Wordy ruminations July 9, 2008Posted by Teen Atheist in career, family, friends, issues, teen angst.
Tags: atheism, Carl, death, introspection, Lance Armstrong, life, philosophy, prejudice, religion
T.A. – sleep + unlimited internet access + 1 week paid leave = tedious, lengthy diatribe on “my thoughts, let me show you them.”
Taken from an e-mail exchange with Holy Prepuce:
If at some point in your upbringing you bought into the Catholic idea of a heaven or resurrection (i.e. that our conscious selves survive death and perhaps even live forever), was it difficult to come to terms with the loss of this belief?
It wasn’t difficult for me, I found it to be a breath of fresh air. I’ve always been a very inquisitive and imaginative child, so even at a very young age, I’d read the Bible (Revelations was my favorite part; I’m weird that way) and think, “What if this is just really tedious fiction?” The more I thought about it over the years, the more absurd I found the whole concept. Virgin births, talking bushes, life after death? Really?
I remember going through a very difficult time when nobody in the house would even speak to me, and I thought, “Well, at least God’s there for me. If I just keep praying, He’ll help me through this.” I realized much, much later on that God wasn’t doing shit, because what help did he provide, other than maybe sitting there, hearing my prayer and going “Mm-hmm”? I pray, and nothing happens. Nothing’s ever happened my whole life that was a result of a strong faith. It wasn’t God that helped me through that time, it was my own imagination.
Religious leaders scare people into remaining faithful with talk of eternal damnation and other horrific consequences. And the more you devote to the religion, the more you want it to be real, because you grow increasingly reliant on it, and it does seem like such a nice concept. So, despite a lack of evidence that what they believe in is real, religious people don’t want to question it because they don’t want to open up another can of worms when the alternative, turning a blind eye, is so much easier, especially when everyone around you is just as blind as you are.
As for my Predominantly Catholic Country in general, most atheists here come to that realization in college (I have yet to meet anyone who was raised atheist over here!). For instance, Carl became an atheist in the middle of a college course dissecting creation versus evolution. I think this trend exists because in college, the power of influence shifts from the parents to the peers and teachers, so people start to consider all sorts of options — beliefs, orientations, what-have-you.
The whole “college self-discovery” thing is a transition I never experienced or had to experience, probably as a result of my poor relationship with my parents, my natural inquisitiveness, my rebellious nature, and a hefty dose of introspection.
In short, I’m really weird.
But it’s always seemed to me that denial of mortality was one of the primary motivators for religious belief, even in the face of strong contrary evidence for the claims made–so finally accepting that we are not immortal has to be one of the defining moments of a a theist’s “conversion” to atheism.
That’s definitely true for a lot of Catholics. My philosophy about it has always been, I want to live in the now, and live the way I want to. Why would I be banished to hell or thought of as an evil person or a bad follower if I decided to eat a cheeseburger in Lent? It’s my life, and that cheeseburger looks pretty damn tasty!
I find it to be a terrible waste of life not to enjoy yourself because you’re waiting for the next life, which God promises will be much better. I see my life the same way I see my job, I suppose: I don’t ever want to fall out of love with it. I don’t want to settle just because there’s going to be something better later on, because I don’t want to be looking for something better in the first place.
I found this wonderful quote from Lance Armstrong that sums it up pretty nicely: “Quite simply, I believed I had a responsibility to be a good person, and that meant fair, honest, hardworking, and honorable. If I did that, if I was good to my family, true to my friends, if I gave back to my community or to some cause, if I wasn’t a liar, a cheat, or a thief, then I believed that should be enough. At the end of the day, if there was indeed some Body or presence standing there to judge me, I hoped I would be judged on whether I had lived a true life, not on whther I believed in a certain book, or whether I’d been baptized. If there was indeed a God at the end of my days, I hoped he didn’t say, ‘But you were never a Christian, so you’re going the other way from heaven.’ If so, I was going to reply, ‘You know what? You’re right. Fine.'”
Also, tell me about life as a teenage atheist in your country…
I’m getting more comfortable with it now, as compared to back in September when I started the blog. 🙂 I don’t proclaim my godlessness to everyone, but I can reply honestly to anyone who asks without even batting an eyelash. Reactions vary (it’s usually a polite smile, followed by a change of topic), though thankfully none as violent as my parents’ reaction. It’ll always be the pink elephant in the room with them. I wonder what it’ll be like when my brother goes to college… 😉