losing my religion

you know, it’s time.

it’s not like this is a new thing, but i’m not even sure if most of my friends even know this about me. since most of my socializing is online (yes, it is, so what?) anyway, i’m not at all sure they notice when they are in a bad way and ask for prayers, and i mumble something comforting and/or do the old ‘you are in my thoughts’ & send hugs, love, comfort, etc. i haven’t been in a discussion about this with anyone, and that’s ok, i have no driving need to debate anyone on the subject, as i do not disagree with anyone’s personal beliefs – those are yours, these are mine, and this shouldn’t feel like that much of a big deal, yet it does.

the closest i’ve come is to change my religious preference on facebook to pastafarian, quietly & without fanfare.

i’m not even sure why it is so difficult to come right out and say it: i’m an atheist.

according to wikipedia, “Atheism can be either the rejection of theism, or the position that deities do not exist. In the broadest sense, it is the absence of belief in the existence of deities.” i do not take the position that deities do not exist; negatives in general are difficult to prove, and this one in particular is virtually impossible. i would never confront someone with beliefs and attempt to dissuade them, in fact in some ways i actually envy those who are able to suspend disbelief and experience the faith and attendant comforts that these convictions offer – i just don’t have the knack for blind faith, though i did for the record try.

i spent a good portion of my life seeking faith. i went to bible camp, i tried several flavors of christianity, i invited door-to-door mormons in and even visited their temple; i considered judaism, investigated hinduism, even hung out with the hari krishnas in people’s park on the odd weekend in my youth. the closest thing i could accept would have been buddhism, however since they insist it is a religion, and i appreciate it as a philosophy, well, that’s kind of a problem. but i tried, i really did. in the end i had to find acceptance, even though this goes against the countless examples throughout history in which humans have demonstrated it is in their nature to believe in something, how many religions have their been? how many now? it’s overwhelming, and i exist outside of each and every one of them. i am not alone, and i am in very good company, but i’ve not up to this point been very active in those circles, mainly due to the whole stealth-atheism thing i’ve been doing.

but you see, when i watch a video like this one, i realize that skepticism is my thing, because this just tickles my intellect and also appeals to my very deepest instincts. this video is just full of aha moments for me, explaining things much better than i ever could:

i am not opposed to anyone whose spiritual life includes the blind faith i have no knack for, however i am deeply offended by fundamentalists of all kinds, especially the sort quoted here:

i fear their fear and their hatred, and i know that by coming out as an atheist, i open myself to attacks from that end of the spiritual spectrum, but then again i’d hardly be alone — that bunch attacks everything that moves and doesn’t one hundred percent agree with it. so no worries there.

my main concern is the awkwardness inherent in being a member of the smallish minority who does not believe. as such, i am in a disadvantage whenever the conversation devolves into the religious: i have absolutely no beliefs to bring to the table, and no desire to defend these non-beliefs with my wide array of reasons because in doing so, i feel that i would be criticizing those who do believe, and i do not wish to do that. i would never want anyone with beliefs to feel they had to defend them to me. as long as those beliefs are peaceful and benevolent, i respect them completely and wish with all my heart i shared them – it’s not the most comfortable state, this disbelief, but it is mine, and i have come to treasure it in spite of the uncertainty. i have, in fact, embraced and even rejoiced in this not knowing, and in the unknowability of these sorts of things in general – the best part about this is the acceptance and subsequent getting on with it no matter what, just because. life is amazing, and does not really need greater meaning, it is an intrinsically divine collection of moments, any of which might end it, and this is the one common truth shared between all lifeforms. a lifetime, whether measured in minutes, or weeks, or decades, is still a lifetime, a distinct yet infinitely unpredictable unit of measure into which a life fits, and that’s it. i’m not explaining this in fullness but i wish i was, or wish i could, though not sure i can.

there remains the aforementioned wide array of reasons, in which i am rather heavily intellectually invested, yet am not, at this point, elaborating on. however, if asked, i will elaborate at great length, so (as it is in all things) be careful what you ask for. and since posting this entry is something i’ve been putting off for a long, long time, and keeping typing would be such a much easier thing to do, i need to end this here and post now. i’ve revised extensively, and it still feels incomplete and too defensive, and like i’ve missed some important points, but i don’t know that it could ever feel any other way.

it’s time.

11 thoughts on “losing my religion

  1. Believing in something when there’s no proof that it exists is really hard . . . and I do envy people whose faith is stronger than mine. I believe in God because I want to believe, but I understand how you feel and the desire to not be tortured by it anymore. But, remember that you can still be spiritual even if you don’t believe in a specific god or theology.

    Also, while people who call themselves atheists might technically be a minority, I think most people (if they were honest with themselves) would say they’re in the same boat as you. People who would attack you for being an atheist are most likely just afraid that you’re right.

    We won’t know until we die whether there is a God or not, but that doesn’t change the necessity of using this life to do what we find most meaningful. Thanks for writing this . . . we need more messages from the heart in the world.
    .-= Julie´s last blog ..Again =-.

