queenofzan: (Default)
queenofzan ([personal profile] queenofzan) wrote2010-02-07 11:41 pm
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And now for something completely personal

I had a funny experience the other day. A cute girl who apparently lives on the third floor of my building invited me to a Bible study and said I and my roommate were welcome. I told her no thanks, and when she asked why, I told her Julie was Jewish and I wasn't really religious. She accepted that Julie was probably not interesting but told me it wasn't denominational or exclusive or anything, and it was totally cool if I believed in evolution or whatever I believed in (at this point she apologized for making assumptions because she had just met me but she wanted to make sure I knew I was welcome no matter what) and she'd leave me her card and number just in case. That was about two weeks ago. Thursday, she invited me to another Bible study session. She told me it was okay, I wouldn't be the only atheist there.

Somehow, my statement that I was not really religious turned me, in her mind, into an atheist.

I have to admit, I did lie to her. I told her I'm not really religious, which is only true in a technical sense. I spend a lot of time thinking about religion and my beliefs, and I believe in many things which are outside the realm of science and therefore supernatural. I honor enough irrational superstitions, I feel, to be termed religious.

Of course, I don't follow any larger organized religion--or even a smaller one. The closest thing I have to a "real" religion is Discordianism, which is really what I tell people so they stop trying to talk to me about religion. Honestly, saying "I'm not really religious" is intended to serve the same purpose: to get people to not ask me about religion.

The reason for this is very simple. I don't like talking about my religion or beliefs. I consider them to be the most personal things about me. I would feel less uncomfortable if someone wanted to discuss my bowel movements or genitalia. I literally cannot comprehend why people think it is more acceptable to ask me about the beliefs that form the foundation of my worldview and sense of self than it is to ask about bodily processes. I do not understand why it.

Because to me, questions of religion necessarily tie into questions about my entire outlook on life and sense of self. I don't feel like these things can be untangled from one another. Who I am informs how I view the world around me, which forms the basis of my beliefs, which influence my sense of self, and so on. Talking about any aspect of that, particularly to strangers or acquaintances who seem to think "What religion are you?" is appropriate small talk, makes me intensely uncomfortable.

But just because I dodge the question or bullshit an answer to get people to stop asking me doesn't mean I'm an atheist. Sure, I believe in evolution (and gravity, a heliocentric solar system, global warming, and the laws of physics), but neither I nor many others have a problem believing in both science and a higher power. Yes, I support gay marriage, freedom of choice, and equality for literally everyone, but that in no way makes me an atheist. I believe in chaos and Eris and free will and fate and that everything balances out in the end, and as far as I have been able to find, I don't match up with any religious organization out there. I don't see how that makes me an atheist or is anyone's business but mine.

And that is my problem, I think. I don't care what religion someone is. As long as it doesn't involve murdering dudes*, I do not care. And I don't understand why someone would care about mine, or why they would think my desire not to talk about it makes me an atheist.

*"murdering dudes" here refers to any behavior which impinges on another's rights

Also, yes, I have run up against all those assumptions, and I find I have an issue with this often enough for it to really freaking bother me. I don't have anything against atheism, but it bothers me that people so frequently assume you're either a Christian, a Jew, or a terrorist (because EVERYONE knows all Muslims are terrorists) because those are the ONLY RELIGIONS, and if you are not one of those, you are an atheist. Um. No.

In sum: leave me the hell alone and stop assuming you know everything about people. Oh my god. S.