all sparkly and shit

I’m terrified to put this one out there…

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This entry was published on May 26, 2015 at 7:37 pm. It’s filed under Feeeeeeeeelings and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

58 thoughts on “I’m terrified to put this one out there…

  1. Oh, gosh, no…this atheist is definitely NOT rolling eyes at you! I am impressed with your guts and your honesty and your well-written words, and mostly your attention…the mindfulness with which you experienced these situations, and the deep thinking you have done as you observed how you felt and what you thought during and after them. Describing these things to religious and non-religious alike is a good thing to promoting understanding between these communities. And you’ve done this while complimenting those who believe differently than you, embracing and protecting our rights to be different. Bravo!

    BTW…a few years ago I was your “Tom”, agreeing to attend a rock-style Christian church with a bf. Quietly tolerated the few insulting messages about non-believers, but left wondering why, if he believed all those messages, he could possibly be interested in me. Why would he be dating someone he truly believed was not capable of being a “good person”…someone he believed was going to hell? It made NON sense. The relationship did not last long.

    • Thanks, Debbie! I know the atheist community is a VERY intelligent one, and so I’m aware that my baby steps probably seem very small to some. However, they’re also a kind and accepting bunch as well, as you can see! PS I’m glad you broke up with him 😉

  2. HeidiW on said:

    Wow. So much like my own story it’s uncanny. Good for you putting it out there!
    P.S. I love the name of your blog!

  3. John on said:

    It’s the best thing in the world, to stop refusing to see.

  4. Oh, honey. Most atheists- at least in the US- have been where you are before. Most of us grew up religious, very fervently believed, and had questions that were never answered properly. Most of us knew the fear of “coming out” to disapproving family, friends, society. Some of us even lost said family or friends by doing so.

    Anyone who thinks it isn’t hard to be out of the mainstream faith in this country isn’t paying attention. But it gets easier the longer you’re “out”, the more comfortable you grow in your own skin. And if it makes you feel better, your generation is the least religious and least intolerant yet so in the future our society should swing more towards the kind of blase acceptance that exists in most of Europe.

    • Thank you for the kind words and support, Sarah – agreed on all counts! It’s been amazing having a husband who is supportive and understanding of where I am while dealing with all of the judgement that comes with being an atheist. Funny how the atheist in my life is the kindest and most accepting, and many of the religious people are the most judgemental and condemning, you know?

  5. I’m glad you found freedom in sharing your truth. I started living out loud and authentically a few years ago. The price was heavy but worth every insult. Every loss. Living a life that feels true for me and not a life that others feel is true for me is the best kind of life. May you find your tribe and continue bravely on this journey that is yours and yours alone.

    • So beautifully put! Living authentically is harder than I knew it could be, but every step toward it feels better and better – thank you so much for your support.

  6. Rizzo Johnson on said:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am proud of you for thinking and coming to your own conclusions. It’s empowering to drop the rules but can be difficult to leave that support group that becomes extended family. You can always build the community you need rather than settle for the church family with silly rules and beliefs.

    • Thank you so much, for the support and for really *getting* it. The juxtaposition of empowerment and fear is a rough road to travel, but it’s clearly worth it!

  7. elderpriestess on said:

    It is sad that we still have to be brave to make these statements, is it not? You are not alone, my dear, in either your utterly eclectic, truly personal form of spirituality or in your fear of laying your cards on the table. It is a similiar fear that prevents me from my declaration truly public (although this post in itself should say something, yes?). So happy you have the support of a loving partner as you walk the world with integrity. Peace be with you.

    • It is SO sad. Saying something like this shouldn’t be a big deal, but it IS, and it’s scary. All I can say to you is that I was so afraid to make a statement like this publicly, and yet I have never received so much support and love for anything I’ve ever written before. Living authentically and honestly brings nothing but good, as I’m seeing, and the community of people outside of religion (atheists, agnostics, humanists, spiritualists, etc) is an extremely welcoming group. Much love to you on your own journey!

