Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm so over this whole God thing

Disclaimer: read at your own risk. These are my thoughts and beliefs, and while it is not my intention to offend anyone, I realize my views may, nonetheless, offend. I can't make everyone happy, and hey, I don't generally write here to make anyone happy anyway - I write here to make ME happy. So if you don't want to read the ramblings and rantings of a professed atheist, you may want to skip this one.

I'm kind of struggling with this lately. Not my beliefs - I don't believe in God, period. What I'm struggling with, I think, is more a feeling of . . . anger? frustration . . . that lurks just below the surface of my consciousness.

We are surrounded by so many people who are praying for us - for Finn, for Michael, for our whole family in the face of everything we're dealing with. And really, that's fine. I mean, all the positive energy we can get is great. The caring and support behind it means a lot, regardless of anyone's theology. What I get frustrated about is when I hear stuff like "Praise God," whenever there is a positive turn of events. (Of course, the bad stuff, well, you know, God works in mysterious ways, and God's not responsible for all the bad shit in this world, that's all squarely on the shoulders of us lowly people . . . how is it that God comes out smelling like a rose no matter what?)

"Praise God" that Michael is responding well to treatment. (Really? I don't know . . . how about "Praise Science and the particular concoction of drugs that were developed to kill off the cancer?" And by the "Praise God" logic, wasn't it God who gave him cancer in the first place?)

Apparently, God gave us Finnian to teach us some lessons we were missing out on, and also because he's an "angel," closer to God than "regular" babies, and we've been deemed "special" parents ("special babies go to special parents") deserving of this extra-wonderful gift. Ummm, I think that when the sperm fertilized the egg, something funky happened with the dividing of chromosomes. Shit happens. That's it.

People have prayed for God to heal the hole in Finnian's heart. But don't they believe that God put the hole there in the first place?

People have asked me, when told that Finn has Down syndrome, if I have the Lord in my life. Huh? I truly don't understand what this has to do with anything. If I have the Lord, do they think that will make Finn's Ds go away? Or do they just think that it would be impossible to deal with such awful tragedy without the help of the Lord? (It does seem that people vascillate between considering it a great gift we've been given, or an awful tragedy.)

I've been told flat out that it takes more than doctors to make Michael/Finn well (I've been told this with regard to each of them), that it also takes prayer. Hmmm.

I don't mean to ridicule anyone's religious beliefs, although it all baffles me. It baffles me how intelligent adults, who otherwise reside in a place of logic and reason, believe that there is some benevolent, magic, invisible person who lives in the sky and grants or denies wishes at will. I don't get it, at all.

And here's the thing: I believed my whole life - or at least I tried to. I suspect that there are people who know me who think that I've become an atheist - turned my back on God! - because of all the bad shit that's happened in my life. Terrible childhood. Abusive first marriage. Deaths of loved ones. Etcetera, etcetera. But folks, if that's what you think, you've got it all wrong. Through all that stuff, through most of my life, I did believe (or tried to) in God, in some higher power. And I admit that it's comforting to believe that there is something out there that's bigger than we are, something watching out for us. But in the last few years I just started realizing that my heart never was in those beliefs I thought I was supposed to have, and I finally just got to a point - actually when I was pregnant with Finn, I think - when I was ready to admit that I really didn't believe in any of that stuff. I don't believe there's a God. I don't believe there's an afterlife. I think it's all just sort of like folk tales that started thousands of years ago and have been passed down, and people embrace these notions because it makes them feel better about life and death and everything else.

But hey, whatever floats your boat and gets you through the day. I'm not trying to convert anyone (wouldn't that be offensive?!) I respect that my (non-)beliefs are really in the minority. And I'm cool with that. I do wish, however, that I felt as free as the "believers" do to openly discuss my view of these things without fear of offending or alienating. It doesn't seem to me that "believers" usually have any qualms about openly sharing their beliefs, and they often appear to assume that anyone they may be talking to must, of course, share the same views. I wish I had the cajones, when someone says to me, "Praise God!" to say with equal absence of reservation, "There is no God!" But instead, I usually just smile and don't say anything, because I don't want to offend or drive away.

