... How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Reality.
It's a snazzy title, I know; I just felt like being a bit clever.
One thing I've noticed on these boards, quite regularly, is the idea people seem to hold about Atheists; that we're a group of people who are irrationally striking back at something. That we've had one experience in the past, religious or otherwise, which led us to instantly cast off any notion of the divine and cloister ourselves in Science!(tm) like some sort of comic book villian. I've had a lot of assumptions made about me for my Atheism. I have nothing to believe in. I'm an immoral person. I'm someone who has done wrong and deserves eternal punishment (but of course, never to my face. It's always veiled in a seemingly benign line, such as 'I'll pray for you'). I'm simply trying to justify an immoral lifestyle.
Why did it strike me to write this now? Because today, I have a pang of doubt. For a brief couple of moments, even after my long months as a non-believer, for whatever reason, I wondered 'Hmm. What if there -is- a God...' and after a few minutes of thinking on this, I realized something which further reinforced my lack of belief in a divine being. But we'll get to that simple reasoning later. What is the point of this post, you ask? I just wanted to explain a little about myself. Give a little insight into the way this Atheist's mind works and how I came to my lack of faith in religion. It's short, it's sweet but I'm surprised to find how many people are shocked that there is more thought in a lot of Atheists mind on the non-existance of a diety than 'I had a poor childhood, I don't believe in God'.
I wasn't much for religion when I was younger. My parents didn't care about it (other than my father's occasional watching of Songs of Praise after the Sunday roast for his regular nap). My school life wasn't a good one, and one of my few friends introduced me to a youth scheme which was held weekly at my local Baptist church. While skeptical, I joined him and it was there that I found faith. I found a lot of people who, unlike the people I knew, weren't judgemental. They accepted me. We'd read stories of how Jesus would cure the lame and about God's righteous nature then we'd have juice and biscuits after while playing some pool. Like a lot of Christians I know now, and my fellow church-goers, I actually hadn't read the Bible. Heck, I didn't start reading for pleasure until I was about fourteen, let alone reading a huge, leather-bound behemoth like the Bible! But as we were constantly told, reading the Bible didn't matter. It was accepting Christ's love in your heart and knowing He loved me. And so I did, for many years.
It wasn't until those couple of years later that I actually had my faith questioned. I never remember who it was, but someone posed me the question. "Why is there suffering? If God is such a great guy, why does he let people suffer and little children die?". I brushed it off. I didn't have an answer. So, I began to actually look through the Bible, I asked the people who teached me. "God works in ways we can't understand. They'll recieve their reward in Heaven", and how someone's suffering was a test from God, to test our faith. It was here I began to get confused. So, the suffering I had daily at school, which drove me to suicidal attempts and a youth of being a shy, beaten up little geek was something I had been given by the guy I asked for help? Children across the seas were starving and dying because God wanted them to? That didn't sound right. That didn't sound like the God I was taught to love. And so, for the first time, I read. I read and so much of it, as a child, confused me. Stories of stoning women. Stoning children. Stories of how God flooded the world and how men gave up their daugthers to rape.
I struggled with this, a lot. I carried on for a year or so, trying to rationalize it in my head, but it didn't work. I found myself drifting, not away from religion, but from Christianity. It was during the time I discovered my love for Asia, when anime, manga and roleplaying games began to become my refuge for escapism. I read about Buddhism, a religion which placed me ahead of the rest. A religion which encouraged me to try and fix my life, rather than sit and be told I was being given this punishment because of who I was. Even then, I later found myself abandoning some of these concepts; the idea that actively tying myself down to the world would only bring me suffering, that attempting to help in this world prevented me from moving on and becoming a higher self. This didn't sit with me very well.
Even now, I still partially identify as a Buddhist. I still find some of the philosophy a good way to live and encourages the right sort of attitude that I think someone who loves their fellow man should hold.
It's a little brief, I know. But I thought I'd hold this thread here so people could see a little into my head and see how I tick, and for those who wanted to post their own little stories. As we know, Atheists are a broad, diverse group of people who share only a single tenant - and their reasons for embracing their lack of belief and proclaiming themselves Atheist is just as broad and diverse!
Edit: Oh, and of course, I forgot my little explaination; I found myself pondering maybe there is a God. My next thought to follow that? "Well, why do I think there may be a God? I never worry that I think there may be a Thor or an Allah or a Vishnu. Funny how the only one I worry about is the biggest God spoke about in my country and who I grew up to believe in..."