  8. Aaron Rose on said:

    I have always had a similar feelings about faith. The selective love and acceptance in some organizations boggle my mind. I grew up much like you, going to church with my family, but stopping when I was 12 or 13 years old. It is not like we decided to leave, but because we got involved in other aspects of life. As I grew up, I always questioned my beliefs and ideas, with a very agnostic view on faith. I am very content with not knowing the answers to the big questions of the unknown, and love the questions that science keep adding to our known universe. I believe that if I could not question everything about life, i would be losing a big part of who i am.

    I have great respect for people willing to discuss belief and faith in a forum of any sort. I commend you. I only wished more people could be more tolerant and understanding. Instead of fighting over differences, we should be celebrating them. Because in the end, we all live and die on this planet, only hoping we make a difference or our mark on this lonely blue dot we call home.

    That is it. That is all I got. Have a good day! and in the words of John Green, “DFTBA!”

    • Thank you so much, Aaron – your story is so similar to mine, and I have just as much respect for someone like you, who embraces the differences in others so readily.

  9. I’m 2ish years out from walking away from Christianity. Your blog post is raw and honest and brave. I count my time as a believer as a net positive but it just didn’t work anymore. I’m currently attending a Unitarian Universalist church with more than a few other atheists there because I still like the good things about church. But I’m losing my rose colored glasses there too.

    You will continue to find the path that works for you because you were willing to step out and sit with the hard questions. It takes guts and you got ’em.

  10. This is why I am proud to be your husband. Your honesty, intelligence, and strength of character have always defined you as a human being. You put into words what I have struggled with for the past 15 years of my life, but in a way that is so succinct, that I actually feel like I understand myself better because of it.

  11. Much sympathy for doubt and that you find biblical stories to be hard to swallow. They simply are for anyone but the person that refuses to think about it.

    That said, I personally find atheism equal hard to swallow.

    We know from physics that matter and energy can never be created or destroyed, yet the universe is finite. That implies that the entire universe appeared out of nothing around 10 billion years ago.

    Poof we were there is what it comes down to. Now they give it fancy names like the Big Bang but it really comes down to assigning a name to something we can’t explain at all. Well now u say, it’s simple, the universe existed as a singularity and exploded. The fact that a singularity is an infinitely dense point in actual space at a particular point in time is somehow rational to an atheist. How is that rational?

    Infinitely dense means the point keeps getting denser and denser back in time forever as infinity is not a number. So how can something be infinitely dense at a very real and specific point in time? The answer is never given, it’s just assigned a name.

    So you either have to swallow that the universe appeared out of nothing, which is impossible from everything we know of physics, or that a God always existed and created the universe, which is physically impossible. Both are completely irrational.

    I’d put my money on the existence of God because at least that explanation isn’t internally inconsistent with itself.

    Given the existence of God for those reasons, I chose Christianity because the message is right, even if we humans can’t live it.

    Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.

    Anything that doesn’t conform to that is not consistent with the message, it’s the humans inability to follow that message that is the problem, not Christianity.

    But to each his own… Just food for thought.

    • Exactly – to each his or her own! I respect your beliefs and your right to have them and speak them, and I am steadfast in my own beliefs and happy to live in a place where I am free to talk about them. I believe in kindness, acceptance, and love above all, and since you believe in them too, maybe we’re not that different after all!

    • OutsideLookingIn on said:

      Sigh.

      “The universe is so complex so God must have made it! You can’t form something from nothing, right? ” ….but God (who must be more complex than his creation) has just always existed and no one created him? You see the inconsistency there, right?

      Don’t worry. I’m sure God will give you your brownie points anyway for trying ton convince the dirty atheists.

