At the age of forty-something I’ve spent over half of my life engaged with, supporting and preparing to work in the xtian church. About three years ago I read Richard Dawkins’ God Delusion and from the day I finished the last page, I’ve not looked back. Indeed, I’ve found atheism to be the most honest, refreshing and liberating experience of my life. That said, I now have a bit of a dilemma.
When I was in college I decided that I was going to study to become a xtian pastor. I went to school and obtained a Masters of Divinity degree. Recently my employer asked a number of workers at my company to submit standard “resume type” information because they wanted to re-evaluate our pay scales and, because of a computer problem, files for employees hired before thus and such a date had been lost. When it came time to fill out that paperwork, I found myself stuck between a rock and hard place. It’s not that I don’t believe in god. It’s that I now know that god doesn’t exist and, since I essentially have a Master’s Degree in god, I realistically have a Master’s Degree in nothing. My direct supervisor and I talked and I decided not to put my advanced degree on my paperwork even though if I had I might have received a pay raise.
On the one hand, I know that a Master’s Degree is an academic achievement and that I did the academic work and received the academic degree. On the other hand, I am no longer a xtian, my degree is useless apart from working in or teaching about religion/ the church– something I won’t do-and it’s not like I have a degree in a field with which I disagree (which I could happily live with) but, rather, that I have a degree in something that isn’t even real. It’s like having a Master’s of Flying Spaghetti Monsters or a Master’s of Pink Unicorns. I’m an “expert” is something that doesn’t exist – in nothing!
Before this event at work, I’d never considered this issue. I’ve also recently started dating again and I am perplexed when it comes to talking about education because I’m very smart, education is extremely important to me but my degree no longer reflects me as a person, what I believe or any sound sense of reality. And so, my dear fellow non-theists, I would be most grateful for your thoughts into how I might wrangle my way through this little maze of uncertainty that I unknowingly created for myself in my pre-enlightenment days.