i saw this site recently and thought, 'sweet, a facebook for atheists'. i didn't join it then b/c i already have a facebook. seemed like overkill. but, inevitably, i keep wanting to have some place to try and work out this whole new take i have on life... just as i once sought out god, i find myself seeking to define my atheist belief system. so here it is, my own atheist epistle, possibly the first time i have ever tried to lay it out to anyone:
i am catholic-baptised but was a fervent christian (non-denominational) throughout highschool, when it was 'cool' to go to young life meetings and sing the songs and play the games- i helped to coordinate middle school youth getaways, and even went so far as to help lead a monday morning bible study for girls. even looking back i don't think it was 'the wonder of god's love' that was keeping me in the fold; i'm pretty sure i didn't even believe in god for the entirety of my senior year. it was more that i had found my niche, and i was damn good at it- the group prayers i led were always AWESOME, my discussions were spot-on, and the others looked up to me. not a bad deal, this god believing gig. my home life was less than stable, so i could fall back on the community that thought i was a jesus-loving saint. like i said, i'm not entirely sure i ever really felt the holy spirit so much as benefited from the support of a large number of folks who did. i never had any big moment where i was 'saved', i just learned how to talk the talk and went from there.
i finally acknowledged my loss of faith my senior year as we prepared in the bible study group to cover the 'true love waits' unit. our study mom had ordered these handy little booklets, and we were going to take promise vows not to have sex until marriage, lalala... and it just didn't sit right with me. i was of the opinion that abstinence-only education was total bullshit, and although i hadn't had sex, i knew good and well that, especially with college around the corner, i would most decidedly not be saving myself for marriage. it wasn't that i wanted to go out and be some crazy little slut, but it just wasn't realistic to me to make that promise of chastity, knowing that it wouldn't be upheld.
but i taught the course. and i took the vow. the funny part was, i didn't feel bad about knowing i was essentially lying to these girls. their souls would be cool with the big guy, thanks to my teaching, and i was pretty apathetic about my own.
well, college did come, and in the midst of all the fun i was having i really didn't make much time for wondering about god, or not-god, or anything else. it wasn't until about a year ago that the bong smoke cleared and i started thinking that there was something legitimate about having a set of beliefs, morals, and the like to live by. previously all of my values had been defined by a christian set of morals or guidelines, but i still felt as though i'd just be faking it all over again. then my little brother, decidedly more intellectual than i am, gave me his copy of 'the god delusion'. and i soaked it up. then i read everything by dawkins that i could get my hands on, whatever literature my little atheist brother would throw at me, and realized that i really have been an atheist, humanist, naturalist all along.
so for a year now i've been thinking about how to define this for myself- i had always thought of atheism as being awfully easy to adopt- 'there is no god, end of story.' which for the most part is true. but i still need guidelines and beliefs that i can stand by. it hasn't even been all that difficult removing god from the existing ones i have- i've enjoyed developing my own opinions rather than those offered by the bible, or any other holy writ for that matter.
phew- i do tend to get a bit tap-happy, and as i intend to use this site to work out the kinks and start some discussions, i guess i'll leave off here for today. maybe i just needed to get the initial story of how i got here out of the way... i think it's important to understand how you arrived at certain conclusions or situations so as to avoid turning back around and repeating yourself. you only go around once, so you might as well keep on expanding. i know, for instance, that i'll never teach another bible study. :)