Itis like being in a cave with an aggressive creature hovering over you with nocompacity for reason. They want you to sacrifice the only thing you need foryour life –your mind. They demand you give it up, they demand you to no longerthink and your plea for independence is lost because this brute is a window–all being said passes through into an abyss and nothing is absorbed forconsideration. They want what they want and nothing other.
This is precisely the current culture of atheism. Atheismis still regarded as a taboo regardless of the ongoing increase of atheists inthe United States. I have experienced people who have minds and destroy its ownpurpose when met with an atheist: reason. I would deliberately ignore theseconversations for just that, but now I enjoy speaking about it to reinforce myposition: the mind is antithetical to faith –which has been shown time aftertime.
I have always been abnormally inquisitive in somethingas a kid. It started as being an excellent writer in elementary school. “Hey,are you done?” I would ask another student and would proceed to brag aboutfinishing the writing assessment first after they would answer, “no.” I enjoyedwriting too much obviously. Later it was science; I inquired in the methods ofthinking and discovery –the fact that our minds are our essential tool ofdiscovery was a remarkably interesting fact to me, even though I did not graspit fully at the time. Later it was astronomy, religion, and evolution. As youcan see, this is one of my first major phases. The theme is where are we? Andhow did we get here? “There is no God,” I told my friend in 6thgrade as my conclusion. He offered church as an alternative. I considered it. Inever went. I was a neo-atheist, following the footsteps of Richard Dawkins andStephen Hawking. Concealing my atheism while chewing the idea that there is noGod was always problematic. There were questions I did not have answers to, andno one around to answer them. If I spoke out, I would be questioned on mylegitimacy of my faith in God. “Atheists are a-moral,” “they are sad people,”“they will fail in life,” my family would confess. Well, if that is true, thenwhy am I exempt? Surely, I had some sense of good and bad. I was often chipperand overly ambitious in my private research.
I indulged myself into online communities surrounding thetopic of God for about two years. I would have genuine conversations, ordebates, or give them hell when I felt like it. Often after genuineconversations, I had had a strong emotional appeal to Christianity. I wouldpray to see if I could muster a connection with God. None was apparent. I wasin continuous loop of considering religion and denouncing it as if I were insome convection cycle. The atheism in me eventually won. I made a finaldecision, and left all social media related to the topic. I stopped reading on astronomy,religion, and evolution –I just maintained my interest in NASA.
Atheismwas no longer a part of my personality. It was just an aspect of me that wasrarely brought up like my politics (at the time). I never fully integrated theimplications of the non-existence of God, and still had cognitive infighting onreality-based premises, and mystical premises which came from religion. Thesewould often spur from conversations with my parents. They would imply theexistence of God, and my mind would retort “but there isn’t one.” I never feltcomfortable around my parents about the topic. Afterall, I was only 13.
But my atheism had arevival in me. During sophomore year, I tasted the importance of politics,philosophy, and ideas as such. I started observing the consequences of badphilosophical premises in history and our ongoing cultural trend. Thisinfluenced me to speak out on social media on a variety of issues. Now, as to whatI would speak about is irrelevant, the essential here is how religious topicsbecame a part of my life again. It was often that I would participate indebates where my opponent would blindly justify their position on religiousmorality and the existence of God –they could not warrant either. I dedicated agenerous portion of my time diving into the source of these arguments andsolidified my atheism along the way after finding out how ridiculous theepistemology of non-secular arguments is. “What exactly is a God?” I would ask.“They keep telling you what it is not, but never tell you what it is.”(Rand, 1961, For the New Intellectual).
AsI continued to integrate myself on social media, I started to develop a popularpersona which led to a paid trip of my mother and I to Austin Texas. It was aconference center and a hotel separated by a beautiful courtyard of fountainsand gardening. I was surrounded by people I felt like I knew without shakingtheir hands; we all had the same core beliefs –one of them being atheism. Thesocial environment was the removal of something behemoth on my shoulders; therewas no weight, no sag –just pure confidence. I was the skyscraper in thesurrounding area, and sure as hell felt like it. I walked around often just toactualize my achievements; I was often mentioned in public discourse, met fansof my content, and enjoyed the sensation that elders were admirers of my work.But there was one thing keeping me from having full comfort: my mother’spresence.
