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Name: Christos Ioannidis

Born: 1976

Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Organization affiliation: None

Label: Atheist

Former Religious Affiliation: Orthodox Christian
 

My Story

My name is Christos Ioannidis, I am 35 years old, I am married, I am lucky to have a one year old daughter.

The first seeds of doubt were planted during my early school years. At that time, we were learning in the religious class how great and respected were all the characters in the Old Testament. The problem was that, apart from all these biblical figures, we were also taught about ancient Greece, and all the astonishing philosophers, poets, scholars, architects, generals, warriors that my country’s old civilization has to show. The difference between the two cultures was immense and chaotic, and the Bible’s people only advantage was their “faith”, which somehow was SO important. That’s when I began to think there is something wrong with Christian faith and religion in general.

Note that when I was child, I dreamed about being a historian or an archaeologist when I grow up, so I had the deepest respect about the Greek heritage of the past.

At the age of 14, again at school, I learned that the first Christian-Byzantine emperors that ruled in Greece, were demolishing its old temples and statues, burning down the libraries, persecuting and torturing people because of their “pagan” beliefs. That was a deep shock for me and it was the beginning of the end for my “faith”.

That was the last time I received holy communion, which is a custom for Orthodox Christians every Sunday. I didn’t tell my parents, who were by the way very tolerant (to their credit) and always encouraged me to study, think and investigate. I must say that religion was never thrusted down my throat in any way, neither by my family, nor by my education.

At about the age of 18 I read Friedrich Nietsche’s “The Antichrist”. This book is nothing less than a flaming thunderbolt upon Christianity and its fragile values. Needless to say that when I finished the book, I stopped being a Christian and became something between an agnostic and a very mild theist.

For many years, I preserved a very faint and vague hint of faith, by no means Christian, but rather driven by a indescribable belief that “there HAS to be a superior force that dominates the universe”. Needless to say that going to church or maintaining any kind of religious habits was totally out of the question.

At the age of 31 I read Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” and suddenly the issue was crystal clear ; there was not any god, and believing in one was really a bad habit. The transition from a mild theist to an atheist was instant, easy and natural. Becoming an atheist really felt like unchaining a cannon ball that was attached to my leg, and I felt a little disappointed with myself because it took me so long to come to that simple and obvious conclusion. But, as a Greek saying quotes, ”Slowly the sour grape becomes sweet wine”. Since than, I have announced my atheism to most members of my family, which accepted it very mildly. I think it was obvious from my behavior. My wife teases me that I am a “radical who rebels against everything”, hahaha !

I enjoy reading philosophy very much, and this contributed a lot to my transition to atheism. I also think that all religions in the world are basically based on myths and fairy tales that the church expects us to believe literally. For example, in Homer’s Odyssey (written at least 1000 years before the bible), the god of the sea, Poseidon, is so furious that the people of Corfu help Ulysses to build a boat so that he returns to Ithaca, that as they sail back to Corfu, he hurls a huge rock at them, crushes their boat and kills them. As you can see, angry and vengeful gods do not exist only in the Old Testament. However intellectually nourishing Heliad and Odyssey are, in some point I could not help but laugh my heart out.

I also had doubts about atheism because many famous and brilliant Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle were theists. But constantly studying and investigating their works, I found out that they too made mistakes about their ideas. Mistakes which were found out by the progress of science during the centuries. For example, Aristotle, who wrote countless volumes on all kinds of sciences, believed that the heart was kind of a “cooler” for the brain. The natural conclusion is that there is no “absolute” and “undeniable” truth in any theory, and one must always doubt and study.

Embrace and practice anything that makes you and the people around you a better person, respect and protect all life, and live every day to the fullest because it may be your last!

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