There is no god and I’m okay with that…
It has taken me several years; decades, in-fact, to accept that there’s no such thing as god and while this will cause immediate concern for most of my friends and family, I urge you to REMAIN CALM!
I have thought long and hard, read the bible (the important parts), I’ve gone to church, prayed and have spent hours upon hours discussing this topic with LOTS of people but no matter what I do, I come back to the same conclusion: There’s no such thing as god! Not even a little bit.
For a while there, I thought that maybe there was at least a little bit of a god. Maybe not in the Christian-sense, but at least something bigger than me- call it purpose, a higher power, or for-lack-of –a-better-term I GUESS you could use theword God, but not the Jesus-kind. I tried believing that everything happens for a reason. I tried believing in fate and karma and all of those other feel-good words that make us feel less lost in this big world we live in. But the more I tried to label things, the more I tried to find a “reason” the more scared and lost I became.
When I was finally able to let go of what I call “The False-God Confidence” the more confident I actually became. I was no longer worried about whether or not I was pleasing “Him”, if I was hearing “Him” or if I was doing what “He” wanted me to do- convinced that I would be punished if I didn’t obey him or that if didn’t hear him right that something would go wrong!
Now, I may have taken it a bit to the extreme, after all there were times when I’d get myself all worked up because I wasn’t sure if “He” wanted me to go to Taco Bell for lunch or McDonald’s . Because only “he” knows if there was someone at Taco Bell who needed me to witness to them. Or what if there was some crazy driver on the Taco Bell side of the road that was going to hit me if I turned left into the parking lot. And if so, is that what was SUPPOSED to happen so that I could be injured or die to teach someone else a lesson about “Him”? I mean, after all, isn’t that how we justify bad things that happen in our lives? Isn’t he just teaching us a lesson? If nothing else, he’ll “use it for good”, right?
Come on now, you can’t disagree with me on that, can you? How many times has something terrible happened that has caused you so much pain and sorrow or worse caused someone else pain and sorrow, like a child losing a parent or a parent losing a child and you’ve said, “God has a plan”?
That’s what I call bullshit. I’m not going to beat around the bush. It’s pure bullshit. No matter how you sugar coat it or excuse it with the “All Mighty’s” plan. People get sick. People get injured. People die. That’s called LIFE!
Sure, there are always lessons to be learned from every consequence but that doesn’t mean it’s something supernatural.
So how did I “become” atheist? Well first and foremost, please be assured that I am NOT jaded. I’m far from jaded. In fact if there’s anything to be jaded about, it’s all those years of wonder and worry spent on pleasing something or someone that doesn’t actually exist. But even that doesn’t leave me jaded, I’m grateful for my spiritual path that has led me to the realization that there was nothing spiritual to begin with.
Growing up I rarely went to church but my family talked about god- I don’t remember what they would say, but I do remember being four years old and riding down Alicia Parkway in Mission Viejo, California in my mom’s Chevy Chevette asking,
“What’s the difference between God and Jesus?”
To which she replied, “Jesus is God and God is Jesus.”
“Oh, um, okay.” Moving on…
“I think small cars are stick shift and big cars are automatic because they are bigger and have more room for stuff so they do need you to do all the work”
“No, small cars come in automatic too” she said with a smile.
My little brain was always working. Never stopped, still doesn’t. My brain is always thinking.
When I was ten and in fifth grade I went to, what I know now was an evangelical church for Sunday service with one of my school-mates. It was one of those fire and brimstone sermons where I learned that if I didn’t get “born again” (whatever that meant) I was going to go to hell. I told my mom this news as soon as I got home.
“Yeah, there are some crazy people out there that try to scare you because they want money for their church. God just wants you to be a good person, that’s all he really cares about.”
Fast forward one year and you’ll see that I started going to a huge church in downtown Phoenix with a new friend from my new school. This church had an entire gymnasium, roller rink, bowling alley, and lots of other activities, plus they had lots of cute boys –this would not be the last time I went to church for cute boys.
Even though I went with her often, I don’t remember actually learning anything. I thought it was cool that there were TV cameras in the auditorium that broadcast the service and I thought that if I looked like I was praying really hard that maybe, just maybe they’d put the camera on me. But I could never “pray” long enough to get noticed because I was too busy looking to see if the camera was pointed in my direction.
