Friday, April 30, 2010
My Answers to a Question People Often Ask Me About Atheism and Homelessness
People often attempt to connect and correlate my periods of homelessness and ill health with my atheism. But I don't think that being an atheist made me homeless and I know being homeless didn't make me an atheist. Since people so often bring this idea up to me, I decided to create an answer I can direct each new person who asks the question to.
Some religious people have told me that not thinking God is real caused all of my (well-deserved in their opinion) suffering. I believe that my difficulties were not a punishment from a God - since I don't think God is real, how could I think that? Many people who are devout believers have even worse lives than mine so that logic doesn't hold up. Additionally, if I analyze what happened in my life, I can pretty well see why things happened the way they did.
As an atheist, I believe that autism is a real thing. I ascribe to no ideology that causes me to reject the existence of learning disabilities and emotional problems as real. Having been diagnosed with autism, I tend to believe I am autistic. There is a known connection between inability to perform in social interactions and autism. In fact, that's almost the definition of autism. My autism was not properly treated when I was a child and, like almost every other autistic who receives no special assistance, when left completely on my own I experienced difficulties. I was a stranger in a strange land. I had no familial support and had formed only the most inadequate of friend support structures in school.
When this left me homeless, I was the perfect victim for predators. I was incredibly naive and socially inept. I had no "common sense" to keep me from dangerous situations. I reacted to harmful stimuli (beatings, rapes, and other frightening encounters) by withdrawing into myself instead of reaching for help as most people do. That entrenched me more deeply into homelessness - a shell-shocked autistic isn't the best at navigating the hard road out of homelessness.
So that's what I think was the reason I was homeless.
As to whether or not being homeless and suffering assaults and ill-health made me an atheist - that question is much easier to answer. I've never thought God was real so becoming homeless and getting assaulted, hurt, and sick didn't impact my absence of belief. In fact, being homeless and unwanted made me want to believe. Unfortunately, I am not able to believe in anything I don't think is real.