The Atheist and the Humanist

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The atheist and the humanist were fighting for the crown.

The atheist beat the humanist, but then was feeling down.

Arrogance is widespread so try to pipe down;

And focus on understanding what’s in another’s crown.

I’d like to speak candidly. Swears will be used.

I’ve been struggling to come up with a topic to write on this week. I’ve been focusing more on the novel and keeping busy with family and my health. I’ve been pondering about something for years now, and a lot more lately. There’s a battle of ideologies ongoing in my head.

I’m an atheist. That’s not going to change. But, I’m also very interested in learning about what people believe, and why. I enjoy the dialogue I have with people of faith. It helps me think about things differently. I don’t like being surrounded by people who look just like me think just like me live just like me beep bop boop. Ew. That’s too robotic. I need a variety. Like a bouquet of acquaintances, as much as authenticity can allow.

There’s often a conundrum in my head that goes something like this: Can I criticize religious ideology and still be friends with religious individuals?

Sometimes the Mormon Church really makes me mad. I keep a pulse on the happenings in the church, and more often then not, I am angry about current policies and doctrines that are damaging. I get mad that members make excuses for institutionalized practices. By calling it “church culture” it gets a pass. I get mad that no one holds a standard to the teachings of the prophets. I get mad that the church white-washes its history to inaccurate levels of propaganda. I get mad that facts get coded as “anti” and therefore null. I get mad when members are complacent in social justice issues because “everything outside of the gospel doesn’t really matter. The atonement of Jesus Christ is all we should focus on.” My head spins when members have an answer for everything, while somehow never address any of the issues directly. Atheist me.

But…

My husband is Mormon. We have a pretty awesome relationship. It’s never been better. We love to travel, be outdoors, explore the city, boulder, ride bikes, roller skate, eat well, dance party, parent like nobodies bitches.

My parents and siblings are Mormon. I love them. I genuinely like being around these people. I couldn’t live without my sisters and my one awesome genius brother.

My in-laws are Mormon. They love everyone they meet. They love me like a daughter. Their children are all down-to-earth, normal people. I Love them all.

Most of my childhood, teenage and college friends are Mormon.

I have an amazing group of Mormon friends where I live. They knew from day one I was an atheist, nay, an apostate. They don’t care. We even talk about issues in the church from time to time. Most of the time we talk about birthin’ and funny things our kids say while simultaneously breast feeding and pushing a swing. It’s a dance.

No one has attacked me for leaving the church. They may think I’m misguided or too “learned”. (It’s pronounced learn-ED.) But they all know I’m an atheist and most don’t care because they know I’m a good person. Only one person has randomly emailed me about not believing in god, speaking somewhat fire-and-brimstone, but I detached myself from said person years ago. So, I guess there’s one crazy outlier. I’ve read the horror stories of shunning and divorce. I’ll take it. Humanist me.

I like to follow the exMuslim subreddit. It’s eerily similar to themes on the exmormon subbredit. And the exJW. And the exScientilogu, and Blackfree thinkers. the stories of leaving one’s religion are just as interesting as the religion itself. They parallel my experience.

I listen to Sam Harris. I don’t agree with everything he says, and OMG I can’t meditate….Squirrel!….wait what was I talking about. Oh ya, hardcore atheists who publicly criticize bad ideas brought to you by religion. Name drop. I’m glad there are people out there having these conversations. All ideas, even religious ones, especially religious ones, should be up for scrutiny. Just because they are special to someone, doesn’t mean they are untouchable.

I like to meet other secularists. We are few and far-between, at least where I live. It’s nice to know people outside of the Internet who share your worldview. We swap stories of losing our faith and ask questions about former beliefs. Atheist me.

I met a Muslim woman this weekend. She was wearing a hijab. (A day short of World Hijab Day, mind you.) Our kids were playing at the mall play place together. We got talking about library story time, our kids getting sick this season and New York City. She’s from Brooklyn and recommended some sights in Manhattan for next time we visit. She seemed like a cool, easy going mom. I hope we bump into each other again to exchange info. I don’t care one shit of a bird’s brain case that she is wearing a hijab or that she is Muslim. Humanist me.

Later that day I’m scrolling twitter, getting sucked into the #nohijabday movement of ex Muslim women, unwrapping their hijab in defiance. You. Go. Girl. Atheist me.

Do you see the whiplash that is going on?

What is the balance?

It’s probably just the taxonomists in me, but I like things to fit nicely in a group. And stay there. That’s easy. It’s human nature. But, I know better than to think in black and white. The more people I meet the more I learn that a person’s faith, or lack there of, is just one part about them. It’s nearly a moot point in my day-to-day interactions. There are so many other things to find common ground on.

So I’ll continue to learn about belief, despite my agnosticism. I’ll try to stay respectful even if I don’t agree. I’ll try to empathize with the meaning others find, religious and otherwise. I will always strive to see the good in people, and the beauty in our human complexity.

In summary:

I don’t agree. But I love you.

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