Hello Think Atheist community! This is my first attempt at blogging, so I'm not sure if this really belongs as a blog or as a discussion topic. However, my blogging exploits will cover topics within my realm of experience. I am also attempting to write a novel, so I may post excerpts and ask for feedback at some point, I'm not really sure. I don't know what direction this blog will take, but hopefully you will enjoy my posts.
*DISCLAIMER THIS POST WILL BE MOSTLY OPINION AND PERSONAL REFLECTION, NOT NECESSARILY BASED ON SCIENCE*
Years ago, we came into this world knowing nothing but the discomfort of being outside the safe shelter of our mothers' tummies. As we grew, we took unto ourselves knowledge of the world gleaned from our senses. After the first time, we learned not to touch the stove while Mom was cooking. We learned pissing off a beehive would end only in pain. We learned that knives were tools, not toys.
The first time I ever walked into a church, I remember the sense of wonder come over me. It was the pretty windows. It was the vaulted ceiling. It was the friendly atmosphere and free treats (I went to a Presbyterian church). It was cool. My whole family was there, the nice old man talked a lot, but I got to color a picture of a bearded dude in robes the whole time, so it was alright.
Now, when I walked into that church, I was expected to listen to what the minister had to say a little bit, outside of the sermon. He knew about God, and God knows everything, God created us, so we should learn about him. And I believed my parents when they said that. Who was I to argue? They were my parents. They knew EVERYTHING. They were always right, because they were my heroes.
I went on with life, never once questioning the church's teachings. I was a good little Christian, even though I was never Baptized. I helped with Communion. I ate the weird symbolic food on Maundy Thursday. I even got up on Sundays some days to help pass out the little agendas for what was happening that day and the Hymns we were going to be singing.
And so this went on until I got to about sixth or seventh grade. I was bookworm, and read everything, from history to fantasy to science to mystery, a book was my constant companion. This helped me build up a fairly considerable knowledge base for an 11 year old, and it was once I really started processing this information that doubts started creeping in.
"The eye is really cool, but it has so much, detail, how could God have known how to make it? I read in a book that we came from monkeys, not mud, how does that work?" Questions like these were constantly popping up, even more so after my grandmothers death. I was very close with my grandparents, so I prayed to God to save her everyday, even as I watched her slowly lose her mind. I remember crying at her memorial service, in that same church, only it didn't seem so wondrous now. Now it was bleak and depressing, a reminder of what I had lost.
I was able to move on from her death, with assurances from my parents and congregation that God had chosen her to come at that time, and there was nothing we could do. I took comfort in the thought that I would see her one day in Heaven, happy and healthy, with not a care in the world.
One year later, my grandfather, who still remains my hero to this day, and was a second father to me, died. He was sick too, and I prayed harder than I had ever had before to convince God that he was worth saving. He (to my knowledge) had never sinned in his life, he had always been good to my family, was smart and creative and an excellent teacher, and always had a kind word to say on your worst day. But he died anyway, a sudden and painful heart attack that he couldn't be awoken from.
That was hard on me. I had done everything right. God was supposed to be kind and merciful, yet he let the best man in the world (in my opinion) die, and didn't even let me say goodbye. Heaven held no sway over me this time. I was mad. I did everything right! He should have been saved! Why wasn't he saved? He was gone forever, and I didn't even get to see him before Death claimed another life. God had officially pissed me off, so he was gonna get the silent treatment. No more prayers because, hey, eff you God! You didn't keep your promise written down in some stuffy old book I don't understand.
At this point, I was inconsolable. This, in addition to other factors, caused me to become suicidal, depressed, and angsty. Even my own God, the all powerful ruler of the universe, hated my guts and wanted to watch me suffer. Maybe it was a test? Well screw that, I'm gonna fail with a shotgun.
I sought solace in the world of my books, where everything was okay, where Harry and Percy and Richard always won, and no one died because that's not what happens to the good guys. I started reading the Sword of Truth series, and that forever changed my life. Richard Cypher, Richard Rahl, was me, strong, independent, smart, resourceful, and against the "Creator" and the "Keeper", or rather, the religions devoted to them. He was champion of all that was good, bringing peace and prosperity and equality anywhere he went just by being himself. He fought the shackles of prophecy and what others viewed as his destiny and set his own path. He did what I could not, and I loved him for it.
