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Oct 18 2008 Published by under Uncategorized

Can You Remember The Day That You Officially Became An Atheist?

First of all, I wouldn't necessarily call myself an "atheist" in what has come to be the colloquial use of the word (which is more towards 'anti-theist' than atheist). More in the sense of being a-theist, the same way that molecules that do not rotate waves of light are a-chiral. 'It' or 'higher power' just are not a part of my modus operandi or philosophy of myself or the world. The universe IS what it is, and how it is constructed and how the parts relate and connect. I have no inner drive to anthropomorphize it. Our feelings and emotions are all created by complex chemical interactions, and I don't need to ascribe any meaning to that other than that it is pretty cool you can get such emergent behaviors and outcomes out of the same set of chemicals and biomolecules.

So, nope. I do not remember the day I fully arrived at thinking this way. It was a gradual realization that it was not necessary for there to be anybody out there, and that even if there was something/somebody, it didn't need to care about us and vice versa. It's irrelevant. And all the usual excuses for why there "must" be some "purpose" (so we have a reason to be good people and not eat each other, so we have a reason to help poor people out, so we have a reason to get up in the morning, so we have a reason not to sleep with each others' wives and husbands) are BS. Those are things that make sense for the overall social functioning of a group of organisms with our complexity and unless we are too dumb to realize the direct survival benefits (and unless we are just fundamentally selfish and/or broken), there is no NEED for some construct telling us to do them OR ELSE. But then, I suppose that illustrates the need for the construct: most people cannot handle the idea of there being nothing other than what IS. Me, I'm fine with that realization.

Do you remember the day you officially became an agnostic?

N/A

How about the last time you spoke or prayed to God with actual thought that someone was listening?

I don't remember the precise 'last time,' but I was an active member of a Baptist Evangelical church and youth group in high school. And I remember really believing it all at the time--aside from always having a level of discomfort with circular arguments, and never believing that homosexuals were going to go to hell (and never quite believing in hell at all really), I did think at the time there was something there that I was talking too. I always did have a sneaking feeling that who/whatever *I* was talking to was not the same as who *they* thought they were talking to, since the one I talked to would never be burning the non-believers in hell because that was just unfair given the power differential and lack of direct evidence.

Did anger towards God or religion help cause you to be an atheist or agnostic?

Nope. Puzzlement, however, perhaps did. I just didn't understand why anyone would WANT to believe the modern interpretation of the traditional materials. I studied quite a lot of theology and Christian history in college, since I went to a Catholic liberal arts university. And the more I studied where all these ideas and constructs came from, what they ACTUALLY said, how they were compiled, published and disseminated, the more I was confused about WHY people would want to cling to them as a way of feeling comfortable in the world. Seriously, most of that shit makes God look like a crazy, mercurial, arbitrary asshole who just does things to people to make his points without any fairness or TRUE judgement about his decisions (like a few PIs I know...). And there, the excuses are usually that it's because 'his ways are mysterious' or some crap. But frankly, any 'higher power' that treats us as if we are too stupid to understand its decisions so that it can do whatever it wants whenever it wants is just a hypocrite. And I am confused and baffled to think that people WANT that, but there you go: they either don't think about those parts of what they are professing to believe, or they make excuses for it, because having someone/something else to blame and fall back on for their actions and decisions (good and bad) makes life easier for them.

Here is a good one: Were you agnostic towards ghosts, even after you became an atheist?

Huh? Why is that "a good one?"

Do you want to be wrong?

It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if I am wrong, or if I want to be wrong, or what. Things work the way they work, they are beautiful that way and we don't even know the 0.0000000000000000000001% of it. It's cool the way it is, and my opinion about it makes not one iota of a difference to the operations of it all. (Unless that physics question about whether when you look at a particle you affect it is more apropos than we realize--maybe I'm making a bubble universe right now just by describing aspects of how I think the universe works...)

4 responses so far

  • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    First of all, I wouldn't necessarily call myself an "atheist" in what has come to be the colloquial use of the word (which is more towards 'anti-theist' than atheist). We haven't come to that have we?! I hope that by speaking out and identifying ourselves as atheists (in the original meaning, i.e. absence of a god) that we can distinguish atheists from the much smaller anti-theist community.Hmm, is that word verification thingy saying vw, wv, or vvv? I will have to make a guess...

  • Arlenna says:

    You must have guessed right!You know, plenty of atheists probably do not identify themselves as anti-theist. But my observation is that many do, and that the pro-theist crowd tends to perceive all atheists as anti-theists whether that is accurate or not.In the end, the principle of the thing doesn't mean much if there is a major perception one way or another. It would be nice if people would remember the word source and fundamental meaning (about lots of things), but popular usage seems to win most of the time. I wish it wasn't so, but that has been my experience (particularly during internet arguments, where the word-usage card gets played pretty regularly).

  • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Hmmm, maybe it is a US vs UK/Canada thing...

  • Arlenna says:

    Yeah, there is a lot of polarization and animosity over this issue in the US. Certainly a HUGE difference compared to other places. It was such a non-issue in Britain, where I went to grad school, and coming back here was kind of a religious culture shock.

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