Answers from an Atheist Part 3

Q:  Are most atheists really contemptuous of believers?

 

A: I think that the answer is there are, per-capita, as many assholes on the Atheist side of the fence as there are on the Christian side of the fence.

So no, most atheists are not contemptuous of believers.  Most just want to be left alone to not believe what they want to not believe much like Christians just want to be allowed to believe what they want to believe.  I think we all are fine with that (by all I mean both Atheists and Christians.)

When atheists get contemptuous is when Christians try to force us to abide by your rules.  Things like gay marriage and abortion come to mind as the biggest hot topics. Nationwide laws shouldn’t be passed that are based on any religion because not everyone in this country is the same religion.  Heck even Christians do not all practice their faith the same or believe the same things.  Case in point – Mormonism.  Mormon’s are Christians.  They just have additional scriptures they follow than other Christians.  Most people would be very upset if we were passing laws that banned Coffee because the Mormon’s don’t believe you should drink hot caffeinated beverages (and FYI that belief is because caffeine is a drug and the high amounts you get from coffee are addictive, and drugs are abusing your body which should be treated as a temple – so not a ridiculous belief).

Another reason why it might seem that Atheists are contemptuous to Christians is media portrayal.  Since the majority of the country are Christians it makes sense that when Atheists file suits against having another’s beliefs forced on them it makes headlines.  There are rarely headlines that focus on the amount of money Bill Gates donates to pretty much everyone despite being an Atheist. The media likes to portray things in a way that will get them ratings.  Compare the coverage of any news story on both Fox and CNN and you will get a different spin.  It also gets blown out of proportion as if it is the Atheist plan to have a fully secular planet.  Though some may feel that way most don’t.

Personally, I had been sucked into the internet vortex of Christians.  The internet is a place where it is easy to become a jerk to others because you feel like you are just talking to a computer screen.  So the worst of what people think and feel can come out on the internet.  It is easy to decide that all Christians (or Atheists) are this or that and feel a deep sense of dislike for them as a group when all you have are stereotypes and the hate-filled ramblings of some.

Once you start putting names and faces to internet profiles its harder to dislike people who really are pretty much just like you.

Answers from an Atheist Part 2

Q:  What do you think is the “final straw” that causes most atheists to become atheists?

 

A:  I always like this assumption – that there was a “final straw.”  I think for most atheists there was no defining moment where they were like “Oh hey this god stuff is bullshit.  I am done with it.”

Sure I do think there are some people who have things happen in their life that are so drastic and life altering that they literally do lose their religion.  This is especially true when they would have been considered good christians and who prayed and asked for god to help them and nothing happened.  When you are told that your prayers will be answered and they aren’t you tend to think its a bunch of lies especially if it happens over and over.  So you either have to believe you aren’t good enough for god to answer your prayers, you didn’t pray enough or that there is no god listening.

I didn’t have a “final straw” moment.  I did have a moment where  logical things I had seen that drew me towards Mormonism became the logic that pushed me out the door.  Sometimes I think I should have the missionaries over to discuss this and see what they have to say about it.  Even so that moment didn’t make me have a sudden disbelief in god though it did provide a loophole in which to take a look deep inside myself.  It still took a few years before I was able to actually define the feelings I had been having about god.

Its incredibly hard to be raised to believe in this god  in a country where everyone seems to believe in it too and have doubts.  I truly believe there are many people out there who say they believe in god simply because everyone else does.  Peer pressure is incredibly hard to overcome.
I think that more likely Atheists’ “final straw” is more a coming out – when they are finally fed up with hearing things like “it was in god’s plan” or “god is good” or just any of the other things that are thrown out on a daily basis by well meaning Christians.  So then they post it on facebook , or tell their family and there is a relief to be able to be who you are and openly (maybe) not believe in what everyone else seems to believe in.

Becoming Atheist is a process of introspection and logical and reasonable thinking over time but coming out as an atheist is the “final straw”

Answers from an Atheist part 1

I guess either no one really reads this anymore – and can I blame anyone when I have barely been posting? Or every one who is Christian isn’t actually interested in getting to understand the other view. Or you feel like you have heard it all already.  Whatever the reason – it’s ok.  So there were not many questions but I am going to spread them out over a few posts because no one wants to read a novel here.

Q: If I’m recalling correctly, you said earlier that you *wanted* to believe. What percentage of atheists do you think feel this way? Do you still feel that way yourself (again, if I am remembering correctly)?

