Name: Nathan Rodriguez
Former Religious Affiliation: Non-Denominational Christian
I am Epic Leather, an Artisan, fantasy sci-fi nerd, and a major Otaku for all things manga, anime and video games. I am also Nathan, 27 years old, IT Desktop Technician, husband, and an Atheist. A brief history in my background I was homeschooled in raised in an extremely fundamentalist non-denominational Christian family. I was a youth minister, leader of clubs and ministries in my community and a biblical literalist. If it wasn’t christain, we were not allowed to even look at it and I carried my strong faith up through most of high school. The churches we went to spoke in tongues, slew believers in the spirit, ran around with banners during worship, anointed with oil, cast out demons and held book burnings on a weekly basis. I tell you this so you can gauge where I came from and trust me, you would have been hard pressed to find someone who was more Christian. The process of deconverting from any religion, especially as entrenched as some are, is a long and gradual personal journey. I had numerous doubts and fears about asking myself a simple question: why. Why do I believe in my religion? In so many unbelievable stories? Or Why is it so wrong to question anything the church or the bible says? I constantly had all the devises that keep people chained to a religion pulling on my brain: It’s the devil putting these thoughts in your head, if you’re wrong you will go to hell, you will suffer for all eternity if you stay on this path. I tried over and over to recover from my backslidden state. Revivals, studies, sermons, music, more church, harder praying. But as I got older it became harder and harder to obtain and maintain the “religious high.” But as I researched, learned, lived and spent time in my head, I reached the conclusion that I really didn’t believe in any of it anymore. It just didn’t make sense from a logical and reasoning mind’s stand point.
Atheism has this huge stigma in this country and many places that they are the worst possible creatures in existence, and to live life as one is the bleakest and depressing existence one can have. I can understand this mind set as I too once could not even fathom the possibility of not believing, the notion just didn’t exist. But let me assure you as someone who has come from such a far end of the spectrum, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything I now have a deeper appreciation and fascination with life and the cosmos we inhabit. When I was a Christian, the awesomeness that is the universe was almost negated by simplifying it all as part of “god’s plan” and how everything was there just as pretty lights or companions for humans. Now that I have been liberated from the chains of a Christian mind and informed with knowledge that we as a species have accumulated, I can’t express the newfound fascination I have with everything. Its almost as if I have been seeing things for the first time. The Sun isn’t just a source of light god made to give us life. It’s a relatively small constant explosion of elements found all around us with such density that it holds this planet system together. And that tiny sphere is but one of countless others that cluster together into even more countless larger systems. Or take life. Life wasn’t created by a bored and lonely infinite being, it is a fragile and rare natural occurrence using the same processes used to destroy and create throughout the known universe. When you break free of religion and the limiters it places on your mind, you have such a liberating freedom that you cannot comprehend in any other state of mind. This also goes for the time old issue of: can you have morals without religion. Yes. If anything I have more respect for life and morals than when I was a Christian. A Christian lives for death. Everything you do is to try and have a better score for when you die so you can live better in the afterlife. As an atheist I believe that this is the only chance we get, there is no afterlife so knowing that this is the only chance we have to live, I would not want to rob another of experiencing this rare gift of life we have been given the opportunity to experience.
We are not monsters to be feared, inhuman creatures to be hated nor any less of a person. We are your neighbors, co-workers, teachers, friends, entertainers, artisans and family. We are Free thinkers, we are human. The only difference is we don’t buy into Myths written by early humans who had little to no knowledge of science or how anything truly worked. Ancient texts should be read as a history lesson, an insight to the processes humans once used to explain the world around them. Not as a guide to live your life in an age of enlightenment, technology and information.
Ask Questions, analyze what you believe and don’t be afraid to question them. We are atheist. We are Human. We will not be told how to think. And we will only grow stronger in numbers. Knowledge is power. Information is Freedom.
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