Why I am an atheist – Neel Ode

When I was four (or thereabouts) I was taken by an elderly “aunt” (I think she was a friend of my maternal grandparents) to a church in Manhattan to “see the animals in the stone”. Now I had previously been taken to the American Museum of Natural History and had seen the mounted dinosaur skeletons, etc., and I was eager to see more – especially those which were not yet extracted for the rock.

So I eagerly accompanied her to a church which was lined with marble. To my dismay there were no animal skeletons embedded in the stone: some vague shapes which, if you stretched your imagination a whole lot, could be interpreted as a rabbit, or a squirrl, or a bird, or something else.

After waxing lyrical about the “animals in the stone” my “aunt” then proceeded to start talking about Jesus and God and Heaven.

The first part of her discourse – about the animals in the stone – was obviously blown out of her ass – although I didn’t think in those terms at that time. So I took the second part, about God and Jesus, etc., as just more of the same.

That experience inoculated me: Sunday school, Bible lessons, etc. etc. etc. – you name it – rang false false false from then on.

As I matured, of course, I became more sophisticated in my reasoning, which is only to be expected. But no matter how bullet-proof an argument for God apparently was, I KNEW, from the start, that it was bogus, and I just had to poke and pry at it some more to find the catch – the unstated and erroneous assumption, the false premise.

It has been more than 6 decades, now, and I grow weary of the lies the proselytizers spew with unfailing energy.

Neel Ode


  1. otrame says

    I truly think the combination of the Internet and vocal atheists is inoculating more and more of their kids from the nonsense. It’s not to say that a kid sees stuff on the intertubes and immediately loses faith, but the seed of doubt is sown ad then there are those people out there insisting it’s all a fairy tale. Before long they start to realize that “the animals in the rocks” are pretty lame compared to real fossils.

  2. frankb says

    A kid can go to the museum and see an ancient suit of Japanese armor. The kid can wonder what armor came before and after, what weapons they used, and what did the enemy wear. All the adults around would assure the child that there are answers to those questions and where to find them. In Sunday school the number of Bible stories are limited and questions about the details are not encouraged. To raise a religious child involves crushing their curiosity and that is abuse. Sow the seeds of doubt. Tell them that dinosaurs are more interesting than Jesus.

  3. grumpyoldfart says

    Same for me: I started Sunday School at age four and knew right way it was bullshit. I’ve been an atheist for 62 years since then.

  4. julietdefarge says

    I had a similar inoculation. One of my Dad’s coworkers learned that I liked to read books about archaeology, and gave me a copy of “What Archaeology Says About the Bible.” Even at age 8 or 9 I could tell that this book was a desperate attempt to twist facts to fit myth. Not sure why my religiously lax Dad allowed this guy to give me the book, except that he never turned down anything that was free. You can still get this 1957 paperback on amazon for less than a dollar, sort of like “The Case for Christ.”

  5. says

    I can relate.


    When I was three or four, my mother says that I decided to stop going to the Kingdom Hall for us Jehovah’s Witnesses. She never asked why, but I told her recently — it was because I liked a 70’s children’s TV program called “Romper Room,” which was like televised, but scripted, Kindergarten. The class would start the show with the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance (a no-no in the JW church) and at the end of the show the “teacher” would look through her “Magic Mirror” (another no-no) at all the children, including me at home! It was a great show for a toddler.


    I think my mother forbade me from watching the show. I must have recognized the ridiculousness of such dogma, so I said that I would stop going to church. I still had to go, of course, but I told my mother that I would either sleep or play with my toys. I followed through, and a year or so later we all ended up leaving the church.


    I like to think I was born an atheist and have never wavered.

  6. says

    I’m astounded that so many people in the US and A are motivated to play “My worldview’s lamer than yours! Nyah nyah!” People who are born in places that truly suck have a small excuse for wishing for something that’s (arguably) better than this. But we don’t.

    And the Bible, a huge book full of the dullest people endlessly spouting moral lessons. That’s the best they can do?

  7. Rich Woods says

    @Thomas Lawson #6:

    Romper Room in the UK didn’t have an overt patriotic element, thankfully. I don’t think they had a magic mirror either, but I do remember my mum telling me that they read out my name when it was my third birthday. It took me several years to realise that my mum had sent it in to be read out on that day…