Because I am an atheist: Ashley Miller

Today’s contribution comes from fellow FTBorg Ashley Miller, who writes at her eponymous blog.

Because I am an atheist…

I’ve had a hard time writing this because for a long time I couldn’t think of anything that I could really attribute to my being an atheist.  I’m an atheist because I am a seeker of truth and I am an atheist activist because I am a humanist.

I came into the atheist movement sideways, from the LGBT rights movement.  After the Prop 8 trial in California had concluded, people like myself were put in a holding pattern, exhausted and waiting for news. Around this time, I heard that PZ Myers was going to be in town and you could pay 50 bucks to go have dinner with him.  I’d followed PZ for a long time, but wasn’t really aware of an atheist movement or blogosphere as such, I just knew I really liked his blog’s mix of science, anger at religion, and oktapodi.  At the time, I mostly blogged about filmmaking, women’s issues, and Prop 8, but not so much atheism.

I spent my $50 and I went to the OCFA conference alone to meet PZ, and in the process I discovered this whole subculture I hadn’t been aware of.  I got involved with atheism and skepticism, which I still conflate much to most skeptics’ chagrin, and discovered a movement that was involved in the social justice issues I cared about — protecting people from religion.

All of this social justice interest comes from being a humanist, not from being an atheist, but that I am an atheist has impacted my life in ways that aren’t philosophical.  Atheism created an audience for me and a community that has, more or less, welcomed me and been interested in the things I am interested in.  In two years, I went from being someone who blogged at a tiny WordPress blog to someone who is on one of the biggest atheist networks there is.  That has happened because of atheism.

Because of the atheist movement, I have met heroes of mine (Adam Savage, Richard Dawkins), I have seen people who I never would have dreamed of having the opportunity to see (Eddie Izzard, NdGT), I have found friends around the world I genuinely love (Jen, Greta, many more).  My whole life I had been pursuing career goals and doing activism on the side, but now activism is what I pursue and career is what I do on the side.  I am able to do that because there is a large, passionate community that is always active and always doing something that matters.  Even the stupid fights are symptomatic of the most important thing about the movement — it is alive.

Because I am an atheist, I have made a difference.  A small one, no doubt, but a difference nonetheless.

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