So I’ve given a brief synopsis of my journey from Christianity to Atheism but I thought I’d give a deeper look into how my worldview has changed through out my life.
I was born in upstate New York. It’s recently been dubbed the safest place to live from natural disasters so we got that going for us…I guess. About five years later my brother was born. I don’t remember much about life prior to my parents divorce. I remember my dad going to fight in the first American intervention into Iraq. He was gone about six months. There were a lot of days spent in front of the TV to see if he would be in the line of fire…he was, a lot. I remember not knowing what any of that meant but I knew that it was worrying for my mom. When he came home I didn’t recognize him. He had grown a mustache. Being a father now I can’t imagine how that must have felt to him. His own son not knowing who he is.
It wasn’t long after that my parents separated and eventually got divorced. I had no say in who I would be living with. My parents thought “Boys should be with their dad.” I thought that was bullshit. Even at the age of 12 I knew my dad was an asshole and I wanted to live with my mom. My dad was definitely a military man. “Boys don’t cry” “Man up” were just a few of the phrases that were commonly thrown around in my home. Being an emotional child this was difficult. I dealt with this by learning to stuff every emotion I had as far down as I could. It’s unfortunately a trait I’ve kept along with me well into my adulthood.
As you’ve may have noticed that until this point I’ve not talked at all about religion. That didn’t come into play until the second act of my story. Church for me until now had been reserved for twice a year, Easter and Christmas. My future stepmother would be the catalyst to my indoctrination. Which I will save for the next post.
Continue to Part 2
As I’ve left Christianity I’ve one thing that I’ve missed is the community. It was a built in time at least once a week where I was able to hang out with people. They even had a place for my kids so I could have a grown up conversation. It was a nice thing to have but something I’ve given up with my lack of belief. Sure I could find a church and fake it I suppose, but I would have to fake it and that sounds exhausting.
I know there are atheist groups around me and even some Secular Humanist groups but being a huge introvert it’s hard for me to even think about venture out. That and I have two kids (4 and 1 1/2) which makes attending these groups even a bit more difficult.
I’m not looking to start a pity party just wanted to express that I guess I wasn’t expecting this whole atheism thing to be so lonely.
So I sat in the ruins of my former belief system wondering what am I supposed to do now? I became very bitter and distant from everyone including my family. I began to look at what was left. I realized that I had no actual reason to believe in any god. I started to look into what atheism is. In the simplest of terms atheism is a lack of belief in a god. I was an atheist. I guess I needed a label in my mind to kind of check off a box of some sort. With the box checked I did more digging and came upon The Atheist Experience. It’s an internet based call in show where theists and atheists call in with questions. I binged probably about two years worth of shows through podcasts in about a month. It helped me clarify some of the things I was wondering about and gave me a sense of a new foundation of thinking critically.
I also began seeing a therapist at this time. He’s helped me kind of see the world differently. Sort of like having being in the dark for a while and having your eyes adjust to the light (funny, a year ago I would have used the same wording to describe what it’s like becoming a Christian). He diagnosed me with “adjustive disorder”. Again it’s nothing more than a phrase for what I was experiencing but I like my check boxes. I continue to see him on a regular basis however most of my short fusedness, depression, anger, and bitterness have come down to a more manageable level.
So that’s the story so far. I continue to look into new ways of thinking about the world with out my religious lens and that’s really what the blog is going to be about, my observations. I hope that you all can help me point out flaws in my reasoning and continue to help me grow as a person. If you have anything you’d like to see me tackle I’d be up for that too!
The date of my final conversion (or deconversion as it were) was May 14th 2017, but the story starts further back than that.
As a Christian I had always struggled off and on with doubt. I think every Christian does whether or not they are willing to admit to it. But things ramped up for me when my wife and I went through a miscarriage. I remember thinking about the verse in Jeremiah that talks about God knowing us while we were in our mother’s womb and asking myself “If you made this person why did you kill it?” and “If you love me so much why would you hurt us like this?” It was quiet jarring. The thought crept into my mind that it would be easier to accept that the universe was completely random than a loving god doing this to me. Thus began my cognitive dissonance. For those who don’t know cognitive dissonance is when you hold two opposing beliefs at the same time. An example would be someone who thinks we need to care for the environment yet drives a Hummer. I thought the world made more sense with out a god but clung desperately to the belief in one.
I lived in this state for a couple of years, wavering on and off to church, looking for other churches that might show me how to make sense of it. Nothing did. I prayed for an hour every morning asking god to say something to me to let me know he was there…ANYTHING. The song by Great Big World kinda became my anthem for a while. But alas nothing. Silence. I invented excuses for why I didn’t hear anything. Maybe I wasn’t a good enough Christian. Maybe it was because I wasn’t tithing enough. Maybe I wasn’t praying right. Maybe it’s because I was doubting that he wasn’t talking to me. But as time went on I pushed the problem to the back burner. I went through the motions. I played the part well enough. I served in my ministry and went to all the meetings I could. I felt like a zombie aimlessly lurching along until I found my next meal.
At this point my wife and I now had two awesome kids but it became too much of a strain to keep doing ministry. We both stepped out and just never went back to church. It was nice sleeping in on Sunday morning but I still felt the obligation to go to church somewhere. Again I looked around at churches. Maybe just find somewhere I could go, sit in the back and leave with out having to do anything else. I quickly lost the ambition to do even that.
It would be a good 6 months before I went to another church. It was on Mother’s Day 2017. We were invited to the dedication to of the daughter of a family friend. My wife was asked to be the god-mother. I figured this would be a good chance to give church another go. I walked in and it all felt very familiar yet foreign at the same time. We made our way to the auditorium and took our seats just as the video announcements started. This moment right here is what made me flip. The first announcement came up and it was the worship pastor. I’ll have to paraphrase as its been some time since then but it went something to the effect of “Hi I’m the worship pastor here and can you believe I used to be a barista? (yes, yes I can) I can tell you that our coffee is the best this side of the Mississippi, so make sure you stop in to the cafe after service and buy yourself a cup and maybe a pastry too! If you’re new here let them know and they’ll hook you up with a free cup!” It was like the rose colored window I’d been looking through shattered. This is just another business! They just want to make more money so they can improve the building, so they can make more money. All my years of indoctrination suddenly flooded into my mind.
I suddenly found myself in a very scary state. The foundation that I had made nearly every decision upon just fell out from under me. Things I once KNEW to be true suddenly weren’t. There was no magical figure in the sky who loved me and was watching out for me. I wasn’t created special, I was the result of millions of years of evolution. I didn’t have a divine purpose, the only purpose to life now was what I ascribed it.
As this post has gotten rather long I think I’ll leave what’s happened since to the next post. I plan on using this as kind of a sounding board for the thoughts that come into my head about the journey I’m on now and where it leads. Feel free to chime in with any thoughts you might have.