Tuesday, July 13, 2010
So, there was no KABLAMO! moment, but there certainly were a lot of little things along the way that chipped away at my outer Christian candy shell to the yummy chocolate atheism inside. One of those shell-chippers was when I learned about Native American beliefs early on in high school.
We were learning the origin stories of a bunch of Native American tribes in my English class. We were reading them as if they were fairy tales, of course. In the back of my mind -- and surely everyone else's minds in the room -- I was supremely amused that people actually used to believe this shit. A spider woman? Talking animals? Turtles that carry islands on their backs? I mean, everything about the stories was just ridiculous. They truly were indistinguishable from children's stories.
I further realized that these all were just stories, both the Native American origin myths and the Christian Bible. All were written by men, all were written in a time when there was much uncertainty and a tremendous need for some answers, and all were just over-the-top ridiculous.
All of that was going through my head for a week, but guess what? A month later I still was a Christian. (Or as much of a Christian as I ever had been. No church or anything like that, but nightly selfish prayers and an unquestioning belief in God.) Why would I still be a Christian after that kind of thought process? Well, I'm not really sure, to be honest. I think I simply didn't even consider atheism, and I certainly didn't consider other religions. It wasn't that my family and/or friends would disown me -- neither group would, by any means; I'm super lucky in that respect -- it was just that it didn't occur to me that I could not be a Christian, as odd as that sounds. I simply always had been.
The truth is, I sympathize with these people. It's incredibly hard to break away from such lifelong traditions and ideologies, especially when they're so thoroughly intertwined with your family, friends, and community. It's extraordinarily brave when someone in such a position breaks away from everything they know and risks severing loving relationships simply because they can't continue living a lie. I can't imagine, because I've never been in that sort of situation.
One of the reasons I write this blog is that I hope to help some people be brave, but I certainly can't hold it against those who simply can't build up the courage to cut loose.
-- The Atheist Apologist --