A:  When I say that I “want” to believe it is because it would be infinitely easier to feel that I wasn’t in control of my life sometimes.  Oh that bad thing that happened? It’s god’s plan, not my fault.  For example when Jack fell off the bench at the soccer game last year and I watched his eyes roll into his head as he passed out and I wasn’t sure he was breathing.  I watched his entire future life pass in front of me and all I could think was it was all my fault.  If he died, or had brain damage, or was paralyzed then it was all my fault because I wasn’t paying enough attention. People who believe in god seem to feel that way at first about things but then they say that it is god’s plan.  That  god doesn’t give you more than you can handle.  All those lovely phrases that to most atheists (and many christians) are insulting at the worst and insensitive in the least.

Its not that I want to believe because I think it would be better but it is more that often I don’t want to take responsibility for everything that I don’t like or to think that there is a higher power out there that knows better than I do and will make everything right.

The analogy of god as a parent really is accurate – someone who will let you fall but then pick you up, kiss your boo-boos and make it all better.  Who doesn’t “want” to believe in that?  So yeah I want to believe but I just can’t.

I still feel this way but again only when I am feeling like I just don’t want to take responsibility for what is happening in my life or when I really wish there could be a big giant daddy that comes in and makes everything all better.

As for other Atheists I know some have said they do think this too, but again only sometimes.  The problem with having this deity who is always in control is the inverse of having them take responsibility – its when god is given all the credit.

Right now I have the best single semester GPA I have ever had in my life.  I have worked hard for this and my family has  sacrificed – especially my oldest who babysits a lot so that I can go to the library and study or even just lock myself in my room to get my homework done.  This is my hard work and my success.  Not god’s.

So even if sometimes I say I want to believe – its only because I want someone else to blame when things are going down the toilet.

Like it or Leave it?

I read all the time about how Christians think they are persecuted in this country but no one talks about how telling people to leave if they don’t believe in their god isn’t ok.

This photo is from a Facebook acquaintance and he took it while going to get fuel.  How can this be considered acceptable?  I know a lot of people who would actually agree with this too.  They think it is patriotic and they don’t think it is discriminatory at all.
If this said something about blacks it would be on the news and whomever did this would lose their job.

On the other hand there is Freedom of Speech.

So this business, though maybe not the smartest move, can put what they want on the displays.  I support their right to do that even if i disagree.  I also support their right to believe in whatever god they do or do not want to believe in.

Too bad they can’t return the favor.

 

 

He Wants You To Fit In

There are 2 Christian Radio stations that I have found locally that I have been listening to.  I prefer the talk show based one since it has more talk radio and more religious music versus the “trying to be mainstream” Christian music station.  I was listening to one of the local religious radio stations last Friday  and the host said something that really moved me.

“He doesn’t want you to get in, He wants you to fit in.”

The host went on to talk about how at the Second Coming when Jesus comes you will get a new body, all your ailments will disappear, your body will be perfect, but your character is yours.  Character is something that one needs to be growing right now because the character you have at the second coming will be your character for eternity.  You get a new perfect body and hopefully your character is worthy of it, but I am not worried about my Character.  I am concerned with not being an outsider.

I don’t fit in.  I won’t fit in.  I have been trying to figure out how to address this for a month and every time I start to write it just doesn’t come out right but now I think I finally have the right words.

I don’t see how, even if I decided there was a God, would I ever fit in?

I do not believe that life begins at conception.  I support the right to have a abortion if a woman wants for whatever reason she wants only because I support the rights of all people, young and old to make their own decisions for their own body.  I support gays; I support them in getting married or civil unions or whatever the government wants to call it.  I don’t think they are bad people and I don’t think they are doing anything wrong just because they love another with the same sex chromosomes as them.  I believe in evolution.  I do not believe that the earth is just 6000 years old or that dinosaurs were just made up by atheist scientists to fool the masses into disbelieving in God.  (OK I’m not sure how many christians believe the 6000 year old Earth and Dino thing but really they come out in droves on the internet).

I know that America is not a Christian Nation built on Christian beliefs and even if we were? We were also a nation of people that at that time believed we could own other people.  Money didn’t have “In God We Trust” on it til the 50’s same with the Pledge of Allegiance; it did not say “One nation under God until then either.  Those changes were brought on by the fear of communism and Cold War.  (I am still not sure what one had to do with the other though- I should probably research that.)  I don’t believe that there should be prayer in school, not for Muslims, not for Mormons, not for Hindus, not for Catholics and not for Christians.  I think that sex education, though primarily the responsibility of the parents, should be taught in schools and that includes teaching about prevention not just abstinence.

