Saturday, January 30, 2010

Doubts, Confirmation

Last night I was channel surfing and I came across a religious show. What the preacher was doing didn't interest me. I was watching the congregation.
There were people of many ages in what looked like sincere worship. There were men and their wives (I assume) praying together. There were older people praying...perhaps faith had sustained them through life?
At least some of these people had to be sincere. I know I was when I was a christian. Looking at them, I thought that I might be wrong to have become an atheist. When I think of how many believers (in a god) there are worldwide...could I be seriously wrong?
Then that unfeeling analytical part of my brain kicked in.
First, many people may sincerely believe something to be true. That doesn't make it true.
Second, who are they worshiping? I have studied the Biblical god and I don't understand him-the mix of fury and love and punishment and forgiveness. I don't like dysfunctional relationships.
Third, I have my own spiritual journey-I have read and researched, soul-searched to get where I am today. That has value.
Finally, there are things that the religious and non-religious may never comprehend about this universe...let alone what might be beyond it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Buddhist Atheism

When I first started studying Buddhism, I had assumed that it was a purely atheisitc set of teachings. I read a "life of Buddha" book which stated that the Buddha didn't believ in a god-that there was no outside savior. We must work to reduce our own suffering.
On further research, I discovered that many Buddhists do believe in deities and spirits. The missing idea is one of A God who creates and judges. There is no god comparative to the Christian god.
Things are never simple when it comes to what people believe.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Ok, here are some day-to-day problems:

1. What do I say when someone sneezes? I can't say "Bless you" anymore, can I?

2. "Godammit" is a very handy curse that I use a lot. In light of recent events, it doesn't really apply anymore. Should I say "Science dammit?"
Unfortunately, my parrot also says "Godammit." I swear (to whom??), he only heard me once and now it's one of his favorite words. Should I try to retrain him? Or it may be that I should respect his beliefs. I'm not sure where he stands on the god issue.

3. "Hell" has also been very useful, especially "All hell broke loose." Because all hell breaks loose quite frequently in my life. I also enjoy "Hell to pay."

*sigh* My life is so difficult.

Big Deal?

Since I became an atheist, I have been regarding it as a Very Big Deal. I've been reading, researching, blogging, visiting forums. Maybe this is all a bit much. I mean, it's not like I have a newly-diagnosed disease.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just Feeling Strange

Feeling kind of squirrely the last couple of days: sleeping four hours a night, taking naps full of nightmares and over-analyzing everything. Like what is my purpose in putting my deep thoughts in such a public place?
Some of these thoughts are such that I don't share them with people close to me but I post them for any stranger to read and even comment on.
Maybe I enjoy the freedom that comes with a large amount of anonymity.
It's kind of a strange human behavior thing I guess.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mental Disorders and Religion

please note: everything in this post is my opinion. I am not a doctor.
When I was a christian, there was one thing that I felt a lot: guilt. Christianity is about guilt and pardon (or parole, in some sects). Also, a belief has arisen in demons, demon possession, demon oppression and measures one can use to banish them. Then there is religious experience. For example, feeling that you are in a higher state of consciousness as you sing repetitive religious songs with a crowd of other believers. There is also the idea that you have received some special insight from god, the idea to pray for someone or even marry someone!
If you have an undiagnosed (or even diagnosed) mental illness, these concepts can really get out of control.
I felt so very guilty, Jesus had to die terribly for me after all. However, since I also suffered from major depression (the official diagnosis), excessive guilt happened to be a prominent symptom. See how these two things dovetail into a hellish frame of mind?
I am not schizophrenic or psychotic but I remember meeting a nice young man at church. Let's call him Doug. Doug had major demonic experiences. They appeared to him and spoke to him. We well-meaning young christians prayed for him intensively, advised him on items to remove from his home that may be attracting the demons. We meant well but that wasn't good enough.
I see now that he needed medical help and should have been advised to go to a psychiatrist. I deeply regret that.
Later on, I was diagnosed as bipolar 2 (the milder form). With bipolar disorder, a person can get grandiose ideas in his head(during the manic phase) and interpret them as truth. This can come with a feeling of euphoria. So I have a "revelation" about something related to god or some religious experience that seems so true. I am encouraged in these beliefs by other christians. There's another dovetail from hell (which I don't believe in, haha).
This next example is written in a spirit of deep wounding and anger: most christians are terrible about responding to depression. They tend to see it as a lack of faith, deliberate wrong-thinking or spiritual deficiency. Worse, they can decide that you are oppressed by the devil. Oh shit!
I have been in situations with this kind of ignorance when reaching out while depressed to the point that I kept my depressions secret. And if you hide a part of yourself, how can you get truly close to others. Because we are supposed to "fellowship" with other christians, no?
Fortunately for me, I had a friend in the 12-Step program who was very practical and said "Maybe you should see a doctor." Not all are so fortunate.

