Name: Mo Taylor-Boggan
Location: Beaumont, TX
Organization affiliation: Golden Triangle Freethinkers Organization
Former Religious Affiliation: Protestant Christian (Baptist)
With Reason: One Woman’s Journey to Atheism
I was reading an article the other night and the topic was about how Christians, or even those of other faiths, always have an “aha” moment that is usually very emotional, but as atheists, typically our metamorphosis usually isn’t quite that simple. The article hit home for me because my journey was a very long one, and there was not really a single moment I could pinpoint and say, “it happened right there,” but instead there were a series of events leading me eventually to atheism.
I had several moments, starting when I was in my early teens, maybe even pre-teens, but fear kept me from exploring those feelings. I would read about the origins of religion, from historical perspectives, and then stop because it was uncomfortable. It wasn’t until sometime in 2010, following the most devout period of my life, that I really began to let myself study the information I had been scared to consider. Coincidentally, this same time frame was when I decided to change my life in many other ways to live as authentic a life as possible (became vegetarian, cut-off all my hair, etc.,) and this transition would not allow me to deny or continue to compartmentalize faith, history, and science, so these conflicting beliefs could exist within the same person. Thus, I began to allow myself to slowly pull away from the indoctrination.
Keep in mind, I’ve always accepted and been a huge proponent of science. I have never doubted the Theory of Evolution, The Big Bang, or any other scientific discovery, but I simply did not allow myself to compare those understandings of the world to what faith would have us believe. I feel that many people live with this cognitive dissonance or separation within their own brains to allow themselves the study of scientific theories whose existence directly contradict their faith-based beliefs. This dissonance became a burden I was no longer willing to bear.
However, it wasn’t until fall of last year when I made the decision to share these feelings, and at that point I was already a non-believer. Maybe not in a god just yet, but most certainly in this European image of Jesus, and as an African American woman, it never made sense to me that blacks would have willingly traded in their own customs from Africa in exchange for a forced savior. Of the limited historical substantiation for this Jesus, at best he was a Jewish preacher. The deification was entirely man-made along with all the other pieces of Christianity and every other religion for that matter … but back to me.
In the end, it came down to my children really. There was a woman at a church I attended, and she wrote a children’s book about Noah and his ark explaining why there were no dinosaurs today. Before I even looked at the text, I knew this woman would say dinosaurs were extinct because Noah could not fit them on the ark. Groan. My daughter, Daileigh, says she wants to be a physician. I could not look her in the eye and lie to her about the origins of the universe, and other things we have discovered through science, and have her enter a world of scientific inquiry ill prepared.
In the dark ages, before the dawn of science, man was scared and didn’t understand the world around him and these fables made him feel better in the midst of a thunderstorm or typhoon. Now science has explained many things previously not understood but people continue to believe in the fables. I choose not to accept things for which we now have scientific explanations for in place of this fiction. Does the fiction feel good? Yes, but this does not make it true. The real world is beautiful and magical (in the poetic sense) because it is … naturally.
I respect everyone’s right to believe as they choose; I just encourage others to study all information available to them before making a choice. You don’t have to be a believer by default, and if you are coming out of your own indoctrination, you are not alone. I suffered in silence, but now I’m happy I did because I wasn’t under the influence of any person but within my own thoughts, synthesizing information into my own understanding of the world, and for me the only logical, reasonable choice is atheism.
Was it an easy choice? No. It has been one of the most difficult, but liberating choices I have made. There were many, many tears in the process, along with intense thought all the way, and there isn’t a theological question I have not pondered in my journey. Initially I couldn’t even utter the word “atheist”, or accept it as a label, but now I embrace it proudly. Why proudly?
This is an excerpt from a response I wrote encouraging my friend to stand strong against those disapproving of her transition to atheism:
“I have been fortunate to have friends, at least, that although they may not agree with my position, have not disowned me. I wish the same could be said for some of my family. I have family members who will not interact with me in any capacity at this point. But I’ve decided that is okay.
It seems so contrite at this point, but the saying is true, “Those who mind, don’t matter, and those who matter, won’t mind.” I find it is the people the most unsure of their own faith who have struggles with yours. It is equally difficult for them to realize that the beautiful, smart, funny, talented person you have always been is still there … even without god, and it goes against everything they’ve believed all this time. What if you’re right? They are thinking it, even if they aren’t saying it.
I can’t put into words how it warms my heart to know that by speaking up I am encouraging others to do the same. I know it isn’t easy, but when it seems difficult think of the world you will leave to your babies because of your boldness, more tolerant, more rational, more loving.”
These are the reasons I feel it necessary to speak up.
So here I am, a working divorced mother, raising my four children, a full-time college student, living in Texas, and yes I am an atheist. I’m also a friend, a sister, an aunt, a daughter, an advisor, a confidant. I’m still the strong, feisty, compassionate, and bubbly woman I have always been, and I am all of those things because I am…not because some external force created me this way. I love and appreciate everyone in my life now more than ever, especially those who accept me for who I am, unconditionally.
Love is love!Tagged with: Atheist • Baptist • Beaumont • Golden Triangle Freethinkers Organization • Protestant Christian • Texas • TX