I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you this Internet, but from the ages of 11 to 16, I went to a very strict, Christian school. As the title of this blog post may suggest to you, I did not enjoy the experience very much.

This blog was supposed to come to fruition a short while ago, when I asked a friend of mine if he would like to write a post, offering his opinion on religion. He is one of the most intelligent people I know, and he is well-versed in all things Biblical. He gratefully accepted, and it will be a detailed and cohesive explanation on the merits of evolution vs creationism. Until the time when he has the opportunity to sit down and craft the perfect argument, I would like to give you this. It will not be the science behind it, as I am far less qualified to talk about that than he, but rather, my experience with religion and the school that exposed us to it in such a vast quantity.

(The reason behind this blog appearing now is because I recently had the pleasure of meeting acclaimed professor and atheist Richard Dawkins. Total BAMF.)

My parents are non-believers, but I don’t remember ever discussing religion with them during primary school (ages 4-11 for you non-UK’ers). I remember having a Bible story book, that had lots of jazzy pictures of Noah and the ark, and I bloody loved it. I knew there wasn’t any truth to it though, but not because anybody had told me. Just because it wasn’t scientifically feasible. I mean, really. How big was that ark, anyway? Even if it was the size of a cruise ship, how long would it have taken Noah to build it himself? From what I remember, the townspeople thought he was a nutball, so he wasn’t getting any helping hands there.

(At the age of 11, I got into a local school that had an amazing reputation, and consistently highly ranked exam results. Kids had to have tests and an interview to get in, and I was bricking it when I went for mine. Some friends that had already been had said they’d been asked to explain how a kettle works. I don’t even drink tea (which is unheard of in a British person), so hadn’t had many prior dealings with ours. As it turns out, my parents’ efforts to explain what an element does were wasted (I still have no fecking idea). I was stoked to just be asked what nine multiplied by 7 was, and even more chuffed when the interviewer clocked me working it out on my hands, and smiled. It’s 63, by the way. Don’t say this blog isn’t educational.)

Before getting in, I hadn’t given the religious nature of the school a second thought. So concerned was I with passing all of the tests and the interview, that I didn’t really know what to expect come September. I’ll not bore you with a play by play of each RE lesson or school assembly (though they were many and often). It’s easier to give a brief overview, because the message was the same in each: Christianity explains it all. (A spin-off to Clarissa Explains It All, though with less climbing in windows, and more learning about Jesus.)

There was really no other option, but to embrace the idea of Christianity. During those first few years, every one of my friends was a Christian at one point or another, myself (sort of) included. Hearing about the concept of evolution, in one physics lesson when I was about thirteen, was incredible. Admittedly, the teacher himself was a Christian, so it was very much put forward as a theory, rather than a definitive explanation.

I’d never been entirely convinced about Christianity, but more went along with it for an easy life. It was far less hassle to just accept, with a pinch of salt, everything they were telling you than it was to question it. (One RE lesson, a boy asked our teacher where the dinosaurs featured in the Bible. He said we’d cover it in the next lesson. Ten years, I’m still waiting.) I went with my friends to a local Christian event a handful of times. It was a music concert mixed with a lecture, with guests coming in to preach. The last time I went, I was with a group of about seven other girls, and at the same moment, they all began to cry. Having felt God “speak” to them, they were so moved. That’s the point where I thought, ‘Right, this is all a bunch of bollocks,’ and I’ve never looked back.

I would just like to clarify, I don’t blame Christians for their beliefs, and I’m certainly not singling them out. I feel the same about all religions, just this is the one I’ve had the most experience with.

I am an Atheist because I place my belief in science. I am informed, know the arguments on both sides, and am well aware of why believers live their lives a certain way. More power to them, really. Whether it’s because of your upbringing or a religious conversion in later life, you’re free to have whatever opinion you want, which is glorious. Believing in a religious notion doesn’t then, though, furnish you with the right to thrust that opinion upon others, which is something I could have benefited from knowing when I was younger. I don’t blame the school for making me an Atheist, but I certainly credit them with it, for which I am eternally (Only until I die; after that, they’re getting nothing) thankful.

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