Growing up, I believed in a higher being without question... one who could always see what I was doing... good and bad... and that led me to do the right thing, using a reward and punishment system. He was the one that I looked up to the sky and prayed to on occasion for something that I needed... one that brought me great joy, especially around the birth of the Son... and although I've never actually seen proof of his being, I know he was real. It was written and there are pictures, so therefore it must be. Besides, when I prayed for that Easy Bake Oven, there it was under the tree on Christmas morning. Yes... Santa (you assumed I was referring to God?) was, indeed, real. And then I grew up. I found out how my letter to Santa was infiltrated by my parents, who then went to K-mart to fill the list... I found out who ate the cookies I put out for Santa and how the carrots I put out for Rudolph ended up in the back yard feeding the plain-old, regular, not so 'rein' deer. And, lastly, I learned how a bad little shit like me who didn't get coal in his stocking once... not once, was calling the shots. The gig was up and my parents lost a lot of leverage the year I stopped believing in Santa. In my eyes, the parallels between Santa and God are uncanny. And no matter how much I read the Bible or how many different denominational churches I attended over time, the idea of God isn't one that I can accept. Yes, Virginia... I am an atheist.
I have always been a free-thinker, grounded in science and logic. I remember when I was younger, asking questions about religion that no one seemed to have the answers. In such a big book where it's all spelled out, it doesn't say much that I can wrap my head around as an explanation. I bought several Bibles, spoke to several people who, supposedly, were experts and, yet, my questions were never answered, at least in a way not followed by 'because, that's what it says... don't ask questions". Add to it that most religious people act anything but holy (hypocrites) and the whole 'say-5-Hail-Mary's-and-you're-forgiven' procedure that seems to undermine doing the right thing to begin with, and logic goes out the window along with the baby Jesus and the bathwater. I suppose that's why I have no 'Faith', because I can't just let go and believe when it makes no sense... and, let's face it... it's all about blind trust when you are talking about God (or Santa, for that matter). It's better to believe when you are younger, before you know any better. It's no wonder why I'm a non-believer.
Atheism is defined as the rejection of belief in the existence of deities, or gods. From there, it get's more confusing. Apparently there are all kinds of classifications and stipulations. It's not as simple as you believe or don't... for example, since babies and children neither believe or disbelieve (since they cannot reject something they are unaware of and cannot consciously reject), they are called implicit atheists... while those who make a conscious effort to disbelieve are explicit atheists. Further, it is broken down to negative (belief in other forms of a higher, non-theological power, such as spiritual, supernatural or transcendental (Agnosticism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism)) and positive (no higher power whatsoever). I am a positive explicit atheist. Atheism, in it's simplest definition, is the absence, indifference, exclusion and unawareness of/from any religious motivation. And this is where it gets dicey for me... that bit about active exclusion from the problems of Gods and religion from intellectual pursuit and practical action... this shit both fascinates me and angers me. There's no ignoring it. I can't help but be involved. But I am more fascinated by the people who believe than the content of religion itself. I've never seen anything that is so vastly interpreted.
In true Gemini fashion, I have several views on religion that contradict each other. On one hand, I have no belief in any of it and despise everything to do with organized religion, especially their charitable tax exclusion, pedophilia, cafeteria-style beliefs system and how religion is usually behind war. On the other hand, I highly respect someone who follows the Bible to the letter (or at least the teachings of Jesus). I have respect for those who have their beliefs. I capitalize "God" and "The Word"... and I don't participate in Christmas so as not to be hypocritical. I take my hat off in a church and I wouldn't litter on church grounds. I believe in the teachings of Jesus and I think he'd be a great guy to be friends with. I support people to believe what they want to believe, no matter in what they worship, as long as they don't push their agenda on me or hurt anyone. I don't feel I am any better or any worse than anyone else. I am happy with my rationale and I'm not afraid to not believe. Unless Jesus walks into Starbucks and orders a venti half-caff crème brulee latte in front of me, I don't think my non-believing is ever going to change. I will be cremated and my ashes returned to the earth, from which they came. Actually, if there is something that I worship, it is this earth and it's delicate balance. I will live my life on this planet to the fullest, knowing that my life... past, present, future and beyond... ends when I do. I'm ok with that.