I'd like to establish why I have such a username. But more importantly, I want to truly establish myself here since I'm new. :D I want to tell you all who I am and how I became an atheist. :D And also I'll end up telling you how I turned my family onto atheism. I know this is LONG, sorry. Insanely long truly. But in the future my blog posts will probably be a LOT shorter.
I don't believe (and quite frankly have never believed) in Heaven. I've also never believed in God I don't think. I tried to, I possibly even pretended to, but I kinda was never convinced. I was raised Catholic... kinda... but the problem was that my dad was raised Jewish but gave up his religion and was pretty non-religious and was allowing my mom to raise my brother & me as Catholics, and my mom and grandmother never talked about religion nor openly prayed or anything, and we started to not really go to church much at all because my mom got lazy or maybe it was her Thyroid condition making her tired, idk... but then when I went to CCD/Religious Education classes, I'd always be one of the few people who could actually read out loud at a pace that wasn't equivalent to that of snails but I have no idea what pointless stuff I was reading... it wasn't even the bible or laws or history or anything like that though... it was like a really badly written textbook that obviously didn't work not only on me but on anyone. I doubt anyone in our CCD classes knew a thing about Catholicism. LOL.
Needless to say I didn't even know most of the basic biblical stories everyone's supposed to know when you're in a high school literature class. I knew the story of the prodigal son, um... Noah's ark... I think the creation story kinda... and then the Christmas story and the Last Supper/Good Friday/Passion/Easter story. I knew nothing of people like "Job", and even my conception of "the devil" and "heaven" and "hell" I'm pretty sure I got solely from cartoons on TV. I remember asking "if everyone thinks they're a good person, doesn't everyone think they're going to heaven? How is it fair to send someone who thinks they deserve to go to heaven to hell when they don't think they themselves deserve it?" OR I also remember asking "so if someone murders someone, the victim's family might wish they'd go to hell, but what about the murder's family? How is that fair?" - Obviously I had not been taught that it all doesn't work like that LOL. This was just my own thought process. I even remember being really confused about how Jesus could be both God, and the son of God. You can't be your own son. Logically this wasn't making sense in my probably-eight-year-old mind. I sat in on a Jehovah's Witness Bible Study session one time, and they seemed to have a lot of good points... at first... and then they started talking about when everyone died and they basically stayed in "limbo" until the end of the world, which would of course be soon... and my brother *who was also sitting in on the Bible Study with me) and I left thinking they couldn't be more bizarre. (My brother's best friend at the time, Caleb, was Jehovah's Witness. His grandmother was the person doing the "teaching". This always happened on Fridays at like 4:00 for Caleb. My brother and I were bored that day and curious so we decided to tag along. Caleb's grandmother was more than welcoming. She liked us. ;) )
Anyway... I've always been kinda curious about Religion. My second cousins all started having Bat/Bar Mitzvah's around the time I was turning 13 myself and I found going to temple/synagogue so alluring and cool. Some of the philosophical stuff the Rabbis talked about seemed cool and more importantly the community involved with being Jewish was so amazing that of course I understood why people like my grandfather (who just recently died, this past August, and while listening to preparations for his memorial service, my grandmother/his wife and my dad/his son were saying that he was sure he was Jewish, but he didn't believe in God at all so they really didn't want any God stuff said at his service) might pretend to believe in the religion because they don't want to leave the community. I sat at the table with all the preteen/young teenage girls that I didn't know at my second cousins' Bat Mitzvah and a girl next to me said, "when are you going to have your Bat Mitzvah?". I stared around at the amazing party and sadly said, "never, I'm actually Catholic". I felt some kind of shame to admit that, I kinda felt like I didn't belong.
At some point years ago... idk when it was exactly, I'm guessing I was about 14 at the time though, and well my dad, my brother and I had all traveled to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving. We were going to have Thanksgiving dinner at my Uncle Rich's house. My Uncle Rich is only my uncle by marriage - he's my dad's sister's (Sharon's) husband - but I've known him and loved him since I was 6. My dad's whole side of the family... including Uncle Rich and his whole family... are all Jewish. So usually we see them on Thanksgiving, and we see my mom's relatives on the Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter.
