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Mar 06 2012

Why I am an atheist – Phil Hoenig

This essay was originally going to be just the one sentence: “I am an atheist because I am educated.” It’s laconic and full of all sorts of wonderful implications: theists are ignorant, the truth is that there are no gods, if only people could be shown that truth they would all realise it and the abuses of religion would disappear forever. There’s probably a touch of smugness in there too.

As well as being an atheist, I’m a huge procrastinator and between thinking up that as an answer and actually submitting it, I thought about this further and realised that there’s far more to it than the fact that I have been lucky enough to receive an education. To see why education was not a sufficient requirement for atheism I had to look no further than my own family.

I was raised as a Catholic. The church had its clutches on me until seven (although luckily only in a metaphorical sense) and for many years afterwards. Although some members of the extended family back in the old country didn’t appear particularly church-going, I had always assumed that the family had been Catholic for generations, for all I knew going back for two thousand years. It was only a few years ago, decades after the pantomime when I first explicitly told my parents I was an atheist – “I’m not a Catholic.”, “Yes you are.”, “No, I’m not.”, “Yes you are. That’s what it says on your birth certificate.”, “My birth certificate also says I’m not even a foot tall and only weigh a few pounds. I’ve grown up since then.” – they reconciled themselves to my lack of faith and the whole matter was regarded as academic, I had a chat with my grandmother and found out that it’s really only my mother who is religious and the reason why she was such a devoted Catholic daughter to not particularly religious parents.

My mother was an intelligent girl. Even if her parents weren’t religious themselves, they recognised that she had a lot of potential and wanted the best education they could get for her. Unfortunately the best education available was at the local Catholic school. From what I gather the stereotypes of Catholic schools of the era held true there; the teachers were all nuns in habits with a deep devotion to the teachings of Rome, a strong ruler in their hand and a knowledge of how to use it to instill the fear of God into their pupils. What would otherwise have been the best education my mother could have had at the time was poisoned by these black-clad sadistic authoritarians and to this day her mind remains stunted by it.

Compared to the educational opportunities I had as a boy in the seventies in eighties, the opportunities my mother had as a girl in the fifties and sixties would have been limited. The pursuit of maths and science would not have been encouraged anywhere near as much for her as it was for me. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel a huge sense of sadness at the potential wasted when an intelligent woman tells me with all sincerity that praying to Saint Anthony will help me find lost objects, and an even larger sense of rage when she tells me that she believes in a literal eternity of hellfire, and that fear of such makes it very hard if not impossible for her to question what she was taught as a young girl.

Why am I an atheist? The reason why I believe there are no gods – at least the proximate cause – does have to do with the fact that I did receive an education. Without it I wouldn’t have all the little jigsaw pieces I’ve used to make my model of the world, and it’s this model that’s given me an abiding love of the scientific process. It is most emphatically not a religion. It recognises the fact that its description of the universe is sometimes inaccurate or just plain wrong and endeavours to incrementally correct it. It acknowledges that the human brain likes to make patterns even when patterns aren’t really there and tries to circumvent this tendency when it can. It does not say that the Universe is thus because I or a voice inside my head say so and nay-saying will bring forth retribution, but because I did these experiments and made these observations and that you can do them yourself to verify it or come up with your own experiments and observations if you think they’ll do a better job explaining it. It’s because of this that I accept what science says as a fairly good approximation of what the Universe really is like. Despite the charlatans or the misinformed, science has not found any evidence for the existence of gods and until it does I am not going to believe that there are any.

The reason why I find the above reasoning valid – the ultimate cause of my atheism – is harder to pin down. Could I just have easily followed the same path as my mother? Creating a model of the world where Catholicism – or any other theistic religion – had the answer to everything and any inconsistencies could be explained away by evil forces or just ignored for fear of divine punishment? I’d like to think that it’s because I am more independently minded than her, but is that a fair assessment? Maybe it’s because my education had more science lessons and fewer cruel nuns.

The seeds of cognitive dissonance would have been planted when I was about ten or so, before I had any issues with authoritarianism. Religious teaching was no more complicated then “Jesus died for your sins, God loves you, but you need to follow his rules.” Science was a lot of cool facts but little explanation about how we knew these facts. I wanted to know how, if there were these monkeys that slowly turned into men, where did Adam and Eve come into the story. I did not get a satisfying answer. I did not abandon Catholicism then and there – like many I could make an accommodation between religion and science – but it was the first time I could not blindly follow religious and scientific teachings simultaneously and have to choose one over the other.

