Antitheism vs. Atheism & My Existential Crisis
It has recently been revealed to me that I exhibit the behaviors of someone with Histrionic Personality Disorder, a condition marked by “excessive emotionality and attention-seeking, including an excessive need for approval and inappropriately sexually provocative [behavior] … includ[ing] egocentrism, self-indulgence, continuous longing for appreciation, and persistent manipulative behavior … These individuals are lively, dramatic, vivacious, enthusiastic, and flirtatious.” (Wiki) Me, me, me. Oh, yeah, definitely me. Fuck. Nailed me. All the way.
I don’t know whether it’s the scarily accurate nature of the diagnosis or the fact that I’ve gone all this time without knowing about it that I find most disturbing. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was clinically diagnosed in adolescence, but HPD had probably been too early to detect, given it “usually begin[s] in early adulthood.” (Wiki) Still, I find myself asking, where were you on that one, Dr. Hilton? Fucker. We weren’t paying you to let on that I was normal!
The question that naturally arises is, how did this come about? According to Wiki, “childhood events such as deaths in the immediate family, illnesses within the immediate family which present constant anxiety, [etc.] may be involved.” That’s spot on, given my father’s death at the hands of cancer when I was 12.
But, I’m willing to bet there’s more to it than that, at least when it comes to me. Primarily, that I was overly mothered. Given too much affection, too much attention during my early childhood. And when the big bad world doesn’t treat me in the same manner that my mother did, I become hugely disappointed–even downright hostile at times. Throw in booze or xanies, and, Houston, we’ve got a problem. The constant attention-seeking, the overtly provocative behavior, is an attempt on my part to seek out the approval so freely given me during my formative years. Heck, why the fuck do you think I’m writing this blog? And why was it necessary for me to employ the word “fuck?” Do ya get it now?
Part of me is forced to consider how much all of this plays a role in my atheism. When the big bad world doesn’t shower me with love like mommy did, when it spits in the face of my demands and expectations, I fail to see the loving hand of God at work.
And yet it’s not so simple as that. I do strive for objectivity, therefore I try not to be too self-centered when it comes to matters of theological concern. It’s not just my life that’s up for consideration. I look at the world around me, at the pervasive suffering that plagues humanity, and, again, I fail to see the loving hand of God at work. How can it be said that a benevolent deity, capable of divine intervention, exists when a child lie on its deathbed due to leukemia? The Argument from Natural Evil is the single most conclusive nail in the coffin for theism, at least as I see it. Here, the theist pleads that “God works in mysterious ways,” yet I find it quite telling that these “mysterious ways” in which God supposedly works are indistinguishable from his not working at all. Occam’s Razor bids us accept the simpler explanation, whether we find it desirable or not.
And that’s just it. A part of me does indeed desire that God exist. So that he could place his healing hand on that sick child. So that he could comfort me in my time of need. This is why, though I get a kick out of Christopher Hitchens, I do not identify with his brand of antitheism. It’s not that I wish there were no God; I wish there were, but I simply find the prospect utterly dubious. It smacks of wishful thinking, which is given the euphemistic term ‘faith’ by believers. Frankly, I don’t find that kind of faith to be virtuous. Neither do I consider it internally honest. Nor practical.
So, chalk me up to good ol’ atheism. With one caveat. I am indeed an antitheist where it concerns Biblical Yahweh. I’m glad that, as Richard Dawkins so eloquently put it, such a “petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser, a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully” does not exist. It would be horrific if he did!
But, the traditional idea of God that has evolved over the centuries, the benign father figure, is one that I do find desirable. I simply don’t find it tenable. Carl Sagan said it best: “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”
Perhaps I’ll look into whatever treatment exists for my disorder. Or maybe I’ll just revel in it. Who knows? In the absence of a loving mother, as well as that of a loving God, I must ultimately save myself. I am my personal savior. And thus I continue to tread the path of secular humanism. With the hopes that sympathetic friends will walk beside me. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find peace and self-acceptance along the way.