Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Amiable Atheist

I would like to share a little bit about myself to begin this blog.

I was raised religious. My mother was Baptist, and my father was Seventh Day Adventist. When I was young, we moved a few times, so we were always sampling different churches in the area to find the right fit. I went to Calvary Chapel, Episcopalian, Evangelical Free, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Latter Day Saint, and Catholic church services. When we finally settled down, we decided on a small Baptist Church in our rural town.

As a young girl, I was very familiar with Bible stories, I prayed often, and went to church regularly. I accepted everything that my family and the church told me because I trusted that they knew best. I remember being so concerned with not sinning that I would pray for forgiveness if I let a mean word slip or if I was disobedient to my mother.

When I was 15 I went to a Baptist summer camp. It was a great experience. I was surrounded by other young people who loved the Lord, there was great music, and lots of fun. During an emotional sermon I stood up and "accepted Jesus into my heart". I cried, and everyone cheered for me. I felt completely filled up and good.

When I got home from the camp, those feelings soon faded as I realized I could not maintain that kind of elation in my daily life. I began to discuss baptism with my pastor, but everything seemed hollow and meaningless. When I was baptized at 16, I felt nothing and knew something was not right. I stopped taking communion and started doubting the things taught in my Sunday school class. I remember sneaking onto the computer one afternoon when nobody was home, and googling "atheism". To me it seemed like a dirty, evil word and I was frightened of being caught. But I just wanted to know, did they have any valid points? But my guilt over this urge was overwhelming and I didn't look any further.

At 18 I went away to college and during my freshman year I took a course on the religions of the world, anthropology, and geology. Learning about the many different religions in the world made me wonder, how could all of the others be wrong when they were all so convinced of their beliefs? In anthropology and geology class I discovered that the real world contradicted many of the stories in the Bible that I had been taught to interpet literally. The world was millions of years old, and humans had only been alive for a fraction of that time! At first, I began to accept the fact that perhaps the Bible was not to be taken literally, but that God was still important and my faith was not at odds with science.

But the more I learned about science and the world, the more I realized that my religion was just plain wrong; my Bible was filled with cruel and ignorant stories and it could not explain how the world began, and my fellow believers were sometimes intolerant and hypocritical in the name of God.

This is when I realized that I was an atheist. Since that point, I have never regretted this discovery. The only time I have felt a loss, is when I instinctually begin to pray at moments when things aren't going my way. I have to stop and laugh when I realize I am talking to myself.

Lately I have been eagerly reading and learning about atheism. The topic is very interesting to me, because practically every part of our lives is influenced by peoples' religious beliefs, and it is worrisome to me that this influence is often times harmful.

I have started this blog because I wanted a place to compile my thoughts and interesting things that I find on the topic of religion and atheism. Of course, I invite you to express your opinions, but I hope you will also try to remain an Amiable [Insert your belief here] when you leave your comments.

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7 comments:

Craig Anderson said...

Hi there!

Damnit, Damnit, Damnit.

My name is Craig. I'm a librarian at a NJ university. I've been an atheist for about 8 years now, and this morning I've finally decided that I was just going to go ahead and create my own blog specifically for atheist rants, musings, and speculations.

I was trying to think of a TITLE for my blog, and I wanted to convey the idea that Atheists were absolutely NOT a group of grumpy, angry, curmudgeons with an axe to grind and a big ol' stick up our collective asses. Sure, it's easy to get angry when you hear of all the evils that the Christian Right is perpetuating, but many of us are nice guys when you get to know us. Some of us are downright FRIENDLY!

So I wanted to create a blog that was the "FRIENDLY" Atheist, the "HAPPY" Atheist, the ... "Amiable" Atheist! Amiable Atheist! Cool! I liked the sound of that!

But first, I thought; Let me do a search to see if anyone has taken that name yet. Ach, but that's absurd. Of all the adjectives to describe an athesist blog, surely no one has come up with: [Google results: "http://amiable-atheist.blogspot.com"


...fuck...

Well, you have an awesome blog, and I work in a library. I'm sure I can find SOME adjective to describe my blog other than "amiable".

Damn you. ;)

Campman62 said...

Craig,
*How about the "Cursing-Atheist.com"...Hmmm...

The Amiable Atheist said...

Well, I'm sorry about stealing your domain name ;)

I'm sure you'll come up with something good. Cursing atheist sounds cool.

Good luck!

flinging dust said...

Just wanted to let you know I enjoyed reading your story. It's amazing what happens when we learn about the world through science instead of primitive thought patterns.

shaman sun said...

Greetings!

I found your interview on Reddit.com, in the atheist subreddit. If you haven't already, I recommend that place as a great way to get your blog out there. The community seems to be growing exponentially.

I'm sort of new to the atheist community, and I'm not even sure I could call myself an atheist. I enjoy the discussions on faith, the reasons and debates that go with it. Sam Harris happens to be my favorite of the so called "new atheists," and I find I resonate with your thoughts about some atheists being just as fundamentalist as their Christian counter-parts. I also was happy to hear someone else mention that Richard Dawkins is not the leader of atheists.

I'm curious to see your thoughts about spirituality, consciousness and the possibility of something more to religion (As Sam Harris mentions in the last chapter of "The End of Faith.") In particular, eastern contemplation, meditation, etc. If you're interested in discussing these topics, I'd be glad to explore it. I'm a fellow blogger, so take a look if you'd like:

www.shamansun.blogspot.com
http://shamansun.wordpress.com (just created this one)

At any rate, nice to meet you, and keep up the good blogging!

-shaman sun

nikt said...

If religion was right - i.e. that evil ends worse, and that goodness is more powerful and wins - then it would mean the world evolves AUTOMATICALLY towards more piety. But that is absurd and well, let's prove it is. ;)

I explained it on richarddawkins.net/forum/ in Faith&Religion, topic "Free will vs the rule of morality"

"Free will" and "moral order of the world" are both errors (fundamental to religion: along with other error, that is existence of "moral" deeds, of "non-egoistic" deeds) -- but what is even funnier, these two contradict each other. This is about the strongest argument against gods and religions.

Kold_Kadavr_flatliner said...

We have gotten so #@!! backward, right is wrong and peacefullness is looked upon as weak. Believe-you-me, baby, I'm not weak (got my black belt), but society tells U.S. if you're weak, you're nuthin. How wrong. How evil. Only 2 realms after our demise... and 1 of 'em ain't too cool. Sad how Rob allows his son to wear a shirt depicting the undead as if that's gonna be acceptable for Heaven. God bless.