I was brought up as a Roman Catholic. Any other Catholics know this is the “marine drill sergeant” of the Christian religions. The Catholic church is very big on telling its followers what to do.
I was very quiet and nerdy when I was younger. I used to live in the west, so most of the other Catholics were Hispanics. They thoroughly enjoyed picking on me and abusing me because I was different and wouldn’t fight back. The church was no help in the matter. When I got the courage to speak about what I was going through, I received little sympathy. In fact, they seemed to imply the issue was with me. I couldn’t fit in. Interestingly, my wife, who was also brought up Roman Catholic had similar experiences.
I hated going to CCD(kind of like Catholic prep courses). I hated the instructors and their out of touch clueless attitude. I hated being picked on. I honestly don’t recall dwelling on the teachings of the church I just remembered I hated going to CCD classes every week.
Finally, after fighting with mother about it for years, she let me quit CCD at 13. I never looked back.
I never went to Church after that unless it was for a wedding or a funeral. Even then I wouldn’t accept communion. I felt it was hypocritical of me. When asked, I would self identify as “agnostic” which sort of means you don’t know and really you don’t care.
My conversion to atheism was ironically almost like a religious awakening. My wife and I had been fighting for some time. It had gotten bad between us. I was watching the show “Futurama”. The episode was “The late Phllip J Fry”. In essence one of the characters invents a time machine that can only go forward in time. Due to an accident, Fry gets stuck in the time machine that can only go forward. This is especially troublesome since he is on the cusp of losing his relationship with Leela due to the fact that he is always late and is not reliable for her. After travelling forward to many different time periods attempting to find a time that has a time machine that can go backward in time, they finally go forward to far and are stuck on Earth after the Sun has started to die and all life on Earth has gone extinct. They decided to just get drunk and wait for the end of the universe. However, once the universe ends, it starts all over again with the Big Bang. Now the characters are able to get back home as they just keep travelling forward while time loops back on itself and they get back to their time line. It ends with Leela giving Fry affection as he has been able to make their date on time. He’s a changed man. In fact, the old him is dead. Quite literally.
After watching this, I was overcome with emotion. Some sadness about the situation with my wife, but really an intense rush of understanding. I suddenly realized what was true. The truth is that we are an advanced specious of monkey on a small blue rock orbiting an unremarkable star in the spiral of a massive galaxy. One of billions. The universe and time are limitless. We could never begin to know or understand all that is out there. It is an extremely intimidating concept. I realized that as humans, we are only alive for a very brief period of time. But we are blessed with self awareness. We know life comes to and end, eventually for all of us. Who knows what happens afterward? Maybe it is like being asleep. Maybe its something else.
Afterward, I lost all my anger and bitterness I was feeling about my wife. I realized how lucky I was to have someone in this world. Someone who loved me, cared about me and was there for me. I realized how stupid it would be to lose this over petty differences. We made up and I have never looked back.
The point is, I realize now how precious my life is. How fortunate I am to be alive, to experience life. To eat, sleep, walk, smile, fuck, dance, laugh, sing. It’s really quite beautiful. We are all connected. We are fortunate to experience this, whatever this is.
After this, I found all religions antiquated. In particular, the mono deity religions(Christianity, Judaism, Islam). It’s the same belief system. One, true god who picked a disciple to spread the word. It’s amazing to me how much strife, sorrow and pain has been inflected on the world due to religious zealotry. It sickens and saddens me.
I have no patience for religious people anymore. I look at them and think they are unevolved. From where they are standing, they probably think they are men, but I see them as apes. Superstitious apes, no different from the monkeys in the movie “2001” worshiping the monolith and flinging their bone weapons in the air.
I’ve never been happier. I have no guilt about my actions. I am a good person and I treat others as I would like to be treated. I don’t cheat, lie or steal. I don’t need religion to tell me how to behave or think. I don’t need religion at all.