Brainwashed by religion

I’m close to finishing The Portable Atheist, and I can’t help but think about my time going to catholic school. After my parents divorced, I was sent to attend it. I hated grade school and middle school, but much for different reasons than my experiences in high school and college. Although many of the same themes overlap, I will mainly just concentrate on my time from high school to college.

In high school, I didn’t have much confidence in myself or my abilities. I don’t know what it was. I just thought there was nothing good about me. There was nothing important in my existence. I blamed the Catholic sky-god for my problems, and I blamed other people. I just could not see that just maybe I could fix the things I hated. That I could be an active force in changing my life. But I was young. I didn’t know better. I was scared. I just wanted to feel important and as if I belonged.

So going through four years of high school was a stupid roller coaster of emotions. I would never wish to relive them. High school is NOT the best time of our lives. If anyone says this to you. They are a liar. I have found more growth, and freedom since I left it. But my situation is a little different since it wasn’t a public high school. Rather it was a catholic high school. The thing I hated about attending a catholic high school was the lack of rationality.

I was going through a phase. Or so some people claimed. I hated that there wasn’t any openness to question things or be outspoken. I remember one time I had asked a theology teacher openly during class, “How do we know Muhammad didn’t just rip-off the Bible?” That sure caused her to sweat. But that is the kind of person I was and rediscovering I am still today. I didn’t like being told that I was wrong for my way of thinking. Of course. I was just one student with questions and objections to the various staff, students and teachers who believed this nonsense.

At that time, I didn’t think of myself as an Atheist. I didn’t know what I was. I was just searching for answers. I wanted a reason to say, “This is why our god exists.” I felt everyone at least needed a religion. Something to believe in even if maybe I didn’t believe in Catholicism. So, I even explored many different religions. But I was lazy. I didn’t want to read doctrines or beliefs of something new. Pagan religions seemed interesting with their rituals and fancy rites. But I found the pagan gods mythological, and absurd to believe in.

I was introduced to a book called Fundamentals of Faith by Peter Kreeft. It was actually this book that made me consider the priesthood and catholic apologetics.

I found this book amazingly insightful with its essays and causes for the existence of god. But looking at it now, many of these arguments can be easily demolished. I then realized just how important it is to see from both sides of something. To weigh in the evidence. Especially on something that effects ones worldview so strongly.

I had a theology teacher that I enjoyed talking to. She was a nice lady and often would listen to what I had to say. I don’t think I could ever forget her kindness and patience. I mean, she did listen to me selfishly talk on and on about things. One day she asked me, “Do you think that maybe your reason for wanting to be a priest. Is because you are searching for your faith?” I firmly denied it at the time. I thought nothing of it afterwards. But her words are something that come back to me now. It entirely makes my story with religion make more sense. I was using Catholicism as a crutch for something I needed emotionally. I wanted to be noticed. I wanted to feel important. I wanted an easy way out. I thought the priesthood would be something easy, and I could just coast along with it.

During my final year of high school, I was really dead set on being a priest. I wanted to defend the faith. How ridiculous I was. I just couldn’t see how I was going along with it. It was a facade. I didn’t want to admit it. My best friend had noticed and said so. I argued with him over it. Recently, I apologized to him for my rationality at that time. He had said to me that during that time it was hard for him to be my friend.

I didn’t want to recognize it. Faith made me feel important. It made me feel good about myself because other people were noticing. But others took advantage of me too. I was naive to this. They showed me all kinds of books, and introduced catholic retreats I could go on. I had to have brainwashed myself to believe this nonsense. I was getting a deep emotional need that I wasn’t getting any other way. I deluded myself that if I became this certain way, it would be easy for people to like me. To find a nice girlfriend. I was sacrificing my values and core beliefs for something I didn’t entirely believe at all. I was becoming a doormat.

It wasn’t until I attended college and going to theology classes did I realize I didn’t have an interest in Catholicism. I couldn’t see eye to eye with the other students in my major. I was feeling like an outsider. I found myself arguing with the professors about their claims rather than agreeing with them. I didn’t want to be in this major anymore. But, I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know what to do.

But thanks to a friend who knew me better than even I did, recommended I try taking some Japanese classes at her college over the summer. It was then that I took my life in my own hands. I changed my major and found a different college. Today I look back on that experience of changing my major as the first step of my change as a person. I still am shocked about it because I was so used to other people doing things for me. Suggesting things I should do and believe in. But that one time, I took change into my own hands. It wouldn’t be until many years later would I realize the strength of change and being active. But discarding religion entirely was a step in the right direction.

