Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

It’s All About Me and My Big Evil Atheism

When I decided to start writing again, I was sort of hoping that it wouldn’t all be about me.  There are some really important issues out there that I hope I can shed a different perspective on, but in the end, my goal has more to do with education and understanding than ranting and negativity.

There are a thousand atheist related blogs, networks, discussion boards and informative websites in the world these days.  I keep thinking that there’s nothing much left for me to add about “the atheist mindset,” simply because there is no atheist mindset.

Unfortunately,  I am met over and over with the same questions or worse, accusations and assumptions and being the glutton for punishment I am, I feel compelled to respond.   Why?  Well, unlike many of my other non-believing counterparts, I really am not all that comfortable being overly confrontational.  My goal, and it may be incredibly idealistic, is to forge understanding, not further a greater divide.

So, while this is not going to turn into a daily dose of atheism, I do think there’s some redemptive value in attempting open discussion for the purpose of breaking up stereotypes and hopefully answering questions or dispelling misconceptions.  If none of that happens, well, then we’ll just move on to other things.

I’m going to start with a remark that really got to me yesterday.   The assumption was made that I do not understand faith.  I think the reason that actually bothers me is because its part of the career path I have chosen to put myself in the shoes of others and honor their humanity-even when I don’t agree with them, hell, even when I find their beliefs disgusting or harmful.

I grew up Southern Baptist.  Our entire social experience from the time I was born until I was about 14 years old was centered on the church.  I was active in GA’s,  children’s, youth and adult choir, Sunday School, Bible study…basically, if the doors were open, my family was there.  My sweet grandfather is a retired United Methodist minister.  He was a small congregation/circuit pastor for something like 30 years.  I was christened in the Methodist church and baptized at 11 in the Southern Baptist church.  I was outwardly expressive of my faith.  While I had many questions, those questions did not lead me anywhere outside of faith for a very long time.

So, that’s all (well, some) the “talk” part of the walk.  The walk part is a lot more personal and I certainly am under no obligation to explain myself to anyone, but I do wish to speak honestly and respectfully, so that I may receive the same in kind.  God was not a concept for me as I child.   God was a real entity in my life.  I described my relationship with god recently as the pal I chatted with at night.  I may have a completely different understanding of what was going on now, but at that time, I was communicating with my God.

Bible study was important, as well.  I was involved in a number of activities related to study, not the least of which was avid note-taking during service.  Something my mother began for my step-sister and I so that we would pay attention during the sermon, but it turned into a great tool-one that still serves me well today.

So, without getting much more personal, let me just say.  Yes, I do understand faith.  There was nothing hypocritical about how I felt when I was a Christian.  I was a believer.  To say that no True Christian™ could actively leave the faith because there was something lacking with them is erroneous at best and terribly insulting at worst.  I understand the need to justify by placing blame somewhere on the person whose faith just wasn’t strong enough, whose heart wasn’t broken for Christ, whose belief wasn’t child-like enough, but the fact is…that’s just an over-simplified justification.  It is scary to think that strong believers can leave faith, but, it happens.  Please don’t attempt to diminish my experiences because it makes you uncomfortable.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 23, 2010 at 11:24 am

Posted in atheism, Christian, religion

15 Responses

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  1. […] The busiest day of the year was November 23rd with 89 views. The most popular post that day was It’s All About Me and My Big Evil Atheism. […]

  2. Coming in on this post a bit late. Can I ask a question? I realize this blog is just a snapshot of yourself, so I don’t presume anything by this, but it sounds more like it’s “religion” that you lost faith in rather than God himself. My brother is what I suppose would be called an agnostic: he doesn’t believe in a personal God but simply cannot be persuaded to believe that life, planets, etc. just happened instead of coming into existence by design (although he doesn’t put it in those words). As an atheist, I’m assuming you completely deny the existence of God. Right? I’m really trying to understand and don’t ask with any self-righteousness involved. BTW, I don’t see atheisism as evil. To me, it’s simply part of your journey. It wasn’t part of mine to the extent that I never stopped believing in God, but I absolutely had to search out answers for myself as an adult. Anyhoo, I enjoy your thought-provoking blog.

    Michelle Shocklee

    December 5, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    • To say that atheists “deny” the existence of something implies that there is some kind of proof of that existence in the first place. I can’t deny the existence of something that cannot be proven anyway. I can either believe it is there (which is faith) or I can not believe it is there (which is atheism.)

      I do not believe in god. Any god. At all.

      I also do not believe it can be proven either way and I’m always open to the possibility that I am wrong. On Dawkins’ 7 point scale, I’m a 6.

      I did not lose faith in religion. It was not religion that took away my belief. I had stopped attending church or being involved in “religion” for years before I stopped believing in god.

      thelittlepecan

      December 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm

  3. I don’t care how much of a sham it is, religion is one of the most ancient concepts in human society — right after hunting and eating.
    The first written words were religiously based — Gilgamesh, Homer, etc — poetry, theater, art. Also laws and ethics were based around tenets. Opium of the masses, I know, but there’s a reason that concepts have been around so long. All of this has shaped society profoundly. Not everyone can think for themselves — and thinking that people are inherently good and moral seems pretty naive. If someone’s faith/ philosophy keeps them from breaking into my house– that’s cool with me.