    • A couple of things. Trying to use a reformed version of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, will get you nowhere. Even if we were to determine that the universe was indeed “created”, that’s as far as we can go. Once we start to assign attributes to the creator i.e. things like omnipotence, omniscience, sending His son down to earth to be crucified, etc., we run into a Baysyan nightmare. The more specific the qualifiers, the LESS likely a thing is to exist. As human beings, we can only look as far back as th Plank Time, after that our physical laws break down. This is not a failure to explain things, it really just means we have more work to do. You have to remember that we can not judge the universe based on what happens inside of it. We didn’t evolve to understand cosmology, so just because something isn’t completely “rational”, doesn’t mean it is untrue. We know with 99.9999% certainty that Schrödinger’s uncertainty principle is one of the underlying laws of nature. It makes zero rational sense, but it is the reason why almost all of our modern technology works.

      Also. Nobody. And I mean nobody, currently working in the field of cosmology, nor anyone with a higher understanding of science, will ever say the universe is 10 billion years old. It’s about 13.8, and we came to that number through hundreds of years of human research, and scientific advancement. We don’t have all of the answers. And neither does anyone else. You, me, and everyone else with access to information can only go so far back into the history of our universe. Nobody claims to know what came “before”, as asking that question is akin to asking “what is north of the North Pole?”. We don’t have all of the answers. But we will keep searching, whether you want to join us or not.

  12. I think it’s hard for those still in the community to understand how difficult and painful it can be to step away. Good luck in your continuing journey.

  13. First of all, I have no problem with atheists. People’s personal beliefs don’t bother me. In the end they are all unprovable beliefs. I am not one of those judgemental Christians. I prefer to remove the plank from my eye so that I can see clearly before I point out the speck in others. Until the day, I will focus on my faults alone.

    But… I am not blind to the irrationality of lack of belief as a matter of scientific inquiry and search for reason (further I think good science and faith emminate from the same source, so u don’t fear it)

    And, for the record, I am not saying the universe is so complex God must have created it. I am simply saying that to not believe in God is just as irrational as a belief in God and to think otherwise is to be as blind to fact as many atheists claim Christians to be.

    Simple question(s)…. Can anyone explain to me how the universe could be in a state of singularity at a finite point in time? How can something be infinitely dense at a finite point in time? How can matter and energy appear out of nothing?

    If you can, write it up as a paper and you will win a Nobel prize in physics one day.

    Until that day, Atheism is as irrational as Christianity. A matter of blind faith, nothing more, nothing less.

    I find it funny that atheists like to point out the irrationality of Christianity while swallowing the irrationality of atheism with no problem at all.

  14. Love the intelligent debate. 10 billion was meant to be a simplification. One more comment, as a Bayesian econometrician myself, I can assure you a bayesians nightmare is not specific qualifiers. It’s a prior that’s weighted so heavily, no amount of evidence can affect the posterior.

    • Yes. The Bayesian analysis was an oversimplification of the principle. Also. To answer your questions is difficult because you are asking the wrong questions. Nobody is saying the the singularity was “infinitely dense at a finite point in time”. There was no time in the singularity, as that is believed to be when time actually began, and the use of the word infinite is just a placeholder until we know more. I am not a cosmologist, so I am no expert on the matter. You are also conflating the word “nothing”. First, you have to define what you mean, and since we have no real examples of absolutely nothing, then we are at an impasse. You also don’t seem to realize that matter and energy are one in the same. They weren’t created separately, and we know that either can create the other or vice versa. I know your next question will be, “Well, where did the first matter or energy come from?” Good question, as I don’t know, but when cosmologists say “nothing”, they don’t mean it in a colloquial sense. I recommend looking into lectures, and writings of Sean Carroll. He explains these things in a much clearer sense than anyone before him, without coming off like a dick (see: Lawrence Krauss). Also. Sean Carroll is working towards that Nobel Prize you speak of. I also want you to answer a question for me. If I told you that I was abducted by aliens last night, would you immediately believe me? Why not? Is there a 50/50 chance that I was or was not abducted? Which is the more rational position to hold? That I actually must have been abducted by aliens, or that you will withhold judgement until I can prove it to be true? The only thing atheists are doing is responding to a positive claim about specific gods that are said to exist. There is no faith in not believing something, just as you don’t label yourself an “a-astrologer” if you don’t believe your daily horoscope. But I don’t want to really start a debate, just figured I’d try my best to answer your questions :). I’m bowing out now, as I don’t want to take attention away from the very thoughtful piece my wife wrote. Theses disagreements are why this subject is important, as it can only draw us closer to mutual understanding.

