I was brought up as an orthodox Jew. Even had I not been, I think I would have found religion at some point. I’m the ‘spiritual type’ (at least in my opinion). I’m romantic, I have a habit of thinking there’s more to things than meet the eye and I care more about abstract concepts than anything concrete.
And I really loved believing in God. I couldn’t understand how there could be so much beauty and order to the world without a divine touch involved. Believing in God made life easier for me. It made everything seem fairer and it made me feel far less anxious thinking that there was a reason to everything.
I’ll skip quite a few years to when I was about seventeen and I stopped being religious. I know others give up the religious lifestyle, however maintain and adapt their belief in God. And I was warned not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But, it wasn’t that I disliked the religious lifestyle and therefore needed to stop believing in God in order to live the secular life I wanted. It was my natural aversion to the mentality of belief, which made me want to stop the religious lifestyle.
A belief in God, at least the way I experienced it, was a mental state in which I would question everything, except whether God existed. It was this inability to question, which I found went against my nature. I found it hard to pick and choose what I would analyse and dissect. It was this need to question and explore life, which initially caused me stop believing in God.
(As I already qualified above, it doesn’t mean I’m against those who do believe in God. I’m not angry at religion, or religious people. I actually get upset when people bag out religion and say being an atheist is a superior manner of living. Anyway…)
While I was writing my book about a religious character earlier this year, I was deeply excited about reliving the belief in God, which had left me when I was a late teen. I realised how much I missed believing in God. And it made me wonder why I don’t just start again. Or become agnostic. It seemed reasonable enough that I would.
But, I know I can’t do this. And the reason is because I know what it felt like to believe in God and now I know that I don’t feel that way. Therefore, I’m an atheist. Simple as that. It’s just a feeling, the same as someone knowing they believe in God. I simply don’t. Obviously I don’t mean to suggest you have to have been religious at one point to call yourself an atheist. It’s just how I see it with myself. (Alright, I’ll stop qualifying everything now.)
Growing up, I was always taught there is no such thing as a Jewish atheist. Even if they didn’t know it, they still secretly believe in God on some level. But, I know through and through, this is what I am. And as a ‘spiritual type’ without God in his life, I’m now just an over analyzing, overly romantic, overly sensitive writer. Possibly, with a bit of a chip on my shoulder.