Category Archives: Atheist

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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What god shaped hole?

The concept of having a god shaped hole in my heart is ridiculous. I hate how Catholicism claims that I will never be satisfied by anything of this life. It’s funny because it is only this life that I can be certain about. From what I know, today is all I have. I have to live it! The world may end tomorrow. I may get into an accident on the way home from work and die. I need to make the best of what I have in life now at this stage. Not the uncertainties that may or may not come.

You see, this is how Catholicism gets you. They say that I’m sick. I’m not satisfied and the only way I can get healed is by joining them. This is a lie. They say I won’t be satisfied by anything of this world. This is a lie. I need to pray to god and take part in his love for true satisfaction. I don’t need to pay tribute to any god. If I need to thank anyone it is my parents, friends, and those that have made sacrifices to get me where I am now. Their actions are more tangible than some ambiguous forces of a sky dad. I don’t know where this concept of a god shaped hole comes from. I wouldn’t have even cared or known about it in the first place if I wasn’t told about it since I was a child. Like all the other made up religious mumbo jumbo I was taught.

There is no god shaped hole. If there was then the vast majority of god believers should be happier, right? But this isn’t the case at all. There are depressed and happy people all over the spectrum of beliefs. A god has nothing to do with it. I have found happiness during my time as a Catholic and as an Atheist. But that happiness has nothing to do with my religious belief or lack thereof.

It has to do with my confidence. I have a goal in life. I am striving to live my life in the way that I think is best. I am growing. I am expanding my knowledge and outlook. I have circle of friends. People I meet and talk to regularly who help me and give their support. I have come to believe that happiness and satisfaction must come from within. It cannot be depended on people or material possessions. Both times I found happiness and satisfaction because I was building myself up. I was actively taking responsibility for my life. Catholicism doesn’t guide people to happiness. It says we’re all imperfect. We’re sick from the get go. From birth we are dirty creatures. The idea of sin is a very destructive concept for emotional and self satisfaction.

We all live in this vast world with SO many things to experience and try out. It is absolutely ridiculous to claim we can never be satisfied or find any happiness in any of it. Being inactive when so much is out there. To not strive for growth in life has a great deal to do with happiness and satisfaction. There is no god shaped hole. My life is in my hands. Happiness and success comes from my actions and desires. Balance of all things is the key.

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We don’t need a progressive pope

The pope’s resignation has been an interesting topic lately. I can’t remember how I learned about it. But my first reaction as a status on Facebook was, “The pope resigned? Well, I hope this means they’ll get someone more in alignment with reality.” It seems like I’m not the only one to have such feelings.

I’ve been reading about how his resignation might bring a call for reform within the Roman Catholic Church. Commentaries on articles say that they want a “progressive” pope next. I don’t understand this. Christianity has certain core tenants and unchanging beliefs to follow. If Pope Benedict was as conservative and to the book as Catholic teachings could get about abortion, women’s role in the church and what have you. Then why are people up in arms about his role in the church? This is putting aside that he covered up the child abuse, and never punished those that committed them.

I think people just want to feel good. They don’t know why they’re here or what there is after they die. The thought scares them. They want to still hold onto the belief that they will go to heaven. But they want the next pope to be more progressive. He needs to be with the times because the current beliefs are old. Allow women priests! Allow abortion and contraception! Allow homosexual marriage! But have these people thought for a moment? Just, you know, quit following the religion completely and find something that agrees with your own beliefs and values?

It’s that easy. You could do it right now if you wanted. And that’s why I quit Catholicism when the brainwashing had no longer affected me. I came in contact with reasonable people after I left that setting and I found I had no use for Catholicism. No one was impressed by my belief. I was just using it as something to feel good about myself during high school. It was a waste of time. I got nothing from it. It didn’t help me feel better about myself. I only felt worse because I was sinning. Trying to live up to an ideal no one can reach. I didn’t even want that ideal.

But it was a struggle to give up religion. I couldn’t see how someone could live without a religion. I grew up in a household that taught a person needed some kind of belief. Then you would gather with likeminded people to celebrate that belief. So I researched other religions, but nothing I researched had fit with what I felt strongly about. Nothing sounded reasonable. It never occurred to me that just not having a religion is okay too. I didn’t need to force anything on myself. Just living, growing and experiencing the world works fine.

