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Another Year Ends

January 17, 2012

Seriously? I wrote this post back on the 31st and I guess I never hit the “Publish” button, it’s been sitting in my Drafts folder for two weeks now… Sorry!

2011 is almost over and done with, just a little more than half a day left in it. 2012 will see me in church once again, leading music and pretending I believe things I haven’t believed in a long, long time. The past year has been an interesting one.

This blog was started a year ago in October, so I’ve been blogging about atheism for all of 2011. I didn’t think I’d make it this long. I missed a couple of months, but I always made posts to make up for where I missed.

I also got involved with a local freethought group. Initially I went to a couple dinner meetings that were scheduled for Monday nights once a month. I wasn’t able to get to most of them because of rehearsals, but over the summer I made it to more of them, and so far this fall/winter the schedule has worked out to where I’ve been able to make it to most of these Monday meetings (a lot of the dates fell on holidays when we didn’t have rehearsal, and our December concert got canceled so I was able to make it to the November and December meetings. January is a go since our rehearsals don’t start up until the week after next!) I also got involved in a “science and religion” discussion one Thursday night a month (we pretend to have a topic, some book, to stick to but it is really just an open discussion about anything) and a “drinking skeptically” social gathering one Friday night a month.

There are still events I can’t make because of my very sparse work schedule, and others that I’m just not comfortable attending because they might be a bit too public. November saw our group joining with two others to form the Columbia Coalition of Reason, and buying two billboard spots for a month. As a part of that publicity the group held a picnic under one of the bilboards. I didn’t attend for fear that it might get some press and my anonymity would be comprimised. I also can only handle so many social events (I am quite an introvert) in a week and that week was a busy one.

Through that group I became involved in a weekly roleplaying game, as well. This is something I have long wanted to participate in but I have never had friends who were interested. I think this is partly because of the distrust that evangelicals feel towards such things. Thank you Dr. Dobson for ruining my fun. I’m enjoying it immensely.

The Clergy Project became a reality this year. It is a haven for those in the ministry who have lost their faith and aren’t sure where to turn. I haven’t gotten heavily involved in the group, though. Not sure if I will. I’m a member, though. I am sure it will help many people, but I’m not sure it is the community for me. We shall see what the next year brings in that regard. I’m very glad it is there.

I have hopes for 2012. I hope that my plan of getting A+ certified will lead to a full-time and secular job so that I can quit my church job. It gets harder every week to maintain this charade. I hope that I can then come out to more of my friends, possibly my family. I know the reprecussions might be great but, again, I am tired of the charade.

I plan to continue this blog, though I am never sure from month to month if I can come up with a new post for you all. I tend to be a lazy blogger. That said, I had intended to flesh out another post a bit more for my December posting, but I never got very far on it. I’ll leave you with the skeleton I wrote a few weeks back, though.

Some things that always kind of bugged me about Christianity and the Bible:

Who created God? If everything we see requires a creator, why doesn’t God require a creator and where does it stop?

Why is it immoral to covet, so long as it doesn’t lead to stealing or lying to acquire what is desired?

Why would masturbation be immoral?

What makes God just? As in, what gives him the authority to dictate morality, execute judgement, and oversee punishment? If you believe that morality comes from God, then what is to stop God from saying that murder is moral and helping the poor is immoral? If you say that God is good and so he would never do such a thing then indicates that morality exists outside of God, he is not the author of it.

Why put a tree in the Garden from which it is forbidden to eat, especially if the consequences are so very terrible for those who eat?

Why is the human body so imperfect if we are, indeed, “fearfully and wonderfuly made”?

What is so bad about humanism? Shouldn’t Christians care about human suffering? (I do, now, realize that it is secular humanism that the church so fears, but most simply refer to it as “humanism”.)

Is god able to abide sin? If he is not, then how can he be omnipotent when there is at least one thing he cannot do?

These are, by the way, things I actually believed at one point. The list of things that I never believed that some Christians believe is even longer. I remember the first time I heard someone say that all animals were once herbivores before the flood. If that is true, then why do some animals have physiologies designed to acquire, ingest, and process flesh? There was also the preacher I heard insisting that hell is a real, physical place at the center of the earth.

These things are, also, not the only things that led me to doubt my faith. They were the beginnings of it all, as I started looking for answers to these questions and others, I found no answers. In fact, I only found more questions.

There were the bigger issues that I began to doubt on: creation vs the big bang and evolution, homosexuality, human sexuality in general, the plight of the poor, war, the list goes on. The more I dug the less I believed.

Then there was the promise that if I would only seek god I would find him (provided I sought with all my heart). I clung to that promise, considered that passage one of my favorites, believed that if I kept looking I would eventually find him. I’m pretty sure I sought with all my heart, especially those years between the age of 16 and 19. I sought, I pleaded, I prayed, I studied. I never found him.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Captainpabst permalink
    February 13, 2012 1:55 am

    Man, I used to be into AD&D. We played 2nd edition with 1st edition encumbrance rules. I’ll never forget my friend Satan (nickname – the first of any of us to proudly claim atheism), enthusiastically grabbing the D20 when an encounter occurred and shouting, “what’s his THAC0!!!” (that’s “to hit armor class zero,” for folks not in the know) I’d like to check out Skyrim, but I can’t seem to pull myself away from WoW – if you ever feel like doing the free trial, let me know I’ll show you around!