Iwanted to hide the philosophy from my mother as much as possible because I knewhow she would react unthinkingly. There was an instance that I could not avoid.My mother and I –alongside with a multitude of my adherents attended a dinner.My mother maintained her silence during the conversation I had about varioussubjects including physics and consciousness. The dinner was served in rounds ongenerously sized plates. But this wasn’t no ordinary dinner –this was a dinnerdedicated to one of my favorite philosophers: Leonard Peikoff. There was anexclusive broadcast of him on three different screens. The broadcast preventedme from realizing the waiters were asking me what type of coffee I wanted.“Regular.” I answered startingly, then my eyes gravitated back to the screen.Peikoff proceeds to denounce religion and the existence of God. I kept mycomposure while my mom pulled out her phone to research the philosopherdisplayed on the screen. She oscillated her eyes from the screen and her phoneto assure she was googling the right person. I knew exactly what she was doing;all I had to do from that point on was to prepare for the line of questioningthat had soon come. She placed her phone down to suggest that the dinner was over,and she has heard enough.
Luckily,I entered the hotel with my friend Austin which was used as an external springboardto bounce out the conversation of religion with my mother. Austin entered witha pleasant greeting. My mother returned the same. “So, that guy on the screenwas talking that he is an atheist; are you an atheist?” My mother askedconcerningly. “I don’t want to talk about it” I responded flatly. There wasabsolutely no facial expression written on my face to demonstrate theunimportance of the question. Austin projected a face of curiosity andconfusion as to why I didn’t answer –he already knew my real answer. Ilater left without care knowing my mom would want to further the conversationwithout the presence of Austin. “I can’t tell her, I just can't.” I thought.There was just one memory that kept re-playing in my mind. “The two things youcould ever do to disappoint me is one: be gay, or two: be an atheist.” Said mydad months prior.
Ireturned to the hotel later that night still having a mental defense up forquestioning. I was right. My mother continued the conversation as if there werenever a pause. I still evaded the question. “Well, you know, don’t tell your dadbecause you know how your dad is.” This gave me some relief because she impliedthat if she knew, it is not necessary for my dad to know anyway. I quicklyscheduled a meeting with one of the other philosophers I knew. He was delightedto have the conversation of how I should break the topic to my parents, or evenif I should at all over a cup of black coffee. The philosopher elaborated onhis experience with his parents reacting to his atheism. He questioned myreasons for not wanting to make my position explicit and inquired on thepossible consequences if I did tell my parents. After the conversation, I roseand left with clearer thinking and more confidence than before. It was truly alearning experience.
Finally,there was a sense of confidence surrounding the topic. Implicit in my thinking wasmy desire for parental acceptance for something I am not. Of what value is thatto my life? That is an impossible question to answer since all values pertainto who you are –not just a reflection of what other people want you tobe. I concluded that I would not tell my parents, but I will not hide iteither. If the topic of God or religion occurred, I would give my take as wellinstead of letting them think that their beliefs are being integrated withmine. At the end of the day if there is a bad emotional reaction from thembecause of my views, moral guilt is not mine to bear, but theirs for refusingto understand the position fully before making judgments. Why would anyone beashamed if they believe their position is right? Being ashamed is therecognition that one has breached moral principles –I have not done such athing. My parents must have the emotional burden of dealing with a son who isan atheist because of their irrational value-judgments.
Inshort, no one should do self-evaluation of their own character based on thewants and desires of other people. The reason people do this is because theybelieve there is an existence of a social expectation to be a particular way.Because of this belief, people sacrifice their own minds to uninterestedbuyers; there is no social expectation, and if there were, they have no rightto expect the sacrifice of others’ mind. Victims of this premise think and act onlywith the permission of others. The only standard of good is the wants ofeveryone else besides you. Now with this enlightenment, I have a new sense ofunderstanding of how I should act toward my parents, and in public not for thesake of them, but out of respect for my self –the ego.