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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What is a happy athiest?

What a stupid question. Who the hell knows the answer to that. Personally, I am happy as an atheist because I used to be (blush) a fundamentalist born-again evangelical Jesus-lover. I'm actually embarrassed (nay, ashamed) to admit it to my bible-believing past. But there it is. I'm 'out', as they say.

Perhaps in another post, I'll detail my intellectual journey out of the slavery of Christianity. Suffice to say, I had drunk the Kool-Aid at age 18 and lost the best part of a decade to the infantile, puerile, anti-intellectualism of fundamentalist Churchianity.

That was a long time ago, but I still marvel (as do my kids when I tell them the stories, after I've had a few drinks) at the effectiveness of the brain-washing techniques which ensnared me for all those years. Don't, however, think that I understand this period of my life purely from the perspective of a 'victim'. I was an active participant in my own self-delusion. I was immature for my years and not very willing to take risks. I was all too ready to become a disciple of Jesus and to enjoy the social acceptance of a peer group of 'like-minded' peers.

It's true that I grew in many ways during those years, and I developed a number of good friendships, some of which last to this day. However, whilst I was safe in the bosom of Jesus and his flock, I wasn't open to growing in terms of my ability to think critically. That faculty took a number of years to develop to the point where, together with a personal crisis, I was able to cast off the life-denying shackles of Christian 'thought' (read nonsense).

So, happy? You bet. I've been liberated from the fallacious thinking that bears no resemblance to the world in which we live. I no longer contort myself in order to live according to the precepts of a disjointed, unrelated series of misinterpreted ancient texts. I no longer mumble to an 'imaginary friend' (who, by the way, will send me to hell if I'm not faithful). I look back on my time as a Christian as if I'm looking back at a time of imprisonment, or at a time of psychosis and absurdity. So, whilst I regret having 'wasted' all those years, I doubt I would revel in my atheism as I do now, had I not been such a frickin' believer in the first place. Whilst I feel somewhat robbed of certain of life's experiences due to the stultifying influence of a bizarre sect, I appreciate that there are worse things I could have been caught up in and, besides, this wasn't something that happened to me. This was something that I pursued at a particular time of my life, for a bunch of pretty understandable reasons, something in which I was an active participant. I'm not quite at the point of saying "it was all worth it because it made me who I am today" but I do think I enjoy being an atheist more because I understand what I've escaped from.

1 comment:

  1. Good for you! I'm fortunate that I've never had religion foisted upon me - you are doubly fortunate, though, that you did have it foisted upon you, and had the mental acumen to see through it. Long days and pleasant nights to you.