In seventh grade, my mom decided that I needed to go to Catholic school after one of my public-school junior-high classmates kidnapped some kids she was babysitting. Apparently Catholics never do that sort of thing- so I put on my plaid skirt and white polo shirt to learn about English, math and Jesus. I had never been to church with my family before but we were sort of Catholic anyway because we were Italian, although, for some reason I was baptized Lutheran. I’m still not sure why– I’m guessing it had something to do with being illegitimate.
Once I started going to Catholic school we suddenly began going to church, regularly. Something about being a church member gave us extra privileges… blah, blah, blah. I didn’t care, it was fun. I got to sing in the contemporary worship band, there were cute boys, we learned about abstinence, you know…it was cool. Looking back I’m pretty sure it had something to do with reduced tuition, but that’s just speculation. Regardless, I became obsessed with wanting to know what one of those damned communion wafers tasted like- all my friends were doing it, so I decided to “become” a Catholic too.
I took classes to convert from being a “Lutheran” and eventually earned my “Catholic” title. I went to a a conversion ceremony (I’m sure it had a fancy name) and got to leave school early to go have a celebratory breakfast with my family. I was one step closer to experiencing the wafer!
By spring of my eight grade year I had FINALLY met all the criteria. Accepted the Catholic Church, gone to my first confession– where I scared the crap out of the priest by opening the partitian in the middle of confessing all of my sins (mainly using the Lord’s name in vain) and announced that it was ME! He told me not to do that again without permission– um, yeah, okay. Anyway, the week before Easter Sunday I finally got that dry, tasteless wafer of crap on my tongue and even though it was preceded by my first taste of everyone’s-germs-wine, it was extremely disappointing. Not only did it have no taste at all, but then I was faced with a BIG question that I hadn’t thought to ask during my Catholic-training: “HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO SUCK ON THE BODY OF CHRIST BEFORE I CAN CHEW AND SWALOW?”
After eighth grade graduation I went on to Catholic high school, but that didn’t last long. I was only there a couple of months when my mom pulled me out after some kids did a talent show skit called “How to Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich”, by which my mom was appalled and gave the nuns her two cents about being a Catholic School and allowing kids to waste so much food when there are hungry people in the world who would love to have a PB&J. She has her convictions!
That was the end of Catholicism for me.
A couple years later I would find myself following a cute boy to a Baptist church where I learned what it meant to be “Saved” or as I had known it before, “born again”. It was also during Sunday school at this church that I learned that Catholics were going to hell. Who knew? Good thing that cute boy saved me from the depths of it!
I mean seriously? Is that how God works? The Baptists argue that Catholics aren’t Christian because of Catholic tradition and rituals. But if being is Christian is about accepting Christ as your savior, then the Catholics got that covered.
During my time as a Baptist, I thought I had it figured out. I had been saved, I was going to church, going to Sunday school, praying, reading the bible and was an active member of the youth group. I was getting my god on! But then the boy went off to college and I lost interest in all things god. Not completely, but mostly. I mean I still believed in this god-thing but I certainly wasn’t doing anything about it.
Come 1998, when people were starting to fret about the end of the century I became obsessed with the end of the world. I got sucked up in all the hype about how we were all going to die and if you weren’t saved then you’d go to hell. Lucky for me, I’d been there and done that so I was sure to be taken up by the rapture.
It was at this same time that I had decided that God created science so that people would have reason to doubt. After all, you can’t have faith if there’s no reason to doubt, right? RIGHT? Profoundness abounds! I was 21 and knew everything! (It’s still a good argument for Christians- feel free to use it if you believe in that sort of thing)
It wasn’t until 2000, after I had gotten married (for the first time) AND survived Y2K that things got a little out of hand. I met a woman at work who everyone thought was crazy. I always tend to like the crazies so I was immediately drawn to her. She was a reformed woman who had gone from one extreme to the other. Her reputation prior to finding Jesus was as a slut. Her reputation after finding Jesus was that she had become just plain weird. She’d gone from sleeping with married men in the parking lot of the office building to dressing like a nun and praying about every move she made.
I blame her for my spring of 2002 bout of god-neurosis!
