Based on my experience, the typical atheist in America used to be Christian. The common story is, “I used to be Christian and then |fill in the blank| and now I’m an atheist.
My story is a little different. I never considered myself religious. My parents called themselves Christian, but we never went to church or prayed. My father would talk about how the Bible was a good book, but we never had a practice of reading it.
Religion was not important to me as a kid, not even on the radar. Bike riding, TV shows, video games, and board games were all critically important. For religion, I couldn’t care less.
But as a young adult I developed a deep hunger for a greater meaning to my life. Since I was surrounded by people who called themselves Christian and talked about how wonderful the Bible was, I decided to read the Bible. It became immediately obvious to me that the Bible was no more inspired by God than Dr. Zeus or a takeout fortune cookie.
Many atheists will gravitate towards a specific Bible story they say was the ultimate deal breaker. The passage that made them stand up and declare that they could never be part of this cult. The passage that comes to mind for me isn’t discussed much. It’s the Book of Number Chapter 5 that provides instruction for men who think that their pregnant wife might be cheating on them.
As the story goes, the man takes his pregnant wife to a priest and she is made to drink bitter water. If she’s cheating her stomach will become swelled and painful, and she’ll have a miscarriage. Could you seriously imagine an all knowing God who created the universe taking part in such ignorance! The mere thought is insanity.
And imagine the poor women who lived in such ignorant times. Sometimes women have miscarriages. As if that alone wasn’t bad enough, imagine the shame they would carry and the accusations that they did something to offend God. How can anyone be a champion of such superstition and ignorance? This writing was guided by God’s will?
I spent a lot of time wondering how so many people could claim devotion to a book that was mostly irrelevant, insane, and downright hateful. My conclusion is that it demonstrates the power of childhood indoctrination.
There are people today and throughout history that are absolutely rational and reasoned in every aspect of their lives except religion. How can this be? For most, at a certain age, when an ideology is forced onto a child, it will implant stones in the mind that will never be broken down. The brain damage will last through death.
Sometimes people can rise above ritual brainwashing as there are atheists who were heavily indoctrinated as children, but it appears to be an exception, not the rule.
For me, I did find the greater meaning in life that I was looking for in philosophy. Through studying great philosophers such as Socrates and Confucius. The unexamined life is not worth living. What is the definition of an exemplary person? This is not to say that some good philosophy can’t be found in religion, but it’s tainted due to the proximity with all the bad philosophy.
Philosophy allows you to openly pick and choose the good from the bad. Religion forces you to be a hypocrite when you pick and choose the good from the bad.
We have so much knowledge and wisdom from ancient and modern philosophers in countries all over the world. A collection of the greatest moral reasoning of mankind provides the best guidance for life. No childish myths or delusional superstition required.
-James Kirk Wall
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