Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I do not believe that people who historically believed or currently believe in a god or gods are stupid. I believe they are acting on an evolved, basic human need.
I also believe that the basis for this need is diminishing rapidly, and that eventually (though probably not in my lifetime) we will further evolve to lack this need.
The number of people who identify as non-religious, atheist, agnostic, etc., is growing rapidly. This begs the question:
Is God dead? Or dying?
More specifically, has the anthropomorphic theistic god morphed over time into the more ideological pantheistic god, and possibly on to the mostly benign deistic god?
Philosophically speaking, I do believe that this is what is happening.
While I don't believe that the theistic god(s) ever literally existed, I do see where the world once had a need for it/them.
In early human history, there was the perception that everything that was not caused directly by humans was magic. Lightning? Magic. Earthquake? Magic. Solar eclipse? HOLYSHITMAGIC! When people have very little to no understanding of the natural world, they construct their own explanations. Humans have a need to understand why things happen, and history has shown that we will satisfy that need; when presented with a question for which a real answer is not readily available, we will substitute our own artificial reality: the God of the Gaps.
As we have evolved and developed, humans have sought knowledge; we have hypothesized and tested and learned. The god of the gaps has become the answer to fewer and fewer questions.
How do plants grow?
Old answer: God
Current answer: Carbohydrates are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water using light as an energy source; otherwise known as photosynthesis.
What makes a rainbow?
Old answer: God
Current answer: The refractive dispersion of sunlight in drops of rain or mist.
What created the Universe?
Old answer: God
Current answer: The Big Bang. Probably. Actually, we're still working on that one.
My point is, the trend is that eventually, science tends to answer the questions. Will we ever have a solid answer for where the Universe came from? Maybe. Will we ever know for sure what happens when we die? Maybe. There's no way of knowing right now what we will and will not discover; but that does not mean that the answer is God.
There are still many today, the majority, in fact, who cling to the idea of the father god, the creator, as the answer to the questions that remain a mystery; but the fact is that with technological advances and easy access to instant worldwide communication, the gaps are closing faster than ever. Someday there will be no need for a supernatural explanation for anything at all. Eventually, people will have no choice but to concede that their religion is no more than superstition, and it has been replaced with knowledge and reality. This is, essentially, the death of God.
Update: This post is essentially a repost of a response I wrote to a forum post by khalis at Nashville Gothic. I initially did not reference the post for the sake of anonymity, since I had not previously mentioned that I am in the Nashville area. But fuck it. If you're here in the first place, you're at least thinking about atheism, right?
And I couldn't possibly come up with musings on Nietzsche's idea on my own.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Here is the note she sent me about it, followed by the lyrics she wrote:
ok, right now it's 12:45 in the morning so i'm sending you this instead of
waking you up. you're welcome. i'm just so excited. you know horse shoes and
handgrenades? well i wrote new lyrics. sing these lyrics to that song. its about
how bad a job god did in genesis.
The seventh day
What the fuck is wrong with him?
I think he’s gone insane.
All the tornadoes, and volcanoes
What the hell’s with the hurricane?
Mabye he’s all powerful
But he won’t have your back in a fight
The first six days he ruined every thing
And the seventh is the flag of white
He better turn this around
We don’t like how it is
We want domestic, not hectic
What kind of world do you call this?
Mabye he’s all powerful
But he won’t have your back in a fight
The first six days he ruined every thing
And the seventh is the flag of white
She's 13. I think it's really good. :-)
Monday, November 9, 2009
I live far enough away from my hometown that I could be more public with my atheism here than I currently am. But, a lesser reason that I avoid the topic of atheism in mixed company is that I feel ill equipped to defend my position. Sure, here on my blog I voice a strong opinion, and ramble freely in defense of what I believe; but when writing a blog post, I have plenty of time to think about what I'm going to say. I have access to http://www.biblegateway.com/, where I can look up passages to back up what I'm saying. I have the luxury of the delete button if I re-read something I've said and it turns out to actually be dumber than banana kool-aid. I don't have those advantages in a tête-à-tête with a fundamentalist christian who has plenty of preconceived notions and canned responses in his or her arsenal.
I expect that the day will come when I am willing to be honest about my lack of belief in a public situation. I think about what I will say to the standard questions and comments. Some of the responses I imagine are repetitions of excellent arguments made by brilliant skeptics I've read; some of them are original statements drawn from my personal experience over the years. I'll share some of them here. Please feel free to comment/critique/debate any of them. I'm not afraid of friendly debate and conversation. I only avoid conflict in the land of the living because I fear my response to the flaring tempers that I would be sure to encounter. Cyberspace shields me from that, somewhat. So, fire away.
- Why are you angry with God?
I'm not angry with God. I don't believe in a god. How could I be angry with something in which I don't believe? Why are you angry with the little blue marmoset that lives in my shoe?
- Jesus loves you.
You are wrong. There is no magical dead guy who loves me. The fact that you believe this based on a book of which you frankly know almost nothing regarding its origins and history floors me. My daughter loves me; my mother loves me. My brothers love me. Of this, I have evidence. Show me the evidence of this 2000 year old myth's love, and I will reconsider my position.
- You have so many blessings. How do you explain those without God?
All of my blessings can be explained by chance, probability, hard work, or careful planning. You may argue that those I attribute to chance or probability were bestowed upon me by God; I say to you that I need evidence that God is the source. I am fortunate to have been born into a loving, intelligent, hard working, middle class American family (Yes, I feel fortunate to be American; you folks in other countries should feel fortunate to be from your country, too. It’s a matter of perspective.). That was luck of the draw; I had nothing to do with it. Was it a gift from God? Explain to me then where God is in relation to the baby born to abusive parents in a filthy, overcrowded crack house with no one who cares enough about him to ever teach him how to get out of his situation as he grows. Tell me why there are so many babies born into poverty and famine in underdeveloped countries. Why the polar differences? Wouldn’t it make more sense that a god who loves all of his children would give them all an equal start? At least closer to equal, at least?
