For the first twelve years of my life, my mother frantically tried to bring me up in her Baptist church. She was elated that one of the first words I learnt to spell was “Jesus” at age 2. My father (who I found out to be an atheist last year) is a pilot and would conveniently bring me on fishing trips every few Sundays. It struck me as odd that he never had to go to church, but I didn’t really ask about it.
It wasn’t very long until I started questioning. When I was 5, my Sunday School teacher “disproved” the big bang by throwing a bunch of hard plastic animal toys into a plastic bag and shaking them up together. “See?” he said. “Everything is the exact same as when it went into the bag. This means that the only way the universe could have started was through god!”
Well, I was 5. It was the ’90s. I was irrevocably in love with Bill Nye. I told my Sunday School teacher that actually, no, he had done nothing to increase the entropy inside the bag, and how on earth can you perform nuclear changes by banging a bunch of polymers together?!
This would mark the first time I embarrassed my mother in church. I’m sure it wasn’t the last. There was so much they taught that just never made sense to me—How can everyone in heaven be happy if they know people they love are in hell? Why didn’t this all-powerful god hint to my aunt who died of rare duodenal cancer that she should get an endoscopy earlier? Moreso, why is this god such a jerk in general? Why is every religion “right”? What if religion is a farce and I waste my entire life—all that I have to live—following obscene rules instead of doing what I want? Why do these people say that without god, they would just be out raping and murdering all day? And why on earth do my Sunday School teachers keep telling me I’m going to burn in hell for listening to Queen?
By the time I was about 12, I didn’t have to go to church anymore. Whether news of my questions reached my mother and she decided I was too much of an embarrassment, or she decided that if church and years of bible camp couldn’t sway my mind, nothing would, I don’t know. I’m now involved in an atheist club in my university where I’m studying biochemistry—a combination she’s not pleased with, but has learned to accept.
So, why am I an atheist? Bill Nye helped me how to think and introduced me to science before my anyone else did. My childhood curiosity refused to take “Goddidit” as an answer. My amazement for the universe and how it works grows each year, and I refuse to stop at such superficial answers and instead look for the elegance of what truly goes on. I’m an atheist because I’ve always been an atheist, and can’t imagine being limited by believing in magical sky fairies.