As an Irishman I am surrounded by Christianity and Catholicism in particular. My family is Catholic as are my friends, relatives, neighbours and pretty much everyone I come across. In fact, throughout our history being Irish and being Catholic were considered the same. The Church traditionally had a major influence on the country and still exerts control over schools and hospitals. I was raised Catholic, was an altar boy and even used to say a decade of the rosary every night. So why I am no longer a Christian?
The first and most obvious point is that Christianity doesn’t make any sense. This is a point that most Catholics will admit and try not to think about. How exactly is Communion the same as eating the literal flesh of Jesus and why would you want to do it? Can anyone truly state with a straight face that the Pope is infallible? I think we (fundamentalists aside) can all admit that the Bible is not literally true, the Garden of Eden is not a real place, Noah’s Ark is just a children’s story and people don’t live inside whales. There are many parts of Jesus’ story that seemed a bit strange to say the least. Virgins giving birth, the dead coming back to life, walking on water, all these things that you can go along with so as you don’t think about them, all start to crumble once you examine them with an open mind.
Then there is God himself. Have you ever noticed how strange it is that so many people believe in something they cannot see, hear, touch or detect in anyway shape or form. What if there is just nothing there? If there was a God why would he hide? Why would he deny us any proof but compel us to believe anyway? Why would he not set out clearly what he wants from us instead of letting a wide variety of religions fight it out among themselves? If God really loves us why would he create Hell? How can anyone with a conscience be comfortable with the idea of eternal torture in the fires of Hell? Sure we would all like to believe in Heaven, but what is it actually like? Where is it and how does it work? We all picture it as a place where all our dreams come true and we get everything we ever wanted, but there must be a difference from our fantasies and reality.
The single argument that shook my belief the most was The Problem Of Evil. If there is an all-powerful God who loves us all, why is there so much evil in the world? What sort of God would stand idly by and ignore the pleas of his people in the Holocaust? How can anyone look at the world history of massacre, genocide, rape and cruelty and still claim that God will help us when we need him? What about those who died from natural causes and famines? Why did God not save them? As states by Epicurus, I could only find 3 explanations. Either God is not all-powerful (in which case we are wasting our time asking him to help us) or he does not love us (same as above but only more worrying) or he does not exist. Either way, there is no point in being a Christian.
If there was a God surely he would choose better representatives than the Church? For decades the Catholic Church’s will was law in Ireland and instead of this resulting in God’s paradise, it was the pits of narrow mindedness. We were a petty, sectarian and cold nation. There was no compassion for the poor or love for the downtrodden but rather a rigid and stagnant dogma. Books and ideas that did not agree with the Church were censored, divorce banned and homosexuality made illegal (these are not ancient examples, but rather laws that were not changed until the 1990s). Women who did not conform to the Church’s view were sent to Magdalene Laundries where they were treated horribly and forced to work without pay.
It is the treatment of children that really drove me from the Church. Even if you believe in God, there is no way you can remain a member of the Catholic Church knowing what crimes priests committed. Children were regularly beaten and abused, physically and verbally. God representatives on Earth treated vulnerable children with nothing but vicious cruelty. The abuse and rape of little children was not an isolated case but rather a systematic problem. The hierarchy’s reaction was nothing short of disgraceful as its priority was to cover the abuse up in order to protect its own reputation and to this day has stalled on paying compensation to survivors. What sort of God turns a blind eye to child abuse and is silent when the perpetrators claim to act in his name?
So it was for a mixture of reasons that I grew disillusioned with Christianity. The scandals and general rigid dogma of the Church drove me away from Mass. There was also the fact that Mass in general is incredibly boring where nothing about anything seems to be said. The hypocrisy of a Church filled with gold lecturing the rest of us on the importance of charity or perpetrators of child abuse lecturing us on the morals of sex made me stop listening to the priests. If the Church really cared about the poor it would sell the Vatican and at a stroke help millions. I looked at other religions but they all seemed the same mixture of hypocrisy mixed with superstition. None of them had any answers and instead relied on “faith” (that is to say they preferred if people stopped asking questions and just accepted what they were told.) I gradually realised that my problem was more than just with the Church and that’s how I became an Atheist.
About Guest Contributor
Robert Nielsen blogs at Robert Nielsen, a blog dedicated to explore issues in economics, politics and religion. Robert was raised a Catholic, but in 2012 he lost the last of his faith and is now an Atheist (See Robert’s Story: How I Became An Atheist). I(Prayson Daniel) am being edified and challenged through reading Robert’s blog. Robert’s blog offers a ground for debating and discussing, in gentleness and respect, ideas and ideologies that are not similar to mine.