My parents made quitting Catholicism easy; they told me I was going to college because I was too lazy to get a job.
I wasn’t lazy. I had been in the Navy and the Korean War and my GI Bill benefits and various part time jobs were paying all of my costs. My parents were paying nothing. I hurled them and their Catholicism from my life.
Hurling them wasn’t easy. They were neither alcoholics nor insane. They had put a lot of work into raising three kids who had made it into our 20’s. They were putting more work into raising two more kids who were nearing their teens. Putting five kids through Catholic schools was costly. Decades would pass and they would die before I would find a believable reason for their unwarranted verbal and emotional violence.
I quit college, found a good job in the electronics industry, and read enough about xianity and other religions to reject belief without evidence. I resumed college and took a course each semester. I considered atheism but, having studied math and science I wanted something resembling evidence for the claims I heard at meetings of the college atheists. I settled for agnosticism, returned to full time study and earned a degree in math, and after a year in grad school studying math and physics I found work in the computer industry.
There followed a six-year marriage to an agnostic woman who like me wanted no children. More happy decades followed until, after half a century of agnosticism I told some of my friends I was an atheist. I told them I was okay with knowiing I would be “a few chemicals underground”.
Quitting agnosticism for atheism did require some thinking and some changing. I will tell of some of that thinking and changing in later posts.
Did choosing atheism challenge you? If so, how did it challenge you?
Yeah, women can present challenges, as can marriage and divorce. I won’t tell of them here and I hope you won’t.
As an agnostic I was okay with evolution but it’s not taught in math or physics so I mostly ignored it. Atheism made being descended from pond scum, aka blue-green algae or cyanobacteria, more real. Many trillions of those tiny beasts still exist and some of them are toxic.
A related challenge was that a few descendants of pond scum run for and win election to public office, and some of them do stuff that’s toxic.
I didn't make a conscious choice for atheism.
I never bought into the churchy things. I was put into catholic church and never believed it. Some bits of it did stick, the scary bits. But that is due to me being young and impressionable.
When I was 9, I asked my father why he would never go to church. He said because he didn't believe in it.
That made sense to me. I didn't believe in it either but I didn't have a choice, I had to go.
At 12 years old I gained my religious "independence" let's call it. I stopped going to church but I bought into witchcraft. I stuck with that until I was about 25. And that is when I had my first witchcraft student. (It is common to have one student at a time at some point who you dedicate your time and effort to, in order to teach them) He asked me a lot of question, good questions. Questions that I couldn't answer with my religious babble anymore. It got me thinking and questioning my belief and all the principles. I started looking up everything scientifically.
How does this work, how does that work? Wait it actually doesn't? But but but... You know the internal struggle you start having.
But bit by bit I disproved my own religion.
At some point the word "Atheist" just entered my vocabulary. I was like "yea well, i guess that's what I am"
So while, emotionally, sometimes I have a little setback, my reasonable brain does take over quickly every time.
So the word "Atheist" didn't challenge me. It is just a box that I sit in because people think in boxes.
What is it anyway. I don't believe in gods. Big deal. Some people like to call it Atheism and that is fine. For me... I call it reasonable.
When I hear "atheist" it fits like a well designed, leather glove, it moves in all the right places, stable in others. Now, all these years later, the word atheist continues to fit. I like it, it is comfortable, it protects and strengthens in all dimensions. I am a proud atheist. When someone says to me, "I am a christian" I respond with confidence and the competence of having experienced several weaker terms, "I am an atheist!"
I'm suspicious the only reason why we were willing to get behind an Agnostic position was because we still didn't know enough about the world to rule out some type of divine hand. We do now know a whole lot. The God or gods option just doesn't do a good job of addressing the gaps anymore. Science has done a great job addressing these gaps in knowledge and set forth an expectation that, though we may not know about one or another thing right now, science may just surprise us and provide some explanation in time.
On any question about a God or gods, as soon as you've mentioned them, it presents an evidence-required claim, even on a hypothetical basis. "There could be gods." Well, why do you believe that there "could" be gods. Do you have evidence of this? Anything to suggest this is even a possibility?
I think Hitchens' Razor works well, even on the Agnostic position. Even Agnosticism is a claim that requires evidence. I reckon, in light of this, the best position to hold is the Atheist positon.
Easton, in your final 'graph, I like your not using any forms of the word "believe".
Beliefs change too easily; evidence does not suddenly appear or disappear.
Easton and Tom, I agree.
Well said, thank you
In my lifetime Evangelical beliefs have changed drastically and in some cases apologists even contradict the scriptures. Rather than the faithful see this as a flaw, they just continue along with what they are told because they have to have their crutch. My solution to the entire mess was to quit religion.
My only challenge in atheism was to understand that my family would be upset and I would not be able to discuss any of this with people that I work with. Fear of hellfire went out the same door that Jesus did.
Could there still be a god? Sure. And Atlas may be holding up the earth we live on.
Michael, I hope someone asks me, Could there be a god?
There are so many imaginary characters I can name.
Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself on that one. I was a radical young earth, creationists, fundamentalist. I wanted to be the best damn Christian I could be! I knew that everything I had been taught was true and knew there were no holes in the thinking. I knew that God had answers for everything!
A little about CORRECT answers. I was fearless in my studies so that I could defend my God and bring others to him. The more I learned the more questions I had. The more questions I had the less that made since. The less that made since the more I saw conflicting and flatly wrong answers.
The most difficult thing perhaps in my life was coming to terms with the lie of religion, specifically Christianity and admitting to myself that God is not real. It took decades. As Christopher Hitchens one said "Atheism is not chosen, it is discovered."
I did discover that I was an atheist I was literally too paralyzed with fear to admit it. It eats me up inside to even think of how difficult it was. It is the reason I follow David Silverman's lead now in using the term atheist to describe myself loudly and proudly. I hope to help others come to terms with reality.