Sixth Place Tie 2016 Michael Hakeem Memorial College: Time to put away childish things: By Adrick Tench

FFRF awarded Adrick $400.

By Adrick Tench

My deconversion from religion was gradual, creeping in like that process by which a man looks into the mirror one day with the sad realization that he has left his youth behind him, though he knows not when.

In my case, the realization was indeed a sad and painful one. Believing that the creator of the universe is just and merciful, that he loves you, that your death will not be the end but that you will live happily again with those you love in a world free of pain, is no small thing to part with.

While I cannot remember when precisely I lost my faith, I can at least remember the answer I gave to one of my friends who was curious how I had gone from being so devoted to Christianity to being so completely separated from it. “Well, I had my doubts,” I said, “and I suppose when you have doubts, you can either stifle them, or follow them wherever they lead you. And I followed mine.”

Follow them I did. From the writings of the “Four Horsemen” (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens), the countless debates and videos to be found on YouTube, and the online rants of “militant atheists,” I flooded myself with the thoughts and arguments of freethinkers. It became remarkable how little water the arguments of Christian apologetics held in comparison.

I doubt now that if I had not been predisposed by my parents’ teachings to believe in the words of the bible that I ever should have taken them seriously. To my mind, the most important argument for atheism is simply the lack of a good argument for theism. What is difficult for many believers is simply realizing that the burden of proof lies with them, and they have none.

What would impress me most would be to find believers who were dragged kicking and screaming into belief in the same way so many of us are dragged into unbelief. There could be no surer test that they had tried their hardest to disprove their religion, but were in the end still taken in by the force of its arguments and its evidence.
Where might I find such a person? Surely only among the ranks of freethinkers.

I have come to look back on religion as a slave looks back on a set of manacles. What was at one time so uplifting became, with time and reflection, horrid.

For every beautiful thought that religion gives to the readily faithful mind of a child, it must first give far more untruth, far more aversion to the true freedom of the mind, and, in all too many cases, far more fundamental misanthropy. Some people are told that their judgments are inadequate, that they must not doubt, and therefore they esteem blind faith as a virtue; others are told that they are wretched and much in need of saving, and therefore they esteem God’s mercy.

If, in weaker moments, I still look back longingly on the false comfort provided by the assurance of an afterlife, or of a final justice that would right the wrongs of this world, I would do well to remember the biblical words attributed to Paul: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” — 1 Corinthians 13:11.

Adrick, 21, was born and raised in Louisville, Ky., and attends Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He enjoys philosophy, music and tabletop RPGs (role-playing games).

Freedom From Religion Foundation