When the team at ADKOB invited me to join their site, I was surprised and flattered. I hadn’t heard of them, but somehow they found me and I’m pleased to call myself part of their crew. Dorian and company have suggested I add a page in here about what it’s like to be an atheist, so here it is.
Every atheist has a reason for being atheist. Many come to this decision by a long, heart-breaking path while some are raised in a way that allows it to grow naturally. I grew up this way. I doubt it’s anything my secular parents planned; they just refrained from encouraging me to pursue many religious activities. I never grew up “knowing” God like my Christian cousin did but I never felt like I was missing out on something important.
I went to Catholic school and had many Christian friends then and after but belief in God wasn’t necessary to get my education, or to be friends. I did go through short phases where I would read the bible like they did, and try prayer at night, but I never felt I was really talking to anyone in a position to give a damn. It never felt real enough, but in the end it didn’t matter. My folks were the ones who guided me toward what was most important – opening our home to family, and helping friends and neighbours as much as possible.
By and large, that’s it. That’s my atheism. Help others, not because there’s a reward in the end, or punishment if you don’t. Offer to help for the sole purpose of helping share the load, be it gardening, canning, cleaning, computer aid, scrapbooks. Help because you can, not because some old dude in a bathrobe waves an old book in your face filled with archaic and incomprehensible rules, when 99% of them are ignored anyway.
Seek out other atheists. Ask them to choose the most important atheist attributes after the declaration that gods don’t exist. Some are going to point towards the need to push for equal rights. Others are going to say improving education is what we need to focus on, be it health or science or all of it. Some are going to be cruel in their dislike of religious institutions because of what some of the people do, and what other people did in the past. Others will try to push a respect and tolerance angle – the “agree to disagree” attitude. Some will have a political angle. Every answer will be different for every person you ask.
Me, I like being an atheist. I like knowing my life is my own, that I’m accountable for my actions. I’m responsible for what I do or say so I make sure I don’t do or say too many horrible things. I also mean it when I apologize and when I promise to do better, I aim to follow through. I do that because I want to, not because there’s a “Get Out of Hell Free” card waiting for me at the end of it all.
So that’s it. 1minion in a (rather large) nutshell. I look forward to lively banter in the future.