I have to say that some ... no, most people do not understand why I am so anti-religious. Most people do not understand the pure feeling of relief I felt when I finally read Thomas Paine's Age of Reason which opened my eyes to the reality of what religion is all about: the quest for power over humans. If that was all there was to it then I could have remained a deist quietly and contentedly. However, and this is the purpose of this blog, my quests in religion have created something inside of me much like a demon.
I come off like I'm completely confident in my stance about there not being a god. I am certain of this, however, there is a battle that I am waging against myself, internally. I have about 25 years worth of self-created guilt as a result of my quest for the perfect religion. I held myself to such high standards, gave myself completely to the poverty that was supposed to be my salvation. I felt the need to sell my 'soul' back to 'god' because I didn't feel I was worthy of it. This nimbus of complete and total submission to religion flowed through me so thickly and so strongly that there were moments that I felt certain that god would speak to me directly or that at any moment jesus would step through the clouds and guide me on my path of righteousness. Most of my friends from this time period can vouch for my arrogance and certainty in this matter. I really did strive for honesty and goodness. I really did chide myself whenever I stepped out of line or perceived myself as stepped out of line.
All those moments during the most important times of my life when I felt like I was loosing my grips on reality and could only resort to 'faith' to get myself through, it was probably the most damaging thing I could have done to myself. I admit it now, there were times in my life when I really thought my reality was shattered. Times when I didn't know what was real and what was unreal or fantasy. There were moments when I didn't think I would be able to pull myself out of whatever dark dungeon my brain had stepped into. I have to say that from the age of 20 - 30 a man must come to grips with his mind or he will loose it. I nearly lost mine and the consequences of this are felt by what is now called my conscience.
The problem is that from the get go I set standards that were unachievable. My reading the bible and seeking it's guidance created inside my head, a cage for my whole mind. It created a place where I was forced to bend nature to the will of that books perception. I twisted reality around in order for it to justify itself to that book. I expected ideals to be real and the consequences of failure to be swift and final. Of course I was setting up these standards on my own. When I asked those who I thought were wise enough to know for certain, I got answers that were shifty and not at all relevant to the original questions. I looked at Atheists with distaste and even with sadness because I really did think they were missing something so obvious. Even when my friends confessed this Atheism or Agnosticism I pitied them. What I was doing was feeding the beast called my conscience. I really did feel I was better and wiser than everyone else. What's even sadder is that my feeling that I was better was too prideful and shameful to me so even to this day I have locked myself away from everything and everyone that I ever cared about from my past. I fear my old friends because of the consequences of my judgments against them. Like my deceased friend Scott who came to me as a friend for advice and all I did was approach him with love and caring that was born from my own arrogance. If the placebo affect is real and is related to the power of suggestion then I may as well could have cursed him and put him on the road that led him to suicide. Ok, self-loathing aside, he was put on that path by his parents and then when he came to me as a friend, I sided with his parents instead of as a friend (which I thought I was doing at the time).
So yeah, that's just one thing among a whole pile of others. Over all this time I created a conscience within myself that set the highest standards and expectations which led me down so many terrible roads. Thankfully I started waking up a few years back when I started showing frustrations with religion in general. I wasn't sure what the problem was, only that I didn't like it and it seemed to espouse power over people that it didn't have a right to. So I stepped away from religion, at least put it at the back of my mind. My terrible conscience however, remained strong.
That conscience is indeed a beast. It represents the beast that I used to call god. I battle with it every single day. It comes to me and drives me into panic attacks, challenging my atheism, challenging my right to be free from judgment. It can't be healthy to refer to it as a different part of myself but that is the only way I can describe it. I am winning against it, this much I do know. It's a matter of repeatedly dogging every one of those expectations and rules and guidelines and laws and fears that I set up for myself. I'm diligent against it. I will not let it win. This is what makes me a militant atheist. I will not give up until I feel that part of me die, forever.
Though we lament and cry out at the loneliness of humankind on our blue marble of a planet, we seem to find some solace in creating a fantasy where our singularness is somehow holy and meant to be. It grants us the ability to feel better about our lamentations of loneliness and gives us strength to go on as a species. However, it is fiction only. It is only fantasy. Our world is not 'magical' it is what we were given and that's magic enough. So I rile against anyone who is trying to perpetuate the fantasy instead of accepting reality. We are a lonely race of humans on this pale blue dot who resides in this rather large corner of a rather large but typical galaxy full of stars, many like our own.