My story is not a new one but in today’s atheist community it is one less heard. The voice of the ex-theists with their bible or koran passages and references, their atheism based in irreparable belief and failed doctrines, is very loud in the atheist community. I guess it has always been this way as belief seems to be the default instruction for most people in their early years and discovering you have been lied too is always a difficult thing to learn. I don’t come at my atheism this way and have never considered a deeper understanding of religious writing or doctrine to be required in my life or to confirm my atheism.

How did I become atheist?

It doesn't take much to destroy christianity. Here are 3 comic books that do just that.

It doesn’t take much to destroy christianity. Here are 3 comic books that do just that.

I will come at this backwards because I became “atheist” I’m my 30s. That is I learned of and understood the term and its relationship to me in my 30s. Atheism was not discussed in my youth, society and media have always promoted religion but references to non-believers are still rare and often negative. Even now I can get blank looks of people who simply don’t know what atheism is, our new voice has far to go to make up for the thousands of years of silence and repression. My lack of belief was always there, I was always atheist without knowing what it was. I was taught as child not to discuss religion and politics and on both scores my parents were wrong. It is our silence that has kept us the underdog while our opposite number came door knocking to promote their false doctrines and tarnished our political landscape with their bigotry. We were compliant through our inaction and that mentality still hold in many of us. In my 30s I realized the truth of my atheism and that I need to speak of it.

I became a vocal anti-theist before becoming knowingly atheist. I started my serious battle with religion when my son started school. As parents my wife and I received a starter pack from the school and without any shame or consideration for the fact the school was a secular state run institution, we received a piece of A4 paper with a school prayer and creed – which mentioned trusting in god – as part of the pact. My wife actually took this battle on with a simple letter campaign and two weeks later both were banned in all public schools in the state. I took on and failed to win before moving from the state, the battle to remove Religious Instruction from the classroom as our kids were being sent to sit in halls or do menial tasks outside the safety of their class environment. More a punishment than a reasonable alternative.

Before this I was still very anti-religious and a non-believer. I was never told there was a term for my position on belief and never thought to find out but it was still who I was. Before the internet and social media atheist existed in quiet and disorganized, normally family groups. There was no community and no contact with like minded people. I knew people like me but other than throwing our hotel bibles in the hotel pool on occasion we really had no way or means to make our point heard or our existence known. We had no church, doctrine billion dollar budgets to promote ourselves but we have always been here.

To my knowledge I am a third generation atheist on my father’s side. Like I in my early years, my grandfather and father had no way to express their lack of religion in a world dominated by religion and its money. My father is very vocal now about his lack of belief but it was not always so and he did try to be a good catholic (from my memory of him, my grandfather avoided churches like they were the plague). My fathers mother was raised in a convent and she imprinted catholicism on him, he did go to church and play the game. Today my father is very much atheist, my mother less vocally, but, when I was growing up they had only recently become so. With no way to express it and a society actively protecting religion, I grew up in a house where religion just wasn’t part of our life.

My mother was raised Dutch anglican and my father catholic. They met at a dance and their lives together started but not with ease. My mother, an immigrant, was not entirely approved of especially by my grandmother (feel the christian love?). My grandmother never seemed to escape being the result of an abusive convent upbringing, catholic indoctrination at the end of a rod. My Dutch grandparents I am told were also not very keen but at the age of 5 I never again met my grandfather, my mother has only just reunited with her 96 years old mother. The result of an extreme falling out, I don’t recall in detail, I only remember my mother in tears and my father chasing them from our house. Family stupidity aside, religion was part of the problem. It was a problem with the families but then my fathers church refused to marry my parents. This was the start of my fathers shift away from religion.

My parents did marry but as part of the arrangement they agreed not to go to church. They explained this to me once as being a way to stop differences of religion getting in the way of their relationship. I accept this explanation due to the issue of not being allowed to marry in the catholic church but also know that going separate ways on Sunday was somewhat not in their interest. My mother as I understand (we never have needed to go into great depth on religion as a family but we do talk) was never much of a church goer but my father was a church goer. Because of their decision to not go to church and my father no longer going to regular services resulting in a package being sent to him by his priest. In the package were a supply of reply paid envelopes and a letter which stated my fathers exact income – something the church should not have known – and how much tithe was to be sent each week. At this point my father had some choice words with the church and has never looked back.

Proof that Vegemite is god.

Proof that Vegemite is god.

I was born 2 years after my parents married and well after my parents walking away from their religions. I was never indoctrinated. My parents made the decision to allow my brother and I to seek and learn of religion on our own. We both remain atheist to this day with differing levels of anti-theism (my brother was more anti-theist than I was in our early years).

How did I stay atheist?

Staying atheist could be difficult for some with the power of peer and society indoctrination. Only yesterday I saw an atheist saying she had moved to a new town, a very church town, and with no friends she was considering going to church as a social outing. Religion has a power on society that can make atheists feel like second rate citizens. There is limited public discussion of non belief to find strength in, we, don’t have the thousands of years of social organization and some people without informed choices and secular options may struggle against the power of peer and society indoctrination. For me staying atheist was never an issue and to explain it I will share some more detail of my life with you.

It was not as if I had never been to church, family members had dragged me along and my parents always said it was good to experience and learn. I had a mad aunt who was born again salvation army (she left them eventually, they were not insane enough), we were not allowed to play those satanic card games in the house (we, the entire rest of the family, played UNO in a bus in the driveway) and had to attend church if we visited on Sunday. I have had more than my share of street preachers and even worked to reconvert some who had very week arguments. I was never allowed to say no to an offer of church before I was 12 years old but I took it one step further.

