Bible Stories in Childhood

I really questioned religion as a child, but due to symptoms I experienced from mental illness, I wasn’t able to fully call myself an atheist until my early twenties. 

One commenter on a previous post explained that a gruesome and far-fetched story from the Bible made them stop believing in god at a very early age.

I had very similar feelings as a child. I’ve always felt that the bible was filled with fairytales and fables and even as a kid I didn’t take them very seriously. It’s an interesting book but nothing more.

People, where I live, tend to take the Bible quite literally. It’s like with spirituality — this one area in their life — they throw all common sense out the window. If you took stories from the bible, took out god and Jesus, and put it in a different context, people would say you’re crazy for believing in it. 

We have friends of the family that didn’t tell their kids about Santa because they thought when they questioned the existence of Santa, they would question the existence of Jesus, too. That really says something, doesn’t it?

What are other parents telling their kids about COVID-19?

We’re pretty open with our daughter. She’s turning four at the end of the month, but when she asks questions, we answer them. We try to be simple and clear, but we don’t hide anything. We don’t try to come up with some foofy made-up explanation just because of her question being uncomfortable or complicated. We’ve dealt a little bit with death and questions about our bodies. She’s little, but she still deserves the truth. 

With that being said, it was hard to find a way to explain COVID-19 clearly to her. I told her there’s a virus that’s making people sick so we can’t get close to others. It’s safest for us to stay home. Whether or not she understands the meaning, she now knows the word “virus” and I think she’s a little worried. She can’t see her friends from daycare. Do they have the virus? She can’t go to Pop Pop’s house. Does he have the virus? 

When Ohio’s governor issued the stay-at-home order a few weeks ago, she didn’t seem to notice right away, but she eventually started to notice that she’s not at daycare and I’m not at work. It’s just been hard to find a simple way to explain everything to her so she understands. We don’t sugarcoat things, but I don’t want to freak her out either. We now have friends, acquaintances, and coworkers that are sick, and I want to be honest with her.

So I’m asking for advice, input, opinions, suggestions, etc. What have you told your kids? How do you explain what’s going on in the world right now?

Are you proud of your atheist culture?

Living in a heavily Christian area makes me feel like I need to be rebellious. I want to have as much pride in what I believe in as they do for their beliefs. They can openly flaunt their Christianity, and while I don’t exactly want to do that, it would be nice to know that freedom is there and that option is available. I’m different from them and I have a lot of pride for what I stand for. Maybe that makes me look like a bit of a rebel around here, but it is so important to be true to who you are. 

Right now I only flaunt my atheism online, but it’s starting to spill over into my real life. I want Toledo to be a safe place for everyone, and that means speaking up. 

Atheism is a part of my family’s culture. It affects how I live, the choices I make, and how I raise my daughter. It really isn’t any different than any other cultural demographic, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating your culture. In fact, it’s usually encouraged. 

Thank you to everyone at Freethought Blogs for taking me beyond Toledo’s city limits and letting me become part of a global community. It has given me a lot of courage in opening up about my life as an atheist mom. This helps me really embrace my (lack of) beliefs.

Do you celebrate being an atheist? Do you see it as part of your culture? Are you proud of it?

Atheism and the Arts: Recommendations Please!

I run an arts program for a local nonprofit four days a week. The rest of the week I am working on my own projects — mostly drawing and writing. I am so passionate about my work. I am an artist deep down to my bones. Being an atheist is also very important to my life and identity so it seems natural that I want that to be reflected in my work. I never paint a picture just to make something pretty; I paint a picture to tell my story. The same goes for my writing.

I would love to see more work by atheist artists and writers. Even today, a lot of the arts are tied to spirituality and it can be difficult to find work inspired by skepticism.

Can you guys recommend any atheist artists and writers to check out? I would love to hear about writers, but how about artists? Do you know of any?

The Virus (Quarantine Poetry)

My tired brain smothered
By a winding list of precautions
Stare at the endless walls
Until we call it safe

One day we’ll step out the door
And put our arms
Around each other
But not anytime soon

Empty store shelves
Empty calendars
Empty feeling
In my calloused gut

Six feet to sanity
Masks and gloves
That collect in the trash
Comfort our fear

Sanitize my driving forces
I’m one woman alone
On a welcoming portal
Connected to the world

The clock ticks on
The moon rises behind clouds
Darkness blankets the city
But the sun will rise again

A virus invades
The bodies and minds
Of this aching planet
But solidarity is contagious

One humanity
Against the sickness
One fierce and hopeful fight
Will save of all

We’re in this together

Just wanted to say thank you for your comments!