That being said, yes, I am very fortunate, and I reflect on my good fortune often, with a very grateful heart.
- How can you look at [that beautiful sunset, those majestic mountains, your daughter, anything natural and beautiful] and not believe in God?
I read. And I studied science. I know what makes those things. Guess what? It wasn't a god.
- Aren't you afraid of going to Hell?
No. I'm also not afraid of ghosts, Freddie Kreuger, vampires, or zombies. I'm not afraid of anything that I don't believe in. Especially things that make absolutely no logical sense whatsoever.
- Why don't you just believe? Isn't that safer than taking the chance that you are wrong?
Well, how do you know which religion I should believe in order to give me the greatest likelihood of achieving eternal bliss? How do you know that Christianity is right, and not Hinduism? Jainism? The Flying Spaghetti Monster? Islam? Satanism? Sikhism? Shinto? Rastafarianism? Scientology? They all have exactly the same amount of evidence supporting them. Which is none.
- You are just evil.
Yes. I know. I work hard to provide for my daughter. I call my mama to check on her several times a week. I do everything in my power to help my friends when they need me. I give to charity. I recycle. For the love of all that is just, WHY HAVE I NOT BEEN LOCKED UP YET?!?
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
But you know what? It didn't immediately make me feel like mocking them. It actually made me feel sorry for the people who go to that site in earnest, seeking truth. There are so many people who have been deceived so completely, brainwashed so thoroughly, that they will believe anything they read, as long as it comes from a "Man of God." These people go to CBN and make decisions based on what they read there about what charities to support, how to raise their kids, how to handle their money, and even what movies to go watch. It is very sad to know that people so freely hand their life decisions over to a money and power crazed charlatan.
That being said, I did find something to ridicule.
Jackie Overpeck, a CBN contributor, wrote an article entitled The Smudgy Sin of Disbelief. She seems to be a nice enough lady; she even seems very sincere in her desire that her writing will help people. She is, however, an ignorant follower of the religious dogma that she was no doubt taught from childhood. She freely admits that she believes that doubt, skepticism, and knowledge-seeking are by their very nature sinful, and implies that they should be avoided at all costs.
A person who doubts is a called a skeptic. A skeptic is someone who hesitates atAu contraire, my dear.
the truth, especially religious teachings, including the Bible. Skepticism
has the same effect in our hearts that blotchy makeup has on our eyes.
How can one say in good conscience that a skeptic hesitates at the truth? A skeptic is one who seeks the truth, above all else. Religious teachings, especially the Bible, are not truth; they are questionable history at best; fable and myth, most likely; and outright manipulative lies at worst. A skeptic hesitates at the unproven. A skeptic seeks evidence, repeatable outcomes, logical connections. In other words, the truth.
Being a doubter fills the heart with darkness. Why? Doubt divides us from theDoubt does not divide us from the truth. Doubt causes us to probe further into cause and effect; to seek out the concrete; to execute the scientific method. Doubt leads us to truth. It's true that the truth isn't always easy. But without doubt, we never know what is authentic and real.
truth. The truth is that which is sincere. The truth isn’t always easy, but it
is authentic and real.
Yeah. That's great advice. I could (and probably will) write and entire blog post about the absurd things one can find in the scriptures. Someone smarter than I said it before, but it's true that the fastest way to atheism is to read the Bible.
The best thing you can do is tell God about it. Disbelief causes us to
stand far away, point and say, “I doubt that.” Instead, get certainty. Get out
your Bible and search the Scriptures. Find out for yourself what God says by
quieting your mind and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart.
And sure. Quiet your mind. Let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart. My guess? It's going to tell you EXACTLY WHAT YOU'VE BEEN WANTING VALIDATION FOR. The Holy Spirit is your own internal self-justification, numbnuts. You're just giving it an external validity.
Finally, she closes with:
I’m convinced that God has a Maybelline mascara remover bottle in heaven. How do I know? He has washed my darkened eyes from the smudgy sin of disbelief andJesus. Why do christian writers always feel like they have to use a clever and witty analogy to begin and end their work? It's awesome when a writer is randomly inspired by a great analogy (a fantastic example is this entire post on skepticism by my friend Lord Runolfr). But the Maybelline mascara remover bottle in heaven? Really. That's lame. Dude.
doubt many times.
I have learned to revel in the "smudgy sin of disbelief and doubt." I used to fear it, just as Ms. Jackie does. I used to sincerely believe that it was the work of the Devil. What opened my eyes? I'm not sure. I know that my realization of the futility of prayer was the first step; but it was a long, slow road to real reason.
I'm glad I travelled it.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
As you may have guessed, this post is not about Stevie Wonder. It's about superstitions. And it may be somewhat disjointed and hard to follow, because I have several concepts fighting for top spot in my head. And I'm drinking rum.
When I was a christian, I claimed that I was not superstitious. Of course, I did not consider Christianity to be superstition; that was faith. It was different. Superstition was believing in something based on intangibles such as folklore and hearsay, notable coincidence, and random trial-and-error. My religion was nothing like that.
[pausing for laughter]
Of course religion is superstition. Prayer has no more effect on the physical world than a black cat crossing your path; but there are those who believe in one or the other, or both, and can cite you several accounts to back it up.
"I prayed that the mole would be benign, and it was! Praise Jesus for answered prayer!"
