I am quite disheartened, because my new found enthusiasm for reason and rational thinking, for embracing all that is real, and openly dismissing all that is related to the falsehood that is religion is annoying my close family.
They think I go too far.
They think I am a ranting zealot.
They think its some sort of cult.
And that atheism is the new fanatical religion in my life.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. However my enthusiasm and my emotional need to keep reaffirming my "beliefs" are obviously affecting them.
The thing is, I've been a hollow, emotionally volatile, wisp of a man for many years, medicating myself with alcohol for much of it, ultimately at the mercy of my fears towards death. Hypochondria. Panic attacks etc.
Death has so heavily exacted a toll on my life over the years, its claws are in every aspect of my being. My new found "enlightenment" in Atheism, Reason, Science and the Truth of Reality really is a kind of ongoing therapy for me. Self administered. I find myself easily slipping into superstitious ways, or hoping for salvation and an afterlife of some sort, or wishing reconciliation with my dead parents. These thought processes have been conditioned into me and nurtured by me, from an early age. They have kept me weak of will, with no personal integrity, no dignity, no backbone (if you like).
So, I need to reinforce my current understanding of things, by watching leading scientists in their field present the arguments, offer up new viewpoints, by stating the realities of it all, and by being annoyed at the damage that has been done to the world over the years by religion, by supernatural twaddle, by pernicious pseudo-science.
My inner strength, my growth, my rational adulthood needs frequent affirmation. These trains of thought are still new to me, the ability to drop all prejudice, all preconceptions, all sociopathic tribal hatred and to embrace the liberal secular views of Humanism is a major leap for me - going against everything I've been taught as a child, everything I've ever thought as a adult throughout my 20's and 30's.
Just a few years ago none of this would have been possible, I simply wasn't open enough to see the truth of the world. I was wrapped up in a supernatural superstitious semi-spiritual delusion. Perhaps John Edwards, or Colin Fry can bridge the gap and put me in touch with my parents, or confirm the presence of an afterlife, or a God that will meter out justice? Whilst others thought that it was just a "bit of fun", I seriously considered it as the truth!
I could convince myself that I was having a spiritual experience when my Father-in-Law George died, I felt his presence "in the corner of the room". I thought that was true! I was in a place where just thinking something could convince me it was true.
Hence, ridiculous phobias about connecting bad things with situations or inanimate objects. Watching the film Dragonheart (because thats what I was watching when my Mam phoned me and announced she had terminal Cancer). Watching the film Gallipoli (the night prior to my Dad's death). Wearing Dungarees (because I was very ill after I tried something new like wearing all-in-one trousers). Forming ways of behaving based around irrational pattern matching. These are behaviours of an emotional child.
I feel I have taken a major step forward in terms of development and maturity, to get to the point where I only accept reality, I only trust evidence, and I am keenly trying to educate myself in the things that I now feel matter. The World. The Climate. Humanity. Our future as a species, bearing in mind the poisonous spread of religious fanaticism.
The Reality of it all has dawned upon me, by the help of scientific celebrities and their teachings.
I was once a scientist. I understood the scientific method. But I didn't know it held the key to my growth/recovery and ability to face up to my fears. I feel more grounded. Stronger. And more open to new ideas, new ways of thinking. To use Dr Steve Peter’s Chimp Paradox model, my chimp has hijacked my life for long enough, and now the sentient Human wants control.
Now I understand how this life will unfold. Now that I'm not waiting on some judgement, some supernatural justice. I want to enjoy whats left with my new perspective.
I haven't joined a cult.
I'm not brainwashed.
I've never been more "awake", mentally speaking.
I've never had this much control over my emotions and thought processes.
I'm no longer flailing about, like a lost child looking for a parents hand.
I accept my incoming death. I don't like it. But I understand the processes that are underway to bring it about.
My conscious self wants to enjoy as much life as I can.
I'm not totally there yet though.
I still have doubts.
And my seemingly constant barrage of anti-religious quips, jibes and taunts - is purely a self confirmation in my new mental perspective. I'm sure it will calm down. I'm sure I'll end up as a content and rather placid Atheist. But at the moment, the pain of the damage wrought upon me by superstition / supernatural / religious delusion still stings, and I have anger towards it. 40 odd years wasted in emotional torment. I simply have to shake my fist!
This is my journey.
And if its annoying, or amusing to you, and you think I'm mad, or have joined a cult, then so be it. I'll try and temper my fervour and reign it in as best I can. I am striving to be a better person than I was. To be more rational. To be an Adult. To be Human.
This "enlightenment" process is probably the best thing that has happened to me for many years, and I treasure it, and in doing so I'm probably coming across as fanatical, for that I apologise. It is VERY important to me though. It's not a fad. It's not a new toy that I will throw away. I see it as the answer to a lot of my emotional issues and phobias. Not some 12 step help book, but a real positive way to look at life and face the truth (and beauty) of reality.