By Baraka Kofi Asante
“I will not take ‘but’ for an answer”- Langston Hughes
Ever grew up believing something you thought was true, you go off to college and the first real lesson you truly learn is that you have been lied to. Now, how would that make you feel? You probably would be angry, upset, irate, and the list would go on about different ways to describe your feelings. But after you realize you have been lied to, you start to think “what do I do next”? The next step is the most liberating part of this amazing journey to discovering the truth. As you start this philosophical journey you find yourself shedding away the fairy tales. You enjoy learning the truth because you remember this old saying “only the truth will set you free”. And as you shed away the lies you come across some hard pills of truth to swallow. Pretty much you entire your life is about to change due to the truth you seek, but it always easier said than done. Well at that’s what happened to me. Where I am actually going with this? I am about to tell the story about why I became an atheist.
Now my story is very similar to everyone else’s, I grew up super religious always trying to convert people in my own way. I was pretty much always in church doing some type of church activity. My life revolved around Christianity and the church so much that I was given the nick names junior deacon, junior rev, young minister etc. I was almost to a point in my life where I was going to become a right before I left Christianity to only convert to Islam; I was on the path to become a Reverend for the AME church. But that didn’t make me become an atheist that was my only the beginning of it. I was agnostic for a minute then I finally told myself that god does not exist, and religion was not the best thing for me, due to my terrible past experiences dealing with religion
Atheism is neither a religion nor a belief system for people who don’t believe in god. We do not have rules for us to live by. It is not a bunch of people who hate god or some type of creator. I do understand where and why people see or think that, because there is plenty of militant atheist but that with any type of people. There are also plenty of militant Christians, Muslims, Jewish, or any type of religious orientated people, some would call them fundamentalist. According to the oxford dictionary atheism is defined as “Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods” (oxford dictionary). Here is the origins of the term also “Late 16th century: from French athéisme, from Greek atheos, from a- ‘without’ + theos ‘god.”. (oxford dictionary) In simpler terms atheism means non-belief in a god that is all and that is it, we just do not believe in a higher power, deity or God.
Why did I become an atheist? Well, for me, this wasn’t always the case. As I stated before I grew up in a devout Christian home, then later on down the road I converted to Islam. I started to second guess the existence of a god or deity after I left Islam. Although so many people thought I was happy as a Muslim, I was actually really unhappy and confused about what I believed in. It started off great but after a few months in, I started to feel like Allah (god) was mad with me. I remember seeking advice from my brothers in the deen (religion) about what was going on and I would always get the same response. “It’s the will of Allah, and there’s nothing you can do but accept and repent to your Lord”. Now for a free-thinker that sounds like some sick twisted shenanigans but Muslims actually believe this. After hearing this response again and again, I started to really doubt if god even existed.
In this journey, there have been a few experiences that I will always remember as real eye-openers for me. Sometime during Fall of last year I posted a question on Facebook that I considered to be pretty harmless. The question was how can we actually know that god really does exist? Within a few moments a swarm of people on my friends list were attacking me for asking this question. They were telling me things like “how could you say that”, “what’s wrong with you of course god is real”, and “look at all he has done for you”. After seeing these comments my brain began to bring up old information about how certain religions used their sacred books to enslave innocent people, so I decided to ask these religious crusaders if they felt that this was true. Let’s just say for sake of time and the length of this article if you didn’t really believe or was somewhat on the fence about the existence of god, then those words could make someone question their faith. Well, to be honest that’s what it did for me and that’s when I secretly became an agnostic atheist. I wanted to believe that god was real but just couldn’t find a way to prove him. The only way to prove god was through religion and in my personal experience with religion it only had one purpose and that was to enslave people. At that point in my life I had had enough of religion.
Within the past two years I have dealt with my share of painful events, including the passing of my dear uncle. If you knew how close we were then you could totally understand my pain. Losing a loved one often causes people to question their faith and I was no exception to this. For some strange reason, a reason I still don’t understand, I started to hate god. I felt like if there was a god than my uncle would be alive today. When I think back to my religious experiences all I hear is the people saying “it’s the will of god”. I hated this with a passion because it was such huge cop-out for people to say. I would rather have people say they don’t know than to make up some religious malarkey. After really thinking about the lies and contradictions in religion and learning a lot about science, philosophy and the cosmos, I just stopped believing in god and started my own spiritual journey.
So you are probably curious about where I am at now with my spirituality and to be honest I am still searching for the truth and I think I will always search for it. I have natural curiosity and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Becoming an atheist has been no cakewalk for me and lately I have overcome some really dark moments. Coming to the realization that I no longer believe in a higher power or god, has been the most liberatingly frightening experience of my life. When you have spent your whole life believing that this Supreme Being has your best interest at heart, you feel that you must trust in it to lead you where it sees fit. This belief system did not leave much room for personal growth because I literally put all my faith in something I could not see or even understand in hopes that it would bring me peace and purpose. I have often felt hopeless and felt that life had no meaning but I have also felt more free and confident now that I have truly started this spiritual journey. I have realized that I AM in control of my own life, so the only thing left to do is to just enjoy the ride and stay mindful. You can still find purpose in your life without religion, it is just up to find what your purpose is. And that my friend is where I am at now with my journey.
Baraka Kofi Asante
Recommended Books & Documentaries:
- Losing Faith in Faith by Dan Barker
- Reasonable Atheism: A Moral Case For Respectful Disbelief by Scott F. Aikan & Robert B.Talisse
- Curiosity Did God Create the Universe with Stephen Hawking (Documentary)
- Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web.
- Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web.