Episode CCLXXIX: Oregon! »« So he didn’t like the book then?

Why I am an atheist – Rikitiki

I remember growing up and the folks were Catholic (see? I still capitalize it…) and sent me to Catholic school from 2nd-through-8th grade, and then an all-boys Catholic high school (yes, pity me). Good education from that, surely, but with it came a price: learning created doubts. I still remember being 7 years old, being told the Genesis story in religion class and thinking, even at that young age, that God had set-up Adam and Eve; He supposedly was omnicient, so supposedly knew all things, which meant He had set the stage of Eden so man would fall and get original sin. What a shit! (But my young mind, having been filled with the dread of hellfire by the nuns, didn’t express it that way you can be sure).

By the time I left high school, I was sick of Catholicism…but unfortunately still had that foundational brainwashing which made me think there was a God and, since that was coupled with the whole load of Catholic guilt-trip, I was pretty sure that hell was where I’d end up. Over time, I consoled myself with the idea that if God really did know everything, He’d know the background and motivations behind whatever I did and, therefore, would understand and, like a loving parent, forgive me for my mistakes.

Fast forward to my late 40′s by which time I’d become an alcoholic and ended up in Alcoholics Anonymous…going to meetings at least 3 times a week, working those twelve steps, etc. But the one thing they read at the start of every AA meeting says: “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest” So, yeah, if I wanted to stay sober, they told me I had to be rigorously honest…and find some kind of ‘higher power’ (though they capitalized that as Higher Power…you know, the God thing, a ‘spiritual’ way of life and all that). So, I set out to figure out what my own ‘Higher Power’ is.

And, in the process, my sister gifted me with a ‘Recovery Bible’. Essentially, this is a regular bible where the verses are on one page with a recovery interpretation on the facing page, telling you how each verse pertains to a person’s recovery. However, in reading through the bible (ugh! that was a chore reading the whole thing), that rigorous honesty thing was part of it. And, I had to be honest with myself: it was a load of made-up crap! Not just mythology, but LOUSY mythology. I’ve read better mythology in my Dungeons & Dragons books (which, I think, many years ago helped soften me up for non-belief).

After this, I got a book from the library called “Who Wrote the Bible?”. I highly recommend this scholorly look at who the probable authors were, since it certainly wasn’t Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And the more books I read, searching for the ‘right’ spirituality, one that would work for me as my ‘Higher Power’, the more dishonest the whole thing was turning out to be. And, remember, my AA program said I’d only recover and stay sober IF I remained rigorously honest.

My honest and open-minded assessment of ALL gods is: they don’t exist, because IF any did, there’d be some evidence — and there is NONE. Same for the ‘spiritual’, ghosts, afterlife, and any and all kinds of woo. Sure, they ‘exist’, but only in a person’s mind.

So, for me, the cute thing is that getting into that AA ‘spiritual’ program is really what turned me into an atheist. Yep, the truth does set you free.

Rikitiki
United States

Comments

  1. KG says

    An amusing and enlightening account – thanks. Please excuse the quibbles that follow – you pressed one of my personal irritation buttons.

    I remember growing up and the folks were Catholic (see? I still capitalize it…) – Rikitiki

    As do I, who have never been a Catholic – because it’s a proper noun. This idea that you can show how atheist you are by refusing to capitalise certain proper nouns really annoys me: grammatical ignorance is not particularly atheistic.

    Over time, I consoled myself with the idea that if God really did know everything, He’d know the background

    Here, however, you would be grammatically correct not to capitalise the “h” in “He’s” – because “he” is not a proper noun under any circumstances: the religious do indeed use an upper-case letter here to emphasise how important God is, and we need not and should not folllow suit. (Note: “God” is functioning as a name here, so it has an upper-case “G”; I could equally well have said “how important their god is”, where “god” is not acting as a name, and so has a lower-case “g”.)

  2. RFW says

    I’ve read, more than once, that a very early AA group made up of hard bitten, cynical newspapermen in Chicago had trouble with the Higher Power part of the AA program.

    They decided that the Higher Power for them was “the stuff in the bottle”, since it seemed to have great power over them.

