Clive Aruede

I am the second child of Nigerian parents who immigrated to Britain in 1964. My parents were not very religious but at school and church we had religion drummed into us from an early age. Each morning we had a school assembly of a religious character. On Sundays I went to Church and after the service we went to Sunday School.

As an adult I continued going to Church. The priests of St Peter and St Paul Roman Catholic Church suggested I should train as a Eucharistic Minister and I played that role for many years. Virtually all my family and friends were religious; it was only a matter of which church. Religion itself was never questioned.

By 2002 I was married, with three children, the eldest, Gloria, was then 12 years old. She is very bright and I had always encouraged her to ask questions if she did not understand anything. One day she asked me "Daddy, what is science?" It is possible to give a superficial answer such as, science is physics or chemistry but I knew this would not do. I searched online and got lots of results. I found out that science was the best method we have of getting to the truth. I read about cosmology and George Lemaitre's Big Bang, Mendelian Genetics, Darwinian evolution, the role of Plate Tectonics in shaping our world, Ontological naturalism, Gravity, Time, Einstein’s Relativity, Star birth and death and their role in making elements, Dark matter, Dark energy and I am still learning today.

The more I found out the more it became clear that each new bit of knowledge was corrosive to religion. How did the universe get here? The Big Bang. How did new life forms appear? Evolution. At each stage I fought an internal battle with myself; perhaps e.g. evolution was how God created new life forms. But based on Popperian falsifiability and Occam's razor, I simply realised that the God hypothesis was false. I was an Atheist. Suddenly I was living in a universe where there were no Gods, Angels, demons, ghosts etc. Mentally a weight was lifted from me and I became dizzy, light headed. I was unable to perform the functions in church that had become almost automatic. I had to watch other people to know what to do next.

When I told my children that I was no longer a believer, they were staggered. Thinking that it would make me stop joking around, they challenged me to tell everyone. So I composed an email explaining why I was no longer a believer and sent it to everyone on my mailing list. There followed a period of people writing and telephoning, and two people even came from abroad, to try and talk me back into religion. I told them that if any of them could start believing in Father Christmas again I would consider believing in god. It has adversely affected my relationships with family and friends but there is no going back.