How I became an atheist

Well, the short answer is: I read the bible.

The long answer deserves some history about my life and how I was brought up.
So here it goes.

I was born in Barcelona, Spain on November 19, 1971 as Spain was under a dictation-ship by El Caudillo de España, Francisco Franco Bahamonde.

Mainly a normal child (although I had a huge bump on my head that no doctor was able to explain) I spent the first 3 years of my life doing what most toddlers do (I guess, as I can’t remember).

We, my parents and I, lived in my mother’s mother house. A tiny apartment with two rooms and one bathroom.

In 1975 (the same year Franco died) my parents discovered that I was allergic to what, at the time, was a very common antibiotic often prescribed to fight tonsillitis: chemicetina. Although I can’t remember anything from that age, the allergic episode remains intact in my memory as I almost died due to the effects of the allergy.
Fortunately, my parents (or my grandmother, I don’t know) called the family doctor (I don’t know how either as we didn’t have a phone), explained what was happening and in no time he showed up, injected me with “something” and in just a couple of minutes I was able to breath again.

Something definitely happened that day — I cannot explain it but I feel it as a dark spot on my brain’s memory bank; just to remember it tightens by throat, blurs my vision and makes me incomprehensibly uncomfortable.

Enough of that. Back to topic.

Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia
(“I am I and my circumstance”)
Meditaciones del Quijote, 1914 — José Ortega y Gasset

I’ve always felt that the character and personality of most people is simply circumstantial. For example, if you were raised by Muslim fathers, in a Muslim community in a (mostly) Muslim country then (almost) inevitably you will be Muslim.
The same goes for any other religion, political preferences, favorite sports, drinks, foods, etc…
It’s simply inevitable to avoid transferring one’s predilections and favoritisms to your offspring.

Unless, of course, you encourage “questioning”.

Question Everything
The Socratic Method — Socrates

Until the age of 8 I lived with my parents and my grandmother who was a devoted Catholic.
My father, although he didn’t believe in gods, he did have a fascination for the occult, spiritism, aliens, pseudo-science, metaphysics, paranormal stuff and well, all sorts of weird things.
My mother, however, has never believed in anything that she can’t perceive with her five basic senses. She has always been extremely pragmatic and objective.

Due to the extremely bad economy (among other things) in which Spain was left by Franco, both my parents had to work on jobs that prevent them from having a normal relationship with me so I was mainly raised by my grandmother, until the age of 8 when we moved to our own apartment… across the street.

Somehow and for some reason I cannot explain, all my grandmother’s efforts to inculcate catholic believes onto me simply failed. I really loved my grandmother but since a very early age (as I can recall) I always felt she was a bit childish and ignorant and I really pitted her for that. I always felt sorry for her.
You must understand that she was an extremely devoted catholic with the mind of a country-born, post-dictation-ship woman. If I recall correctly, she was over 50 when she learned how to read and what she (mostly) read was the bible.

When we moved to our new apartment my father started to get into all the occult stuff pretty seriously. He loved something known, in Spanish, as “vasografia” which basically is a Ouija board using an upside down glass, telepathy, UFOs… everything.
That affected me tremendously as I was (often) allowed to participate in the sessions, I traveled with him and his friends to look for UFOs sightings and one of the things I remember the most were the “quality time” we spent on the roof of our apartment looking for “weird lights”.

I was a rather weird child. Quiet, reserved (extremely introverted), lacking many social skills, often frustrated (who knows why), but extremely interested in technology and science.
I will never forget the first time I saw a computer, at the Museu de la Ciencia. It was displaying a series of lines, rotating across the screen, similar to the Mystify screensaver from Windows and man did it mistily me! I remember spending countless hours in my bed just dreaming about being able to lay my hands on one of those computers…

Unfortunately, things started to go very wrong for us, in terms of money — I won’t go into any details here but just know that my dad spent almost 4 years without a job.
He worked as a salesman in a big department store for quite sometime but when the company closed he faced the crude reality of someone without a former education.
Time passed and after trying many different [insert degrading adjective here] jobs he decided to ask an uncle of his for money. Thank god (he he… yeah, this one’s intentional), his uncle decided to offer him a job instead of lending him money.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime
Chinese Proverb

So in December 1983 we moved to the Dominican Republic as my father’s uncle offered him a job as a tabaquero.

