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Thoughts

Proof?

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.

Categories
personal story Thoughts

Community

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.

Categories
Thoughts

Raising kids as an Atheist

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.

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Uncategorized

Questions for Atheists

Hey All,

Doing a bit of digging in search of questions people may have for atheists that I could answer up.  Having a hard time coming up with a good list that doesn’t require me being an expert in biology, astrophysics, quantum mechanics and the like.  If you have a question you’d like me to answer put it below!

Thanks!

Categories
Thoughts

Shades of Gray?

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?

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Definitions

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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Uncategorized

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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Uncategorized

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.