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Were you born an atheist?

Christopher Hitchens often mentioned his first recollection of questioning the veracity of religious claims during nature class as a school boy, and referred to himself as being among a number of people who it is said can never believe in such things. He went on to say this was guessed to be around as much as 10% of people. Perhaps it is due to some feature of the brain or upbringing or mixture of the two, but I certainly agree with this idea.

I count myself among their number - people who can never and could never believe in the supernatural domain. Especially so when combined with ritual.

I remember thinking also as a child, although granted not too elegantly, that certain things were simply nonsense. Oh, I often wished for magic, played games of fantasy and other such childhood entertainment. I often became scared by things I was told by adults or watched on television, but ultimately I never thought any of it to be real.

My most vivid memory in this regard, was the time I ventured into Chapel for the first time at the age of seventeen with a then-girlfriend, whose family attended. 'I'll give it a try ', I thought, and so went the usual intellectually castrating sermon followed by singing etc. A number of inclusive tricks were used during discussion groups, such as telling me what a lovely reading voice I had when my turn came to read a verse. Finally, at the end of the service on my leaving, an elder of the church approached me, and without much procrastination began to say, with no introduction and in an almost sinister manner that I MUST come back next week and he would see me back in chapel next time and other such pushy insistence.

The reason this sticks out in my mind is to do with the feeling I had at hearing this man's words. I remember feeling myself recoil internally, somehow affronted and horrified yet unable to verbalise it. I can only assume this revulsion to be a form of the natural non-belief that has been previously alluded by our friend Hitch.

Do you agree with the main sentiment? Do you have similar experience that makes you agree?



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