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NOTE: By choice, I mean that after weighing the evidence and reading and learning – a critically thinking person has to be an atheist, or at the very least agnostic. To remain otherwise would be faith or superstition based and while that may be valid for many it is not a decision that will be arrived at via critical thinking.
One of the biggest rules “they” tell us to live by is not to discuss politics or religion. I of course throw caution to the wind and discuss them all the time; politics because I think it is very important in a quasi-democracy for us to discuss ideas and platforms, and to be informed. If your position is worth anything at all to you it should be worth discussing with the opposition. We did not build this great nation by having our forefathers be constantly worried about being PC or causing a ruckus – they debated, argued and negotiated. This leaves us with the other “not to be spoken about subject,” religion – or more specifically the anti-religion we call atheism. Religious people similarly do not want to engage in debate with atheists – this leads me to wonder just how strong their belief is?
So last Saturday afternoon I find myself with three hours to kill inside the nicely air conditioned train station in Stamford, Connecticut minding my own business. First I finished up an essay I had written earlier in the day on my prior life as a hard drinking man and then I found myself reading a book I had started earlier in the week – John Loftus’ “Why I Became An Atheist.” The book is an interesting look at an ex-preacher and how he grew over time to lose his belief in the supernatural and magical and began to realize that science was a much better route to answers. Interestingly, Loftus seemed to really lose his religion when his flock turned against him at a low time in his life (after he had an affair) when he needed community support and forgiveness the most. Funny how the flock did not follow the teachings of the bible that they deem so important.
When you least expect it…expect it. A very polite security guard who I had spoken with a couple of hours earlier walked by and knowingly asked me what I was reading. He was quickly called away, but soon returned. After seeing the title and assuming correctly that atheism was my position he quickly informed me that Jesus is coming back soon. I politely told him that was not true and he is in for a long wait. He seemed puzzled how I could not share his view. I told him that I would be happy to talk with him but he had to realize that there was no chance he would convince me of his view (I have been very comfortable in my lack of beliefs of over thirty years) and I realized I was unlikely to turn him into a free thinking skeptic – but I was sure going to try.
Willie, my new friend was not willing or able to think about the bible critically, or about god or Jesus (why does this never cease to amaze me?) He looked puzzled that Jesus would speak so clearly to him and yet not talk to me. He could not see how anyone could question the bible, the virgin birth or the resurrection. Of course I could not understand how anyone could understand the magic show that calls itself Christianity. I countered by questioning his ego-maniacal god who demanded total worship and this god’s genocidal, murderous and capricious ways. I pointed out to Willie that he also is an atheist (one of our standard methods) – the only difference between us is that I worship one fewer god. He really did not seem to grasp this at all until I elaborated. Then Willie had no issue with the statement as he does not consider the gods of the Hindus, Muslims, pagans, ancient Greeks, Native Americans ad infinitum to be true gods – yet somehow he thinks his god is a real god and the one. The interesting question of the Jewish god was better received until I pointed out that the Jews think Jesus was a man and not a god. Then he suddenly abandoned the Jewish version as well.
As much as Willie wants the entire world to share in his evangelical bible study groups view of Jesus, god and the bible I am not buying. It is man made material of a pretty low quality and it is not the least bit necessary for anyone to subscribe to the lies it puts forth. I will stick with science, research and the scientific method. It may not be perfect, but it allows for adaptation, correction, testing and retesting. Society has been served much better through scientific research and methods than it has been through god or religion. Some will find the atheistic view to be dogmatic and religion like – but it really is not. Atheism is simply the negation of the belief in a higher power or the supernatural. Everything is here and now in the concrete world – not off somewhere in the ether or the heavens. Like I have always said – “you cannot fake faith.” For me to believe in the lies of religion and the supernatural would require me to lie to myself – and that is something I will not do. Do I think Willie is lying to himself? No – not really. I think he is guilty of not opening his eyes to the world around him and he is certainly guilty of not questioning enough things that demand interrogation. Of course – Willie could turn that back on me and say I am guilty of “not opening my heart to Jesus.” Again – you cannot fake faith – and atheism is not a choice.
Link to a prior article I penned on atheism:
Tags: atheism, belief in science, bible, Christianity, criticism of religion, evangelical, god, Hinduism, Islam, John Loftus, judaism, lack of faith, magic, religion, stamford, supernatural, Why I Became An Atheist