Even though she was a little off her rocker and I in-turn fell a little off mine, she was the first person who made god make sense to me. For the first time, I really understood “salvation”. She taught me how to pray (Praise-Repent-Ask-Yield Even as an atheist I think that’s brilliant), showed me how to read the bible and how to witness to others. I was on fire and armed with self-righteousness! I even changed jobs and went to work as a preschool teacher at a Baptist Preschool with a Christ-based curriculum.
It felt good for a while, but eventually the novelty wore off and no matter how much I prayed, no matter how “on fire” I was intellectually, it never felt right. Instead of feeling reborn, I felt stressed and depressed. My husband at the time had grown up in a very Christian home and I looked to him for guidance- after all the bible says the man is the leader, right? But he showed no interest. I prayed and prayed that God would touch his heart. I fellowshipped only with other Christians and sang lots of “Jesus Loves Me” with two year olds. There were several moments when all felt right in the world but as time went on and things got harder and prayers went unanswered – I became more and more consumed with what I was doing wrong. I thought, I must not be praying right, I must not be listening hard enough, why, WHY couldn’t I figure out what in the hell GOD wanted me to do? I thought I was doing what HE wanted. But instead of finding comfort in that, I began to question everything. My marriage was in the toilet, the other teachers I worked with were becoming more and more catty every day, we had no money, couldn’t pay our bills—GOD WAS NOT PROVIDING!
Now don’t go thinking that I’m atheist because god didn’t give me what I wanted. That’s not even close! I’m atheist because when I look back on those days I realize that god wasn’t in control, I was! I was the one who quit my high paying job in advertising to go work for $6.00 an hour (because I was pretty sure that’s what God wanted) and therefore we couldn’t pay our mortgage which put a huge strain on our marriage, PLUS we just weren’t right for each other. We were young and didn’t have the years or wisdom to make the right decisions. That’s not God, that’s LIFE!
Cause and effect is something we learn about in physics but we don’t apply it to our own lives. Why would we, when can rely on the “False-God Confidence”? –And no, things don’t “happen for a reason”, but we’ll get to that later.
After my husband and I separated I pretty much let go of “god” or at least my god-like lifestyle. If someone asked me if I was a Christian, my answer was “yes” and I continued to pray but my prayers went from, “Lord thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sins, please forgive me for not stopping to witness to that person on the street. God, I ask that you open my heart to what is really important and I will be patient in finding out what’s next” to something more along the lines of, “Thank for you letting me get home safely from the bar tonight, I’m sorry I drank too much and drove when I shouldn’t have. Please don’t let me be pregnant with last week’s fling but if I am I’ll accept that and submit to your will.”
I stopped reading the bible and never went to church, except twice, when I was craving some Jesus wafers but I still believe that He existed and that He was mostly in control- even though I was the one making bad choices.
I’d like to think that if god DID exist that he would have at least given me a little STD or something to scare me straight. You know, one of those “lessons” “he’s” always shelling out. But the truth is : CAUSE AND EFFECT! It just happened that I did NOT sleep with anyone who was infected and therefore never contracted any cooties. It’s not even luck, it’s just cause and effect.
Fast forward a few years, I was still making the same bad decisions, the only difference was that I wasn’t making them in North Carolina anymore, instead I was making them in Phoenix, Arizona….UNTIL! Remember that cute boy who got me to go to church while I was in high school? Well we reconnected in 2006 while he was a pastor at, you guessed it! A Baptist Church! Now he was married so I didn’t go because I was chasing after him, no I had moved on to bigger and better things. I went the first time because he had asked me to do some “acting work” for an Easter service he was doing- I didn’t go for him or for god, I went for applause! Everyone loved me, instantly. They made me feel so welcome and adored, they were like my own private little fan club- it felt good. The validated me, just like all those guys I had slept with during my mid-twenties.
Plus, I wanted so badly to believe in god, so I continued going because, well, it felt like the right thing to do.
I did find my fire again- sang about Jesus and the cross and went to lunch with my church friends. I started praying more and sleeping around less but that was less wasn’t because of God it was more because I was infatuated with someone 2,000 miles away. However, I was still going out with my non-church friends, drinking and dancing and having a gay old time. It was cool, as long as I washed the bar stink off before Sunday service- no one had to know what I’d been doing the night before.
