How I became an atheist?


This post written by me was first published here on the blog of renowned writer and atheist Taslima Nasrin. Thank you Taslima!

How I became an atheist?
Actually I do not remember much about my Theist life.
Was I ever a Theist?
Probably yes.
I was born into an upper caste Hindu family in Kerala, in south India. My family was not very religious, and routine visits to temples and special offerings to gods to get something done were rare. My parents did ask me to pray to gods, and I must have done that till I reached the age of 14-15. But my overall impression was in reality my parents did not believe in a typical Theist god, who controls everything in your life. They encouraged us children to work hard in school , and made us think that its your work that counts more than your offerings/prayers to gods. We celebrated the usual Malayali festivals like Vishu, Onam and Pooja.
My earliest introduction to Hinduism was through Mahabharatha and Ramayana , the mega Hindu (Indian) epics. I liked the Mahabharatha very much because it was a gripping tale with so much variety of characters and sub plots. My mother encouraged me to read alternate view points about the epics in which the ‘good’ guys like Pandavas and Rama were not that good and the ‘bad’ guys like Kauravas and Ravana clan were not that bad.
Gods like Rama , who readily sends his wife to the forest, because there was a doubt about her chastity,and the cunning Krishna with 16008 wives never deserved worship from me.

Curious about Hinduism, I read some selected verses from its holy grail, the Vedas.
Vedas probably were created between 1500 and 500 BC. They are a collections of hymns of Aryans, a clan of pastoralists. Rig Veda is considered the oldest. Vedic literature was preserved for hundreds of years by reciting and remembering orally before it was written in Sanskrit, the language of the Aryans.The Vedic hymns are mostly verses recited in praise of Aryan gods, which they called devas.At the sacrifices where Rig Veda hymns were recited, the devas were invited to come and sit around the sacrificial fire, to receive the hospitality of the Aryans who sacrificed animals in their honour.

Apart from verses praising gods, Rig Veda also has verses which are used to ensure the social inequality of the society.
Here is an example from Purushsooktham from Rigveda 10.90 about creation of humans and caste system.
11.1: What did the Purusha (i.e. Virat) hold within Him? How many parts were assigned in His Huge Form?
11.2: What was His Mouth? What was His Arms? What was His Thighs? And what was His Feet?
12.1: The Brahmanas were His Mouth, the Kshatriyas became His Arms,
12.2: The Vaishyas were His Thighs, and from His pair of Feet were born the Shudras.

I can’t see how some one can believe in such stupidities about origin of human beings. We can easily see through it as a vain attempt to justify and perpetuate cruel caste system.

Then I turned to Bhagavad Gita, the book some Hindus consider as The Holy book. There also I could not find anything inspiring. It is just a collection repetitive, incoherent and many a time self contradictory verses.

The whole Hindu system of beliefs looked very shady. I had no difficulty in realising that a religion which wholly supports the oppressive caste system and Patriarchy is a sham.

By the time I was 15, I started standing outside when our family visited temples. Still I used to take part in religious family rituals, so as not to offend the elders. When some one smeared sandal paste on my forehead, I used to clean it off as soon as possible!

My feeling initially was all those who believe in gods were weak minded and could not survive without god belief. So I never questioned their beliefs , though I never allowed them to impose it on me.
Later, in last few years , I realised that no one needs a god-belief , and such a belief is so prevalent because of childhood conditioning. Propagation of reason and rational thinking can help in de-conditioning. I realised it is ok sometimes to offend family elders so that one can drive your point of view of logic and reason forcefully.

Humans created god myths as an explanation for the things that they could not explain. Religions were created by the powerful to retain control on others using god myth. As more and more things are being explained by Science, the space for gods are shrinking fast. There may be still a lot of things which we cannot explain, but that does not mean we should invent an illogical answer of god for the gaps in our knowledge.

The way things are progressing, atheism may one day become the default position of all human beings. The question of why some one became an atheist will become irrelevant, and the more logical question will be for the theist to explain why some one believes in a myth without any evidence.

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26 thoughts on “How I became an atheist?

    • Adil, Its true that atheists/rationalists are much more tolerant than Islamists. In Islamic countries being an open atheist means you will be in jail or will be killed. That is why there is no atheism versus rationalism public debate in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

  1. Pingback: Why I became an atheist | Random thoughts

  2. It amazes me that any theist would consider that atheist simply never gave religion a try… Here is another story of a person trying to find truth and simply found none in religion and then, only then, did they move toward atheism. In the end it was the religion and its adherents which ends up driving people away. None of it makes sense. This is a good story. One I hope is repeated many times.

    • Yes. Due to parental/society conditioning from childhood , most ppl live their early years as a theist. Only when they start to enquire and seek truth, they leave the religions.

      • ur cmnt “Only when they start to enquire and seek truth, they leave the religions”.this statement is one sided what about athiest who becomes thiest?

      • whts the athiest view of purpose of life for human being?
        What is the moral compass athiest follow to view something as moral/immoral?
        If some one murders any one & he got scot free because of lack of evidence in the court of law,How justice will be done to the aggrieved party ?

  3. “There may be still a lot of things which we cannot explain, but that does not mean we should invent an illogical answer of god for the gaps in our knowledge”
    That says it, doesn’t it?
    My family was not too insistent on religious ceremonies. In fact other than going to temples at times there was no mad rush of bribing gods for personal gain. I questioned things in my teens and was ridiculed, but not given any satisfactory answers. After marriage into a theist family,I once again gave it a try without much conviction. I passed on that lack of conviction to my children as every conversation of mine on religious topics ended with,’That is what they say’ πŸ™‚
    I was still an agnostic back then. My children grew up to be atheists and in this matter they became my lead. I followed them πŸ™‚
    But my parents who weren’t keen on rituals, and weren’t too religious to begin with, are now staunch believers and are into ‘bribing’ gods big time. Lol.

  4. Being an atheist is no guarantee that one is a rationalist. I have met atheists who will not get even pass grade in Rationalism-101.

    • True. It is easy to be an atheist, but little more difficult to be a rationalist. You have question yourself constantly. That is why the name of my blog is ‘Trying to be rational’!

      • Perhaps the most rational answer ever came from a Buddhist disciple when asked to find the least useful weed/plant on the hill: “We Don’t Know Yet”. A weed is useless because we are yet to discover its efficacy.

  5. To be honest, I really did like it pretty much. Anyways, I believe that I’m an atheist too. But I’m not gonna be thinking like there’s no god and stuff. I only believe that there should be some kinda positive force that drives this world forward. And I’d like to believe that it’s all in karma!!! Well I’m 14 and I’m pretty much really pissed off ’cause of these “Bribing” the gods thingy. A lotta gods don’t really deserve to be worshiped. I believe that it’s just the positive force that’s been called “GOD” for all these years. I believe that in a man’s life, he has to go through good and bad and that they form the two halves of a man’s life! Like if there’s good today, there should be bad tomorrow. Well that’s pretty much it!

    ~Chris Dreamerr

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