For me, the move was extremely traumatic and I can only assume it was because of my clinically-introverted personality. On the other hand, it was a very positive period for my parents for various reasons. My father, for example and among other things, loved the culture in general, specially all the occult traditions that still exists in this country.

In 1991 my father died due to a car accident while working.
Again, I won’t go into many details regarding this incident but be rest assured that it was a devastating event.

But, what happened next is what’s interesting…

I continued my father’s tradition for the occult by reading several books, hosting Ouija sessions with some of my “friends” and in general, kept myself busy involved in all types of esoteric ambiances.
But what really made me re-evaluate my view on life started about two years before my dad’s death.

In 1989 I joined a group called RAHMA, founded by Sixto Paz Wells. Man was I blown away by what these guys had to say…
They had an answer and an explanation for everything and the reasoning behind their claims made all the sense in world. I was hooked.
Once again, I won’t go into much detail regarding the RAHMA philosophy (as they don’t deserve it) but just know that they (a) do believe in god and Jesus Christ and (b) also claim that there’s some confederation of wise extraterrestrials, from different planets in the universe, that dictate all the rules by which we (still under-developed creatures) evolve. There’s a lot more to it but I’ll leave it at that.

The turning point was one day when, in one of the weekly meetings, I made a (positive) comment regarding a movie I saw a few days earlier: The Passion Of Christ.
Wow! All the loving and peaceful people I’d know for over two years turned their inquisitive eyes onto me and (literally) said:

That?! see that?! that’s the work of the devil, always trying to deceive the weak minded. Do not fall for it or you will be punished since karma is a fact.
Be weary of those who pollute the life of Jesus Christ and misspeak about your creator.

Holy Fuck!!! — I thought. What the hell have I done? How did I fall for such a misleading evil propaganda? How could that happen?

Fortunately, I’ve always been a very curios person who often didn’t feel satisfied by the explanations and arguments commonly laid out and generally accepted.
So I started to “read”. Hmmm, what I noble idea: when something doesn’t fit you well or something doesn’t feel right, question it, investigate and above everything else r-e-a-d.

I though to myself: to know more about Jesus I should read the bible, after all, I wasn’t aware of any other book that mentioned this person.
And finally, in 1997 (yep, almost 8 years later) the transformation occurred.

Why did it take so long?
Well, mainly because my father’s metaphysical influences where seeded very deep inside of me. Of course, I never went back to a RAHMA meeting but for many years I still believed that some supernatural events, such as telepathy as well the believe in extraterrestrial beings watching over us were pretty much a fact.

I guess that  my love for science eventually caught up with my inherited curiosity for the metaphysical.
At one time I had the complete collection of the Muy Interesante magazine, I always loved to read about science, loved to investigate, I graduated in Electronic Engineering, I’ve been programing since I’m 13 and well, all this objective way of thinking allowed me to get over my father’s heritage.

So I read several (very interesting) books, learned more about philosophy, science, math, and physics but specially, after having read the bible, I declared myself: an atheist.

Being an atheist in a world where the majority believes in some sort of supernatural phenomena can be quite challenging.
For quite a long time I kept my decision to myself. After all, the Dominican Republic is 95% Catholic, while the remaining 4.99% belongs to some other religion. It can get quite lonely for an atheist.

But in 2007 I decided that enough was enough.
The data is available to everybody: religion is a pretty dangerous thing.
There’s no other disease like it and it’s our responsibility to spread the word, inform and educate.

