I’ve talked a lot about my deconversion story and how my Christian college turned be from being religiously apathetic to a full blown atheist. I’ve talked about a philosophy class that made me consider my naturalistic worldview and start reading about the topic, but constantly slipping my mind has been the story of how I became a weak atheist before stepping foot in that classroom.
I believe that we have all experienced this phenomenon once or twice: we think of a significant story from our lives, and when trying to tell it, there’s always some piece that we skip over and forget. This is that piece of my deconversion story.
The class that I mentioned in my college deconversion post I took spring semester of my sophomore year. I’ve always considered that class, specifically the term paper and the research I did for it, to fully sway me towards being a thoughtful atheist. What I have apparently forgotten, though, is my memory of sitting in that class every day (an 8 a.m., mind you) and completing my readings about worldviews, thinking of how the Christian worldview was so off to me, and feeling so satisfied reading about naturalism and being able to finally pinpoint where I fell on the worldview spectrum. So as you can see, I was an atheist/naturalist before this class, and all the class did was allow me to fully recognize that.
What, then, took me from my apathy and skepticism in high school to my atheism in college?
I remember two specific instances that sent my skepticism to an all time high and sparked my interest in finding answers about God’s existence. The first is this: I remember sitting in my dorm bed, during the fall semester of my sophomore year (before taking the philosophy class) on my phone. I must have been wondering what reasons people had (in addition to my short list at the time) for not believing in God, and I stumbled upon a website. GodIsImaginary.com gives fifty “proofs” on why God doesn’t exist. I made it through only a portion of them, but they gave me plenty to think about.
Looking at it now, years later, it’s easier to see that this website isn’t all that convincing, but for someone looking to collect reasons not to believe in God, it had my attention. It points out things like similarities between Christianity and ancient religions, unanswered prayers, and the bible’s contradictions and lack of evidence. Although this website didn’t completely persuade me, it was the first step in the direction of my more serious research.
The second instance that sparked my interest in atheism started on Facebook. I saw on the “Trending News” that a woman had used “religious reasons” to persuade a DMV to allow her to take her driver’s licence photo with a colander on her head. Apparently she was, Facebook said, a Pastafarian. Initially, for some reason, I was bothered and angered by this. What kind of idiot convinced the state that they worship pasta and need to wear a strainer on their head?
As angry as I was, I was intrigued by Pastafarianism. I think the reason I was so mad was because I couldn’t tell if the woman was claiming to actually worship spaghetti or if she was making fun of religious people such as Jews and Muslims who wear head coverings. I ended up Googling it, and I found the website for His Noodliness, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
I was perplexed. Although the website never explicitly said it, I eventually figured out that Pastafarianism is a satire of religion. I slowly changed from believing it was immature and silly to believing it was absolutely genius (…and immature and silly). I was beyond impressed that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster had managed to convince some governments that it should be acknowledged as an official religion like Christianity, thus permitting its members to wear their religious headgear/cookware in state ID photos. The church was careful enough to make itself so similar to other religions that ultimately, it would be unfair if it weren’t taken as seriously as they were.
Comparing the FSM to Christianity helped me to see how similar they are and how silly religion actually was. Specifically, this video showed me why God seemed about as good as an answer to my questions as flying pasta.
GodIsImaginary.com and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster may not convince anyone of God’s nonexistence on their own, but these two websites had a big influence in my journey to atheism. In combination with countless other reasons, these two factors add to my belief that the truth of any organized religion and the claim that God exists at all, are highly questionable.