My brother approached me about blogging the other day, so I directed him to the blogs I have. He looked at them with some interest. This Sunday, we had some time to talk about what he wanted to do with his own blog, the conversation drifted quickly to the content of this blog.
I was surprised to find out he had not actually read this particular blog before. He went into some depth about it. Saying that, from the few posts he had read, he found them actually in contrast to my About page. Apparently, my general posts don’t really show how I’m living positively without religion. Instead they are quite anti-religion, or more specifically – anti-christian. For the past month or so, I have expressed more anti-theist perspectives. This is the result of working through the disquieting questions and conversations I’ve had with my mother, my brother, other family members and strangers via the internet or in person.
So, I could agree. Not fully. But I can understand his perspective. This has probably emerged because I’ve had a question weighing on my mind for the past few months:
How do you define atheism as a positive belief?
Atheism is a negative belief. I don’t mean that in the sense that it lessens you in anyway, rather, it means very little without the not. I could easily cop out of answering the question fully by saying, “I’m a humanist, I believe in people”. But alas, I’m not the type to take an easy route to an answer, even if that answer bares some truth.
I am a humanist, but in that I am also an atheist. To dig deeper into the question and the truth that hides inside it, you have to consider what that not is opposed to… That means going over my past experiences of religion, even those that are painful.
Christianity, and my parents failed indoctrination of me, is a massive part of that. So, I look into my life and the role religion has played in making me who I am. Much of it was damaging to me. Within Christianity I felt held back, self-rejecting of my natural talents and abilities, dismissing of my intelligence and worth… How can I not then see it as a negative experience?
Though the About page states :
“I often come across atheist blogs and sites that seem bent on “spreading the gospel of atheism” or denigrating other people’s faith. I wanted a more positive experience, something more personal that might explore the idea of living positively without religion.”
My brother’s perspective of this blog may not be far off the mark. The Atheist Me blog content is bent towards showing how Christianity created obstacles in my life, and how difficult I had to struggle to overcome them. The About page simply states exactly that:
“In truth, I really wanted to delve deeper into the internal conversation I so often have when questioned about my atheism, and share the ideas that come from the conversation…”
And that’s what I’m doing… If the results make other people think I have a negative perception of religion… It would be damn accurate!
But, if I had to list or mention how my life has become more positive since abandoning religion, it would go something like this:
Without religion in my life, I have become more connected to myself, to the world around me and the universe which I am a part of. I accept my body, explore my sexuality and sentuality, embrace my intelligence, enjoy the complex and intricate person I am and express my humanity without reservation.
I find grace in my frailty. Once this body I inhabit dies, I will cease to exist. This makes my life that much more precious, and encourages me to work harder on my goals, be more focused and open to possibility, and endure through struggle with honour and respect.
I love fully in every moment. Even if I am surrounded by people I may not find affinity with, I have joy.
I know that I am powerful. My strength can be shared by listening to another person’s woes with my empathy untainted and fully engaged. I have the capacity to uplift someone else with faithless hope, instead of encouraging a vain pray.
I use my compassion to empower others. Reminding them that they are powerful and beautiful, filled with potential to become greater than they were a moment ago, without needing to subdue others, or themselves.
This is the positivity I have found without religion. This is the life that Christianity tried to rob me of with promises of what is to come without evidence, while crushing the spirit of my existence in the now.
I am free.
Free of that which suffocated me. Free of the burden to conform without regard to the cost on myself and others. Free of coercion into being less…
I can and will continue to dig through my past to find other pieces of myself, buried beneath the darkness of Christian indoctrination… It’s revealed so much light and truth so far… Why stop now?