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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Atheism: It Just Fits

I haven’t written about my atheism and how I arrived here since I started this blog several months ago. I’ve often wondered why I haven’t the desire to do so. In those times of consideration I’ve come to the same conclusion. That my lack of belief in gods, the supernatural, miracles, divine intervention, prayer as a useful tool, and so on is truly a well-reasoned and thoroughly analyzed understanding of reality. The peace this feeling has given me is so deep that I find it challenging to describe. What I can tell you is that it just fits. Beautifully.

All of the dependency on God that I had for much of my life has been erased. At first I felt a great sense of loss. Feelings of disorientation, resentment, and nihilism loaded my mind. I had so much I needed to work through. I was audibly irritated for a while. I know I hurt and jarred many with my commentary and rhetorical questions. My sarcasm was in high gear. A clear sign of my hostility toward the fact that I had been indoctrinated as a child and forced to shuffle along with the herd, being kept in place by those who saw themselves as deserving of that level of authority over me. I didn’t shuffle passively. I’ve always been curious and certainly felt and continue to feel entitled to ask questions. My stance on perceived authority has been and remains rebellious. This pattern became super loud now that I had the atrocity of religion in my sights.

I see religious indoctrination as an act of violence against humanity. To take a new and currently forming mind of a child and mold said mind to suit the needs of a cruel, all-encompassing machine is most unethical. Add to that the seduction and consequent assimilation that is exercised and cultivated by religious enthusiasts toward adults who are in seeking mode and you’ve got a big old ball of horrifyingly injurious human behavior. The potential achievements that can come from the human mind should be nurtured and encouraged vigorously. Religion and its supernatural cousins stand like a concrete wall between potential and its realization. This is completely unacceptable. Of course I am aware, and have been since my early teens, that religion came about as a form of government. Boundaries and rules are necessary for a productive society. But truly, people, we’re way beyond the point of needing government to be driven by religion now. It’s simply absurd.

When I first began using twitter I was tweeting about politics, news, and the bullshit that goes along with all of that. Eventually I bumped into one or two outspoken atheists and I felt like I had struck gold. Intellectual and emotional gold, that is. As I watched them go head to head with theists I was comforted to see that there were many more minds out there that shared my world view. At that point I was already beyond my nihilism by approximately two years. I had offered my family and friends, some religious, my renewed exhilaration for life and all the contemplations that created it. Some were excited and some were disturbed. It made no difference to me. I knew I had made my way to the true beginning of the rest of my days. So I tossed myself into this lovely sea of free thinkers with complete abandon. As I made my way around the atheist section of the twitterverse, I found that what I had to say and what I had learned was nothing new. I found this to be an amazingly beautiful sensation.

Now more than six months later I have found myself in a space in my real life where it’s not even necessary to discuss my atheism unless I’m involved in a civil debate more often triggered by questions about my perspective from theists. On twitter I see these debates being handled rather well. I enjoy seeing the different styles of those I follow and applaud them whenever I have the opportunity. My interest has rested, temporarily, in the area of intellectual, psychological, and emotional empowerment. I find that the more one feels their own worth, the closer they get to utilizing reason and logic to find their way through life and all of its challenges. The continued use of reasoning often allows for a more developed and tempered recognition and use of emotion. If one can set up this sort of mental foundation they are more likely to think independently and ultimately will offer a greater contribution to themselves and the world around them. I have no desire to remove anyone’s coping mechanisms prior to giving them the opportunity to at least grasp the notion that there may be another way. Religion, faith, prayer and the perception of an all-powerful being looking out for specific humans are all common coping mechanisms. Albeit primitive but nonetheless utilized by many to ‘get through’ life. Life isn’t something to get through. It’s a beautiful mess of fun, fearful, risky, indulgent, satisfying, challenging, and sometimes-brutal experiences, all to be relished and appreciated. I wouldn’t want to pray my way through such an incredible and fleeting experience. Would you?

I’ll continue to express my opinions and share my experiences as I see fit. That’s the reward of becoming and being a free thinker. As for the strong foundation I have built as I moved along the path to atheism, it just fits. And I’m realistically certain it will remain.

Be sure to follow Jen on Twitter @jen_august. Also follow her blog here.

 

My name is Kevin, I am a high school senior, and I am an atheist. My reason for submitting this story is that I haven’t seen any posts from fellow students, and I know there are many out there that are looking for some reassurance that they are not alone in their day to day struggles in being nonreligious, and I know from experience that hearing the “good news” so to speak from a fellow student is beneficial, as it was for me.

I come from a small town of Lexington, in the thumb of Michigan, on the beautiful shores of Lake Huron. I’m sure nobody reading this post has heard of it, it’s a very small town, so small that they school must combine the two neighboring towns of Croswell and Lexington, hence its name, Cros-Lex, as well as a great amount of the surrounding rural area.

I want to emphasize the diminutive size of the community because it contributed a great deal to the “aloneness” I felt in my coming to atheism. A rural community, as many of you are aware, is not often accepting of the kind of free-thinking that fosters ideas, such as atheism, that challenge long-held beliefs and traditions. And when an individual comes to such ideas, they are often made to feel isolated, as I was, and I’m sure many of my fellow students out there do as well.

The road to atheism wasn’t simple for me. It was a constant struggle starting back in the Catholic elementary school my parents put my siblings and I through. When I’d ask an honest question about some church doctrine, all I would receive was the old, ironed out responses of “god loves you” or “it’s a mystery”. And, like every other 10 year old, I would accept it as such, although I harbored grains of salt with them.

Through middle school, my first experience with public school, I was exposed to so much more than what my sheltered life before had prepared me for. My natural reaction was to hold close what was familiar, religion. However, the closer you hold something, the closer you can examine it. And we all know that religion has a tendency to crack under examination, even that of a twelve year old. But still the natural clinging to what was familiar kept me in the church.

High school was where the major transformation happened, as with many people. Sophomore year I gave up my Catholic label in favor of Agnosticism, and by my Junior year I accepted myself as an Atheist, but I held these beliefs in for fear of the repercussions from both the community and my still Catholic family. But I couldn’t hide them forever.

And the repercussions came! I first came out to various friends and in casual conversation with people to get myself used to the feeling. I received many dirty looks, many accusations of being a Satan worshiper, and was ostracized by the community in general. And to this day I still get odd looks from teachers when I omit “under god” from the morning pledge.

When I came out to my parents I had to face many facets of adversity I never experienced before. At first my mother wanted to throw me out of the house and take away any family money. She backed down from this, but she works to make me feel unwelcome in the house. Immediately after she bought many religious symbols (statues, prayer cards around the house, and even handbags) and made sure we were now going to church every Sunday. My parents both informed the aunts and uncles, and a few close friends, making sure I was there to be stared at. My only solace, as far as family goes, is that I’ll be off to college soon, and moving out.

I didn’t loose hope though. Upon coming out to my community, I discovered which friends were true, several of who also came out. I also found solace in a wonderful girlfriend, with whom I’ve been with for nearly a year, who has also come out as an atheist.

My message to my fellow non-believing students who are still hiding their beliefs, or have come out but don’t know where to go is that there is nothing to fear. Even if adversity is all you see when peaking out of the close door, you may be missing the full, wonderful picture of life after religion. For your own sake and the sake of others who may be hiding in your community, open the door, come out and allow others to see what an atheist looks like.