Religion is the opium of the people
Karl Marx

For now, I’ll leave it at this, but be rest assured that I will continue to post articles that I feel can contribute to the general public to gain knowledge and understanding regarding the fallacies and wrong doings derived from religion.

  • Nothing like the good ol’ Bible and reason to make atheists! BTW, I know quite a few Dominican atheists (including myself); though many are closeted (NOT including myself, I’m quite vocal about it) so it’s not as lonely as you’d think 🙂

    • xfx

      It does get lonely…
      I remember being sent (on numerous occasions) to the school psychiatrist because of the “weird” questions I kept asking in class.
      Many of the people that knows me, still today, avoids me because of the way I think and the things I either believe or refuse to believe.

      Of course, nowadays, they can got fuck themselves but when I was 13, 15 and even 17 and 19 I felt quite oppressed and put aside.

      Anyway, thanks for your comment — which is the first one! You just inaugurated the forums!

  • P S

    u00a0I arrived here and reason is the pieces of your code that you publish in this site.u00a0nIt was very easy to me to admire your spirit as it came out from the way you thinking and write.nIf you permit me, I would like to make some remarks to this post, as my personal opinion about the subject.nThe best answer in the question: Is there a God? It is for me: Next question, please!nThe same, I think, it is the proper answer in the question: Are the extraterrestrial life real fact?u00a0nRegarding my self, I have the thesis that this kind of questions doesnu2019t have a real issue (Absence of real data)u00a0nSome ancients in the Timaeus (?) of Plato they said that before male and female, was hermaphroditic being (not creature).nI can follow much easier a linear logic of this kind…nPrometheus was a man that gave the fire to mankind when stole it from Gods.nLucifer (Latin) or Eosforos (Greek) as Light-Bringer was the bad guy in my Christian childhood.u00a0nYou must glorify Prome because he was a hero of your Mythology. Said to me the teacher.nYou must renounce Lucifer – Eosforos – Satan in every moment in your life as a good Christian. Said to me the priest.nWhat a nice contradiction for a child!nPlease, can I think about the punishment of Prome?u00a0nA great eagle ate his liver every day only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day?u00a0nWhy my grandfather uses to say: They ate my liver in the job!nAnd what about the great eagle? Have anything to do with the eagle which wrote Carlos Castaneda?u00a0nFinally I understood that the way to answer in certain questions, reveal the manner of your thinking… u00a0nna poor Greek who don’t believe in life after IMF (LoL)nnPS. 4give my English.u00a0nPS2. very promising blog!

  • i am a dominican atheist as well i have a sister who is head over heels in love with jesus and i told her if she was born in pakistan she would be muslim if she was from china she would praise buddha so on and so on people believe in god cause its comforting to think some one bigger than your self is watching over you but in reality they should start believing in them selves 
    and you don’t need a bible to tell you whats right from  wrong its common sense free your self from religion break the chains of brain washing that our ancestors conquerors placed upon us

    • Si señor… muy bien dicho.

      Y tal y como tu dices, es una cuestión circunstancial: la mayoría de nuestras preferencias vienen dadas por el lugar geográfico donde nos criamos. Si naciste en Santiago, hijo de padres Aguiluchos, de seguro que serás Aguilucho y odiarás el Licey. Así mismo sucede con la religión.

      La gente se cree tan especial y original que no se dan cuenta que no son más que un manojo de influencias del medio ambiente (tanto físico, como social).

      Depende de cada uno de nosotros de buscar lo más afín con la evidencia y las leyes establecidas de la de las diferentes ramas de la ciencia.

      Hay que ser escéptico y estar siempre dispuesto a aceptar que algo que entendemos como “verdadero” puede no serlo en cualquier momento.
      Es precisamente ese aspecto maleable de la ciencia lo que la hace tan poderosa frente al dogma impuesto de las religiones.

      Bueno… me alegra mucho haber encontrado otro dominicano que antepone la razón frente al delirio religioso que sucumbe al país.

