As this year comes to an end, the atheist blogosphere thing seems to be hotting up. Lots of posts about why people became atheists, lots of
posts about what it means to be an atheist. Probably something to do with the Rebirth of the Unconquered Sun, which comes but once a year and makes people reflective.
In the spirit of giving, I thought I would share some thoughts with you. Because I am just that kind. So, back to me. I had given Christianity a fair few good goes up until my late teens. My mum is a lapsed Catholic (though she unlapses for special occasions like funerals) and my dad was probably Protestant. So I was baptised in my local church (St Peters) and then never set foot in the place again. My sister was christened in a different local church and my brother in a different one again. I have the feeling that it was the act of baptism that was important to my mum, rather than anything else. We never discussed religion in the house and, to all intents and purposes, it didn’t really exist. But I still had a faith of sorts – though it was a mish mash of things and tended to only get dusted off for Sunday School (which was weird – you had to attend the normal service and then get ushered out part way through. I used to wonder what happened at the second part of the service that was adults only. I decided they were taught magic spells and when I was older I’d be able to learn them too.) Sunday School was all right – lots of rote learning and quizzes and running around the church yard. And then I didn’t bother – except when the local vicar gave morning assemblies at school. But, and here’s the thing, despite never going to church and despite not thinking about religion or God or the Bible, I was still a Christian. D’ya see?
Later on I got taken to a Fellowship Church service by a friend and ended up getting “Baptised in the Spirit” (which is from Acts, I think). My aim in this second baptism was to get the gift of Tongues. This is known as Glossolalia and appears to be a nonsense language. Regardless, I didn’t get it and felt very cheated. So I didn’t bother with that again. Truth be told, the whole thing made me very uncomfortable and they had me make up a prayer on the spot as I recall. A gift for bullshit allowed me to freestyle a prayer which lasted for 5-10 minutes (or, in real terms, for flipping ages) and it seemed to convince them. And yes, I am well aware that I was probably doing it wrong.
Later again, I returned to the Church of England. As an aside, CofE is the best of all the various cults – you get to be a Christian but don’t have to prove it or anything like that, it’s very laid back and no one asks any difficult questions. And I got confirmed there which means I can take communion whenever it’s offered. It was not long after that that I began to question my half-hearted lame beliefs. For a short time it was a bit scary – the idea of not believing felt a bit like free-fall. But I got over it and have been much happier ever since. I now know that luck/coincidence can happen. I now know that making wishes to my imaginary friend not only doesn’t work, but that they are entirely unnecessary. And I don’t feel guilt over sleeping in on Sundays!!
Despite all the chat and the arguments, it’s really easy to be an atheist. You just don’t have to believe in god or gods. Which sounds hard, but isn’t. Christians do not believe in Allah. They don’t believe in any of the Norse gods or the Indian gods or the Native American gods or the Sumerian gods or in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And this goes for the believers of any religion – they don’t believe in anyone else’s gods. So the unbelief is already there and it just needs a little tip to go into full unbelief. So there you go, lose the shackles of belief and you, too, can be an atheist. There are no mandatory meetings (no holidays either unfortunately) and you don’t have to twist your head around any of the weirder writings (a man is his own father and the herald of his own birth, really? your father was a swan and your father was a rain shower? Really?) and you don’t have to feel guilty just for existing.
Let’s make 2010 the year of reality and throw off the shackles of your Bronze Age beliefs!