My connection to atheism and secularism has been an ongoing one for over twenty years now. I have many reasons for feeling this way. I questioned religion as a teenager and had quite freethinking parents. I then went on to study literature and philosophy at University, straight out of school. Oddly enough, the literature we were exposed to probably made me more of an atheist than the philosophy we read. This was especially true when studying Milton and Blake who, although believers, pointed out some very big problems with biblical stories. Frankly it made me angry as a woman, but also as a human being. It was the whole Adam and Eve original sin thing that annoyed me — that women were to blame, but also being denied fruit of knowledge. What kind of God would want you to be ignorant? Even though I have read new age spiritualists Tolle and Deepak Chopra and liked some of what they have said, I still boarded a train of secular thought years ago that I’m still happy to ride.
What a ridiculous system. A God that is meant to know everything tests us, knowing we will fail. Essentially he made us so that we would fail temptation. As Christopher Hitchens says, God “made us sick and then commanded us to be well.” It just didn’t make sense. Then to go on and see all the damage the enforcement of these beliefs did — especially in the Middle Ages. The women burnt at the stake. The fact women were seen as evil temptresses who were in cahoots with the devil, when in reality they were loving, supportive, nurturing, strong and caring, suppressing their own intellect because they were not to be trusted, etc.
Even unrelated texts annoyed me. We read poetry about women who refused men and then endured the nastiness of attitudes directed towards them. I think after reading the Wife of Bath’s tale I thought, “wow, even way back then they knew what women’s rights were, yet they still went backward into the medieval era.” It was this exposure to literature, as well as science-based philosophy that introduced me to the beauty of secularism, fueling my conviction.