"That cat crossed in front of me this morning, and I got a speeding ticket! Damn cat!"
Both of those statements sound ludicrous to me now; but there was a time in my life when I gave much credence to prayer, and at least some consideration to the traditional "old wives' tale" superstitions. In fact, the most difficult step for me after becoming an atheist was giving up prayer. There were things I prayed for every night when I believed in God: my mother's health, my daughter's continued health and well-being, and safety and protection for my entire family to name a few (it just occured to me that there's a theme there). My nightly prayers were long, and I could not fall asleep without doing them. Once I came to terms with the fact that there was no one in any mystical place called Heaven who was listening, I had to learn to sleep without that nightly ritual. It took a while. For a very long time, when my daughter was going to go do something without me, I would almost instinctively think, "God, keep her safe." It was just a learned thought pattern for when I wanted something very, very much. I haven't prayed for a long time now, but it took a lot of retraining of my brain.
The thing is, once I let go of religion and prayer, I easily let go of all the other superstitions that I had once casually held. I no longer avoid opals (they are supposed to be bad luck); in fact, I recently bought an opal ring that I now wear every day. I'm not afraid of ghosts, or "haunted" places (though I still won't go through a Halloween haunted house because I can't stand the idea of putting my hand on something gross and slimy in the dark; THAT'S A LEGITIMATE FEAR). I don't worry about what shirt I wear on the day my favorite team is playing. In fact, I can't think of a single superstition I still hold.
I have heard several of my atheist friends talk about silly superstitions they still have. They understand that they're irrational and can't possibly be real; but they just can't ignore them. I find that fascinating. I wonder why humans are wired to think that way?
Do any of you still have any lingering superstitions, despite your embrace of reason? What are they? Why do you still believe it?
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Occasionally, someone lives on this planet who is so special, so wonderful, that he or she can make an atheist wish she still believed in Heaven. My precious, departed cousin Ron was one of those people.
Ron passed away years ago of the avian flu. He was a homosexual recovered alcoholic child of an (also recovered) alcoholic.
None of those things are what defined Ron. But he was not afraid to talk about any or all of them to anyone who was interested, or to anyone who he thought he could help by sharing.
This post is a tribute to his memory. I've been thinking about him a lot lately.
What did define Ron was this: he was a kind, loving, thoughtful, funny, honest (sometimes brutally so), and unselfish man. There are two particular memories of him that I think represent all of these qualities, when put together.
The first is a memory of the time that his mother (my aunt), my mother, and I went to visit him in New York City. He was a hairdresser (cliché, I know...), and a damn fine one. He did many models and movie/TV stars' hair regularly. Still, NYC is an expensive place, so he lived in a tiny studio apartment (his partner and he also had a home in the Poconos, but Ron spent the week in NYC). Still, he was happy to have us stay at his place, and made accomodations for us all. I ended up in the floor on an air mattress. On the morning that we were to leave NYC for the cabin in the Poconos, Ron graciously woke me up by pulling the plug on the mattress and watching me crash down on the floor and wake in a dazed stupor wondering "what the hell just happened, and why did the bed turn hard??" He laughed like a little girl. As did my mom and my aunt. Hilarious, y'all.
The next memory happened a few years later. Ron's father (my mother's brother) passed away. Ron and his father had a very volatile relationship. Ron came out as a gay man before my uncle quit drinking, and he suffered severe emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his father because of his homosexuality. After my uncle quit drinking, he was able to come to terms with the truth about his son, and they eventually formed a somewhat healthy relationship. These types of memories about someone that you love cause the grieving process to be much more complicated, and even more painful than average grieving. I knew that Ron was in a lot of pain.
When I arrived at the funeral home, I found Ron and went to give him a big hug. After our hug, he put his hand on my shoulder, and said, "Is this hard for you? Being here?"
He was referring to the fact that I had lost my father at such a young age.
Take a minute to let that sink in. He was going through terrible grieving, and his first thought was to comfort me.
That is who he was. He loved to laugh, he loved to make others laugh, and he cared deeply for the feelings and well-being of others.
It was because of Ron that I was able to finally accept my sexuality. It was from Ron that I learned that it is safe to forgive, even when someone has done terrible wrongs to you, if that person has made a true and sincere effort to make things right. It was Ron who taught me to embrace my curls (although I have been betraying him lately by using a straightening iron...). Ron made me feel beautiful, inside and out, because he was beautiful. Inside and out.
Rest in peace, Ron. If there is a Heaven, and if there is any universal justice, then you are there, having a blast. I love you, cuz.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
But this post isn't about racial jokes. It's about this article.
Apparently, there was a miracle in a Catholic Church in Poland.
The miracle happened during the mass. One of local priests was giving the Holy
Communion when suddenly it fell down on the floor. So he took it and put into a
chalice. After several days the chalice was filled with red water which was
poured out on a special ceremonial tablecloth. As it turned out, there was also
a strange things examined by the doctors. According to them it was a part of
human heart at the point of death condition.
I have both questions and observations regarding this alleged miracle.
First, I should point out that I was an evangelical christian, not a catholic, so I never believed in the literal transubstantiation of the host. We believed that communion, or the "Lord's Supper" as we called it, was a purely symbolic ritual. We still took it very seriously; but we did not believe that the crackers and grape juice (obviously we couldn't use real wine!) literally turned into human flesh.
From what I understand, catholics do believe in literal transubstantiation. So, if they believe that communion turns into literal flesh and blood every time it is blessed and given, then why call this a miracle? Is it because it turned into a heart? Is it supposed to turn into pancreas or gallbladder instead? I'd think that heart would be just as normal as any other organ or body part. Is it a miracle that it transfigured in a chalice rather than in the digestive system of a devout believer? Maybe that's it. We'll go with that.
