Wednesday, 1 December 2010

I sleep in on Sundays

In my last post, I mentioned thanking deities and that got me thinking…

I myself don't thank deities. Nor do I praise them.

I don't believe in God.

I don't believe in any gods.

I don't pray to a divinity for thanks, strength or forgiveness.

I don't often talk about being an atheist (in public anyway) because I don't want to sound judgmental of other people or what they choose to believe. But this is my blog, after all, so I figured I'd jump in.

It wasn't always this way. I was born into a family that (mostly) believes. Well, my mother believes. I'm not sure what my father thinks about God or gods, but if he's a believer, he's certainly not devout. This balance gave me perspective growing up. On one side, I had my maternal family. Many of them churchgoers. Good, happy people. On the other side, I had my dad who would stay home on Easter Sunday and cook the turkey and prepare the vegetables while my mom bundled me and my brother off to Mass. Dad didn't seem any worse for wear for not kneeling on Sundays. Hmmm....

The first time I remember hearing the word "atheist" was on a family vacation, and I knew from my mother's tone that such a person was in the wrong. Not on the "good guys" team. Did not wear the white cowboy hat.

I went to Catholic school. I had religious calendars in my bedroom (me, P!nk, and the Virgin Mary have the same birthday!) and I said my prayers at night. I had (and still have) two pocket Bibles. I remember being in grade 7 or so and praying to God that He give me the divine inspiration to pass a math test. So, clearly, at some point, I was a believer. In full disclosure, I still find the Bible to be a fascinating book and I have read it cover to cover several times. I don't claim to understand the bears who maul children or the talking donkey, but I don't really think about them all that much.

As I got older I just stopped believing. I didn't stop believing in the goodness in the world, I just put my faith in fact. I developed my own opinions and observations. I won't get into why I'm an atheist here, but often happily take up the conversation when asked. Suffice it to say that it's not because of any single event or person. I didn't one day wake with MS and shake my fist at the sky asking why God had forsaken me. In fact, I was an atheist long before I had MS. I simply believe in biology, chemistry, and physics. I believe in nature and the sciences that uphold it.

If I had to compare my state of mind as a believer in my youth and my state of mind about religion now, I can firmly say that I'm happier now. I know that I do good things because I want to do good things, not for fear of damnation or heavenly rewards.

People have asked me why I still celebrate religious holidays, and that's fair. Christmas is right around the bend and I will definitely be feasting on Christmas day. For me, Christmas has lost religious meaning, and, to me, that's not a bad thing. It's a time for love, acceptance, happiness and warmth. That's all anyone really needs, isn't it?

I am still awed by the structure of churches in the same way that I am awed by natural caves on the shoreline. I choose not to pray in either.

a contented atheist

P.S. My injections since my last post have gone swimmingly well. No hours of frustration, just point and shoot. Life's funny that way.

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