Escape from the Woo Zoo: The Questions Keeping me Awake During Nap Time
This story is reposted from my blog.
I was a child of Atheist parents. I, like all other children, came into the world with no concept of God whatsoever. I was unaware of my parent’s lack of belief for some time, though.
When I was… well, I don’t remember at all how old I was, I went to a Montessori school for pre-school. The teacher was a very nice evangelical Chinese woman. It was there that I first learned what God was.
I was excited my first day there. There were loads of fun games to play, nice people to play them with, picture books…
And then we sat down to lunch. I was ravenous, so I went ahead, opened up my lunchbox, and started shoveling food into my mouth.
“What are you doing?!” came a harsh whisper. I looked up from my food to see everybody’s heads bowed along with the teacher.
“She hasn’t finished praying!” said another child.
It was then that I learned that there was somebody called “God”. God was an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent being. He created us, protected us, and watched over us, sometimes granting us prayers. Cool!
I remember two major falsehoods they taught me there. God and Santa Claus. Santa Claus I debunked sooner. My first Christmas after learning about him, I was laying awake listening for him. When I heard a sound outside my room, I snuck out to be confronted by my Dad. Wasn’t much of a mystery how the presents got into the house the next day…
But God I believed in for a while.
Not only was the teacher at my pre-school teaching us about God everyday and making us pray, but my mother would take me to church. It’s not that she was a theist. She couldn’t care less whether I believed in God or not. She wanted me to go to church so that I could understand American culture.
I still remember the song I learned on the first day there. “Jesus loves me this I know, because the Bible tells me so.” And why do we know the Bible is true? Because it says it’s telling the truth. And how do we know the Bible is telling us the truth about telling the truth? Because it says… When I grew up and became more educated I learned that the term for this is circular reasoning.
At the same time, I started reading a lot. My favourite books were about science and… dinosaurs! I dunno if I became interested in them after I was obsessed with Land Before Time or if I became interested in them because of Land Before Time. Either way, dinosaurs were really cool… except… they were dead. Quite a shame but… wait a minute… If God created us and the dinosaurs, and God protected us and loved us because we were His creations… Why would God have let the dinosaurs go extinct?!
This bothered me and kept me awake during nap time. It made no sense.
Columbine happened a short while later. If God was protecting us and loved us, why would he let something like that happen?
Then there was another paradox that really killed God for my pre-school brain.
If God wanted us to believe in him, and he made us, why not make us so that we already believed in him? Of course, he apparently gave us free will to choose, but I wasn’t born with a conception of who God was. Why not instill in me at least some knowledge that he existed so that I could rebel against him if I chose to?
And then I said to my parents “this religion stuff is really stupid” or something to that effect.
I’d like to say I’ve been an Atheist ever since but in 4th grade I tried praying to God to help me on math tests. It didn’t work. I’ve been an Atheist ever since.