  15. Serenity on said:

    I am a christian, and I personally find your story refreshingly honest, I respect your strength and honesty. I also see sadness in your story and many people’s responses. I personally feel that all the ‘christian judging’ is not christian at all. Jesus is all about love and grace, I find it very sad when you see how many religious people are actually pushing people away from the Lord. Just don’t let those people change you. Don’t forget the Lord loves you for being you.

    • There certainly is sadness – the fear of rejection and of disappointing those you love that are in the faith, smothering my true self for so many years, et cetera – but the good thing is that now that I’m other the side of that difficult journey, all of that is behind me. I’m always happy to see that there are people of faith that are kind and loving like yourself – keep it up!

  16. My closing statement as a short list:

    1.) Tara’s piece was a well written and interesting read even if I am of a different kind.
    2.) My principal point is that both Christianity and atheism are at this point unproven… They are at this point beliefs… Faith. Neither is more consistent with reason.
    3.) if an atheist and a Christian would accept that, there would be mutual understanding.
    4.) I fully understand the relationship between matter and energy (the famous E=MC2). I understand Sean’s argument well and that time didn’t exist in the singularity. However, I don’t find the mathematics convincing (or complete) at this point and I find the whole conception of saying time didn’t yet exist to be a cop out.
    5.) of course I will respond with where did the first matter or energy come from… Because that is the crux of the issue. It either appeared out of nothing or it always existed. Neither position has yet been explained mathematically or logically. Thus, my position that atheism is as much a matter of blind faith as Christianity. And that’s ok… As long as we are willing to accept that reality. You may believe we will one day explain it, but it’s just that, a belief.
    6.) about your alien question… Very nicely framed. As I said, I am a Bayesian. My prior is that it is highly unlikely, and that the evidence is strongly in favor of the opposing position. Until the evidence says otherwise, I believe you are lying about your abduction.
    7.) I find the current state of evidence about God more consistent with it existing than not. Because given the current evidence, non existence is impossible. Existence is because it doesn’t rely on physics. It’s the only possibility given our current level of evidence.

    This was a fun diversion from an otherwise difficult day. Thank you all.

  17. x21133 on said:

    Reblogged this on Enlightening, i'n't it?.

  18. Lisa on said:

    Thanks for sharing. I know the feels. Nice to know there are so many other people out there with the same story.

  19. Thank you for sharing your story with us! We need more stories like yours. It’s not about being either a Christian or an atheist; it’s about everyone figuring out what they believe for themselves, even if it doesn’t fit into anybody’s little easy box. Nobody should be bullied or stigmatized for who they are, who they love, what they believe… we are diverse, and our diversity is beautiful. It’s also essential for any society to grow and thrive.

    I was also raised as a fundamentalist Christian and finally left the faith after I couldn’t ignore the contradictions and lack of evidence anymore. I was a minister/missionary, graduated from Bible college, so it was a pretty difficult transition… Everyone was let down because their perfect Christian fireball activist/missionary had “gone astray”. I lost so many Christian friends and the respect of countless more; the condescending way they talked about my change of beliefs was awful. They likened me to a rebellious or wayward child, said I must be deceived by the Devil, I must have gone through a crisis, or I was never really a Christian at all. The arrogance they had, and still have, to say they understand my journey and beliefs better than I do. To imply that I am mentally incompetent because I left their religion.

