Atheism is a word often made synonymous with evil and godlessness. However, only the godless half of that statement is true. It’s not godless in the sense that atheists are wicked and morally defunct, but godless in that atheism is a lack of belief in the existence of a deity.
My journey of negotiating religion and faith is by no means unique. But by sharing it, I hope to help demystify what being an atheist is, based on my personal experience. Hopefully it will encourage others to not be afraid of their doubts as I was.
Many religious people tend to think that atheists are inherently immoral people, which is a common misconception. Indeed, bad people who are atheists do exist, just as there are bad people who believe in God. But the lack of belief in God is hardly ever the cause of immorality.
Like most people from my home country Kenya, I was raised a Christian — Protestant, to be exact. However, soon after moving away from home in 2012, I began confronting my beliefs and values as an individual. I began to see the problematic nature of my attachment to Christianity, especially coming from a former British colony.
My rejection of God is about my way of living, and still allows me to maintain my ethics.
The last straw for me came when I attended a church service in downtown Vancouver. A preacher rejoiced in an ailing man’s conversion to Christianity from Islam, which the preacher then claimed led to the man’s healing. The congregation then followed with an enthusiastic “Amen!”
Apparently God is a picky healer when it comes to non-Christians.
From this point, I began to question the implications of believing solely in a Christian God. If born into a family of different faith, wouldn’t that determine what kind of God I believe in? And if one faith is right, is everyone else wrong?
This led me to research and increasingly question my faith over the course of two years, along with deep reflection about my values. What I realised was that God and religion were ideas I only accepted based on fear and pure indoctrination. That’s when I decided that I would hold on to them no longer.
The concept of God is an unnecessary burden that does little for my personal development. This, however, does not mean that I am automatically motivated to be ‘bad;’ instead I focus on different things for personal fulfillment and to seek answers.
Evidently, my process did not come from premature rebellion. It was the result of careful consideration leading me to eventually outgrow religion and subsequently God.
Yes, ladies and gents, I outgrew God. I don’t mean that in an arrogant or dismissive way, though. I simply left behind bad ideas. My rejection of God is about my way of living, and still allows me to maintain my ethics.
I’m still learning to cope with accepting my lack of belief. It is by no means an easy transition. However, our insecurities can be easily dealt with if we are open about them. Hiding underneath the guise of social acceptance does little to promote our well-being.