I am writing this whilst sat in a mosque. Specifically, I'm in the only toilet in the mosque that has a lock on the door, frankly the best place to be if you ever find yourself in on of these vile places. At least in the toilet you'll get some escape from the indoctrinated sheeps that are just too ready to do anything their religion requires of them, because they wouldn't know logic or reason if it slapped them in their faces. I can hear the rumble of their synchronized prostrating from the floor above as hundreds of knees go to the ground, followed by their hands and foreheads; a motion I know all too well. I can almost hear the friction burn from the cheap, rough carpet against everyone's knees and foreheads, not that this toilet seat is anymore comfortable on my perfectly formed, atheist ass. Why is an atheist in a mosque, more so, why is he taking refuge in the toilet? Welcome to the life and times of a muslim turned closet atheist.
It's the first night of the month of ramadan, which means all these part time muslims are going to fast; no food in daylight hours. Oh, and the extra long, special edition, two hour prayer session every night. And waking up in the middle of the night, every night, to whisper bullshit to a mythical being, because apparently that's what he wants, but doesn't need, but will burn you for eternity if you don't do it.
I'm asian, I was born in England and have lived here all my life. I'm in my early twenties, and live at home with my parents and siblings. Coming out of the closet would cause more problems than it would solve, so it's not an option. That's why I'm forced to play along. I've had to come to the mosque with my dad, luckily for me he loves attention so he goes straight to the front row to show off his religiousness, I linger at the back, and as soon as the prayer starts, I'm out. I came straight to this toilet, locked the door and let out a sigh of relief. If it wasn't for my phone, this extra long, special edition, two hour prayer session would feel a lot longer.Thank god for smartphones, oh wait, I mean thank science. Sorry about that, twenty years of indoctrination is hard to shake off.
When it comes to indoctrination, I've been round the block. I'm talking going to the mosque for two hours a day, every day after school as a child, and even through summer holidays. I had a short run at a weekend islamic faith school. I've wasted countless hours of my life at islamic talks and lectures. I've done the whole chanting bullshit in the dark routine more times than I care to remember. Islam takes over every little part of your life. I'm not allowed to sneeze, without following it by saying "alhamdulillah" out loud enough for everyone around to hear. Don't talk while you eat. Don't use your left hand, the devil does that. Don't wink. Don't whistle. Don't laugh too much. I can't even begin to tell you how ridiculous some things get. The point is, I have had religion shoved down my throat since birth. It took me twenty years to realise the truth, and it was far from an easy process.
I was never satisfied with the concept of god, and I felt guilty about this. I always had doubts and questions, and I felt like I was the problem. I'd always actively look for signs and proof for god; "seek and ye shall find". We all know how it works, if you look for something hard enough, you're going to find it. All good things get attributed to god, and reaffirm your belief, bad things get dismissed and / or attributed to the devil. All this however, still didn't satisfy me. I'm a smart guy, I went to private school (a christian school, hyms and bible bashing every other morning, so I'm fairly clued up with christianity). I have a degree in bioscience. It was at my time in university where the change from islam to atheism happened; it took about two years.
I was determined to settle my doubts once and for all. I began by reading the quran in an english translation, I got to chapter four and realised all I was reading were paragraphs of threat after threat. I soon realised that my search for evidence and proof would have to be directed elsewhere. My focus was instantly switched to two of the biggest arguments that constantly came up against religion; the theory of evolution, and the big bang theory. Being a student of science, it wasn't difficult for me to understand the finer details of both theories, and to my surprise and delight, something finally started making sense. All of a sudden I found myself in a world where logic and reason were king, it was so wonderfully satisfying. It was addictive, I wanted to read more and more, and in the process I ended up discovering a man who is nothing less than a hero...Richard Dawkins.
With my knew found knowledge my eyes started to open, very slowly, to the reality of things, but I could not yet let go of religion. The guilt was so strong, I felt atheist inside, but I felt wrong for it. I decided to discuss religion with some of my friends at university who were muslims, and for the first year or so I would talk about my knew found atheism as if it was a disease that I needed curing of. But the more I learnt, the more my eyes opened, and the truth started becoming so clear that religion began to look ridiculous. I was standing on the shoulders of giants. I could see everything for what it was. Everything began to make sense, for the first time in my life, I felt at peace with the world around me. I didn't have to feel guilty for being human anymore. I began to change my perspective and rather than talking to my friends about it in a way where I was asking them to make me religious, I was talking to them like they were the ones who needed help to see the truth. I flaunted my atheism proudly. I felt such strong emotions of anger, and I still do, for all the problems religion caused me in my life, as it still does. I became a passionate atheist. I lost a lot of friends by revealing the truth about my atheism, but I realised I didn't care for friends like these anyway. One of my best friends is a muslim, and he knows what I think of religion, and even though he doesn't like talking about it - which I can completely understand having been indoctrinated to that level myself - he's still there as a friend. It's friends like these which are the ones you want to keep around. Not ones that are so arrogant, and ignorant, that they're willing to cast you out for religion.
Now, I'm very comfortable with my atheism, and very passionate. I do not feel any guilt at all, and in fact, I enjoy actively insulting religion, because I want to give it its due disrespect. Don't get me wrong, I'm not an asshole who's going to find religious people and bully them, or go down the street preaching, but if they're going to come preaching to me, they better be ready for me to put them straight. However, having said that, it is easy to get angry over this, but it's important to remember that these people have been indoctrinated, and it's probably not completely their fault that they've become arrogant, ignorant pricks. It's very hard to talk sense to most people of religious beliefs, and trying to talk science, logic or reason with them is not going to work, as they have been preindoctrinated with responses (allbeit illogical and irrational) to most things you or I can say. But it doesn't matter because I firmly believe that religion is dying out, and I think soon we will have a world where free thinkers and science will rule. I think that with each knew generation, more and more atheists are being born, and the education system is helping the process and giving the free thinking ability to people like me, to realise the truth ourselves.
To sum up I'd say the reason I left religion was a combination of being educated in a way to be able to think logically and with reasoning, and being aware of the doubts and unsatisfactory answers that religion gives, then being determined enough to think about it and maybe do some research. I feel if anyone goes through this sort of process, it is difficult not to realise the truth, yet we have doctor's and scientists who are still religious. I guess all that proves is that there's a difference between being academically smart, and being able to think freely. Perhaps it's just in the genes. Having been on the religious side, I know how easy it is to dismiss any and all arugments for bullshit, no matter how good they are. Being indoctrinated means you have an auto response to everything anyone does or says against your religion, it's built in to your brain. Even as I had doubts about my religion, I would still defend it blindly against any arguments. If you're not willing to open your mind, no amount of evidence is going to change what you believe. When you're indoctrinated, fear and guilt holds you back from being open minded. I don't know how many people have had success with converting a devout religious person, but I feel that if the person isn't willing to open their mind to possibilities themselves, then there's nothing you can really do for them. It's a shame really, however, this is my first post as an atheist on a dedicated forum, and I've barely scratched the surface here...my biggest project is yet to come.
This is the Scientist, killing one god at a time.