  2. Julie, i have always had a great deal of respect for your Christianity, because you truly practice it without hate or judgment, and if only there were more people like you who look to the spiritual tenets of Jesus rather than braying on and on about some old testament intolerance, what with the intolerance and the striking down.

    spirituality is the key, and i do believe in the fundamental interconnectedness of all things (h/t Douglas Adams) and also (and this is silly) remember Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, when they were asked for words of wisdom and responded “be excellent to each other” — that, i can believe in.

    i just can’t reconcile attaching my self to any one belief, since there are so many, and i can’t possibly imagine that i’d found The One, and everyone else was wrong. but, whatever one can find that fills the thing we all have and needs filling, the important thing is, fill it. and, be excellent to each other 🙂

  3. You actually sound more agnostic than atheist. Agnostics believe a higher power is possible but unprovable. They generally have issues with blind faith but admit that anything is possible.

    For the record, I’m neither agnostic or atheist (Though my father is an atheist). However, I have HUGE issues with organized “religion”. I tell people I am a spiritual person… not religious.

  4. Congrats on the spiritual revelation. Regarding your concern about justification and discussions on religion: I think its always good to keep in mind is that you are under no obligation to try to justify your beliefs, because there are no beliefs to justify. Like you said, its not like you believe there is no god. You are no more obligated to explain your absence of a religion than anyone must justify the absence of the belief that there are purple people on mars, or that mercury is made of cheddar.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to buy into any religions that range from just being kind of a stretch, to being utterly absurd. So don’t let anyone give you a hard time about it 😀

  5. there’s a lot of overlap in definitions, but, agnosticism is not incompatible with religion (and i am!), and it can even be used to describe people who are affiliated with a certain religion but disagree with certain aspects of it, and to me that feels a little ambiguous. i’d rather identify myself with atheism since the basis of the word is an absence of theism.

    i love that your father’s an atheist and you’re not, you know, back in the day (around 1970), there were even court battles in which atheists had to fight being denied the ability to adopt, with one of the early decisions against it stating that no child should be denied the opportunity believe in a god. i think that perception persists, and i am certainly not like that at all. i’ve always encouraged my kids to seek out and discover whatever faith they felt comfortable with. i even recommended they find something, because as noted above, i’m sure it’s a much more comfortable state of mind, especially for kids.

    but my son, who not only figured out that mom and dad were santa without being told, now spends a lot of time on youtube, and follows many of the outspoken atheists there, and identifies strongly. i never pointed them out to him, he found them on his own 🙂

  6. Hah. My dad holds a PhD in Gastroenterology. He’s a scientist first and above all else. If it can’t be PROVEN… it doesn’t exist. Mom…. Is a dyed in the wool Roman Catholic. It was an… interesting childhood. LOL
    .-= NotAMeanGirl´s last blog ..Pimping a Product =-.

  7. One of the biggest problems I have with “religious” people is their habit of judging people who do not measure up to their ideal of what religion is about.

    There are those of us who are believers, but do not negate anyone who does not believe. I myself am a believer of many things, whether they be God, faeries, ghosts, unicorns, or vampires. I believe anything is possible, and many things are just unknown to us still. I believe everyone has a right to choose their own beliefs. I also believe everyone has a right to be respected as a person, and not judged on their choice (or non choice) of doctrine.

    “Religion” is something that fanatics made up. True believers do not need a religious doctrine to tell them what to do, who to believe, and where to pray. True believers hear God in their hearts and souls, and pray with other believers because it lifts their voices and emotions higher, louder, stronger.

    Just like I do not choose my friends on race, creed, or color … I do not choose them based on their belief system. Agnostic, Athiest, Buddhist, Jew, Christian. You’re all still people.

    When I reach out to people and ask for prayers, I try to be respectful of other beliefs and also ask for positive thoughts and vibes, words of strength, or something similar. I know not everyone believes in a Higher Power. I do believe that my God proved himself to all of us (BFF, her fam, etc) with the gift of life He gave Seralyn. By all counts, she should have been dead at least three times. Many years ago, I also believe He proved Himself when He gave my own daughter the gift of life. Not only do I have a medical condition that prevents pregnancy 99% of the time, I was on TWO forms of birth control (condom & spermicide; pill); I also had a car accident that *should* have caused her death (according the the paramedics who were amazed she was moving, and the doctors who were amazed they did not need to do an emergency c-section to save her life). She was later born with the cord wrapped around her neck three times, starving her of oxygen … yet she lived – and lived to be strong. She could raise her head on her own when she was just a few moments old. She also had an ‘unknown’ mass that grew on her spine … yet did not harm her. Had I any doubts about whether God was real, they would have been changed with any of these miracles of life.

    However, my belief runs so deep in my soul that I do not need a person of the cloth, a Bible, or a religious fanatic to convince me. I do not even need a miracle of life to convince me. I know it is true in my heart.

    Knowing it is true in my heart does not stop me from loving anyone who does not believe. There is room in my heart for anyone whom I choose to love, and you, my sweet gyrl, are one of them.

    I love that you opened up and told us your story. I had my suspicions, and it had occurred to me that this was your way of thinking. However, I was not sure how to bring it up, because I do not like to discuss “religion” with anyone. I believe it is a personal choice, one we all must make for ourselves. [The word ‘suspicions’ looks so ugly up there … please know, it was not a negative train of thought. I just cannot think of a better word meaning ‘thoughts or ideas’ in that context.]

    I love you, for you. You are an amazing person, one I have enjoyed talking to immensely. One who offered me love and support when I needed it. One who makes me giggle and laugh.

    We may not speak often anymore, but it does not mean you are any less wonderful in my eyes. I think you are incredible. I only hope I can be half the woman that you are.

    xoxoxo
    .-= Devyl´s last blog ..Judgement Day, continued =-.

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