Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Are Closet Atheists...Spineless Cowards?

I've been listening to some podcasts from The Thinking Atheist and was particularly drawn to "Help! I'm a Closet Atheist!"

This resonates so strongly with me because obviously I'm a closet atheist - I've worked in a Christian industry and a Christian company for nine years now. I've established myself professionally in a Christian environment. I've surrounded myself with Christian colleagues. More importantly, my closest friends and confidantes are Christians.

While I'm glad I'm not alone in being a closet atheist, I'm horrified at those who call us names like spineless and coward.

Wow. I don't care if you're Christian, atheist, or whatever - this kind of name calling just isn't cool. Have you walked in my shoes? Do you know what it's like to be me? What gives you the right to call me spineless?

Just the fact that I've admitted to myself, after careful thought and study, that I can no longer believe in God - that alone has taken tremendous courage.

If I came out of the closet, the first thing that would happen is I'd lose my livelihood. In the space of a moment, my family's income would be cut in half (right when I have a couple of kids headed for college). And it would be worse than simply getting laid off or fired: I'd be blackballed in my industry and unable to get a job.

Making it worse, there are literally hundreds (maybe thousands?) of people who would take my renunciation of Christianity as a betrayal. Yes, a lot of people know me. And there are probably at least a hundred who would take it as an absolutely personal and very painful betrayal. You'll have to excuse me if I don't relish the thought of this. The desire to spare many loved-ones real pain and worry is not spinelessness.

Until I find a way to make a living outside the Christian realm, I'm stuck without many good options.

But here's my bigger problem with people saying closet atheists are cowards. Do we really have to be willing to give up everything for the cause of atheism? Isn't that just as bad as giving up everything for religion?

Embracing my disbelief in God and renunciation of Christianity means freedom for me... and although I won't be totally free until I come out of the closet, I can still experience freedom in my mind and heart, which are now, for the first time in my life, all mine. I'm no longer sharing every thought and desire with this all-knowing god. I'm no longer wondering about all the inconsistencies in the Bible and Christian theology. I'm no longer in fear of somehow missing out on heaven. I'm free. And I want to embrace and enjoy my freedom in the way that I choose.

This means, I'll come out of the closet when I'm damn good and ready. And when I do, I guarantee it will take a LOT more courage than many of the name-callers have ever had to muster in the name of their atheism.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pascal's Wager is the Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard

Pascal said that it was best to believe in God, because if you were wrong you'd have nothing to lose, but if you were right you'd win an eternity in heaven.

If you were wrong you'd have nothing to lose???

How about 500 Sunday mornings spent at church when I could have been out riding my bike, or hiking in the mountains, or home writing my blog posts for the week or, god forbid, sleeping in?

How about those thousands - thousands - of mornings I got up before dawn, before the rest of my family woke, and sat on the sofa reading my Bible and praying, and desperately trying to wrench some meaning from all of this ancient claptrap?

Nothing to lose?

I finally realized why becoming an atheist has left me so incredibly pissed off. Okay, there are a whole bunch of reasons, but this is a big one.

All that time I've wasted! I could have been going to the gym, or getting more sleep, or writing BOOKS for god's sake. I could have been taking my kids on fun outings rather than making them sit through Sunday school. I could have been reading actual, real, intelligent and entertaining books instead of forcing myself through that goddamned Bible over and over and over and over again.

Pascal was an idiot.

I'm pissed for myself, and for my family, for all the time we've lost. Now that I realize there is no afterlife, every single moment of this life is that much more precious...  and I've wasted so much of it. I'm completely heartbroken over this. I will never get those hours back.

But even bigger than this, even more than the tiny self-absorbed consideration of little old me, is the time and intelligence wasted - wasted! - throughout history. All those smart people who could have been studying science or mathematics or anything that might be actually useful... who instead spent their lives "parsing a collective delusion" (as Sam Harris said in Letter to A Christian Nation.)

So much waste!

Someday, maybe I'll come back around and find some good in all that time I spent studying the Bible, all that time I spent praying.



But I'm a long way from that. Right now I'm pissed. Not to mention, I'm pretty flabbergasted that someone really smart like Pascal could have come up with something so obviously stupid that even I - not the sharpest tool in the shed - have been able to see it.

Damn it. I'm pissed.