I recently received a notice from the American Humanist Association asking to complete the statement, “I left religion because…” Having been an atheist now for some years, that list has become rather ponderous. In my case, becoming scientifically literate left no room for a supernatural explanation for life’s complexity, to the extent that for me to assert otherwise, no matter how badly I wanted to hang on to faith, would be to engage in special pleading on what seems like a ridiculous scale. I’ve often said since that I don’t care what reality looks like as much as I do about its truth.
The casual reader might think leaving the faith is a banality, far from it. To be in a place where you question the vision through a lens you’ve been looking through for decades is alarming and traumatic, as myopic as it was. It’s made worse when those in the fold I regarded as friends, and eventually my former spouse, walked away one by one as I shared my questions and my journey, reaching out for answers. No matter who I spoke to or where I turned, nobody had anything to offer to bolster my faith but assertions and what they called evidence that boiled down to, “believe me and believe my book”. I also learned that some whose hands are empty of answers might feel justified in striking you with them.
Ironically, I started my journey out of faith with the aim of solidifying it. I felt discomfort in my own dishonesty and integrity, believing God called me to a higher standard, and I began to question whether my faith was genuine if I avoided hearing any arguments or evidence against it. Things like documentaries on prehistoric life, or anything touching on a naturalistic explanation for life on earth made me uncomfortable. It occurred to me that if all things were made by him (God), for him and because of him as the scriptures so clearly stated, it’s only logical that any examination of nature, down to the last atom, could only lead back to him, and I still believe that to this day. The evidence would be there, I’d look for it and I expected to find it.
I started that journey with the intent to take my faith to the next level, something my detractors never gave me credit for. I started this looking for truth with brutal honesty, and I’m proud to say I never wavered insomuch as I followed the evidence to its logical conclusion. I no longer found God with all the special stories plausible. To answer the original question, I left religion largely as a result of education and honesty.
Why did you leave (presuming you ever arrived)? The gauntlet has been thrown, Godless knaves!