What the hell am I talking about? What do I mean? How can I reject what “everybody knows” is true? And how can I unequivocally insist that I am right? It’s rather easy, actually. While it may go against the grain of local society, engender worry in my family and something between fear and loathing in the Christian population I do unequivocally state that I am an atheist and I am right..
I have been an atheist for more than ten years. Before that I was disavowing the religious foundations I’d faltered on for so long and moving through agnosticism, at last arriving where I am today. It was an ugly, painful, distressing but unavoidable journey. Now that I’m here I constantly kick myself in the ass for not getting here much sooner.
I incurred so much pain and heartache, frustration, and discouragement I could have avoided! How much sooner should I have realized what really matters in life: not subservience to some heartless deity but life itself, my wife, the earth, and much more. Would that I had gotten here much sooner, before being this old and having to look backwards to nearly five decades of regret.
Let me back up. There are three types of Christians. First there are the “nominal” Christians, those who hit the high spots, show up for Christmas cantatas, Easter services, and a few more times a year, pay lip-service to their shallow faith, and generally live as they wish to with a buried hope that they “will make it.” Second there are the “faithful” Christians. Faithful Christians are those who attend all services, occasionally hold a position or teach Sunday school, or generally do their bit for their church while they go on with their normal lives.
The third kind of Christian is the “zealot.” This kind doesn’t just want to participate regularly but has a burning desire to “do more.” The zealot spends hours in prayer and looks for ways to not only increase his faith but provide aide, comfort and direction to others. Zealots become ministers and pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. I was a zealot.
From the earliest days of my childhood my deluded mind thought it was essential that I “do something” for Christ. I prayed hard and sought out ways to minister. Off and on I’d reach a point of discouragement and “fall away,” but way down inside was that little fire. I would come back and pick up my Bible and go out to win the lost in some form or other again. I did this over and over, despite setbacks and heartaches and shortcomings and worse. I did this for most of my life.
Over time I developed a problem that grew until it clouded my thinking. Part of me wanted to be the greatest follower of Christ in the century but another part had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and new understanding of, well, everything. In Christian circles those two things are not compatible.
I went to public school and later to college at a “secular” university. While I continued to bash my head against a wall of inadequacy and failure in the ministerial realm I began to read and study the Bible and reached a point where I had far more questions than answers. To the dedicated minister, that was bad.
There are countless articles, sermons, brochures and teachings on the perils of “secular education.” This is, for the uninformed, education devoid of direct and mostly indirect association with any religion. The bold headline on an article on the Kingdom Education Ministries website has the striking title “The Insideous Nature of Secular Education.” (ask me for the reference, or google it.) In it the minister makes the point that secular education is bad not only because the material is not focused upon Christianity but also because Christian teachings are entirely left out. Education did not “cause” my defection but it did teach me to think. Thinking is bad.
Push to shove
Eventually thinking pushed me out of my faith. I clearly saw major inconsistencies in the Bible. Before I’d done as all “good Christians” do, I rationalized and ignored and/or stopped thinking about those things and just concluded that “God’s ways are mysterious.” But eventually that didn’t work for me.
I struggled through a long and growing line of failures, mis-steps and soul damaging crashes even after I poured my heart and soul into prayer, effort and will. I was appalled by the massive dichotomy that existed between the things ministers taught and the way they lived as I witnessed it moving up into various ministries.
Some Christians I knew were “faithful.” They tried hard to maintain their lives according to their beliefs. Many Christians however, especially ministers, did not do that. I met liars, bigots, and preachers extremely selfish and protective of their little
fiefdom ministry. And those people survived and advanced where I failed. That made no sense.
Eventually I realized that I had never had a single prayer answered and had never seen anyone else’s prayers answered definitively. People made assumptions, rationalizations, or excuses when they actually believed a prayer was answered.
I stumbled away from Christianity and into philosophy. I studied Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism is a sect that denies the deity of Buddha and presents Buddha’s teaching and all that follows as the best way to live. It sounded good. I even wrote a book about the similarities between Buddhism and the teachings of Christ.
Eventually I had to resolve the conflict I had about the reality or non-reality of a Creator. For me the epiphany was the Hubble Deep Space Survey. That beautiful and magnificent picture showed thousands upon thousands of galaxies beyond our own. Our feeble minds can not even fathom the enormity of space. Suddenly the idea that some “Creator” made it all and then decided to focus on one insignificant planet in an obscure solar system in one of billions of galaxies looked entirely absurd.
