U-Turn on the Road to Damascus

15 July 2007

In my 20’s, I underwent a religious conversion . . . I became an atheist (the Road to Damascus isn’t a one-way street).

And on New Year’s Eve last year I made two New Year Resolutions.  The first was that I would stop being such a tolerant atheist (as most of those I know are) and become a little more vocal about it.  I think it’s about time we were heard as the religious of all persuasions seem to have the loudest voices and are now starting to wield the greatest power, from our Minister of Health refusing to allow the importation of a drug because it offends his Catholic sensibilities (a ruling now thankfully overthrown by a group of female cross-party Senators) to State Government members being threated by a Cardinal with excommunication if they didn’t vote a particular way on the stem cell research bill.  (And I won’t mention the US President who believes that fighting in the Middle East is his personal Crusade – his word – because it fulfils some prophecy.)

So when I saw vast quantities of our money being spent on what is a Catholic recruitment drive in Sydney (see NSW Let’s Buy Votes Day below),  I wrote about it on the blog, wrote to my Member of State Parliament (Greg Smith – I’m not expecting a reply but if I do I’ll tell you about it) and have written to the Sydney Morning Herald.  I could of course write to my Member of Parliament, but as that’s John Howard I wouldn’t expect anything but a mealy-mouthed response, if I got one at all. 

I was brought up in a family and an era that decreed that religion and politics were not “polite” subjects for discussion – it may offend someone by disagreeing with their deeply felt beliefs.  And I’ve never gone out of my way to offend anyone.  But this rule seems to have been thrown out of the window and MY beliefs are offended on practically a daily basis. 

So I’ve decided to come out fighting.  I still have no objection to others believing whatever they want, but in the name of God/Allah/Jehovah/Santa Claus/The Tooth Fairy please keep your faith out of my life. 

And the second New Year Resolution?  Well, that’s a knitting one so will have to wait until another time.


  1. We enjoyed the Dawkins program on TV recently. Did you watch it? Or have you read his book?

  2. I’ve been a fan of Dawkins for a long time – have most of his books. Read The God Delusion earlier in the year and am waiting at the moment for David to finish Hitchens “God Is Not Great – How Religion Poisons Everything” so I can read that. I think Dawkins has inspired quite a few people to stand up and be counted. But my real inspiration came from Bertrand Russell and I proudly own a first edition of Why I’m Not A Christian.

  3. I’m about a third of the way through “The God Delusion” at the moment, and enjoying every word. I read Dawkins’ “The Blind Watchmaker” last year, and “Why People Believe Weird Things” by Michael Shermer a few months ago.

    I’m also a ‘born-again atheist’, and possibly have more invested in this stance than most, as I spent over a decade in a religious cult (to my deep embarrassment and shame). Since leaving in 2000 I’ve been constantly learning more about the ways of religion, cults, persuasion, and rational thought! So I applaud your view and stance!

  4. My own particular aversion is the person who thinks that if only one knew more, one would believe. This person singularly fails to understand that most of us non-believers have come to our state as a reasoned, informed choice – not by laziness or default. (In fact, I think these are two reasons why most believers are what they are…)

    Last week, two (well, there would be, wouldn’t there) Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door. They asked me if I would like to live forever. I replied by asking them if it was not the case that the Bible actually lays out the span of man’s life – three score years and ten. To my complete astonishment, they turned round and marched back up the path! One-nil, I think.

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