    It was a crushing lesson in how some people only want friendship if you believe the same way they do; when that changes, they abandon you or pressure you to stop rocking the boat and asking questions. But many other Christian friends, and friends of many other diverse beliefs, stood by me. My new circle of friends is as unique as they come, it’s full of atheists and people of all religions and spiritual inclinations, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! If I surround myself only with people who think like me, I’d be missing out. 🙂

    I’m an atheist now. I fully respect your position as a spiritual person, or whatever you feel fits you personally. I don’t care what people believe, I care more about their kindness and respect for others and their rights. If someone is a jerk, I don’t care if they’re an atheist like me, I won’t like them! lol

    • Thanks so much, Lilly! And I agree – it’s been so, so, so painful to lose friends and family I’d had for so long. It’s very disheartening to realize that your whole relationship with them hinged on this one thing. We had one family member at our wedding who, right after the (mostly secular, save for a reading of 1 Corinthians and it being performed by my old pastor) ceremony, said as loudly as he could, “Well, that was a whole lot of something and a whole lot of NOTHING”. Ugh. This transition isn’t easy, but it’s SO worth it to get away from attitudes like that.

  20. Enrico on said:

    It is so moving and reassuring to read such a wonderful story: you have great courage, intellectual honesty and sensitivity of mind…and “you restore my faith in humanity”. I don’t know exactly what to say, it’s such an amazing and grand story, but I wished to give you all my moral support and wanted you to know that you have all my respect and esteem 🙂
    You are beautiful, both of you. Best wishes, from an Italian atheist (yes, your story arrived up to here!). I hope you can live a long and joyful life!

    • Aw, Enrico, thank you so much for the kind words! Overjoyed to hear it’s reached you all the way from NYC to Italy – can we come visit?!

      • Enrico on said:

        Ahahah! Yes, you’re welcome! But I must warn you: Italy’s not as they depict it on tv.
        According to IHEU’s Freedom of Thought 2014 Report (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3gXFZt5sXX1aDJLblBMbjBxd0E/view?pli=1 , p.469), we’re in the red group “Severe Discrimination”. In fact, I live in a northern town whereof half is owned by the Church: here, the Council of Trent took place in 1545 and sometimes it seems that time has stopped on that date. The mind of its inhabitants is closed as the region among the mountains. I’ve been striving for leaving for so long, I’ve got no friends here (I attended a private Catholic school for 8 years despite being an atheist since the age of reason, my parents are not very smart), but fortunately now I have a fiancée (from the opposite part of Italy!) and live with her, and maybe we’ll move somewhere more secular in the future. Your story partially reminded us of ours, because South Italy is even more religious (there’s still superstitions and magical practices!) and I helped her to progressively get out of all the suffocating mindset in which she was raised and which still hurts her. But we’re happy now, and we’d be glad to have you as guests! 🙂

        • Oh, I’m so glad you’ve been able to be there for your partner like that! I can’t tell you how amazing it’s been for me to have someone by my side no matter what side I’ve been on with this subject. I’m sure she’s thankful for you!

      • Enrico on said:

        Yes, she is, and I am thankful for her too because I too felt so lonely with nobody ever on my side. We’ve been together for three years now and we still thank each other nearly every day, sometimes even more times a day.
        I think your husband is thankful for you too and can understand what I feel, “even if” we’re on the atheist side :). Best wishes again, from me and my life companion too ;)!

  21. Great story and it is a lot more common than you think, even with clergy. Good luck and enjoy life!

    • I’m seeing just how common it is, based on the reaction to this post – thanks so much, John!

      • It is as common as it also happening in the middle east, where abrahamic religions were born and thrive the most. (Excuse my english it isn’t my first lang.), but I have to say, to me the best point made in your blog is the part where you said something about them teaching love yet they always manage to sneak in certain conditions or rules which is something engraved in the bible, the writer(s) of the bible were good at showing love that “seems” unconditional while the entire book is written in a way to teach people to love only in certain conditions, I mean first you read about the type of love expected like abraham sacrificing his only son, then god doing the same thing, then you read about jesus asking you to “love your enemies” (if I loved someone I wouldn’t call him/her my enemy, would you?) and then he asks you to love your neighbor and your brothers and sisters (meaning the entire human population) then he ends it with a parable in which slaves given gold by their master and some come back with the double amount and one comes back with nothing more than he was given and in the end of the parable “And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” I mean wow jesus calm down, take your own advice and love your freakin enemies. And this kind of teaching (brainwashing) is very important to the church otherwise if you were to love and accept everyone, then christianity won’t be unique to you and stand out of all the other religions, they even use this technique against each other for the money, like the way baptists teach that catholics aren’t really “christians” and so on. My path to disbelief and then atheism was very different and maybe not as hard as it seems to be for you and that’s only because religion and ignorance is so mainstream over there that someone saying “this god thing is all bullshit” would be looked at as someone literally lost his mind lol. I mean people gather to see Mary’s statue crying (jesus’ mother) every once a while which is something very normal over there, the minute you call bullshit, people laugh at you and say “go go look with your own eyes” emm I did I see nothing, “look closer don’t be stupid” dud even if I’m stupid I should still be able to see tears coming out of a statue but I don’t see anything, “ok that’s it get the hell out of here go seek a doctor.” lol

