I’ve seen Homorazzi attack some religious actions or people but I’ve also seen defenses of certain faiths and of faith in general. I haven’t seen any in defense of faithlessness so I thought I’d try. I’ll start with my background.
I’m luckier than some in that my family’s faith and spirituality didn’t have much to say about my sexuality. However I wouldn’t call my experience positive. It was a stew of mismatched religious and metaphysical ideas; a broth of Buddhist Karma with chunks of Hindu reincarnation and spirit channeling seasoned with Unitarianism thickened with meditation and garnished with crystals. It might just stay funny but there was a darker side: apocalyptic prophecy.
I grew up with Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, Revelation and anything else that happened to be prophesying the apocalypse that week (now, of course, it’s the Mayan Calendar). I spent more time afraid of the end of the world when I was a kid than anyone should in their lifetime. I believed the end was near more thoroughly than any rapture-ready Christian only without the comforting notion that I’d be lifted into the sky before it all happened. All I had were stored beans and canned goods (how those were supposed to help with the end of the world was one among many inconsistencies I realized later on.) I have never been able to entirely rid myself of those fears and they’ll probably always be with me to some extent.
When I was a teenager, once these fears had let up a little, I started desperately searching for my own faith. I studied Buddhism, the Abrahamic Religions, New Age, I really looked into everything. It seemed like I’d finally found the faith for me when something would ruin it. I would find some conflict with my being gay or there would be some other form of stupidity or ignorance or hatred. To leap over these would have required mental gymnastics I was not and, I’m proud to say, still am not capable of. It felt like a battle and I felt defeated when I slipped into an agnosticism of necessity; I hadn’t given up on faith but I had no direction for it. It felt as if there must be something wrong with me. I believed in the stereotype of the depressive, nihilist Atheist and it seemed that those with some sort of “healthy” faith were the happy ones. Why couldn’t I make it work?
This might have been a good time for a revelation from the Almighty. There wasn’t one. Just a book: God is Not Great. It changed my life. It answered some of my questions but more importantly it showed me the way forward and gave me a way to answer my own questions. Faith and belief gave way to reason and skepticism (the genuine variety, not the conspiracy-theory-birther-truther-mooner sort.)
I’ve learned that there is no need for the mental gymnastics required to be a GLBT person of faith, or even a rational person of faith. Rational is enough. Here are some of the ways I’m happier: I fear death less now than I did before; there is no fear of hell or an unhappy rebirth and, as I was not unhappy before I was born, I don’t expect to be unhappy after my death. That doesn’t mean life is meanigless. On the contrary life means so much more when it’s all you have. And my ethics have not become relative; they are based on increasing the happiness and decreasing the suffering of conscious beings. My need to follow those ethics comes from evolution and that means more to me than doing them to get into heaven. I absolutely do believe in something greater than myself. The amazing, awesome grandeur of the natural world is far more inspiring than a god or a spirituality that seems all too human in all the wrong ways.
I wrote this for two reasons. To tell my story, the story of someone who lost and their religion and was glad to be rid of it and show that it’s not nearly as bad as R.E.M. makes it out to be but also, I hope, to rally those who are doubting or who are sure in their non-belief to express it. How to go about it? I think the answer actually comes from the Christian concept of “love the sinner, hate the sin.” We must respect the faithful while not respecting their faith. We live in a world of faithful people so we must understand that and not look down on the faithful while not giving faith itself a pass. We live in a world of 21st century weapons and we cannot afford to allow people their 5th century ideas. The most likely source for the apocalypse I’ve feared all my life is faith. “But I’m a moderate” you may say? That may be but what right do you have to tell an extremist they’re wrong when the bad stuff really is in the (Bible/Koran/Torah/Talmud/etc)? To paraphrase Sam Harris there would be nothing wrong with fundamentalism if there were nothing wrong with the fundamentals.
There are so many more arguments to be made. I refer you to “The Four Horsemen” of Dennett, Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens (not in that order) because they have made most of them.
This has been a little all over the place so let me try to sum it up: “Hi, I’m a happy well adjusted Atheist AND YOU CAN BE TO!!!”
Submitted By: Clayton
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