I was a fan of Jesus, but found his weekly fan club meetings were boring and pointless. Science I mostly got from books telling me – mirabile dictu – that there were beautiful spiral galaxies out there, and planets with spots on them bigger than the entire Earth or that had rings! There’s stuff that blows up if you get it wet, and a gas that will poison you with one breath, but if you mix the two together you get salt! The stuff in my pencil was made of the same stuff as a diamond, just arranged in a different way! We used to be little monkeys before we changed into people! Me and my dog had the same great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather! One hundred million years ago there were these big lizards walking, swimming and flying around the place!

When I look deeply into the question, perhaps the real reason I am an atheist is because to a ten – or almost forty, for that matter – year-old boy, dinosaurs are cool. Perhaps it’s not too late to tell my mother that.

Phil Hoenig
Australia

43 comments

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  1. 1
    greenman023

    what a poor an rather contradictory essay this is . you say you are an atheist because you are educated yet you support this statement not with proof of that education and logical reasoning through it but with an attack on the Catholic Church. If I or any theist was to claim that we were such because we didn’t like Hitler (perhaps the worlds most infamous atheist) you would be the first to ridicule such pathetic reasoning and quite rightly so. As a theist, one I add who is without a religious dogma and belongs to no church or orthodoxy I can and do claim that I am such, not because it was drummed into me as child, but because of logical reasoning. Thus I am mystic as were all the great theiest amongst whom I include Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, George Lemaitre and Carl Linnaeus. As I put in the tweet to you I an a theological anarchist and I have arrived at this position both through education and experience. if ever you wish to engage in an adult debate with me, one that does not resort to pathetic slanders of churches that I do not represent the door is very very much open to you regards greenman-23 (w43w.com)

  2. 2
    julietdefarge

    “if there were these monkeys that slowly turned into men, where did Adam and Eve come into the story..” Looks like you had a similar experience to mine; encountering Catholics who do not know the doctrine of their own religion. The “correct” answer is that humans descended from primates, but at some point God plopped in a soul. This notion leads to all sorts of fun questions, like, did the mother ape notice anything different about her offspring with a soul? Did that first human have to procreate with an ape, or did God insert more souls so there would be an ape Eve?

    Anyway, congratulations on hacking your way out of the jungle. My personal last straw was when I got in an discussion about the apostle James. Was he the brother of Jesus in the normal human sense? A half-brother? Adopted? Why are there such conflicting documents about his identity and his role in the early church? Watching church members who were supposedly well versed in history and doctrine flounder with these questions showed me that they pretty much made it up as they went along.

  3. 3
    Nick Gotts

    If I or any theist was to claim that we were such because we didn’t like Hitler (perhaps the worlds most infamous atheist) you would be the first to ridicule such pathetic reasoning and quite rightly so. – greenman023

    Well, greenman023, I’d start by pointing out that you are either an ignoramus or a liar: there is no evidence whatsoever that Hitler was ever an atheist. He was a baptised Catholic, never renounced this faith, persecuted atheists and closed atheist organisations, and appears to have remained a theist (although not a doctrinally orthodox Christian) to the end of his life.

  4. 4
    irisvanderpluym

    Maybe greenman023 is not an ignoramus or a liar per se, but really more of a visual learner?

    Here you go, cupcake.

  5. 5
    timgueguen

    Even if Hitler was an atheist it doesn’t change the fact that the majority of those Germans who took part in the crimes of the Nazi era would have claimed they were Christians if you asked them. The antisemitism that drove so much of Nazi policy and practice was part of an ongoing European tradition of that bigotry, promoted by various interpretations of Christian doctrine and tradition.

  6. 6
    Nick Gotts

    greenman023,

    I would next point out that you appear not to have read the essay, because Phil Heonig says that his first impulse was to attribute his atheism to education, but on further consideration, found that this was not sufficient to have led him to atheism, and contrasted the type of education his Catholic mother got:

    What would otherwise have been the best education my mother could have had at the time was poisoned by these black-clad sadistic authoritarians and to this day her mind remains stunted by it.

    with that he received, with “had more science lessons and fewer cruel nuns”. I suspect that your own mind has undergone a similar stunting to Phil’s mother, and that’s why you are unable to read for comprehension, and propagate falsehoods that are easily found to be so.

  7. 7
    Sili

    Thus I am mystic as were all the great theiest amongst whom I include Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, George Lemaitre and Carl Linnaeus.

