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The Case For Atheism: Part 1

November 23, 2009

Let me start out by stating I was a committed Christian for the first 14 years of my life.  I said prayers before bed and meals.  I attended a private Lutheran grade school through the 8th grade.  I went to church twice a week, Sunday school and vacation bible school.  I begged my mother to let me get baptized at the age of twelve.  I had confirmation classes for a year and had my first communion at the age of fourteen.  That God existed was no question in my mind.  I studied the bible, I accepted Christ as my savior, I tried not to sin and to lead a Christian life.  There were times, sitting in a church pew, that I truly felt the spirit within me.  I had questions, to be sure.  Like why didn’t God save his only son if he was omnipotent?  And why did God let such pain and suffering exist in the world?  How was it possible to get all those animals plus all that food they needed to eat on that ark?  Where did dinosaurs fit in the picture?  What about all the other people who don’t believe what we do:  do they all go to hell?  If Jesus was a Jew, why are we being taught how awful Jewish people are?  While my pastors and teachers typically glossed over these questions, I took the message of the bible at face value.

Most of my grade school friends, upon graduation, were planning to attend a private Lutheran high school.  I pleaded with my mother to let me do the same but there simply was not enough money for tuition.  Instead I attended a public high school.  I immediately lost contact with my old grade school chums and became immersed in the secular world.  I don’t think I attended another church service after the 8th grade.  While my mother was a spiritual person and wanted me to have a religious education, she did not press me to continue on with my faith.  (In fact, as a child I was tormented by the fact that my mother was not going to heaven because she didn’t seem to believe all that I was being taught in school she had to believe in order to be saved.  It wasn’t until I was older that I understood that she believed in a higher power, just not in organized religion.  She wanted me to have a basis from which I could make up my own mind about what I believed.  Smart mommy!)

During my high school years, I frankly don’t remember thinking much about God or Jesus or church.  I was too busy having fun.  I don’t remember if I prayed at all, but I’m fairly certain I asked God to make a certain boy like me or help me buy that perfect pair of Guess? jeans.  It wasn’t until college that I started questioning my religious beliefs.  These questions (and answers) lead me to conclude that God does not exist.

Part 2 tomorrow. . .

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2009 7:40 am

    Oh…my…GOSH Maija!!! No you did NOT just write this post on this day. No you didn’t. I’m just in shock right now. Talk about serendipity! I just wrote this post today http://bit.ly/7A6Jn6 dubbing myself a homeless heretic. It was probably the scariest post for me to publish as it is somewhat of a “coming out” publicly to which I anticipated unfavorable responses (especially from family). But I decided to go for it, realizing I needed to face these issues rather than sweep them under the table as I’ve been doing over the last several years my new self has been evolving.

    All this to say, I can’t wait to read part 2! And I am so overwhelmed with comfort and awe (never thought I’d use those two words together like that) in reading your post today. TODAY, of all days. The day I wrote a similar post about my religious views/thoughts/position.

    One thing we definitely share in common is going against the grain – you more so than me (atheism versus my agnostic theism). From one heretic to another, you go girl! You go…against the grain. ;)

    Utmost admiration and respect for you,
    Allison

    • mjjaaska permalink*
      November 24, 2009 2:52 pm

      WHEW! Allison, I too was quite nervous in writing about my beliefs. I was frightened when I saw I had a comment and felt such relief (comfort AND awe too!) upon reading your words of support! I mean, who admits they are an atheist? I don’t think I know anyone personally who feels as I do and the fear of backlash was strong. I read your post yesterday (I actually wrote my atheism posts over the weekend) and I can only imagine how personally dangerous it was for you to “come out.” As you wrote, it is important to always be curious and to challenge your beliefs. Those are the believers I respect the most. I am proud of you for speaking your truth and I thank you for your encouragement!

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