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.

Ask an Atheist Day

I imagine if you do not know a lot of atheists then you would have no idea it is “Ask an Atheist Day.”  Well it is and here is a little blurb about it

atheist“National Ask An Atheist Day is an opportunity for secular groups across the country to work together to defeat stereotypes about atheism and encourage courteous dialogue between believers and nonbelievers alike. The event is intended to be an opportunity for the general public – particularly people of faith – to approach us and ask questions about secular life.”

Since this blog should be as much about me learning about Christianity as it should be you learning about secular life.  Both groups have extremists and it and it a shame when anyone is pigeonholed into those beliefs as if they speak for everyone.

So ask me a question.  I will answer what I believe and what I think most atheists think in regards to your question.

I will answer every single question (as long as they are appropriate) in a subsequent blog post.  I figure since people tend to come back to my blog over a week after posting I will give everyone a week to get their questions posted in the comments.

If you don’t want to post publicly you can always email me – victoriousolive [ at ] me [dot] com

(also I am sorry for my lack of posting as of late but trying to keep straight A’s in 16 units at school with half being science classes is pretty much taking up my whole life)

This Easter Thing

I have a few issues with this whole Easter thing. Let’s start with today.

Its called “Good Friday”  but truly what is so good about it?  Sure I get that Jesus had to die for your sins so its good in that regard but the idea that it is good really gets at me.

To me, today feels like a celebration of a death; a celebration of a man being beaten, tortured, humiliated and then after being forced to carry his “death bed” up a hill, nails are actually impaled into his extremities.  Yes this sounds good to me – lets celebrate it.

I am honestly doubting the whole story because 3 hours doesn’t seem like enough time to bleed to death and it isn’t.  In my online research I came across this website about the Crucifixion from a Medical Point of View. Basically it states that crucification wouldn’t have killed Jesus and Jesus essentially willed himself to die.  So a medical doctor says that Jesus’s wounds weren’t severe enough to kill.  You just have to believe that Jesus willed himself to die.

Then he gets put in a tomb and mysteriously disappears.  Everyone believes he rose to heaven but no one saw it and he was just gone.  Maybe someone just stole his body?  Maybe they attempted to revive him with no success and  Jesus is just buried  in some random plot of land?

Why isn’t this a viable suggestion as to what happened to Jesus’s body?

Its more faith.  Faith that everything in the bible is accurate.  I just can’t not question it.  None of it fits together logically no matter how you try to piece it together.  Its like when my 4 year old is putting together a puzzle.  It doesn’t matter that the pieces don’t match up let’s just shove them together and pretend it looks good.

Now do we celebrate Easter here?  Damn right we do.  I am not going to pass up Easter egg hunts and Peeps and a reason to have ham for dinner.  But we are skipping the “resurrection rolls”, the story of a brutal death, and potential body snatchers.

Science vs Religion

In January I started back to school.  I already have a Bachelor’s degree but it is in Sociology and not a science so I have a lot of prerequisites I need to do before I can apply to the School of Nursing.  
I am taking both Biology and Chemistry right now and what I cannot understand is how do scientists combine their belief in a creator with what they know scientifically to be true?  

My chemistry professor has a Master’s in Biochemistry yet from what I have gathered from his Twitter account he is very much a Christian.  I think he might even be Mormon from some of his tweets.  I don’t want to ask him about it because even though my grades are not subjective I don’t want my lack of belief to effect his grading but also it might be slightly inappropriate.

Then my biology professor has a PhD in Marine Biology.  He has to believe in evolution or how else could you really teach it to a 132 people a semester? I only know he is a Christian because I am sure that is not a T he is wearing on his neck everyday. 

How do you believe in evolution and the story of Adam and Eve at the same time?  How can you even be part of a culture that has people actively calling your kind (scientists) fakes and in cahoots with Satan to fool the public in not believing in god?

Like I really do not get it.  

Why?

I have been thinking lately about why I have not only kept this blog going (even if in a very limited state) but recently I even bought and changed the URL to http://www.temporarychristian.com.

I feel like this is something important to me. I am not looking for a god but I have found at with the right people I can really enjoy going to church. Crazy I know but really not unusual.

