I really haven’t talked that much about religion over the past decade. I haven’t written about it secretly, or even thought too hard on the subject. If you have been reading this blog you might find this a bit surprising. But I didn’t want the atheist label, and I didn’t see the point in disrupting everyone’s lives over something that could just as easily stay inside my head. To other atheists I spoke as an atheist- even if I never said the words out loud. But I felt no need to be dramatic about it.
So what changed my mind?
It started with biting my tongue. I have engaged in plenty of religious debates over the years, but my position was always as a liberal Christian (even if I never said the words out loud). I never pushed anyone away from a belief in god, but rather toward acting like a more reasonable and loving Christian. And when a Christian thinks you are also a Christian, they tend to listen better.
But I had so much more to say that I kept to myself. When I started writing online, occasionally I would stray into a religious area. That’s when I found myself writing about religion for the first time, only I was deleting almost all of it because it wasn’t the right platform. These weren’t my readers. Who were my readers? At the time I thought no one out there would care.
Then I was turned on to stories of clergy leaving the ministry to embrace atheism. Stories in the news like Ryan Bell’s Year Without God really hit home with me. I heard his story on a podcast and identified so much with what he said about losing faith that I started to seek out other people who had left the church. Why had I never done this before?
Suddenly religion was very much on my radar again, because for the first time I saw glimpses of what I had been missing: a community of people who not only shared my spiritual beliefs, but who had been where I had been. It would seem that they had even been inside my very head.
I no longer feel emotional about god, but I love the topic of religion. I also happen to have a little experience. As a writer nothing makes me feel more accomplished than expressing an experience in words so that another person knows exactly where my brain was at the time. I want them to feel what I felt and understand. Many of my posts are just a documentation of the past, and it does not weigh heavy on my mind. Today I am certain of my atheism, and the journey to get here was both stressful and exhilarating. I am absolutely happier without god, but I want to be honest for those who may be going through what I have been through.
So that’s how I got here. I have no rules about what I might post, but I have spent some time on the deconversion process because it has connected me with others who relate to what I describe. These people make sense to me and I want to know more of them. I am no longer at odds with god, and sometimes I have to be careful that my negative experience with extreme religious ideas do not harden me to the things I still find fascinating; such as the human capacity to embrace magical ideas so firmly.
I was once a believer, after all.
One thing I most enjoyed on the path away from religion was the discovery of different beliefs from different cultures throughout time. Without an emotional attachment it was easy to see the insanity and beauty in what we create in absence of certainty. I love the idea of mysterious beings with varying degree of power. I love that even among our most skeptical, there is no limit to what we are willing to dream possible. Religion is a side-effect of a more important characteristic, and it would seem that religion must also have been inevitable since the dawn of time.
For me there are no less than a billion reasons to talk about religion. Sometimes I don’t know where to start. I want to share what I have learned, but I also want to know more. Not because I am looking for a belief system, but because there are so many truths about humanity that I haven’t figured out yet- and these are things I can know now. So expect a post or ten about that. Because we are far more mysterious than any god concept we will ever dream up.