A is for Atheist: A Blog in Two Parts: Part Two–The Night of the Great Shitshow

What started out as a simple status post on Facebook, turned into the biggest crapstorm. Here’s what I posted:

While surprised that twenty-six of my friends are awesome enough to click the “like” button, please note the 123 comments. I think like, eighteen of those are mine, leaving 105 comments made by other folks. I”m happy they all commented, truly, because America!

What I don’t agree with is part of what was said, and I don’t mean in a “waa waa waa, you naughty Christian hurt my atheist feelers! Waa waa waa!” I mean in a “it turned from a fairly rational discussion between consenting adults to making personal attacks and demeaning those who do not share your opinions” type of way.

I made a comment on Twitter yesterday about Christians going on rampages. I was called out for that by one of my followers who said, “don’t you go on rampages, too?”

Touche, sir. Touche.

I do go on rampages; he’s right about that. I don’t deny that I do that, because I totally do. My excuse is thus: I try–key word is “try”–to not make the person to whom I’m debating feel dumb, or unintelligent or otherwise because they are Christians. I was a Christian for twenty years. For me to attack these people in that way is beyond hypocritical of me and I sincerely apologize if at any point I’ve done so, because shame on me.

It’s difficult to stay rational and calm sometimes though, and yes, I’m using that as a scapegoat. As I’ve said before, religion is one of those hot-button topics that gets people fired up, as it should, really. As the saying goes, “if you’re not outraged, you haven’t been paying attention.”

As an atheist, I call to question Christian beliefs: “why do you think that? Okay, I get what you’re saying, but have you ever considered the alternative?” It’s okay to question what you believe in. Questioning things makes you more intellectually mature, in my opinion. God isn’t going to smite you down because you doubt some of the things you read in the bible. If he’s the loving God you claim him to be, he’ll chalk your doubt up to a typical case of “teenage rebellion,” ruffle your hair, pinch your cheeks, and say, “you little scamps. So full of curiosity!” And rightly so–the world is a fascinating place. We’re curious about its inner workings and being human, we want answers.

This is where I, as an atheist, tend to disagree with theists: “because it’s God’s plan” is not an acceptable answer to me. I see it this way…it’s like when you’re little and ask your parents a question and they respond with “because, that’s just the way it is.”

What? That’s not an answer! That’s avoiding the topic because you DON’T know the answer! Just cop to it and say, “hey, you know what? I don’t know.”

I’m approaching a topic here that I’m having trouble reconciling with myself because when I first heard the term “agnostic atheist,” I threw a fit. “Whoa, wait a second here. How can you be an agnostic atheist? That’s like being ambidextrous with your beliefs!” To me, you either believe God (theist), don’t believe in god, but don’t know for sure (agnostic), or there is no god/gods/god-like beings (atheist).

However, I was sent an article by a good friend of mine, who just happens to be an agnostic, and after reading it, I’m begrudgingly have to accept that I too, am an agnostic atheist. Mumble, groan, and complain.

Here’s why: when asked, “do you believe in God?” I reply, “no, I don’t.” When asked how do you know there isn’t a god?” I reply, “I don’t know for sure.”

Confusing, no? I admit I am now, too. Here, try this:

One of the earliest definitions of agnostic atheism is that of Robert Flint, in his Croall Lecture of 1887–1888 (published in 1903 under the title Agnosticism).

The atheist may however be, and not unfrequently is, an agnostic. There is an agnostic atheism or atheistic agnosticism, and the combination of atheism with agnosticism which may be so named is not an uncommon one.

If a man has failed to find any good reason for believing that there is a God, it is perfectly natural and rational that he should not believe that there is a God; and if so, he is an atheist… if he goes farther, and, after an investigation into the nature and reach of human knowledge, ending in the conclusion that the existence of God is incapable of proof, cease to believe in it on the ground that he cannot know it to be true, he is an agnostic and also an atheist – an agnostic-atheist – an atheist because an agnostic… while, then, it is erroneous to identify agnosticism and atheism, it is equally erroneous so to separate them as if the one were exclusive of the other…

 Well, that really isn’t any better than what I said, just not in so many words, but hopefully you get the basic premise. I still don’t much care for the term, but whatever. I’ll get over it.

However, because of my acceptance of considering myself agnostic atheist, does not mean I back down from my previous statement of “everyone is an atheist towards other religions.” I still think that’s true, in my opinion, and I have Richard motherfucking Dawkins to back that up, too. I’m rawkin’ like Dawkins.