So I'm about 14 years old and I'm amazing at the game Boggle, by the way. Even back then, I would beat EVERYONE 90% of the time, even though I so I don't know more words than the really well-read adults I'm playing with when it's my aunt, uncle, and dad, I can find MORE words in the allowed amount of time than the rest of them. :D And it's awesome - at least from my point of view. My brother (who is two years younger than me) seemed to enjoy it too... everyone did, eexcept my Uncle Rich and Aunt Sharon's son, Jeremy, who had always been too young to play. So usually we'd play after he went to bed. But this time was different.
We were in Philadelphia for all of Thanksgiving's Day weekend, so of course we're in this hotel and massive Christmas decorations and a huge tree and Christmas music is starting to play everywhere, and it's awkward. REALLY awkward. It always is. I like Christmas, and always have. But we're with these Jewish relatives who we don't know insanely well so we don't know how annoyed they are but all the Christmas stuff, and we're afraid to ask. We don't know their religious thoughts much at all because it just never comes up. Even at my Uncle Rich's parents house, they have a piano, and at the time I knew how to play 2 Christmas song melodies... and that's ALL. I had a strong urge to show off my skill... and soon after that urge, I experienced extreme annoyance at the realization that it'd probably be extremely awkward to do that in a house full of Jews. So I kept them to myself.
Anyway in the Christmas decorated hotel lobby, one early evening... like around 5:00pm... they were having a happy hour. :D And the 6 of us (my dad, my brother, my aunt, my uncle, my cousin, and I) all decided to hang out and drink (the three of us kids were drinking non-alcoholic Shirley temples or delicious things like pineapple juice) and play Boggle. I'm pretty sure this was my cousin's first time ever playing Boggle with us. He was just old enough to kinda almost be able to compete... he could at least play lol.
I had brought the game from home. The game requires paper and pens/pencils for each player, so I had lots of pens and pencils already conveniently in the box, and a little mini box of paper that conveniently fit in the box. The box of little note-sized paper, kinda like post-its without stickiness, was a Christmas present from my Religious Education class that year. It was just plain white paper. But the little box it came on had a nativity scene picture on it. It was a convenient little box that kept the paper together, much like a rubber band might. LOL. But it was there and I didn't think much of it. In fact, it was a nice flat surface so as we played boggle, we ended up putting the sand timer on it.
As we played multiple rounds of Boggle, I guess the adults were also drinking more and more, so my Uncle Rich was probably a little drunk. At the time I didn't realize it and I really was quite oblivious to the fact that I had actually witnessed any level of drunkenness in my life - I was such a naive child... and still do feel quite naive a lot of the time about so many things in life. Anyway, he's also kinda competitive. And usually we all were just having fun it seemed but I'm sure it annoyed him on some level that being as young as I was, I was beating him. Still, as we all frantically wrote down as many words as we could find before the timer ran out, I kept moving the position of that little paper box with the timer on it, to be more centered and in my line of sight, since it being not in my line of sight kept distracting me during the game play. I continually would adjust it a bit, here and there, trying to get it perfect, but not ever really trying that hard since the whole time my main focus was on the game and the letters and trying to pick out words.
Suddenly my Uncle Rich yelled at me, "Stop shoving your religion in my face!". I was so shocked... and confused for a second until I realized he meant literally moving/shoving the little paper box with the nativity scene on it. And I started to cry... most likely because I was already over-sensitive to yelling due to my abusive mother who would yell at me all the time... but idk, maybe for other reasons too, I'm not sure, but anyway now that I was crying, and I was so embarrassed, and I started to run away back to the elevator to go back up to our hotel room, I mean my 7 year old cousin was seeing me cry probably for the first time, and it was just SO awkward and embarrassing and horrifying for me. And my dad and brother chased after me and I clearly remember explaining that it really shouldn't be this big of a deal, I have no idea why I'm crying, and it's so embarrassing, and well "it's not even my religion! I don't believe any of it!" I kept saying. So why did I care that he was mad at me? I think a part of it was actually being offended by the thought that someone thought of me as a Christian who believed that thing. I had some view of all of "us" as idiots.
