This is a guest post from Angela Russell. Angela Russell is a stay-at-home mom to two girls ages 3 and 4. She holds graduate degrees in School Psychology and Elementary Education but writes primarily as a fellow parent and as someone who thinks that if we can decrease childhood indoctrination we can decrease the negative forces of religion and focus on the positive forces of humanism.
I grew up in a very loving, very Catholic Christian family. After 31 years of trying very hard to be a true-believing Christian, I finally admitted to myself that I was an atheist in April 2014. Nearly all of my family and friends identify as Christians. When I accepted my atheism and in the months that followed, so much changed regarding how I viewed reality. In many ways, I now view reality so differently than I did as a Christian. And as I continue my relationships with you my dear Christian friends whom I love so much, I am struck by how much feeling different from you hurts. I realize that I’m generalizing when I run through some of the differences but here goes anyway…
I believe that the Christian narrative is a man-made myth as are all other religious narratives. You believe that the Christian narrative is The Truth, spoken by God through the prophets, and it is central to your life.
I haven’t yet seen any evidence to lead me to a belief in God. You see evidence of the existence and workings of God everywhere.
I believe that prayer to and worship of God do not serve their intended purposes. You see them as central to your life as well as meaningful, effective, useful, and necessary.
I believe that there is no such thing as sinfulness. You believe that we are born with original sin that only Jesus can wash away and that we continually sin throughout our lives and that we need Jesus to overcome this sinfulness as well.
I see suffering and unfortunate circumstances and events as results of bad luck in the unfeeling workings of the natural world. You see them as part of a plan or as punishment or simply mysteries that cannot be understood.
I see goodness and fortunate circumstances and events as results of the goodness and efforts of humanity and simple good luck in the flux of the natural world. You see them as blessings directly and indirectly bestowed by God.
I see this life as our only life and our only chance to celebrate our love for each other. You see it as the step leading to our ultimate existence in eternal life.
I see faith as an unreliable way of coming to believe things that are true. You see faith as a virtue.
I see childhood indoctrination as heartbreaking and the passing on of untruths that could be potentially harmful and dangerous. You see childhood indoctrination as bringing your child to your Lord and Savior and the promise of eternal life in heaven.
Dear friends I do not write this to make you feel bad about what you believe or how you live your lives. I simply write it to both express the sadness that I feel viewing reality so differently from you whom I love so much and to validate the sadness that you may also feel viewing reality so differently from me whom you love so much. Of course, I love you beyond our differences. But I long for the time in which our views were not so different.
But alas, even more than I don’t like feeling different from you, I don’t like feeling dishonest. And that’s how I felt when I was still trying so hard to be a true-believing Christian. I couldn’t believe despite my efforts. So I feel I am at an impasse. All I can do is express to you that I know the differences hurt both of us. We both worry about offending each other or making each other uncomfortable or damaging our relationship by talking about my non-belief or your belief. Thank you for continuing to love me and being my friend despite our differences. For that, I am truly most grateful.
This was a guest post from Angela Russell. Angela Russell is a stay-at-home mom to two girls ages 3 and 4. She holds graduate degrees in School Psychology and Elementary Education but writes primarily as a fellow parent and as someone who thinks that if we can decrease childhood indoctrination we can decrease the negative forces of religion and focus on the positive forces of humanism. If you would like to be a guest blogger on godlessmom.com, please get in touch.