Natural Born Skeptic
So there I was, a kid growing up in New York City in the 1990s, hailing from a secular home, and completely non-religious. I wasn’t all that different from my peers around me to be honest with you. New York is what I like to call the secular metropolis. Most of my peers and friends growing up weren’t religious at all. None of any of my close friends went to church. Belief in god and religion almost never came up in conversation. Looking back it seemed we were all a bunch of teenage nihilists, with a healthy rebellious spirit. We’d rather drink beer, talk about music and girls and ideas on how to get into trouble to keep us from being bored. Throughout all of my teen years I went through life basically living under the assumption of atheism. I seemed to have an intrinsic inclination towards the naturalistic worldview. I don’t recall ever believing that there were supernatural agencies at work behind anything that happened to me. I even thought that the spiritual idea of karma and the “what goes around, comes around” philosophy was nothing but wishful unsubstantiated nonsense. To me, things just happened, and it was foolish to look for a deeper intentional agency to explain what naturally occurred. When I got an outbreak of acne as a teenager, I didn’t go blaming it on god or karma; I blamed it on my genes that I inherited from my parents as the root cause. There was always a rational scientific explanation in my worldview.
In high school I started hanging out with these kids who were wannabe Satanists. They were metal heads who fancied death metal and thrash metal and rejected most mainstream alternative and hard rock as being too “gay”. Although I never quite got into death metal, I started getting into Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails and thoroughly enjoyed the caricatures they made about the religious right’s hypocrisy. In this new crowd that I hung out with, it was cool to hate on and make fun of religions like Christianity. I couldn’t have imagined what it would’ve been like to have been an actual practicing believer in god during those days. I would’ve most likely have had to keep those beliefs “in the closet” so to speak or else face the taunts and teases and possibility of being ostracized. But still, even in this anti religious environment in the late 1990s in high school, when death metal music and Marilyn Manson were at their peaks, I wasn’t at all a militant atheist. I never spoke adamantly about my lack of faith in god; I was never confrontational or tried to convert others to think like me. I pretty much kept my atheism to myself, only making it publicly known when the topic of god occasionally came up. But whenever god or religion did come up, I always remember expressing the voice of doubt towards anyone who even remotely believed.