To: ALL Feb-16-94 07:55:00 Subject: Closet Atheist

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From: PIET BARBER To: ALL Feb-16-94 07:55:00 Subject: Closet Atheist Hello, My name is Piet (pronounced Pete) and I am an atheist. I have been recently monitoring this conference, and I find a very nice little feeling, being around those others who think with such a free and open mind as I like to think I do. I am new with this FIDONet stuff, so Mr. Moderator, if I am out of line, please inform me of it quickly, and I will follow guidelines (that I don't think I'm going to stray from). In this little message to all, I am going to ask several things, that I, quite honestly, have not had the forum to do beforehand, because I have always felt that I am discriminated against becuase of my beliefs, or non-beliefs for that matter. How did each of you come to the conclusion that you are atheists? What exact things clung to your minds so strongly that moved you away from traditional thinking? I was in the 9th grade. At that time, I was devout Orthodox Christian. My father was formerly an Episcopal priest, converted to Russian Orthodoxy, and pretty religious as far as fathers go. Not gloom-n-doom type religious, but religion was something that is dear to him. One of my friends at school was atheist, and he said things to me (specifics I do not remember) that made me think about religion all over again. How does religion address the ideas that it used to back, such as geocentrism, flat earths, purgatory? The Bible said that the 3 sons of Noah went to the four corners of the earth (or was it the tower of Babel) signifying that the earth was flat like a table mat. Religious leaders followed this rigidly, even though sailors and merchants well knew that the world was round. Galileo, a great mind of his time; the first to point a telescope at the heavens to see what was out there. Cardinals and bishops refused to look through the telescope to see the moons orbiting Jupiter, only because they knew that they were not there, they did not need to look through it to affirm their belief. Bruno, Johannes Kepler's assistant, was burned at the stake for religious blasphemy, he stated that the world revolved around the sun. I found it very interesting that ideas that most educated hold as not such a big deal was an idea for which people were burned. The Crusades, I learned of in my freshman class of World History, the Crusades, "zillions" of Christians off to Jerusalem to win back the holy land. Battles so fierce, so gruesome, that some soldiers who lived through the event had to wring blood out of their clothes from fallen foes and comrades. This, in the name of the peace-loving God?!? The lines for my final freedom from religious half-truths, programmed in my mind for all of my life, had been drawn. You may be wondering (or yawning for that fact) what pushed me over the edge into reason. A movie that wasn't even supposed to have this effect on me, forged the steel of my now atheist beliefs: Clan of the Cave Bear. My mom was watching a video tape of it, and Heck, I wasn't even watching it. One of the characters in the movie said something about the wind blowing because of the wind god or something like that. I stopped. I thought about it. It all became clear. Primitive Cave man doesn't have the ability to explain wind. Coreolis forces, air pressure differentials, Hadley cells had nothing to do with why the wind blew. The Cave man did not have any ability to explain something in nature that s/he had seen, so a supernatural belief was put in place of that void, that lack of technological knowledge. I stepped back for a moment. Whoah, What if... there are no differences between modern (ha!) religion and what that caveman thought? What I was thinking was "blasphemy" to my still religious side. I resisted the thoughts, tried to supress my new enlightenment. I still hung out with my religious zealout friends (heck I was one at one time). I still went to Young Life Meetings, cause it was the cool thing to do when I was in high school. I tried to convince myself that I was not atheist. I had no support. No one to turn to. I couldn't even admit it to my parents, they would be so disappointed. I now am quite sympathetic to the plight of the opressed homosexuals out there, cause my realised atheism has made me feel different than all of my other friends who are/were religious. There are too many parallels. Me and my sister get along great, she's a lesbian. And our father does not even know. What I am is what you my call a closet atheist, I guess you could say. I've since had... Gee, 7 years to reconsider coming out of the atheist closet to my father. No way. Why? you may ask. Well, simple. Atheists are very discriminated against. Don't think so? I sure feel like it. Every time I'm in a fine conversation with somebody, and a third party reveals my atheism, I often get looks of astonishment. "You mean... YOU don't believe in the Almighty God?!?" It's taken me a long time to be able to admit it to even strangers, "Nope." I often get phrases such as, "He's only 21, he's going through a phase." "You're not an atheist, you're agnostic." "You're not atheist, you still believe in God." "You are going to burn in hell for not believing in the Almighty!" "You're young. You'll realise the power of God someday when you become older." I am currently enrolled at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, I have taken an introductory religion course on Egyptian, Judaism, Islam and early Christianity, Canaanism, Babylonian and Sumerian religions. In that class, I came away with overwhelming evidence that Judaism, hence Christianity, was descended from Canaan peoples moving into the highlands east of the Dead Sea. "Evolving" from Polytheistic to Henotheistic Hebrews, finally to the monotheists they are today. I often find irony in the chastising of the Canaan Gods Baal (who Yahweh was modeled after by the henotheistic Jews) in the old Testament. I can out-debate (well, at least I do a good job of making him look silly) just about any *real* Creationist out there, who tries to tell me that the earth is only 5000 years old or so. >Phew!< Well I have come out of the atheist closet to you ("Y'all", I have to say it, I'm from Virginia) I now await your replies and similar stories that will no doubt enrich my non-belief. A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes. «Piet Barber» Written on 02/15/94 at 04:23:57. ... Believe in the Bible? Hell! I've SEEN one!

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