My Route to Atheism

I was never truly in any religion. I never really believed. But back then I didn’t even know what an atheist is.

My parents are Chinese and worship the traditional Chinese pantheon of gods. They weren’t particularly religious but they are superstitious. So, in effect, my brother and I weren’t particularly religious as well. The whole god idea never quite got to the both of us.

There was a time that I thought that gods existed. Some 10 years ago, my mother would bring us to a Chinese temple in Bugis regularly. At the temple, we would light 3 joss sticks and pray to the gods. I can remember what my mother always said then, “Just tell the gods your name, where you live and blessings that you would like to receive.” I would then mutter under my breath the information I’m supposed to provide.

As my brother and I got older, my mother brought us to the temple less frequently. Eventually it became a once-in-a-couple-of-months matter. At the same time, I became more and more skeptical about the whole concept of god though it was never a significant issue.

I can still recall a night way back when I was around 13-14 years old. Chatting an hour before we slept was the typical thing to do for my brother and I. That night we expressed our childish skeptical view of god. I remember saying, “If god exist, he should give me a million dollars right now... Oh, didn’t happen” and then we went on to get god to throw a bolt of lightning at our room.

By the time I was 16-17, I was sort of a deist. I don’t believe a god would even give a damn about humanity. Even then, I thought it was absurd that anyone could believe an omniscient and omnipotent being would bother to answer prayers. However, I couldn’t think of an answer why the universe exists. Everyone else says that a god must have done it. So I concluded that, yea, a god that creates universes. That made sense at that time.

My real journey to atheism began after Year 2 of my polytechnic studies. That was sometime in May 2008.

The whole affair was initiated by a Youtube video. It was “Religion is bullshit” by the comedian George Carlin (who departed 22 June 2008). It piqued my interest in gods and religions again. And soon, I was browsing through Youtube for videos of related topics to watch.

And in no time, I stumbled on... Richard Dawkins and his book, The God Delusion. I watched almost all the videos wherein he was interviewed about his book. The affair got me excited on the whole atheism issue. And at this point, I was in agreement with what Richard Dawkins had to say. I was almost an atheist.

When my Student Internship Program started in June, I was bored out of mind because of the hour long train rides I take to work. Within the second week, I went out and bought “The God Delusion”. I finished the book in about a week and found myself in complete agreement. I love the book, I love his writing style and I love the fact that I am an atheist. I was “confirmed”. I AM an atheist and I’m proud of it.

Soon after I finished “The God Delusion”, I went to buy “God is not great” by Christopher Hitchens and then “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris. After reading those books, I had a better understanding of my own objections to religion. But i got tired. After reading 3 atheistic books in a row, I found myself hungry for my other love. It was my love for science and in particular, my curiosity of evolution.

I got Richard Dawkins’ “The Ancestor’s Tale” and loved it. Then I got “The Selfish Gene” and learnt even more. I went to read almost all of Richard Dawkins’ writings. By the end of my 4 month internship program, I knew a whole lot more about evolution.

In the meantime, I was also browsing Youtube for videos about Evolution vs Creationism/Intelligent Design. I learnt about the common misconceptions and objections to the theory of evolution. I learnt about the pathetic situation in America over Science and Religion. I learnt a lot of stuff. I had my horizons expanded greatly over a period no longer than half a year.

Then, I thought my ideas about my non-belief were clear. I was not.

My philosophical position was kind of blurry. I could have defended my atheism with various arguments but there was something that I can’t quite put my finger on is unclear.

This changed after I found the Atheist Experience. This was a recent event, like 2-3 months ago. I watched the videos in their archives and was much attracted by the hosts Matt Dillahunty and Tracie Harris. I watched all the videos with the both of them together first. I adore their ability to reason and learnt a lot from that.

Having watched the videos, my understanding of my atheistic position crystallized further.

I really understand now.

I really AM an atheist.

And I like it.

No, wait, I love it.


jin said...

Hai! I'm also a Singaporean atheist, and is probably a year or two younger than you. Your path to atheism is VERY similar to mine, my parents were superstitious but not religious, I didn't really care about theology until Sec 4 when I stumbled upon George Carlin. I got bored of The God Delusion however, but thoroughly enjoyed both God is not Great and The End of Faith. I participate regularly on online debates/discussions, and has seen quite alot of both witty and stupid arguments. Heh.

Nice to meet you!

Unknown said...

Interesting blog.

My advice to you is this: Don't just week books by atheists. In order for you to gain a more balanced perspective, read other brilliant books by agnostics and even religious folks.

It is not enough to just explore one side of a story. I recommend to you The Language of God by Francis Collions, who is a biologist and leader of the Human Genome Project, who's also a Christian.

Felicity said...

Nice! I'm an Singaporean agnostic. Well, I am more on a skeptic side about the existence of a creator. That is if I'm forced to take sides, I will choose atheism. But really, I never really care if God exists or not. So, I have washed my hands off the issue. Even now and then though, I love reading about how you guys are standing up for science. It makes me feel more hopeful about humanity.

km coaching said...

Hi, my route of conversion seems typical of singaporean atheists.

Chinese parents who are supertitious, who is buddhist or taoists but not very devoted.

Exposed to Internet and being converted by Internet to atheism. Before atheist was a freethinker who does not really bother too much about the issue of religion and god.

WHen i was a freethinker, i was only concerned about girlfriends, games, fun and school results. God? who cares about him was my thinking at that age.

Anonymous said...

Hello. I agree with Terence here. I feel that atheist should not merely read books that influence you to side atheism. God is not great and the god delusion are very powerful arguements against the existence of God, however, without reading the christian side of the story, i feel that you may not be able to come to a wider worldview aside from atheistic arguements. I assure you that atheistic arguements can be refuted. Read Francis Collin's works. Along with G.k. Chesterton and perhaps C.S. Lewis's Mere christianity

Atheozoa said...

Firstly, I don't read atheists books to "influence (me) to side atheism". Frankly, I've only gotten 4 "atheist" books - The God Delusion, God is not Great, and The End of Faith - because they were popular at the time. The fourth is Godless which I gotten to see what an ex-christian has to say. In general, those books are not what made me an atheist.

Secondly, while the books were great, they aren't against the existence of "god" in general. They are either more specifically against the Abrahamic version of god or provide supplementary arguments against theism.

Third. I'm not sure what you meant by "atheistic arguments can be refuted". As far as I'm concerned, there has always only been one core argument against theism: There is no evidence for the proposition. ALL other "atheistic" arguments are supplementary or against specific proposed versions of god.

And seriously, Francis Collins? The one who basically makes the Moral argument? If I borrowed the book, then maybe.