Well, that was a quick and easy
post. See you next time!
Huh? Oh, you were hoping for
something a little more in-depth? Alright, I suppose I can get a little deeper
into it if you really want me to. But glib as it may sound, that first response
really is kind of the crux of the matter.
So let me explain a little more
about my religious background. I was raised in a military, Southern Baptist
family. As an army brat, I moved every couple years (more or less) throughout
my childhood, but one thing fairly constant is that at pretty much every
station we attended church regularly. Early on, I would attend Sunday school or
do children’s choir (though I’m a terrible singer) while my parents were at the
grownup service, but as I got older I’d spend more and more time in the regular
service. Sunday school was pleasant enough, since it was mostly like light
schoolwork (which I was good at), listening to and reading fantasy stories
(always been a sci fi and fantasy fan), and singing songs (I may not have been
a good singer, but I love music). Though I hated getting dragged out of bed on
Sunday mornings. Regular services were some of the most tedious hours of my
later childhood, and I remember feeling vaguely uncomfortable with how much my
mind would wander since there was supposed to be this God guy that could read
I’d go through phases where I would
kneel by my bed and say prayers before going to sleep. Around the age of
thirteen, I walked down the aisle at the call to service, and was subsequently
baptized. The pastor’s wife at that church was my piano teacher.
But the thing is… I never really believed it.
There was no big deconversion
moment, because I never really had a belief to deconvert from. There was no
traumatic experience with the church – the worst they ever inflicted on me was
some mind-numbing tedium for an hour out of my week, and most of the people I
met were plenty nice enough. There was no traumatic life event that made me
angry with God – the biggest upset of my young life was the death of my
maternal grandmother when I was twelve, and even that happened while we were
stationed in Germany so I was kind of shielded from the immediacy of that grief.
I just… didn’t believe in it. I
prayed, but I never felt like anyone listened or answered. I went to church,
but I never felt anything like what people describe as the “presence of God.”
I’ve never had any kind of miraculous experience, or witnessed anything
seemingly supernatural. All of that stuff was just ritual, stuff I did because
it pleased my parents (I was also a little goody-two-shoes, and pleasing my
parents was kind of a big deal to me), and it pleased the nice people they took
me to spend time with.
But over time, since I didn’t have
any belief in what the rituals were supposed to connect to, the rituals
themselves started to seem kind of silly. It was just playing pretend, and I
got tired of that sort of pretending.
By the time I was sixteen, I really
didn’t care anymore. I went to church when my parents made me, I spoke
respectfully because that’s just the way I am, but it was just an inconvenience.
I didn’t pray anymore, or even bother pretending that I did. I didn’t think of
religion in terms of being atheist or not – most of the time I didn’t think
about it at all.
Then I got to college. I moved out
of my parents’ house, and my time was mine to do with as I pleased. And since
then, other than the occasional holiday service when I visit my parents,
wedding attendance, or meeting hall rental, I haven’t been back to any church.
My Freshman year was the first time I met anyone who openly professed to being
an atheist. And from the first exposure to the term, my reaction was “Oh, yeah,
that’s what I am too.” But by then, it wasn’t even much of a revelation. I
hadn’t believed before, and now I just had a word to call myself.
I’m thirty-nine now. I’ve been married
for sixteen years, and I’m the father of three beautiful children whom I love
so much it almost hurts at times. I’m not rich, but I’m not poor. I’ve lost
some friends, lost some family, and gained some new of both. There is plenty in
my life to be grateful for, but no sense
that there’s an invisible all-powerful being to be grateful to. In all this
time, I’ve been exposed to many arguments for the existence of many different
gods, and found none of them convincing. Most aren’t even very interesting.
It’s been twenty-one years since I
started calling myself an atheist. But in a sense, I’ve always been one.