Hi there. I’m Joseph Wahome – businessman, venture capitalist, writer and, at one time in the hazy past, a choreographer. Somewhere along my time-path, as I’ll soon explain, I deconverted from Christianity, and came to embrace such philosophical perspectives as humanism, utilitarianism, empiricism and, generally speaking, free thought. The world, at large, opened up to me, and my insatiable curiosity had me researching all manner of spiritual stances in humankind. I have, over time, come to interact with many hues and tones of theism, atheism, philosophical and methodological naturalism and, in one or two instances, such peripheral perspectives as the Gaia philosophy. I now write a lot on such topics on such platforms as Facebook and my personal website. My Facebook url is www.facebook.com/beyondephemera. I’ll provide the url to the website as soon as it looks presentable :-).
Journey to atheism:
I tell people that, often, the process of deconversion starts with a subjective phase of cognitive dissonance. This was the case for me, at least. Towards my mid-teenage years, I found myself getting more and more dissatisfied with the information and perspectives that my Christianity was affording me. I’d experience, or read about, events or phenomena that simply crashed with the ideal world painted in religions. Every so often, my naïve perspectives, as nurtured by my religious beliefs, would be laid out bare, as reality, in its absolute, immutable ways, sought to express itself. It was about then that I started asking questions.
There were questions about origins of existence, about the meaning of existence, and about the destiny of existence. There were questions that spanned from metaphysics to philosophy, from cosmology to quantum physics, and from neurology to psychology. In all these, I sought answers to what questions, I presume, must surely occur to each and every individual, at one time or another in this life. Woefully though, I gradually came to realize that, despite myself, these questions were steadfastly creating a cognitive gulf between me and my religious beliefs. I found my religious beliefs inexorably becoming less intellectually fulfilling. Simultaneously though, science, in its many flavors, became more and more satisfactory.
One day, I came across the concept of atheism. It’s strange, but on that very day, I finally found a perspective, shared by certain other people across the world, that was profoundly resonating with my very psyche. I began researching on this new concept, and read voraciously on very many disciplines that were even remotely related to atheism. To my heart-felt joy, I came to realize that, in fact, there was a perceptual path through life that not only provided fulfilling answers to my questions, but that also pushed me towards ever loftier levels of enlightenment, day by day. I came to realize that atheism was a journey… one that offered new adventures, new experiences, new opportunities to be noble and humane, every single day. I came to treasure – nay, guard jealously – the one gift that atheism offered: that of a truly liberated mind.
Since the actual period of my deconversion, many seasons have passed. I have, in the meanwhile, acted upon the new perspectives that atheism inherently spawns. I have formed bonds with other people that are based not on some ethereal ideas about the hereafter, but upon the very realization that this very life, that we currently have, is the only one that we are guaranteed about. Giving up upon this earthly life, for the promise of a hereafter, is like ignoring a physical sanctuary, and instead going for the shadow that it casts in the daylight. Because of this, I live for the now, plan for the tomorrow, and strive to remain on that willowy path that the concept of universal utilitarianism necessarily draws.
Best and worst coming out moments
For some reason, I have never really suffered adversely from my decision to deconvert. If anything, my deconversion has proven, over the years, to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever had. If prosperity and fulfillment are the gauges of a life well-lived, I’d say that, undoubtedly, my best memories, and my most cherished moments in life, happened after I became an atheist. I even came to discover that, quite counter-intuitively, prophesying my atheism to my friends rarely affects our friendship in any way. I guess that how atheism is viewed depends a lot on how the individual atheist packages it. Most of my friends, some of whom are deeply religious, know that I am an atheist, but this rarely taints our interactions.
The one single incidence that has forever stuck in my mind, from my coming out phase, was one which involved a theologian. We had had a long discussion when, out of the blue, the theologian said: “You know what, perhaps your particular perceptions make you more real than most other people. You have no reason to pretend or hide behind some religious statements. I, for instance, can rest assured that you don’t have some hidden cards in your sleeves, and that you speak your heart.”
Loneliness in atheism
I’ll paraphrase an earlier statement here: that the essential nature of atheism can be packaged in a myriad ways. How the individual atheist relates with fellow human beings is a matter of personal uniqueness. Ergo, relationships with other people can either become better after the atheist comes out, or the relationships can wither out. The one thing that is universally valued by all human beings is just how real, and unpretentious, a person is, regardless of religious persuasions. And because of this, I’d say that suffering loneliness in atheism says more about the individual atheist, than it does about atheism in general. It is possible to be an atheist, and still live a normal, fulfilling life with theists, since ideally, atheism doesn’t define the man. In the final analysis, all humans share and value such concepts as love, humility, integrity, honesty and happiness, and we can all relate at that level.
The odyssey of atheism meanders through all aspects of humanity: from the psychological foundations to the cognitive paradigms, and from the sociological dimensions to personal image and self-esteem. It is an odyssey that, currently, is experienced by a minority in the human race. And yet, those few people who do embrace atheism, and its close cousins, such as secularism and rationalism, often live to prophesy the virtues of these perspectives. But, even more importantly, atheists often end up living exemplary lives, and become living proof that there are undeniable advantages related to deconverting. For, while most people spend their earthly lives chasing after shadows and unseen specters, atheists settle for what is empirical, verifiable… and humane.