A good friend sent me a list of questions. With their permission, I am answering them here.
And wow to the blog post. I’ve read it a few times. I don’t question your beliefs, but my question is why are you writing it?
It was my sister’s pleas that pushed me from having a vague idea that I’d like to do a blog, to actually having one. She urged me to document what was going on in my head, for others, herself and for my children to understand. I suspect some of this is from a place where my cancer has a very real chance to turn on me quickly.
I used to use social media as an outlet in a way that is no longer available to me. What I did there and what I do here are very different things, but you know that it takes writing our thoughts to release them from our minds.
The blog isn’t specifically about my beliefs about the supernatural, but those are some of the first topics that have been begging to burst out of my head.
This need to disprove God – are you trying to convince others or yourself?
First… I have no need to disprove God. The existence of a god is a positive claim that needs to be proven. I once believed in God, but later realized I had no good reason to. There may well be some kind of deity, but if that figure is not leaving evidence in the world, then it has no impact on my life.
You might be able to argue that I am attempting to disprove the Christian Bible. I believe the Bible is a false and falsifiable claim.
I may be failing to convey, but the intent of this blog is not to convince anyone at all. I am merely attempting to document my personal thought processes over the past few years. (Though I am aware that the non-linear approach may be giving a skewed view.) Some of the things I’m sharing are things that I didn’t feel I could share with anyone when they were happening.
From private responses to the blog so far, my writing is helping a few people who are already invested in me understand me better. But by far more satisfying are the responses from a surprising array of people who were raised similarly to me who tell me my process reflects topics they are struggling with. That hearing me talk about them helps them with their own situation, one way or another.
If what I write purely for myself is making others think or talk, that’s a bonus.
And for what purpose?
I think I’ve answered above, but specifically when it comes to atheism I have read and listened to those who have deconverted before me and followed their path. They blazed trails and gave me courage to be honest. Though not in the same scope or scale, I think “coming out” as an atheist has parallels to coming out as a homosexual. Each person who walks down that path makes it ever-so-slightly smoother for those that follow.
Do you believe you are saving others if you destroy their faith?
It is my opinion that my life was limited, damaged and ultimately hurt by me allowing a set of false indoctrinated beliefs to manipulate and dictate my emotions and actions. I do wish that someone had saved me.
I understand that this is not the case for some people… some are very happy in their beliefs. I particularly respect those who have stared down the difficult questions and consciously made a different choice than I.
I don’t need anyone to agree with me, but I think everyone is better off if they have good and solid reasons for believing what they believe and in acting how they act. This is only possible when all the information has been presented and been analyzed with skepticism.
Will it make them better off?
Better off is obviously open to broad interpretation. Would my life be better right now if I didn’t know that I have cancer?
There is a comfort that comes from religious beliefs. It can be comforting to think that we will continue to exist beyond this life. It can be comforting to think that we will be reunited with loved ones who have passed. It can be comforting to think that there will be some sort of justice handed out to those who do evil. It can be comforting to think that there is a master plan where everything is going to work out, that a perfect being made you with purpose and that you are unconditionally loved.
That’s all comforting. But something being comforting does not make it true.
I do think that everyone would be better off living the one life that we KNOW we have here on Earth as the one single life we get, instead of merely as an opening act for a second life that we cannot know about.
And if that’s the case, then aren’t you simply the same as them, but just evangelizing from the opposite side?
I like to think that I am merely passionate about teaching others about new information and ideas that I have only recently been exposed to. Nothing I say is new, but I like to think that I am presenting these ideas in light of the impact they had on me or my thinking. Because I feel like I didn’t make informed choices, I wish for others to be in a better position than I was, regardless of what conclusions they come to.
I could easily be deluding myself on how effective I am being on any of those points.
If you want to talk evangelizing, get me started on iOS vs Android or Mac vs Windows.
Or is it ego? Just simply wanting to be right…
I cannot rule out ego. You know I want to be right and I’m unreasonably competitive. I admit to a bit of a rush in being informed where I once was not. I can’t deny a taste for winning a debate makes my brain salivate.
At the same time, and whether it comes across, I feel incredibly humbled by the whole process. I know that my IQ has not gone up a single point since becoming an atheist. I know that I spent most of my life resisting the ideas I now hold, so I completely understand and empathize with anyone holding any position. That is still fresh.
… and hold a mirror to their hypocrisy? If so, what purpose does that serve?
I’ve never actually been personally bothered by hypocrisy, if you mean the gap between what a person professes to think / believe and how they act. Part of the doctrine I held for so long was that it is completely impossible for anyone to live up to moral standards. That’s why Jesus had to come.
I’m not out to change anyone’s actions. Most people’s actions reflect their true internal morality anyhow.
If anything, I want to hold a mirror up to what they believe. I don’t think that enough people have closely examined what they believe or why. I’d love to encourage that in everyone.
Of course, if one’s beliefs and actions are consistent, then there is no hypocrisy.
(Photo credit – me!)