Friday, October 3, 2008

A few thoughts on religion.

I really just need to make a few comments about this, because it's been bugging me for a while. I will preface this by saying that I respect others' beliefs, I respect that people believe differently, and I am not in any way attempting to debate or convert anyone. Religion is a very incendiary topic, and it won't hurt my feelings if you choose to skip this entry. most people who know me are aware, I am an atheist. As with any set of beliefs, there are plenty of misconceptions out there about atheism, and I feel the need to comment on them. Obviously some of these things are rather ludicrous comments that have been made in chat rooms, etc., by people whose mouths move before their synapses fire, but I have heard some rather often even outside of the intertubes...
  1. Atheism is a religion. I really don't care. Seriously. I hear it argued time and time again, and I couldn't care less. It's a set of beliefs, it's not an organized religion, it's a religion in the sense that bald is a hair color. When someone asks what my religion is, I say I'm an atheist. But really...who cares if it's a religion or not?
  2. Secularism = Atheism. The absence of religion (such as the absence of a religious icon, not saying a prayer, etc) does not mean the presence of atheism. Removing a religious icon from public property is not, by default, installing atheism.
  3. Atheists hate Christians. I'm sure some do. And some Christians hate black people. Does that make Christians racist? Of course not. Most atheists that I have interacted with don't hate Christians. We just want to be left alone.
  4. Atheists hate God. Which god? Ok, seriously, we don't believe in the existence of a god. Any god. This includes the Judeo-Christian God, Allah, Osiris, Zeus, Thor, Quetzalcoatl, and Ra. We don't hate any of them...we just don't believe in them.
  5. There's no such thing as an atheist. The semantics crap is really irritating, you know? "You're not really an atheist, because you must believe in God in order to reject him." HEADDESK.
  6. Atheists know that (insert religion of choice) is true, but reject it. Ok, why would we do that? Srsly.
  7. Atheists have no morals. Really? Look, our lack of religious doctrine does not make us immoral. Most atheists I've encountered live by a "live and let live" way of thinking, and can logically come to the conclusion that harming/interfering with/bothering/killing/stealing from/etc other people is wrong. Do you really have to have a god looking over your shoulder to keep you from killing, stealing, or tripping small children?
  8. Atheists are Satanists. *sigh* Srsly. C'mon.
  9. Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot are examples of why atheism is so dangerous. First of all, Hitler was not an atheist. He may very well have been a Christian, though there is some argument there...but he was no atheist. Second of all, Stalin *may* have had some religious beliefs himself. Again, controversy abounds. But the most important point here: none of them did their heinous deeds in the name of atheism, nor did a lack of religious beliefs cause them to behave like deranged lunatics.
  10. Atheists worship Darwin, Dawkins, etc. *sigh* Yes, we sacrifice babies every other Thursday on alters made of the skeletons of virgins. This pleases the great Gods of Atheism.
  11. Atheists are angry at religion, that's why we're atheists. I don't doubt that there are some out there who are. Personally, I am not angry at anyone. I just don't believe in a god. It's really that simple.
  12. But what if you're wrong... Oh hell, Pascal's Wager. I won't spend paragraphs explaining what it is, because Ms Papercuts is harping on me to finish this blog entry. But the bottom line -- it presumes that one can CHOOSE to believe. If a god exists, don't you think he'd KNOW that I'm only believing because I'm afraid NOT to believe? Is that really a sincere belief, or just a safety net? I can't force myself to believe in your god any more than you could force yourself to disbelieve.

And finally, this one bothers me the most: Atheists are taking the lazy, easy way out.

No, not so much. I envy the religious sometimes. My transition from Christian to atheist was a long, painful journey full of serious soul-searching and some heart-breaking truths. Though my epiphany that I was, in fact, an atheist was a liberating moment, the years leading up to it sucked.

Also, where you find comfort in believing you will see your loved ones on "the other side", I have no such comfort. Death has a soul-crushing finality that it never had when I was a believer.

Similarly, there is no longer a "divine safety net". In those moments when you pray -- when someone is sick, when you are scared, etc -- I become acutely aware of the emptiness of the cosmos around me, and feel precariously alone in times when I would dearly love to "live and let God". It also makes flying -- something I am already afraid of -- a more nervewracking experience. Nothing like sitting through some nasty turbulence without being able to say "please God, don't let us crash..." Also, there is no "plan", no "greater meaning", no "grand scheme of things"...and no reason why death *isn't* lurking around the next corner. That jarring finality of death is even more unsettling when you realize that there is no one making sure you stay alive beyond the next 15 minutes. That's not to say I have a paralyzing fear of death -- but the idea of dying takes on a whole new dimension now that I'm an atheist.

Atheism is hardly the "easy way" out.

Bottom line, atheists are just people who want to live good, decent lives. And for me, I don't "choose" to be an atheist because I want to be. Quite the contrary. I finally realized I *am* an atheist, and accepting such is the only way I can be truly, spiritually honest with myself.


  1. You're going to hell! :D

    But anyway. Save me a seat.

    To let other people know: Lori's an atheist, I am not. Fancy. A believer and a non-believer can get along just fine. Imagine.

    In a blatant attempt to convert the heathen, I would like to say this:

    Shannon Leto + Jared Leto = proof that God exists.

    I thank you.

  2. Papercuts: Don't make me go Old Testament on you...

  3. Your sarcasm made baby Jesus cry.