I previously did an entry, in which I told my readers a bit about my journey to Atheism (in particular, Agnoistic Atheism). But that entry was more directed to airing my grievance towards a perceived incorrect conclusion held and shared by many Atheists (the idea that Agnosticism is not a valid position on its own).
Today, I think I will go more in depth, in terms of the stages of my Atheism that I encountered along the way. In particular, how open I was to sharing the fact that I was an Atheist.
When it comes to, shall we say, “coming to terms” with my Atheism, it has been quite a journey.
In my last piece, I wrote about how for the first 5 to 6 years of my Atheistic existence, I never really talked about it, discussed it openly (except with a select few like or open minded people), or otherwise let it be known. This was partially because I am a very reserved person, and I share the details of my personality on a need to know basis.
But it was also because, I was fearful of what the consequences of revealing my Atheism would be. Not so much in terms of my classmates and pupils in school, as I was already pretty much a social outcast, and didn’t really care about their opinions. It was more, my family. Partially my parents, but mostly, my extended family (aunts and uncles).
When it came to my dad, the parent that I grew up with, I never really had any worry of my beliefs being exposed. Sure, I did not know how he would have reacted, and as such, would not have said anything anyway. But the topic of religion and god, just was never spoken of at home. He was (as far as I know) a believer, but we never went to church, as far back as I can remember.
I am glad of this, because it made the process of letting go of my previously held beliefs, relatively simple. Since religion was just one of those things that I kept at the back of my mind, one of those thought processes that is there but not questioned, it didn’t take much effort to get rid of it. I didn’t have much (if any) fear or hesitation, my only worry was, if my beliefs got out.
When it comes to my mother, once again I think she is a believer, but she never really took us to church either. She commented a couple times that we all (us kids) have to go to church some time, but we never actually went. And since beliefs were never really discussed by her either, I never had to worry about her reaction.
When it comes to be my extended family, since they live in another city around 200 kilometers away, I only seen them around once or twice a year (holidays normally). But they vary, in terms of their degree of “religious”. And some were fairly outspoken Christians, so it was important that I not say anything.
I was an Atheist since early in high school, but I for the most part managed to keep that part of my belief system, unknown to most people. Some because they didn’t ask, and some because I would not be truthful even if they did ask. But even if I kept it all under wraps, I still felt uncomfortable in certain situations. For example, at family gatherings, if the topic came up. In situations like funerals. That sort of thing.
But I did manage to keep my beliefs under wraps for a good 4 or 5 years. That was until early December 2008, when an unintentionally shared facebook comment, made my beliefs known to the whole of my contact lisf.
This was the photo that my friend had posted in his profile, with the fitting caption of “LOL”. To which I commented “I should put this in Christian groups”.
Something that I did not realize at the time, was that my privacy settings were such that any photo that I commented on, would show up in the news feeds of all of my contacts. Keep in mind that this was before memes, articles, vines and other micro-targeted content was flooding news feeds, so a lot of people DID see the image.
The comment was made at around 1am, but the reaction came sometime the next morning. First it was from my aunt leaving a message on my wall declaring how offended she was upon seeing the image, and how I have to be careful or my little cousin may also see these images. The 2ed reaction, was a phone call from another family member, prompted by a cousin of mine seeing my aunts angry post on my wall, and wondering what was going on.
They had not seen the actual photo, so when asked what I did, I just evasively said “I commented on something, religious”. To my delight, they were more amused by the whole situation (as was my sister), then they were offended by it. In fact, they were more annoyed with the fact that my little cousin was using facebook under age, then with my “mistake” (granted, I should never do it again lol).
That whole situation made things weird for awhile. For that reason, I decided to stay home for the 2008 Christmas family gathering. Though I attended the gathering the following year, it was a bit awkward to.
At that point, I was heavily a part of religious discussions and groups.
But when it came to my privacy settings, I learned pretty damn quick. I locked my account down tighter then a nuns cunt. In fact, my account was locked down so well, that I inadvertently disallowed people from posting on my wall (now known as a “Timeline”).
And for awhile, even that was not good enough for me, so I begun using a 2ed account in a different name to do all of my “blasphemous” posting.
Basically, I took any precaution that I could to ensure that my atheistic heathen discussion did not turn up on any family members news feeds, and cause them to be “offended”. And I kept up this juggling act in the name of keeping everyone wholesome and happy, for a long time. Probably a good 2 or 3 years.