    Would that be Monsignor Georges Lemaître?

  8. 8
    David Marjanović

    the great theiest amongst whom I include Sir Isaac Newton,

    Yes, was a theist.

    Albert Einstein,

    Was at most a pantheist. Called it “of course, a pernicious lie” when people claimed otherwise.

    George[s] Lema[î]tre

    Apparently was a theist (not surprising given his office in the Catholic Church). However, he insisted that his science had no implications for religion whatsoever.

    Carl Linnaeus

    Was a theist. But “great”? He catalogued biodiversity; Darwin explained it.

  9. 9
    raven

    Thus I am mystic as were all the great theiest amongst whom I include Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, George Lemaitre and Carl Linnaeus.

    Two of those, Linnaeus and Newton, were theists back in the days when being an atheist was a death penalty offense.

  10. 10
    hyperdeath

    raven:

    Two of those, Linnaeus and Newton, were theists back in the days when being an atheist was a death penalty offense.

    Newton, probably was a theist, as he maintained strongly heterodox beliefs. If he was faking piety in order to avoid persecution, he would have faked orthodox beliefs, and not something that could have gotten him into trouble.

  11. 11
    Gregory Greenwood

    greenman023 @ 1;

    If I or any theist was to claim that we were such because we didn’t like Hitler (perhaps the worlds most infamous atheist) you would be the first to ridicule such pathetic reasoning and quite rightly so.

    If you are going to talk down to other commenters for the supposed paucity of their reasoning, then you really should be sure of your facts first. As pointed out by KG upthread, far from being “perhaps the world’s most infamous atheist”, Hitler was a lapsed (but never excommunicated) catholic who actually persecuted atheists and targeted their organisations. Furthermore, the greater bulk of the German citizenry of the period self-identified as christian; an identity that Hitler was often quick to exploit, especially when fanning the flames of anti-semitism.

    The idea that Hitler was an atheist is a lie, a lie perpetrated by theists who wish to demonise atheists by seeking to tar the godless with the brush of perhaps the single most reviled and genocidal regime in history in order to distract attention away from christianity’s (among other theisms’) own long, bloody, and ongoing history of violence and oppression.

    And before you say it – yes, Stalin’s communist USSR was atheist in so far as the state officially rejected religion, but this was done in order to prevent the Russian Orthodox Church from becoming a credible opposing powerbloc to the Communist Party – the atheism of communism was a matter of political expedience, it was not the origin of communist political ideology or the wellspring of the violence and oppression associated with some communist governments.

  12. 12
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    I an [sic] a theological anarchist

    Why would a so-called “theological anarchist” become so indignant and petulant over “pathetic slanders of churches”?

  13. 13
    otrame

    Nice essay, Phil. I like the way you acknowledge that education is not a panacea for superstitious thinking. It just isn’t that simple.

    —–

    Re #1

    And theists claim atheists are arrogant.

  14. 14
    Rey Fox

    Thus I am mystic as were all the great theiest amongst whom I include Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, George Lemaitre and Carl Linnaeus.

    Nobody likes a name-dropper.

    As I put in the tweet to you I an a theological anarchist

    Ooh, impressive. Hey, we’re more anarchier than you, we don’t have any theology! Put that in your leather jacket and stud it.

    and I have arrived at this position both through education and experience.

    Hmm, let me guess: scientific illiteracy, personal incredulity, argument from design. Am I close?

  15. 15
    otrame

    And by the way, greenman023, people who are too bloody lazy to capitalize the first words of sentences, can’t even spell theist, and obviously have never learned how to use a comma, do not get to call themselves educated.

    Unless they want to be laughed at, of course. Was that the idea?

  16. 16
    Anri

    Thus I am mystic as were all the great theiest amongst whom I include Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, George Lemaitre and Carl Linnaeus.

    “Being a genius is no excuse for being dead wrong.”
    - Carl Sagan.

  17. 17
    gragra, something clever after the comma

    I an a theological anarchist and I have arrived at this position both through education and experience.

    Ha ha. You twat.

  18. 18
    greenman023

    in reply to @Saw your comment on Pharyngula.
    Hitler was a Catholic you nitwit. Hating Jews is a Christian and Islamic
    thing. Atheists have no quarrel with Jews except for their beliefs which
    are just as spooky as the other Abrahamic religions. Those Mushrooms on
    your webpage are… I won’t tell you. You tell me and then I might know
    how good you really are at research.