        • HOW is English not your first language?! You are hilarious! And you made tons of great points in here. I agree – the inconsistencies and contradictions were just too much for me to swallow anymore, not to mention the hate surrounded by love language. Actions mean so much more than words to me, and their actions say it all. Thank you for your great response, Ray!

  22. An amazing story. I hope the atheist community, despite our some less savioury members, remain an ever lasting realm of hope, support, love, and area of rational and deep source of knowledge and understanding for you. I remember the day it dawned on me Id never would be, and probably never was, a Christian. I had tried so hard when I was much younger being raised as a southern baptist and yet faith always eluded me no matter my attempts. Logic and science called to me in a way faith and religion couldnt. I eventually stopped fighting altogether and my deistic outlook became full-fledged atheism. It didnt take much. Science is now my one and only mistress.

    • This community truly has been so welcoming and helpful – from my husband (I guess he has an a bit of an obligation to be kind to me, but you know what I mean, haha) to the thousands of people reading this piece and sending me kind words (and a few religious people sending me not-so-kind ones, which only solidifies my position on the topic) from all over the world. Thank you for your message of support, Brandon – it means a lot!

  23. Wow this was an amazing read! Funny how sometimes our fear of judgment limits us in so many ways! If you hadn’t put that out there it would have been a shame for yourself and others not to grow from this! Koodo’s to you! It has inspired me to take a leap and put the fear of judgment to rest! Thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you so much! I will say that speaking my truth has been so freeing for me – why hold back any longer? Those that you lose, if any, weren’t really there for you anyway, and you’ll be amazed at the amount of people that step forward to support you on your path toward living authentically! Much love to you on this journey.

  24. Beautifully written and wonderfully accessible! This is precisely the kind of thinking and decision making that theists need to be made aware of, and will hopefully hope to dispel the bogus claim of the “angry atheist” who is mad at religion and hates god. Thank you for posting! 🙂

    • Thanks, Doug! That’s great to hear, because almost 100% of what I’ve experienced has been the opposite of the ‘angry A’ stereotype – and plenty of angry, accusatory theists, which only solidifies my position, you know?

      • Oh I understand completely! I meet several angry theists every time I try to discuss religion or just ask simple questions. When they’re backed into a corner and are forced to answer with something like “you have to have faith” or “god works in mysterious ways” (both of which are answers that I think, deep down inside, more and more religious people are slowly learning are wastes of breath and mere excuses for a lack of thought), they’re simply invoking Phelps’s Law and admitting that they have no argument. Hopefully science and thoughtful secularism will slowly chip away at their protective bubble so they can see what reality is all about.

  25. Gretchen on said:

    Tara, I read your comments but not all the others that followed. I just need to tell you that I really admire the way that you can communicate your thoughts and feelings about the subject of church. I have felt exactly the same way for a long time, and never had what it took to actually put it into writing, to actually think it through, to even think about why I felt how I felt. Thank you for sharing that with us.
    Love, Gretchen

    • Gretchen, thank you so much for reading my piece, and for letting me know you connected with it – it’s wonderfully heartening to know that family understands where I’m coming from. No surprise that you feel similarly to me with this, knowing how similar we’ve always been!

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