“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but unwilling? Then he is malevolent. Is he able and willing? Then whence comes evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” –Epicurus
My own personal journey toward atheism was a long and painful one. It took years for me to accept what Reason, evidence, and Logic were telling me.
In my book Wednesday’s Child, and in my upcoming second edition (which may or may not be re-published under the same name), and in my personal journals, I spend a lot of time railing against religion, and especially Christianity, for having robbed me of so much of Life, from the age of fourteen to about my thirty-ninth year. And it is, of course, all true. However, there are things I did not talk about.
I sometimes miss the fantasy of having a friend, continuously at my side, helping me to get through each day. Especially at this time of my life when I am alone, and likely to remain so through to the end. And I miss the tribal camaraderie I once had with co-religionists. I miss many genuinely good and kind people with whom I had made friends over the years.
Although it was my relationship with R. that began my journey toward Reason, I can now understand a little better how she must have felt when cut off from her community, and why she was so desperate to return to it. –I say “although,” and “now;” in fact, I could always appreciate it. But I never really thought much about it. I was more upset that R. was trying so hard to re-join the group that had abused and rejected her. She eventually did re-join, of course, so perhaps my musings are moot.
My friend R. used to say that my break from theism was not quite an awakening, but rather as an affair gone wrong, something that put me in the role of jilted lover. I was upset that my beloved had the heartless gall to not exist. I spent a long time being as willing and ready to argue against the idea of God as I used to be to argue on his behalf.
Since those early days of atheism, I have come to realize that much of theism as I experienced it, is a tribal loyalty, often committed to without a lot of thought. Furthermore, if my own “faithlessness” was anything to go by, people will not be argued or reasoned out of their faith. Holding faith is never an intellectual exercise. Easier to let it alone, so long as no one’s being hurt.
I have no desire to return to having religious beliefs, although I do find comfort in many of the ritual of my childhood. But I would rather face the cosmos as it is, rather than as I might wish it to be. Cold sobriety might not be so joyful, but it beats being blackout drunk.