Sunday, March 13, 2011

15-day atheist challenge, day 3.

Are you a more outspoken or more apathetic atheist? Why?

Well for me it really depends on the situation. I'm not completely out of the closet yet so when I'm around my family, my lips are sealed tight. However, when I'm blogging or at a freethought society meeting I tend to be pretty outspoken about my lack of belief. I really don't feel that atheism is something to be ashamed of, but I do know when to keep quiet. Because I live in the Bible Belt, I don't bring it up (or try to argue with theists) in class or at work. Many of my professors are Bible-believing Christians and while they don't proselytize in the classroom, they do bring up their faith occasionally.

It's really a bit of a balancing act, I guess. I'm sure if I lived in a more metropolitan area or further north then it wouldn't really be a big deal... but this is Louisiana and my family is very religious.

I would like to point out that I am in no way apathetic about my atheism. I keep quiet because I have to, but I definitely care. :]

Thursday, March 10, 2011

15-day atheist challenge, day 2.

What religion did you grow up with? Did you have positive or negative experiences with religion?

I guess the easiest way to explain my religious background is to say that I attended a wide array of protestant Christian churches. My family moved a lot, and it seems like each time we moved we'd adopt a new denomination. When I really small (too young to remember) we attended a Methodist church, then we moved to an Assembly of God church (when I was at peak "playing pretend under the pews during church" age), and then to a Southern Baptist, then to a nondenominational, then back to a Southern Baptist... where we finally settled. My first two years in college I attended a massive, Southern Baptist megachurch (and dabbled in Pentecostalism, because I had a crush on a holy roller... bad idea).

Oddly enough, most of my experiences with religion were positive ones. Once I got into high school I was very active in church (mostly because my mom made me). I sang during service every Sunday, kicked ass at Bible drill, traveled on youth group trips, went to camps, etc. Once I started college I stopped going to church because it just never held my interest. I believed in god but I wasn't a very religious person, and church was boring.

Then, the unthinkable happened. My boyfriend (whom I was totes in lub with, btw) finally became such a massively insufferable prick that I dumped him and I finally realized that... hey, it's my freshman year in college, I've been completely and utterly dependent on my boyfriend and now I'm all alone in a strange place and I have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I was in the middle of an existential crisis, and in a state of emotional trauma that left me wide open to get bitten by the Jesus bug. All it took was for one of my friends to invite me to church and I was hooked. I latched on to my Bible, and to Bible study, and to Wednesday night worship, and to all of the friends who were cheering that I'd finally started getting involved in church. I rededicated my life to Christ. Of course I was tortured over the fact that I wasn't a virgin and that I went through a "bicurious" phase in high school and that I love sex, which led to me repressing my sexuality so much that I turned into a prude ("I'm not going to even kiss until I get married!")... but at the time I sincerely thought that I was doing the right thing, and I was happy to do it because it was what God wanted me to do.

I got baptized in the Gulf of Mexico the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, and went to Hong Kong for a mission trip during Christmas break of my sophomore year... then I decided I want to be a full-time missionary to East Asia once I graduate college... and then the doubt started seeping in. And a year and a handful of months later, here I am posting on my atheism-centric blog about how awesome it is to be an atheist. :] Aaaah freedom.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

15-day atheist challenge, day 1.

So you may have noticed a couple of weeks back that my blog completely disappeared for a few days... that's because, dear friends, for those of us on the quarter system it was finals week and I really couldn't afford any distractions (except Facebook, for reals). It was a crazy stressful week and I was spending a lot of time on my blog, so I decided to deactivate it to avoid the temptation until finals were over. And now that that hellacious quarter is over and done, I can start putting some serious work into the blog again. Yay! :]

Of course, now that I'm back I have no clue what to write about... so instead of going off on some useless tangent while watching a marathon of "Undateable" (guilty pleasure), I'm going to start this nifty little meme I found on Tumblr. It's called the 15-day Atheist Challenge, and basically it's 15 thoughtful questions to get your writing going... I think it'll be interesting to share these answers with you guys, and hear your answers too. Leave me a comment with the answer to the day's question and your thoughts, or if you decide to do the challenge yourself then point me in the direction of your blog and we can do this together! :]

Day 1: At what point did you know you were an atheist? Why did you become one? What were the factors leading up to the decision, if you weren't always one?

I realized I was an atheist in November of 2010, so I haven't really identified as atheist for very long. For about two years (starting in November 2008), I considered myself a "hardcore" Christian. I was crazy into mission work, an avid reader of C.S. Lewis and John Piper (and the like), and I spent an average of 10 hours a week in church or church-related activities. I was always a bit of a doubter, but after I got home from a mission trip to East Asia in January 2010 is when I really started having serious doubts about my religion. I could never justify the actions of Christians with the doctrine of "agape" love.

Around October 2010 is when I stumbled across an atheist blog that kind of slapped me in the face (it hasn't been updated in a while, but that didn't stop me from reading all of the posts). Weeks of feverish research followed... documentaries, books, articles, debates, every bit of information I could get my hands on. I joined a few atheist communities online and found that they were populated by kind, intelligent, open-minded people who encouraged me to make my own decision, something that a Christian would never do. Through my research I was able to find answers to questions that I didn't even realize I had. I realized that the reason I couldn't justify my faith was because my faith was unjustifiable.

I know I made the right decision in leaving my religion behind. In the past few months I've become a much more confident person and I definitely don't take bullshit like I used to. When I was a Christian, we were told that we should never be too happy or satisfied with our lives, lest we begin to pull away from God. Now that I'm an atheist, I've come to realize that you know what?? It's okay to be happy. Happiness, satisfaction, intelligence, rationality... these are not things to be ashamed of.