beware… self-involved navel gazing follows…
I have always been an atheist. Even before I knew what the term was, I knew that I didn’t believe in any of the religious teachings that were circulating at the edges of my life.
Sure, I sang along with the nice hymns when Harvest festival came around at school. I actively raided the cupboards for a shoebox of tinned food to be redistributed in our local community and I freaking LOVE Christmas. You’ll find me bellowing HALLELUJAH! in the Royal Albert Hall every year at a sing along Messiah without an ounce of religious belief behind my impassioned performance. I’ve glued billions of fuzzy yellow balls onto chick shapes over many Easters and coloured in literally, some, donkeys.
Cultural practices are not the same as belief though. I’m english, white and middle-class… these were the markers in my school year. My termtimes were punctuated by them and I’m not aware of ever having heaped scorn on them. They’re just not things I believe in.
I’ve never really considered myself as aggressively atheistic (full disclosure; I do have a FSM on the back of my car… mainly because I’m daft and love pirates), I went through a period of really investigating all of the major religions and thinking ‘oh, it would be nice to have a pretty symbol and be in a club like that’ but never even being able to entertain the realistic thought of identifying with a set of religious teachings. No-one has ever tried to ‘convert’ or ‘save’ me and I think it’s because people recognise that I’m not going to be convinced. I’m not aggressively challenging people to convert me and I think it would be interesting to see what techniques someone tried.
I think that because I’ve never identified with a religious group, I’ve also never felt the need to replace that group in the way that many atheists I know do. The movement from one set of strong beliefs to another and the group affiliation that goes along with it. From Christian with a captial C to Atheist with a big red A and meet-ups rather than churchgoing.
In recent history I fell a bit in love with a rather lovely man who identifies as an Atheist and a Skeptic. He is involved in the sphere of all things Skeptical and encouraged me to investigate further as my way of doing and thinking about things seemed to tie-in quite well with this group of people that he associated with.
I’ve dabbled around the edge of the pool for a while now and I’m sorry to say, nope. I don’t want to play with you either.
Let me be clear who I mean by ‘you’.
Skepchick just really grate. I tried, I really did. I’m a feminist who doesn’t believe in god and who can identify with the ‘Skeptical’ tag when it comes to calling bullshit on alternative medicine, astrology and other such woo. Hooray! I thought, look at these other women with brightly coloured hair and interesting looking opinions. Sorry. I try to avoid discussing Rebecca Watson in general because the Skepchick’s ‘fearless leader’ seems to have an almost mystical ability to create conflict and I don’t like getting into arguments about people I don’t know. Elevatorgate is the best example I can cite as to why I’m not interested in engaging with the Skepchick brand of, well, anything really.
The general collection of Freethought blogs just feel really rather inbred and cliquey and every time I dip into their collection of blogs they seem to be on the attack rather than reflecting. The whole ‘Atheism+‘ discussion that’s going on at the moment feels like a formalisation of that clique mentality. Hey look, another pretty symbol that would look good as a necklace and a big fat line dividing us from them. Blaurch.
Something about PZ Myers creeps me out. I’m sure that he’s a lovely person and when he writes about science, I really enjoy reading it, but again… it’s that particular brand of something that I really just can’t mesh with.
I’m not going to turn this into a whingey list of people who don’t know I exist and don’t care that I don’t want to engage with them. I’m just disappointed that I had come to a point where I thought I had discovered a group of like-minded people who looked like fun. Hell, my lovely Skeptic and I were thinking about TAM for honeymooning.
Excuse me for being put off by the general drama and lack of appeal but I’ll be over here just carrying on as I always have. I think that the conclusion I’m coming to is that I should give up on the idea of finding a group of ‘my people’ where I can snuggle in and wear the nice symbol on a necklace. It’s a bit lonely not having a tribe but I can carry on dipping into blogs and singing Handel loudly without calling myself anything with a capital letter at the start. I’ll just be me, it’s got me this far.