I suspect that there are some misconceptions about me. Being an atheist does not mean that I am without morals. I have very high morals, actually. I have a very strong sense of right and wrong, and I try to live my life as a good example of how a human being should behave. Not out of some sense of fear of divine punishment, and not out of some hope for any divine reward. Just because. Just because being a good person is the right thing to do, that's all. Also, being atheist does not mean I am an empty, hollow person floundering and looking (or needing) something to fill the void and give me a sense of direction. In fact, when I finally admitted to myself that I don't believe in God, I was in a very good place in my life, and now, despite the challenges I and my family are facing, I am in a better place than I've ever been. I'm happy - truly happy. I have a wonderfully strong marriage and six great kids (even if they do drive me to the brink of insanity daily). I'm not bitter about the things that have happened in my life, or the challenges and tough times we are dealing with now (that is not to say that I don't rant and fall to pieces over it all once in a while). I love my life, flaws and all.

I don't think one's beliefs are so much a choice. You either feel it or you don't. And I just don't.


Jen said...

Yeah, I don't either.

When we got Evan's prenatal dx of the heart defect and DS, my mother-in-law said she'd pray for him. Then, every time she talked to us, she asked if any of it had "gone away". Like, if she just prayed hard enough, that gaping hole in his heart would close right up. And that pesky extra chromosome? Begone with you!

Yeah. I just don't get it.

Karly said...

I really don't like labels, but "God neutral" seems appropriate...It just doesn't matter to me if there is or is not a higher power. If some deity gave my kid Ds, then I really don't want to be part of worshiping said deity. (But really I have felt this way for many years and you can insert any number of rotten things in place of Ds). And the whole "special kids" thing? Seriously? Like all kids aren't special? Such a strange thing to say.

Whatever people choose to believe or not believe is really not something I spend a lot of time worrying about. Are we living our lives as kind people? That's my concern and my goal.

The Beers Family said...

WOW - nicely said!

I too have kept my mouth shut around some of my friends and was utterly heartbroken by one of them who is religious to an extreme - basically saying that the embryos that we did not implant and were not healthy enough to freeze - were in pergatory because they were never baptized and cleared of "original sin". WHAT! When she said that to me I was a hormonal pregnant woman who spent 2 years battling infertility and unfortunately my response was to take it to heart and cry. Ugh.

I was raised in the Catholic church and was only able to leave it after my confirmation at 16 so the things I had been taught still float around in my head. But as a scientist I cannot mesh what I know with God.

I agree that we should be good people for the sake of being good citizens of the world with a general code of conduct - not because we are afraid of not going to heaven if we dont! Why should fear drive proper behavior?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you! It is not anyones right or freedom to try and save or pray for someone else. Especially, gosh darnit if they don't believe in God. People don't pray to hurt or offend others, it's a nice way of saying "I'm thinkin of ya-hoping it all works out okay." We all have our own personal way of coping with life. Some pray, some hike, some eat chocolate. Can you imagine someone cursing you? It's the same thing just a dark way of saying I'm thinkin of you and hoping for the worst. I say lets all just get along and wish each other well. Don't worry about what everyone else is thinking, ya know none of us really know what is out there? Even the best science folks don't know. Have a good day. I read your blog and even though I don't agree with everything you say. I don't take it personal. I wish you and your family well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting into words what I have been silent about my whole life. You have no idea how much this post means to me.

Chrystal said...

You're right in that there is a double standard and it's not fair. I don't believe in the act of pressured conversion, myself.

The Marquez Family said...

Isn't life so much more special when you don't attribute it to some mythical being? When you know that each day you have needs to be lived to the fullest because you only get one chance?

Your post rang so true with me. I lost my closest friend and cousin when she was just 24, leaving behind a loving husband and brand new baby. So many people wanted to talk about god's special plan- excuse me, but WTF kind of special plan involves orphaning a young child?

Finn is special because all children are, not because some giant in the sky made him so.

Sonia said...

I can't say I'm sorry, because your post and a lot of the comments left support what you wrote.

But I am a Christian. And I still like you! My faith is my faith, and yes, there are people in faith that scare me too! But, this is path that I've chosen to take, and it's between me and GOD.

It's one that I know that if you choose to believe in him, you have to believe that there is Evil too. Why believe in evil and not good? Right?

But I hope that one day the right Christian will come along and not change your mind about GOD (because that will only be your choice), but help you change your mind about us Christians...because we're not all crazy!

And on a side note...
When Lillian was born, a very good Christian friend of mine said she will pray for her DS dx to go away! And I said yeah right...because I was totally fine with it and knew that was totally ridiculous!

My mom and her church cronies prayed also. However, they prayed for good health and happiness. Just like they did with my other two.

So, like I said it's all in who you meet as a Christian.

And now...Godspeed, God Bless and Praise God (sorry I had to do it) because I think you're a great person and mom! And a kickbutt blogger too!

Anna Alexandrova said...

You go, girl! Sending you lots of positive secular energy for Michael, Finn and all others.