My story dates back to 4 years ago during when I was in 6th grade.
We started having our science course in our newly built lab. Our science teacher, who was in her 30s, was a firm believer. Outside the school she was wearing headscarf1. During a lecture, I realized a framed poster on the floor. I went to the teacher’s desk at the end of the class and said “Something has fallen off here ma’am”. With a sharp voice she replied back “Oh that, they found it among the old lab stuff, I didn’t want to confuse you by hanging stuff like that on the wall.” When I took the poster and started to examine it, she warned me to put it in the trash and walked out of the classroom. As you can guess, there was a detailed description of the tree (evolution) of life on the poster. I didn’t know much about the tree of life or evolution until that day but I pretty much figured that my teacher was irritated of the poster because of her religious beliefs. When I came home I immediately set out to make a research about evolution on the internet and examined the basic written and visual sources on evolution and natural selection for hours. And that day, for the first time in my life, I questioned the all mighty creator on whose existence I didn’t have the tiniest doubt before.
The more I read about evolution, which gives much more humane (and universal) answers to the questions like how we exist than intelligent design does and stands on sound evidence, the more I reasoned, questioned and got curious. All the prevarication of my teacher when I asked her questions about these issues together with the pervasive moralist pressure of the conservationist society all around me, stimulated me to inquire a lot more and drove me to explore further. With time, being skeptical also helped me to get rid of my other stupid supernatural fears and thus made me sleep more peacefully and take more confident steps in life. Besides, as it has always bothered me that the god was holding men dearer and commanding only to women to cover themselves, I questioned more. It was not very difficult for me to come up with the conclusion that this whole religion and belief systems were nothing more than sick dreams of a patriarchal society.
As time went by, with all these thoughts on my mind, I got rid of my ignorant superstitions, and I am finished with feeling guilty about being a woman and with being treated like a second-class person. I am much more aware that I’m holding the rights to speak about my life and my body, and I think I am much more peaceful and confident than if I were a religious person. This is why I’ve been an atheist for three years now.
1Translator’s note: it is not allowed to teach with headscarfs in public schools in Turkey.