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.