There it was. There could not be a Creator God. Take away the “Creator” part and the Christian God evaporates. Nothing works unless everything is true. It wasn’t. Suddenly I was like one of those cartoon characters who races over a cliff, looks down, and says, “Oh shit!” Then they fall. When my belief in a Creator God shriveled up and blew away I found myself hanging in thin air, unable to breath and totally terrified.
The next stage of my progression was one of determined prevarication. I said I was agnostic. I avoided the discussions of God and refused to label myself what I actually was then, an atheist. It was such a dirty word, like sucking up schmuck from the ground when I thought it. Atheism is a hateful word and atheists are damaged, deluded, less than human. Christianity, as most other deist religions, literally hate atheists.
Why do Christians hate atheists? “Because their mere existence threatens the logical integrity of religions.” (https://www.quora.com/Why-do-some-people-hate-atheists) This statement from Quora puts it very succinctly. People can move from one religion to another, from Christianity to Judaism or even Islam, and find tolerance if not acceptance in Christianity. Recognizing that there really is no god destroys Christianity entirely.
Atheism destroys Christianity because it invalidates the faith and devotion of Christians. Atheism eliminates the whole purpose of religious institutions. It ends the nice income “ministers” receive. Most important to the leaders of churches, it removes their authority and ends the control the church has had on supplicant’s lives forever.
I decided to look into historical records and see if I could find anything that would possibly give evidence to validate Christianity and found there was nothing. I found where Christianity started and where the Bible came from. A group of never-meaning-so-well “religious leaders” created Christianity as a means to control people. They carefully crafted “The Holy Bible” out of hundreds of manuscripts and epistles floating around. Authenticity be damned, what mattered was the most effective way to pacify the population.
Early Christianity systematically destroyed any sect that it felt would be a threat. Christian leaders committed genocide against a host of rivals to solidify its power. And thus the bloody era of Anno Domine, the “year of our Lord,” began. Praise be God! Not.
In time my heart (and soul, to those who believe we have one) healed and I came to accept who I was. I got on the internet and looked up atheists and atheism. I found common cause with some, found others that were obnoxious, and some that were doing a hell of a job standing on the fence. I have never had good balance, though, so I had to jump in.
I am …past it all
I am an atheist. The entire idea of a “Creator” sounds absurd in the face of what is known now. From outside it is very clear the true purpose of Christianity, to line the pockets of “ministers” and maintain control over followers. Hypocrisy flows through church leaders from top to bottom. Don’t even mention TV preachers and their fortunes.
The Bible from Genesis to Revelations and beyond is just stupid. And everything contradictory gets explained away. When I was a kid I asked my parents why we didn’t see miracles like those in the New Testament and I was told matter-of-factly that “that was then, this is now.” The whole idea was dismissed. This is exactly the reason Christians are irrational. Christian leaders (the holy thieves) put it out and Christian sheep eat it. That is just the way it is!
I am …what I am
I am an atheist. I am not “proud” of it because there’s nothing to be proud of. It is what it is. But I am no longer ashamed to be one nor timid about saying I am. Unlike many outspoken atheists I do not have contempt against all things Christian. Sometimes my frustration and disgust slips out when something is so totally absurd. I cannot help myself. But usually I just let it slide.
I am …not returning
I am an atheist. I have no doubt that many people are praying that I “return.” I tell them not to waste their breath but they do not get it. 2nd Peter 22 (NIV) says, “Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,‘ and, ‘A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.'” This is spoken against “false profits” (atheists) but it is what I would be doing if I returned to Christianity. In a way becoming an atheist is a “new birth.” A baby cannot be sent back nor go back to the womb. Or it is like waking from a coma, something I have done for real. Once awake I would never choose to go there again.
I am …not afraid
I am an atheist. I am not afraid. The fear that comes with Christianity is entirely gone. Christianity screws with people’s heads, declaring them “sinners” saved only by “grace.” God is a “just” god and those who are found “unworthy” will burn. And of course the boundary between worthy and unworthy is never clear. “Sin” and “hell” and “justice” are used to hold Christians’ feet literally over the fire. I am not “bad” or a “sinner.” There is no hell and the worst that can happen to me is that I die and then nothing. That is reality, not theology.
I am …happy
I am an atheist. I have discovered the true meaning of life. Life is a precious and beautiful event. It is not “given” to us by anybody and we do not owe a god or anyone else for having it. But it is a rare and wonderful thing and we should work to protect it. It’s all we have. I appreciate it all the more.
I am an atheist!
OMG Hell yes!
Come on over, the water is grand.