It seems that my beliefs on social issues do not align with the bible or with the majority of the Christian populous.  I think that is must be ridiculously hard to be a Scientist, a Gay or Pro-Choice and still believe in a God that apparently doesn’t think you fit in.  I wouldn’t fit in and I don’t see myself changing my beliefs on social issues and from a few of the responses I can tell that though a few other Atheists that have become Christians haven’t changed their core social beliefs.

So even though I enjoy the learning aspect of church and I will still keep going because I do enjoy what I am learning; I still do not agree with most of it; I don’t fit in and I don’t see that changing.

What Would God Look Like to You?

I know it has been way too long since I posted here but I haven’t had anything to say.  I did skip church last week because I had previous commitments that church would have interfered with.  It was so nice sleeping in though.  (No sleeping in was not my previous commitment)

Since tomorrow is Easter (or today now I guess) that means that technically I am done with giving up being an Atheist for Lent.  The thing is I don’t feel like it is time for this to be over.  On one hand church is boring and it makes me mad.  I don’t have a spiritual connection with it but it feels like a sociology class and I want to ask questions and challenge the assertions/views but I can’t.  I really need some place I can do that.  I need more open talk with people about their faith and Christianity.  Being preached to is not effective for someone that doesn’t believe the way you do.  This is true for everything not just religion.

So I am sitting here on my couch.  All the kids have been in bed for over 3 hours, even my husband went to bed about 2 hours ago.  I was on Facebook and Twitter and I realize there are things I want to say but really nowhere to say them.  I want to get feedback but I don’t want the judgement that would come with it.  Maybe this is what prayer is really about?  Talking to someone and getting feedback without judgement.  But God and Jesus both have too many Facebook accounts for me to know which one is the right one to send a message to.  😉

The words I want to say are flowing so i figure this is as good of time as any to grab a laptop and make a post.  I am not so sure this is really the right place to share my feelings – only because so many of my friends are following me but honesty is the best policy right?

Here’s what I have been thinking about.  I was asked in a comment some time back (and I am feeling too lazy to look up which post specifically) What would God look like to me?   I was unsure at the time and I just said it would have to be something big.  The small and subtle might work for those just questioning their beliefs but for a non-believer to change their mind I would think it needs to be a grand gesture on God’s part.

I think that right now I can answer this.  God would provide help.  For the first time in my life I am truly worried about how things are going to work out over the next few months.  Like most of America money is tight, but for us right now it is not just tight we are downright broke.  I don’t actually care if people know that.  We have a large blended family and somethings that have been out of our control have really sent us down the river so to speak.   Like the State of Florida confiscating $3200 from our tax return on the premise that my husband was behind on child support.    He is NOT behind.  The State of Colorado knows that (they are the ones the order is through and it is taken out of his checks every two weeks) but Florida messed it up and they have now had our money for 2.5 months.  My husband calls weekly to see what is going on and as of the last conversation with them they admit the money is owed back to us not to his ex-wife but they don’t know when they will send it back.   We were counting on that money to do silly things like pay our rent and put some in savings for what will likely be a cross state move this summer.
The other thing that has hit us even harder was my ex-husband lost his job. Even though my ex is paying support for 3 kids it doesn’t quite make up for what my husband pays to his ex-wife for two so we actually really depend on that money.  This is not a case of using the child support for frivolous things like going to the movies or getting hair & nails done.  It goes towards bills.  Anyone who knows us personally knows we have Season Tickets to our local Major League Soccer team.  That and the fuel to go to the games is our only real splurge.  It is the only thing we do as a family.  It was the main thing we got for the kids for christmas.  Seriously their big gift was a keychain with a sticker in the box that said “plus 1 season ticket.”  I won’t apologize for not spending every moment of every day in our house.   So anyway we need that money and it is not coming in right now.  He is basically behind what equals our electric bill and my van payment (and remember we live in Colorado so this isn’t a $40 electric bill).  My ex is doing everything he can and he does have 2 part time jobs but since he went on vacation after he lost his job (it was already planned) he didn’t work for a month at all.  I trust that he will do what needs to happen to get caught up but until then it hurts to be here.

