Talk about interesting timing. Just yesterday I published this post about what a total shitshow January was for me and I promised to minimize such whiny, complaining posts going forward. Then today the WordPress Daily Prompt asks what I complain about the most.
Well, aside from my month from hell and everything that went with it, I’m a septuagenarian. You know, I’m in my 70s. And being in my 70s, I’ve earned the right to be a grumpy old man.
I’ve earned the right to complain about politics and how the Republican Party has been taken over by far right idiots who seem hell-bent on destroying, rather than preserving, our American democracy.
I have earned the right to complain about religious conservatives who are on a mission to make everyone embrace their own version of morality and human behavior while hypocritically claiming to be the champions of individual freedoms.
I’ve earned the right to complain about the corrupt criminal justice system that lets rich, white men skate; about the social injustice directed toward not only people of color in America, but also toward woman (abortion rights) and the LBGT community; about a society that values gun ownership over human lives; about living in the richest country in the world, but which has one the highest poverty rates among developed nations; about giving tax cuts to large corporations and the wealthiest, while so many people are homeless.
I’ve earned the right to complain about whatever the fuck I want to complain about. And if you don’t like it, feel free to contact the complaint department.
Sometimes I feel as if I’m standing alone in a vacant lot at the end of a large, empty tract of undeveloped land. I can see the water vapor in the mist rising as the sun starts to warm the air and the early morning fog begins to burn off.
Why do I feel alone and alienated, you ask? Perhaps it’s a feeling of fragility because, in today’s America, my denial of the myth of God puts me in a rather precarious position. Our nation is being pushed more and more by the Christian conservative movement toward becoming a theocracy rather than a multicultural, secular democracy.
I hope I’m wrong but I fear I’m not.
Written for these daily prompts: My Vivid Blog (vacant lot), Your Daily Word Prompt (tract), Ragtag Daily Prompt (vapor) E.M.’s Random Word Prompt (fragility), The Daily Spur (denial), Word of the Day Challenge (myth), and Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (precarious). Photo credit: BETRulleR@wallpaperup.com.
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.
It’s Monday and Dr. Tanya is back with her weekly Blogging Insights prompt. She provides us with a quote about blogging or writing and asks us to express our opinion about said quote.
This week’s quote is from author Ray Bradbury.
“Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”
I wasn’t sure what to make of Ray Bradbury’s quote. I know what the word “intuition” means to me, which is like having a gut feeling or insight about something. But to try to put it in context for this quote, I Googled it.
According to Merriam-Webster, intuition is “the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.” Dictionary.com defines intuition as “direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process.” Yourdictionary.com defines it as “the faculty of knowing or understanding something without reasoning or proof.”
Dare I say it that all three definitions sound more like religion or faith than what I think of as intuition? But maybe that’s just me. Maybe what Bradbury is trying to say is that you need to have faith in your ability to write. Maybe he’s saying, as the Nike tagline says:
By the way, my core advice to bloggers is “just do it,” so perhaps I agree with Bradbury’s quote.
On this very day five years ago I published my first post on This, That, and the Other. It was basically an introduction to who I am, and it was aptly named “Practical Pragmatist.”
In case you are at all interested in reading my first post on this blog, here it is. It’s a rather long post for me — almost 500 words; my average post length so far this year is around 240. But if you have a minute or two, you might enjoy it.
I am a pragmatist. And I think of myself as a practical person. Thus, I am a practical pragmatist.
So what is a pragmatist? A pragmatist is a person who is oriented toward the success or failure of a particular line of action, thought, etc.
A pragmatist is an advocate or adherent of pragmatism, which is the philosophy or conduct that emphasizes practicality.
The pragmatic philosophy is based on the belief that the best way to evaluate the practicality of ideas, policies, and proposals is through their workability and usefulness. Pragmatism stresses action over doctrine. The philosophy embraces the notion that ideas base their meanings from their consequences; that they are essentially instruments and plans of action.
So how do I know that I’m a pragmatist? When I was a young adult working a full-time job and attending graduate school at night to get a Master’s degree, the girl I was dating at the time lambasted me for putting more emphasis on “dollars and degrees” than on my relationship with her. I wasn’t, she bemoaned, giving her as much time and attention as I was giving my job and my school work. She didn’t like being the third priority in my life, yet she was.
I knew I needed to work hard at my job in order to pay for rent, food, school, and, well, life. I knew that getting a graduate degree would enable me to be more successful and secure in the future. I knew these things because I’m a pragmatist.
So what about “practical”? I describe myself as a logical, rational, and reasonable person. I am not ruled by emotions but by facts, observations, and evidence. That’s likely why, in addition to being a pragmatist, I’m an atheist. There is nothing logical, rational, or reasonable about religious doctrine or dogma. Rather than being based upon facts, observations, and evidence, religion is based upon faith and beliefs where there is no empirical evidence.
This is not to say that I can’t be open to beliefs or faith, either. Every time I board an airplane I have faith that the aircraft is mechanically sound and that the pilot and copilot are sober and competent. I just don’t buy into this whole God thing because there is no empirical evidence that such an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, supernatural being exists other than in the minds of those who have embraced ancient mythologies over logic, rationality, and reason.
Nor does my pragmatism mean that I am devoid of emotions. I am empathetic and have been known to shed a tear or two when I encounter the pain or suffering of others. I may not feel as intensely as some others feel, but I feel nonetheless.
So bear in mind as you read my posts, should you decide to read beyond this first one, that, as a self-identified practical pragmatist, my perspectives are borne out of practicality and pragmatism.