I’ve always loved animals. When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I used to rescue every critter that crossed my path, trying to save them from the cruel world. I was successful at bringing back to health some of them; but more often than not they died while in my care… I cried for every single one of the animals I was not able to “save” but that didn’t deterred me in my efforts to help them. I was born that way.
I was raised a Catholic, but my family didn’t go to church too often. My grandfather was a socialist atheist who offered me a different perspective from what was being hammered into my brain while I was attending catechism. My grandfather was very wise and didn’t push me into believing what he believed in; he subtlety gave me a different point of view.
My mother also played an important role in my upbringing; she allowed me to be myself even when she didn’t understand half of the things I was doing. Not once did she tried to deter me from my quest of saving every creature I thought need saving, including humans.
When I was about 10 years old or less, I found a mother and three little kids that were begging on the steps of the church I used to attend. I used to go alone, as my family didn’t enjoy attending church as I previously mentioned. Seeing this mother and her little kids, dirty, dressed in rags broke my heart. I couldn’t understand how people were walking out of church pass them as if they were invisible. This mother was asking for money to feed her kids so I went up to her and brought the whole family home for lunch. I asked my mother to sit them at our table, share our food with them and using our china and silverware. My mother did as I asked her, without a frown and with a big smile on her face. She made them feel welcomed and this poor mother was so grateful that to this day I remember her gratitude. After they left, my mother did reprimanded me, not for offered them food but because I sat them at our table and they – according to my mother – could have germs and she said she was sure they had lice and I could get “infected.” But she didn’t mind my altruistic inclinations; actually she was proud of them.
My stepfather loved to enrich my brain with books. He bought me every book he could find and loved to see me devouring the books he so happily found for me. I read every single one, from Sci-Fi to history books. I’m very thankful that he not only helped developed my brain, but he encouraged my appetite for learning.
When my grandfather passed away I was heartbroken as he and I were very close. But the thought of him going to hell tormented me. I went to see my priest and shared those dark and fearful thoughts with him, I was hoping he could comfort me and tell me that my grandfather was a good man and therefore, regardless of his religious views, he was going to go to heaven. To my surprise, he told me that unless he had accepted Jesus in his heart before he died, he was condemned for eternity to hell. I rejected this; I couldn’t accept that a good man, a righteous man was going to burn in hell for eternity. What type of arrogant, narcissist God was this that a good man was sent to hell while a criminal or murderer that “accepted Jesus in his heart” before dying was welcomed in heaven? So my search to prove the priest wrong began at the tender age of 11.
I read every theology book I could get my hands on, which was a difficult task since I lived in a Communist country… but I found them, hidden in some libraries or in my stepfather’s book collection. I read them all. The more I read, the more convinced I became that God was just a figment of the imagination; a reason to justify terrible things and a way to manipulate the weak and a method to control the masses.
I do believe in a force, a universal energy force; an energy that we all have within us. But the concept of a god that is there, judging everything, choosing and picking who is good and who is not, based on how much they adore him is nonsense.
Today, so many years later, I am agnostic tending into atheism. When I see what the religious right is doing to this country, when I see how hateful and pompous the religious institutions are and how they manipulate their congregation into crushing other’s rights, the more I am leaning into atheism… Throughout history many crimes against humanity have taken place and most, if not all, were inflicted on humanity in the name of God. It is happening to this day.
This is why after so much reading and after so many years have gone by, the more I learn about god... the more I love my dog.