My father was Jewish, my mother was catholic. Or vice versa, I don’t remember. Neither of them practiced their religion religiously. However, I was exposed to both religions. My father wanted me to read the Bible, the Old Testament. My mother pushed the New Testament. I thought the older books were more interesting and exciting, but the God character was a mean and vindictive son of a bitch. The New Testament wasn’t as exciting as the Old Testament, and the God character there was all peace and love.
I asked my parents how, if God wrote the Bible, he was depicted very differently in the two testaments. They hemmed and hawed a bit, but then said that, like everything else, God evolved. That confused me too, because these religions, along with many of the others I was exposed to, denounced and ridiculed evolution. God created us in his own image
By the time I reached high school, I came to the conclusion that God was created by humans, and not vice versa, as my parents claimed. And most of the stories in both the Old and New Testaments were stories written by human beings, not by some omnipotent, omnipresent, supernatural being. And the Bible and its stories had about as much credibility as those written about the Greek and Roman gods. That was when I realized that this whole religion thing, regardless of which specific religion you’re talking about, is all based upon manmade mythology.
So I stopped believing in the existence of God. I was labeled an atheist, a label I embraced.
Some have insisted that atheism is a religion, and because I’m a practicing atheist, I am practicing a religion. But atheists don’t “practice” atheism. We are atheists solely because we deny the existence of a supernatural god. There are no books that we are expected to read and to hold holy. There’s no dogma that we must adhere to or rituals that we must perform. No services that we must attend. I don’t proselytize about atheism or attempt to persuade others to believe as I do.
Atheism has only one tenet: God does not exist. Period. End of story. So for those of you who insist that atheism is a religion, I guess I would simply say that I do not practice that religion.
For Friday Faithfuls this week, Jim Adams would like to get our take on aliens. If aliens ever do come to Earth, do you think they will be here to help us, or to destroy us? How much longer do you think humans will be around for? Do you think that we will ever be able to colonize another planet outside of our solar system? If you think that you married an alien, then tell us why you think that. If you know for a fact that God created man, then please enlighten us.
Alrighty then, those are some interesting questions. Let’s take them one at a time.
My take on aliens is that in the immense vastness of the universe, the probability that there are other forms of intelligent life, in addition to on Earth, is high. But I think it’s highly unlikely that Earthlings and aliens from somewhere else in the universe will ever come in contact. Why? Because of the very vastness of the universe I mentioned earlier. The planets in the universe that can sustain life are separated by probably hundreds, if not thousands, of lightyears. Thus, unless some highly advanced intelligence has mastered hyperspace or warp speed, visits from alien life forms to Earth ain’t happening.
How much longer will humans be around for? Well, if we can’t find a way to combat climate change, maybe less than a few hundred years, if that.
Will we ever be able to colonize another planet outside our own solar system? Unlikely.
Am I married to an alien? Unlikely.
Do I know for a fact that God created man? Well, since I believe that man created God, I would posit that God did not create man. Or much of anything else, for that matter.
Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year.
How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year? You can repost your Friday Flashback post on your blog and pingback to this post. Or you can just write a comment below with a link to the post you selected.
If you’ve been blogging for less than a year, go ahead and choose a post that you previously published on this day (the 16th) of any month within the past year and link to that post in a comment.
This was originally posted on September 16, 2017.
Faith Versus Reason
My blogging buddy, Jim, wrote a fascinating post today entitled “Why is it So Hard to Believe in God.” In addition to being a provocative post, he managed to get in the WordPress one-word prompt, “recreate,” when he wrote, “We cannot recreate the Big Bang, so we may never understand all of this, but we can believe that we do exist.” Well done, Jim.
In response to one of the comments on his post, Jim wrote, “I believe in logic and God makes sense to me….” I found that notion to be particularly interesting. I believe in logic, reason, and rationality, and it’s because of embracing those things that God makes no sense to me.
For purposes of this post, I’m going to consider “logic” and “reason” to be synonymous, although technically they aren’t. Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.
That said, logic (or reason) is the antithesis of faith. It takes tremendous faith to believe that an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, supernatural being created everything that exists.
So the question I have for Jim, or for anyone who cares to weigh in is this. When it comes to belief in God, can logic and reason support that belief, or must one suspend logical and rational thought in favor of pure faith to believe in the existence of God as the creator of all things?
Please feel free to share your thoughts (or beliefs).
There is a new (to me, anyway) Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie prompt called Sunday Confessionals. I suppose, like confessions, it’s meant to be an opportunity for us to get something off our chests. For this week, we’ve been asked to share something that we have felt like yelling into a hole; a secret, an unpopular opinion.
I am an atheist. That’s not a secret. But being an atheist makes me misunderstood by many and reviled by some. So consider this VERY LONG POST (for me) to be me yelling into a hole about my unpopular opinion. If you don’t feel like reading my atheist rant or will take offense at my rejection of your religious beliefs, you may want to stop here.
So let’s do this.
You were a natural-born atheist. You did not come out of the womb believing in God. Religion is something you were taught. Your religious instruction was dictated by your parents. You learned about religion and about God from your parents and from the pastor, priest, rabbi, or imam at the church or temple you and your parents attended. Your religious beliefs as a child were your parents’ religious beliefs. As with just about everything else, you did what your parents told you. You followed their lead.
