An Unrepentant Sinner’s Path To Atheism

Nov 7, 2016

By Donald A. Collins

I got to thinking recently about how I came to become an atheist. It happened so long ago that the origins of setting up my certain descent into Hell can’t be precisely dated or actually codified in precise words. Probably I was half convinced by the time of my first marriage on September 10, 1954 at age 23, but certainly by the time of my second marriage on August 31, 1976 I was quite hard core. Still, my wife and I went to considerable trouble, she being Jewish and I a nominal protestant, to find a liberal clergyman to officiate! Why? Not sure.

As a widower on the occasion of my 3rd marriage, November 26, 1994 both my wife, Sally, and I had officiators from each of our families, her brother, Bob, an Anglican priest, and my cousin, Ted, an Anglican bishop, the former reading passages from Corinthians, and my cousin giving a memorable homily that kept carefully to a sectarian script at our request.

Hey, let’s hear those verses Bob read. I find them wonderful. And since my faith consists of faith in humanity not any god, I guess I qualify to try to live up to these magnificent goals.


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3 comments on “An Unrepentant Sinner’s Path To Atheism

  • @OP – As a widower on the occasion of my 3rd marriage, November 26, 1994 both my wife, Sally, and I had officiators from each of our families, her brother, Bob, an Anglican priest, and my cousin, Ted, an Anglican bishop, the former reading passages from Corinthians,

    Cultural Christian atheists do sometimes seem to cling to clergymen and biblical texts for ceremonial occasions, for some imprinted reason, rather than making use the services of civil registrars or humanist celebrants!



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  • Hi Alan [#1],

    I think the answer is that ceremonies, to feel properly ceremonial, must have deep cultural roots. It’s a highly subjective thing, but we feel the need for ceremony to allow all those attending to validate the outcome in some way.

    My wife and I were happy with a Registry Office wedding – I because I had no faith, and my Wife because her country’s national and social norm within living memory (at the time) was that even Christians like her married in a secular place.

    Contrast this with my Brother’s wedding to his second wife. Both are atheists, yet both are old enough to remember when going to church on Sunday was the norm for a significant minority and everybody got married in church. They felt the need to compromise, and were married in the grounds of a former church.

    These are just two of many similar anecdotes on ceremony that I can think of among friends and family. The thread that seems to run through those decisions is that we feel the need to compromise so that everyone attending will feel that the ceremony was valid.

    It is surprising how quickly these things change, and I for one won’t be losing any sleep. On the other hand it is an interesting thing to learn just how powerful social norms and our perceptions of them can rule our lives.

    A desire to fit in, to be a part of the tribe, seems to be an inherited human trait.

    Little wonder, perhaps, that some atheists are reluctant to come out of the closet.

    Peace.



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  • 3
    fadeordraw says:

    So we got married in 1977 in Ottawa in my wife’s mother’s back yard, which the days before I gardened and Geraldine decorated. One of the tricky things was to find, back then, an “official”, so the marriage would be paper legal and all that, who would recite the script as given and not reference any supreme being. I made several phone calls to find such a person and my brother (and best man) and I drove to his place to interview him and, while admitting to being somewhat bewildered, he agreed. I thought myself a poet at the time and wrote the proceedings and my vows to Geraldine and she wrote hers to me. Our friends, several from Toronto and Peterborough, and extended family attended. It was a wonderful celebration and all worked out very very well. Did I mention we did this in 1977?
    So that best man and his wife, didn’t marry and had two kids. But then, around 1995 or so, while the family was in Regina, SK, he got a great job offer to work in Raleigh, NC. But, US immigration wouldn’t let his wife accompany him unless they were married. I just happened to be flying into Regina on business and he, unexpectedly, picked me up at the airport and announced that they were getting married that evening at their home. His best man was their twelve year old son and her brides made was 14 years old daughter.



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