I’ve seriously doubted the existence of god (a.k.a., God) ever since I was a kid, but didn’t officially start calling myself an atheist until CBS cancelled Northern Exposure in 1995.
I’ve never been one of those vehement non-believers who gets angry with anyone and everyone who shows faith in a higher power. I still acknowledge there is a tiny iota of a sliver of a chance that I’ve got it wrong. However, I’m not prepared to cop out and start calling myself an agnostic. My feeling is that if you’re a bear, you might as well be a grizzly.
That said, I often unintentionally discredit myself as an atheist in my everyday discourse and actions. Through slips of the tongues and involuntary responses, I bring my serious doubt into serious doubt, causing others to disbelieve my disbelief.
Following are just a few examples:
1) Shouting “Jesus H. Christ!” whenever I see a giant anti-abortion and/or pro-gun billboard while driving in Texas.
2) Declaring “Oh, HELL no” whenever a Mormon, Hare Krishna or Seventh-Day Adventist comes to my door ignoring the “No Soliciting” placard that greets all visitors.
3) Breaking into tears when I saw La Sagrada Familia for the first time in Barcelona. (I always make a concerted effort not to let church architecture move me like that, but GODDAMNIT that’s one beautiful basilica.)
4) Muttering “Good god, again?” every time I hear a rumor that a new sitcom starring Matt LeBlanc is in the works.
5) Growling “Burn in hell” whenever I see a priest entering/leaving a Toys R Us or a candy shop.
6) Inadvertently making the sign of the cross while wiping powdered sugar or cocaine residue off my Nietzsche tee shirt.
7) Pleading, “Please god, not HIM” whenever Mitt Romney is shown on one of the 25 giant plasma TVs at my gym.
8) Planning on rooting for the Jets even if Tim Tebow is named starting QB.
9) Whining “God hates me” whenever an ambulance, fire engine or other emergency vehicle screaming through an intersection causes me to miss a green light.
10) Exclaiming “Oh god!” whenever just about to climax, which I do invariably — unless my wife is in the other room or I’m watching Rachel Weisz on screen in a crowded cinema.
11) Sighing “Heaven only knows” whenever I’m asked why the hell I chose to make the protagonist of my debut novel a poet.
12) Adding “As god as my witness” whenever vehemently denying my wife’s accusation that I watch “Cougar Town” on Hulu when nobody’s looking.
13) Saying “I’ll pray for you” whenever a friend tells me they’re taking the bus.
14) Getting on my knees and actually praying that Rachel Weisz responds to one of my letters or emails.