Hello everyone. I'm a new member so forgive me if I bring up topics already discussed on this site. I was born into a fairly religious family. My mother came from a Hindu background but converted to Christianity when she married my father. As a child I attended church regularly, including Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. My grandfather also used to read the Bible to me frequently and by the time I was 7 I could recite entire chapters in the gospels by heart. My maternal grandparents were still Hindus so I also attended Hindu prayers and performed certain rites and rituals associated with Hindu beliefs. I was immersed in religion at a very young age but I never really understood it. I used to ask so many questions, one of which was, "Where did god come from?" That was the main question I asked over and over to everyone I met. To me as a child, if I just knew where the man in charge came from then I would know whether or not he was worth being worshiped. The problem was that most people didn't have an answer or if they did it was usually a pretty weak response that never convinced me. A memorable moment came when I asked one of my primary school teachers, who was and still is a devout Jehovah's Witness, this very same question when I was nine. He said, "A long time ago there were these chemicals, and the chemicals reacted in a certain way and god came out of it.' Of course my very next question was "Where did the chemicals come from?" Now, I do not know if that is what Witnesses believe but that is what he told me. I questioned the authenticity of the Bible constantly, and I was forever comparing it to the Bhagvad Gita (forgive any misspelling) by asking all and sundry in Church how they figured out that the Bible was true but the BG wasn't. Every answer I heard never satisfactorily appeased me and I continued to wonder all the time why humans had divided up god into different religions, if there was only one god surely he would ensure that everyone knew who he was and where he came from and then everyone would just be the same religion. It was only when I was a teenager attending a Presbyterian High School that I realised that the reason I always had so many questions was that I just didn't believe in god or any religion. No one had ever provided enough evidence, even when I was a child, to convince me that anything in the Bible, the Bhagvad Gita or any religious text was true. Bill Nye the Science Guy and many other educational programs from my youth instilled in me a wonder and a desire to understand the universe for what it is and not what people made up centuries ago about its existence. I've been an atheist my whole life, I just didn't realise until I was old enough to figure myself out. To this day I make it a point to tell children the truth, despite their family's religious affiliation. I know this may seem disrespectful but at the end of the day children can make up their own minds about what's real or not. I am aware that in many schools in the USA there is the issue of what to teach in Science class. In my country (Trinidad & Tobago) there are three main religions, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. There are several schools that are run by these denominational boards, two of which I attended (both Presbyterian) and oddly the issue of Science as a counter to religious teaching was never a major problem. These schools offer Science classes as well as religious classes to all students, regardless of the student's religion (meaning there could be a Hindu pupil in a Muslim institution learning about Islam and vice versa) and this is just accepted as a norm in the country. I, for one, find this admirable. But the treatment of people of non-faith leaves much to be desired. Everyone is expected to have a religion. The first time I ever acknowledged myself as an atheist was when I was registering for University. There were the 3 main options (Hindu, Muslim, Christian), Other, and to my very pleasant surprise, a blank space. When I chose the blank space I felt liberated after years of pretending to be Presbyterian on school forms (we weren't Presbyterians but my parents thought it would be best to pretend to be). My parents are now devout Christians, much more so than when I was a child. My father became seriously ill years ago and he nearly died. This was a transformation period for him and my mother. Today they are the most Christian Christians ever. I have never told them that I'm an atheist. I don't want to be 'exorcised.' Maybe I will eventually, but for now I am enjoying being open-minded and learning about the universe through scientific reasoning. Finally I can ask questions and get logical responses or at the very least an admission of ignorance with the subtext that, hey we're still trying to figure some stuff out. That I can live with.
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