    IP Address: 76.114.30.205@

    I just love it when you lay a trap and someone walks right into it! actually hitlers religious views are disputed for whilst he was born and raised a Catholic he refused to take part in the Eucharist (essential if you call yourself a Christian) but if you prefer I will nominate a man for whom his atheist views are not disputed nor that matter his place as the worlds greatest monster Joseph Stalin … as for the fungi.. what would naming them prove ? my experience as a mycologist under Lynn Boddy at the University of Cardiff perhaps?

  19. 19
    myeck waters

    Amusingly, it was discussed in another thread in here just the other day, that when idiots spout the stupid lie about Hitler being an theist, and people point out that that he was anti-atheist, the idiots immediately trot out Stalin.

    Congratulations, moron. You’re not only stupid, you’re a fucking cliché.

  20. 20
    coffeehound

    actually hitlers religious views are disputed for whilst he was born and raised a Catholic he refused to take part in the Eucharist (essential if you call yourself a Christian)

    Are you delirious? You are the one who trotted out “Hitler was an atheist” in the first place.
    As for the rest of your detestable drivel, Gregory Greenwood answered the stupid Stalin gambit before you posted it, you inbred lackwit.

    I just love it when you lay a trap and someone walks right into it!

    Does this make anyone else think of Vizzini from The Princess Bride?

  21. 21
    coffeehound

    Oh, and all those protestants who don’t take a eucharist are gonna dispute the whole “gotta take the body and blood to be a christian” thing, so no his refusal doesn’t make him a nonchristian or non theist, it makes him a nonobservant catholic……

  22. 22
    Anri

    I just love it when you lay a trap and someone walks right into it! actually hitlers religious views are disputed for whilst he was born and raised a Catholic he refused to take part in the Eucharist (essential if you call yourself a Christian) but if you prefer I will nominate a man for whom his atheist views are not disputed nor that matter his place as the worlds greatest monster Joseph Stalin … as for the fungi.. what would naming them prove ? my experience as a mycologist under Lynn Boddy at the University of Cardiff perhaps?

    Stalin: self-identified atheist, totalitarian dictator, genocidal mass-murderer.
    Hitler: self-identified Christian, totalitarian dictator, genocidal mass-murderer.

    I suppose we could assume that Hitler was, due to his religion, a kinder, gentler genocidal mass-murderer – or we could accept that faith does not, in fact, grant a moral high ground.
    Once we accept that, we can then move on to the question: “Since religion doesn’t make you a better person, what’s it good for?”

  23. 23
    mikecallahan

    I can explain #18. I dredged up Greenmano23 by going to his rinky dink website and commenting on his ridiculous photo collage. I’m sure by the hippy image he tries to project that the mushrooms depicted he thinks are Psilly species. They are actually sickening but not deadly and not hallucinogenic honey mushrooms (Armellaria mellea).
    The best website about Hitler and religion is this one. http://nobeliefs.com/nazis.htm

    What do you think now Greenmano23? I don;t think you think at all actually.

  24. 24
    raven

    actually hitlers religious views are disputed for whilst he was born and raised a Catholic he refused to take part in the Eucharist (essential if you call yourself a Christian)

    This is false. Greenman is simply lying.

    In a lot of sects, you aren’t supposed to take communion if you have sinned and not given it up or confessed or repented. The details vary from sect to sect.

    I believe Catholics say you aren’t supposed to take communion if you haven’t confessed some sins. The Mormons do something similar. George Washington was a lay church official in the Anglican church but never took communion, leaving right before it was passed around.

    It doesn’t mean you aren’t still a xian. It just means you aren’t a xian eligible for communion. The essential ritual is baptism and/or confirmation. In the Catholic church which Hitler attended, the crucial one is baptism and after that you are in unless you fill out some forms and exit.

    BTW, after he died, the Cardinal for Berlin ordered the Catholic churches in Germany to say a mass of Requiem, a mass for the dead. They don’t do this unless you are Catholic. The German Catholic church claimed him as one of their own up to and beyond the very end.