Obviously, I don't believe that an actual miracle occurred. What disturbs me is that the article claims that a doctor examined the thing and declared that it "was a part of human heart at the point of death condition."
Two possibilities immediately come to mind. Either 1) the doctor was lying, hoping that a for-real miracle would be attributed to his church and he'd have some measure of fame for confirming it, or 2) someone hacked a hunk of heart out of a human corpse and slipped it into the chalice.
That's just gross.
It's also a crime. I don't know about Poland, but in America, people donate their organs to save lives, or they donate their bodies to science for medical and forensic studies, but they don't just sign their bodies over for people to hack away at their organs for practical jokes or miracle-making.
Although that would be quite funny. Maybe I'll donate my body to Penn & Teller so they can do some kind of sick magic trick that can be verified by a medical examiner. Hilarious.
Anyway, whatever happened in Poland, I'm quite sure it was not a miracle. It was either a lie driven by a fame hungry doctor or a really sick attempt at manufacturing a miracle. I would not put either past those who hold religious power.
Friday, October 9, 2009
- I hate that I have to be careful who I let know about my atheism. In this country, christians can prattle on about their churches and their faith and their bullshit stories about how "God did this" and "God did that," and to a lesser extent, muslims, hindus, jainists, wiccans, and just about any other religion you can think of, can talk about their silly superstitions all they want, and they have some sort of automatic respect, because you have to respect people's faith. But I tell someone that I am an atheist, a believer in the concrete, a lover of reason, and I could lose my job and many of my friends. There are lunatics who would even like to take my daughter away from me for raising her in an atheist home. It is outrageous and infuriating. I have no problem with anyone believing whatever they want, as long as they don't hurt others as a result of their belief, whether you believe that some guy walked on water and rose from the grave, or if you believe that breaking a mirror is seven years of bad luck. Believe it; that's fine. I don't. Live happy. I DESERVE THE SAME REACTION.
- I hate that I have to hide the fact that I am a bisexual. I hate even more that my upbringing has instilled a deep rooted shame about my sexuality. I should not feel ashamed of who I am; but I do. Some people I know IRL read this blog because I put a link to it on our meetup site. I debated removing the post that outed me as a bisexual before I posted that link. Why? Because I was embarassed. It really, really pisses me off that I was embarassed and ashamed about something that is a part of me and has never caused anyone any harm. More people know about my sexuality than know about my atheism; but I still take great pains to hide it for the most part. Now, I'm not saying that I want to go to work and shout it from the rooftops, but it would be nice to be able to talk about past relationships without having to be careful to use gender-neutral pronouns.
- I hate llamas.
- I'm just kidding. I don't hate llamas.
- I hate that I'm overweight and I am probably going to always be overweight, at least to some extent. I'm not obese; I'm not unhealthy. I have several extra pounds that really need to come off because my body does not need them. I love food, and I love wine and beer. I wish I were willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make my goal weight. I enjoy being active; I eat healthy foods. I just eat too much of them.
- I hate that I have to double check my spelling of the word "necessary" every damn time I type it. I'm a phenomenal speller. I just have a fucking mental block with that word.
- I hate that now that I've bragged about what a great speller I am, I am paranoid that I've misspelled something simple elsewhere in this post.
I love, however, that my list of things that I hate tonight is short, and that I felt like injecting some humor into it. I am an incredibly fortunate woman with a life that is better than I deserve. That makes up for the list of hates.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
We had been concerned about our much-loved dog being cared for when weWow. Where do I start?
leave in the Rapture. Bailey was only seven and in good health when he just
upped and died on us the other morning. He died quickly and peacefully with the
family surrounding him, but when we started questioning why it happened (as we
all do, even though it all ends with "blessed be the name of the Lord"), we
remembered the rapture connection. Suddenly we felt like the rapture was going
to be very soon and God was sparing us the worry.
It just seems weird that we've been praying for Bailey to have a long
and healthy life and then he just drops dead!! Could be the devil just making us
miserable, but God could've spared him, so since we believe it's God's will that
he died, we don't want to get another dog. Hopefully and just maybe, we'll see
Bailey again someday!! But, hmmm, get ready everyone!!
I'm going to focus mostly on the three big contradictions I see in this testimony.
Contradiction 1: Dog will be left behind in the rapture, but they expect to see him again someday.
So. Only the faithful followers of Jesus are going to be taken in the rapture. I get that; but I thought that the rapture-waiting fundamentalists believed that humans were the only creatures made in God's image, meaning we were the only ones who had a soul. How the hell do they expect to see their dead dog again? This truly baffles me. If they think he has a soul and is going to heaven, then why wouldn't he be taken in the rapture like all the other heaven-bound souls? And even if he doesn't qualify for rapture, why worry about his care? After he starves to death, his soul will be reunited with his loving human families, right? Or am I missing something?
I think this is a good example of how people just make shit up in their religion to make themselves feel better about a situation. The Catholics are real pros at this. They really like to mix shit up to increase their
I'm probably missing something. I have heard so many different stories on what exactly the rapture is supposed to be, it's ridiculous. I know one group of people who think it's already happened. AUWTDA.
Contradiction 2: "...we've been praying for Bailey to have a long and healthy life and then he just drops dead!!" and "...when we started questioning why it happened (as we all do, even though it all ends with 'blessed be the name of the Lord')"
This goes back to my issue with prayer. These people were praying for their dog (who they claim was perfectly healthy, so why the daily prayers, anyway?), and when God does exactly the opposite of what they were praying for, they question for a moment, then jump straight to BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!!1!1!! I have never understood this, not even when I was a christian. What good is prayer if you have to turn right around and kiss ass when it didn't do a fucksworth of good? Either God knows what is best for you and you need to just shut the fuck up, or your prayers are valid pleas that God takes into consideration and sometimes answers them, and sometimes takes them and tells you to shove them right up your ass. Seriously, people, you can't have it both ways.