We are just in one of those situations where we are not living the high life. We don’t have cable.  We don’t have expensive cars, but we do have car payments.  We do have cell phones but my husband truly needs his for work and we need some sort of phone at home so I don’t consider these unnecessary luxuries items.  We are at the point I am actually thinking about going to a food bank to fill our cupboards.  I don’t want to do this.  I want this situation to resolve.  To be back at the point where we aren’t worrying about this stuff.  To not be at the point where I let my 8 year old daughter know the Easter Bunny isn’t real because we aren’t doing Easter baskets this year.  Its an unnecessary expense.

I have been working too.  I have picked up every possible substitute teaching job offered.  I have been leaving my cell number and my sub ID number with teachers in hopes that they will call me first if they need a sub.  I am working a lot.  My husband officiates soccer and has been doing that since it is in season.  It doesn’t pay a lot but it is something.  Substituting pays decently but what I am earning now I won’t get paid for until May 31st so it is not a solution for right now.

This week will be a week of putting stuff on Craigslist (need a Wii or a Beco Baby Carrier?) and seeing if we can get stuff organized enough to have a garage sale friday and saturday if the weather isn’t horrible.  This is going to be a hard task for me.  I have struggled with clinical depression in my life but have been pretty good until recently.  The idea of even going to church tomorrow makes me want to go into my bathroom and lock the door.  I am regretting telling the kids we were going because there would be an Easter egg hunt after and now I cannot back out.  I can’t get their hopes up and then dash them like that.  I won’t be that parent.

So what would God look like to me?  Right now, God would look like a solution to my problems.  A grand gesture that I cannot possibly pass off as coincidence.  I am not talking winning the lottery (especially since I only play when its at $500 million).  I am not looking for money to fall from the sky or things to magically be resolved.  I can do the work; I am just not 100% sure what it would be, but if there is a God then I am sure he knows the solution. He just needs to show it to me in a way I cannot ignore because at this point I am out of every idea except the one that keeps haunting me about telling my kids we have no place to live or explaining why we are eating crackers with ketchup for dinner.

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† If you happen to be my husband reading this and are uncomfortable with this being out there – you know how to reach me.  I’ll edit it or take it down.

What are You Trying to Gain?

I have been asked multiple times in many different ways what I am trying to do here.  I have never really answered because I am not 100% sure.  This isn’t a formal experiment so there is no hypothesis.  This was not even my idea.  I did not wake up one morning and decide that I was going to try to be a Christian for awhile.  I am not trying to prove or disprove the existence of a god.  Honestly I don’t think it can be proven or disproven (I will write more about proof later.)

I still do not really know what I am trying to do right now.  I was just challenged to step outside my norm and do something different.  I doubt many others would step outside their beliefs and try it a different way.  I mean how many Christians would decide to spend 45 days of their life as a Muslim? Granted “being” a Christian, especially one at a non-denominaital church, is fairly easy in the US so maybe the example of a Muslim isn’t fair but hopefully you understand my point.

One thing this has done was give me the necessary kick in the pants to read the bible and try to analyze it.  I have never read Twilight because I am not interested in vampires and I have never read the bible as an adult because I was not interested in it.  Of course no one has ever tried to convert me to being a sparkling blood sucker so I never really needed to debate the existence of vampires either.

I am not going to try to convince people to not believe in God either.  I have tried to tell my 8 year old daughter recently that there is no Santa, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy and that didn’t go ever very well; I know the same would be true with trying to convince Christians to change their belief.  If someone is going to change their beliefs it will come in its own time and own way.  Hopefully with my 8 year old it is sooner than later cause I am tired of hearing about the horrible job the tooth fairy has done in the past year.

What I would like is for the Christians who read this blog and who are interacting with me in church to realize that Atheists are normal everyday people and you probably already interact with a few on a regular basis you just don’t realize it.  I would love for some American Christians (obviously not all do this) to stop complaining about being persecuted.  You are the majority in this country; until that changes complaining to Atheists about being persecuted is like Caucasians complaining about Affirmative Action being unfair.

I think if something is going to come from this, for me, it is a better understanding of why Christians think they way they do.  I have already become more tolerant of the proselytizing; the constantly trying to convert Atheists in the best case or in the worst proclaiming our obvious descent into hell after death.  I have been able to step away and see the other side and I have also seen how nasty and mean some Atheists can be when it comes to Christians and vice versa.

I already understand why Christians care so much.  They truly believe they are trying to help you for eternity.  Hopefully this will help other Atheists realize this while at the same time help Christians realize that unless we ask for your help in finding god you just look pushy.  So for now I guess the ultimate goal is maybe just a higher level of tolerance for everyone involved in this blog, either through readership or through their personal interactions with me.