  25. 25
    greenman023

    such vitriol… tut tut there is a nice post going up on my blog tomorrow all about this and all of you are more than welcome to come and spout as much venom as you can muster; and for the record my full name (as some of you are under the impression I hide behind a nom du plume) is Malcolm John McEwen and I was born on the 25th June 1966 on the Island of Jersey; not to be confused with New Jersey which was named after the Island by its founder a Coutanche and also a Crapaud like myself) now as for the odd spelling mstake sum are diliberate but I just can’t be bothered to pay attention to the red lines… try reading my poem which I posted yesterday which I would aver is rather relevant at this point :-) I look forward to reading more vile and vitriol from those that feel the need to sink so low. regards malcolm mcewen aka greenman-23

  26. 26
    Sili

    he refused to take part in the Eucharist (essential if you call yourself a Christian)

    Bollocks!
    “Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”
    Baptism and Eucharist are clearly secondary to faith. Read your diddly Bible.

    Secondly, Stalin said mass every night during The Great Patriotic War according to his bodyguard (or are you calling this good Christian a liar?), and Sta-friggin’-lin endorsed the election of Sergius as Patriarch of Mo-frackin’-scow in nineteen-fuckin-fortythreee.

    Some atheist!

    nor that matter his place as the worlds greatest monster Joseph Stalin

    So you think that Pol Pot is just dandy? Well, he was Catholically educated, so I can see why you’d like to ignore him.

    –o–’

    Ms. Daisy Cutter, Gynofascist in a Spiffy Hugo Boss Uniform
    6 March 2012 at 10:01 am

    I an [sic] a theological anarchist

    Why would a so-called “theological anarchist” become so indignant and petulant over “pathetic slanders of churches”?

    Being petulant is par for the course for anarchists. The problem with the autodesignation is the lack of bombs.

  27. 27
    Sili

    I was born on the 25th June 1966 on the Island of Jersey;

    Sorry. Guernseyman, myself, and I have yet to see anything good come out of Jersey. Save Hugo, of course.

    Incidentally, your threats about the awesomeness of your blog, would carry a bit more weight, if you dared to link it.

    Jersey coward.

    Yours in Christ,
    - Ebenezer

  28. 28
    Sili

    gragra
    6 March 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Ha ha. You twat.

    Hey!

    I happen to lurrrrve twats.

  29. 29
    Gregory Greenwood

    coffeehound @ 20;

    As for the rest of your detestable drivel, Gregory Greenwood answered the stupid Stalin gambit before you posted it…

    I would like to pretend that I can see the future, but the sad fact is that once someone deploys the ‘Hitler was soooo an atheist’ gambit, the probability that they will then go on to roll out Stalin as extra proof that atheism = evil approaches 1. It should probably be codified into its own internet law.

    After Stalin, the next stop is usually Pol Pot, though some of the more… heterodox fundies like to go straight to Al Qaeda, because apparently atheists are somehow responsible for the not-at-all-religious extremism and violence of… Islamic fundamentalists.

    What can I say; no one ever accused xians of making sense…

  30. 30
    andrewriding

    Hey greenman,
    You forgot to give us any explanation of why Stalin matters.

    The strongest implication would be that you’re trying to say his actions were primarily motivated by his lack of belief but I’m sure you’ve got the mental capacity to see that we, in America, aren’t all that fond of what he did.

    Since you seem to want to make us recoil away from atheism by associating his name to it yet we personally serve as fairly decent examples that Stalin doesn’t have anything to do with our atheism… well it seems like kind of a vain exercise on your part.

    Of course I’m reading a lot into your actions since you gave zero explanation. If I pegged you wrong I can totally take it all back just as soon as you line up and present the explanation of what you’re actually doing by bringing up Hitler and Stalin.

  31. 31
    greenman023

    here is my response 43w.com/why-i-am-a-thiest/

    feel free to post as much vitriolic venom as you atheist feel appropriate… go on get it off your chest!

    just in case you still haven’t worked it out the title is deliberate as I like my i’s before e except after c… rules for ya .. not meant to break them, then you are, then ya not.. nothing like English for being all backward

  32. 32
    Rey Fox

    Your link’s broken.

    Also, we’re not impressed at your ignorance of etymology.

  33. 33
    andrewriding

    I haven’t been very thorough in reading the comments here so I haven’t come across reasons to be irritated with your negative attitude, but if you want to communicate with us you really ought to stop that.

    I know we go fairly quickly to a hostile tone but that’s because what is important to us is the substance of an argument. If you insult us but you aren’t using misleading language and have cogent arguments then we will treat you much more seriously.

    Up to you if you want to stop trying to so overtly provoke people, but my recommendation is obvious.

