Monday, December 20, 2010

Atheism is a Scary Word!

As of now, I do not believe in any gods, or an afterlife. At the same time, I don't think anyone can know can know any of these things for sure. This makes me an Agnostic Atheist. I secretly hope reincarnation is true, but recognize this as an after-life fantasy, one to ease the fear of death. While it's fun to think about from time to time, I could never in good conscience obsess over it. I like to be comfortable, but I think it's only possible to progress when the mind is out of its comfort zone. As much as I love comfort (and ohhh, I reeeally do!), progression is better in the long run and must be my top priority.

I've considered myself, both publicly and personally, more strongly agnostic than atheist, even sometimes denying the atheism all together; lately, I have been wondering why. So far, I've concluded a couple of things. First is that I am, on some level, afraid to fully consider myself an atheist. I am more afraid to admit it to others than I am to myself, but there is discomfort to be found in both instances.

Why would I be afraid when I know what atheism is? It seems silly on the surface. I know that atheists are not 'Ebeneezer Scrooges', bitter and angry at God', as implied by many of the Christians in my past. I know what it's like to think from a Christian mindset - and that from that point of view, it's difficult or even impossible to step outside of oneself enough to realize: just because you love God, it does not mean that someone who refuses to share that passion is simply angry at your God. The possibility does not come to mind that one could be indifferent toward a supposed God while frustrated with the negative effects of a strong belief in such a being. This is a benefit to the logical position: it does not have to get in the way of an emotional view, but it allows one to see beyond it, if needed (and it's always a good practice to analyze emotions). Even the more logical Christian (yes, they do exist), while able to analyze other aspects of his/her life, must turn off the brain in the area of (his/her) religion, in light of the faith requirement.

As a Christian, I did also notice the anger toward Christianity among atheists which, in my mind at the time, justified the 'angry atheist' argument. Now, I know (from my own experience as well as examples from others') that it's not God they have a problem with. I'm sure there are rebellious teenagers (for example) out there, going through anti-God phases, claiming atheism, the most opposing view they can find -- but that's irrelevant, considering the true definition (of atheism). I am sure, however, that when such individuals are welcomed back into the church, it only confirms to the Christian that the 'anger' theory is correct.

No - an atheist's anger is not toward God, or even toward Christian/religious individuals (usually). Their anger is more often concerning religion in general, because of how it is affecting humanity as a whole. The fact of the matter is that atheism is the logical position; it is irrational to believe in God; especially with such a fiery passion. Christianity on the other hand feeds on human emotion. Free-thinkers must aggressively fight for progression because there are still people out there, too afraid of reality and change, to abandon ideas that no longer apply. It is frustrating, to say the least, for the those involved in the effort to update the laws/views in light of what we now know. We can't move forward because the majority still refuses to look past their own comforts and feelings enough to adapt and improve.

This brings me back to the main question: why am I still afraid of the term (atheist)? Even though I am more concerned with progression and that the fact that we can't know anything for sure about the 'supernatural' (so why obsess?), it is still true that I don't believe in a God/gods. That means, however weak or strong, I am an ATHEIST! I think awareness of the misconceptions of atheism (having been so heavily exposed to them) is the main reason behind the natural tendency to avoid being associated with the term. The better solution would be to stand up for what the word really means, and to clear up any misconceptions that pop up along the way. That would require of me a willingness to defeat my inner wimp; the scared little Christian girl who avoids confrontation at all costs. It would mean getting out of my comfort zone, the very thing I claim to stand for.

Another reason (in conjunction with the former) I consider is that the misrepresented idea toward atheism was so ingrained, certain negative associations to the term still linger fruitlessly, much like the irrational guilt that I also deal with, despite all knowledge gained.

It's such an odd experience - living most of my life with a delusional view of the world, knowing nothing else ... and then gradually learning to break away, seeing what the bubble looks like from the outside. I do like that I have two different perspectives on the matter, but at the same time, it's been hard on my mind. The mind loves its comforts. It craves what's known and what's familiar. It can even bury memories that it would rather not deal with. In such a case, it could be a lot of work to bring them to the surface, but psychologists know that sometimes it is what's needed in order for the patient to heal and grow in a better direction. I think of how hard it is for ME, someone desperately trying (and struggling every step of the way) to fight MYSELF, and all of the instincts that get in the way of progression; just to think, at the very same time, there are millions of people fighting to justify these fears, giving them positive names, tying them with pretty little ribbons, and even selling them ... well, it makes me sick to my stomach.

Bottom line: I need to beat this fear! I am no longer blinded by 'the light'; there's no excuse. Staying silent, denying truths ... I think it makes me just as bad or worse than the Christians I speak against.


ex-minister1 said...

Are you saying Christians don't have discomfort? I am a former Christian and minister. There is discomfort there. You are in battle with cosmic forces that want to bring you down. You are dealing with doubt and lust and anger. Christianity creates discomfort where there is no need to. It for me was constant stress. I had to always be happy and grateful. One tough battle.

Accepting that at least that Abrahamic God does not exist through years of shame and really looking at it has removed this battle of illusion/delusion and I am left with just being human, which is comfortable because it is who I am and not who I am trying to be.

Tai Bee said...

I didn't mean to imply that Christians do not have any discomfort. I probably should have clarified that -- and yes, I can relate to the uncomfortable struggles you mention, particularly the lust and shame pattern, as mentioned the next post. that one was so ingrained that I still deal with lingering guilt for such things, even though I can now think about it reasonably, seeing it for what it really is.

I still stand by the idea that having it settled in your own mind that you (and only those that think like you do) have the answer to life and eternity is a comfort, one to ease the fear of death, to feel special, and one that is detrimental to our growth.

Yes - Christianity is a delusion; within this delusion there are uncomfortable aspects. My focus was on the comfortable ones, because they are the aspects we latch onto in order to justify the discomfort that does indeed exist.

Tai Bee said...

"I am left with just being human, which is comfortable because it is who I am and not who I am trying to be."

Similarly, I do not mean to imply that life outside of Christianity is always uncomfortable. Leaving it behind was the hard part, and a painful process ... slowly, gradually shedding the only view I had ever known, and nothing to replace it with.

I've been out for long enough that I am in the pattern of accepting reality, and so much of the pain of that time has faded. I, like you, am more comfortable now in the sense that I am free to be my true self -- no guilt attached (although there is the residual guilt ...ugh!)

To say Atheism is not(emotionally) comfortable like Christianity is true in light of the reason man created religion in the first place: to settle the anxiety associated with not knowing. Emotional struggles and feelings of liberation that exist within each experience are irrelevant in this case.

/END for now :)

krissthesexyatheist said...

"I need to beat this fear." You, me and the entire atheist blogosphere need to do that. Hey, let's do it together, and prove 'them' wrong. Stay warm, stay awesome.


Tai Bee said...

I'm probably the biggest chicken atheist of them all, but it's nice to know I'm not alone! Thanks for the encouraging words!

Awesome, I can do! ^__^ Unfortunately, the warm is nearly impossible up here ... >.<

ex-minister1 said...

"I still stand by the idea that having it settled in your own mind that you (and only those that think like you do) have the answer to life and eternity is a comfort, one to ease the fear of death, to feel special, and one that is detrimental to our growth. "

I definitely agree. Complacency is a not good for humans.

Being honest with myself is the hardest thing I have ever done. But is is much easier now from practice. It keeps me challenged and in a "discomfort" mode. To listen and hear differing opinions is quite healthy. I don't have the answer and how realistic and wonderful that is.

Hope you write some more about your journey out of religion.