Monday, December 19, 2011

Fear and Arrogance

Since I started writing in this blog, I don't believe I've posted anything about my loss of faith. I could be mistaken, but I don't think I have. I just got through reading a quote the inimitable Murr posted on his blog, The Lectern. It's a quote from W. E. H. Lecky on the religious impulse, and is a very eloquent way of describing why people choose to believe. It made me decide it was time to say a few words about my falling out with god.

I could probably go on and on about it, but I won't. I am going to focus on how it has affected me, and how I'm feeling now, right this very instant. And maybe I'll find some solace in baring my nonexistent soul.

I misplaced my faith over 20 years ago. Prior to that, I was a good little catholic boy, and was comforted in knowing that no matter how bad life might become, I had an eternal afterlife in paradise to look forward to (and there was no doubt I would end up in the preferred place, as every fiber in my body was tuned to doing what god expected. I even seriously considered becoming a priest--but more on that another time, perhaps.)

But then I went to college, and started learning about reality. I listened to lectures on biology and evolution, and began thinking and reasoning things out for myself. My inquisitive mind led me to books about all the different religions in the world (past and present) and one of the many things I discovered was how christianity borrowed stole much of its material from Mithraism. And one day everything clicked into place, and I realized there was no god.

My newfound atheism left me feeling smug and superior to all the fools who still believed in all this nonsense. Like when you figured out it was really your dad dressing up as Santa, and that the whole thing was just made up. And how you looked at the younger kids who were still naive enough to believe. Foolish, little children, you would say. But now I know the truth. I have taken one step closer to becoming an adult.

Many years have passed since then and although my wife tells me that even on my best days, I'm still an insufferable snob, I really no longer feel that way about anyone who believes.

What do I feel? Most days, I would find it quaint and amusing that someone could still believe in all that. But lately, something else has crept in: envy. Because they have something I've lost: a sense of security.

I fear the Nothingness. Once I die I will cease to exist. I know this to be true. My thoughts are simply generated by my brain; nothing more, nothing less. Once my neurons cease to fire, I will be no more. I won't go to heaven because there is no heaven. I won't see my parents again, because they no longer exist. And I will never see my wife and child ever again. I love my daughter more than life itself, and the thought of never seeing her again...well, words can't describe how it makes me feel.

But to make matters worse, my arrogance won't let me reconcile the fact that once I die, the universe will continue on without me. All my thoughts, emotions, my consciousness, ME, I cannot end! Never mind the billions of years the universe got along fine without me. Now that I'm here, it cannot possibly continue on in my absence. I even have trouble sleeping most nights, because to sleep, it is like a mini-death, a giving-up of oneself to the void. And I dread that.

I've been floundering in this meaningless, uncaring ocean ever since I ceased to believe. If there were just a shred of evidence, a tiny speck of something, anything I could grasp onto, and believe once again as I had in my youth, you bet I'd latch onto that and never let go.

But I know it's not going to happen. My eyes were opened, and I can never close them again.


  1. I read that post of Murr's last night, and I almost, facetiously, wished him a Merry Christmas.

    I'm a deist myself. Or, if you prefer: an absurdeist. I "lasted" a little longer than you, until age 31. It's a fascinating topic, losing one's faith, and what you have to say is quite relatable and compelling. I wonder if guys like you and me ever really had faith to begin with?

  2. Oh, BB, my friend. I'm largely in agreement with you, though not quite as forlorn. With more time, I would love to share experiences/thoughts around this. An absurdeist, Freeque? Love it! I have a friend who claims to be a "Peter Pantheist." I think I could own that one, too. Presumptuously, might I recommend watching "Fabric of the Cosmos" on the NOVA website. It sounds as though you need some wonder and awe in your life and I think that might do the trick. Viewing it will at the very least give you much to think about.

    But do I think this is it? Yeah, I suppose it is.

    I'm taking a break from LT until at least next month. Off Friday to visit the folks in Texas. Hug your family, my online friend, and have a Happy New Year.

  3. Thanks Rique and Tea! This brief, absurd life would seem briefer and absurder without good friends like you!