October 21, 2008

Memed: Becoming An Atheist

NYC - Greenwich Village: The Bitter EndImage by wallyg via FlickrThe Atheist Jew tagged me with a recent blog meme going around: Can You Remember The Day That You Officially Became An Atheist? At first glance, I thought it seemed interesting and decided to play. You can find my responses to the various questions below. Having answered them, I am now of the opinion that this meme probably needs to be put to bed, so I not going to tag anybody else with it. The questions just don't make sense and convey a lack of understanding about what atheism is and how it is experienced.

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

Well, like all other humans throughout the course of history, I was born an atheist. However, like many unfortunates, I was indoctrinated into Christianity and became...(gasp)...deluded. So when did I actually begin to identify as an atheist? I have to assume that this is the question since there is nothing "official" about becoming an atheist.

I cannot recall anything close to the exact date. I believe I would have been approximately 16 at the time. I'd been struggling for a couple years before this point with the growing realization that I didn't believe in gods, but reading the Christian bible and Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects helped me realize that religion was worse than implausible and provided me with a name for what I would slowly begin to embrace.

Do you remember the day you officially became an agnostic?

I had a brief period of agnosticism (as the word is often used) in between Christianity and atheism. But really, this was just me being confused. Obviously, nothing about it was official in any way, shape, or form. It emerged very gradually, starting at about age 14 and turning into atheism a couple years later.

For reasons I have previously articulated, I think that agnosticism is nothing more than a socially acceptable name for atheism based on a misunderstanding of what atheism means. That is, an agnostic is an atheist who does not like the connotations "atheist" has come to carry.

How about the last time you spoke or prayed to God with actual thought that someone was listening?

This is truly a guess, but I'd say no later than age 13.

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

Ah, it looks like a Christian must have started this meme! How can anger toward something that doesn't exist cause one to believe that it doesn't exist? Talk about reductio ad absurdum! Anger toward religion or various fictional entities had nothing to do with it. Not even anger toward believers was initially a factor. This wouldn't be on my radar for at least a few years.

Were you agnostic towards ghosts, even after you became an atheist?

No, I continued to believe in ghosts for roughly a year after I begin to identify as an atheist. Currently, my lack of belief in ghosts has nothing whatsoever to do with atheism. It is about science and about my understanding of the human brain.

Do you want to be wrong?

Wrong about what exactly? Do I wish that something like the god described in the Christian bible existed? Absolutely not! What a vile creature these early Christians conjured up to scare their children!

I'd like to be wrong about ghosts. I wish that ghosts existed. How cool would it be to be able to haunt people in some sort of afterlife? But no, I do not seriously entertain thoughts of wanting to be wrong about any of this supernatural nonsense.

Since I don't find this particular meme worth propagating, I'm not going to tag anybody. If you want to answer these questions for yourself, feel free to do so.

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