I have been blown away by how well thought out and sincere the comments have been to many of my blog posts. So many of you are willing to share your stories and I really appreciate it. I love reading them. Being an atheist in Toledo can feel isolating and your comments make me feel connected to a much larger community. I am more confident now in how I live my life even when I don’t always feel accepted here in Ohio. 

I just wanted to say thank you so much.

Ohio’s Weather and My Thirst for Knowledge

I am in awe of science and nature although I often have a hard time understanding it. I respect those fields and those who study them a lot. I wish those subjects came easier to me. 

One science field I am really fascinated with is the weather and I live in the perfect place for that kind of interest. In my little corner of Ohio, we often experience extremes — hot and humid summers, cold and snowy winters, and everything in between. There are always exceptions. The weather rarely follows the rules. Plus we’re in the Hoosier Alley so we get some gut-wrenching storms. 

I was induced when my daughter was born and when I was admitted to the hospital, my husband asked the nurses to have the baby be born during a storm. Two days later when she was actually born there was lots of thunder and lightning and everyone’s phones were going off with weather warnings while I was pushing. It was awesome. It couldn’t have been more perfect. What was funny was that a couple of the nurses were freaked out because that was what my husband had asked for and it actually happened. (However, my daughter was born at night during tornado season, so chances were pretty good that it might storm.) 

In Ohio, we are often at the mercy of the weather. It can change drastically from one day to the next. I love it. It keeps you on your toes. 

Our weather makes me want to know more about how the world works. I think that drive and thirst for knowledge is so important. Religion gives some pretty makeshift answers to the universe, but I think it is so exciting to want to discover the truth. Humans are curious creatures and it’s natural to want to learn more. Everything has an earthly explanation — even if we haven’t found it yet. We are all a part of nature — not above it.

Most people have a fear of the unknown, but we need to let go. Supernatural explanations shouldn’t be required to feel comfortable living your life in the real world.

My super awesome husband bought me a home weather station, and I’m going to learn as much as I can.

What fascinates you about the world? What do you want to learn about?

What was your tipping point?

What was the tipping point that made you finally call yourself an atheist?

I’ve shared a bit of my story and my struggle with schizoaffective disorder. Before I sought treatment and was medicated, I thought my auditory and visual hallucinations were spirits. While I’ve never been religious, I was always searching for an explanation for what I was experiencing.

My tipping point was taking Risperdal. It was the first antipsychotic medication I tried and it seemed to do the trick. I quickly learned that I no longer need to search for an explanation because the spirits weren’t real. Seeing is believing and they were no longer there. The hallucinations were the only thing connecting me to any sort of belief in the supernatural. At that moment I realized religion was absolutely useless in my life. It never made sense to me anyway.

So Risperdal was my tipping point. What was yours?

 

Dating Partners of Different Faiths

I dated a lot before I met my husband, and I don’t regret any of it. I met lots of interesting people and learned a lot, not just about others, but about myself as well and what I want. 

I dated a lot of different people, including those of different faiths. New relationships were always exciting and I always had hope for the future. Inevitability, they didn’t work out or else I wouldn’t have met my husband.

Oftentimes, my partner’s faith would prevent a relationship from ever becoming too serious. Or even worse — they wanted to convert me. Being an atheist is too important to me and I would never give in for the sake of a relationship. 

It’s really kind of funny because I dated so many people from so many different backgrounds, but the person I ended up marrying is just like me in so many ways. My husband and I are from the same area and both from German backgrounds. Our families are Christian and we are not. I even frequented the bookstore he worked at years before we met.

My husband and I are like puzzle pieces — our personal strengths and weaknesses balance the other out. Everything just seems to fit. I’m not saying we’re perfect, but I’ve never worked so well with someone before. We love each other, but it takes so much more than love to make a marriage work.

So I am really curious — I have seen in some of your comments that your partner is of a different faith. How do you guys make it work?