I was never truly in any religion. I never really believed. But back then I didn’t even know what an atheist is.
My parents are Chinese and worship the traditional Chinese pantheon of gods. They weren’t particularly religious but they are superstitious. So, in effect, my brother and I weren’t particularly religious as well. The whole god idea never quite got to the both of us.
There was a time that I thought that gods existed. Some 10 years ago, my mother would bring us to a Chinese temple in Bugis regularly.
At the temple, we would light 3 joss sticks and pray to the gods. I can remember what my mother always said then, “Just tell the gods your name, where you live and blessings that you would like to receive.” I would then mutter under my breath the information I’m supposed to provide.
As my brother and I got older, my mother brought us to the temple less frequently. Eventually it became a once-in-a-couple-of-months mater. At the same time, I became more and more skeptical about the whole concept of god though it was never a significant issue.
I can still recall a night way back when I was around 13-14 years old. Chatting an hour before we slept was the typical thing to do for my brother and I. That night we expressed our childish skeptical view of god. I remember saying, “If god exist, he should give me a million dollars right now… Oh, didn’t happen” and then we went on to get god to throw a bolt of lightning at our room.
By the time I was 16-17, I was sort of a deist. I don’t believe a god would even give a damn about humanity. Even then, I thought it was absurd that anyone could believe an omniscient and omnipotent being would bother to answer prayers. However, I couldn’t think of an answer why the universe exists. Everyone else says that a god must have done it. So I concluded that, yea, a god that creates universes. That made sense at that time.
My real journey to atheism began after Year 2 of my polytechnic studies. That was sometime in May 2008.
The whole affair was initiated by a Youtube video. It was “Religion is bullshit” by the comedian George Carlin (who departed 22 June 2008). It piqued my interest in gods and religions again. And soon, I was browsing through Youtube for videos of related topics to watch.
And in no time, I stumbled on… Richard Dawkins and his book, The God Delusion. I watched almost all the videos wherein he was interviewed about his book. The affair got me excited on the whole atheism issue. And at this point, I was in agreement with what Richard Dawkins had to say. I was almost an atheist.
When my Student Internship Program started in June, I was bored out of mind because of the hour long train rides I take to work. Within the second week, I went out and bought “The God Delusion”. I finished the book in about a week and found myself in complete agreement. I love the book, I love his writing style and I love the fact that I am an atheist. I was “confirmed”. I AM an atheist and I’m proud of it.
Soon after I finished “The God Delusion”, I went to buy “God is not great” by Christopher Hitchens and then “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris. After reading those books, I had a better understanding of my own objections to religion. But i got tired. After reading 3 atheistic books in a row, I found myself hungry for my other love. It was my love for science and in particular, my curiosity of evolution.
I got Richard Dawkins’ “The Ancestor’s Tale” and loved it. Then I got “The Selfish Gene” and learnt even more. I went to read almost all of Richard Dawkins’ writings. By the end of my 4 month internship program, I knew a whole lot more about evolution.
In the meantime, I was also browsing Youtube for videos about Evolution vs Creationism/Intelligent Design. I learnt about the common misconceptions and objections to the theory of evolution. I learnt about the pathetic situation in America over Science and Religion. I learnt a lot of stuff. I had my horizons expanded greatly over a period no longer than half a year.
Then, I thought my ideas about my non-belief were clear. I was not.
My philosophical position was kind of blurry. I could have defended my atheism with various arguments but there was something that I can’t quite put my finger on is unclear.
This changed after I found the Atheist Experience. This was a recent event, like 2-3 months ago. I watched the videos in their archives and was much attracted by the hosts Matt Dillahunty and Tracie Harris. I watched all the videos with the both of them together first. I adore their ability to reason and learnt a lot from that.
Having watched the videos, my understanding of my atheistic position crystallized further.
I really understand now.
I really AM an atheist.
And I like it.
No, wait, I love it.
This article was first published in Atheozoa. Reproduced with permission.