Thursday, July 05, 2012

Why I Am An Atheist #23: Jasmine

Boston Atheists member Jasmine writes:

I haven’t believed in a god since my youth, but my journey to declaring myself an atheist was a long one. The best description of myself before 2006 was probably a passive anti-theist. In 2006 I started to call myself an atheist. It was also at that time I felt it was okay for me to chime in when friends and others were discussing religion and/or spirituality. Before that date I would stay out of religious conversations. If anyone asked me about my religion...I would either say I was not religious, or that I wasn’t spiritual and leave it at that. In 2006, I decided there was nothing wrong with stating to people that I didn’t believe in a god.

My decision came in a moment similar to listening to two friends talking about how great the new star wars movies all sorts of crazy and irrational reasons why the new movies were so much better than the old trilogy. I know everyone has their own tastes and opinions, but you can only listen to that type of talk for so long before saying, "Wait...are you crazy? What are you talking about?" It was a moment like that...just another regular old moment of overhearing irrationality... that made me officially state that I was an atheist.

I grew up in a very religious family. As a young child I went to church, attended vacation bible school, was a member of sparks (a religious centered boy/girl scouts like club where you earned jewels on crowns for reading and memorizing bible passages), played bible board games and read bible children’s stories. I had religious friends who believed what I believed... and I believed in what I was taught about god, religion, and the bible. Then, suddenly, my world changed. My parents decided they were no longer going to go to church or be a part of any religious group or organization. They didn’t decide to do this to become more rational...they did it to become more irrational. They decided churches were becoming too liberal and open and started doing their own bible study before I was 10. They were on a path of isolation, discrimination, and believing only they and a few select others were interpreting the bible correctly and on the right path. When this happened I started to wonder why all the people I was friends with were now wrong, and how things that were drilled into my head since as early a I could remember had now changed so quickly. I spent countless hours in the library reading about other religions while trying to figure out if what my parents were telling me was correct.

I discovered science while studying religion (a subject my parent avoided in my home school curriculum other than general nature studies and stargazing) and stopped believing in god as a young teen. I still considered myself spiritual as a youth and even went through a natural/organic/spiritual hippie like phase in my young twenties. I started calling myself an agnostic in my mid to late 20s....then finally started calling myself an atheist six years ago in 2006.

The switch I made in my mind to comfortably call myself an atheist is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. As much as I’m against labeling myself to align with a particular group...It is a label I’m happy to use and feel proud of.

Someone once said to me they feel sorry for me because I live for the now and have an, “Earth-only view of life” while they have an, “Eternal view of life.” For me, living for the now is what makes life so special. Knowing that all there is to life is what is here and what we make of it...that’s what makes me want to live. That’s what makes life so beautiful and not a thing to waste or destroy.


This post is part of a series, in which members of the Boston secular community explain how they came to the decision to identify as atheists. To read more posts in the series, click here. To submit your own story, email