10:30 AM - Sun 5.02.21
When I was young, many years ago, Sundays meant "church" (I'd always thought my religious life had started with the Pupo family. But reading my case file as an adult, I learned I'd also attended Sunday school, at least for a time, when I lived with Mrs. DeHaven, though I have no memory of it whatsoever. And if there was church in between Mrs. DeHaven and the Pupos, I don't remember that either - maybe because what I'd always thought was a two-year odyssey from one long-term home to the other was actually only nine months).
With the Pupos, I attended church three times a week - Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday evenings - for years (At some point, early on in my time with them, I was "saved" - Depending on your theology, that might mean I'm still saved, but in my view, that seems silly...in more ways than one).
While I was with the Pupos, church attendance started falling off when Omar Pupo, the paterfamilias, became interested in amateur radio (Or "Ham Radio", as it was called then) - Eventually, I was more likely to be at a "Hamfest" (i.e. a ham radio equipment swap meet) on Sunday morning than to be in church.
(While most times church was boring as hell, hamfests weren't much better. A given table might be selling comic books - or on one glorious occasion, old copies of Playboy - on the side, but mostly it was all about radio/electronic equipment I couldn't have given two shits about.)
I can't be sure that was the start of my path out of religion...but I certainly think it helped. Religious indoctrination requires a lot of social reinforcement, so when that started to wane, the questions I had, the doubts I couldn't share with anyone, likely flowered.
When I left the Pupo family - living with the Zicks for the last year of high school - I was done with church (The Zicks were Catholic).
But even if I had questions and doubts, even if my church attendance had fallen off, then stopped altogether, I'd been pretty powerfully indoctrinated - For years, I moved through the world basically believing in a God I wasn't "obeying" (I was, basically, "mad at God", a charge Christians often level at Atheists).
I was deeply afraid of dying and "going to Hell". But on the flip side, my questions and doubts just grew stronger and stronger over time - The story I'd been taught, the God who had been proposed to me, just didn't make a lot of sense. It made less and less sense the more and more I thought about it.
And maybe more to the point, all the praying I'd done as a Christian, all the questions I had, all the doubts, all the fear of burning in Hell?
I never heard a word from "God" about any of it.
Eventually, I began to think of myself as Agnostic. My big answer to "The God Question" was "I don't know".
It seemed "intellectually honest" at the time - the early 80s? - because the standard definition of "Atheist" then was "A person who believes there is no God".
And even with my questions and doubts unanswered - if anything, just growing stronger over time - I still couldn't say, with certainty, that there was no God.
But over the past number of years, the definition of "Atheism" - at least the common usage - has changed to "A lack of belief in gods" (I've also heard this distinction made - "Hard Atheism" is the definitive belief there are no gods, while "Soft Atheism" is more what "Agnostic" used to be. But both groups are "atheist", because whether you "doubt" the existence of a god or whether you profess to "know" there's no god, you don't believe in a god).
So I'm an Atheist.
I'd say at this point I'm a "Hard Atheist" on the question of Yahweh - He's clearly a man-made creation, as is the Bible that professes to be "his word" (And if he somehow does turn out to be real, I wouldn't worship him anyway, because, as depicted in the Bible, he's basically an all-powerful psychopath) - and a "Soft Atheist" when it comes to other "god concepts" I've been exposed to.
I don't think about it much, but I guess I'd define myself as a Secular Humanist at this point. - I think we're probably it so we have to figure our shit out on our own.
I don't believe in a soul.
I think our "minds" are an "emergent property" of our brains.
I think when we die, that's probably all there is.
And now, since I no longer work on Sundays, instead of going to Church, I watch Atheist call-in programs on YouTube.
And I no longer worry about burning in Hell.
(Till next time...)