Imagine that you are teenager and your family, which is your primary source of love and support, begins to disown you, harshly criticize you, shout at you and sometimes even physically attack you whenever you are present. Most would agree that this is a very unappealing lifestyle for a mere teenager. This image encompasses my complete adolescent experience. One could only imagine how isolated and emotionally abused I felt simply because I, being an atheist, possess a dissimilar belief system then their traditional system; they are entirely evangelical Protestants. I’m one of the extremely rare African-Americans who decided to reject traditional belief, and this is a substantial issue because the African-American community integrates Christianity into the black foundation and identity so much that anything different is extremely taboo. Therefore, being an African-American atheist yields to a unique and powerful burden of adversity. The black community has shown that they’re more accepting of drug dealers, murderers and criminals than they are of black, college-bound atheists. Whenever I recall all of the social, mental and emotional complications that I’ve endured since my decision, the pain reappears as ripe as the actual memory. I have lost multiple friends, been physically abused and my community disclaims me in all aspects. In essence, I have lost most of the love that I needed at many points of my life due to my beliefs. However, I must find my inner strength and allow this pain to be converted into positivity and motivation. This positivity and motivation led me to charter a chapter of the Secular Student Alliance on my campus, mainly because atheists needed a place to reside that fosters understanding, love and support that may be devoid in their everyday life.
Every atheist has their personalized reason as to why they disbelieve. Many have decided to be atheist due to the faults in their prior religion, or perhaps they simply possess the desire to be rebellious (one I have heard more often than you’d think). Nonetheless, the reason that I reject religious convictions is rather simple — analysis using the scientific method and skeptical questioning. There are two schools of thought in my stance: analysis of religion itself and analysis of a supreme deity. I am a very scientific thinker. In fact, science has always been my favorite and best subject, which is the reason I am getting a degree in biochemistry. Science has taught me the methods of questioning and determining what is fact versus what’s not. The short answer as to why I reject both religion and a supreme deity is that there is absolutely no reason or evidence whatsoever to believe in either. Of course, some would appeal to universal origins or the beauty of life, but to those I would refer to the words of Friedrich
Nietzsche, “There is not enough love and goodness in the world to permit giving any of it away to imaginary beings.” Overall, there is simply not enough evidence to believe in a supreme being, so, instead, I enjoy life as morally stable man without God.
So, yes, I am an African-American atheist and I am proud to identify as such. Once I first became an atheist, I felt very friendless and alone but thanks to organizations such as FFRF, Black Nonbelievers, the Secular Student Alliance, American Humanist Association and many other organizations, I know that I am not alone. Not only do I have new friends that understand what I have been through, but it seems as though we are a form of family. So, as I conclude, I must say that I will continue to support the Good without God movement to the best of my abilities in order to sustain friendships, connections and a safe-zone for people like me.
Therrin, 21, is from Knoxville, Tenn., and attends the University of Tennessee. He is a senior wh
o is seeking a biochemistry degree and eventually wants to pursue a career in optometry.