So by my own self admission I am not a very good atheist. I am a self-described agnostic and I have a sort of, love hate relationship with that term. Honestly I feel it just confuses most people I tell it to and, this as far as I am concerned, is the point. If you describe yourself as agnostic, most of the time you will feel the need to follow that self-description with another non-committal response. My favorite is “I believe in the possibility of something greater than myself, but have not defined it”. If there was a more tactful way of saying “I don’t know but let’s not talk about it”, then please feel free to tell me in the comments. Many of those that describe themselves as agnostics tend to be apathetic. I find this trend stems from the innumerable options on belief and how could one go about differentiating between them in the first place. Secondly I have heard so many stories of people that have gone looking for what may be meaningful to them only to see judgment, coercion or extremism. Many of these agnostics have a very “leave me alone” attitude and I completely understand that sentiment.
I haven’t found my path to be indicative of the apathetic, but of the exhaustive. I have experienced more different spiritual associations than I can count. In some of these cases I have been a silent observer, in others a full-fledged parishioner, and in more than one case a fish out of water. It did not matter if I found the experience exhilarating, enlightening, or frightening, they were all still experiences that shaped my life and my view of the universe. When I read Karl Marx’s quote about religion being an opiate, I took that as a challenge. I might need a stint in a rehab.
Lately I have found myself leaning toward atheism almost by default and I feel that does a disservice to atheists. Yes, I have always been fascinated with science, the discovery of knowledge, and so many of the scientific concepts that atheists identify with, resonate with me as well. There are a few of the ground floor philosophies that I still don’t know enough about to have a firm debatable viewpoint on. As I move closer to the central themes of what constitutes a modern atheist I want to learn from other atheists. I want to know how they form their opinions on so many very important matters.
A fellow atheist once told me she kept her own version of a holy text, or a book that was filled with what constituted her sacred ideas. I find this idea infinitely fascinating and very useful, although the more I learn about atheism the more I realize it requires more of a library than one book. I want to know what ideas you keep close to your heart, and your mind. What books do you fall back on when you need a reaffirmation of your beliefs, who do you go to, to feel secure in your decision, where do you go to feel safe and accepted. As a fledgling atheist I need a few “shoulders of giants” to stand on to get my own foundation in this belief structure. In short, I need a few lessons on how to be a good atheist.