Secular Sunday: Losing My Religion, Part 3: Unitarian Universalism, Agnosticism and Atheism
I have been asked several times to share my story of how I went from growing up as an Evangelical Christian, to a Qur’an-only Muslim and finally as an Atheist. The only “beliefs” that give me no cognitive dissonance. In the words of Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.
My religious journey was always about getting closer to god, and trying to salvage my faith. It was why I left Christianity for Islam. It was why I studied Islam more and continued asking questions. Because I believed that my god, the god of the universe, would of course be able to stand up to scrutiny. But the harder I looked, the more everything began to fell apart. So I left Islam, and in the end, I couldn’t see any convincing evidence as to why I should believe in god at all. All I see is fairy tales, make-believe and wishful thinking. And I’m sorry, I’d rather be hurt by the truth than comforted by a lie.
Long-time readers might recall I did a three-part series on Losing My Religion on the old blog, and I have decided to rewrite these posts and share them.
Unitarian Universalism, Agnosticism and Atheism
Questioning Islam, and realizing that no religion has monopoly on the truth drew me to Unitarian Universalism for a while. Truth in all religions. I can understand why people are drawn to UU. It is more spiritual than religious in nature, and tend to take the best from all religions. At the end of the day, however, I can’t see religion as anything more than a way for people to try and comprehend, understand and make sense of the world. I understand why people are drawn to religion, in many ways it is certainly easier and simpler not to have to think for yourself and being able to adopt an external, moral compass and guidance system.
Once you have realized something, you can’t go back. It’s like breaking a mirror, you can put it back together, but you can still see the cracks. For a long time I wanted to go back to believing in god. I really liked the idea of a higher power with a special plan for me. But I couldn’t go back to just believing. I had seen too much. I had learnt too much. I had asked too many questions.
But even if there should be a god, who created us all, then she must have known this would happen. After all, in that case I would have been created with a questioning brain, and I believe that we are meant to use our brains.
It took me almost a year to go from UU to Agnostic, and a further 4-5 months to call myself an Atheist. At first I hesitated to call myself an Atheist, because I couldn’t say for sure that there’s NOTHING out there. My next post, the last in the series will cover how I became comfortable calling myself an Atheist.