How I Became an Atheist: Umran Haji

I was raised in a Muslim family. I was never a particularly “good” or devout Muslim and I rarely practiced Islam, but I more or less espoused a belief in God and the tenets of the religion, and generally used this to guide my opinions about morality.

My path to atheism began when I was a junior in high school (though I did not realize it until after I became an atheist). Throughout high school, I was interested in a career in politics, and in the fall of junior year I had just returned from a summer camp geared towards students interested in politics. Instead of being excited by the experience, I became rather disillusioned; one of the things we did there was nightly debates on all sorts of political issues, and I became disillusioned by how entrenched people were in their political opinions, how people stick to their positions even if it means making fallacious arguments, and how the mining of facts and statistics to support a position trumps the search for what is actually the case.

This was not for me. Something in the fabric of my being told me that there was something that everyone was missing out on, and that the endless ideological charlatanism of partisan politics was obscuring what was actually the case. I did not want to end up like everyone else; I did not want to argue for positions unless I could have a high degree of assurance that they were true, and I thirsted for an intellectual setting where people value truth over ideology.

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How I Became an Atheist: Jonathan Morales

Our club will be posting personal stories of how we each came to repudiate belief in God, so stay posted for more stories!

“Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.”- Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

How exactly does one become an atheist? What leads to the rejection of belief in God? How does one cope with the idea of leaving behind a tight-knit religious community? These thoughts were never really things that crossed my mind when I was 16 years old; I identified as a Roman Catholic, but merely because of my circumstances. Coming from a community of Mexican-Americans, Catholicism is so deeply ingrained into my culture that being anything but a Catholic is almost akin to being anything but a Christian in the Deep South.

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On Death and Mortality

pet lossHaving recently lost my dog, the past few days have consisted mostly of crying, solitude, and a weak attempt at trying to get work done (to no effect unfortunately). Yesterday night was extremely difficult; insomnia hung over me and I couldn’t muster up the strength to close my eyes since they burned. In the wee hours of the morning, I stepped outside onto the balcony to escape the confinement of my dorm room and I sat there for a good hour or so, trying to collect my thoughts on what had happened. The following is more or less a summarization of what I feel at the present moment.

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There are atheists in foxholes…

“When one proudly dons a U.S military uniform, there is only one religious symbol: the American flag. There is only one religious scripture: the American Constitution. Finally, there is only one religious faith: American patriotism”- Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (link here)

As most of you may have noticed, today is Veteran’s Day (or Remembrance Day for our Canadian friends). For many, it’s a day to relax from school and whatnot. For others, it’s a day set aside to respect the commitment some men and women made to defend their nation from all threats, foreign and domestic. While some of you reading this may disagree with the recent wars the U.S has embroiled itself in, I feel this escapes the point of today. You are free to disagree with U.S foreign policy and it’s implementation (I myself think U.S foreign policy is in need of major change) and it’s fine to denounce the wars. For today’s post, this won’t be the topic; that’s a discussion for another time. Continue reading

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Look at the Moon: Bill Maher’s Bigotry and the Tyranny of Words

Words are hard. Hard to understand, hard to use properly, and hard to control once they’re out there. Those of you who know me personally have heard me say this, and I certainly believe it, but even I often don’t realize just how powerful and dangerous words can be. Words are powerful because they represent reality, and they are dangerous because – and you might want to write this down – words are not reality. They have no meaning apart from the ideas they convey, and they have no importance apart from the actions they inspire. Ignorance of this fact is, I think, the biggest problem behind the whole Bill Maher thing. I was bothered at first that people wouldn’t stop talking about it, because I don’t think it’s important, but the controversy has given me the opportunity to clear up something that I think is important.

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