Well,I finally did it. I just told my parents that I am now an atheist. How does it feel? I am still trying to process it all, but I suppose the most important thing is that it is done. I guess it was not a critical action in that I am living in Canada and they in Barbados and my actions with secular societies here would not have affected them directly. Nonetheless, I felt with my involvement increasing everyday in freethought it was only fair they should know of my new philosophical position. As I was not sure how to slip the issue into normal phone conversation, I opted to send them an email telling them what I was involved in and specifically provided the link to this blog. That was a few days ago and I left them some days to mull it over.
Tonight I had an extended discussion with each one separately. My mum was the one that I was more concerned about. So many atheists have told me they could just never tell their mother. I always felt that I could even though up until a few days ago I hadn't. However, yesterday I started to get a bit nervous as she told me she was still mulling over my email. I just had visions of my mum staying up at night agonising, this was the last thing I wanted. Anyway after talking tonight I feel a little bit better. She however seems to be worried that I may have involved myself in some cult group which I might find it difficult to get out of later. Tonight I thought was not the time to go into details of why this is not like some new religion and that it is indeed Christianity that is the difficult thing to get out of once you are in. She pleaded with me not to throw out the "baby with the bathwater" which reminded me of Dan Barker's remark in his book Godless that he threw out the bathwater and there was no baby there. Again I thought better of bringing up that extension to the analogy. To my mother's credit she didn't try to change my mind or throw me a version of Pascal's Wager as I have heard has happened in other atheists' experiences. She did mention about sending me some bible passages, but I'll deal with that when and if the time comes. Overall not too bad with mum.
Not surprisingly things were a little easier with my dad as he has always brought more than an air of skepticism to his faith. I remember clearly being at the dinner table at six years old and hearing him chuckling at the absurd concept of two of every animal walking in procession into the ark. He jokingly wondered how on earth Noah managed to capture the two mosquitoes and how he could be sure he had a male and a female. I almost choked on my chicken bone hearing him laughing at something in the HOLY bible, but I never ever forgot that moment. Looking back that was the first crack in my armour of faith. Indeed my father's influence is certainly a large part of spurring my desire to question and investigate all my beliefs. It's like he took me right to the brink of reason's "promised land" but he at least up to now has not been prepared to step over the threshold with me. I on the other hand can find no reason not to keep walking and that's of course what I have done. I certainly think daddy's the one that needs to take a lot of credit for where I am today. Ironically he, as he told me tonight, sees himself as the one if anything that has to take the blame. I suppose it's a question of glasses half empty and half full.
My dad has always considered himself an agnostic and always has as far as I can remember even as he has been heavily involved in the church over the years. He reiterated to me tonight that he considers that the arguments against God's existence are stronger than those in support, but he would never take a position of certainty. In my books that makes him an atheist but I am definitely not going to belabour that point with him. I just merely told him that I agree with him 100% in those conclusions. I was a bit surprised that my dad seemed at some level to be subscribing to that commonly held view by theists that atheism is a position that expresses some type of certainty.
Well all in all two fruitful interactions. It's a shame that neither at this time is able to share my happiness at what I consider to be a very positive development in my life. But, to be honest I know that would have been too much to ask for. I think that is one of the hardest thing for me in becoming an atheist, the inability to share the joy of the deconversion and resulting liberation with those who matter to me most. It's like the best you can get is an, " I'm ok with that."Still I suppose that is really great compared to many stories I have heard where atheists have been virtually cut off by their families.
I also have a wish that my parents could come to understanding my position better by reading some of my thoughts on this blog, but from tonight's conversation I don't think that is going to happen too soon. I now realise that having the name of the blog as No Religion Know Reason does not exactly help. Oh well, too late to change that name now.