Prefixes, Unofficial Words, Clarifications

var. of an-
1 before a consonant, meaning “not,” “without”

As in "atheist."

a prefix meaning “not,” freely used as an English formative, usually with a simple negative force as implying mere negation or absence of something (rather than the opposite or reverse of it, as often expressed by un- provided no definition for "nontheist." Guess it isn't an official word so I Googled it. I was directed to Wikipedia:

Nontheism is a term that covers a range of both religious and nonreligious attitudes characterized by the absence of — or the rejection of - theism or any belief in a personal god or gods.

So what I believe is Not Theism under the umbrella of The Absence of Theism.
Glad I cleared that up.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Being a nerd, I used to read the dictionary for fun.
But at this time, it is important to understand a few key words that keep coming up.
So I got these definitions at

1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

1. The doctrine that certainty about first principles or absolute truth is unattainable and that only perceptual phenomena are objects of exact knowledge.
2. The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist.

n. Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.

1. belief in the existence of a God on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection of supernatural revelation .
2. belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to it.
(huh-had no clue...)

Educational! Couple more:
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

1. the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe.
2. the Supreme Being considered with reference to a particular attribute: the God of Islam.
3. (lowercase) one of several deities, esp. a male deity, presiding over some portion of worldly affairs.
4. (often lowercase) a supreme being according to some particular conception: the god of mercy.
5. Christian Science. the Supreme Being, understood as Life, Truth, Love, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Principle.
6. (lowercase) an image of a deity; an idol.
7. (lowercase) any deified person or object.
8. (often lowercase) Gods, Theater.
a. the upper balcony in a theater.
b. the spectators in this part of the balcony.(who knew?!)

more definitions as I think of them...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Spiritual Atheism?

I sometimes wonder if "atheist" is an accurate description for me. I really need to study that word and other similar words because I'm not sure.
I have stated that I don't believe in a god or gods however I do have a belief that all is not only evolution, chemicals and hormones.
There seems to be some extra spark to things, some sense of an intricate machine that works beautifully, something crafted by a creative force. What the force is, I don't know. I have a tendency to lean towards the idea of a life force or energy running through everything. The idea of "chi" comes close to this.
I have also been considering the idea of the yin-yang symbol: action and non-action, light and dark, warm and cool. Balance.
Happenings seem to go on as a pendulum, swinging from one extreme to another but spending a lot of time somewhere in the middle. All is ever-changing and yet patterns repeat themselves. Is there a sort of energy recycling going on? It happens with nature: clouds become rain becomes water and over again, plants turn to mulch which grows more plants...can this concept be applied to an energetic force running through everything? Is this the way an afterlife may happen? The recycling of a person's inner spark to rejoin the greater energy and then to be distributed into a person again? Or another type of being?
I cannot say that all is purely meaningless. I can not.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Those First Days

During the first few days that I had really really (really!) decided I was sure that I was an atheist, I went through many feelings. My first feelings were of fear. I was afraid of being on my own. For so many years, I had believed that there was some divine being watching over me, giving me some kind of "edge" over the godless, providing that extra boost that would improve things for me.
Another fear was that I was seriously wrong and that there was a demon set aside just for me in hell.
I also had a feeling of freedom. There was the freedom from worrying about loved ones who weren't Christians, that if they never converted, they would go to hell. There was the freedom from someone being inside my head, knowing my every thought, judging me.
The world opened wide, spilling out knowledge I wasn't free to learn (I plan to read Origin of Species soon, see what all the hub bub is about), tons of viewpoints I had dismissed, alternate religions and philosophies to learn even if I do not believe.
When I looked outside myself, outside my own culture and personal history, I found that there are many ways to think and to live and that was the downfall of my narrow, limiting religion.
And, yes, I feel a small amount of guilt for writing that statement, as if I am a turncoat of some kind. I hope that feeling will pass.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Introduction and History

"The existence of a world without God seems to me less absurd than the presence of a God, existing in all his perfection, creating an imperfect man in order to make him run the risk of Hell." [Armand Salacrou, "Certitudes et incertitudes," 1943]

Hello, I am an atheist. I wasn't always an atheist. It was a long journey to arrive at this much-maligned belief (or lack of belief?). When I was a child, I was in a cult until I was 11 years old. Then my family turned to Catholicism, which I did not. I turned to alcohol.
At age 19, I got sober through a Twelve-Step organization. A month later, I became a "born-again" Christian.
It was easy to get involved in the church since I had a friend there who introduced me to others. I threw my whole heart into belief. As Carl Jung has described, I focused on the things that upheld my beliefs and ignored those that did not.
I sampled several types of Christianity-I've been involved with a fundamentalist church, I have cast out "demons", I have believed in prophesies, I studied the Bible and prayed earnestly, trusting (as a child would-that's the ideal, right?) that God was in control.
I discussed Christianity with my family and boyfriend (later to be my husband), wanting them to believe as I did, wanting them to go to heaven rather than hell.
Original sin made sense to me. Bad things that happened to me were God's will to discipline me or the fault of the devil.
This went on for twenty years.
Then I began to see things differently.