  34. 34
    John Morales

    [meta]

    greenman023 doesn’t write:

    drawkcab lla gnieb rof hsilgnE ekil gnihton ..ton ay neht ,era uoy neht ,meht kaerb ot tnaem ton .. ay rof selur …c retfa tpecxe e erofeb s’i ym ekil I sa etarebiled si eltit eht tuo ti dekrow t’nevah llits uoy esac ni tsuj

    You don’t make any sense!

  35. 35
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Rey Fox,

    it’s w43w apparently, but the post is really not worth reading, I already regret going to his site.

    Etymology shouldn’t matter from a synchronic perspective though, what you probably meant is morphology, as theist consists of the- (theos) and -ist.

  36. 36
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Bah.

    Trolls have no stamina, nowadays.

    <pokes greenman023>

    (Where’s the squeaking?)

  37. 37
    rapiddominance

    Greenman023

    Its likely that you’re crossing up atheism with Darwinism.

    Think about it. Is there not a religious context behind virtually every Darwin/Hitler conversation? And is Darwinism not a theory that’s usually associated with atheism?

    I might be wrong regarding what drove YOU to make the misconnect. But IF I am right then you should still use caution in associating scientific theories with dictatorships. Just as despots can use religion to justify their tyrannies they can also use science.

    You see, even though the theory of evolution has an amazing level of scientific consensus among, power hungry narcissists will ALWAYS find any way possible to turn wrong into right.

  38. 38
    rapiddominance

    Do you follow me, greenman?

    ;)

  39. 39
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Sheesh, rapiddominance — give the greenman time to finish its Hoggling!

    (Their low libido is legendary)

  40. 40
    philhoenig

    What a pleasant surprise to find my submission turn up so soon. I then
    noticed that there were more than five or so responses to it and, sure
    enough, there’s a theist troll making a controversial statement near
    the top and derailing the entire conversation. C’est la vie.

    greenman: Yes, now that I see this essay again it does seem rather wordy
    and there’s a horribly-long run-on sentence or two that should have
    been edited. However, there’s obviously been some miscommunication. I’m
    either a poor writer or you’re a poor reader because you do not seem to
    have absorbed much of what I had intended to say.

    As KG has already noted, my point was that education alone is not
    sufficient to explain why I am an atheist. I later give two reasons -
    the proximate and the ultimate cause – and the first of these involved
    the lack of evidence of one or more deities. There is indeed an attack
    on the Catholic church and for that I make no apologies, apart from the
    fact that I devoted no more than a brief one-liner to the problem that
    should be shouted daily from the rooftops – ITS PRIESTS FREQUENTLY
    MOLEST CHILDREN AND THE HEIRARCHY ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP ARE COMPLICIT.

    You’ve noticed that I dislike the Catholic church, but appear to have
    missed my deep respect and admiration for the scientific method, and
    that therefore as far as I am concerned evidence trumps all. If the most
    vile person in the world provides credible evidence of the existence of a
    deity, any deity, I’ll be shocked that my world-view was so fundamentally
    wrong, I’ll be irked that it was shown to be wrong by someone I detested
    so much, but I will not hesitate to admit that I was wrong from that
    point on until I either die or better contradictory evidence is offered.

    julietdefarge@2: That wouldn’t have worked with me. Even the “correct”
    answer contradicted Genesis. At that age I was having none of that
    metaphor nonsense – it either happened or it didn’t, and if it didn’t
    happen, the Bible was Wrong. Little me was kind of a fundamentalist.

    otrame@13: Thanks. The illusion that education was the answer to all the
    world’s problems was a painful one to give up.

  41. 41
    Philip L

    Great essay, Phil. Melbourne, represent! (Reminds me that I should get around to writing one of these for PZ sometime…)

  42. 42
    leonpeyre

    From what I gather the stereotypes of Catholic schools of the era held true there

    Pretty much, apparently. My Mom attended Catholic school, and she’s told me that’s a lot of the reason that my brother and I didn’t. Mom has no good things to say about the Nuns–the old-fashioned schoolteaching ones, anyway.

  43. 43
    andrewriding

    That’s got me thinking about the turn over rate in a lot of modern religions. It seems like we’re at a point where you’ve got a lot more people streaming out of these for all the hypocrisy they see in the church than you have new converts coming in but it’s hard to fathom why we haven’t reached the tipping point where there is the mass desertion that seems entirely just. I am far too long removed to remember what it really feels like to go along justifying it all as believers do so I’m really at a loss when I try to figure out how long it will take for the atrocities to sink in and open the eyes of the more resistant followers to how horrible the very foundation of their churches are.

    Any thoughts?

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