And I think that’s what religious people need to think about. Why follow something that doesn’t go in line with your core beliefs? If you’re complaining that the pope and Catholic Church needs to be more progressive and follow what the current trends are in the world. Perhaps you should try considering the option of just not following them in the first place if they don’t match. I don’t see the Church changing many of these beliefs they’ve held for so long. The easier options are either leaving or changing yourself to fit their beliefs. Otherwise you’re only living a lie.

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Don’t need religion for self awareness

I had a different entry written up for today in advance but on the way to work something else came to mind. That is regarding one of my particular good traits. I’m not sure what you call it but I am someone who has a very strong will and motivation to become better than myself, which I will write about another time. Of course, when I was depressed and felt like I was cast into a void, I felt no such will or motivation. I did have such feelings once before and that was my experiences with Christianity.

My experiences with Christianity are going to come up again and again on this blog probably. So, I might as well get it over with and explain in some detail. Despite I follow no religion and believe in no gods of the sort now. The time I was following Christianity willingly to the point I wanted to join the priesthood and now where I am trying to lift myself up to a better standard are essential the same. Although, when I realized that a religious life was contrary to what I really wanted, I lost myself. I found a new major to study but that little bump should have been an indication that I didn’t know what I really wanted of myself in life.

Leaving Christianity freed me from creeds and thoughts I didn’t really hold very highly in retrospect. I was looking for acceptance and a place to belong during a time I was having a lot of issues. Christianity gave me that for a time. Once I got away from the religious conservatism of my high school. And actually pursued the priesthood and Theology, I realized it wasn’t something I was very passionate about. So I quit and studied Japanese. But the problem with leaving Christianity also caused me to leave any sort of focus point or standard of living. I never thought I could create that standard.

Growing up I wasn’t sure how to think critically. I didn’t have any inner thoughts or drives. It was just strange. I had some traits and hobbies, but I would largely say that I saw myself as a silent observer. I was skeptical, negative, and critical of others. I felt many things were out of my control most of the time. So I complained a lot. I was essentially sleepwalking through much of my life. Living day to day and just allowing time to go by. I wasn’t really living. Christianity, in that sense, made me more aware of myself and what I was doing. But it wouldn’t be until 2012 that I would realize that I didn’t need religion as an excuse to strive for better in my life.

Now it just occurs to me that a lot of my high school experience was spent on searching for something to believe in, but I ignored the one option of creating my own creed. My own values and what I held highly. After much wayward walking I have finally become more aware of myself again. I’m alive and searching for who I am, and what I want for myself. This time is much like the time I followed Christianity, but I don’t need creeds and mythology to just want to live better. It just seems like common sense now. I don’t know why I just walked through life denying and ignoring myself. I feel as if I have lost a lot of time experiencing and exploring the world and myself.

You cannot understand how much excitement I felt when I realized that I have the power and potential. There is so much out there in the world, and I was sleep walking it away. I’m glad that I have grasped onto myself which was lost in the depths of a void. Now that I have come this far, I feel like I could never turn back and once again go into those gelid waters…

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Because I liked it?

I’m really confused at the moment.

Some acquaintances of mine posted some comments on my Facebook under a video I posted by Bertrand Russell explaining why he isn’t a Christian. I really don’t understand the comments. I’m a little angry and confused because it’s not like I go to other people’s pages and post things saying, “Why should I care?” or comment on the amount of posts that involve cats or something of that sort. Besides the comment about the frequency of my Atheist related statuses or shares was largely exaggerated by this person. The majority of my posts and status updates are related to Japanese, or self development which largely go ignored by comments.

I’m not in particular angry at the people who posted the comments since people are always looking to bring other people down for whatever reason. I could be just as much of a dick and post comments on a lot of their stuff saying why are all your posts this? or why should I care? but that is childish. I am better than that.

I am keeping the video up because I’m not a doormat who has to appease other people. But this is the kind of problem I had with Facebook nearly a year ago. What’s the point of being on a site where other people can’t accept or want to take part in what I enjoy or am passionate about? Or even tolerate it? If I can’t even show my own individuality on the site, why even bother using the site in the first place?

I guess if anything the course of action I should and will take is just decrease the amount of posts to my Facebook from now on. It is obviously not the place to share who I am or what kinds of things define me.

What a superficial website.

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