About a year ago, some folks from CNN were interviewing and asking around atheist groups for stories and perspectives on life as nonbelievers and our experience. With the airing of “Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers”, which looks to be the end product of this work, and my response to the special after it aired last night, I thought I’d finally post my lengthy email response to their questions.
I had never written this part of my life down to its completion before, so it was really long for a relatively short series of questions. I kept going, though, for my own sake, so I could process through it all and have a recording of that. Now I’m thankful I’m able to share it with others. There are a lot of conversion and deconversion stories out there, some filled with much more pain, suffering, triumph, loss, and acceptance, but mine is quiet, without great strife, and this type of experience should be known, as well. If any part of this story provides someone comfort on their journey to self-discovery, it was worth taking up this space on the internet.
There’ll be some edits to make it fit better in public blog post form.
If you know 2000’s The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, you probably know most about how it stands apart from other Zelda games. You play as the green-clothed Hero of Time, Link, as usual, but you also transform into other races in the game. There are dungeons, but significantly fewer than usual. You continuously build a more powerful arsenal, but you regularly lose most of your items and progress. There are mountains of side quests, but you can never do them all in one cycle.
This game is rarely patient. In nearly every moment a clock at the bottom of your screen is ticking down the three in-game days you have left to accomplish your goals before the giant moon in the sky crashes into the world. Before disaster, thankfully, you can play the Song of Time to start the three days over again, but you only get to keep a small subset of the items, power-ups, and progress you’ve collected.
Most unsettling to me about this mechanic is how everyone you’ve helped, everything you’ve worked for, continually resets itself. Link, as well as the player, accumulate experience and knowledge, but no one else remembers you, and regions once saved are again cursed. This perseverance in the face of futility, and the meaningfulness of choices in a short, finite time, are the enduring legacies of Majora’s Mask to me.
I’m exploring new Twitter handles and perhaps a new kind of username going forward. Boss1000 has been my standard for years and years, through gaming, forums, and online chat. In recent months and years, though, I’ve been shedding these things I used to identify so strongly with. I’ve started rejoining the fluid world of humanity again, instead of trying to be a constant in a sea of variables. Plus, “Boss1000” has gotten a little stale.
Thursday, the 15th of January, was my birthday. I turned 26 years old in 2015. I was perfectly happy with the quarter, 25, but time has a way of convincing us to move along.
The past several days have shown me just how great celebration and excitement can be when embraced. It wasn’t always easy, and still isn’t, to work up to and believe that the joy of accepting a holiday and joining those around you celebrating is greater than a more lonesome reaction. This week I’m reflecting on my common response to birthdays and holidays in the past, and how more enthusiasm has made me happier.
Matt Dillahunty started a Patreon campaign a few months ago and received significant support for it before even starting to put up videos. He’s a notable figure at conferences, in debates, and especially on The Atheist Experience, a weekly public access show out of Austin that is majorly responsible for my own deconversion. So I naturally supported his Patreon campaign when I saw it.
I finally took time today to watch the half-hour videos he created on Pascal’s Wager and the argument from design. I’m happy to support his efforts even without watching all the content immediately because I personally have heard plenty on these arguments already. What’s important to me is supporting clear, comprehensive, and articulate treatments of many religious arguments into the world. I find great value in videos like these becoming watershed moments or markers of the best place to have an idea addressed. I want really good discussions in an accessible form for everyone to be able to link to, learn, and straighten out ideas.
With that in mind, I have some thoughts about the videos I watched and some constructive criticism that I believe would help ensure that Dillahunty’s videos continue to be made and exist as educational milestones in religious argumentation.