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12:15 pm - Sun 8.23.20

Atheist Church (AKA "My Non-Religious Journey")

Watching "Talk Heathen", an Atheist Call-In show from the Atheist Community of Austin. Now that I'm not working, it's become part of my Sunday morning routine.

(Or in other words, "Atheist Sunday School", as Jane and I like to call it. Which I guess would make its "sister show" - aka "The Atheist Experience" - which comes on at 2:30, "Atheist Church".)

Joking about attending "Atheist Church" sometimes makes me think about when I was younger and attended...regular church.

During my time with the Pupo family, at least early on, I went to "regular church" three times a week - Sunday mornings Sunday nights, and Wednesday evening prayer services - and was a Christian for...well, I don't really know how long, exactly, but I'm guessing it was a good ten or fifteen years from being "saved" to fully "de-converting".

(Apparently, for at least some period of time with Mrs. DeHaven - my first foster mother - I also attended church regularly. But I don't remember a minute of it.)

When Omar Pupo Sr. became interested in Ham radio (And started going to weekend radio swap meets, or "Hamfests", often with some of us kids in tow to help out) my church attendance fell off pretty radically...though I remember the day I ran away/got kicked out was a Sunday and we were all getting ready for church)

After the Pupos, that was pretty much it for me and organized religion (Though I think Beth II and I tried the Unitarian Church briefly, which barely counts).

I bring all this up because I've wondered why I watch these shows - I don't really need to "learn" how to be an Atheist at this point or have my beliefs "shored up" somehow (Though I really wish these shows had been around when I was deconverting, pretty much on my own) - and I think the answer might be, in part, because, long after a belief in God died, the urge to"gather" with like-minded people remained (And with these two shows on the Internet, it's the best of both worlds - I get to feel like I'm "gathering with like-minded people" while hanging out at home in my underwear).

And I could imagine, in an alternate universe, being Matt Dillahunty (Host of "The Atheist Experience" and current President of the Atheist Community of Austin) - Hosting a call-in show like "The Atheist Experience", lecturing and doing debates around the world, etc (Though it would have to be in an "alternate universe" because, in this one, I haven't honed my intellect and public speaking/debating skills the way Dillahunty has).

(Kinda feel like I'm "bogging down" here - There's more interesting things to say on the subject but I'm struggling to "get there"...)

I've referred to "de-converting" and it makes it sound like a choice. like I considered all the pros and cons of Christianity and eventually decided against it.

But that's not really how it went.

I just think as I got older and smarter and more thoughtful, Christianity seemed less and less satisfying as an explanation for...well, anything really.

It just didn't make sense - Why would a loving God put Adam and Eve in a garden, then tempt them with a "test" he knew they'd fail? Why "original sin"? Why heaven and hell? Why the need for all the blood and sacrifice? Why was it my fault that I was a sinner, instead of the all-powerful God that created me? Why were we given minds to reason with - and doubt with - if we were supposed to just accept God on faith?

And more personal questions - Where was God when I was being neglected by my mother? When I was taken from Mrs. DeHaven? When I was going from home to home? When I was being sexually/physically/verbally abused by Mr. Pupo? When I felt ugly and alone and unloved?

Where was he? How come he wouldn't show himself, or talk to me, no matter how much I asked? No matter how hard I tried to believe the unbelievable? He showed up in the Bible all the time.

The questions kept coming, but the answers never did.

I don't remember ever deriving a lot of comfort from Christianity, though I feel like I must have now and again. If nothing else, there must have been some feeling of "belonging" at some point (Though eventually that feeling of "belonging" turned into a feeling that I was "pretending" I belonged).

I did like the singing.

And I'll always be grateful that it was my "gateway" to acting (I was "performing" in church long before my first play in high school).

But all-in-all, Christianity didn't do me any favors. With my background, I was the last child in the world who needed to be told he was inherently bad by God himself (I think I grabbed onto the inherent guilt of Christianity without ever really feeling the "love". Which to my way-of-thinking these days, makes sense - How do you square a "loving God" with the angry God who's gonna burn you in Hell forever if you don't do what he says?).

So I went from belief (Or at least wanting to believe) to struggling with doubt (Accompanied by a fear of Hell that went on for years), to eventually realizing it was all bullshit (And more recently, to realizing it would be pretty horrible if it were true).

I have my struggles, to be sure, but I think I feel better now when I believe I'm only "on the hook" to other people (and to myself) when I do wrong and am not failing an all-powerful God.

And that, when I die, I'm not going to burn in Hell for the sin of "Failing to believe on insufficient evidence" (As Hitchens would say),

This seems a good note to end on - I don't remember if it's Ricky Gervais or John Cleese or someone else, but this quote both amuses and comforts me (Well, it's gonna be more of a "paraphrase" than a "quote" since I'm not sure I've got it 100% correct);

"Being dead isn't a problem for the dead person, because they don't know they're dead. It's only upsetting for other people. Same for being stupid".

Till next time...



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