Here in the Heart of Dixie

(Via Ian)

When I was young, very, very young, I was a Christian. I grew up in a very hardcore Christian family, and so never really questioned in my earliest years anything about religion.

The process of becoming an atheist was unnoticed by me, meaning that I simply didn't care enough to think about it. I have always been a doubter of everything my family showed me and taught me, and a doubter of everything for that matter. That doesn't mean that the doubt was merely rebellious, in an irrational, anger, blind way, but rather curious, independent, and benevolent. I had to see and learn everything firsthand, and still do. So I basically just ignored everyone around me who was only talking about meaningless Jewish history or the prospect of being good solely "because God's watching".

The question of religion presented itself by way of me volunteering at the zoo in some teen program, where I could walk around the zoo with one of the small animals and let the people pet them, which was really fun. That was the first time I was ever introduced into an environment that was not overtly Christian, that was where I could finally talk about religion and the concept of God in a skeptical way, and that was when I finally, concretely thought to myself that I was an atheist.

I had no internal conflicts about my atheism, but many about whom to tell. Today I tell my family that the reason I kept that secret for so long was because I did not want to hurt them. That is true, but I wonder whether it was really because I was sort of afraid of the reactions. I often thought about what they would think, how they would react, and how deep they would get if they talked or argued about it, if at all.

To this day, I have told only ONE person: my mom. Now, my father, two kid sisters, and grandparents "somehow" also know. The only reason I told her was because she had been nagging at me for awhile and relentlessly about how I need to find "God's Will" for my life. Also, I let her know only because I thought she would still think I was going to Heaven somehow, and wouldn't have a heart attack or anything like that, since, to her, I had already once been "saved" at some point in my life.

"What would they think?" I was wrong to think that they would still believe in my "salvation" and passport to Heaven. Apparently I had never really been saved and am currently going to Hell. Even though I still find that funny, I really didn't want to put them through that kind of emotional state. Now, however, even though I love them, I do not feel any sympathy towards anguish which exists solely in their minds and on a fallacy. Obviously, I seriously miscalculated what they would think.

"How would they react?" Not well. They would cry. A lot. Then yell some, go talk with some counselor about the curse of having a wayward son, and cry some more for good measure. Again, I miscalculated the true level of their ignorance and insanity.

"How deep would they get if they talked or argued about it, if at all?" I love them, but they are indeed swimming in the kiddie's pool. The whole of the "arguments" I have heard so far consists of pure drama and popular bromides, with such phenomena as "So, do you just hate God, now?", "Does God know that you don't believe he exists?", and "There are no atheists in foxholes." This last was said by my dad the day I aced the D-LAB (the hardest test ever devised) and officially signed up for my U.S. Air Force job: airborne linguist. Out of all the things anyone has ever said to me that I would usually regard as stupid and therefore worthy to be ignored, this is the one that stung, badly. I almost considered making a scene and somehow banning him from coming to my basic graduation at Lackland.

As of the time I'm writing this, I'm living with my grandparents, a few miles away from Montgomery, where my parents live. I'm just doing odd jobs here and there until I ship out in exactly six weeks from today, and I have vigorously avoided any arguments with any of my family; I hate arguing. Every time I sit still and think about whether this issue with my family will ever die down, I always come to the conclusion that it will and soon. But I also concluded years ago that my family wouldn't react the way the have, so I am not making any predictions when it comes to illogical stuff like that.

Also, my family now hates Ayn Rand, as I'm sure many do. They have cursed her many, many times for "converting" me over to atheism and remind me time and time again that she is burning in Hell, which can apparently serve as both a scare tactic and an irrefutable argument. They overlook the fact that just because I knew who she was when they found out about my atheism doesn't mean that I knew her when I "converted".

Lastly, they do not know how lucky they are, and I, to a certain extent, that they only found out about me recently. But before I say anything please know that I am NOT speaking for all atheists here. One of my biggest problems as a child was my irrational, negative feelings toward Christianity. I am very proud of myself for getting over being overly angry at someone simply because they are a Christian. I used to think that if an adult reached a certain age of intellectual maturity, than there was absolutely no excuse for still following the Christian faith. (As a side note, I would like to mention that all of my arguments for atheism and against religion are in the field of morality, as I could care less about the origin of the universe and of man.) It has taken me time to realize that just because the Christian tenets are evil (again, NOT speaking for any other atheists out there), does not mean that all Christians are necessarily evil. I do admit to the fact that there may be, and probably are, benevolent AND religious people out there, even though I have yet to meet them. Today I still try to hold on to this thought when confronted with my family, and can only hope that the people here in Alabama will eventually grow a little more lax.

1 comment:

John Twilley said...

War Eagle!
Montgomery sure is a Christian city...I'm sure becoming a "Zoomie" and getting a little world travel under your belt will be wonderful for you!!

I cam out after both of my Parents were dead. It just worked out that way...I guess I didn't want to break my Mom's heart. Now that I look back, I wasted MY life waiting.

Atheism is great. It jusr has a bad wrap.

You have to understand thank your Parents mean well...but they are misguided. They never "took the time" to open their eyes and actually examine the truth. They fear the truth. Now they fear for you.

Don't be angry. Have a little pity for them. Not everyone has the intellect to figure these things out. Not everyone has the guts. Not everyone cares enough about the truth, to risk everything...

It takes a special person.
Now go out and begin your new life.
It's the only life you get...