Recently I went through a minor revamp of my facebook profile, and in the midst of that minor endeavor, I came across a minor issue: that little innoncent box that says “religion.” Currently my answer was “Swedish,” and before that: “agnostic.” But the real issue was that I am an atheist, and I wasn’t sure how people I know would respond to that. Quite frankly, I believed that others would think of me differently. Then I decided that I didn’t care what I would be thought of.
Religion–especially how our country and world treats it–has always be a topic which I’ve devoted some amount of spare brain cycles towards. This post may be a little disorganized and confusing, but I hope it inspires some of your own thoughts.
I didn’t grow up surrounded by scripture, pews, or crosses. And nothing seemed amiss. When I was around 10, my father gave me the only bible in the house. It was the one which his mother got him when he was 10. He told me that when he was my age, his mother made him go to bible school for six months–every Sunday. And when those six months were up, he could decide if he wanted to keep going. My father said that I could choose to read it if I wanted, and that I could make my own decisions.
I looked at the pictures. And remember reading about Noah. Then I lost interest. I haven’t read it since.
I’m the product of my family–especially that of my mother’s. She came from a bunch of Swedish farmers who immigrated to Washington State in the early part of the 20th century. My grandparents, greatgrandfather, parents, and my mother’s siblings–all atheists.
Yet I always considered myself agnostic. For whatever reason, I decided that while I couldn’t prove a god existed, I couldn’t disprove it either, and figured that in time I could decide things for myself.
What made me decide that I didn’t need a god were a few conclusions that I came to:
1. I lead a happy life, and while I’ve went through some trying times, I have never felt a gaping hole that needed to be filled by a higher power. I’ve never wished for some higher guidance or plan to rationalize what was happening around me.
2. I consider myself a moral person, who is driven to help those around me and try to make the world a better place. I learned this through my family and youth–and didn’t need religious texts to instill these values in me.
3. Even if I did decide I needed religion… how was I to know which one was the “correct?” Because odds are, we probably aren’t picking the one needed for eternal afterlife.
4. And this is more philosophical than anything else: but if there is a god, who created it?
I’ve always considered labeling oneself “agnostic” is taking the easy way out–hiding from difficult questions and just considering it a tossup. I’ve decided that the chance of a god existing is basically nil, so I’m not hiding anymore.
Running for Office
The most unelectable attribute in American politics is not being black, a woman, a socialist, or a communist. No, the most unelectable attribute is being an atheist.
How is that in a nation that promotes religious freedom really just promotes “the freedom to choose what brand of Christianity you subscribe to” and frowns upon anyone who derives their moral values from something other than the bible?
If I ever run for something more important than PUD commissioner, this post will probably surface to be used against me. But I’m ready for that. Because I have faith that our nation will judge a person on what they believe in, and not how they came to believe in those values.
And when I hear the phrase “God bless you” I always translate it into “Fate be kind to you.” It seems to work just as well.