Humanist: how I view life and morality

My journey away from religion into atheism was a very gradual one. From the time I was a teenager, it was obvious that what science had discovered about the big bang and evolution were not compatible with the Bible. But my parish priest, explained to me that the stories of the Bible, like that of Adam and Eve, were allegories meant to convey allegories, like Aesop fables. They convey moral, not scientific, truths. That reply, together with the fact that I could not see how morality could exist without God or religion, kept me “within the fold”.

There were three things which kept finally pushed me out of the fold.

When I went to university, I joined the Catholic students association. I attended a talk given by the group on abortion. It was there that a fellow Catholic student asked me if I was aware of the fact that the church does not allow abortion even in the case of rape? I was shocked. Here I was, thinking that morality had to come from above, confronted with a fact that my moral instincts simply cannot accept as true. I checked with a redemptorist priest, who confirmed that that was the position of the Catholic Church.

Then my girlfriend, who is now my wife, lend me her father’s book “Why I am Not a Christian” by Bertrand Russell. That book confirmed my moral instincts and finally showed that morality can stand on its own without religion but religion can sometimes lead to some very immoral acts.

The third and final straw was me picking up a book of fiction, Judas My Brother, by Frank Yerby. It was a fictional story about Jesus but the back of the book was filled with copious notes on the critical historical study of Jesus. It was that which lead me to reading still more critical historical works on Jesus and the Bible.

I was finally able to call myself a nonbeliever, an agnostic, when I was in third year of university. The journey to atheism happened when I finally realised that the term agnostic, was not a very accurate description to use (since one can be an agnostic and a believer, like Søren Kierkegaard).

I now happily call myself a humanist, since unlike atheism, which merely describes what I do not believe, it tells a little about how I view life and morality.
Paul Tobin
This story was first published on ‘Ask An Atheist – SG’ Facebook page in 2016.