Journeys to Humanism, theHumanist.com’s regular series, features real stories from humanists in our community. From heartwarming narratives of growth, to more difficult journeys, our readers open up about their experiences coming to humanism.
I recall from an early age I was skeptical of what my mother was reading to me from the Bible. I recall her telling me that on Judgment Day, Jesus would come riding on a cloud to take all the good people up to Heaven and, as a child, I wondered how that would be possible-especially if I were someplace other than in my home country. What if I was in Japan, how would he see me?
Nonetheless, I ignored “my gut”, science, and fact, and for sixty years I considered myself to be a Christian! I even thought if you were not a Christian then you must be an evil person. I didn’t know there were other religions. It was Christianity and nothing else. In fact, I thought one had to belong to the right kind of Christian church, holding a degree of animosity and suspicion between Baptists and Methodists, for instance.
Regardless, throughout my life I’ve had experiences as a Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Disciples of Christ, African Methodist Episcopalian, and with more liberal sects like Unity, Religious Science, and Unitarian Universalism. As I sporadically, and in no great detail, studied various religious beliefs, I fleetingly thought “Who in their right mind could actually believe that!” And, of course, different sects disbelieve what the other sects believe.
I completed three of the five years of study toward being a Religious Science Practitioner and graduated from the Unity School of Continuing Education as a Licensed Teacher. After that, I really got involved with Christianity. I was a founding board member of First Church of Religious Science in Indianapolis and Three Rivers Church of Religious Science in Pittsburgh and served as president and vice-president of the Unity Truth Center in Indianapolis. I have been a member of the choir, taught Sunday School and adult education, was a platform assistant, and chaplain. I traveled around, speaking on Sundays as guest speaker at Unity and Religious Science churches in Anderson, Indianapolis, Carmel, Bloomington, and Muncie, Indiana; Dayton, Ohio; Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania; and Orlando, Mt. Dora, and Eustis, Florida.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, I became disgusted with religion and I came out of the closet as a nontheist, skeptical, heretical, free-thinking, humanist. I find more solace in consulting with several humans than I could in any mythical god or gods. I am no astrophysicist, like Neil deGrasse Tyson, however I have seen no evidence for the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, polytheism, nor monotheism. If anything, I am pantheist: “god is everything and everything is god.” Or, perhaps the “Big Bang” is god, or god is another name for the Universe. First Cause, then Affect. Or simply, I am atheistic in my understanding and “there is no ‘god’.”
I am a strong proponent of the separation of government from religion, and religion from all levels of government. I believe in a person’s right to die with dignity, and not prolonged suffering against their wishes.
I have gone from skeptical child, to student, to agnostic, to nonbeliever. I am content in my nontheism and have no interest in converting anyone. I would not deprive a child of the belief in fairy tales, including religion, knowing that in time reason will prevail. And if some people hold on to myths it is not my assignment to dissuade them; different strokes for different folks.
I am a humanist because I have no evidence of a species more intelligent, caring, discerning, helpful, and inventive as humans. To think that all you see that was made by humans, started with nothing but an idea and what the Earth provided. Build, baby, build!