Contradiction 3: "Could be the devil just making us miserable, but God could've spared him..."
I don't even know where to begin with this. It is so simple in its ludicrousness. Either the Devil has the power to make you miserable, or God has the power to stop him. If God "could've spared him," then it was not the Devil making you miserable, it was God. If this god is omnipotent, then he can STOP ANYTHING THAT IS NOT HIS WILL. That means the Devil can't do anything to make you miserable, honey. Unless he can. Which means God isn't all-powerful. Which means that your dog's death may not necessarily have been his plan. My head hurts.
Of course, if these people had only known about Eternal Earthbound Pets, they wouldn't have been worried about their dog's post-rapture status in the first place, and he'd still be alive. So basically they killed their dog with their ignorance. Way to go, dog killers.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
I forgot the second reason.
Anyway, here it is. My totally uninspired, probably really poorly written post. Because I care and I love you. You're welcome.
I remember as a christian often wondering about Heaven. I knew that it was supposed to be this wonderful place that was going to be the eternal reward for our belief/faith/obedience; but I always had a hard time imagining what it actually was supposed to be like. I mean, Hell was described in no unclear terms. It would burn you with fire (Matt. 5:22; Matt. 18:9); that fire burned forever and nothing can put it out (Mark 9:43, 45); and not only was it fire, but a lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). That's all I needed to know.
I don't remember many biblical descriptions of Heaven, though. I remember something about milk and honey, and that sounded nice*, and streets of gold, which sounded kind of gaudy and impractical, but what else was there to know about Heaven? Funny that they didn't talk about that more in church.
So, I decided to look for myself and see what the Bible had to say about Heaven.
The first reference I found in the New Testament describing Heaven (the old testament uses the term "heaven" pretty much synonymously with "sky") was Matt. 6:20:
"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust dothThat's a good start. I hate it when my stuff rusts, and moths are annoying; and don't even get me started on thieves. I had my wallet stolen once and it was a total nightmare. If I could have found the asshole that stole my wallet, I would have punched him in the throat and set him on fire. Or her. I guess I don't have any real way of knowing.
corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."
The next few descriptions weren't so helpful.
"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven isMatt. 13:31:
likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field."
"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likeMatt. 13:33:
to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field."
"Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven,It goes on like this for some time. I'm sure if I read the rest of the parables, it would all be clear. But who has time for that? I just want to know what we're supposed to do in heaven. So far, it looks like a lot of working in the garden and baking. Fuck, I have to do that shit here. I don't need it after I'm dead, too.
which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was
Then there's Matt. 19:14:
"But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me:I hate kids. Well, except for mine. I like her, because she's awesome. Other kids can suck it, though. I don't need them running around screaming with flailing arms while I'm trying to keep from falling on my ass on the streets of gold and enjoy my milk and honey (a reference I have yet to find, by the way).
for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
And oh my fucking Flying Spaghetti Monster, read Matt. 24:35:
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."Heaven is going to pass away? WTF?
So I kept looking. I found a lot more weird parable things that liken the kingdom of heaven to this and that, but I wanted to learn more about what it was going to be like there.
Then I noticed that the milk and honey reference was in the Old Testament, and not even talking about heaven at all. It was talking about the promised land.
"Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel,Well fuck.
and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land
that floweth with milk and honey."
Then I finally came across where the gold streets were mentioned. It mentions the pearl gates, too. I had forgotten all about that part.
"And the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl:But that's in Revelation, which no one understands what the fuck it's about, and so everyone says it's all metaphor. So, yeah. Probably no gold streets, either.
and the street of the city [was] pure gold, as it were transparent glass."
So, basically what I gathered from my research is that I'm not really going to be missing out on a lot by not going to heaven. That lake of fire is sure going to suck, though.
*Actually, thanks to some information I received from a fellow atheist in our group regarding acceptable quantities of blood and pus, milk doesn't sound all that great to me anymore. But the milk in heaven would be pure and clean milk. Probably.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Here is the controversial statement [emphasis mine]:
Scotland will forever remember the crime that has been perpetrated against
our people and those from many other lands. The pain and suffering will remain
forever. Some hurt can never heal. Some scars can never fade. Those who have
been bereaved cannot be expected to forget, let alone forgive.
Mr Al-Megrahi now faces a sentence imposed by a higher power. It is one
that no court, in any jurisdiction, in any land, could revoke or overrule. It is
terminal, final and irrevocable. He is going to die.
So, is this just another I'm-a-theist-and-I-assume-you-are-too statement aimed at those who give their god credit for all, and ignoring those who do not relate to it? Or is it something worse? Is this statement benign, or is it deeply disrespectful?
I'm going to have to go with disrespectful. Implying that al-Megrahi's disease is some sort of punishment for his crimes disturbs me for a few reasons.
First, what about all the people currently and throughout history who have committed crimes that were as heinous or even more heinous than those of al-Megrahi, who have gone on to live long, healthy lives? Where is the divine justice there? Are the families and loved ones of the victims of these unpunished crimes to believe that God did not see fit to punish the guilty person? Nice.
Second, there are a staggering number of moral, productive, upstanding members of society who are stricken with terminal disease every day. They are given the same "death sentence" as al-Megrahi. Does this imply that these people are dealt this illness and suffering as a result of some divine justice that is beyond our comprehension? After all, God works in mysterious ways... What a horrible idea to impose upon the families and loved ones of the terminally ill!
