A few months ago Atheist Ireland, an organisation I’m involved with asked people to write up why they are an atheist. I wrote up mine and also used my old blog to host a few other people’s. I’ve been in two minds as to whether I should repost them all here or leave them on the old blog. In the end, I’ve decided to do this post, linking to the previous “Why I’m an Atheist” blog posts and then post all the new ones on here.
From an early age my dad made it perfectly clear that he considered god to be in the same group as Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the Pooh. If we asked what he thought happened after you died his answer was that you rot in the ground – he also referred to graveyards as “bone orchards”. In hindsight, I’d say this absolutely infuriated my mother who was as determinately religious as my father wasn’t. I don’t think the idea that me and my siblings would be brought up Catholic was ever contested; as seems typical in atheist-religious couples, the religious parent is far more adamant that the children are religious than the atheist parent is that they aren’t. While I may be misinterpreting memories, I have a sense that my dad was content to let us all make up our own minds when it came down to it. Because of this I was baptised, communioned, and confirmed – ironically taking my dad’s name, Ian, as my confirmation name.
During 6th year, religion class was a study period with occasional guest speakers from various religious groups. We had an ex Jehovah Witness (he gave us the inside scoop that a practising one would never give us), group of Hare Krishnas and maybe a few others I forget. A funny side story is that 15 mins before our teacher brought in the Hare Krishnas he said to the assembled class “Now you’re about to meet a strange crowd, with bird droppings on their foreheads and curtains around their waists” I think a few students at the back were still chuckling when they came in with their hand drums and mantra chanting.
I do not want to change the opinions of people, nor do I want to change the world but I would like Religion to be treated as a minority interest, such as speaking Klingon or excessive gaming. I have found more comfort in literature than I ever have out of Holy Books.
Hot on the heels of the sacrament of confession, came my third, and most consumable sacrament – that of holy communion. Still digesting the ‘child sin hotline’ as revealed to me through confession, further startling revelations about what was on offer were about to become clear. Apparently, it was now possible to say a spell over some bread and wine, which would literally transform (emphasising ‘literally’, not ‘symbolically’, no wishy-washy Protestantism here) these foodstuffs into the flesh and blood of my now edible hero, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ indeed! I was now invited, in the strongest possible sense of the word, to partake in a ritualistic cannibalism of the son of the god I was explicitly told not to offend in the first place. Nervous times.
If you haven’t read mine, and these other gentlemen’s tales then I suggest you do. They are all deeply honest insights in to four disparate people who’ve reached the same point from very different places. If anyone else has a “Why I’m an Atheist” post they’d like a venue for then contact me.
Hey, while I’ve got your attention, do me a favour and check out Bawdy Zebra’s latest product, There Are Other Rivers by Alastair Humphreys. It’s on iPad, iPhone and as PDF so it’s on Android too!