There are knee-jerk theists (My god wrong or right!) and thinking theists (I need to read up on Thomas Aquinas to figure out if God can make a rock that He can't lift). If you were a thinking theist and now an atheist there is a very good chance that for a portion of your life you described your personal relationship with God as complicated.
- Most of those Old Testament stories never really happened. It's complicated.
- The moral utility in the genocide depicted in the Great Flood? It's complicated.
- God exists, but not in the same way that real stuff exists. It's complicated.
A typical refrain you can hear from many religious of the conservative bent is "The gays? How am I going to explain that to my kids?" Now, if your idea of sex education is saying "Don't get pregnant" your problem is all of human sexuality -- not just the homosexual kind.
Here is an example of my conversation with my kid regarding the gays.
The Boy: "How can boys like boys?"
Me: "Not all boys like boys."
The Boy: "How can some boys like boys?"
Me: "What kind of ice cream do you like?"
The Boy: "Chocolate."
Me: "Why do you like it?"
The Boy: "Just because."
Me: "Right. It's the same thing when a boy likes another boy."
I've had a few variations of this conversation with my kids. Of course, I point out that there are some people who like chocolate and vanilla ice cream.
Now that you're not worried about burning in hell fire, you're underlying anxiety needs to find a new channel to flow in. All that energy spent worrying about sinning against the Holy Spirit can now be spent thinking about how other atheists are doing atheism wrong. Or maybe arguing about the proper definition of atheism?
7. Anger. Sometimes a little. Sometimes a lot.
7. Anger. Sometimes a little. Sometimes a lot.
Anger is a common feeling after losing your religion. Hell, there are many reasons why you're angry, but let's talk about how these rage spasms manifest themselves. I was in a restaurant a number of years ago and it was one of those healthy back to basics kind of place. The wait staff were simply dressed, somewhat 19th century-ish. We put our orders in (I was in a gaggle of people) and then noticed that the place was run by a conservative Christian sect -- family values, the whole rotten package. Seeing that I was with friends I went on a rage spasm on how I hated giving my money to those people. They were just going to use my good secular cash to their traditionally superstitious causes. Ick.
6. Your old religious friends put stuff up on your Facebook wall.
They mean well, and want only the best for God. If they irritate and infuriate you, well, blame it on Satan (and yourself).
5. That headache you used to get while
reconciling the Old and New Testaments? Gone.
If Christian theologians can't do it, then who can?
4. You keep having this thought I can't believe that I said all those douchey things.
Even if you were a mild believer in God, even if you talked about the Great Fictitious One every once in a great while, then there was a moment that you jumped into the deep end of the philosophical pool and flailed around like you never had a swim lesson. Maybe you offered up wisdom like:
- Jesus the man and Jesus the God was just like mayonnaise -- he was an emulsion of humanity and deity.
- Yeah, Ghandhi is burning in hell but there's a really good reason for it.
- I'm not religious. I have a personal relationship with God.
3. You wake up every once in a while and say, "It really does get better."
Being personally involved in any codependent relationship is draining. You find yourself spending a lot of time and energy reflecting about what the other person (or people) think of you -- how you will be judged, are you doing the right thing, etc. In extreme cases you can find yourself having built your who life around this sick relationship.
And then it ends one day.
Oh, it can be difficult at first. You may miss the security that the dysfunction offered you. There may have been a shared camaraderie with others who engaged in the same dysfunctional behaviors as you did.
But over time that sense of loss diminishes, and you build your own life up. In certain moments of clarity you look back at your old life and are grateful that those days are over.
2. You have a Five-Point Plan on how to deal with the holidays and those rambling prayers with your family at the dinner table.
A little something you may not know about me: I've been held up at gun point twice. It was by the same guy (I talk about it during some of my stand-up sets). During those moments of near-death I was focused in the moment. I wasn't anxious, but totally in the here (or then?) and now.
What bugs me much more than those dangerous times ever did are irritating scenarios that I know are going to occur, and I have little to no control over them. An example of such a low-danger but highly irritating event is the Thanksgiving and/or Christmas blessing of the meal. Even though I don't have to deal with them currently -- I've successfully crafted a secular life for myself -- there was a time where I had to sit through Jesus bless this food.
It almost took the pleasure out of the creamed onions for me. Almost.
1. This is how you feel: I haven't lost my religion like I lost that sock, and now I walk around with two white socks that don't 100% match. It's more like I found the keys to my brain.