Monday, April 11, 2005

You Can't Take it Back

Dear Internet Diary,


When you realized that you were an atheist, did you feel relief, fear, happiness? What emotion, exactly?

Letting go of religion took me over a decade. But there was a moment where, even though I kind of knew, when I said to myself, "I am an atheist." I felt exhilarated and relieved, like when I leave really good roller-coaster ride. Why actually saying it caused these feelings, I'm not sure. I guess it was because, since I had been indoctrinated with these beliefs, I felt like if I said the words, that was it: I could never go back. If there were a God, and I said "I am an atheist," I would surely go to hell. If I said the phrase, I was taking a big risk that could be my doom.

Have you ever taken a big risk like that, one you knew was important? How did you feel afterwards? about yourself? The only other risk I took that felt that important to me was when I lept into my relationship with my now husband. It was deifnitely a risk. I already knew that he was very likely to be a serious person in my life. If I decided to love him, I would change my life drastically. It would probably mean leaving not only my home, and town, but the country I lived in. It was a giant leap that might screw me up big time, or it would be one of the best things that ever happened to me.

Luckily for me, it was the latter. I can laugh now, but I felt the same way about saying "I am an atheist." And how did these situations make me feel? Exhilarated. Relieved, and extremely proud. Both of these situations took a great deal of courage for me. They made me a better person. I recognized my intelligence, my skill at risk-assessment, and my ability to make judgements. And especially, my ability to be honest with myself and others. This is not the way I felt about myself when I was a Christian. I'm glad I grew out of it.

Thanks for listening, diary.


Aaron Kinney said...

I know what you mean!

There was this period during my deconversion, where I logically knew that God couldnt exist. But the God belief and fear of punishment was so ingrained in my head due to the culture of my upbringing that, even though I realized there was no God, I was afraid I would go to hell just for realizing that truth.

Talk about doublethink! Where your perception can be so distorted due to your cultural influences that you will be afraid of punishment from an entity that you are realzing doesnt even exist!

Hellbound Alleee said...

You know what else is frightening? When you say it (this vow you're making), you're declaring moral autonomy. You are saying. like a Bar-Mitzvah kid, that "I am now responsible for all my own actions." Now you are a man.

Hellbound Alleee said...

I forgot to mention. In Orthodox Judaism, a kid before his Bar-Mitzvah is totally subject to his father in these matters. all blessings to him are to his father (mitzvahs). All sins the son commits are counted as his father's sins. All curses on him are his father's curses. So when he is Bar-Mitzvahed, he accepts all Mitzvahs and curses and consequences for his actions. It is confusing, for the bible has many instances where the sins and the curses on the father are visited upon his wife, sons, daughters and all his possessions. How disgusting.

breakerslion said...

Just a quick word about doublethink. If I am right, that's the key to the whole religion thing. Basically, once someone can make you accept two contradictory ideas as both being true (eg. god loves you and god will send you to a lake of fire for eternity), your mind is broken and susceptible to believing all manner of gibberish. It is easy to imagine how such a person would be consumed with doubt concerning their own reasoning capabilities, and rely on others to tell them what to think and what to do.

Ridding yourself of the self-doubt and uncertainty that is the stock in trade of "faith" based religions is enough of a relief in itself. In addition, you free yourself from the subconscious paranoia associated with believing you're being watched 24/7.