    The Clergy Project is great. I’d like to lurk there.

    • February 13, 2012 6:09 pm

      You are such a nerd. :D

      Also: can’t lurk at TCP, it’s a closed community only for ministers and ex-ministers who have become unbelievers. They do that to protect those of us who are still in the ministry and could lose our jobs, and those who could also lose their marriage and family were the issue to come to light.

      I’ve actually not gotten very involved in it, I guess I’d already found my support structure before it came along, and I am terrible at keeping up with message forums anymore.

  2. J Monge permalink
    June 29, 2012 9:01 pm

    Hi! I came across your blog while doing some research on charity and became very interested. I was fascinated to hear your story.

    So you know, one of my friends came out as an atheist to her very religious family a few years ago. She hesitated for a long time, but her family was very very loving and accepting much to her surprise. So once you find a secular job and such, you might consider telling more people in your family. They might surprise you! And it might hurt them more to know that you had been keeping this big secret from them for so long.

    My story is just the opposite of yours. Having been raised in an atheist household and been persecuted by Christians during my teenage years, I converted to Christianity my freshman year of college. That being said, I am nowhere near the Bible-thumping anti-Harry Potter creationist Southern Baptists of your area. (I likely wouldn’t believe in Christianity if I weren’t so firmly convinced that the allegorical story in Genesis is closer to evolution than any other creation myths I’ve heard.)

    I figured if you had these questions, you wouldn’t mind if somebody tried to answer them.
    1. Everything that we observe in creation is contingent, meaning that it begs an explanation. If we posit a God that we haven’t observed, then we have no reason to think that he is contingent. This means it is possible for God to be necessary in a way that it isn’t possible for the universe to be necessary. (This is a very complex philosophical argument, and maybe I could explain it better, but hopefully you get the jist of it.)
    2. Because coveting and always wanting more than you have can slowly decay your heart even if you never act on those feelings. (You might read the poem “The Poison Tree” by William Blake.)
    3. If part of the purpose of sex (and marriage) is to make tangible the mysterious marriage of Christ and the church, then masturbation is a bastardization of that union. It makes an act designed to celebrate and uplift and support the other person into one that serves only one’s own pleasure. Also, at least for myself, I find it incredibly difficult to masturbate without feeling lust for a particular person; I suspect that the prohibition on masturbation has something to do with the prohibition on lust, but you didn’t mention thinking anything about lust so I’ll assume you think the prohibition on lust makes sense. (That being said, I’d be hard pressed to argue for why mutual masturbation within a marriage is wrong… I personally don’t think it is, but I haven’t seen a real debate on the subject.)
    4. A variation of this argument (the Euthyphro dilemma) was the one I frequently peddled as an atheist. (I say peddled because I don’t think I fully grasped the concepts when I was 12, but it took 6 years of saying it before I encountered an adequate Christian response.) I would say that God IS justice, in the same way that God IS love. He has the authority because He is the definition of goodness. God cannot order something which is unjust in the same way that he cannot make a square triangle; suggesting it is proposing a contradiction in terms.
    5. This is – I think – one of the HARDEST questions to answer. Because if you take a Calvinist approach, God seems like a douchebag. If you take an Armenian approach, God seems like a douchebag. I suspect, instead, that the story of Adam and Eve in the garden must be allegorical (based on a number of reasons entirely unrelated to the tree issue) in which case I think an Armenian account of free will explains why God would create human beings with the capacity to sin. Of course, then you run into the problem of a felix culpa – a happy fall – but that seems better than God never creating man at all. (I’m sorry, again, this is probably one of the most difficult questions that Christians face, because it involves free will, which is one of the most difficult questions mankind (secular and not) faces.)
    6. Probably to humble us. Again, I believe in evolution so it doesn’t trouble me if we have some vestigial organs here or there. In the grand scheme of things, I think it’s remarkably beautiful that we were made at all, especially through such a complex system of interactions as evolution suggests.
    7. I suspect it has something to do with that problem Dostoevsky posed – without God, all is permitted. Christians worry that if we remove God as the source of ethics, it becomes harder to define right and wrong the most meaningful way possible. This might be evidenced by such situations as two recent ethicists who proposed that infanticide is morally acceptable because abortion is okay. On the other hand, I think having a common language of human decency is valuable, even if it misplaces the source of ethics. My impression is that Christian humanism is only better than secular humanism because God’s revelation gave us a pretty extensive list of right and wrong that isn’t as immediately available to someone who has to discern right and wrong from their own moral intuitions. (I would also note that secular humanism only seems to exist as such in societies largely influenced by Judeo-Christian values. i.e. They claim that their moral system is intuitively obvious, yet it wasn’t intuitively obvious to pretty much every culture besides one heavily influenced by Christianity…)
    8. Again, this goes back to one’s definition of omnipotence and God’s character. Wikipedia actually has a very good section on God’s omnipotence; I’d suggest you check out C.S. Lewis’ and Aquinas’ views, which I think make far more sense than the view peddled by the average Christian today (no offense to them, they just haven’t been educated enough on the subject). Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnipotence#Scholastic_definition

    This technically wasn’t in your list of questions, but I think your last point also bears mentioning. Your journey hasn’t ended. Many of God’s promises take many years to be fulfilled (Abraham did not have Issac for many years; God’s promise that a son of Eve would step on the head of the serpent took until Christ died on the cross – so something like thousands of years, longer if the story is allegorical).

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