  • Corey Schroyer

    Interesting, I will say that as a Christian I have no hate or ill feelings towards anyone who does not believe in God. I will say this, you said the short answer was you read the bible yet you did not further that answer with very much about what is wrong with the bible or bring into context why the bible makes you an atheist. Furthermore this just seems to be a narrative of your life rather than any valid reasoning as to why you do not believe in a creator God. You threw in the book by Karl Marx but even Marx at different points in his life said that he could believe in a God that created everything. You see Marx main argument was against religion, not God. Religion (simple webster dictionary will work) as defined could include atheism as it covers the entire definition. Your argument seems better suited to say that you don’t believe in religion but by calling yourself an atheist you must deal with the fact that by even posting this blog you are observing and devoting time to spread a set of beliefs of how the world and all people have came to be. I guess I just feel like the post could really be furthered to get a better understanding of the “why” that you pose in the headline of this post. Thanks for posting the link on my page I did enjoy reading this.

    • Hello Corey,

      I’ve been meaning to reply to your post since the day your posted it but I guess I haven’t had the time to be “bored” lately 😉

      That’s also why I haven’t posted anything new in some time…

      Anyway and first of all, I truly appreciate your post: respectful and thoughtful.

      Now, a couple of comments… on your comment:

      1) “…you said the short answer was you read the bible yet you did not further that answer with very much about what is wrong with the bible…”

      I really didn’t think it was necessary. Many others (http://truth-saves.com/) have made it very clear what’s wrong with that book. That alone would require a whole new and extensive post.

      2) “Religion (simple webster dictionary will work) as defined could include atheism…”

      No. You, saying that, indicates a clear misunderstanding of the actual meaning of atheism.

      3) “…calling yourself an atheist you must deal with the fact that by even
      posting this blog you are observing and devoting time to spread a set of
      beliefs…”

      Well, what I’m actually observing is that religion (or to generalize, the believe in something without proof, facts, reasoning or evidence) is a delusion responsible for more evil doing and wrongfulness than anything else.
      It should be treated as a mental disease that spreads like a virus.
      So, this post (among the others here) are just to help spread the idea (notice the difference between idea and believe) that religion is bad. Bad for you, as a human being and even worst for humanity (the cumulative parts of every single being).

      Again, I want to emphasize that I truly appreciate your comment and if I hadn’t replied earlier is because I’ve been quite busy.

      Oh, and one last thing. You say at the end that I posted this on your page? I don’t remember posting a link to this blog entry anywhere — perhaps it was someone else?
      Also, where is your page/website?

      • Corey Schroyer

        I appreciate the response to my comment, and I won’t further mine too much more other than to say that I have two very strong atheist friends whom I love talking to about the idea of religion, but I will say that I feel I have a pretty good grasp on the “actual” meaning of atheism as I have been around even more than those two, and have taken over two courses on the history of religion in which atheism and marx were all included. But we shall agree to disagree for now. And finally the fact that I am a Christian, one whom people call religious, doesn’t make me anymore inherent to more evil doings or wrongfulness that anyone else. In fact biblically speaking some of the most “religious” people of that time spoke out against Jesus Christ’s teachings, religion isn’t how I define myself or life.

  • anonima

    Tengo 14 años, soy dominicana y atea. Me siento realmente sola, no encuentro a nadie que no sea creyente! Estudio en una escuela católica y finjo ser católica para pasar desapercibida… Mis familiares son todos creyentes excepto mi padre… No quiero que me saquen de mi escuela, ya que allá tenga muchos amigos y es muy buena, tengo miedo de que me expulsen por ser atea! Probablemente si la gente se entera de que no creo en su dios, me tacharían de loca o hasta “del diablo” porque lamentablemente así son muchos… algún consejo?

    • Te comprendo perfectamente y te aseguro que sé muy bien por lo que estás pasando.

      Pero ten presente que no estás sola. Te aseguro que muchos de los que actualmente estudian contigo están pasando por lo mismo que tú, pero nadie se atreve a ser el primero en anunciarse como no creyente.