Last year I read an article about the atheists in the pew. Lots of atheists are going to church for the community aspect and because it does provide a way to talk about religion with you kids. One of the complaints about religion by anti-theists is that children are indoctrinated at an early age to not only believe but that there is no other options. Children grow up thinking that they will be disowned by their family if they are non-believers. Being an atheist is considered the unforgivable sin right? This isn’t just here-say but based on the fact that very few atheists grew up that way. More often than not they come from very religious families. Families that you probably sit next to in church every Sunday. The type of people you think are great Christians.
The thing is I don’t want to do exactly what I criticize religious parents for doing. I don’t want to indoctrinate my children into my disbelief. I want them to be exposed to different things. I want them to experience all sorts of different religions.
For myself I would just like to feel part of a group a bit larger than my family. A selection of open-minded friends to get together with on the weekends sometimes. People to talk about day to day stuff with. Basically the same thing I think everyone wants in life.
I think it’ll take a bit to find those truly open-minded people who don’t be friend me simply to try to “save” me but its ok I think it’ll be worth it. Plus it will be fun (and free donuts) along the way.

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.

 

 

Up and Down.

I have actually made the jump back into going to church.  The same friend I was helping to decide what to give up for Lent I also helped go back to church after about 6 months by asking to go with her.  
She is Episcopalian which is what I was christened as when I was a newbie to the world.  I don’t ever remember going to an Episcopalian church when I was little but if I did it would have been before my parents divorced when I was 2 and I don’t remember anything back that far anyway.  
This was a very different experience.  First we were late which means we snuck in to services but still ended up sitting in the front.  Sitting in the front makes it hard to take furious notes without seeming rude.  It was ok though because after 5 months in a elementary school gym turned church I was busy taking in the very formal church environment.  

Somethings were very familiar from when I was going to Lutheran church back in the 80’s.  There were lots of candles, hymnals and the preaching “staff” were formally dressed in what I am going to call gowns.  
Somethings that were different was they had women participating in more that just the choir. Of the people carrying the candles (not sure of the name) one was a woman and the Deacon is also a woman.

Unlike when I attended Oasis last year this was very formal.  The Deacon assured me since it was the first Sunday of Lent it was more formal than normal but I think their less formal is still way more formal than a non-denominational church like Oasis.  There was a lot of standing and sitting and participation.  The up and down reminded me of not only Lutherans but also Mormons.  Everytime you sing you have to stand up.  Oasis stood up during song but singing only happened at the beginning and end.  
The service was also very formal with entire readings from the bible and less of the comparing it to actual life.  I was having a hard time hearing (and I was distracted by looking around) so all I really caught was a metaphor about how God is that nosy guest who comes over and takes themselves on a tour of your house including all the rooms you don’t want people seeing.  I got the message which was good and I wasn’t offended.  Though of course the Atheist in me thinks God is a creeper always watching you.

I was impressed with the how everyone seemed to be open to everyone else.  They had a gay couple, had people in jeans with tattoos, families and the elderly.  I like when a church actually practices most of what they preach. 

So my first Sunday opinion is it’s Catholic Lite.  All the taste of the Catholics with less of the judgements.

 

Look at me…

Helping a friend with her sacrifice for Lent.

Thanks to a series of events I am pretty sure the universe hates me but everything that happened today has freed my friend up from babysitting my kiddos and now she can go get her ash “smear” at Lenten services tomorrow.

She wasn’t sure what she was going to sacrifice for Lent. I pointed out that thanks to many changes she has made in her life recently she has given up a lot of vices and there isn’t too much left. I suggested instead of giving up something she takes on something that brings her closer to God.

I suggested down loading the You Version bible app on her iPhone and starting a reading plan. I remember from last year they have multiple plans spanning the full Lenten period or a few shorter ones.
Lent is only 40 days but it does cover a 46 day period because technically Lent doesn’t include Sundays (which was a major flaw in the movie “40 Day and 40 Nights”) but I think any good reading plan would actually last all 46 days.

My thought was she would give up time otherwise wasted on the Internet or TV and replace it with spending time with the bible.

Then I wondered “Who’s going to believe I’m an atheist if I keep talking like this?”

Crazy Busy!

Why did I decide to do this the same time I was starting back to school?  I must have been crazy.

