This is a phrase with which I’ve become more comfortable. When I was a believer I thought I had a book with all the answers to everything. That god had an explanation for the inner workings of the universe all the way down to my little life on a speck of dust in it. Any moral question, any cosmological question, any question about what I was supposed to do with my life, was written down for me. Life was simpler then I suppose. I didn’t have to do much thinking.
As I deconverted I began to realize I don’t know everything anymore, at least in my own mind. This was a scary realization at first. How was I going to make decisions? I used to pray before nearly every decision I made and wait for a response from god. That obviously wasn’t going to work now. I used to look through my Bible and search for answers, also won’t work any more.
I began to realize what I was really doing all that time was mulling over the options in that prayer time and settling on what I thought was the best direction to go. So with that problem somewhat solved I still had some of those big questions up there that I didn’t know the answer to. What happens when we die? Where did the universe come from? How did life start? The more I thought about it the more comfortable with “I don’t know” as an answer. Sure I can do some research and learn as much as I could about those things if they really bothered me. The truth of the matter is they don’t. I don’t have any real vested interest in those things. They don’t have any bearing on my day to day life. I don’t plan on becoming an expert in cosmology or biology, nor to I have a plan to be a professional debater on these topics, so I don’t know is a comfortable answer for now.
I’ve come to the realization that writing a post every days is easier said than done. With that being the case I’m going to kinda break things up in to sections per day.
I’ll be starting a series of my thoughts while reading the Bible with my new skepticism. I’ll have a day on definitions (I know those will be short lived and I’ll replace it with something with more substance once I run out of words). I’ll have a day on my observations and a day that’s a deeper explanation of my background.
Thoughts? What would you like to see? Maybe an ask an atheist day?
I remember as a Christian being told that “god has a meaning for your life”. During my de-conversion I worried that life suddenly has no meaning. If I wasn’t meant to serve the invisible sky daddy any more so I can have eternal bliss what was the point? This sent me into quiet a bit of depression. One of the many reasons I sought help. I also began to read a lot of responses online regarding this. The main thing I came to was that my life has the meaning I ascribe to it. My life is important because it’s important to me and those who care about me.
This premise was hard for me to swallow. If you’ve ever suffered from depression you know that it can be hard to find yourself important to yourself let alone anyone else’s eyes. So again I found my self struggling with a deeper depression. I guess when I was a believer I always thought of my sky daddy caring about me even if no one else did. That gave me some comfort. Not having that security blanket anymore I felt exposed. I say that in the past tense not because the feeling is gone but more as a fading feeling.
As far as what meaning I’ve ascribed to my life so far, well so far I have a very minimal description. Provide a life of relative comfort for myself and my family, continue to expand my mind through learning, and spreading my thoughts. I guess in a way that last one will make me somewhat immortal. Sure only a handful of people will ever read this but these thoughts will live forever in the “mind” of the internet.
I’m still working through my depression and probably will for a long while. But I’m actually working on it instead of “giving it to god” which is a phrase I never understood. What are your thoughts on meaning for life? How do you ascribe meaning to your life?
Sorry for my absence this week. It’s been absolutely nuts ending with my daughter breaking her ankle. She’s fine other than she can’t walk on it being in a cast. This is the source of much frustration for her. But the event brought some things to mind.
As we got ready to bring her to the hospital I remember praying that she’d be ok. As I’m thinking this to myself I wonder wait who am I praying to? Strong force of habit. This has been the first big thing that has happened that was out of my control. I guess it makes sense that I would fall back on that even though there’s nothing there.
It’s hard to get past 18 years of indoctrination. Being pumped full of lies and leanings on confirmation bias. I remember asking for nothing to be broken (it was). Back in my believing days I would have just thought “well I guess it’s just not part of God’s plan.” I was always told that god answers prayers in three ways, yes,no, and not yet. Looking at that logic now that literally covers all the bases. God can’t lose with that premise.
Truth is my daughter’s ankle was broken the moment she fell from that slide. No amount of praying to anything could have changed that. It makes more sense that the universe doesn’t care one way or another about anyone than pain being part of some kind of devine plan.
Ok so this is kinda off topic and I’m pretty sure that’s a no no for a new blog but I gotta get this out there!
So my kids have been obsessed with the Disney film Moana. Which means the songs are constantly stuck in my head (just so damn catchy). I’m also close to being able to quote the movie line for line. So I started to analyze it a bit ( I do this with almost all of their shows and movies). I came to the realization that nearly the whole movie is in her head. Nothing super natural comes into being until she bashes her head on the canoe and reef the first time she tries to leave.
Up until that point there were some diseased trees and missing fish from over farming. It wasn’t until after her accident that the “darkness” is shown to be invading her island. Everything that had happened was very explainable.
When the ocean reveils that it chose her as an adult she even says “I thought it was a dream”. Hint hint it was! Her ailing grandmother encourages her dillusion. Also the one thing she’s wanted more than anything was to sail on the ocean and there just happens to be a cave full of large sailing vessles hiding on the island.
Everything that happens off island can only be coaberated by a chicken. I find the entire thing very unlikely and it’s more likely that she suffered major brain damage and is hallucinating.