The series kept me up late at night, reading the thousand page novels at a breakneck pace. I read the roughly 10,000 pages of the series in 4 months, while simultaneously going to school and doing farm work. The only reason I din't kill myself was because I wanted to know what happened to Richard and Kahlan, the story's protagonists, in the end. Would they defeat the evil Emperor Jagang, who forced his belief in given a good afterlife by serving the Creator on everyone in the world? Or, failing to stand against the insurmountable odds, would the two lovers be swallowed up and destroyed by the tide of "good" from down south?
SPOILER ALERT: They won, and for some reason, this saved me from suicide. I broke down and cried at the ending, realizing the beauty of life, that was what was important, what I could do, with my talents, for me, for everyone if I so chose, but I would have to be alive in order to spread my gifts with the general population.
Suddenly, I was free from my bonds of sadness. I was free from my bond to God, because he didn't control what happened to me, I did. Or I controlled how I handled it. I could make the best of a situation because I knew no one but me was going to get me out of it. I had control, and that made all the difference. Now, I was Superman. Now I was who I was always meant to be.
I started reading the Bible again, but this time, I was searching for the inconsistencies, the fantasies, the sheer improbability, because hey, my parents weren't ALWAYS right. And I realized, this story makes absolutely no sense. It would not make the New York Times Bestsellers list, that's for sure. How could people actually think this crap was true?
I took a bigger step back and looked more globally. How had religion caused the problems we were having in the world? The War on Terror, the Israel-Palestine feud, even, to a certain extent, World War Two. Going back in history, there were the Crusades, The Inquisition, the stifling of Galileo and other philosophers and scientists, the Dark Ages, etc etc. Religion was causing more problems in the world than it would ever solve, yet I couldn't figure out why it still stuck around.
I thought about it, I researched, I read some more, and here is what I think.
Religion is here because it gives people hope. Hope that a sky being will swoop down and solve all of their problems. Hope that they can be acquitted of crimes just by asking for forgiveness. Hope that one day, everything will be, well, heaven, because we all die and death is scary, so we want to go to a better place than what we came from.
But I saw no sign of any of that holding true anywhere. If Heaven was so awesome, why couldn't my grandpa give me a sign he was okay, and I didn't need to worry or be sad anymore? If God really existed, and cared, why wouldn't he have been so saddened by the deaths of childhood cancer patients that he would have removed cancer from the world? Why, why, why? The only logical answer that came to me was that there is no God, at least in religious sense. And if there is no God, or gods, then all religions are false and have no point. So why should spend my time supporting them? I hold honesty as my highest value, so supporting a lie, willingly clouding myself from the truth, was something I absolutely could not do.
I got to thinking again. So religion is crap, but is there a God-being out there? Or is the Big Bang Theory correct? Or another scientific theory about the origin of the universe? Did we evolve from apes? I thought about it, and I realized I believe there is life on other worlds. There has to be. There is no way Earth is that special. Life is possible on Mars, and that isn't that far away, relatively speaking. There could be a dozen Earths in the Milky Way, or in the Andromeda Galaxy, or wherever else in the universe.
Would one supernatural being have created all of them? In his/her/its image? It seems unlikely that there are other humans out there, on a different world. But another humanoid life form? To me, it's almost a certainty. But as I posed earlier, how would an intelligent designer know to make them? Or an eye? Blood cells? Cancer? Water? Anything you can imagine. The knowledge would have to come from somewhere. But where? Parents, perhaps? Its senses? Where did the I.D. learn from? Where did the I.D. come from?
To end this long post (sorry!) I pose a question to anyone who makes it this far. Why are you an atheist? Is it truly a lack of belief in any sort of deity? Or is it a complete and utter lack of belief/disillusionment with organized religion?
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Any other comments about the quality of the writing, or tips for improving would also b e much appreciated :)