During this same time I was struggling financially, again! The job I had moved to Phoenix for had been downsized and the temp job I had taken was no longer needed, my bills were racking up just in time for the breaks to go out on my car. I didn’t know what I was going to do. Well, I did know, but I didn’t want to—ask my Grandma for money. (I hope you didn’t think I was going to say prostitute myself!) But before I could find the courage to call and ask for yet another bailout, my pastor/friend handed me an envelope with over $300.00 in it and said, “This is from the congregation, we took up a collection to help you out.” To this day, I still get a little choked up when I think about that. That was an amazing feeling and can still make me appreciate having a “church family” even in all my atheism-ness.
So how did all that lead to where I am now? Well, on Christmas Eve, you know the night before Jesus was born, I was at church for our special Christmas Eve service when my friend/pastor showed a video that deeply disturbed me. It was a video, presented kind of like a commercial, of teenagers in China who were talking about how sad it was that these “people” would never know Christ. They were saying things like, “I feel so bad for them; all they know are statues of Buddha. They pray to these statues and have no idea that God wants them to pray to him. I want them to go to heaven, but they don’t know the way.” It made me physically ill. I thought, HOW DARE THEY! Not the Chinese, the CHRISTIANS! How dare they go to China and want to change their beliefs- their culture! Who are WE do decide what THEY should believe? I was fuming! I knew that part of being a Christian was to witness to non-Christians but it never occurred to me to witness someone who had their own “god”– I’d never seen it so clearly for the BS that it actually is. It was at that moment that I decided that I no longer wanted to be a part of a RELIGEON- EVER!
For a while I kept up the “Christian” façade. I still called myself a Christian, I still believed in God but I had zero respect for the church- any church. I had no desire to be a part of that. I was not about to tell other people how to live their lives or who, how or what to believe in. If I was going to continue believing in God it was going to be without the influence of others.
So I did. I continued believing or at least wanting to believe. The fact of the matter is/was, that no matter how much I submerged myself in the biblical god, it never sat right with me. There were definitely times when it felt right-er than others, but I always knew that I didn’t believe the way other people believed. I’d try to explain this to my Christian friends and they never really had a good answer. It was usually one of two things: 1-“ you’re expecting something magical and need to let go of that and just accept it” or 2- “just keep praying and God will fill you with the Holy Spirit, there will be no question, you’ll know”.
Well let me tell you, I prayed! And prayed and prayed and prayed and nothing magical ever happened. And if I’m going to be believe that there’s some dude watching my every move who is going to determine whether or not I live on a cloud for eternity, there had better be some fricken magic!
Over the next few years I moved from, being a Christian, to believing in God but not going to church, to being spiritual, to believing there’s something bigger than me but I don’t know what it is, to labeling myself agnostic to letting go of the “Christian” god (as I called it- not Jesus, but the God that Christians believe in) to “everything happens for a reason” and finally to acceptance. I finally accepted that there’s no such thing as god, any god. It was a process, one that started when I was four years old and took nearly 30 years to complete mostly due to guilt and shame.
How could I tell people that I was an atheist? Atheist are bad people. They are so bad that they don’t even believe in GOD! No one will trust me, no one will want to be my friend! No one will respect me! It was like I was admitting that I had a drug addiction. But then I took a closer look at other atheists, famous, well-respected for their intelligence atheists. I’m not talking about celebrities, I’m talking about writers, philosophers, world-changers! Atheists! So many! I felt empowered and more validated than ever. These were thinkers! People who didn’t just roll over and take what the world handed them. These are/were people who have made a difference. It IS possible to be an accepted atheist, as long as people understand what atheism IS. In other words, no I am not a Satan worshiper! It’s impossible because there’s no such thing as Satan.
I’m not anti-god, I’m pro-respect. I’m not trying to convert anyone to atheism. I believe that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want as long as they respect the rights of others to believe what THEY want. This may change eventually. In fact it’s highly likely that I will become more and more anti-religion the more self-righteous I become as an atheist, but I hope that doesn’t happen because that would make me a hypocrite. And no one likes a hypocrite now do they?!