I “came out” as an atheist a few years ago, after years of shilly-shallying.
The basic Protestantism of my upbringing yielded, as a teenager, to an orthodox but rather devout kind of new-age pantheism; this drifted imperceptibly into a “spiritual but not religious” phase, followed by a lengthy spell as an agnostic. If people understood the word “agnostic” as it’s meant to be understood — the view that God’s existence isn’t provable one way or the other, so we should reserve judgment — I might have been willing to leave it at that. But in reality, most people think agnostic means “undecided,” as if its proponents just haven’t made their minds up yet. In either case, “agnostic” began to seem annoyingly timid, the soft option. So I took a deep breath and embraced the big, scary “A” word. (more…)