Beliefs as an Atheist

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - Me, Thoughts

Yes, I’m an atheist.  If you’ve been around for a while you probably already know that.  However, it’s difficult to convey my beliefs with the term “atheist.”

Atheists can’t have beliefs, idiot.

Well, sure we can.  For example, I believe that there is no God, gods, mystical beings, creators, angels, devils, heaven, hell, designer, or other almighty, omniscient being out there.

So, what do I believe in if I believe there isn’t a god?  I believe that when we die, we cease to exist.  There is no life after death, no heaven, no hell, no crazy mad man who claims to have created everything to judge me, just nothing.

But that’s so depressing.

No, it’s not.  I have a lifetime to enjoy everything.  I would say a lifetime is long enough.

But I want more than one lifetime!

You’re the one that believes in God, take it up with him.

I’ve heard you say that you’re planning to raise your kids Catholic.  If you don’t believe in God, why would you do that?

Belief in god has very little to do with the mechanics of a religion.  I honestly cannot remember a time that I believed in any god, but the church had a lot to do with me turning into a decent human.  Jaime was also raised Catholic and agrees with me about the church.

Why don’t you believe in god?

Why don’t you believe in Santa Clause?  For me, at least, the answers coincide.  When I was a child, Santa and God were pretty much one being in my mind.  My parents (and the church, I assume) hadn’t done a very good job of keeping the two ideas separate.  When you’re teaching a kid that “God is Jesus is the Holy Spirit” and that they’re all one being, and then you throw Santa into the mix around Christmas, well, things are bound to get a little mixed up.

You  might remember who it was that ruined Santa for you.  Maybe your older sibling spilled the beans because they didn’t get what they wanted; possibly some children at schooled teased you and called you a baby for thinking Santa was bringing you presents; might it have been a cousin who let it slip because he forgot you didn’t know?  I can’t actually remember, but I’m pretty sure it was one of my cousins.  I do remember asking the adults if it was true that Santa was fake.  I got the usual wishy-washy “we were going to tell you” nonsense, but it was confirmed that Santa was fake.  In my child mind, that meant God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were fake, too.

I never regained any faith after that, although I did go through a phase in middle school where I told my parents I was a “mythologist” and that I was going to worship the “true gods” of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, and the rest…  I still continued going to church with my family because it wasn’t optional.  I completed the Sacraments through Confirmation, when my parents finally stopped forcing me to go.  Through all of this, though, nothing convinced me that there was a god.

I saw the effects – both good and bad – that religion and faith could have on people.  Especially weak-minded and weak-willed people.  These people use god and faith as a crutch because they have no self-discipline.  Left to their own devices with no god telling them that they have to behave, they would wreak havoc on the world simply because they felt like it.  Of course, the flip side of that coin are the people who misbehave because their god will forgive them as long as they ask for forgiveness.

Bad Religious Freak:  God, I killed a few people the other day while I was bored.  I’m sorry now.  Please forgive me?

God:  Well, you still say I’m your God and you put no other before me.  And you did say please…  Alright, you’re forgiven!  Love you.

Bad Religious Freak:  Love you, too, God!  And thanks.

Yeeeah…  That doesn’t work for me.  A god takes away your personal responsibility and that’s not cool.  If you are incapable of acting like a decent human being without a god telling you that you’ll go to hell otherwise, then you are a bad person no matter what you believe.

Also, before you freak out and say “that’s not how it works, you have to be a good person, too” read your bible.  That pretty much is how it works.  I forget the exact verse – I never was good at memorizing that kind of garbage – but the “not through works, but through faith” verse is the one you’re looking for.  Yes, you are also supposed to strive to be a decent person, but your god also says he’ll forgive you almost anything if you are truly sorry.  That still just doesn’t work for me.

I know this guy with an anger problem.  Well, lack of self discipline, mostly – bad parenting turned into some massive problems the older he got.  Anyways, when he loses his temper, he’ll scream, holler, throw stuff, say horrible things, and hurt people and animals.  He’s always really sorry once he calms down, but then it happens the next time he throws a tantrum.  This guy believes in a god that forgives him after every single one of these completely unacceptable outbursts.  According to his beliefs and the ideals that his church preaches, he’s going to heaven.  I sure as hell don’t want to be in heaven if he’s there, would you?!