  3. stoodrv says

    Capital or no capital, I thought this was a great story.

    “…the idea that if God really did know everything, He’d know the background and motivations behind whatever I did and, therefore, would understand and, like a loving parent, forgive me for my mistakes”

    For me this was an important concept that allowed me to break free from the indoctrination and think freely for myself. Once I realized I could think for myself I realized that I was an Atheist.

    Haven’t looked back.

  4. loreo says

    “I’ve read better mythology in my Dungeons & Dragons books (which, I think, many years ago helped soften me up for non-belief).”

    So D&D does destroy Christian beliefs!

    One more point for D&D…

  5. satanaugustine says

    Rikitiki – congratulations on your sobriety and even more so on your rationalism and escape from Catholicism (the religion I was raised in as well). That quote you gave from AA was pretty fucked up though. It bluntly states that if AA does not work for you, you are to blame. It’s not surprising given it’s religious roots.

    KG – there is a better reason to capitalize “Catholic” when speaking of the religion: it’s not just a proper noun, it’s also a synonym for universal when spelled with a lower-case ‘c’ so capitalizing it keeps the reader from becoming confused. I, for one, often like to leave christianity in the lower-case though depending on how irreverent or not I want to be…and because I’m lazy and don’t want to be bothered with hitting the shift key any more than absolutely necessary.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Rikitiki.

  6. Don Quijote says

    Doesn’t catholic with a small C mean something entirely difference?

    Anyway, glad to hear you recovered from religion and alcoholism Rikitiki.

  7. untarded says

    Your story brings back some memories.

    Back in 1994 or so, I wound up in rehab. I claimed Atheism while my shrink tried to convince me I was really a Pantheist.

    NO. I do not equate the universe with God. The universe is real. A sentient all powerful being, or intelligence is a fairy tale.

  8. leonpeyre says

    Welcome to the light, Rikitiki.

    I remember growing up and the folks were Catholic (see? I still capitalize it…)

    As well you should. It’s a proper noun; spelling it all lower-case indicates you’re using the original adjective, which means “universal”.

    and sent me to Catholic school

    My sympathies. My mom went to Catholic school, which was much of the reason that my brother and I didn’t.

    I love the way you put it: that God set up Adam and Eve to fall. That gives a whole different perspective to the narrative, doesn’t it? For one thing, it would explain why all-knowing God had to ask Adam why he was clothing himself–otherwise, Adam would have known he’d been manipulated into sinning.

  9. says

    satanaugustine #6 – I can’t find the part where Rikitiki said he/she is staying sober.
    I won’t say A.A. is dishonest, just very deluded. There are people who honestly think God keeps them sober. I am not one of them. I have been honest in A.A. since I still honestly believe God doesn’t keep me sober despite decades of meetings. Since day #1 I thought the God thing was bullshit, but A.A. was a part of a licensed treatment program, and we were compelled to attend. Today, I go for a few reasons. I think A.A. really did help me in the past. It gave me a sense that I was doing something about my troubles without spending $200/hr when I didn’t have insurance. I feel a sense of obligation to help others entering A.A. because people were there for me AND I don’t want them running off because of God talk (there really isn’t much). It’s a social club filled with people that don’t want to kill you, like when I was drinking.

  10. Aquaria says

    I feel a sense of obligation to help others entering A.A. because people were there for me AND I don’t want them running off because of God talk (there really isn’t much)

    I think this is dangerously naive of you to assert. Just because groups you know aren’t brimming over with gawd talk doesn’t mean that all AA groups don’t.

    My current roommate attends AA meetings with a friend of his who is mandated to, by the stupid Texas court, and there is a lot of gawd talk in most of the groups around here. The one who’s had to go has bounced from group to group looking for just one AA group that isn’t ate up with jeebus. They finally found one that talks about it only 10 minutes of every hour session, rather than the whole hour, like the others did.

    So don’t assume your experience in AA is that of other people. It’s not. Especially not in the South.

  11. rikitiki says

    …oh, and yes, I’m still sober. In my case, I like this definition of sober: son of a bitch, everything’s real!