So of course I was doing good til yesterday.  I only had 2 little snafus (aka 8 ounces cokes) but then for some reason yesterday it all hit me like a ton of bricks.  All the sleep I have been missing trying to get my new life in school rearranged finally came back to haunt me and it did it in the middle of biology class.  I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I kept dozing off and the worst part about it was that I was sitting in the front row.  There is NO WAY my professor didn’t notice me dozing off.
I felt so bad.  I even got like 5 hours of sleep the night before which was like a record compared to the previous week.  So yesterday I broke down on my no caffeine, no soda and  hightailed it to the nearest Starbucks for a Java Chip Frappacino with an extra shot.

Go big or go home right?

The thing is I don’t feel guilty.  That is the benefit of actually not believing in a god.  Sure I was giving up something but more often than not it wasn’t really a big deal and I was only letting myself down.  I don’t have to be worried about not being good enough.  I don’t even have to be humbled by the experience.  I just start over.  Or not.  It really is whatever I want.
It was 21 days and I made it 14.  I think that is pretty good with or without a god to back me up.

I mean this is the original reason I started this blog in the first place.  I was giving up atheism.  Well obviously that wasn’t for good because I don’t think you can truly change an atheist’s mind about any god just like you can’t change a theist’s mind about their god.  I think the only place there is room for change is with agnostics.  They think there is something out there but they aren’t sure what so they are one step closer than I am.

I am still ok with that because I still don’t see how any god would fit into my life.

Temptation is Everywhere

I cannot imagine being someone who is actually doing something like giving up solid food or something that really is hard to give up like cigarettes or drugs.   Food you need to survive and the other two are highly addictive.  Temptation is really everywhere in every form.  I didn’t even think much about sodas until I was giving them up.  Then I had to drink a parting 1 Liter on Sunday night (of course!) and I can only imagine how many cigarettes were smoked, coffee was drank or food was eaten by others that day.  We act as if giving something like soda or cigarettes or Facebook up is the end of the world so we need to fill up on it.  We aren’t bears and its not hibernation but might as well be.  I wonder if Binge and Purge is a cultural thing or just part of the human condition?

For me, Monday was an incredibly easy day for giving up soda/caffeine.  I didn’t go anywhere and I don’t have any soda in the house.  I do have a Keurig and lots of coffee pods for it but coffee isn’t really my caffeine nemesis, soda is.  I go all the time without drinking coffee which is why a Keurig was a great gift from my father for my 35th birthday.  Now if someone had bought me a Soda Stream, Monday would have been much more difficult.

Tuesday was different.   I started back to school on Tuesday.  I have decided I want to be a nurse when I finally decide to grow up and lucky for me there is a great school here that has a nursing program with a great reputation.  Of course since my degree is in sociology I have at least 4 semesters of pre-requisites to take before I can even apply to the actual nursing program.  
So Tuesday was day one and I only had 1 class and I brought a POM juice with me BUT I had errands to do after class before I headed home.  I even met my dad for lunch at Subway and instead of my typical soda with my sandwich I had a water.   I skipped the chips too because I knew chips would be salty and that would make me want the sweet of the soda.  

Even then yesterday was a cake walk compared today.  Mondays and Wednesdays are my big day.  I leave my house at 10 am and don’t get home til almost 10pm.   I didn’t take enough to drink and somehow I didn’t see a water fountain until 530pm.  The only thing that made it easier at first was I didn’t have any cash for the vending machines but when I drove to the other building (its a ways away and I had limited time or I would have walked) I could have gotten a soda.  Man I seriously thought about it.  

Now I know that the idea is to pray for strength and to remember what God gave up (his son) for people’s salvation.   I understand that but since I haven’t taken the dive back into the waters of the Bible yet I am just playing along for the giving something up for giving it up’s sake.   

I do want to post the sermons that explain the purpose for the fast BUT I still haven’t watched them.  So as incentive I will post them here for you to watch and then I will have no choice but to finally do it too (maybe I should have given up being a procrastinator for my fast!)

This is the First Sermon

And the Second

I wanted to add that just seeing the still frames made me realize I really miss this church.  I NEVER in my life thought I would say that and some days I wish I had someone here that could take me to a great little church like Oasis here.  And if any of my former church peeps are reading this blog I would love for you to comment just so I know you are out there 🙂