Friday, 31 August 2012

Losing my religion.

I was born, at a young age, into a large Catholic family - Dad the second eldest of 10 kids. As previously noted in this blog I was christened, like most babies in Catholic families, without my consent and without any knowledge of what was happening. With never having a choice, I was a suddenly a Roman Catholic. 

I was enrolled in a Catholic school, taught by nuns, went to church each Sunday. At least this wasn't a trek as the Church and School were both literally next door to my house. We were Catholics and for quite some time I didn't know anybody wasn't. My family, including uncles, aunties, and cousins, were catholic, my friends were catholic, my school was catholic. I was living in a catholic world, I didn't yet know anything outside it. As my family grew, there were weddings and Christenings all of which took place in Catholic churches. Not only did I 100% believe in the story of Jesus and the god of the bible, I didn't know I couldn't. I had no idea not believing was an option. Adam and Eve were the first people. Noah built a boat because the world was going to be flooded. Jesus was crucified for my sins (huh?) and I was to apologize for that for the rest of my life. Oh, and everything in a person's life that made you feel even slightly good was something to feel guilty about. I believed all this as though it was completely true. No doubts, no questions. 

A big change came when the Church, which owned the house in which my family lived, decided they wanted to use the land on which the house stood. We had to move and did so to an area where getting to the Catholic school wasn't an option. It was the end of a 26 year run of a member of my family being enrolled at the school. So off to the government school it was, with a weekly dose of religious instruction at school and Sunday School (which took place on Saturday morning), to keep up the religious studies. I'm not sure if the move to the government school fast-tracked my move to atheism or not but I am sure it helped in not getting me even further into religion. Perhaps if I'd stayed at the Catholic school I'd be a priest now. Who knows? 

I've mentioned before that my earliest memory of testing my doubt was cooking red meat on Good Friday. I had grown up being told that eating red meat on Good Friday was an absolute no-no. I assumed that if I did it, I would be instantly struck down and sent to hell. But somewhere between the ages of 10 and 12 the idea lost it's grip on me and there was something inside me that drove me to test it out. 

So on a Good Friday I was home (I assume alone, or perhaps inside alone, I can't remember) with a steak ready to go. I don't have great memory of cooking it but I do remember clearly cutting a piece of the steak and bringing it to my mouth. I was scared. At this stage I still believed in hell, it was just that I needed to test the idea that eating meat on Good Friday would actually send me there - there was simply something about it that didn't seem true. I was shaking slightly. I remember my heart beating hard. I put the meat in my mouth and started chewing. Of course nothing happened. I was still in the kitchen. Nothing felt weird. There was no lightning, no brimstone. It tasted no different to any steak I'd previously eaten. I was a kid eating at steak on Good Friday, and I was on the path to being an atheist. 

I started wondering more about the bible. I didn't understand why there were some parts of it we lived by - we believed in Jesus, we celebrated Easter (not Eostre) and Christmas (not Saturnalia) for religious reasons, the 10 commandments were important - that sort of thing. But there were other parts we ignored - we worked on the Sabbath, eating shellfish wasn't a problem, we no longer went to church regularly. Although I still believed, I was starting to have serious doubts about the whole story. I had questions that weren't answered properly. I was never satisfied with 'god moves in mysterious ways'. It always felt like a cop-out to me. I also started to realise that what we were learning from science contradicted what was said in the bible. I remember my dad telling me that science explained religion. God created Adam and Eve...via evolution. I almost believed it.

After primary school I attended a government high school, stopped going to church, and was really a non-practising catholic. I still believed, but it didn't matter. Religion and being religious played no significant role in my life whatsoever. 

As we know though, religion is an impossible subject to escape. As I lived through the first five years after high school, when the subject came up, I found myself being less and less of a believer and more and more of a doubter. I struggled with justifying the problem of evil. I became more and more interested in all things astronomy, which lead me to detailed answers to the hows and whys of what was going on and away from the god-moves-in-mysterious-ways type 'answers'. I started wondering why not everyone was catholic. I wondered why people in certain areas were one religion while people in other areas were different. And I wondered why religions came and went and I found more and more things that science could tell me but religion could not. It slowly but steadily got to the point where my belief was all but gone. 

One day I was riding Puffing Billy with my then partner. We were talking about various things as couples do, when the subject of god came up. It was during that conversation I realised that my belief was no longer just diminishing, it was gone. 

The process had taken years. The idea of hell one of the hardest things to shake. I had thought about it and had come to a significant realisation. 

I was now an atheist. 


  1. Nice story. I share a similar one. Mine surviving from Islam. Had a lot of things to say. Have been pondering on starting a blog but still hesitant.

  2. Thanks. I would be interested in your story. Islam to atheist would be something I'd like to read about.

  3. I wonder if the moment I realize I don't believe anymore is close. If it is I am will be very appreciative I found this blog and can talk to you on Twitter. It is impressive to me when anyone leaves religion. I have much respect for your journey. (sara7133)

  4. Thanks for this narrative! It is very interesting! I hit you up on Twitter for some back information because I am interested in what makes an "atheist troll." By the way, I'm not accusing you of being a "troll." I'm still not sure if I agree with the connotation of "trolling" on Twitter, but it can be said that you are a heavy-hitter when it comes to Twitter-atheism. I only recently picked you up as a follow, along with GSpellchecker, Marco_iO9 and a few others that regularly tweet about, and in response to, theists.

    I have to say, it did not take me long to be exhausted with the conversations and content I was getting. It was fun for a moment to be the choir being preached to (puns intended). The arguments of my fellow atheists were reassuringly familiar to me, so were familiar the dissents of the theists sparking the arguments. However, the novelty wore off.

    Rather than simply and silently quitting the stream of atheist/theist back-and-forth by quitting the Twitter follows, I thought I'd try to understand why an activist-atheist is so active and ask an activist why they act so actively about atheism...(alliteration intended)

  5. I've now reached the point in my atheism, that when a nut starts threatening me with hell, I think to myself, better hell then to spend an eternity in heaven with lunatics.

  6. Another Oz Atheist18 July 2014 at 22:30

    I've only recently discovered these blogs and have been slow catching up with them, in reverse chronological order.

    Your expression of spending an eternity in heaven with lunatics had me laughing for many minutes before I could write something :) Or as the young guys would say ROFLMAO. If you don't mind, I'm going to use this expression when I can and if there is space, I'll credit "Rosie"