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Why I am an atheist – Rod Chlebek

Religion didn’t seem to be very important in my earliest years. We didn’t pray or go to church except for maybe twice a year and then whenever someone died or got married. Strangely, I ended up in Catechism in preparation for First Communion. Somehow I botched that up and didn’t attend when I was expected but I got another chance at it when I hit 4th grade. That was the year I started to attend Catholic School. It was totally voluntary. I wanted to go because my neighborhood friends went there. I made it through First Communion that year being very skeptical about the whole body and blood thing. We were taught that “amen” means “I believe” and that when you receive Communion you are expected to reply “amen”. What bothered me more would have been being the only student who didn’t go through with this. Everyone else did it and believed. I must have been doing something wrong.

Sixth grade brought my third year of being an alter boy and also a heavy dose of science. This increased the amount of conflict I had in dealing with a resurrection, miracles, and the existence of God. Again, I went along with the duality because there’s no way that a bunch of adults could be wrong about this. For a short while, we had an occasional visit from Father John on Wednesdays. It was our opportunity to talk with him about God. I didn’t say much; I didn’t have to. The class asked every question that I had. It was like we had discussed what to ask him just moments before he walked in. He was calm and pleasant as ever, but I noticed something peculiar about his responses. The answers were a bit to the side. There was little that was a very direct from him.

I left Catholic school for 7th grade and returned back again for 8th because my naivety got me in trouble. I went through with Confirmation with the same result as Communion. I knew things were “all in His timing” so I just waited patiently afterward. I thought this was supposed to be a big deal, big enough that I should notice something happening but I didn’t.

High school came and went without any religious influence and I started getting caught up on all the secular things of which I had been unaware. When I finally left home at 20 I bounced around from church to church, from non-denominational to evangelical. I did some soul searching. I was convinced I was doing it wrong and really wanted to know Him. I asked Jesus into my heart. I cried. Nothing.

My wife and I got married at Silverwood Mennonite Chuch in 2000. We were both believers, and very minimal at that, but certainly not Mennonite. That was from her side of the family. I would probably still be a minimalist believer in the Christian god if it were not for another dose of evangelism. Some members of her family were a bit extreme. Religion wasn’t just a part of them, it was them. This created conflict. I never liked being unsure about things that should be so important, so I was forced to try it again. The exception this time is that I took a different approach. My research started with understanding the meaning of words, ones that i taken for granted such as belief and knowledge. The internet proved to be a wonderful tool for finally getting some objective answers. I was fascinated with the amount of knowledge out there. The more knowledge I gained, the less I believed in God. After a hard year of digging, my conflict was resolved. I came to the realization that I did not believe. I was atheist and I found it to be reasonable.

Rod Chlebek

Comments

  1. says

    Great entry, Rod. Your experience with Communion reminded me of a letter from my book…

    I went to the mourner’s bench; was told I had God in my heart. I tried to realize it, but was not satisfied in my mind, as I felt as I always used to before. The deaconess of the Baptist church said to me that I would feel all right after I was baptized. I was baptized in a fount in the Baptist church at Ann Arbor, Michigan, by Elder Cornelius. He was then 80 years old. After I came up out of the water, I stood on a grate so the water would not soil the carpet. The deaconess came to me with consoling words and said to me: “Well, sister, how do you feel now?”
    -

    I answered: “I feel ashamed.”
    -

    Mrs. Royce said: “Don’t say that.”
    -

    I answered: “Well, it is a fact; I do feel ashamed.”
    -

    After I went to remove my baptismal robe, which was all wet, Mrs. Royce (the deaconess) and Ma said: “Now, your sins are all washed away, a new life you will follow, you are born again; now do you feel the presence of the Lord in your heart?”
    -

    I answered that I felt ashamed.
    -

    Ma said, “Don’t say that.”
    -

    Mrs. Royce said, “Don’t tell all you think; keep such to yourself.”
    -

    I said it’s so. I thought I must be a very bad sinner. I would try and pray, and read the Bible all the spare time I had.

    She eventually moved away, married a skeptic, and found comfort in their shared disbelief.

  2. greenhome says

    “I was atheist and I found it to be reasonable.”

    There’s something very peaceful about that.

  3. grumpyoldfart says

    Most evangelists are trying to win souls for Jesus. Your relatives lose them :)