Atheists are as good without God as Christians are with Him.

You Reap What You Sow – Day 9

It has been stressful times in our house as of late.  Honestly, it has been stressful for a few years.  Our family has gone through major life changes every year since 2006 and this year will be no different.  The stress has really started to come to a head.  I think the kids are probably doing the worst simply because they are kids and do not have the life experiences to really put the changes that are upon us into perspective. What do kids do when they are stressed? They act out.  Oh how they have been acting out.

The biggest challenges have been attitudes and how the kids are treating each other. myself and my husband.  I really do believe in the idea of Karma and what goes around comes around and I was going through every cliché I know to try to help explain that if they would just be nice and stop yelling then maybe everyone else would be nice and stop yelling.  Finally I said, “You reap what you sow.”  Blank stares was the response.

I asked my 8 year old what veggie she hated the most and what fruit she liked the most. Her reply was cabbage and watermelon. I told her that sowing is when you plant something, reaping is when you harvest.  I asked what she would get if she planted cabbage and what she would get if she planted watermelon?  Would she ever get watermelon if she planted cabbage?  No. I explained that cabbage was bad behavior, bad attitude, yelling, whining and in general being a brat and watermelon was being nice to the people in the house, doing her chores to help out, using an inside voice and not being or swing mean things to people.  If you keep planting cabbage all over the house are you going to get watermelon in return? Of course not, you are going to get cabbage.  Everyone listened and everyone understood.

I knew that the phrase “you reap what you sow” was biblical in nature so I googled it.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7

I read the full chapter; I had previously read half of it because it is about circumcision† but verses 1-10 really spoke to me.  My disbelief in any Gods does not mean I cannot recognize that the Bible was written by intelligent men who understood the human condition, both good and evil.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

This alone is probably the best line I have read in the Bible at this point.  Its basically saying “keep on keeping on” and that is what we are doing here in our family. We keep working toward a pleasant stress free home and I am sure that at some point we will reap a great harvest considering how long our seeds have been sown.

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† I will not discuss circumcision here because it is a hot button subject among parents BUT if you are Christian I encourage you to truly read the New Testament and what it says about circumcision before you subject your sons to this procedure.

I Wish I Could Believe -Days 5 & 6

I really wish I could believe in God. I just can’t make myself do it. I have tried.

I have tried to feel things when there was nothing to feel, I have prayed with no results, I have asked for answers and guidance and nothing happens. This is basically what I did the entire time I was an active member of the LDS church. I spent that time lying to myself and others about my belief. If there was a God would he think that was an acceptable lie? Give me and A for effort? Would he believe in “fake it til you make it?”

I’ll admit that when given this challenge my first thought after “awesome” was “maybe there is a God and this is how he is trying to get to me.” Then I laughed at myself. I don’t actually doubt my lack of belief even though it seems that way; its just it would be really great if there was a God. Kinda like it would be really great if there really was a Santa. Then if I just started believing in Santa and wrote him a letter he would actually bring me what I wanted on Christmas morning.

When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2007 I wasn’t scared until the night before the surgery. With every major surgery one of the possible complications is death and I was understandably worried something would go wrong. I wrote letters to my kids to explain (as I hadn’t told them what was going on) and one to my new husband about how sorry I was and with directives on what to do if something bad happened the next day then I cried myself to sleep. I did not pray to a God I didn’t believe in but it would have been great to have that to fall back onto; to give me the feeling of reassurance that so many say they get from God, to believe that If I died that my children would be ok; that my husband wouldn’t be emotionally catatonic after another death-too-soon in his life.

Since I have started immersing myself in the Christian lifestyle I have been watching for signs of a creator. I have prayed that this God would show himself to me. I have been listening to Christian Radio as suggested by my best friend’s father. I don’t feel any different listening to it as when I listen to any other music I do not know the words to. I have been praying for myself; praying for things for people (not material things but more for action in their direction). I have been trying to change the way I think. Leaving the sarcasm behind that, as pointed out by one commenter, is quite prevalent in the Atheist community. I am reading some Christian non-fiction and reading the bible (I am currently on Matthew 11). I am actually trying hard to understand what I read and put real thought into it.

While I was in the shower this morning I asked for God to show himself to me if he existed (though I didn’t mean at that exact moment). It hasn’t happened yet. I sure wish I’d get a sign but I don’t believe I will.