      Nadie puede sacarte de tu escuela por tus creencias, ya estas están defendidas por la libertad de expresión y pensamiento de la declaración de los derechos humanos (http://www.un.org/es/documents/udhr/).

      Claro está, que el intentar expresar tu condición podría acarrear un sinnúmero de consecuencias negativas que te afectaran durante el resto de tu docencia; por lo que queda a tu discreción el seguir fingiendo tu fe.

      Es un tema difícil y muy complicado, sobretodo en este país en el que vivimos, donde la religión está infiltrada en todas las áreas sociales y hasta políticas.

      Lo único que podría recomendarte es que te unas a una que otra red social que se afilie a tu forma de pensar y a través de las mismas tratar de conocer personas que vivan a tus alrededores.

      Aunque personalmente no estoy 100% de acuerdo con la filosofía de la Asociación de Ateos Dominicanos, creo que podría ser un excelente lugar para empezar a conocer personas que piensan igual que tu: http://ateodom.blogspot.com/

      Y, por supuesto, no dudes en utilizar esta misma vía para comunicarte conmigo, en caso de que tengas alguna pregunta, inquietud o tan solo quieras escuchar de alguien que comparte tu ateísmo.

      • anonima

        Siento haber tardado tanto en responder! Soy la misma persona y las cosas han cambiado un poco. Cuando publiqué el mensaje me sentía realmente triste y agobiada debido a mi ateísmo, tanto así que empecé a buscar en inglés lo que necesitaba leer, y me encontré con esta página. Le he comentado mi ateísmo a algunos amigos y amigas de confianza y están bien con ello, de hecho dos en mi curso no creen en dioses, una de ellas no tiene una religión específica, sólo “cree” y es abierta a todo tipo de opiniones contrarias a las suyas, y una amiga está empezando a dudar y a preguntarse sobre el verdadero sentido de la vida, el origen de lo que nos rodea y cosas por el estilo.

        He tenido la oportunidad de conversar con una chica atea (también dominicana) que se encuentra en las mismas que yo, no es de mi ciudad pero me hizo sentir bien el hecho de que no soy la única!

        Me hacía tantas preguntas… y ahora tengo respuestas para muchas de ellas, aunque aún tengo un montón de interrogantes que me han animado a estudiar ciencias como la física, biología, matemáticas en la universidad. Y no tenía idea de qué estudiar antes y ahora me apasionan estas materias, junto con la anatomía.

        El ateísmo ya no supone un gran problema para mi y tu mensaje me ha ayudado mucho, aunque no lo creas. Espero que veas esto y no se quede en el olvido.

        Gracias de verdad

        • No te imaginas cuanto me complace saber ti y sobre todo, apreciar una considerable mejora en tu “tono de voz”.

          ¿Ves como no estás sola?

          Aún en un país con tantas influencias religiosas, los ateos están (estamos) por doquier y lo más importante es saber que no estás sola.

          En relación a tus estudios, te recomendaría que, si el tiempo te lo permite, trates de leer algo relacionado con la lógica (https://goo.gl/ZpcBIp).

          Es importante y de sumo valor tener conocimientos sobre las ciencias aplicadas, pero la lógica es algo que abrirá tu mente de una forma que nadie pudiera explicarte.

          A mi entendimiento, no existe mayor herramienta.

          Ser ateo es mucho más que negar los argumentos de los teistas; es saber el porqué esos argumentos son inválidos (falacias, ilógicos e incongruentes).

  • recondito

    Im a dominican atheist too. My family is very similiar to yours, my dad is an immigrant from a first world country, and he is an agnostic and my mom is an atheist. I havent told anybody in my class because they are the most antiatheist people i have ever known. The fact that I did not take cateism classes was very polemical and even the parents were procupied. We, for our sake, had to lie and say we were working on cateism at home.
    This country is very behind, but I believe we can make progress.