I may have to eat my hat and a slice of humble pie for a moment. One of the friends who got in on the debate quoted her pastor and he said something along the lines of “I don’t believe there are ‘true atheists’ in the world, because to ‘know’ there is no god implies a vast knowledge of the world and its intricacies, which science has clearly proven we do not have that knowledge at our fingertips…”

Okay, wait…I may redact what I just said. The more I read this, the more I go, “wh-wh-wh-whaaaaat?”

I do see his point with the “true atheists” thing, because as I just confessed to, I”m now an agnostic atheist, I guess (grumble moan complain), but that’s is just a personal realization. I do not represent the entire atheistic community, although I should be on a poster because I can be kind of cute…I digress.

There are people out there, these “true atheists,” as Pastor McPastorPants shuns, that believe there is no god, I do not question this belief, end of story.

But so…

For Preacher McPreacherson to be so cavalier as to continue by saying that “science has clearly proven we don’t have the knowledge” is–uh oh, Pastor!–a hypocritical statement on your behalf and kind of contradictory to what you’re trying to convey in your message. You are basing your “knowledge” of “God” on what? A book, albeit a poorly written book, on the existence of your god. And this classifies as knowledge how….?

Hey, Pastor-ooski; I read a book about a girl who fell down a rabbit hole and was suddenly in another world were rabbits, smoking caterpillars,  drunk mice, and a creature called the Jabberwocky existed, but you don’t see me going around preaching the Gospel of Alice now, do you? No, you do not.

And here’s where your contradiction comes in, sir: “science has proven we don’t have that knowledge.” You’re right–science hasn’t proven the knowledge of there not being a god. Science hasn’t proven the existence of one either, so…your move, sir.

I don’t believe in God, and I don’t know if that’s true or not. If there is a god, well, looks like I was wrong. I’m capable of admitting  and accepting the fact I could be wrong. Inversely, I could also be right and there really isn’t one.

That’s all for today, friends. Don’t worry your pretty little faces; I’m planning on doing some major posting this week, it being Easter and all.

Thanks for reading and as always,

Peace,

E

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5 thoughts on “A is for Atheist: A Blog in Two Parts: Part Two–The Night of the Great Shitshow

  1. I’ve been reading your tweets with great interest, wondering what prompted the hail storm. I’ve stayed out of the discussion for two reasons – 1) it tended to be while I was at work and 2) it is a personal thing for me. I have my faith, it suits me, but it’s not something I think should be crammed down the throat of every person I meet.

    I’m Catholic and suffered a crisis of faith that made me leave the church for many years. I was mad about birth control. About abortion. About artificial means of conception. It really bugs me that a group of celibate men feel free to tell me how I get to use my body. But that was minor stuff.

    See, I have BIG. PROBLEMS with the concept of God’s Will. It makes me twitch when I hear about God’s Will whenever some tragedy occurs. And it makes me nuts to hear Tebow thanking the Lord for winning some football game while across the world – hell, across the STREET, people are battling health problems, economic problems, etc. So, you’re telling me God has no time to help them because He’s making sure Tebow got that touchdown? Bullshit. When I was growing up and heard tragic headlines, I couldn’t grasp that whole “God has a plan” rationale. All it did was make me hate God.

    I never got an answer to my question. As you said, it was a ‘because I said so’ kind of thing and that just wasn’t good enough for me. So, I went away. And going away was good for me because I questioned and studied and tried new things. As I got older, I realized I did believe in God and returned to my faith but even now, there’s a lot that still makes me mad – like the way child-abusing priests were ignored for so long.

    I don’t know if God exists or not. I choose to believe He does. My son no longer believes He exists. Should I hate my child now because of this? No.
    I find peace in my belief, but my son finds only hypocrisy. Sustaining my belief is a daily struggle that requires more than counting my blessings. It requires me to forgive people perverting my faith to further their own personal agendas of hatred. (I’m looking at you, Wash. DC).

    My faith is a deeply personal choice. I do not force it on others, and for that reason, oppose a pro-life law that argues any religious tenets. This country was founded on the principle of religious freedom so whenever politicians start holding up their Bibles to argue law, I cry foul.

    I’m sorry people made you feel personally under fire.