But what if you’re wrong?  I would rather believe in God and find out I’m wrong than not believe, be wrong, and go to hell.

Pascal’s Wager is for people who are too afraid to stand up  for themselves.

What?  What’s Pascal’s Wager?

Pascal’s Wager is believing in God just in case he does exist.  That’s like when you get insurance on your car.  You don’t want to believe that you’ll get in a wreck, but you get the insurance just in case.  Believing in any god as an insurance policy is a crappy kind of belief.  I would respect you more if you simply said, “I have faith that there is a god.  I do not believe that the world would exist as it does today without Divine Interference.”

That doesn’t make any sense.  That’s just my belief, I didn’t copy some Pascal thing.

It doesn’t matter if you knew about Pascal’s Wager beforehand.  What matters is that it exists, existed before you and your belief, and sums up your belief in a much more eloquent manner.

Fine, whatever.  You still didn’t answer my question.  What if you’re wrong?

Have you read any of the Chronicles of Narnia?

What?  Answer the damn question!!!

Just trust me on this; it will help me to answer your question.  Have you read any of the Chronicles of Narnia books?  Specifically, have you read “The Last Battle?”  Also, do you have a basic knowledge of the books, even if it’s only from the few movies?

Fine, yes.  I know the basics.  There’s a lion named Aslan who can talk, some kids, a magic closet, and an imaginary place called Narnia.  Will you please answer my question now?

In the Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan is essentially Jesus.  There are numerous parallels drawn between the two throughout the series including the death and resurrection of both.  Anyways, there is another god – or devil, if you prefer – called Tash.  Tash is essentially the opposite of Aslan.  Tash’s worshipers range from good to bad, just as Aslan’s worshipers do.

When Aslan brings the world to an end, he judges all beings.  At one point, he says this to a worshiper of Tash:

Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me.  Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him.  For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him.  Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him.  And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.

Now, if you’ve read the book, you’ll remember the Dwarfs.  “We haven’t let anyone take us in. The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs.”  Aslan tries to help them out of their situation, and no good comes of it because the Dwarfs refuse to see.  “They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.”  The Dwarfs pretty much represent the Atheists, and this is where I disagree with C. S. Lewis’ depiction.

You still haven’t answered my question…

If you would quit interrupting me I would!

You’re talking about a book!

I’m giving you the words that better describe my reason for my answer.  If you would just let me finish, you would understand why I gave you a passage from a book, first.

Hurry up, then, I don’t have all day!

As I was saying, I disagree with Lewis about his take on Atheists.  In his books, after Aslan tries once to help and it doesn’t work, we hear no more about them.  Tash doesn’t take them, from what I understand, and neither does Aslan.  They simply cease to exist.  I have no problem with that, actually.  The problem that I have is that if there truly is a god and he is truly a decent, loving, caring being, then it wouldn’t matter to him whether a person believes in him, only whether he has done good things.

The Tash worshiper I mention earlier did good in the name of Tash, but his good deeds are attributed to Aslan.  Just as any bad Aslan worshiper’s bad deeds done in the name of Aslan are attributed to Tash.  Essentially what Lewis is saying is that as long as you believe in a god, it doesn’t matter which one you believe in because your good deeds go to the right god.  If you believe in nothing, though, you’re screwed and will cease to exist.

I am perfectly content with ceasing to exist at the point of my death.  I already believe that is what happens when a person dies.  If however, I am wrong and there is a god, then I would hope he would be a decent enough being (and similar to Aslan) to take into account a person’s overall goodness and not just his beliefs.

Although, if I’m wrong, there is a god, and he cares more about being worshiped than people being good, then I don’t want anything to do with him anyway.  Who wants to deal with a spoiled brat for all eternity?  I know I don’t!

You do believe in God!  You just said it!

Umm, no.  Weren’t you paying attention?

Yes, I was.  And you said you believed in God.  He’s isn’t going to like being called names, but you believe!

Riiiight…  Let me try this again.

Got it?

You believe in God.  Got it.

I hate dumbasses…

Author’s Note:

This is pretty much how every conversation I have with a Christian goes…  No joke.  Because I’m willing to offer up an “if I’m wrong” scenario, they assume that I believe in a god no matter how clear I try to make it.  Oh well.

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