When I made the decision to ditch my faith in 2005, it wasn’t a decision I made to become atheist, I didn’t even know about atheism. The slow and grueling decision to sever my 5 year long relationship with God—as a born again Christian—was solely driven by the fact that the things I believed then had stopped to make sense. It was a decision I made to better myself by concentrating no the things that mattered and forfeit the wild-goose chase.
My life, though, was to remain pretty much the same as it was during the subsistence of my faith. I even wrote down a not-to-do-list should my impending fate finally catch up with me. It was a simple one; 1 Thessalonians 4:11 being my moral compass, minding my own business and living a quiet life were to be maintained as my guiding principles. “Evil music” was also not to be any more welcome than alcohol consumption. But because cursing had never been my thing, I didn’t find it imperative to make a resolution to this effect.
A year later, when I joined university; my life was going according to plan. I had lost the faith but still lived my life like a believer. Secular music hadn’t crept its way into my life and I kept my beliefs—or lack thereof—mostly to myself. It was disheartening enough that my mom was already looking at me like I was the reincarnation of the devil himself, I didn’t want to attract anymore unnecessary attention. It was my ideal life, keeping things on the down low.
However, while cutting church service didn’t guilt me anymore, giving in to the temptation to watch anything that I previously considered as pornographic would haunt me with so much dejection you’d think I’d just drowned a bunch of puppies in a swamp. It would also take me another three years before I could brave an alcoholic beverage that wasn’t given in church wine measures; just around the same time when I first set foot in a night club—a place I once believed demons of whatever odors, hues and sizes congregated.
I was starting to lose my way, straying from the plan. It wasn’t long before I started trying on impious labels. Starting with agnosticism, which I took on for a couple of reasons that included the intricate allure that people tended to associate with me every time I said it—at least in my imaginations. A friend would ask disconcertedly,
“So if you don’t believe in God anymore, does that make you one of these so called atheists?”
And feigning an inexpressive face, I would reply “Well, technically speaking, the right word for it is agnostic.” And then pause in preparation for the next question that invariably required me to recite my rehearsed definition of the tongue twister.
But the more I shared the reasons for my disbelief with friends, the more I opened myself up to the confrontations I wanted to avoid in the first place. The thing about being a non believer in a predominantly religious community is that people will always pelt you with complicated questions. Questions they’ve failed to answer themselves but settled for a completely irrational but much simpler and well-worn response; God did it!
In one of such arguments with a friend in class, I was rudely interrupted by what turned out to be a “smarterass.”
“But there’s something that you atheist don’t get.” She shot from behind me.
“Excuse me, agnostic! Not atheists, the two are different” I corrected as I turned around.
“Whatever, but without God in the equation, how could you possibly explain irreducibly complex biological mechanisms like bacterial flagellum, the blood clotting cascade, cilia, and the adaptive immune system getting so perfectly aligned to contribute to one basic function?”
Of course I didn’t know how to respond to this affectedly technical question, neither did I know much about intelligent design at the time. But this bitch was demanding a chronological and perfectly logical account of a phenomenon that not even scientists have put to rest, one for which I figured she had a presumptuously precise but pitifully ignorant answer; “God did it!”
It is encounters like these that push non-believers to research relatively more than an average believer. To be better prepared to defend themselves against the inevitable recurrence of confrontations that will always characterize their lives.
It was on this course that I discovered the Ugandan atheist community, which came as a welcome surprise. I’d lived close to four years as a non-believer but had no idea there were so many people here like me.
Through a facebook group, and the friends I made there; I was opened to a whole new arsenal. With so many links to atheist texts, audio books and videos shared, I equipped myself with counteractive arguments in response to the trite questions that typify the existence of God debates. I even learnt a rebuttal to the intelligent design’s irreducible complexity concept that left me dazed a couple of years ago.
Before I realized, I had been completely sucked into the frenzy. Being a “free thinker”—an honor I was quick to bestow onto myself—I assumed stewardship of all the logic, reason and empiricism that eludes all believers. My personal opinions on matters of faith became facts that I obliged myself to shove down every Christian’s throat with utmost condescension.
How gullible are these people? I would wonder. How do you live your whole life thinking you have an invisible daddy who lives in the sky? It completely skipped my mind that I believed in this sky daddy for almost 20 years and I had reasons for it; that I didn’t just wake up one day and said fuck this shit.
Later, I dropped the agnostic tag and went past atheist to antitheist. I didn’t even wait for my religious views to be challenged anymore, but I jumped at every opportunity—however remote—to flaunt my newly crammed atheist quotes. There were times I could have come across a facebook status update where an individual was going through a hard time and praying for a miracle, and then, touched by their agony, I would drop a few words of encouragement, it would always be a quote like;
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
Patiently wait for a response in reproach, I would start browsing for my punch line, my favorite used to be;
“If there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence.”
I became a complete nuisance but didn’t even realize it. Hating God became my new calling, It’s like I’d dropped the bible for an antitheist machine gun, of course I was aware of the fact that attacking a camp I once called home threw me off as a jerk of sorts, but I always trumped the thought with a ridiculous consolation. Thinking, If Paul could preach to those he used to persecute, I could as well do it the other way round.
I now ask myself, what the heck? Was this all necessary? Can’t I just live my life and let other people be? Do I have to become as irritating as preachers who hold all passengers on a bus hostage in the name of fulfilling their heavenly duty of spreading the word? Fortunately, I’ve grown to a position where I can see all these things. I may not have completely drifted back on course, but I’m making a conscious decision to do so. I may not stop listening to secular music, but I want to mind my business more and leave the business of purging this world of religion to the Richard Dawnkins’ already at it.
Read Part 1 here.