    1. I won’t make this about your belief in god, or Jesus. But have you considered finding a church other than Catholicism? The reason I ask, is because I’m inferring from your reply that you don’t agree with many of the “tenants” of the celibate old men’s church. By calling yourself simply a Catholic, you imply that they speak for you. That implication lends their voice power. Let me share a link.

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/03/09/ffrf-runs-full-page-quit-the-catholic-church-ad-in-todays-new-york-times/

      It is from an admittedly atheist source, but you’ll find a large number of secularists are also atheists. You’ll also find it doesn’t say anything about god not existing, only that the Catholic Church is getting it wrong and how. Just offering you food for thought.

  2. I’m as confident in my atheism as I am confident in the existence of the computer screen in front of me. It’s a practical certainty, but could still, theoretically be false. I could be in the Matrix, I could be hallucinating the monitor, the monitor could’ve ceased to exist since it’s photons left for my eyes and my brain processed the information contained in their patterns… still there… nope, still there… Gimme a min, I’m testing the completeness of my knowledge…

    To assert the claim that for knowledge to be true, that it must be absolute, means we cannot know anything at all. If you accept that, you’re stuck being agnostic about just about everything. Bacon agnostic… *shiver* were it not so!

    I could be wrong. Very few atheists will say otherwise. But just because we could be wrong, doesn’t mean we have to accept that there’s not point in talking about it.

    I know how I could be proven wrong. The question for a theist is, do they?

    http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/theistguide.html

  3. I loved this. I’m a Christian, but sort of on the agnostic side of Christianity (and have been for a long time), so I relate a lot to what you’re saying.

  4. This was a great post! I’m a bit late to the discussion, but this is the first I’ve seen it. I’m pretty sure I saw that exact sign and almost took a picture of it myself, so I was entertained.

    So, agnostic atheist you say? Damn. I don’t much like that term either (and had never heard it before now) but I suppose I also fall into that category. I also was a Christian for about 20 years. I was in deep. I even had plans to go into youth ministry. The trouble was I couldn’t handle all the hypocrisy I saw in all of it. Added to that was the fact that I couldn’t fully buy into what the bible said. I wanted to believe, but I just couldn’t. I’m not a blind-faith-because-2,000-year-old-books-written-by-men-and-compiled-by-politicians-say-so kind of guy. The more I questioned the more I didn’t believe, and I realized I couldn’t go out and teach young kids to buy into something I didn’t fully buy into in the first place. That would have added to the hypocrisy and made me the thing I hated most about the church. So I walked away from that and did my own soul searching, and the more I studied the closer I came to atheism.

    I struggle a little bit calling myself an atheist, though. In my mind atheism is the belief that are no gods or god-like beings at all, no higher cosmic powers, etc. One of the things about religion in general that always got to me is the belief that yours is right and all others are wrong. If you’re a Christian, you believe in a single God, in Jesus, and that he is the way, truth, and luminary, and that there is no way into heaven but through him. All else in the world is ruled out as wrong, and if you don’t belong to the right club you’re doomed. That always struck me as EXTREMELY arrogant, to believe that you are the only one group that knows the right answer and everyone else in the world is simply living life wrong. On the flip side, to say you know there is NOTHING seemed to me to be the same kind of arrogance. All religions are wrong and there is nothing – that is what atheism is in my mind. I suppose this is “true atheists” vs. “true christians” as I see them by definition.

    I personally live on the side of doubt in both cases. I can’t say I believe there is an undefined something (agnostic), but I also can’t put my faith fully in the belief that there is a Christian god or there is definitely nothing. I haven’t found any religion I buy into, and I’m probably as close to being an atheist as you can get without actually calling myself one, because I also have to admit I could be wrong in my disbelief and there could be something out there. I simply don’t know. I don’t know what my label is I guess. Do I qualify for agnostic atheist? I reply to those two questions you pose the same way you do. No I don’t believe in god, I don’t know for sure there isn’t one. Still don’t like the combination of agnostic and atheist, but your definition probably comes the closest to my beliefs as any other term I’ve heard. Still, seems wierd… I typically agree with what atheists say. Just can’t say that I know with certainty there is absolutely no god. By the way, Dawkins does rawk. I love watching interviews with him.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled on too much, and it’s very late so hopefully it makes sense.

    I also loved your Alice analogy. Of course you can’t just take a random book and make a religion out of it! Wait, there is scientology… but I digress.

    My favorite line? “I do not represent the entire atheistic community, although I should be on a poster because I can be kind of cute…” Truer words were never written. 🙂 I’d nominate you to represent!

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