First of all, let’s look up the definition of atheist, shall we?

a⋅the⋅ist
[ey-thee-ist]
–noun

Origin:
1565–75; < Gk áthe(os) godless + -ist

Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic refer to persons not inclined toward religious belief or a particular form of religious belief. An atheist is one who denies the existence of a deity or of divine beings. An agnostic is one who believes it impossible to know anything about God or about the creation of the universe and refrains from commitment to any religious doctrine. Infidel means an unbeliever, especially a nonbeliever in Islam or Christianity. A skeptic doubts and is critical of all accepted doctrines and creeds.
 
Ok. So an atheist is someone who does not believe in ANY gods. I find the Christian god just as ridiculous and appalling as I do Allah, Zeus, Ra, and every other deity that humans have invented, worshipped, killed for, and prayed to. I was never brought up with a major religious influence, and was therefor allowed to find my own path. I tried religion out. I went to youth group and church lock-ins in high school. I went to a few Christmas services. I read the ENTIRE bible. It was the last item on that list that finally clinched it for me. Yes, youth group lock-ins and Christmas services are fun and all, but it’s all based on this book that was written almost 2000 years ago, and has been edited and translated thousands of times over. Have you read the bible? If not, I highly recommend it. There is no better way to convince oneself that there is no god. And the Quran? I’m not even going there. The little doubts had always been there. I tried praying, and never felt anything. I tried believing, but then I would think of all the needless suffering, death, and destruction that religion is causing and has caused throughout the ages. I thought of all of the different religions out there, and how every religion believes they are the chosen ones who will be ‘saved’ when their god brings his/her wrath down upon the rest of the world. Everyone thinks they are right, and everyone else is wrong. What more can you conclude than, well, perhaps EVERYONE is wrong and there really are no such thing as gods and faeries and angels and Hell and Heaven and unicorns and miracles and ghosts and any other supernatural being. I know there are a lot of people who think that if there’s even the slightest chance there is a god, wouldn’t you rather live your life serving them and get into Heaven instead of living “selfishly” only to find out at the end that there really was a god and you were going to be punished. I have heard that argument, and really the only thing I can come up with in response is, “Are you serious? You are going to waste your entire life devoted to a god that doesn’t exist all because there’s a 0.00000000000000000001 chance that he/she exists? You don’t think that this ‘great and powerful’ god would look kindly on someone who has been truly good in their life, just because he/she is so vain to require belief without any shred of evidence?” And then I mutter about people being crazy-in-the-head pansies.
 
The first time I came out to someone that I thought I might be an atheist because I really didn’t think there was such thing as gods was in high school. I came back to my locker after lunch to find it hanging open. The first thing I noticed was torn paper on the ground. As I got closer, I saw that someone had scrawled words in permanent marker across the front of my locker door. Words like “Heathen” and “Go to Hell” and “Infidel.” My locker was a mess. My text books had been torn apart. The pictures that had adorned the walls were crumpled up and stuck together in a heap on the floor. I don’t even remember what happened in those next few minutes, but I somehow made it to the office and told the ladies that worked there what had been done. Guess what was done? Nothing. I got a pat on the back, a bill for new text books, and they never pursued it.
 
So I kept my mouth shut about my doubts through the rest of high school. I went off to a little private college hundreds of miles away from home, and still did not divulge my secret to everyone. I’m pretty sure I told my husband, who I met in my freshman year, but not too many other people. That is, until Senior year. A new group started up on campus. I forget what they called themselves, but it was basically people of all different religious backgrounds getting together to discuss religion. My husband, then fiance, came to the meeting with me. At this point, he still considered himself Agnostic. So that made 1 atheist and 1 agnostic at the meeting… out of probably 70 people. We were clumped together with a wiccan and a hindu as the “other” group. The rest were a mix of Christian and Catholic. We were told to find a corner with our group and discuss our beliefs. That’s it. I don’t remember anyone even wanting to talk to me from the two main groups. It’s like we were pariahs, cast-offs, infected with contagious Reason that might poison the minds of anyone who got too close. It was bad enough for my husband and I, but I imagine it was even worst for the hindu and wiccan being classified into the same group as us.
 
I noticed a few people who I had classes with in the two main groups. After that first failed meeting (of course, we never went to another one, what’s the point?) I noticed that the people who recognized me treated me differently. It wasn’t like they were mean to me. It was more like they thought I had some sort of mental problem, that I was slow. I felt like no matter what I said they were taking it with a grain of salt. And the not-so-funny part about this was that most of the classes I had with these people were science-related: Neurobiology, Evolution, Genetics of Disease, Microbiology, Chemistry, etc. How on earth could they judge me for not believing in a fairy tale when they had all of the same wonderful evidence in front of them? Oh well… I didn’t try to argue with them. I just shrugged off religion in college. It wasn’t too important to me.
 
After graduation came the wedding. My dear hubby comes from a family that is entirely, without exception, Fundamentalist Christian creationists. That’s right. His family believes in the literal word of their god, and that the world was made by this god around 6000 years ago. We decided to have a non-denominational wedding, and I finally forced my hubby to come out to his family about what he didn’t believe in. His mom broke into tears, and his grandparents wrote nasty messages about how I had turned their grandson into a heathen and how we were both going to Hell on our wedding webpage. We received a personalized bible for our wedding present from the great grandparents, and tapes of an atheist who turned Christian from the other side’s grandparents.
I think they have finally come to accept our atheism. They definitely don’t like it, but their attempts to turn us into good little Christians have failed so many times that they aren’t doing it quite as often as from the start. They are still of the opinion that we are going to Hell, but nothing is going to change that. Yes, it’s very rude to tell a loved one that they will spend an eternity rotting away in a fiery, brimstone-filled land ruled by cruel demons… but apparently it’s just as rude for us to deny the traditions his family tried to instill in him from birth. And to NOT circumsize our boys? Well, that was just a slap in the face that they are going to have to deal with.
 
I’ve been through so much on my non-religious path to who I am today, and I’m sure there is more to come. I’ve went through the gamut of emotions: curious, doubting, horrified, scared, assertive, hiding, angry, sad, depressed, happy, hopeful, content, miserable, fed up, holier-than-thou, defensive, offensive, insane, shut down, hurt, worried… you name it and I have felt it at some point along the way. Now I have learned to be cautious as to who I come out to, not because I’m ashamed, but because people can be genuinely mean, hurtful, crazy, and put out after I reveal my true colors. It’s like no matter how good of a person I am, being an unbeliever tarnishes every action I make, every word I say. It was frustrating at first, but now I just shrug it off because if I’m being honest, that is exactly how I react to someone who tells me they believe in a god or anything supernatural. I secretly think of them as a crazy person.
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