So I have arrived at the age of 60 years old and it's been a great journey so far. I was raised catholic by my swedish born parents here in America; came to the realization at the age of 16 that god did not exist but there are some weird things in the world that are mysterious and Karma is a real thing. I searched every corner of the world's knowledge base for supernature, philosophical "tools for living"; and did some hallucinogenics (which I wouldn't have missed for the world.) to find the secrets of life. I wondered why so many people are walking around believing Jesus.
A pivotal moment for me to become theist at that time was from when I asked a pastor how he could beyond the shadow of a doubt know there is a god, and he said that he didn't know with that much certainty but it was a simple matter of "choosing to believe, or choosing not to believe". Make the right choice and god will reveal himself to you. I chose to believe and nothing was ever revealed to me; ever. I went to a christian retreat once and I met some of the nicest people and had a great time although I saw them hiding to smoke their cigarettes.
I went to church with a Puerto Rican and a Korean guy at the Crenshaw Christian Center in Los Angeles California. We were the only three that were not African American out of the thousands of beautiful and loving people that filled the church. I went to a service once where the pastor said there would be "a small feast for everyone after the service". When the service was ended we were provided tables full of cake, cookies, candy, chips, sodas and not a single carrot stick or healthy snack whatsoever. I was disgusted as these "hands in the air", "filled with the spirit" people attacked the junk food. It looked more like the devil at work. I wondered how can these people that should be so enlightened with spiritual wholesomeness be so ignorant of the balance of mind and body. I was told at one time to not look to people for your faith but to focus on my personal relationship with god. People will only let you down. I prayed and payed attention. Made it my life's work to learn everything I can about everything. Knowledge and logic have been the driving forces of my life and with knowledge comes clarity. It's been many years now that my beliefs in spiritual things have wained.
One of the greatest days of my life was when I decided not to believe. I immediately had a weight lifted and I have never felt so exhilirated and free. Through the years since I have noticed how pervasive religion is and I am having a hard time being tolerant and not severely despising all religion but that is another subject for another time. I also had to deal with grief as an atheist and will defer that subject for another time as well. I know that this is a lengthy post, apologize for that but hope that some may find it helpful in some way, interesting or at least amusing.
I look at being an athest as the best way to live my life. It's like I have a bowl of ice cream. It's the only bowl I have and there is not a half gallon in the freezer waiting for me when I finish this one so I am going to be grateful for the bowl that I have, eat it slowly, and savor every bite. That very thought usually puts me in a state of euphoria especially when I look around at everything in our world and universe.
I like your metaphor of a bowl of ice cream, to eat slowly and savor every bite. I do not remember before I was born and I expect to have no mental consciousness after my physical body turns to dust. My present life, with all its delights and touches of melancholy, is all I know, have ever known, and will ever know. Life is for living! Here! Now!
Ditto, Joan. The metaphor works 100%, Gary.
In 11th and 12th grades in a Catholic school I questioned what I’d heard but quit ten years later. Another 70 years later, at 88, I still don’t know why my quitting required some trauma. Was I autistic?
"One of the greatest days of my life was when I decided not to believe. I immediately had a weight lifted and I have never felt so exhilirated and free." That made me laugh! Of course.
I never felt grief after deconversion. Perhaps because church community wasn't a big part of my life. I'd always felt grounded by learning and science. Discovery. Knowledge. Not belief.
Love your ice cream analogy!
Ruth, I like your word, "analogy" better than the word I chose, "metaphor" for the living of life similar to a bowl of ice cream.
My grief was not from "deconversion" but was from a horrific life event that I worked through as an atheist. Regarding the melancholy that Joan refers to is interesting. I used to have the mind set that "happiness is my priority in life and I will do anything to attain it as long as it does no harm to others". I have since learned that it is ok to not be happy all of the time and that there is almost something soothing to "embrace the gloom". The feeling of slight sadness of memories past and the changing of the seasons is as powerful and moving as any happiness that I have experienced.
Welcome to the experience of living well without god. There is beauty all around us and god had nothing to do with it. There are also feelings of shame, guilt, fear, confusion, and we have all the tools we need to overcome those evens.
That should be events. I have to run to get the food out of the oven.
Thanks for your post! And I had the same experience; a weight from my shoulders and the joy of freedom has always stayed with me.