Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Abyss

I often experience irrational urges to kill myself.  It seems that I want to escape.  Life may well have no meaning or purpose, after all.
I don't, and there are several reasons:

1: My wife.  I don't want to cause her the distress and grief.   I love her.  Despite my efforts to absolutely release all irrational thoughts, my feelings toward my wife are something I'll never let go.
2: Fear of death.  Also irrational, but the abyss is a terrifying concept to my human mind.  What lies beyond?  Well, it might well be nothing.  But I've never been dead.  And even the idea of an end to my self is terribly scary; I've never ceased to exist before.
3: Hope for something.  I don't currently accept any inherent meaning in life and existence, but I sure wish there was some kind of purpose.  Another irrational desire.
There is a good reason it took so long for me to admit my serious doubts about my religion; I desperately, irrationally need meaning.  I assume others experience similar feelings, and I assume this is where the sentiments arise that "life is not meaningless just because there is no universally-defined purpose to it" among atheist commentators and authors.

Of course, suicide is as irrational as any course of action.  There is no real reason to decide to do anything.
I think the suicidal ideation, however, is a coping mechanism when I feel particularly uncomfortable.  I know I will never go through with it, however much I toy with the idea and dream up methods; I just want to imagine a fool-proof escape from everything I feel pressured to do and be.

I recognize that everything I do is irrational and does not fit with my view of the world.  In fact, to everyone but one or two people, I appear to be a devout Christian, faithful husband, A-student, Eagle Scout on the fast track to eventually receive a PhD in Physics.  And in fact, I guess I am those things in all of my actions, but I don't think like the idealized person I pretend to be.
I practice religion for appearances, out of habit, and to support my wife.  I do well in school and have chosen a challenging and intellectual career-path because that is how I was brought up.
I will always be faithful to my wife.  She is my strongest true tie to the world of the human experience and the preoccupation with all things human.  She makes me feel and hope.
I guess what I regard as my considerable intellect is conquered by my love for my wife.

I hope beyond all rational conclusion that my current take on existence is a temporary step that will eventually lead to some kind of feeling of meaning, purpose, and peace.
I won't pretend that I'm not miserable, but I don't know what to do about it.  My reaction is simply that of a human being unprepared to accept a harsh, meaningless reality.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This blog exists.

Any value judgments might be misguided.

I need somewhere to write down my thoughts.  This will serve.  I have another blog, but it is connected with my identity.  Despite the irrationality of it all, I intend to enjoy my anonymity here by writing what I think without worrying about the judgments of friends and family.

I have read many things.  I was raised in a devoutly religious family, and was devoutly religious myself until quite recently.  My doubts and disillusionment have led me to the very door of atheism, at which point I wish to ponder the implications of the loss of my former beliefs.

I have read many a defense of atheism: that it does not preclude the existence of objective morality, that atheists can be as happy as believers, that atheism can be a viable, happy world-view.
--I don't think I buy it.

When I read the stuff that Richard Dawkins and his ilk write, I find inherent flaws; they attack religion for its lack of morality in many situations, and try to convince that it is wrong to do such things as raise children to believe in a religion before they can make a decision themselves.
Dawkins is compelling, but he makes value judgement left and right.  These appeal to some sense of universal morality in the reader.  However, I don't think he names a source for said morality.  If he does, it is likely a "secular humanist" type of reason, and I've always detected the faint odor of intellectual dishonesty about that kind of stuff.

In my mind, if there is no god (or God, whichever you like), no supernatural power deciding on the meaning of life and existence, then there is no universal meaning.  The meaning each of us has in our lives is simply a contrived reaction to our circumstances, a foolish belief that we can make the world in our own image based on what we happen to believe.
Therefore, I can't bring myself to accept such anti-religion sentiments as I have read.  If a religion commits genocide, I feel a negative reaction, but I can only think that this reaction is based on my upbringing and biological disposition.

I also don't particularly believe that religion is not beneficial to the mental health of the average person.  I have been much happier and more motivated than I am now, in my religious life.
Admittedly, my youth was peppered with depression, exacerbated by guilt and feelings of inadequacy originating the stringent standards of my religious upbringing.  However, I took great comfort at times in the promises of my religion.
I have a sinking feeling that consistent happiness is impossible to me without religion.  However, I feel unwilling to give up rationality, and at this point no religion seems to promise anything believable.

I am even active in the church of my upbringing at the moment.  I definitely can't leave until I graduate from the university I attend, as it is an institution owned by the church.  There is probably a way to be an atheist here, but it likely involved a lot of paperwork and an increase in tuition.
Plus I like to be supportive of my wife.  She is the only one who knows how I feel about all this, but is supportive of me.  I want to help her feel comfortable and keep my family together, so I may just keep attending.
However, it is not comforting to go.  I dislike it.  I get depressed at church.  Maybe because I'm playing a part, and can't reasonably talk about what I really think without drawing unwanted attention.  My church has hours of meetings, in many of which members are expected to participate.

So, the life of a closet atheist continues.

My conclusion thus far is that atheism leads to nihilism, and goals or values I adopt are irrational.  Not that it is bad to be irrational, because there may well be no such thing as an objective "bad."