Yes, I am an atheist

Woo! We’re gonna go crazy today. This is very stream of consciousnessy, try not to hate me too much.

So lately, I’ve been reading and seeing a lot of things online that have really been upsetting me. Now, this really means that I need to get out more and stop looking at peoples’ stupid posts on the internet, but I am upset regardless so I need to vent. Of course I could just write in a journal, but where’s the fun in that.

So yeah, I am an atheist. I fought with calling myself Agnostic for a while, but really what is the point. In the end you’re still just candy coating elements of nature that seem too chaotic and “coincidental” by saying that something must have done it. The fact is nature did it, end of story goodbye. Are some facets of nature more science fiction than science fact in the minds of the common populous sure! That doesn’t mean we have to attribute things like what happens inside black holes, the existence of life, and the inevitable heat death of the universe to some grand force or another. I am perfectly comfortable with looking up at the sky and knowing that aside from a few random aliens there is no greater force looking back at me.

Do I hate you if you don’t agree with me? Of course not. Do I think you’re stupid for not seeing the universe in the same way? Not at all. What I hate, is people telling me that I am wrong or “uninformed”, and moreso telling me that I am going to suffer for disagreeing with them…WHAT IS THAT???

One of the first posts I saw that started all of this was this lovely comic done by the Oatmeal calledĀ How to Suck at your Religion. I read it, had a good laugh, what have you. I had gone to it through Facebook so I come back to my newsfeed and there below it are some suggested links. The first one is an article by a Roman Catholic demonizing the article and explaining what is wrong with it, and how insulting and blasphemous the article is. Not only does this show that whoever wrote the article can’t take a joke, but it really concerned me.

I understand that if you are religious and read something that is openly opposed to your viewpoint that you would want to respond appropriately. Perhaps providing some examples as to why specific comments are damaging or giving examples to the contrary. However, that isn’t what this Roman Catholic response did to the Oatmeal article. Instead of using reasonable arguments to attempt to explain how their religion was perceived, they just argued around everything. One of the first panels says something to the effect of, “we won’t judge people unless they disagree with us, then they go to hell and burn for all eternity”. The Roman Catholic response to this was pretty much nonexistent. Instead of acknowledging that yes certain people have been doomed to fire and brimstone, and even told not to attend their churches, they just said, no that simply isn’t true. They refused to recognize that this behavior does occur and instead just told everyone that it doesn’t happen and they should forget history. Moreover they told the Oatmeal writer he didn’t know what he was talking about…without providing any further explanation, like it was completely obvious what was wrong with the panel.

To further this point, the Oatmeal comic has a panel about Galileo and his mistreatment by the church for his work in science. The Roman Catholic article pretty much told the Oatmeal writer that he didn’t know the facts and he should take a history lesson.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Sam, just because a religious group made mistakes in the past it doesn’t mean they should affect our view of them in the present day. To a degree I’ll agree with that sure. Groups can change, ideas can change, but that doesn’t mean their past is wiped away. Clearing Galileo of his “sins” decades after damning his soul to hell may sound good, but I don’t think Galileo really has any way of appreciating that action. Accepting that as recompense for the mistreatment of Galileo requires that you be a member of their faith and accept that his soul is now free to enjoy eternity because the church says it is. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t make the last of his time spent on earth any more enjoyable.

The article (here’s a link by the way) goes on to question how the Oatmeal expects children to learn anything if parents aren’t allowed to teach their children about their beliefs. I don’t even know how to approach this. Not only is that not what the Oatmeal is saying, it shows a clear disregard for any kind of fact based educational system.

I’m gonna move on to something else because I don’t want to just address this one issue I had…though it was a major one.

Two days ago, I saw a post from a Christian Facebook page (sorry I can’t find a link) about a recent decision by Kellog’s to support LGBTQ groups. I read it and thought, oh ok alright go Kellog’s I guess. I wasn’t that concerned about it. However, as it was being posted on a Christian page, the comment stream was a bit…scary.

These people were basically throwing out hate mail to Tony the flippin Tiger. I kid you not. One of the more ridiculous comments I saw was something about keeping things like decisions to fund LGBTQ groups out of corporations. This is ludicrous to me. On the heels of the Hobby Lobby debacle, you want businesses to have the right to use their religious beliefs to govern the actions of their entire employee base, but not have the right to decide what groups to be able to send funding too? Not only is LGBTQ not a religion, they are JUST PEOPLE. People who need support because some groups don’t understand that they are JUST PEOPLE. Eventually saying you support and fund LGBTQ organizations will be like saying you support a-bunch-of-guys-and-gals-who-live-in-a-place-and-do-things. Moreover, this decision doesn’t make the workers do anything differently then they were doing before. It doesn’t directly change their quality of life or restrict any of the rights they previously had. Unlike Hobby Lobby which used a system of beliefs to remove human rights from the women working under their employ.

Of course there are those, I am sure, working for Kellog’s who now feel they have to quit because of the decision to supportĀ a-bunch-of-guys-and-gals-who-live-in-a-place-and-do-things, but that is their burden. Struggling with a moral decision, and struggling with potentially dying because you can’t get adequate health care are two very different struggles. I realize some people may feel I’m being insensitive about this, and that I only feel this way because I also support the LGBTQ community. This is not a “belief” of mine. I don’t “believe” that LGBTQ deserve equality and support, it’s just simple logic. They are people. Done.

On that same Christian Facebook page I saw some other disturbing comments. It seemed like almost the entirety of this man’s page was dedicated to posting images and articles that would generate negative responses from the Christian community, or at least those who followed him.

