Sundays in my house are not sacred or holy. They are treated pretty much the same as any other day of the week, just a bit more lackadaisical. The mornings are usually spent in bed with my boys before getting up to either make breakfast or go out for it. I wouldn’t have them any other way. Except for the part where I have to go to work Sunday nights. Long story short, Sundays have long been Sacrilege Sundays for us as we are not church goers or believers in any way. However, since Sunday is a religious day for most, I want to start sharing some of our non-religious (or secular) values, ideals, & traditions from time to time on Sunday. Please proceed with an open mind!
SACRILEGE SUNDAY – WEEK ONE: Why I Am An Atheist
Andy Rooney was such a wonderful journalist, one I actually miss, and I love this quote on atheism by him. My husband and I have been atheists for quite some time now. I have to admit, though, I am rarely asked why I am an atheist. Probably because I don’t openly advertise that fact about me & my family. Especially in the heart of the Midwest, Bible Belt country. Where I live, religion (namely Christianity) is heavily prevalent. To admit to being a non-believer is almost social suicide. So I usually have to feel someone out or know them really well before divulging my secret. I am an atheist. I do not believe in god’s existence or in his role in our lives. I do not believe Jesus was the son of god, if he lived at all. I definitely do not believe he rose from the dead. I do not believe in the Bible. I do not believe in any of it. By now you are probably wondering “why” or “how” I became an atheist….
Like most Americans, my religious journey began in childhood. My dad was a non-practicing Catholic and my mom was devout practicing Baptist. Growing up we were raised in and regularly attended a Baptist church. From an early age, I had a very curious mind. I wanted to know the why and how of everything. I remember around 10, we were learning about dinosaurs in school. I was fascinated by the fossils we have found showing how big and old the dinosaurs were. I asked my pastor at the time about the dinosaurs and their absence from the bible. It made little sense to me. God made Adam and Eve, the planet, the plants, animals, land and water but there was no mention of dinosaurs. None. I couldn’t wrap my head around no dinosaurs mentioned in the bible and the physical presence of the fossils. After questioning and pestering my pastor regarding this matter, he came back with the one answer I would come to loathe. “Have faith, my child. Do not question god or his intentions and designs. Just believe.” Well that did not satisfy 10-year-old me but I let it go because it was a bigger question than I knew at the time.
For the next 10 years, we went to several different Baptist churches. I never found one that made me feel like I fit in or at home. I never felt any of the feelings I’ve heard Christian’s describe when they like a church or a pastor. I always felt like I was missing out on something or doing it wrong. Even when I volunteered to be baptized around 11, I wasn’t sure I had done it right. I did it mostly because all my friends had or were going to. But I didn’t feel any different. Just soaked in wet heavy clothes. I saw no light and I felt no presence. I worried for years that I had done it wrong. Never feeling good enough, I began to distance myself from church and from Christianity as a whole. Then I met my first boyfriend. He is, in and of himself, a very long story. The only notable thing, for the purpose of this story, is he was Jewish. Through him I experienced weekly worship at the temple here in town. It did not take long for me to come to the conclusion that I did not care for Judaism or what it had to offer me or women in general. I left both behind when I moved out of my mom’s house and moved across the country to a new state with a new boyfriend.
It was in this new state with this new boyfriend, that I began to truly question what my beliefs were and how they coexisted with organized religion. My boyfriend at the time, who would later become my first husband, was a semi-practicing Catholic. At times, we could have very deep, lively conversations about religion. I could tell my opinions were forming but I was still heavily influenced by my parents and by him. I didn’t want to get too far away from what they expected of me but I also didn’t want to live a lie anymore. And I was pretty sure religion was the lie in my life. For years, I secretly researched and read about as many religions and dogmas as I could find books on the topic. During these years, I quietly considered myself agnostic. I just didn’t know what I believed. I noticed Eastern religion appealed more to me than any western religion ever had. When my first husband and I got divorced, I finally felt free to explore religion and spirituality to the fullest extent. I read tons of books, watched documentaries, and searched the internet for blogs and forums on the topic. I was a sponge and I wanted to soak it all up.
Then I met my current husband. And in him I had finally found someone who was as open-minded as I was. He helped me to realize I had always been an atheist. Indoctrination and brain washing had made me a Christian. As Andy Rooney put it in the quote above, I was born an atheist. We all were. When I really stopped to think about it, I realized I’m only Christian because my parents are and their parents were and their parents were and so on and so on. It was a freeing feeling to admit openly to myself that I was and always had been an atheist. I think I was afraid to say it because atheist carries such a negative connotation. But I am not ashamed to be an atheist. I want to be as open as possible about it. I have to be cautious in our hometown because of how conservative it is. If you really want to know why, just ask me. I can tell you with absolute certainty now why I am an atheist.
I am not atheist because it’s cool or trendy. I am not atheist because I hate or am mad at god or Christian’s. I am atheist because I have not seen any evidence to prove god’s existence. I am atheist because I do not believe the bible to be the word of god. I am atheist because I simply lack the belief in god(s) required to be a theist. And I do not go around pushing my atheism on anyone else despite having Christianity pushed on me my entire life. My motto for life is and always will be “Live and Let Live”. However, in preparing to write this post, I couldn’t resist sharing this meme I pinned a while back because for me it is a perfect example of why I am an atheist. How can society and lawmakers trust a book so much that it influences our lives and our laws, if we aren’t even certain of the translation? That, to me, is insanity. Just think about it for a little bit and tell me it doesn’t sound crazy.
Links to the references in this picture:
Dating the Oldest New Testament Manuscripts: http://bit.ly/MbXj7Z
Brief History of the King James Bible: http://bit.ly/Mymb9J
While I do not wish to start a debate regarding god’s existence or the bible’s accuracy, I welcome any comments or questions regarding this post. I just ask that you keep an open mind. Thank you for reading!