I understand the spirit of what MacAskill was trying to say; he was expressing that the man is going to suffer and die, his suffering is not something the judicial system imposed upon him, and it will not make a great deal of difference whether he does this suffering in a prison or at home. I get that.
MacAskill's choice of words was poor, though. It was not simply a metaphor to be glossed over. In my opinion, it was potentially hurtful to a lot of people who are already hurting over undeserved and unbearable circumstances.
Powerful people should choose their words wisely.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The table was full. There was Jesus motorcycle guy, a family of a husband and wife and two little girls (toddlers), and the three in my party. Jesus motorcycle guy (let's call him JMG) asked whether everyone was local or from out of town. The other family was local; we were traveling.
I have a point. Be patient.
The next question JMG asked was where the family next to him went to church. Not whether they went to church; where they went to church. Of course, as the odds would have it, they belonged to a big local church and so that was cool with JMG. I started to sweat. "Oh, dear fuck. I hope he doesn't ask us about church" kept going through my head over and over and over. I am not one for public debate, but I'm also not a liar. So if he asked, I was screwed.
He didn't ask. What he did ask was where my "other half" is. He assumed, since I'm eating with two preteen girls, I must be married.
Well, I am married, but I'm in the process of a divorce. Kind of. It's complicated. But I had an out.
I told him that he was on his way to Iraq. Which is true. JMG immediately asked for his name and said that he would pray for him, and that he would put him on their church's prayer list.
Well, 1) I'm a wimp and I hate confrontation, and 2) my husband/soon ex husband is a christian, so I suppose he would be happy that he's on the prayer list of a group of total strangers. So I just say thank you.
Then, JMG starts talking about his motorcycle evangelist group and how they are mostly veterans. I just really want him to stop. Please, just stop.
I nod politely. I thank him for his service to our country. I don't mention that I don't believe in prayer, Jesus, or his (or any) god. My daughter and her friend are just as sweet as they can be, and don't say anything either (they are both nonbelievers as well).
So, as we left, we were all three just very happy to be out of there.
So. What if I had been the vocal one? What if I had openly discussed how proud I am to be an atheist, and how the atheists in the military suffer gross discrimination, and what a wonderful thing science is and how much it has improved our daily life, and how ignorant and damaging it is for people to deny science and try to defer its progress because of silly superstitions and ancient books filled with vile stories and gross inconsistencies? All of those things are true; all of those things are valid. Would I have been treated with as much respect?
I can tell you. NO. No, I would not. And that makes me angry. It does not make me angry enough (yet) to cause a scene during my vacation; but it does make me very, very angry.
I'm sure many of you have read Greta Christina's blog post on why atheists are angry, but I am just now starting to get it. Really get it.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Now, let me explain that I know that my daughter is not a homophobe; her best friend is the daughter of lesbian parents. She has argued the rights of homosexuals for years. She has a gay uncle who is awesome and she loves him and his partner very much. So I knew she wouldn't have a problem with the fact itself.
But she is 13. My fear was that she would be upset that I had "hidden" it from her for so many years. The truth is, there was just no good time to tell her. I mean, I've only been with men since she's been alive (her father, and then her stepfather). When exactly is a good time to say, "oh, by the way, sweetie, I am also attracted to women and had girlfriends before you were born."?
Yeah. I'm thinking that a daughter just doesn't want to hear about any of that. Kids just don't like thinking about their parents having sex with anybody. It's icky.
But, the conversation came up because we were casually talking about a friend of mine who is bisexual. I'm not sure how it wrapped around to including me, but it was very comfortable and natural, and she didn't feel like I had been hiding anything from her at all. She understood that it just isn't something that I would blurt out to her randomly. It is about my sex life, after all, which isn't something I talk about to her a lot. Because, you know. It's icky.
She and I do talk about sex in general, because I want her to know that I am here for her when she needs to talk to someone. She knows that I want her to wait until she is older before she starts having sex. She knows the reasons (emotional risks, disease risks, pregnancy risks...you know; real reasons. Not just "God said not to" which was all I was given as a kid). She also knows that I understand that sex is a normal, natural thing, and that her body will scream at her to start doing it before it is the best and safest time. I want her to know that she can talk to me about that without risk, and without judgement. I've been there. I understand. Yeah, sex involving your parents is icky. But sex in general is not. It's normal, natural, and awesome.
So, I guess the point of this post is that I have an awesome daughter. I am very, very fortunate and I am grateful every minute of every day for her. And also that I'm bisexual.
Hope that didn't freak anybody out.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
S and I could not be closer if we were sisters. That sounds cliche, but it is the honest truth. She and I have been through the worst of pain together, and the most wonderful joys together. If I had to name the most important people in my life, S would be very, very close to the top. Right there with my mother and my daughter. S and I share everything with each other; she knows everything about me, good and bad.
Except for the fact that I am now an atheist.
I have not told her about my atheism. She knows that I am very scientific and skeptical; she laughs when people tell stories about ghosts and superstitions around me, and proudly tells them that I'm very science-thinking and I don't believe in things like that. So it should be a breeze to tell her that I've taken the final rational step and stopped believing in the ultimate superstition, right?
I was once an enthusiastic christian like S. I could not imagine not believing in God. It seemed impossible and ridiculous. It wasn't superstition; it was TRUTH. This is how she feels. This is how she assumes that I feel.
S and I take our daughters on an overnight camping trip every year. It is awesome. We slather ourselves in SPF 5000+ with a topcoat of bug repellant, light a fire, and roast things that are full of sugar and fat. Then we put up our tent, hike, sit and talk, watch my daughter read to her (much younger) daughter, and just enjoy being together. I look forward to it every year.
