Tuesday, July 14, 2015

To answer that question...

One of they questions in the Leibster post was about faith, and I said I would make a post about it instead of answering it right there.

I'm an atheist. There, I said it.

I have learned that this non-belief is met with some strong emotion and reaction so I tend to be a bit gun-shy about revealing it. To myself it's not a big deal, or much of a thought, because really, who spends time thinking about things you don't believe in?

I'm not a militant atheist or an angry one, the ones that make the news. I'm not out trying to attack and persecute Christians (there is a war on Christmas! /s). Mainly because I don't care. Yes, I strongly believe in the first amendment (separation of church of state) but I think I would strongly support that amendment even if I had a religious bent. I like to think of myself as incredibly fair minded, and if you make allowances for one, then you have to make allowances for all. Religion can be fairly narrow minded and stuck in tradition and a plea to tradition isn't a valid argument style (Critical Thinking 101 guys).

I remember telling my coworkers this for the first time, not sure how or why, but I'm guessing I was asked a pretty direct question and I'm not going to lie. I think this was after three years of working there. They looked at me wide eyed and asked incredulously, "You don't believe in God? Like, not even a little bit???" I think I was the first atheist that they had met. They were very shocked and didn't believe that I couldn't believe at all, not even just a tiny bit. One driver tells me (in a joking/not joking way) that he prays for my soul because he believes I'm a good person and someone has to ;) I tell him I appreciate that, and not to waste too much time but whatever you want to do.

Am I anti religion? Nope. Anti organized religion? Not really. Have I been to church? Of course, lot's of different kinds. I will attend any church of any family member/friend if they wish me to. Every Sunday? Uh, no. How about we just stick to special occasions. I've been to Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Buddhist, Catholic... Like I said, if it means something to a close friend or family member for me to go? It's a wedding or a funeral? Some special church function? I will go. Why not?

One coworker of the past looked at me like I hadn't thought this through very well and sneered at me "but you celebrate Christmas", like she caught me being a hypocrite. I just looked at her and said, I don't deserve a day off? I will celebrate the hell out of everything! I love holidays. The more the better. That is what is great about being an atheist, I can celebrate whatever I want for whatever reason, in any way! I don't have any reason not to. Do I care about the religious aspect of any of them? Not particularly. But if everyone else did, why is there a Santa Clause and an Easter Bunny. I don't know much about the bible, but I'm pretty sure they don't make an appearance in there. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

And on that note of Santa and the Easter Bunny, I don't think I ever believed in them either (I say this with a bit of a question because there was never a moment of realizing they were fake, a big reveal. My earliest memories where of being excited of what my parents got me). I feel like I always knew it was my mom. I'm the type that is innately skeptical, and I'm always taken aback that some people don't realize these characters are false until well into their tweens. That is some deep seeded un-wavered belief in everything your parents say right there.

So when did I know I was an atheist? As soon as I knew there was a word for it, so that would be about nine years old. My mom is agnostic and my dad is christian. We attended church regularly until I was in kindergarten or first grade. My dad stopped going because he had gotten frustrated that the churches he was going  to were making his worth of a church member based on his contributions. We were poor and it made him angry that they tried to guilt money out of him. After that, I only went to church if we visited my grandparents.

And why did I know there was a word for it at nine years old? Or was even seeking a word for it? It started with the American flag, or more specifically, the Pledge of Allegiance and a bit of learned history. Has anyone else had a meme on Facebook going around lately about how the Pledge of Allegiance isn't being recited in schools because of the fear of offending someone, the implication being that the flag is the offensive bit? I cannot explain how angry that meme makes me. So many things.

One. Is this even true. Is it true that schools no longer recite this pledge? I don't know because I don't attend or have any children attending so I don't know. I'm skeptical.

Two. Let's say it's true that the pledge is no longer said. Would it be because the FLAG is "offensive" (oh god can that word die a short agonizing death already)? OR MAYBE THE BIT ABOUT GOD IN THERE IS THE "OFFENSIVE" BIT. You know, that part added during the red scare in the fifties? The part that is not original? The part that snubs it's nose at the first amendment???? The part that keeps some kids from participating because it is against their religion not because of any imagined offense???

If the pledge isn't said any more (which I highly doubt), it's because it was easier to scrap the whole thing, then to remove the bit that is the problem because I'm going to guess that would be a attack on Christianity and we couldn't have that. That is my guess on that stupid Facebook post. Part of what makes me super ranty about that post is that my atheist sister (she is one of those "angry" athiests for reasons unknown) posted it. She must think it's the flag part cause she hates anything god related, so it's so eye roll worthy to me that she would even give a shit. You really love the pledge that much???

