Declaring myself atheist was a liberating experience. Both of my parents are extremely free thinking so I got very little complaint other than I needed more of a “spiritual” side. Unlike most I didn’t experience much resistance to my decision.
However, my immaturity and general dissatisfaction with my extremely southern and mostly unlikable classmates in high school turned me into an arrogant douche.
Oh, the revelation that god doesn’t exist brings on quite a bit of confidence. It’s like thinking you’re in this exclusive club of people who see the truth and snicker at all the fools going to church and believing that nonsense. It’s hard not to feel that way when so many of those people believe in religion to the letter and scream from rooftops that evolution should be taught in schools or not (it was a big issue during my time in high school). So it’s natural to feel a little smug, but that smugness only led me to act as stupidly as the people I ridiculed.
I loved fighting with people about religion. I loved making them angry- and getting angry in turn- as we circled around an issue over and over- repeating the same idea but using different words each time. I acted like I hated it, but deep down I enjoyed it. It made me feel better than everyone. It made me feel smart.
The fact of the matter is I just liked being contrarian. As much as I said I hated Catholicism I would still fly off the handle if anyone said “Catholics aren’t real Christians” or “Catholics worship Mary.” I heard this a lot after Catholic school and I’d usually go off saying that Catholics were the first Christians, and in their eyes everyone else was wrong. I don’t know exactly why I defended Catholics so vehemently when I heard that. Maybe it’s because the people who said it were so annoying, or maybe I just hate ignorance. Either way, I still liked doing it, and this makes it clear to me that I just liked arguing.
During my brief time as an atheist I would read a lot of atheist blogs and forums. For some reason hearing the stuff that I was saying every day come from somebody else was really obnoxious. I started to realize that most of these people were as bad as the Christians they ridiculed. They were so certain that they were right and everyone who didn’t agree with them was a moron. It was the same bullshit I saw in Christianity and I started to realize I had just jumped ship into another sinking boat. I felt ashamed of the way I had acted.
Of course, I know that not all Christians or atheists act that way, but I was young and I felt the reputation of the group I aligned myself with reflected poorly on myself. I hadn’t enough self esteem to allow my own actions speak for my character, not that they spoke very well at the time.
So as I struggled with my own arrogance and new problems with atheism in general, I came to learn of agnosticism. A proud proclamation of “I don’t know if god exists” seemed like a nice humble change from my former attitude. But even with that thought in my head, I still had some foolish ones like “now if god does exist I’ll still get into Heaven because I acknowledged him!”
Ugh, to think I actually said that to someone once.
Nonetheless, switching to agnosticism was an important decision in my life. I affiliated myself with its philosophy longer than any other to date and only recently transitioned out of it. It helped me cast off a lot of arrogance and concern with what now seem like trivial matters, but those stories are for another time.