I’m Not An Atheist

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Many people jump to the conclusion that I am an atheist because I am not religious anymore and can be very critical of organized religion. However, I am not an atheist. I do often listen to atheist podcasts and read atheist books, but I also sometimes listen to and read material from spiritual or religious sources (even the crazy ones, although I listen to them more for amusement). I find myself overall agreeing more with secular thought, but I do feel that differing points of view are essential for having a realistic, down-to-earth view of life.

If I had to choose a label for myself spiritually, it would be agnostic. I’m not really sure what the hell is going on. I’m not a deist, because I’m not positive that there is a greater being or consciousness, although I hope there is to an extent. I don’t believe in the specific gods of any earthly religions, but I wouldn’t mind if there were some wiser (and hopefully caring) beings, or at least some sort of a meaning to all that is.

Because of the state of the world and the suffering, abuse, and slaughter of the innocent, I find it hard to believe in an “all good” being in power, unless that being gave us a choice about being here and what we would face. If earth were some kind of “school” where we choose the lessons we want to learn or the experiences we want to have, then I could see how the powers that be could still be moral and have values. Otherwise, their absence and inaction in the face of so much injustice and pain speaks volumes.

I do not believe in “original sin”. I do not believe in a God who must spill innocent blood in order to be able to forgive someone else for doing something wrong (seriously, how is that even ok???) I do not believe in a being that has such a huge ego all they want is to be worshiped for all eternity (too Donald Trumpish for my taste). I do not believe that there is necessarily an afterlife or heaven/hell, but if there is I would not be shocked or upset unless there was some kind of tyrant running things. If there is some sort of being in charge of it all, I simply hope that they are just and kind, but not cruel or punitive.

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Belief in Hell Dies Hard

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Recently I read an excellent poetry book entitled “Shit House Rat“, written by Daniel Crocker (a fellow bipolar writer). The poetry in this collection is brutally honest, gritty, and humorous, and even engages some of our favorite characters from Sesame Street in a way that is unique and really outlines the harsh reality of adult life “on the street” .

One poem that especially triggered some thought on my part is one called “A Dream of Siblings”, in which the poet has a dream about his deceased brother being trapped in a sort of hell. Like me, the author no longer believes in a literal hell, at least not of the Christian theological kind, but as the following lines from the poem show, he still struggles to let go of that old belief in a fiery pit of torture:

“Even though I gave up
believing in this shit
years ago, I still wonder

Maybe I never gave up believing

Maybe, once having faith, no one
ever gives up believing

Even if the things we believe in
are horrifying.”