Archive for November, 2012

Why I am not an atheist

Jk u guize. Technically I still am an atheist. I don’t believe in any supernatural beings, homeopathy, telepathy, alien conspiracy theories, etc. When I say I am not an atheist I mean that I no longer identify as a member of the atheist movement.

I often wonder if people wonder “whatever happened to that blogger girl who was gonna change the world and make it a more rational place?” For quite some time I’ve even anticipated somebody asking me why I quietly just stopped one day without a word (insert T. S. Eliot reference). I never check my old e-mail accounts but to my knowledge no one has ever tried to ask me why.

Still, in anticipation I’ve often contemplated the answer I would give and I think the best way to sum that answer up would be this: I just grew out of it.

It’s not intellectually useless to contemplate the existence of a god, or to really think about how we know what is true really is true. Back in the day it was delightful fun to be introduced to scientific concepts like natural selection and ideas like moral relativism and I certainly grew from being a part of a community of learners who also loved to share that learning.

Simply put, however, I now find such a narrow focus on the topics I used to write about almost absurd. You can only repeat the same arguments so many times. There are only so many varieties of pseudoscience you can poke holes in.¬†Once I knew all these arguments about why there probably is no god so well I… still needed new stuff to learn so I lost interest.

That’s not the sole reason either. I confess to some embarrassment when I look back on how, well, mean I could sometimes be about the gamut of things that annoyed me and became the subject of my rants, crucially how mean I could sometimes be toward the people who believed them. With age I began to recognize that many atheist activists were also just plain mean and were more concerned with making fun of the bullshit people believed in than real education. Worse, I simultaneously learned to recognize that cruel and unproductive tendency within myself. Silently watching how we treated each other during the elevatorgate debacle only reinforced my disinterest in becoming involved in atheism again (generally I sympathize more with the social justice-y Atheism+ thing and I draw a parallel between my personal outgrowth with atheism and the needs the + seeks to fill).

On the bright side, I feel like the experience of being around us atheists sharing the burdensome trait of being poor communicators has helped me learn how to be a more effective communicator, though I am now humbly aware of just how much further I need to improve my communication skills.

In fact, I err more towards diplomacy now than I like to admit and I think I can learn a thing or two from that fiery adolescent I used to be who would call out anyone’s bullshit and not give a fuck how she did it. Too often these days I keep my mouth shut in the interest of getting along with friends who have different views from me, and though I’ve certainly come to appreciate the value of getting past silly differences like beliefs and liking people for who they really are, I still believe there is an objective harm from some beliefs (though not as much moderate religion, but things like the anti-vax movement are plainly fucked up) which I don’t call out often enough. I just think sometimes I went about things in a bit of a misguided way…

But hey, I was just a kid, though people on the internet for some reason always found that remarkable.

Also, you guys thought I was a good writer? Gosh, -nervous laugh- I’m flattered, but looking back on my writing, seeing all the errors and passive voice, I’m a bit bewildered that people used to think that about me.

If anyone’s interested, some things are still the same. I’m majoring in biology and I tentatively ¬†plan to study paleontology (evolution is cool!). I still have an inkling of ambition to become the next Carl Sagan/Neil DeGrasse Tyson/Richard Dawkins/Mrs. Frizzle. The unofficial mission statement of my new college (New College) is “that the natural state of the human spirit is ecstatic wonder, that we should never settle for less!”.

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