The first few weeks of Atheism

Having accepted that my Christianity was unsalvageable and that I was on the road to Atheism (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/suddenly-i-realised-that-atheism-was-the-only-choice/) I found myself going through all sorts of mental hoops.

I have already mentioned (in the post linked to above) how my moral compass fluttered a bit while I accepted that my morality was part of me and not as a result of the Christian Holy Spirit dwelling within me. I challenged my morals in various thought experiments to see what I thought I was capable of. It was an odd time while I moved from my existing position to theoretically allowing myself to do anything I wished and back again.

After a couple of weeks of this, I decided firmly that how I was already was how I liked myself and so nothing was going to change there. It didn’t matter if the morals I abided by were truly me or if some I had adopted as a result of years of Christian indoctrination. Trying to separate one from the other would be a pointless task anyway.

Unexpected Relief

This moral settling process took a few weeks and during that time I also experienced an odd sense of relief.

Having made the decision that there was no god after all, I wasn’t expecting there to be much of a change within me and I certainly didn’t expect there to be a deep response within me; in my soul so to speak. I was going to describe the change as emotional, but that would be selling it short, it was more than that.

The sense of relief was unexpected and took me by surprise and so it would be a while before I recognised it for what it was. Identifying what that relief was from would be harder still.

Was it relief from an oppressive religion of the type I have read about on many atheist blogs? Not really, I never felt my Christianity was oppressive and I don’t think I’d describe it as such now.

Was it relief from a binding set of rules and the fear of failing the impossible standards that are set? Not really, I never consciously felt that fear and still I object to that description of Christianity because its frankly not my experience of it.

Was it relief from the rituals associated with any form of Christianity? A little bit, yes.

Was it relief that enabled me to look at the natural world and be able to appreciate its beauty fully for the first time and be able to acknowledge it with a “Wow! That is the result of random chance through Evolution and there is no designer involved”. A bit more of that yes. In fact, I am now finding myself finding greater wonder in nature than I did as a Christian. A revelation has still surprises me today when I think about it.

If I thought for longer I could no doubt increase the list of possible candidates for the source of that relief. The truth is that its not from one source, but rather several different sources. Abandoning my Christian faith has meant a lot of changes in the reasons of why things are important to me and the relief I experienced is the result of the change of each of those.

Besides a sense of relief there is also a feeling of liberation.

Again, I can’t explain why there is a liberated feeling. Liberation implies freedom from shackles, either physical or metaphorical. My Christian life has been one of much proclamation of liberation from the shackles of sin and yet I find myself feeling liberated having ditched my Christianity.

I’m still not clear on all the reasons for these feelings. All I can say with certainly is that they were not expected.

I have decided not to dwell on the puzzle of the source and instead enjoy the result.

Suddenly I realised that Atheism was the Only Choice

The side effect of my increased understanding of the scientific method and the impossibility of a literal creation was that more and more of what I had accepted in The Bible was rejected as false.

I can’t remember exactly when it was but over a short period of time I realised that rejection of formerly held Biblical truths could only result on one thing, total rejection of The Bible. I did consider for a while if I could hold my acceptance of Evolution along with the belief in a personal God. The problem that caused me was that it didn’t fix the fact that key events in the Old Testament didn’t happen and if certain key events in the Old Testament didn’t happen, then the New Testament was equally in doubt and therefore Christianity as a whole had little to defend it.

It didn’t take much for me to realise that the end result of the road I was on was the abandonment of my Christian faith. I could not embrace my new scientific understanding and my enthusiasm for more and keep a Christian faith. It simply wasn’t going to happen for me, there were too many questions that resulted in The Bible being wrong or questionable.

So rather than spend years battling with my faith, I decided to shortcut the torment and make a conscious decision that Christianity was bunk and go from there.

While it was an easy logical conclusion to make, there were many things that I needed to consider. How do I tell those I love? Especially my Wife! How will this affect my morals? What do I do about going to Church? How will this affect my views on death? This last one was key as at this time my mother was very ill with Pancreatic Cancer (more on this in another post that will come).

Those first weeks Post Atheism were a bit weird.

It was a few years ago now so I don’t recall those weeks especially clearly, but there are a few things that still stand out for me.

The first one is that I questioned my morals and their source. I hadn’t realised it until then, but my mind-set wad been very heavily engrained with the idea that morals and goodness come from the Holy Spirit and I was good because I was a Christian. Abandoning that must then surely mean the abandonment of my morals. I found myself asking questions about what was now acceptable, could I lie more readily? Steal from work? Cheat on my wife? You know, the sort of things those horrid godless people do all the time!

Well, it turns out that I was still just as unhappy with the idea of any of those things as I was before. So there would be no sin binge, as it were.

Tell No One

At this time I resolved that my state of faith would be a secret until I could work out what to do with the news. My biggest fear was how my wife would react, I knew that if it had been the other way round I’d have likely been devastated and I didn’t want to do that to her. This meant that I also would not tall anyone else because I didn’t feel it would be right to tell anyone else when she didn’t know.

Later I would seriously consider confiding in a close friend first and there were a couple of occasions when that very nearly happened. It just never seemed to be the right place or the right time.

What I did start to do was expand my reading of blogs. I looked for and found several blogs of people who had also come out of Christianity. This gave me a form of release as I could read now read (and participate if required) about similar experiences and not feel alone and unable to express my concerns and frustrations.