Friday, October 17, 2008

Blog meme: My first day as an Atheist

Via Kafir Girl, I noticed that a new meme has sprung up ex nihilo.  My little ego is sensitive enough that, even though we haven't been tagged yet, I ASSUME we will be soon enough.  May as well go ahead and save time by responding now.  Unfortunately, my answers are likely to be extremely boring, as you're about to find out.

Can You Remember The Day That You Officially Became An Atheist?

Erm, yeah, I suppose that would be September 9, 1974, when I was born.  :)

However, I wasn't a thoughtful atheist until I got challenged around the age of six.  I remember chatting with a school friend in Alabama, who couldn't really wrap his mind around the concept -- "Who created the universe, then?"  I didn't have an answer.  I asked my dad the physicist, "Do we believe The Nothing created the universe?"  He was delighted to give me a kid-level rundown of what we know about cosmology, and I started thinking about the implications of my non-belief after that.

Do you remember the day you officially became an agnostic?

Not as dumb a question as you might think in my case.  The concept of an agnostic-atheist wasn't really a notion in my mind until after some long discussions with fellow ACA members.  However, until college I possessed some of the arrogant certainty of youth.  Ironically, while theists warn their kids about the faith-destroying influence of academia, having to write and defend arguments in early classes really made me take the question of "What if you're wrong?" seriously for the first time.

I tried some experimental prayer.  As George Carlin pointed out, it works about 50% of the time.  Unless, of course, you pray for something really specific and unlikely, and then it doesn't work at all.  Nevertheless, I still don't outright dismiss the question "What if you're wrong," and still keep an eye out for the possibility that additional evidence might pop up.  My dad thinks this is too soft a position.  It's one of our few serious disagreements.

Did anger towards God or religion help cause you to be an atheist or agnostic?

Here is a good one: Were you agnostic towards ghosts, even after you became an atheist?

I can't remember ever really taking the idea of ghosts seriously.  Interestingly, this is a position that is apt to get me called "closed minded" even by some people who you think would know better.

Do you want to be wrong?

I'll be blunt: I'm not down with this whole "dying" thing.  There's a song that used to play on the radio often, about only having a hundred years to live.  It was very wistful and I had to turn it off when it started, because it depressed the hell out of me.  As Woody Allen said, "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying."

Other than that, no.  Reality pwns religion.

I'm going to take the lazy way of forwarding this meme, because I don't frequent many atheist blogs that aren't already famous enough to have somebody else forward it.  However, Martin, Matt, Tracie, Don, and Jen can all add their answers in if they want to.

Besides that, I offer one fairly new atheist blog that nobody's ever seen before: Tommy Holland, you're it.  (The name is a pseudonym.  "Tommy" was a convert several years ago, I knew him when he was nominally Christian.)


  1. My 2 cents:

    I was 12 - it was 1984. I firmly believe that I was born an atheist and was never anything but an atheist; however, I didn't know the WORD for the concept until I was 12. I "came out" to my sister, who was in the process of converting to Russian Orthodoxy.

    I was never agnostic. I was never angry with god or have any "issues" so-to-speak. I wasn't molested by a priest. I wasn't attacked by rabid Christians. I simply never believed.

    However, the local Catholic church ladies informed my mother - in front of me - that we were all "bastards" because my mother did not convert to my father's unobserved religion. My generic Protestant mother told them that if being as bastard was good enough for her daddy it's good enough for us!

    I do not believe in ghosts or anything "paranormal." I believe there is the explained and the unexplained (and maybe a grey area - those things that are in the process of being explained) - that's it.

    Very simple, really.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out, Kazim. My response is here:

    Tommy Holland

  3. This is one area where I have interest in others because I don't even understand the concept of conversion because I've never gone through it in any way. I only "became an atheist/agnostic" when I realized that people genuinely believed religion.

  4. Five for Fighting - 100 Years is one of the most beautiful examinations of the human condition rendered in musical form as I've ever heard.

    That it's depressing is inevitable, given the human condition.

    When I realized that there was no evidence beyond the bible (at about age 13; I was always fascinated by science and learning about the way the world works so I kept reading.)

    I had previously attended some church and had attended some bible studies classes. One of my childhood books was 'My Book of Bible Stories' consisting of highlights like Abraham and Isaac, the Great Flood, and my favorite, Moses and Egypt. I even had the audiotape.

    Eventually though, I realized that praying didn't work, and I always believed was far more practical to work on something than pray for it. I only prayed for things I could not control. Eventually I began to see the flaws in the stated Christian religion, the lack of sufficient evidence to prove god... basically I found that science explained things way better and I liked things to make sense.

    And I got _really_ tired of people asking me why I wasn't a Christian when I had a Christian name. Chinese in Malaysia like myself generally acquire Christian names in either of 2 ways: Either they choose one later in life, in which case it's not their official name but something they adopt, or it's on their birth certificate chosen by parents at birth. Generally non-Christian chinese parents didn't give their children Christian names but this trend has sort of died down in the past 10 years or so.

    Plus my name is Awesome. I am named after possibly the best comic strip character ever, you know, the one with the 'stuffed' tiger and the large vocabulary. Bill Watterson: You are my childhood. Thank you.

  5. wow i never actually thought about this

    now that i think about it i always was somewhat a muslim-agnostic
    what confirmed my atheism was when working with some Islamic extremists
    at that time i was really trying hard to believe in god & religion
    i tried to go pray after my work was done
    well one of them started lecturing me that i should pray 5 times a day on time at the mosque & some more things about afterlife.... etc
    well lets just say that really got me thinking
    i rejected allah then & there
    i rejected the concept of god after a little more thinking

    my family knows im not so religious but they dont know i have fully rejected it

    also im in a 100% muslim country (meaning no other religion & islam rules it all)


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