed he was the best choice for this country, even though she personally liked McCain more. I spent all the years of my life raised with my mom, after a rather nasty divorce (and as a result, even thought I didn't know it at the time, my dads falling out with religion). I did spend plenty of time with my dad, but never really had a particular interest in discussing religion. Perhaps, in a respectful way, my dad saw no need to push any sort of religious discussion.

When I started learning the basics of how the world forms, all the way in middle school, I began realising that the things I was being taught in CCD conflicted with the reality of the world I lived in (Not in those particular words, naturally). I began thinking and tinkering, and to me, as with most Catholics, "god" became the answer to the things I did not know.

My first encounter with someone who explicitly did not believe in god was, if I remember correctly, in 8th grade (when I was about 12). There was, naturally, an argument, one that I do not remember any particular details of, and of course, neither of us were particularly articulate with words, so it rapidly became a non-issue, and we went back to playing James Bond, Goldeneye.

That, right there, is when I think my religious views slowly began changing. My transition into 9th grade was the year I began questioning god, and although I did several things that year that I will not elaborate on, I did so due to what I see as a deteriorating, and increasingly paranoid, mindset I had that particular year.

And so I grew dissatisfied with the Catholic church, because of their whole "embrace suffering, God is testing you" mantra. Around that time, I slowly began leaning away from organised religion, and into Lone Catholicism.

As a Lone Catholic, I still held that god simply must exist, using the classic argument of oranges organised into neat little rows (if you ask, I will explain the argument, and why I reject it). It came to the point that when I was sixteen, a verbal war erupted between me and another Atheist (more of a verbal headbutt than anything else!).

So how did I go from a firm belief that there must be a god to my present belief that there is no god, and that religion is more harmful than helpful? How does this whole backstory relate?

The answer gets more complex as I go on. Looking at the world from an increasingly mature perspective, I realised that there exists natural explanations for what gods were supposed to do. Zeus was believed to be a god of Lightning, and it was discovered that electric discharges and wind make up lightning, not a god. Today, to my knowledge, no modern god is the "God of Lightning", because we naturally explained what the god was invented to explain.

Now notice what Yahweh explains, how the universe began, how we got here, and how life started. We have natural explanations for all three of the previous, and looking at the nature of a God, I realised that any entity that could will everything into existence would have to be infinitely more complex then the things it created, and that natural explanations had, for almost every extent, explained what the concept of Yahweh explained.

It was looking at that "One Last God" that I took my last step a couple of days before my 18th Christmas and came to the conclusion that I believe there is no god, and that god is simply an early attempt to explain that which could not be explained any other way.

It should be of interest to note that the first person I told in my family was my dad, who I did not, at that time, know shared the same disbelief as me. My grandparents (my dads parents) and my Uncle were also rather understanding. My Aunt, I discovered, was a Buddhist, and my Grandpa, a Secular Humanist. I was living, ironically, with the less tolerant side of my family for eighteen years.

So I came home on the 15th of December, 2008 as an atheist, and told my little sister. Stunningly, she had already reached pretty much the same conclusion I had already reached, and had been questioning god since she was 11 (It should be noted that I am three years older).

Days passed without incident, every day, my family said Grace before eating, and I excused myself for any myriad of reasons, the cat sounded upset, I saw something that looked awkward, et all. Finally, on Christmas day, I was called on to say Grace.

Well, I was sitting there, my (still) terminally ill Great-Grandmother sitting right next to me, when I said, "Irrelevant, from my perspective."

Things went from bad to worse that night, the word "Atheist" being hurled around almost as an insult, and me trying to just corral the conversation. I was, and still am, a debating kind of person, but I did not want to debate my own family, I just wanted to move on.

Things quieted down eventually, and my mom did the whole "Save your soul" speech to me, and I simply said I did not want to talk about my lack of belief, and if she respected me, she would respect that tenant.

Things calmed down over the following days, us making (not mean) swipes at my deconversion ("Question my driving will you, oh ye of little faith?" "Nope, mom, I am ye of No Faith"). Over the days, mom seemed to grow used to my stance, and the discussion did not come up again.

So I had a lazy Sunday coming up, and stayed home for the first time in 18 years while my family went to church (being the nice Atheist I was, I went once, even though I viewed it as futile). I sat at my computer programming in Java, looking forward to the years of my life, years where I made, and continue to make, my own choices according to my accumulated judgement and knowledge of right and wrong, in what was becoming a journey in its own.