One particular comment was in response to someone who also found the page kind of…terrifying. After trying to explain why a certain decision (again I can’t find the post) was ok and didn’t require the uproar of a hundred or so angry Facebook commenters, the person was asked something like, “why are you even here, you aren’t going to make a bunch of people who believe in the Bible think differently or listen to you so just go away.” I am paraphrasing, but that was the gist. This is one of the biggest problems I have with a great deal of religious groups today.

We’ll get back to that issue in a minute, pardon this digression, it’s a good one I promise.

I was raised Christian, I sang in the church choir, I participated in church plays since I was about four years old. I went to youth group much of my young life and it was the most exciting part of my week. I went to school and told people I loved Jesus, and I was ridiculed and picked on and ignored by many people because I was so vocal about my beliefs. I argued openly with people who tried to tell me that evolution was real and happening every day, and that religion was faulty and I should seriously reconsider some of the things I believed in. I got mad, to the point of wanting to hit people. I hated them for telling me I was wrong. I made more enemies during the time I was a believer, then I ever did after I got Jesus out of my system.

A teacher of mine, who played a large role in making me turn away from Christianity, told me that one of the marks of true genius is the ability to hold two conflicting ideas as true in ones’ mind and not to go crazy. He told me this, because for a long time I still said that I was Christian, I said I believed and yet I knew things like evolution and homosexuality and philosophy were around and they were good and fine. I accepted these two sets of things for a while until eventually I realized that there was no room for a system wherein I was told what to listen to, or read, or write, or say in amongst a world where progress existed based on people who wrote, studied, learned, and taught the things they were explicitly told not to by the church. I realized that I wanted to read about Socrates and learn what he had to say and I thought he was a pretty smart guy. Now he was put to death for “corrupting youth” and I’m sure that if I took Socrates into youth group and said I wanted to discuss his merits, I would be pulled aside and told to put down my Greek philosophy and just pick up the Bible instead.

I wanted to read the things I wanted to read, not the things I was told to read. Eventually I realized that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. That’s really when I stopped believing I think. It wasn’t about a loving God guiding me through life, it was about a group of men telling me what to do. I wanted no part of it.

So I struggled because the church made me believe that I could only listen to ideas that it (read: the men who taught me) liked, and any other idea was automatically sinful and bad and I would be corrupted for exposing myself to it.

The comments I read on the internet were saying this quite plainly. The woman who made the comments seemed to feel that no one who believes in the Bible would ever turn away from its teachings, or even read opposing viewpoints in a serious manner. They would not even take the time to try and think about opposing ideas coming into their world view. This is not only disheartening to me, but I think it’s pretty dangerous.

To quote someone from something, doing things a certain way because that’s how you’ve always done them is a horrible reason. The Christian church says that the Bible is timeless, that it can be used and assessed for any time period. They say it is still relevant today and that it’s teachings will go on for eons and still matter. Aside from the obvious arguments (what about the races of people who didn’t have the Bible? What species of human qualify as potential followers? What about aliens, because yup they’re real!!) this assertion as always seemed silly to me. Sure the teachings can still be relevant, if you overanalyze the crap out of it. I am a scientist, I ascribe to Occam’s razor. If it takes you years and years and years….and years of study to figure out how a certain piece of scripture is sensible or relevant…maybe it just isn’t.

Despite this, millions of people cling to the notion that this book (Book?) will hold all the answers if they look hard enough. Is it really so unreasonable to think that if one piece of literature can hold an answer for a person, that almost any other piece of literature could also hold a lesson? Because the church doesn’t tell them to read them, may people go their entire lives not reading some of the greatest works of art ever written not for laziness but for fear. But what are they really afraid of? Maybe they’re afraid that God will be upset with them for reading something he blessed man with the intelligence to write? No, that makes no sense. Maybe they’re afraid that they will find some nugget of Doubt in the foreign text that will cause them to question their way of life? More than any of that, I think they don’t want to challenge it. They are comfortable in their beliefs, and to read anything the church tells them is bad makes them uncomfortable for whatever reason. They become so uncomfortable, so mad even, that they can do nothing but refuse to acknowledge the existence of the opposing idea. More so, they can only belittle the ideas and damn those who uphold them to Hell.

I see people say things like, “how could you possibly think that?”, “no one really believes that”, “this is why we’re all going to Hell”, and “what is happening to this country?”.

Obviously I’m not addressing every Roman Catholic or every Christian or anyone with any religion at all here. I know there are good people who have religious beliefs and people who are just as moral with no religious beliefs. It doesn’t take religion to make a person good, and religious people commit crimes just like non-religious people do. We’re all a lot more similar than we care to realize in the end.

All of this, all of the hate speech from religious groups that I’ve been seeing, everything that I’ve experienced in my life, I think it all could be quieted if people could learn how to just be people and stop the us vs. them mentality. This country was founded on principles of religious freedom and people think it’s bad that some groups in this country feel differently than they do? They believe the country is falling apart because there is more than one type of American. It’s ridiculous. Do I like this country? No, not particularly. There is far to much attention paid to things that don’t matter. Most of it is driven by the desire to make the country adhere more to “christian ethics”. All the attention to gay marriage for instance. If they spent half as much time and energy addressing a real legitimate problem maybe we could have a few less starving and homeless people. What does stopping gay marriage prevent? It’s stops Christians from feeling uncomfortable. That’s not the government’s job. We are a nation of many races, religions, creeds, what have you, but the government is trying it’s darndest to make one particular group feel especially welcome. It’s so wrong it makes me want to scream and move to Canada.

I got it all out now. To the people I’ve offended, congrats you’ve kinda proven my point. To those who agree thanks for being here. To all those in the middle, you are the real winners because you are actually thinking about what someone has to say. Also if you actually made it to the end of this monster of a blog post you deserve a cookie, so go get yourself a cookie.

-SMB<3

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