Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Why I Am (and am not) an Athiest

After a childhood of Sunday school and feeling dissatisfied with "reality" as it had been taught to me, all it took was Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion to see the world in a whole new light.

At first it was freeing, euphoric even. The world wasn't confined to the Christian apologetic arguments that didn't really prove anything anyway! More importantly, I wasn't confined to the predetermined life some all-powerful being had prescribed for me. My desires weren't sin. They were human nature, and I had every right to explore them without guilt or shame (within the ethical confines of do-no-harm of course).

But after a few years of this existential playground, I began to feel empty. In the atheist world, reason (not emotion)  is the name of the game. Everything bows to logic. There is no room for emotive human beings. We are atoms, interacting with other atoms. Emotions are irrational.

Again, I started to feel restricted. A large piece of who I am was missing from this worldview. After all, reason is not the only thing humans are capable of. Even the best of us cow to our nonsensical feelings every now and then.

While some may be able to thrive in the emotional desert that is atheism, I could not. Yet again, I wanted more. An encompassing worldview needed to include a place to emote. Maybe even to express spirituality. Does the absence of a fantasy deity remove the human capacity for (need for?) spirituality?

I like to explain my experience of spirituality as a sort of super-emotion. It exists in the realm of emotions/feelings, but it's more than just a feeling. It's also a knowing. And this knowing connects me, the individual, to Me, a tiny particle of a vast universe. Or, as Ken Wilber would call it: the Witness (Kosmic Consiousness, 2003).

As humans, it's not enough to see ourselves as rational individuals connected to our surroundings only so often as we physically bump into them. We feel we need more, because we are more. We are spiritual, despite the lack of a deity. To really be human, to understand our Buddha nature, we have to acknowledge that both sides of ourselves, the rational and the emotional, compliment and don't compete with each other.

So, yes, I am an atheist  I don't believe in the Sunday school Father in Heaven of my up-bringing. But I don't stop there. I am more than that. More than just an atheist.