    Steven

    November 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    • I reject the idea that people would not be good without religion. Good people are good. Bad people are bad. Faith doesn’t change that.

      thelittlepecan

      November 23, 2010 at 1:52 pm

      • Yeah, prisons are filled with believers who cheerfully robbed house, embezzled, raped, and murdered; people who despite their faith made a “mistake” and are now “forgiven”. Faith in a god construct rarely seems to stop anyone from doing things, it just gives them a “free pass” in society at large for fucking up with no genuine amends past those to the imaginary friend.

        Marie

        November 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      • I was talking about the basis for laws and morals. Religion predates this.

        Steven

        November 23, 2010 at 5:41 pm

  4. My grandfather was a preacher in the Church of Christ up until his death in 1969. He was a Godly man who (much to my grandmother’s dismay) would quite often bring homeless or destitute people home for a good meal and a shower with the stipulation of reading of some scripture. Afterwards he would send them on their way. From my mother’s explanations, he did it for no other reason than that was the basis of his beliefs. Sadly, he was killed in a head-on-collision coming home from work. My mother was twelve.

    In drastic juxtaposition, my father, who also was a preacher of the Church of Christ, was an abuser. He beat my mother and myself often. It finally came to a head when he beat her for 8 hours straight, setting matches to her feet when he had beat her unconscious, to awaken her for more beatings. In his personal life, he was deplorable. Behind the pulpit, the man challenged the fundamental errors of the organized church. He preached of the true purposes of the activity of church (edification) to the dangers of taking scripture out of context (“there is no God…saith the fool in his heart.” Psalm 14:1).

    This created a rift in my thinking, obviously. Here are two people in my life that have taken the exact same belief set with two very different results. One a man practiced what he preached whilst the other could not apply his knowledge to his own life, but was quick to tell others how they should live. Although it created a measuring stick for what was and was not genuine Christian behavior, neither was a tipping point in my choice as an Atheist.

    I too get offended when accused of my ultimate lack of Faith™ being the fact that I never got it in the first place. You nailed it when stating “Please don’t attempt to diminish my experiences because it makes you uncomfortable.” My belief is reason, logic, compassion for my fellow man, and honor for myself. And it is mine. I might find someone’s belief set to be foolish, but it is because it is MY ruler I use to measure against, not something that I have taken for second or third hand face value. My mantra is “Either I am right, or I am crazy.” and I take that mindset very seriously. I will not be the fool to jump to conclusions, misinform, or isolate a people for the actions of a few.

    You speak wise words, keep your foundation true. The fact that others choose to hide behind an unprovable defense shows their lack personal accountability, not yours.

    Don Hill

    November 23, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    • Dammit, Don. You made me cry.

      thelittlepecan

      November 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

      • Hugs.

        Don Hill

        November 23, 2010 at 12:40 pm

      • Hey Angela! My group is a facebook group of hocoomhsel moms from all over the USA. We have decided to take on the winter challenge as well! We are going to help out with their March drive of collecting baby items. We will be shipping baby items to them during the month of March!For our Week 5 challenge we are helping on of our own in our group. I am so excited to announce it to her this morning! We have a mom in our group that has 9 children, several with disabilities, and an infant who just had surgery. They have to drive several hours back and forth to the children’s hospital that is helping their children and of course it is very draining of finances. We are sending her gift cards and cards of encouragement to hopefully give her a boost and help lift her spirit during this time!We are loving our group and we are loving the James study!!!Thanks!Kellie

        Dhiilla

        June 9, 2012 at 10:57 am

  5. Some of us have truly never felt faith in religion. I was also very active in church as a youth but never had a shadow of faith in any of it. Since I can first remember my feelings about religion I thought it was a sham that everybody was playing along with so I did the same. Church was just a big stage where everybody played that game together.

    As I grew up and learned more about religions through the ages and the atrocities committed in its name my basic thoughts changed. It wasn’t a sham I was playing in; it was a scam I was supporting. With that realization my tolerance for religion evaporated as did any participation in it as an organized function.

    So, can somebody like me understand faith? Somebody who has never felt faith in religion? Absolutely. I have never suffered Stockholm Syndrome or Pavlovian conditioning but I understand both of those things. Religious faith is another form of psychological conditioning and control. I understand it just fine. Just don’t ask me to respect it.

    Jim

    November 23, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    • Hmm. No Pavlovian conditioning, eh? So when I walk in the kitchen your mouth doesn’t start watering?

      thelittlepecan

      November 23, 2010 at 2:02 pm

  6. I was raised Catholic, my whole mother’s side was either 1st or 2nd generation Italian.
    I remember when you said you got baptized, I had no idea then that protestants did this when someone was older.
    I am one of those few atheists that have no problem with religion. I always liked the spectacle. And I’ve always felt that people in general need something or someone to believe in to keep living — either friends, family, or some mystical being– and I will not fault anyone for that.
    All in all, I don’t think religion itself is evil, or the cause of all war, but extremism and fundamentalism definitely plays a huge part.

    Steven

    November 23, 2010 at 11:46 am

    • When my mom converted to Lutheranism, I was like, YAY! Drinking and glamor!

      I don’t think all religion is bad and honestly, even the parts I do find bad I also find fascinating. It’s a love/hate relationship for me. It occupies so much of my every day life, I’d feel rather empty without my number one interest.

      thelittlepecan

      November 23, 2010 at 11:58 am


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