There is No Babysitter
I am wearing a beanie today because I’m feeling tough. What I’m about to say isn’t going to be popular with some people, but I’m feeling up to the task of being disliked for my opinions.
First, a bit of context. Through the power of Facebook, I have reconnected with many of my friends from childhood. Up until my early twenties, I was a born-again Christian. I lost my faith in God when I was excommunicated from the church for having pre-marital sex. Almost all of the people I know from those days are still practicing Christians. I see their requests for prayer, photos from church services and Biblical quotes in my feed all the time. I let these religious posts slide by — aware that by saying how I really feel will bring unnecessary conflict and disagreement.
But it makes me wonder why there is no one from my past who has given up their faith. Is it possible that I am the only one, or are other people tip-toeing around the issue the same way as I have?
One of my friends, George, has bucked the trend. He is an atheist and actively challenges the fairytales he used to believe in. Recently he contacted me to help him write an article for a major atheist website. Talking to him has inspired me to be transparent about my own position on God, the Bible and the institution of the church.
Then the other day, I read about a young Christian woman, barely out of her teens, who was dying from complications following a lung transplant. Although I didn’t know her, my friends did, and they were begging God for a miracle. I have no doubt that if anyone had the ear of God, it was these people. Strong, committed, faithful, righteous, dedicated and sincere. And yet their God sat on his hands, did nothing, and the young woman died. Don’t tell me He wanted her in heaven more than her young husband wanted to watch her grow old with him. That kind of God is a bastard, and I want nothing to do with Him.
I am here to declare that I don’t believe in God, that the Bible is nothing more than a historical narrative, and that the Christian church does more damage than good.
What might be confusing is that in my ‘about me’ speech, I speak about angels. Surely if I believe in angels, then I must believe in God? No, I don’t — for me the two things are completely unrelated. Angels aren’t all-powerful gods who demand worship or else they will punish me (in hell for eternity). There isn’t any old man with a beard in the sky. I feel the swirling eddies of our connected souls and I choose to imagine that mysterious energy as angels. They’re a metaphor, rather than a literal interpretation.
I can’t call myself an atheist because of my belief in this mystical force — but perhaps that force is simply a thing we have yet to find an explanation for, the same way that thunder and lightning once used to be seen as supernatural. I guess I don’t really have it all figured out. But that’s okay. I might not know what is real, but I do know what isn’t.
Pema Chödrön sums it up best ~
Theism is a deep-seated conviction that there’s some hand to hold: if we just do the right things, someone will appreciate us and take care of us.
Nontheism is relaxing with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the present moment without reaching for anything to protect ourselves. Nontheism is finally realizing there is no babysitter you can count on.
― Pema Chödrön
There is no babysitter, my friends. We all have to take care of ourselves, and each other.