So I’ve been thinking lately (which is a big change from how I used to be). I remember a time when I used to ask myself how could an atheist even be a thing? How could they prove that god didn’t exist? It’s clearly undeniable that god is doing everything! How could we even exist with out god (that’s a topic for a whole other post)? How could we be us if we didn’t have a soul?
Looking back I had the burden of proof all wrong. It wasn’t for the atheist to provide proof of a lack of a god, it was supposed to be on me for claiming there was one. I’ve recently heard that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. That works kinda like this. If one were to tell me they have a Facebook account there is very little proof needed. I know Facebook is a thing, I know a lot of people have one and it would be just as easy for me to pull out my phone and look them up. Not a big claim so I can easily take them at their word for it. The reverse of that is someone claims they have an invisible hippo living in their basement that eats carbon dioxide and poops rainbow. That would require a bit of proof. I make the second example a bit incredulous on purpose. I would almost find that more believable than a magic sky man who created the universe yet still cares about me but not enough to actually show himself in any demonstrable way.
Hm that last sentence brings up a good idea for another post about the character of the Christian god…I’ll have to work on that one soon.
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.
This is relatively new territory for me. I suppose a bit of background might be in order for context. In the early days of my youth my family was one of those Christmas and Easter Catholics. Religion didn’t become a big part of our life until my parents divorced and my dad married my now stepmother. She went to a church that was very different from what I had experienced. This was when I was about 12 or so. From that point I had the notion that church = good and no church = bad. We became a “good christian” family after that.
I was then raised to be a Christian after that and all that comes with it. Feeling guilty for thought crimes at the age of 17 is a pretty heavy burden. So I did all the things I was supposed to in order to again the approval from my father (which rarely ever came) and the sky Daddy (which never came).
After leaving religion I am now faced with how I am supposed to raise my kids. I can’t look back on my childhood (for more than just the religious reasons). My son who is 4 has some recollection of having been to church and some of the seeds that were planted there. For example, I haven’t revealed my lack of faith to my father yet. One day he came into town and wanted to have dinner with us. We set the table and food was put down and we were all seated. He gives me the “grace?” look. I had a small panic attack. Was this going to be the moment when I have that conversation with him. I wasn’t ready for that! My son sitting next to me grab my hand and his hand and bows his head and says “Thank you Jesus for this food, Amen”. Saved by my 4 year old!
Now in this moment I was glad for it as it saved me from either an awkward conversation I wasn’t ready for, or a lie and a continuation of pretending to be something I wasn’t. But it made me realize that I need to have a plan here. I need to put together a road map of how I’m going to teach him about the world. I’ve already started him out on using the scientific method to find the answers to questions but there is more to life than that. I don’t have it all figured out yet but hope to get it going and not just continue to make it up as I go along.
Sorry if you’re into Twilight fan-fic but that’s not what this post is about. I’m thinking more of how I now see the world and morality. Previously I saw everything in black and white, right or wrong with no middle ground in between. I had what I thought was a users guide to how life worked. Any question I had I could just open this magical book and the answer would be there…somewhere.
Looking back I did what I think a lot of Christians do when looking to the Bible for answers. Take the verse they found, manipulated it to fit their situation and said “ah ha! The bible does have all the answers!” I now know this was simply confirmation bias. But I’m getting on to a whole other post all together with that.
With my guide in hand I had all the morals I would ever need right in hand 24/7. I didn’t have to think about these kind of things for myself. There was a long time when I didn’t even really read this book. I took the pastor’s word for it. I was happy to live this way for a long time. As I grew older I began to actually read this book. I found things that seemed…wrong to me. I read through the lovely book of Leviticus aka the book of the law. It talked about stoning people to death for what seemed the simplest of things. Even giving rules on how to treat your slaves. If there are laws on how you are supposed to treat your slaves did that mean having slaves was ok? I wasn’t down with that. Not to mention the rituals that were involved for things you had no control over. Women aren’t to be touched for a week during their period. What the hell is that about? And there were even rules for having a wet dream. Like seriously? That’s not even a thought crime because you have no control of that. It just happens. And that’s enough for you to remove yourself from the community.
I was on the leadership team of my church during this time. We had a routine team meeting and the topic of homosexuality came up. Someone asked about homosexuals serving in ministry and the decision was that they could server but couldn’t lead a ministry, nor could they sing on the worship team or be the lead teacher in a Sunday school room. I left that meeting sick to my stomach. I began question this book. If it was to be my moral code, why would I feel so sick about what it had to say?
I now see the world much differently. Morals don’t come from a book written in the bronze age. It’s certainly harder to just say what’s right and what’s wrong, but shouldn’t it be? I don’t think we can paint broad strokes on every issue. Sure there are issues that we can say are 100% wrong like murder, rape but I think somethings can be more middle ground. Given the old predicament of lieing to a Nazi to save the Jewish family you’re hiding becomes easier though. You absolutely lie! But when following the holy book you’re put in a pickle because you’re not supposed to lie and you’re supposed to obey your government.
I look at it now more with a lens of empathy. How do I want to be treated on the opposite situation. How can I treat everyone fairly?
How do you get your morals?