In the beginning…there were merely microbes

Posted: October 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

I suppose I should begin a blog about my secularism (atheism) by delving into what turned me into your textbook heathen. I am a very young secularist: ~3 years. That said I can still so easily recall my life as a Christian. I was to the point where if I wasn’t at work or in school or in a dojo (karate school) I was in my church. I would volunteer for anything under the sun I could find. I found a decent niche in providing assistance to the youth groups – I suppose that infers I’ll always be a kid at heart.

Well my story essentially begins at Texas State University in San Marcos. I initially went there with the intent of studying history and German, get a teaching certification and teaching both subjects at either the high school or college level. Within my first month I was actively looking for youth groups and a church to enjoin myself. Well, wish granted. I quickly found a haven in a student Bible group. Made good friends with most of its members. I even took it a step further and followed my brother’s advice to me which was to join the ranks of a fraternity. I wasn’t a social butterfly in my grade-school years and he knew it. He made the mention that it would be one of the best ways for me to make new friends. He was absolutely right. My first two roommates were already pledging – what was I waiting for?

Well needless to say being a Christian in a university that doesn’t conform to the guise of a Christian school isn’t the easiest thing to do. I do not accredit the school for my transition into secularism. I thank my friend Hunter who was my big brother in our fraternity. Always ready for a good debate and even heavily encouraged it from me he was always skeptical of things I mentioned. Challenging my Biblical knowledge – or at the time the lack therein. I found not long after becoming an atheist that he does not subscribe to the Judeo-Christian god, but rather gnosticism.

I also thank my equally good friend Tristan. The first guy I met who straightened out my way of thinking with regard to spirituality. I was a Christian when I met him. We had quite a bit in common and agreed to play the roommate game and see where it got us. At the time the living arrangement was something more like me and another fellow Warren who is your typical bullying Christian. “Believe like I believe or I’ll pick on and belittle you.” So it was Warren, Tristan, a younger guy Nick – who is no longer amongst the living (suicide), and me. We were sharing a 4-bed apartment. Warren and I had convinced each other it was going to be a Biblical pad. At first I brought Tristan in as a means of bringing him to Christ. Wow, what a disillusionment. And as you might guess the reverse happened. He converted me. And it was quite a gradual process.

Initially it started when a very good friend of mine passed away. He had been battling cancer for a little while. I can tell you to this day I recall that I had requested numerous individuals to pray for this kid. Well he still passed on, but the cancer didn’t take him. He died from a freak fungal infection in his lungs he contracted whilst in the hospital. He was only 16. All the same, thats where I accredit the spark of my secularism to have originated. Now as I mentioned earlier I didn’t just wake up one day and decide cold-turkey I was an atheist. Absolutely not. It took about a year for my mind to wrap around the fact that there simply is no god, and how much easier life is when you come to accept that.

Pardon that tangent – thought it was a necessary one. Well I was living in the apartment with Nick and Warren and Tristan. I was trying to secure jobs that would pay well enough. I finally was able to land a position at a local grocer. I began as a front end CSA: customer service assistant, which is very fancy politically correct way to refer to the bagger who organizes your groceries into the bags. Not my first rodeo with this type of job. Decent enough pay: $7/hr, but not decent enough for my rent. I quickly found an opening as an overnight grocer. That job was much tougher on me than I could have expected. What really grew tough was that two of my three roommates (the two Christians) kept pushing me for these midday Bible studies. Here I am trying to earn a living overnight and these two guys have no respect for my not-so-desire sleeping habits during the day.

So followed a series of very stimulating conversations between Tristan and me. Now let me make it as a plain and clear as I can. I do not wish to create any illusions. It had been my desire, initially, to bring him to Christ. He in no way was trying to bring me to secularism. But he was very righteous in speaking his mind about my ignorance towards atheism. He was not degrading or insulting or condescending of nor towards me. He saw my willingness to listen and learn. He simply explained his point of view. One thing he was quite quick to notice was that I really had begun to question this faith in which I’d been living. And with all my questions he finally decided to lend me some literature that made a profoundly huge difference in his life – he too had once been a Christian, which is why it was so easy for him to understand from where I’d been coming in my arguments.

So he lends me Dr Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. I read the first few pages and was told that if I applied a critical mind to his book that I should undoubtedly become an atheist. This idea frightened me to almost no end. I simply wasn’t ready to give up this ideology I’d been harboring for so long in my life. It just sat in a corner for a few months collecting dust. I finally mentally muscled up and gave it a shot. I didn’t keep a Bible of any kind near-by, although as it so happened it would have been a good idea because Dawkins referred to the Bible quite a bit in refutation. Well needless to say I did finally begin reading it. I can tell you I didn’t get what I was expecting. I got, instead, loads and loads of very logical arguments and presentations of what is logically and reasonably and irreducibly wrong with the Bible and religion all together.

So I finally started referring to myself as an agnostic. I still wasn’t ready to quite give up on the probability of there being this almighty heavenly deity – I wasn’t far either (wink). Well I began noticing lots of other things in my social perception start to change also. Many of the friends I’d made as a Christian were suddenly not so friendly. They weren’t chastising, yet, but they certainly weren’t as accepting of me as the once had been. I wouldn’t learn for a few years the more accurate definition of acceptance. I still had a very vague notion of what that term meant.

One such occasion where a friend didn’t quite wish to maintain that relationship I was asked out to a coffee shop to meet up with a mutual friend of Warren’s and mine. Peter. This fellow was almost sickly devout. Dare I say that sports are the only other subject he has any interest in besides his own beliefs. I explained to him that I just wasn’t so strong in my faith any more. I was no longer convinced that Christ was the only way for me. I was truly hoping for him to be understanding and maybe offer some compassionate insight that Dawkins simply couldn’t see. Boy, was I wrong. Peter tried to use a metaphor, he actually used it in the improper context:

Imagine if you’d been captured in war and had been forced to live life in the enemy’s prison camp. The only bit of comfort you’re offered is a little teddy bear that you may keep on you at all times. You have to spend your days confined to a very small cell with just enough room to stand up straight and lie down straight. But a man comes along and offers you a way out. All you have to do is say yes. You tell the man the teddy bear is your comfort and that you dont need to be freed as long as you have teddy.

Well another friend of mine, JP who is himself also a secularist explained that Peter’s metaphor was used falsely in reverse. Actually the teddy bear is allegorical of Christ. That explanation actually made the argument far more sound and reasonable. More over Peter decides to end our meet up by calling me a failure and saying that no matter what accomplishments I attain in life that without Christ I’m nothing and a failure. Wow! Thanks. If anyone ever gave me a great reason to dislike them that would do it. So I haven’t spoken to him much since, as you can imagine.

Well time went on and I began growing as an atheist. One of the first things I had to learn with my new ideology was how to bring morality into it. I wasn’t sure how to reconcile morale and ethics with godlessness. To me God equaled ethics and goodness. Of course I was only a new testament Christian. Like most I had only read about the works of JC and his sermon on the mount routine.

I recall I asked Hunter once, “If there is no god why be good?” He gave me a great answer, “Self preservation.” Be good if for no other reason than because of the consequences reaped for being bad. I’ve come to term it as Darwinian selfishness. I shall commit another blog entry to morality as existing beyond the confines of any god(s)/goddess(es). Dawkins accurately terms it as relative morality.

Well so thats my story of how I came into atheism or secularism.

To quote the late, but colorful Douglas Adams, “Always know where your towel is.”

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