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Understanding Atheism

AtheismI’ve decided to expand on my previous post entitled, “Atheism vs Agnosticism” where I explored the different ways of thinking about atheism. The reason for this is because since writing that post, I’ve further explored what atheism means to others and have done a lot of reading on the subject. Some of the books I’ve read are: God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, Letter to a Christian Nation, and An Atheist Manifesto by Sam Harris – all of which I highly recommend. In addition to these books, I’ve come across a wealth of information on various websites and especially YouTube.

As my original post talked about, there are a number of ways to define the terms ‘atheist’ and ‘agnostic’. My exploration of these terms were on a more passive level, that is to say I didn’t apply an active component to the definitions; the words were simply defined as what they mean separate from how they’re used. I’d say that most atheists, like myself, use a strict definition where ‘a-theist’ means, “not theist” (just as ‘atypical’ means “not typical”), and opposed to “a disbelief in a god” (since this would indicate a type of belief itself). I tend to like this definition for its simplicity. However, I’ve noticed that most theists (meaning ‘religious believers’) tend to view the term as having much more intent behind the term, such as “against religion”, “god hater”, or “anarchist” (the last two making absolutely no relevant sense). There are many atheists out there who either don’t subscribe to the label (though fit my definition) or don’t actively oppose religion at all, while others are in active opposition to specific theistic beliefs or all of theism. It’s important to remember that atheism is not an ideology, nor is it a religion unto itself as some people like to think.

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Conditions on Friendship

Now that a couple of weeks have gone by, since I made the announcement that I was leaving the Church, I thought I’d make some observations about the responses that I’ve received from family and friends.

First off, I’d like to say how grateful I am to the numerous supportive responses that I have received; these have been most kind, and needed in this time of transition. I have had many old friends, as well as distant family members, step up and openly support my decision by commenting on my various Facebook & blog posts. I’ve also been surprised so see how many people I know who have gone through a very similar process in their own lives. I’ve even been discussing some of my own cousins’ exit stories with them, of which I was either not aware, or was only told the Mormon perspective (as many of these events happened while I was much younger). This discussion has brought me closer with my cousins than I ever have been, which is the result I hoped for when releasing my essay.
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