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The road of no return

By: Enzo Ball 2014-07-31 13:46

I started making the transition to atheism during my mid-twenties. It wasn’t a single event or a tragedy that made me decide to abandon my religion. I always suspected that I was an atheist and provided the right circumstances it would be a natural transition, which is exactly what happened. I consider myself lucky that these circumstances presented itself. It came during a time when I was living in a liberal foreign country, made new friends who had no religious affiliations and was not involved in a serious relationship. In other words, becoming an atheist had no direct impact on anyone around me nor on any relationships I had. Off course my family back home still had their strong religious beliefs, yet I did not experience the pressures from them should I have done this in their proximity. Apart from the ideal circumstances I found myself in, I also believe that I was at the right age when one has matured to the level of questioning and experimenting without too much influence from others. I truly consider myself fortunate to have had this time to naturally progress to what I really am.

Unfortunately not everyone is as lucky. Taking a look at most of my friends at the time, most of whom are still very good friends today, their circumstances were different and ended in a different result. Most of them were in the process of “settling down” with long term girlfriends, some even started a family and all of them were slowly integrating into their environments and communities for the long-run. These communities were without exception highly religious societies (Christian) and a strong and visible religious affiliation was not only providing comfort, but also seen as a social necessity for acceptance. Instead of debating the existence of god, they were debating which denomination is the better of the options, with the more charismatic versions normally being frowned upon. Slowly but surely they surrounded themselves with people and environments which provided no alternatives, let alone accepting anyone who would dare to even consider an alternative. They were on a road of no return.

As mentioned, most of those people are still my friends today. I’ve been fortunate that most of them have accepted my unconventional way of thinking, and because I was not around them when this transition happened, I was not exposed to the criticism and probable rejection that would have followed had I tried this move in their presence at the time. When I returned home and they realised my godless state, we were all much older and they were also matured and honest enough to realise that I did not turn into the devil worshipper that many associate with atheism.  Although I consider myself fortunate in this regard, make no mistake that I do face the regular challenges that comes with the stigma of the atheist label.

Looking back, I am convinced that many of my friends would have followed the same route as I did, were their circumstances different. I have no doubt that many of them are not convinced by their beliefs and are trapped into such by their circumstances. Their wives, kids, kids’ friends, other friends, other friends’ friends, teachers, fellow church members and their families are all trapped on the road of no return. These people and relationships are their whole existence. If they were to bail out at this point, they stand a significant chance of losing life as they know it. Most of them will immediately lose their wives, their kids will resent them and their societies will likely turn their backs on them. I am of course generalising, but have no doubt that abandoning their religion at this stage of the game would have a significant impact on their lives. To the point where I do not blame them for not taking such a risk. The end result is that they dig themselves deeper and deeper into this hole by continuously convincing themselves of the authenticity of their belief. They have no other choice but to stay the course, the road of no return.

Christianity (insert religion) does not have the ability to stand on its own. There is no factual basis for the existence of any god, and therefore this belief owes its existence to a circular web of interdependent relationships from which there is no escape.

So the next time you so fervently argue the existence of your god, consider whether you do so because your circumstances require you to, or whether you truly believe that the word of god is contained in a poorly written book full of contradictions and hate. 

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