I was born in Austria to Roman Catholic parents the summer of 1983 and baptised in autumn. We moved to Germany when I was one. I still live there.
We didn’t practice religion at home.
I received the standard Bavarian religious education, which is very thorough.
I went to first communion and confirmation, even became an altar girl and stayed one for years.
Despite all this I’m an atheist. What happened?
When I was little, god existed for me on the same level as creatures from fairy tales. When I got a bit older I learned that god was this all powerful being that made everything. For some time I even prayed regularly because due to horrible teachers my live at school was terrible. Praying didn’t help.
I always watched the news with my parents, and there are always a lot of bad things happening in the world. I started wondering about how this could happen if god was all powerful and good. Later I learned that this problem was called theodicy.
Another big problem was the existence of hell. If god forgives everything, what does hell exist for?
And don’t get me started on Pascal’s wager.
The older I got, the more inconsistencies I found.
My parents raised me to respect every human being and taught me that there was nothing wrong with being different from the norm in any way. All religious doctrine I ever met went against that.
When I got interested in politics and human rights, all respect for religion went out the window. According to most religious doctrine I’m a second class human or not human at all. Just a mobile incubator.
When I turned eighteen I went to the city hall and left the church. That’s how you have to do it in Germany. I received a letter from the local parish asking me to reconsider, which I ignored.
These days I see myself as a humanist. I follow Kant’s categorical imperative. ‘Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.’ That is all you need to be good.
To all those reading my ramblings:
Study philosophy, you don’t need to do it in depth, but you will see that religion isn’t needed to be good.
Study history. Pick one region and see how religion influenced conflicts and daily life. Take a hard look at the ‘divine right to rule’.
Study your religion, its history and its philosophy.
The most important thing I ever learned was this:
Think for yourself. Don’t accept anything at face value. Always ask questions.