This morning, S called me and enthusiastically asked me if my daughter and I would want to do our camp out at Godstock this year.
Yes. Godstock is EXACTLY what it sounds like. Praise & worship christianity's version of Woodstock, but with no sex or drugs.
I told her that I might have something going on that weekend, and I'd have to check my calendar (I may actually really have something; I wasn't lying about that). I was glad I had an out; but what happens next time? When she wants us to come to her charismatic church? When she wants me to come to a women's retreat with her? When she wants me to take the 'Encountering Jesus' session with her? What am I to do then?
I have to tell her the truth. And that is going to hurt.
There is a fantastic blog post at The Friendly Atheist today dealing with issues just like this. I read it, and it has given me a little hope that this can work out, and things will be okay in the end; but I really dread the initial struggle.
I guess all I can do is hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. But if there is anyone in the world who will still love me, despite huge worldview differences, it is S.
UPDATED 11/11/09: Well, S and I had the conversation tonight. She was so totally cool about it; I am ashamed of ever being concerned in the first place.
I know that she is concerned. I know that we will have many conversations about this. But she is awesome. We love each other. That is never going to change, no matter what.
I love you, S.
Friday, August 7, 2009
I remember being a christian, and listening to my ex husband talk about the atheist group he had joined. I remember wondering what atheists do at meetings. I just couldn't imagine; did they just sit around and talk about how they didn't believe in God? How could that be stimulating?
Of course, now I realize how stupid that was. It was like wondering whether christians just sat around all the time talking about Jesus (which they do a lot). Obviously, even the most fundamentalist evangelical has interests outside of his faith.
I'm really ashamed now of how I used to view people without faith, and I honestly wonder how I could have ever felt that way. It seems so ridiculous now; but honestly, when christianity is driven deep, deep into your psyche from the time you are a small child (a baby, really), it really seems like it is the truth, and you just can't imagine believing anything different. Anything different is absurd.
I digress; this post was supposed to be about the atheist group.
The biggest thing I came away with from the group is how easy it is to talk to reasonable people. Even if I said something totally boneheaded (which can be quite often), no one jumped on me to attack; no one said anything to make me feel stupid. The harshest thing I heard all night was, "Hm. I don't think I can quite buy that, just because you said you were certain..."
Ouch. What cutting words. ()
Everyone was open to debate; everyone was open to discussion; everyone was interested in the stories of others. It was like spending two hours with the friendliest people on Earth.
Those damn, godless atheists.
I know that the new will wear off, and I'll stop being so amazed at how great the meetings are. But right now, it is just so nice to spend time with a group of people who are thinkers; who are skeptics; who are willing to learn from others who have a different point of view. Those things are all the total opposite of all the people I knew as a christian.
Monday, June 1, 2009
First of all, it made me realize just how strongly I used to believe in God and the afterlife. Yesterday, that belief was noticeably absent, and its absence had a strong effect on my emotions. I realized that my friend was gone; not waiting for me in Heaven, not finally reunited with his father and his grandfather. Gone. It hurt a lot. I remembered what it was like to have that small solace in saying “He’s in a better place” or “We’ll see him again someday.” Although those things did not take away the pain of missing a departed loved one, they did offer some comfort, however fantastical.
It made me realize that I will always be, for the most part, silent about my atheism. The time I spent with his family and friends at the funeral home was a combination of sadness over missing him and happiness over remembering his life. We all reflected on what a wonderful man he was. We laughed about joys remembered, and we cried about the years ahead without him. I cried for his mother, his sister, his wife, his daughter, and his son, whom he left behind, and who loved him very, very much. Their pain just rips me up inside. There is no way I am going to tell them that I do not believe, as they do, that he is in Heaven. Just because I no longer believe it doesn’t mean I have to take that comfort from others. Some may disagree with me on this point; I assure you that I give less than a fuck whether you disagree. I don’t tell small children that there is no Santa Claus, either.
It also made me stop to think of how precious life is, and how very important it is to take care of ourselves while we have it. My friend who died was only 53 years old. Cancer is a beast that doesn’t give a shit whether you’ve had time to live a full life, or how much your wife loves you, or whether you get to see your grandbaby born in just a few months (Yeah. That completely breaks my heart. He was so close to seeing his beautiful daughter have her baby). Get your cancer screenings, folks. Take advantage of the wonderful thing we have called medical science, and catch it early. Early means before you feel sick. Check everything on schedule.
Finally, I realized that as an atheist, I feel much, much more connected to my fellow human beings. Many religious people would expect that to be just the opposite, I know, but I truly feel a love and a desire for the well-being of others that I never had before. Not this strongly, anyway. I suppose that could be a result of my new world view, or it could possibly be that I’m just getting sappier and soft as I get older. Either way, it’s nice.
Love on someone who is important to you today.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
1. This is a random posting of a captioned photograph from http://icanhascheezburger.com/. I found it very amusing. It is so true; and I can think of so many human metaphors for this idea. But I'm not feeling deep tonight.
2. I am currently in a situation where it is practically impossible for me to have sex. I'm not going into details tonight, except to say that I might have to stop going to spinning class for the time being. The bicycle seat is becoming...distracting.
3. Beer makes me happy.
4. Sex would make me happier.
5. I am trying to figure out what exactly it is that has me so intrigued with the TV show House. It's an awesome show; but I am rarely drawn in the way I am with this one.
