Before I wrote the Preface to this post, now about forty-some hours ago, I had a certain plan in mind. I derailed that plan by writing more about my life as an xian than intended. My apologies to the blog-that-should-have-been. My gratitude to the blog-that-is. And, despite the fact I did not summarize that blog with a stunningly-amazing conclusion, I actually went through a bit of catharsis writing that Preface. I am a bit less conflicted today than I was two days ago.
So, I don’t know about stunningly-amazing, but I should have concluded something like (please know as horrid as I made my early years sound, they were actually more horrid than I could put into words) everything good that came into my life was because I caused it directly–by myself! My own decisions and the actions following therefrom were what saved me from a life of continuing the cycle that did not start with my father. He too had been mistreated and abused by his father, according to an aunt with whom I discussed this with years after he had finally died. No, this does not earn him my forgiveness. He did not have to continue that cycle, but he gave into it, and made no effort to change. That to me is unforgivable.
But, one more childhood statement, and it is time for me to move on. I did have happy times in those years, despite all else, as I spent a lot of time away from my family, places where I could be safe, and live for awhile without fear. Also, my two closest-in-age siblings, sisters, helped immensely, for we consoled each other in our misery. (I only learned, again, years later, that he sexually abused both of them, and likely an older sister too, after my mother died when I was just nine.) Had I known at the time, and understood what sexual abuse was, probably I would have killed him, or myself, and I would not be who I am today.
But I survived my childhood–god did not!
The change took years, and a lot of self-exploration and self-discovery, but it started in my youth, and I believe I am the better person for it.
Yes, I am an atheist. I can be nothing else, even while being so much more. Atheist is a label, not a necessary one, but one I am proud to wear. I took the worst life had to give me (as I insinuated, there are many things I did not tell you, because I am not looking for sympathy, merely stating facts) and came out the other side, scarred, but mentally and spiritually intact. I still suffer bouts of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, but even when those feelings take hold of me, I am a happy person through and through. I bewilder my various therapists by smiling and making jokes while talking with them about my childhood. One therapist went so far as to accuse me of hiding my real self behind those façades, but I disabused him of that theory. My happiness is genuine, and comes from having no delusions about life, or gods.
Again, why am I an atheist:
In no particular order, I am my own person. I rely on myself, and while I do sometimes disappoint myself, I never break under pressure. I am whole.
I blame no one but myself for life’s hardships. I could have given into anger or self-pity, but they do nothing for me. I am in control of who I am. I seek help when I need it, but usually I seek it within me. I allow other people to make suggestions, which I give serious consideration to before I accept or reject it (usually somewhere in-between the two), but I do it on my terms.
I believe only that which speaks to me, from inside of me. If it comes from outside of me, such as the ideas of god or morality, they have to fit into my life. I do not adapt my life to fit anyone else’s beliefs. They must ring true, to me. Because others believe something means absolutely nothing to me. Neither of the above examples fit into my life, not in those words.
I do my best to think without boxes. This is not easy in our world, there are so many many people and things that demand we think or believe certain ways or things. I try to always examine what limits or constraints these things put on me, and then work to overcome any barricades.
I once believed an adult when he told me I could not do something which I had been doing up until he told me I could not. He was a trusted adult, one whom I’m sure had no bad intentions toward me. But he had his own constraints, and he passed this one onto me. The thing became intentionally impossible afterwords, though I still have flashes of ability when I least expect them. Still, my life is sadder for having believed him. I wish I knew then what I know now.
I have discovered life. Life exists. So many people take life for granted, they are alive, and that is sufficient for them. Most people, no insult to anyone, think love makes the world go round. I know, for me, life is the prime factor. Without life, there can be no love. In fact, without life there would be no nothing as we understand it. What good galaxies of rocks if there is nothing to be aware of those rocks.
Above all else, in my experience of life, there is no possibility of god, gods, creators, omniscient beings, all powerful beings, or anything other than that which is. There is not one thing in my life that speaks to anything other than life. And should you say to me, god is alive, I shall not believe you. I have studied life from every angle I can think of, and I have learned one thing. At least in our version of reality (I am aware there are other versions than our own–I have experienced them!) life has certain characteristics that cannot be ignored, however inconvenient. The main one, life changes. I do not say this lightly, but in my experience, no life is ever completely stagnant. It’s corollaries are birth and death. To exist in our reality, all things must come into being somehow, be it mitosis, meiosis, from a spore, from a seed, or from an ova, all life starts somewhere. (And if you look closely, all things actually use mitosis and meiosis to grow. They are the basic building processes of life.) All living things also die. Death is a necessary part of life. Things stop living. And throughout the period between life and death, all things change. They grow, they take in sustenance, excrete that which they cannot use, and then do it all over again, until they stop living. And we take in ideas, by which we change or not, excreting those ideas that do not have meaning to us. According to those who believe in a god of some kind, gods do not abide by these characteristics. Except mythical gods, who did go through these processes, gods never come into being, and they never cease to exist. They do not eat. They do not pee or poop. They do not die. And above all else, they do not change!
This may sound childish to you, or simplistic, but do not let that fool you. If something is alive, it changes, physically, mentally, or spiritually. If something does not change, it is not alive. If a god knows everything, sees everything, is everything, it has no reason to change. It must be perfect as it is, and nothing, not anything, can be that perfect, for what reason would there be for it to live. All living things evolve in some way, sometimes too slowly for us to even see. And likewise, all living things eventually end their life processes. Nothing is indestructible. God does not fit any of these parameters.
Yes, I say I do my best to think without boxes, and you could look as these parameters as boxes if you like, but to me they are the facts of life.
And yes, (though I did not say it here) I believe our spirits (not souls) are eternal in our way of thinking, and our spirits change. They are not stagnant. They evolve.
Atheism itself for me is the next logical step after theism, though you may disagree with me. If you have theism, you must also have atheism. And thus I am an atheist.