I stopped saying the pledge at nine years old. I noticed that certain kids sat down or left the class citing "religious reasons" and in my mind I thought that was really odd that we would do something in class that excluded people like that. So I started to think about the pledge and the god part. Found out more about it. I learned about the first amendment. I learned about the original pledge. I started to stand and face the flag, but I would be silent during the "under god" part. Then I stopped saying the pledge but still stood. Thinking about the pledge of allegiance made me really think about my stance on this god creature, and I realized, I didn't believe. This led me to find out if this had a word for it, and it did. I was the type of kid that went to the dictionary of Encyclopedia Britannica any time I needed to figure something out. You know, before the internet.

My husband is an atheist too, despite his Japanese side being Buddhist and his Portuguese side being Catholic. Oh, and attending Catholic school since elementary. He is well versed in the bible and all the stories and history, which I love cause I can usually just ask him any questions I have instead of googling it. I had a past boyfriend that "claimed" to be an atheist despite his Catholic upbringing which amused me. We got into an argument (of course we did, that is pretty much all we did) after sex one time because he made the comment "sometimes I feel guilty after that" and I was so confused about what. He looked at me like I was mentally challenged and said condescendingly "You know, pre-marital sex, because it's a sin." I just stared at him a bit then said "Um, I thought you said you were an atheist...? Sex between two consenting adults is just sex." He got very upset and had to prove that he was way more atheist than I was (why was everything a competition with that guy?) and I had to just inner eye roll and be like whatever, dude. Fine. You are so super atheist that believes sex outside of wedlock is a sin. That is so atheist, we are all about that guilt trip.

My cousins are devout Christians, one is currently doing some missionary work in Papa New Guinea. They post a lot of their faith and beliefs on Facebook. I don't agree on most of their viewpoints or the logic behind it, but I love their conviction and the fact they are ready to back them up. Two of my sisters have tried to go up against them and it was embarrassing. For my sisters. I will not for three reasons. One: I don't argue well (mostly because I don't care. I feel I am an apathetic more than an atheist, ha). Two: If it's religious based, the burden of proof isn't on me, it's on them. You can't prove a negative. Critical Thinking 101 again, guys. Three: You are not going to change anyone's mind on Facebook! It's pointless.

Wow. I didn't mean for this to be so long. I still have more to say (I know!) but I'm just going to stop myself here. If you made it all the way through, thank you! See why I had to make a separate post???

6 comments:

  1. I find it very difficult to be an atheist (well sorta, I really dig Buddha, but not sure if I BELIEVE) in the Bible Belt. Well, I find it difficult in general to be in the conservative, back-water, ignorant, fear mongering, Fox News watching, racist south, but I digress.....

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    1. That has to be super difficult! Most people assume everyone is christian by default, it's just figuring out what kind of christian is the question. California isn't all liberal either so its something I prefer to just keep to myself if I can. But I also don't like telling lies so any direct questions are going to get answered!

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  2. This is a really great post! Well written and just all around great. I have an excellent response, but it's long, so I'm going to email it to you. ;) Great post!

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    1. Thanks for saying that... I was really worried about hitting publish there, I think that's why I kept rambling. If I'm nervous, I either clam up and say nothing or say too much!

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  3. I don't know that I'm a strict atheist, I'm kind of like too much of a hippy who occasionally gets suckered in to thinking the universe is um...up to stuff (!)...what I don't know but you know, kismet and serendipity and all of that kooky crap! But the whole one big God in the sky thing, no, sorry. I grew up in the East where it's really not that big of a deal, but I have noticed a weird trend as I get older where quite a few of my friends, esp. those who moved southwards, are total religious jobs now when they weren't remotely so when I know them, which always kind of fascinates me. Like I had a near death experience, cancer,all of it, and I still didn't have a "Aha!" moment, so I just do't get how it works when you become born again. Anyway thanks for such a thoughtful post, I have gotten used to the the general religious blase attitude in Scotland but it's interesting to read about American attitudes again!

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    1. It's not something I encounter often, but I think it's because I don't hang around people that talk about religion a lot and/or I've learned to just not say things that would "out" me right away ;) I told Becky that I really couldn't tell you about my friends and their religious bents, I really have no clue!

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