6. I am more intrigued with the show LOST; but I understand completely why I love it so much.
7. I'm looking forward to painting my kitchen this weekend.
Real post coming up soon; I just like to throw in a Random 7 every once in a while.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Disclaimer to Christian readers: it is not my intent to offend you, but I have some very strong emotions and opinions regarding this subject. It makes me say fuck a lot. So if the word fuck bothers you, you may want to stop reading now. You've already seen it twice, and I assure you it will appear again. Several times. The word shit, too. (I told you to stop reading...)
My first husband was/is an atheist. He and I had many, many discussions and disagreements about the existence and sovereignty of God. His reason and logic were excellent, and a fair call of the debate would always judge him as the winner; but discussions with him never caused me to question the existence of God, or his absolute omniscience.
No. The first thing that ever caused me to question God was the true story of a little girl who had a terrible illness. I don't remember the details anymore. What I remember is that the little girl was in the hospital, and several doctors were working day and night to diagnose and try to find a cure for her before it was too late. The little girl's family issued a plea for everyone to pray for the child to be healed; for God's mercy and loving healing.
The doctors figured out what was wrong, administered the proper treatments, and the girl got better. Do you know where the family gave the credit for the healing? I'll bet you can guess.
They thanked all the people who prayed. Without those prayers, they were convinced that their daughter would have died.
What. The. Fuck.
So. You are telling me that God imposed a life threatening illness upon an innocent little girl, and would have let her die, except that lots of people begged him not to? And if enough people had not begged him to spare her, then too fucking bad! You guys are not groveling enough! The child dies!
Dude. Fuck that shit.
Honestly. Does that even make any sense, when you think about it? I remember always being told to pray for what I wanted/needed, but then add "but your will be done." I guess so God didn't think I was barking orders at him or something. I can understand that; I don't like people barking orders at me, either. But seriously, what good does it do to pray if you can't even say "I really want this; even if it wasn't what you originally intended?" What good is prayer at all, if this God of yours is going to do whateverthefuck he wanted to do in the first place? And how loving and gracious is this God if the single prayer of a frightened mother isn't enough to save her child? What kind of sadistic maniac requires a megachurchfull of people begging for the life of one little girl? WHAT KIND OF GOD KILLS LITTLE GIRLS IN THE FIRST PLACE?
I know what you are going to say. "We are God's children. Do you give your child everything she asks for?"
The first thing I will say to you is don't end a sentence with a preposition.
The next thing I will say to you is no, of course I don't. Sometimes I can't (an excuse God can't use, right?), and sometimes she wants something that is not good for her. Either way, I always take the time to explain to her why I can't or won't let her have what she wants. If she doesn't understand, then I try to explain it another way. If she still doesn't understand, I lock her in the cellar.
I kid. I haven't locked her in the cellar since we had to replace the door from all the clawing damage.
JESUS, PEOPLE! CALM DOWN! IT'S A JOKE! I DON'T EVEN HAVE A CELLAR!
Seriously, though. Even if I did lock her in the cellar, it's still not as bad as being cast into a lake of fire to burn for all eternity. Which is what we get if we piss off God.
But he loves us.
UPDATE: The difference in opinion regarding the existence of God was not what broke up my first marriage. Just so you know.
ANOTHER UPDATE: If I did have a cellar, I would keep wine in it. Not kids.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends; we're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside...
Okay, so I lied. I did start the blog with an explanation of what the blog is about. But not really; because it was by no means comprehensive. So there.
I have recently come to terms with two very big things.
- There is probably no God; and
- I'm okay with that.
A year ago I would have never admitted that I had doubts about God's existence. Oh, the doubts have been there for much more than a year; but a human who needs comfort and solace can cling fiercely to denial. See, my dad died when I was 10 years old. I needed to believe I would see him again. In heaven. But now I wonder whether I really needed to believe that, or if I only clung to that hope because I was taught to do so.
Rather than go into a manifesto about how I came to disbelieve (don't worry; I'm sure that will come later), tonight I want to write about an incident that happened to me yesterday.
My 12 year old daughter (also atheist) and I were returning from a trip to the grocery, and I needed to make a stop at the liquor store to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner. It started to rain pretty hard for a while, but slacked off as we pulled into the parking lot. As I turned off the car, I glanced out the windsheild to see an obviously injured, soaking wet little gray mouse, hobbling and struggling to get off the pavement, onto the grassy median beside the parking space. It was heartbreaking to watch him climb the little concrete slope, only to slide backward because he had no use of one of his back legs. My daughter asked if we should help him, and I told her that there was really nothing we could do; even if he got onto the grass, that leg of his was not going to heal. She decided to wait in the car and listen to her iPod while I ran in and quickly picked up the wine.
When I returned to the car, there was an SUV parked in front of me. I could tell by the look on my daughter's face what had happened.
I asked her whether what I thought had happened, had happened. She said yes, with a tear rolling down her cheek. I explained to her that it was really for the best; that the little mouse was not going to get any better. He was going to be in pain and struggling until a predatory bird, or a cat, or some other carnivorous animal got him. Or else he would starve to death, because he could not move around well enough to get food. Being hit by the SUV was the quickest, most humane death the little guy could have asked for. Now he isn't in pain anymore.
My point here is that I did not have to make up a story about the mouse being in mousey heaven, or in "a better place," or "with Jesus" to give my child some comfort about the situation. Sure, she was still sad about the mouse getting squished, but she was able to accept that it is part of the life cycle; it is the way the world works. And she accepted it within the bounds of reality; not based on some superstition that she would later grow to doubt and feel deceived about.
I have now accepted the idea that I will never see my father again. He is not waiting in heaven for me. He is gone. All I have are my memories, which are wonderful and beautiful. He was a funny, talented, brilliant, kind, loving man. And that will have to be enough.