In primary school I signed up for Religious Instruction (RI) and once a week went to the teachers lunch room with a man I remember only as being very nice. A local minister of one denomination or another of christianity, he taught us the nice sweet bible stories they teach kids. None of it rung true for me even without adult reasoning, so I stopped going. I then tried Sunday School and my poor mother sat through 3 hour catholic sermons so that I could go (the churches requirement or no Sunday School for me). That lasted 6 months, until the nice story telling and finger painting got boring. Again nothing rung true or meaningful enough to be important to waste Sunday mornings on. I had family and friends who went to church and believed In a god but I found it all laughable even at primary school age.

This was almost all of religion for me. I had people try to indoctrinate me but I was always able to reason and counter argue their own limited understandings of their religions, though mine was almost equally limited. I had friends desert me for not believing, I was shunned for not participating in prayer, but I could not believe just to please other peoples needs. I was a cadet with St John Ambulance but never participated in the religious activity associated with many of their events and was often in trouble for option out. Even pretending there was god to make others happy seemed foolish. I have had people tell me l will burn in hell all my life but imaginary friends, good or bad, have no meaning for me.

In my late teens I was given a lesson about the nature of believers that has served me well. Never trust them. This lesson also made me carefully consider the actions of believers and their reasoning. This distrust may seem harsh but since this experience I have seen more dishonesty in believers than you would expect from people claiming the high moral ground. Everything from lying about doctrine to fish symbols on business advertising that has an element of dishonesty.

When I was 17 I was taken for a small sum of money – the only time in my life – by a born again christian family who we considered family friends. My family were not overly supportive and told me it was my fault and I should have considered the deal better before making it. I was the first person to get this lesson but not the last. The same family soon stopped being family friends after their second dishonest act against my family. My mother found the father trying to indoctrinate my father while he was high on morphine in hospital (after a motorcycle accident). Possibly the most dishonest act of all, trying to take hold of someone’s mind when they are unable to defend themselves. One thing I know for certain of that days events is that on that day a christian learned fear of someone other than god, my mother under her thick skin is made of fire. This was where I completely and thankfully learned to distrust of christians. I still prefer to give everyone benefit of doubt, I am a trusting person by nature, but if someone feels they need to make their religion known to me I change my stance. From that point on I work from a position of watchfulness which has saved me much grief. Believers all to often see nonbelievers as subhuman or lessors, normally to be shunned and less deserving of anything than other believers. The social consequences alone are to be watched for, an atheist can be a theists friend one minute and over night have them crossing streets to avoid them for not having an imaginary friend.

With that lesson behind me, in my 20s I finally considered my mortality and death. I guess I had been working up to it from the time of my fathers accident which took his life 2 times and left him disabled when I was only 15 years old. This may have pushed me to a more seriously considering of death than accept a simplistic view and hang on to it. At this time I finally decided to work out what the fuss with religion was. I studied the people, cultures and doctrines of every religion I could over a few years. Again nothing struck home. I was at the end of my study and about to admit that buddhism was mythical bullshit but buddhists seemed to have something going on, but, the news that week was full of monks in Asia killing one another over a leadership vote. I went back and took a longer look at buddhism, its history and current power base and found the only difference between buddhists and other religions is its diminishing political power.

My search ended with me becoming more anti-theist than my former bibles in pools, refuting door knockers and street preachers. At this point I was armed to refute all religion everywhere I found it and had knowledge of doctrine to support me.

What I discovered about death is that there is no point worrying about. Worrying about the inevitable doesn’t make life any more enjoyable and concerning yourself over the well being of dead friends does nothing to help you get over your grief.

For me, being atheist was simply a matter of not being indoctrinated. Staying atheist was simply seeing past the pretty stories and being able to reason out the poor arguments.

My atheism is now much more than it was and in no danger from indoctrination. Everything I have read and learned has solidified my atheism. Religious doctrine, arguments, stories, science, politics, history and when in my mid 40s I finally started reading about atheism has all strengthened my resolve. My atheism is now more than ever also anti-theism. Protecting my family from the dangers of religion and the religious, keeping mythology-as-fact out of schools, battling theist pseudo-sciences and fighting to keep my country safe from the evils of evangelical religion which is taking place of the old dying religions of the dark ages, these are important to me as never before. The danger religion presents and the way it tries to demand unwarranted authority have driven me from simple atheism to hard core anti-theism.

Though I was in my 20s becoming more anti-theist, there was still no media friendly to atheism, no doctrines to promote, no communities to discuss it with, no abundant wealth like religion holds and no supreme leaders. My ability to effect the world around me was limited by my finite personal budget, time and by the always present hand of religion set against me (as it had been set against atheists since the first person dared question the first god proposal).

There is a lot of talk amongst christians about “new atheism” but fact is I have been atheist for the majority of 50 years and the first recorded atheist was over 2000 years ago. There is no “new atheism” there is just a voice of atheism. The internet and social media available today has not changed atheism, it has given us an affordable, wise reaching voice and I like many others I am using the available tools. My atheism is not new, it is simply more vocal. I have always been unshakeably atheist and have finally learn to have pride in my non religious status. I wear the badge of atheist with the pride it deserves and will all ways speak against the dangers of blindly believing untruths.

I hope you have all found this insight into my life and atheism of use in understanding life long atheism.

May your gods remain fictional.

The Antitheocrat.

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