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Definitions…?

OK so I’ve heard a lot of things about atheism in the past.  They have no morals, they are just want to sin, they are smug an condescending, they eat babies (wtf?).  So as my time as a Christian I was pretty much afraid of anyone who could possibly call themselves an atheist.  I’d also heard of the term agnostic.  Seemed like the good guy version of an atheist so I was more comfortable with that idea.  Almost like a middle ground.

After a bit of digging during my deconversation it seems that there are a lot of misconceptions as to what these terms mean.  Atheism is simply the lack of a belief in a god or gods while the opposite of that is theism which is a belief in a god or gods.  Notice they are polar opposites, no room for middle ground.  So if there’s no middle ground what was an agnostic?  Gnosticism / agnosticism deal with knowledge.  An agnostic person would make the claim the don’t have knowledge about if a god or gods exists while a gnostic person would.  So that kinda breaks things down into a square of Belief and Knowledge.  I’ve put together this handy dandy chart of what that kinda looks like.

Untitled Diagram

I would consider myself an Agnostic Atheist.  I haven’t seen sufficient evidence to believe there is a god however I don’t claim to know whether or not one exists.  But that’s where it ends.  There’s no other issues tied into being an atheist.  Atheism isn’t about morals, or evolution, or human rights.  Those are all separate issues.  They often get lumped into the same thing but that’s simply not the case.  Atheism is a single belief on a single topic.

Learning these definitions has helped me kind of accept my new position.  Taking out the fear of the word and clearing up what means has helped me do that thing I like to do….check that box.

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What happened next?

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!

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My background or how I became a godless heathen

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.