But like all children, you were naturally curious. You were always asking the “why” questions. So much so, that sometimes your parents, tired of hearing you ask why over and over, would say, out of frustration, “Because I’m your father [or mother] and I said so.”
An unanswered question is better than an unquestioned answer
When you asked the really tough questions, the ones even your parents didn’t know how to answer, it was just so much easier for them to say to you, “Because it says so in the Bible,” or “Because God made it that way.”
As you began to grow a little older and to think for yourself, you discovered that Santa Claus was not real. The Easter Bunny was not real. The Tooth Fairy was not real. Monsters hiding under your bed or in your closet were not real.
But God? Yes, God is real. Of course God is real.
And then you got to high school and took some science, math, biology, chemistry, and physics classes. You thought about all of the things your parents taught you about your religion, about God. You thought about the Bible stories you were taught. And then you thought about what your science teachers were teaching you. And it dawned on you that something wasn’t right.
How can the earth be less than 10,000 years old when geologists, archaeologists, and paleontologists have uncovered rocks and fossils and bones that are millions of years old? Was Eve really created as a full-grown woman out of one of Adam’s ribs? Did she really succumb to the evil will of a talking snake?
Did God really instruct a 480 year old Noah to build an ark that took him 120 years to construct? Did Noah really collect one pair of every living animal on Earth while God flooded the entire planet and destroyed every other living creature besides those on Noah’s ark?
Did Jonah really live for three days and three nights inside the belly of a big fish? Did Moses really climb a mountain and come down from that mountain carrying two stone tablets with ten commandments etched by the hand of God? Was Jesus really born of a virgin mother? Could Jesus really walk on water?
Did all those things in the Bible really happen, or are they fairy tales and fables? Why do we give any more credence to our one God and to the Bible stories than we do the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman gods and their stories? Why is the God my parents believed in and the religion they practiced any better or more “right” than the gods and religions of others around the globe? Talk about a serious case of cognitive dissonance.
Pity the Poor Atheist
A lot of people believe that atheism is borne out of suffering or some traumatic event — some tragic, horrific experience — that caused these poor souls to lose faith in God. There must have had an abusive parent or relative who emotionally or physically tortured or sexually abused them.
These poor atheists must have thought that God can’t exist because, if he did exist, he wouldn’t have allowed them to suffer that way. “How can I believe in a God who would let this happen to me, who would abandon me?”
But I’ve found that not to be the case when it comes to any of the atheists I know. We ask questions and seek evidence. Answers like, “Because it says so in the Bible,” or “You just have to have faith, you just have to believe,” don’t cut it with us.
We weigh all of the available evidence and, having done so, choose to not believe in any supernatural deity or supreme being. We tend to be pragmatists who think deeply, rationally, and logically. Most of us were raised in the religion of our parents, but became skeptical by the inconsistencies, and in some cases, the outright hypocrisies, of our religions.
Many Christians seem to believe that atheists are a bad, sad, miserable, immoral, lost lot. They feel sorry for or pity us because we have lost our way; we have strayed from the path of righteousness. They can’t understand how we can be moral individuals if we don’t believe in God or an afterlife. It’s so sad that we can’t or won’t allow ourselves to bask in the glory that is God, or to accept Jesus as our savior. Which is why they want to “save” us. How magnanimous of them.
Or if they don’t feel sorry for us, they are angry at us. How dare we question their beliefs? How do we have the audacity to suggest that the Bible isn’t “The Truth,” and that God didn’t create us in his image, or that we evolved from monkeys?
We, as atheists, are, therefore, condemned to eternal damnation unless we change our evil, secular ways and embrace God and Jesus. Only then will we be saved. Only then will the light of God’s truth reveal itself to us.
We are not people you should feel sorry for or be angry at. We just don’t live our lives built around your myths.
I found this photo from Suzanne Martin Gadrim on Pinterest and felt it would be a perfect illustration for two of yesterday’s daily prompt words: “pink,” from My Vivid Blog, and “rainbow,” from Ragtag Daily Prompt.
I watched it as it formed, a double rainbow, in front of a beautiful sunset sky of red, pink, orange, and violet. My wife and I were standing on the dunes overlooking the water caressing the shoreline.
My wife squeezed my hand. “This is stunning,” she said. “I am in awe. I cannot understand how you can witness something as magnificent as this and still deny the existence of God.”
“There’s nothing supernatural about what we’re looking at,” I said. “As to the colors of the sky, when the sun is low on the horizon at sunset, sunlight has to travel through more of the atmosphere to reach us. When the light from the setting sun hits the atmosphere, it is scattered, particularly when dust, smoke, and other pollutants are in the air. So by the time the sunlight reaches our eyes, there is generally more of the red and yellow parts of the spectrum, rather than the blue, that is visible.
“And rainbows are formed when sunlight enters rain droplets. There is a slowing down and bending of the light as it goes from air to denser water. The light reflects off the inside of the droplet, separating into its component wavelengths, or colors. When light exits the droplet, it makes a rainbow. See, nothing magical or mystical about it.”
My wife dropped my hand from hers and said, “Why are you always so damn logical all the time? You suck all the magic and wonder out of everything.” Then she turned around and walked away, leaving me standing there all alone.
Next time I think I’ll just say “Yes, dear,” to whatever she says. You know, happy wife, happy life.