Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Why We Blog

atheism, atheist, blogging,
Every so often, I have a crisis of blogging, so to speak, wondering why I blog. Am I just preaching to the choir? Is it worthwhile to do this at all? Am I changing anything, or just feeding my ego? (Probably a bit of the latter in any case, to be honest.) I've been doing this for a few weeks now.

Then I stumble across exchristian.net and read the deconversion stories. Over and over again, I see the same refrain: I'm so happy to find other people who feel like I do. I had to find someone who understands. I'm confused. I'm lonely.

That's why I, and all the other atheist bloggers, do this. Because on the internet right now are people who have lost their faith, people who never really believed, and they are lost, lonely and confused. They think they are the only ones who feel this way. They think there is something wrong with them, that they've done something wrong.

Then they find blogs, websites and message boards filled with people who know just how they feel, people who understand, people who can help, simply by being who they are. As long as there is the possibility that I can help just one person feel at home, I will continue to blog. As long as there is the possibility that I can help one person realize that there is nothing wrong with them, I will continue to blog. And I thank all my readers and commentors for joining in. Together, we're doing something valuable, even it's just to one person.


  1. PF,

    Spot-on, as always. I've been following your blog for quite a while now and it's one of my favourites; you always manage to make me laugh or think (are there any two more prized things to make a reader do?)

    I hope you continue doing this simply for the selfish reason that I enjoy reading your blog!

    But yeah, the lonely folk need stuff too, so there's a good reason to keep going as well.


  2. Hey! What's wrong with feeding your ego?

    Seriously... the blog is something that (I presume) you enjoy writing; and it's something that I enjoy reading (and judging from the variety of commenters, I'm obviously not the only one). Does it really need a Higher Purpose to be worthwhile?

    If it helps someone feel less alone, or less strange, or less broken, that's great. I'm all in favor of helping people and building communities. But if all it does is provide a spot of levity in someone's day, I think it would still be worthwhile. As long as it's something you enjoy doing, go for it!

  3. Thank you, both of you!

    You know how existential crises are, I'm guessing, and I'm very stuck inside my own head most of the time, so I can get very troubled by these sorts of things.

  4. You need to call Dustin Hoffman and that woman whose name I can't recall from I [heart] Huckabees - they're 'Existential Detectives' and they'll get your crisis sorted in no time.

    (guess what DVD I got for Christmas!)

  5. "You know how existential crises are..."

    Ohhh, yes. Anyone can get lost in thought. I'm one of those people for whom there's a genuine danger of not being able to find my way back.

  6. « That's why I, and all the other atheist bloggers, do this. »

    Not necessarily. This may sound a bit shallow, but to be honest, I blog because I like spreading my opinions around and garnering a reaction, whether it’s pleasant or not. I use my blog to write and proclaim the things that I just don’t have anywhere else to shout it in real life. I don’t really write for any bigger reason or cause than that.

    Of course, if my blog happens to help anyone, it would certainly make me proud and happy. I also have some “why bother doing this?” moments every now and then, but they always pass and soon enough I’m back churning out posts. Really, though, I blog because A) I can, B) I like getting reactions, C) it’s fun, D) it makes me feel like I matter (ha!), and E) because sometimes, it’s just fun to scream at someone what a freakin’ idiot they are. Which is really a large part of the fun of blogging, for me: calling morons out for what they are.

    Of course, I do agree that atheist blogs (including agnostic, skeptic, and other similar types of blogs that are usually lumped together under the umbrella of “atheism”) serve an important role for those who feel alone in their lack of beliefs. Crucial, even, if it avoids them despair. Which is one of the reasons why looking at the ever-growing number of atheist blogs out there – at least several thousand by now, I’d estimate – always makes me smile.

  7. One thing I will say, PF, is that you should stop commenting at Chris Greiser's 'Food for the Soul' blog. The guy's an asshole and deserves nothing but silence.

    Just my opinion, of course, and you're free to respond how you will. But after spending for too much time trying to engage him in conversation and coming up against the brick wall of his willful stupidity, I can tell you right now that you're fighting a losing battle.

  8. You know how existential crises are...

    Indeed I do. That's why my nearest and dearest stay prepared. ;)

    Anyway, while I agree with Michael that your blog is something entirely worth doing Just For Funsies, I'll chime in as one of those deconverts who always felt like something was wrong with her for not being able to have enough faith. (Which especially sucks if you've cast in your lot with the Pentecostal types.) The validation and encouragement from the online communities of atheists, agnostics, ex-theists and freethinkers of all stripes is probably the main thing that kept me sane throughout the painful transition of deconversion. And without that, I may never have even found the courage to abandon my faith. So, hey, thanks for being a part of that. :)

  9. Because on the internet right now are people who have lost their faith, people who never really believed, and they are lost, lonely and confused.
    - - - - - -
    I totally agree with this. Without God in your life, this is the predictable outcome.

  10. Anonimuss said: "Without God in your life, this is the predictable outcome."

    ...And yet, strangely, it happens to an awful lot of people who want God in their lives, try to have God in their lives, and/or sincerely believe that God *is* in their lives. Everyone I've met who has gone from belief to disbelief has, at some point in the transition, expressed a wish that they *could* still believe.

    As a general rule, people don't lose their faith because they're angry at God, or because they're in rebellion against the Moral Order of the Divine. Their - our - reasons are simultaneously simpler and more complex. The specific reasons and situations and reactions vary enormously from individual to individual and community to community; that's the complex part. The simple explanation is that people lose their faith because, for whatever reason(s), their faith was not working for them.

    Some, like me, just wander off and never come back. We're the lucky ones, I think.

    For others, the loss of faith feels like evidence of some deep-seated personal flaw; the transition to disbelief is accompanied by personal guilt, a loss of community and friendships, and the terrifying uncertainty of trying to find a new direction without much in the way of guides. It's painful and sometimes humiliating.

    But for most people, the 'lost, lonely and confused' stage does pass. They go on to be happy, content in themselves, part of new communities. Discovering that you're not the only one who has gone through this - that, in fact, a lot of people have done this, each in their own way - is both a tremendous comfort, and a large boost to the healing/rebuilding process. Being available to the lost, lonely and confused - being available as a sympathetic ear, not a pedantic lecturer - is a noble and worthwhile occupation. It is, in fact, exactly the sort of thing that I strongly suspect that Jesus would approve of: comforting the afflicted.

    Mocking them - as you seem to be doing - not so much.

    Ask me why I'm not a Christian anymore. Don't tell me; ask. Otherwise you're not doing anyone, including yourself, any good.


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