Regardless when I was in 9th grade and supposed to get confirmed as a Catholic, I decided not to, because I truly didn't believe any of it and didn't want to swear to such insane things. I clearly remember my mother pestering me and my brother "Do you believe in God" and we both kinda agreed in private that we didn't, but around her we lied and said we did, "yeah, of course" was probably what was uttered from our mouths, mainly because we were afraid of her yelling at us and tormenting us until we changed our minds. She did that a lot about all sorts of things in life. She was fine with me not wanting to become a confirmed Catholic as long as I said I believed in God. Although she tried to convince me to reconsider staying with the church because it's easier to get married if you belong to a church.
Last year I started college and my roommates (Laura and Lauren) and I were all pretty obviously atheists, but the 2 of us from the liberal north kinda had understanding for the idea of religion and why some people needed it, but my one roommate from Tennessee was so bitter and sure that religion was horrible. We'd have philosophical conversations late into the night and it'd start with us all pretty much in agreement and end with Lauren angry and convinced that Laura and I believed in God or something. It was weird. Both of them had taken Bible as literature courses before and I just felt so... religiously illiterate. So...
This past semester I took an Introduction to Religion class. I loved it. Everything from learning what exactly the definition of a "religion" is to learning about Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Judaism Taoism, Christianity, and Islam was all quite fascinating to me. I liked concepts from all of them. But in the end... I was just more sure than ever that I was and would always be an atheist. I wasn't 100% sure I was ready to "admit" that though. I'd always say things like "I'm probably an atheist", etc.
Anyway a few days ago/maybe a week ago @ThinkAheist started following me on twitter. Probably because of something I tweeted? Idk. Anyway I found this site because of that. And now I'm proud to admit I'm an atheist. So proud in fact, that I have convinced my dad and brother to finally admit they're atheists too. :D Literally three days ago I asked my dad if he believed in God and he was like, "Well, what is God, I mean I don't believe in magic, but I kinda think maybe..." blah blah blah - and now we're all proud atheists. :D Part of what helped a lot is me happening upon a reference ralph mcrae made in a comment on the first discussion I stumbled across on this site - a reference to an atheist podcast, which I then proceeded to check out. The Reasonable Doubts podcast: http://doubtreligion.blogspot.com/
has been SO enlightening and amazing and I was having my dad and brother listen to it in really long car rides today and by the end of the day me and my brother ended up in a bookstore insanely gleefully buying each other atheist books for Christmas. LOL. Talk about irony. ;) Seriously not only is this atheism thing a brand new thing that really is exciting me but it's exciting and intriguing to my brother and dad too, and it's so nice to have something so in common with my brother again - we haven't talked much lately mainly because I've been away at college and he has his own life. But atheism is bringing us together in a very real way, by giving us a concept to agree on and bond over. And at the holiday season no less. ;) LOL.
Anyway, about my username. Why am I named "luvtheheaven"? Because when I was 12, I started watching the TV show 7th Heaven. And I fell in love. And when I was 14, I had seen every single episode of the insanely long running show and felt way too knowledgeable about the plots and characters of the show to go to waste. So I was looking online for a quiz or something about 7th Heaven. That's when I discovered funtrivia.com. I thought of the name "luvtheheaven" and thought it sounded cool, rolled off the tongue, and would apply to my love for the show 7th Heaven. I then wanted to create an account at tv.com, and I was out of creativity, so I used the same name. Then I became so active on both tv.com and funtrivia.com, that it kinda felt like my persona and my name and I was so attached to the name "luvtheheaven". I ended up using it as my wikipedia editing name the summer that I was totally into that, and then most importantly my YouTube name. Now, thanks to YouTube, it's just who I am. I will FOREVER be remembered in some people's minds as "luvtheheaven". I am sure of it. My fanvideos have an impact on some people the way lots of fanvideos have an impact on me. So I want to keep the username alive... ;) Also I don't know HOW comfortable I am giving out my full name here. But I'm Emily, I'm gonna be 20-years-old in a month, and I'm a brand new atheist in a lot of ways, even though in other ways I've been an atheist my whole life. And I'm just SO happy to be able to go on a website like this and explain about why and how I'm an atheist.