I remember as a young boy being excited about science, astronomy in particular. I would often go to bed reading some magazine or book detailing the planets’ orbits around our star and all the facets therein, the discoveries mundane and monumental. There was so much to know and learn and that really excited me. I’m still in love with science now, but I can’t help but wonder how much more I would’ve delved into its depths had I not been discouraged from it as a kid. How much more would I have absorbed in school if science was a focus and not a source of ridicule? How many signs did I miss growing up that now with an adult perspective appear all too clear to me?
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t raised in some totalitarian household. This was a very passive aggressive system full of mind control, fear induced paranoia, and confirmation bias. I’m speaking—of course—of the Baptist Church.
Specifically, I remember one night and I’m not sure how old I was. I was in bed reading a space magazine with a quiz in it. One question eluded to the origin of the universe and even gave a hint: “Don’t bang your head against the wall if you miss this.” Of course it was The Big Bang (A strikingly horrible name for an event so awesome now that I think about it) but being so young I guess I missed it. Upon learning what it was called and it’s relation to the hint given, I ran to tell my mom about it. She was in the kitchen. I didn’t even get the question out fully before the berating started. Fragments of that conversation are fleeting to me now, but I’ll always remember her tone and condemnation of science for even suggesting such a ludicrous idea. “We don’t believe that in this house!” comes to mind. I recall crying myself to sleep that night.
I would never ridicule my daughter that way. Every day I encourage her to interact with the world around her, not shy away from it as religion would have her do. Don’t walk around with blinders on, shutting out any information that disagrees with you. Take in all the information available and make an informed decision based on the evidence. You don’t get to have a valid opinion when you ignore one side of an issue. I encourage my daughter to engage in science and observe the stars and planets in the sky, the insects and animals around her. Granted, she is only 3, but each day she reveals a capacity to understand beyond my expectations. How anyone could suggest that my beautiful child is going to “Hell” because she doesn’t believe that God sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself. . . based on a book written over a span of 1600 years in 3 languages by dozens of authors in an illiterate part of the middle east where superstition was not only prominent, it was all there really was! When they believed crops failed because of witches and the earth was the center of everything and if you sneeze that’s your soul leaving your body.
I want to get this out of the way: I love my mother. She is the best provider any son could ask for, and made me better for it. Far better than I deserved at times (there’s that indoctrination coming into play). She has and continues to go above and beyond the norm and gives selflessly so that her children can prosper. I don’t fault her for trying to teach us truth from fiction; right from wrong. It’s not her fault that her parents did the same to her, and theirs did the same to them. Why do you think the church goes after kids especially? I think I read somewhere that most children are baptized from age 4 to 14. They’re afraid that once they reach late teens and early twenties, they’ll have developed enough mental capacity to reject their doctrine. If it’s inserted early enough, before children can learn how to think for themselves, the doctrine weaves itself into the mental framework of the mind and purposefully demonizes anything telling them to think otherwise. This is how religion is set up, yet most religious people don’t even see it. It really is a masterfully crafted—albeit disgusting—system.
Now, I’m not saying that this is all intentional, though I think some is. There are truly good, well-meaning people in the church, just like there are idiot, bigoted atheists. It goes both ways, and each way in between. I don’t subscribe to blanket statements. Not all of us Atheists got here through rational thinking.
You can take this as a warning, but I don’t mean it to be. I may say things that upset you or that you don’t agree with. I’ve been sitting on this stuff for quite some time, and I shouldn’t have to. You don’t have the right to not be offended. Let this offend you, that’s perfectly OK. When you choose to do something about said offense, that’s on you. That’s called behavior. When doctrine is above ridicule, above law, all sorts of bad behavior can come of it, as proven throughout history.
People often confuse atheism with nihilism. So I feel like I should maybe clear up some definitions, since most people reading this are probably conflating certain words.
• Bus plunges off a cliff in Southern Brazil (March 14, 2015)
There are some mixed reports, but the facts are that a group of Evangelical Christians were on route to an event when the driver lost control and drove off a cliff, falling more than 1,000 feet into a ravine. Among the dead were 8 children, 3 teenagers, and 24 women. Good thing this was God’s plan for them. That, or maybe things are just random, and bad things happen to both good and bad people.
• Sandy Hook Elementary (December 14, 2012)
The terrifying event where a 20 year old kid killed 20 children and some adults after shooting his own mother. Good thing God blessed those families with children that they loved, only to have them ripped away in the 2nd most tragic school shooting in our country. That, or maybe things are just random, and bad things happen to both good and bad people.
• Ferry sinks in South Korea (April 15, 2014)
Mostly filled with secondary school children, this ferry capsized, killing over 300 of those on board. A little girl managed to text her grandmother, telling her she thought she was going to die. I guess God doesn’t care about the plights of his children in the countries bereft of belief in him. I would love my children no matter what! At least he let her say goodbye before drowning her and her friends.
The world is terrible, inhospitable, beautiful and completely random. Events can change the lives of many a devout Christian and Atheist alike. We owe it to ourselves to live this life, the only one we get, to the fullest every single day. When we realize that there is no one looking out for us, we take it upon ourselves to make changes that effect millions of lives, regardless of perhaps offending a few.
I mainly owe my reconversion to my amazing daughter, who—before even being born—spurred me to question if I held the correct set of beliefs to teach her.
I’ve come to realize that there is no correct set of beliefs. You can believe whatever you wish. But you can’t assert to have the truth, especially with no facts to back it up. When said beliefs affect behavior, that’s when there starts to be a problem. Especially when such behavior infringes upon another person’s rights. Thus, I choose to only believe what is true. I didn’t set out to stop believing in Jesus or God or whatnot, I just set out determined to understand as much truth as I could. Also I took a very close look at what the Bible actually says, instead of listening to the cherry-pickery that happens way too often in church today. It’s funny how much the extremist and fundamentalist churches get chastised
Let’s say, we’d fallen in a hole and broken our leg. God’s got a rope and could throw it down to us to save us. Instead he jumps down and breaks his leg too and then says, “I’m gonna die but if you believe in me, when you die in this hole too, you’re good to go!” (idea taken from Dogma Debate‘s weekly podcast) It seems to me that only an incompetent being would choose this method.
Special atrocities in the Bible (but don’t take my word for it, pull out your Bibles and read along):
If you live in a world where woman get kidnapped for a decade, forced to do who knows what, and are only rescued when a neighbor makes a phone call — and you praise God. . . you need to sit down and really examine your worldview.
There are so many points I want to make in this blog. I feel as if this is really a letter to those who know me. I want to talk about ISIS beheading Christians. I want to talk about Tsunamis that kill by the hundreds of thousands. I want to talk about parasites that eat people’s eyes in a world where a benevolent God is supposedly watching out for us. You get the picture. May save these for future posts, if there are any.
And for those of you who think that Atheism is just another religion, take these words into strong consideration: Atheism is a religion like off is a TV channel, like bald is the trendy new hair color, and like not smoking is a habit. (To quote Seth Andrews)
• “I am not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief is positively harmful.” – Christopher Hitchens
• “It is a sign of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle
• “There is no polite way to suggest to someone that they have devoted their life to a folly” – Daniel Dennet
I ask you only to ask questions.