But after awhile, it became apparent to me that my effort to ensure that I kept my contrarian attitudes and opinions out of sight of those who would disagree, was a one sided affair. Even though none of my activities within the various non-religious groups that I frequented were visible to anyone, nor did I ever take on the topic in a status update (or anywhere else that was visible to all), many did not follow the same guideline.
I still browsed past many a religious update, post, meme etc. One that I particularly remember, was someones take on the WAR on Christmas. On how the Christians should “Put the CHRIST back in Christmas”, and not tolerate all this “Happy Holidays” non-sense perpetuated by the secularists.
Typical dim-witted western world thought processes at work.
It is the secularists ruining the holidays, with our evil agenda of wanting the season to be more inclusive to people of all backgrounds. It is not being ruined at all, by capitalist attitudes. People spending themselves into oblivion and stressing themselves out in the process of celebrating “The most wonderful time of the year”. GOD no!
Read my entry on the war on christmas here.
Anyway, after viewing that and many other posts shared freely by my Christian relatives and friends, I begun to wonder why I even bothered hiding my true beliefs at all costs, when no one else batted an eyelash after posting something I would consider offensive. And not long after that, I became less inclined to hide my Atheist self.
I stopped using my 2ed facebook account. Though I did not change my privacy settings, facebook did during an update, but I never bothered changing them back. I adopted the attitude that is, this is who I am. you can accept it and move on, or not, and get lost. I will not bring irreligious discussion to anyones timeline, and I will limit it on my own. But I won’t hide my activity in groups and pages.
And so, that is the way I have been carrying myself since. And other then one amusing post made by someone “accepting” that I was going to hell when I die (I love when westerners make that statement), I didn’t hear any positive or negative feedback.
At this point, I do not delve much into religious/non-religious debate anymore. I used to love a good discussion, but I have all but lost interest now. Not to mention, the whole idea of talking to theists until your black and blue in the face, becomes pointless after awhile. Some people are willing to entertain new ideas, and end up switching sides.
But much of the time, I am not going to change based on what they say, and they will not change based on what I say. So were both expending energy on a lost cause. And now that I look back on many of the “debates” that I have had over the years, it does all seem like, a waste of time..
I did learn a fair bit about both Atheism and Theism in the process. But at the same time, I do not feel that I ever changed anyones mind, I was either in agreement with those on my side, or in objection to those on the other side. I never once, seen nor made anyone “come to their senses”. All I really did, was make myself look like a complete ass, many times.
So at this point, I do not delve into the discussions that I used to delve into anymore. I do on occasion, but I do not go in with much expectation (expecting one to GET IT, and having them not, causes annoyance, which is a slippery slope to ad hom). Not to mention, I am realizing that it is not just theists that are subscribers to thoughtless conclusions. I am learning more and more, the Atheists can be just as bad, if not worse (considering we like to call ourselves on the side of REASON, I expect more our of us then regurgitated talking points from prominent Atheists).
To be an Atheist, it seems, it to wear it like a badge of pride. To be an Atheist, is to ensure that the world knows you are an Atheist, by the clothing you wear, the bumper stickers on your car etc. This is not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. If Christians, Muslims and others can proudly show off their beliefs, then so should Atheists.
But I am not, that kind of person.
I do not feel the need to tell the world at large that I am an Atheist, with a T-shirt, bumper sticker, vanity license plate, or any other object. To me, Atheism is just a part of my personality and person.
Not to mention, the label “Atheist” comes with its own set of baggage. My conclusions are far more complex then a single definition. Just as “Feminist” comes with its own set of baggage. And any other label, that is used by people to categorize others in their mind.
I will call out misinformation and bullshit, whenever I come across it, wherever I come across it (for the most part). I will tell people if I think that there ideas are silly, or detrimental, no matter the consequences (relating to religious and non religious topics and situations). And I will freely talk about whatever I want, on platforms that are controlled by me (this blog, my facebook/twitter accounts). And if someone brings up a subject, I will put in my $0.02.
But I will not bring up the subjects of my religious, political or other views in conversation, unless they are brought up by someone else.If they want to talk about it, fine by me. Just expect me to be honest.
I will not hide my atheism, nor any other of my views. But I will not let it define me. Nor will I be an apologist of the belief.
I am, a silent Atheist. And I am fine that way.