Edith Piaf claimed, in her signature song, to have no regrets. Of course she did; we all do. Sinatra’s song, “I’ll Do it My Way”, was more honest, when he admitted to having “a few”. The list each of us could honestly make would be both long and enlightening, at least to ourselves. The most interesting implication would be what we do not regret. As far as my atheism is concerned, I do regret having taken so long to let in the light. Instead of asking for a Papal Dispensation from the priesthood (as though I needed a Pope to annul meaningless vows), I should have thought my doubts through, and realized that having questioned celibacy, I should have questioned the whole shebang. It took me ten years to do so.
More important is what I do not regret : coming out and declaring my refusal to accept the existence of God. As I have already said, the pain and problems which this involves for others, dear family and treasured friends, is collateral damage which I would prefer to have been able to avoid. But it was not possible. So, so be it. Had I decided to keep my atheism under a bushel, I would have violated a principle fundamental to self-respect : “To thine own self be true”.