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7 Comments

Filed under Atheist, Christianity, Reflection

7 responses to “Brainwashed by religion

  1. ytauma

    You didn’t leave religion. Atheism can be considered as one since they believe in no God. Did you ever believe in God or supernatural? Why are you truly an atheist or this a phrase. What truly attracted you to priesthood? I think it’s more than what you say here.

    • You didn’t leave religion. Atheism can be considered as one since they believe in no God.

      Atheism is not a religion. The dictionary defines religion as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

      Atheism is only the lack of belief in a god. Nothing else. There are no devotional rituals, or moral code.

      Did you ever believe in God or supernatural?

      When I was younger I did, but in a Santa Claus kind of way. I never had a deep interest. I actually found going to church and Sunday school quite boring actually. I always wanted to stay home and be playing video games. When I got to middle school I would ask my father questions I had about god and Catholicism. He would brush them off. My father is conservative, and that influenced me a bit growing up into my teen years. But I was questioning religion by the time I was in 6th grade. The problem for me was people weren’t receptive to my questioning.

      Why are you truly an atheist or this a phrase.

      I am an Atheist because I think it is the most rational position. Certain things don’t add up. Of course I still want to explore other religions because I find them fascinating. But saying we have no answer is better than making up ones.


      What truly attracted you to priesthood?

      As if I didn’t make it clear enough? I wanted respect and appreciation. I wanted to show people I could do something and that I was knowledgeable on a subject. I went to a catholic high school. So to say that I wanted to be a priest showed I had some kind of deeper faith than others. I was better than them. Being a priest seemed logical at the time because I had this belief.

      I wanted what I saw as an easy lifestyle. I had low self esteem when I was a teen into my early 20s. So I believed my own delusions innocently enough. But I had no idea who I was or what I really enjoyed. It wasn’t until I entered college did I realize no one cared about my devotion. Or how pious I acted. I was looking towards others for my own self worth because I didn’t have any. I wanted to be recognized.

      I think it’s more than what you say here.

      What are you trying to imply?

      • ytauma

        I was a atheist for a short time but there are many reasons why people choose this path. Have you ever tried to look for evidence? Provide me your personal definition of faith, hope, and religion. Were your family Christians themselves?
        If there’s no God then how did the universe came to be? Do you wish there’s no higher power for you to be accountable to although you’re accountable to those in power everyday such as: parents, bosses, & government?

      • Have you ever tried to look for evidence?

        I said I did. Did you read my entry? I believed Aquinas’s proofs wholeheartedly. I thought the evidence Christians gave was solid. I preached it all around to my friends and others. But it wasn’t until years later that I realized it wasn’t so solid. When I looked from a different viewpoint. It was then I realized I found the importance of learning about all sides of an issue.

        Provide me your personal definition of faith, hope, and religion.

        Personal? Does it have different meanings outside the dictionary ones?

        If there’s no God then how did the universe came to be?

        We don’t fully have the answers but we are searching and finding out. Saying we don’t know about something is better than saying we do or making up some kind of reason. Curiosity is the great fuel of mankind. Cutting that off for fairy tales is going to damn us as a species.

        Do you wish there’s no higher power for you to be accountable to although you’re accountable to those in power everyday such as: parents, bosses, & government?

        I have a good video you should try watching. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Eam-z1bwrk&list=UUJ-vHE5CrGaL_ITEg-n3OeA&index=12

        Personally I’m glad I am not accountable to some sky-god who punishes others infinite punishment for finite crimes.

  2. I like this post. It is not theological, rather you explain your feelings and what you thought. That is reality. I wonder how many others use religion to show people who they are and garner esteem from that recognition rather than be their own person without regard to what others think?

  3. ytauma

    I have been few other posts considering your beliefs. However, all I see is an angry person who decided to “screw God I’m going my own way, so yeah!” thus being those type of atheists.
    No offense but notice how much you atheist spend and trying to proof there’s no God while theist & of other faith will say otherwise.
    Who design the solar system? How was oxygen formed? Why are humans vertebrates? Why & how does natural disaster occur in certain areas?

    • I have been few other posts considering your beliefs. However, all I see is an angry person who decided to “screw God I’m going my own way, so yeah!” thus being those type of atheists.

      I don’t understand you here. First your comment is an ad hominem. How can a person be angry at something they believe doesn’t exist?

      No offense but notice how much you atheist spend and trying to proof there’s no God while theist & of other faith will say otherwise.

      And, what are you getting at?

      Who design the solar system? How was oxygen formed? Why are humans vertebrates? Why & how does natural disaster occur in certain areas?

      Now you’re just saying ridiculous things. Maybe you could try opening a science textbook for those answers? Saying some sky god did it is an answer that gives us no answers.

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