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This is gonna offend someone
This is gonna offend someone
I thought long and hard about this post. Before going on, here is why I am making this post.
1)It is fundamental to understanding my view of the universe and anyone visiting this blog with a view to getting to know who I am needs to know this.
2)I see no reason not to express my views.
3)It is a subject I feel strongly about.
I am not making this post simply to stir up trouble.
It's going to attract some negative responses I'm sure. I'm sure because it is in the nature of strongly held beliefs that feelings run high. The irony here is that in declaring oneself an atheist you are often accused of offending the religious, but no one considers that religion offends the atheist sensibilities. Society is still oriented in the past, still so deferential to religions that any voice raised directly against them is beaten down as offensive. It is barely acceptable to be an agnostic these days, but that is simply “hedging your bets”, “keeping your head down”.
I am an atheist. I don't simply not believe is a deity, I absolutely reject the idea of a deity. It simply does not make sense to me that any rational human being could believe in a divine guiding force behind the universe.
Now, some people will think that I am suffering from some parental indoctrination. Well, here's a bit of history. I attended church regularly as a child, I was a choirboy at our local church for many years and was confirmed into the Church of England. My parents insisted that I attend church, they then allowed me to decide for myself whether I believed in God or not. At the age of fifteen I decided not, and my parents stopped insisting that I attend church. My mother believes in God but is not a regular church goer, my father does not, my grandparents on my father's side are both regular church goers and actively involved in the church community, my remaining grandparent on my mother's side believes in God but is not a regular church goer.
I have remained totally unconvinced as to the existence of God. There are no argument to be made for the existence of God and belief is simply not a good enough reason.
Religion is based upon the idea that an elite few tell you what is the truth, without any evidence whatsoever. In fact the absence of proof seems to be considered a positive thing, “question not the ways...”. If you believe then you live your life according to their rules, if you don't then you are outside their clique. In the past this would mean that at best you were ostracized, at worst you were executed as a heretic.
More blood has been shed in the name of religions than for any other reason. Generally these 'holy wars' have been little more than thinly disguised power struggles masquerading behind an artificial veil of religion.
This does not mean that religions have nothing to teach us. There are many laudable motives to commend religion; "love thy neighbour", "do unto others as you would have them do unto you", and so on. It is simply a pity that religions seldom seem to practice what they preach.
I would rather develop my own standards to live by, selecting those aspects of religious doctrine that make sense for a civilized society and rejecting those that make no sense.
Religion is too flexible. What today is heresy is tomorrow doctrine, provided it serves the purposes of the leaders of the religion. Take as a simple example Galileo. Only recently (mid-80's if memory serves), some 150 years after being declared a heretic and placed under house arrest by the Catholic church (and I am not picking on the Catholic church here, all religions have examples like this) did the Pope finally officially recognise that the Earth was not the center of the universe, Galileo's overturning of Copernican theory, that all heavenly bodies rotate around the Earth, was actually right. It's absurd that something can be declared to be divinely true only to be rescinded 150 years later. Either God got it wrong (not consistent with the idea of an infallible God), or men were responsible for the interpretation of divine law and they got it wrong (so what's to say they got the rest right?), or (my preferred option) God does not exist and in fact it is simply men interpreting the world according to their needs.
I'm no Marxist, but I do believe he got it right when he stated, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”
The long and the short of this debate is that anyone who believes in a deity will never be convinced otherwise, similarly I will remain forever unconvinced as to existence of a deity. To my mind belief in a deity is misguided, and they in turn believe that I am misguided for not believing.
I have deliberately avoided being too confrontational and if I go any further I'm sure I will become confrontational, so I'll stop here.
For those of you still reading, I did not make this post to offend people, but I'm damned if I will suppress a strongly held view, a view fundamental to who I am, simply for fear that someone will be offended. I also will not engage in a flame war about this subject, so don't expect an extended discussion in the comment section. If you want to express yourself feel free to do so, but don't expect a response.
If I were a betting man I would say that some commentators will not read the whole post before responding, and statements made in this post will be misinterpreted and deliberately misrepresented.
10/23/2005 2:27 pm
I can't understand why people get so worked up over who someone else is or isn't worshipping. I'm constantly called a Satanist, as I am a Pagan. (No, I'm not Wicca.) I believe in all deities and none at the same time. |
I've been on a kick the past few days, so let's see what that wise Founding Father Thomas Jefferson had to say on the subject. The man was a deist:
If we did a good act merely from love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? ...Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802
To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise: but I believe I am supported in my creed of materialism by Locke, Tracy, and Stewart. At what age of the Christian church this heresy of immaterialism, this masked atheism, crept in, I do not know. But heresy it certainly is.
-Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, Aug. 15, 1820
Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.
-Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787
But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782
This was a man with a firm belief in God, but felt that God should be questioned. Perhaps that's why so many right wingers have decided he wasn't a great man. He believed, but he didn't believe the way they believe.
The age of reason is gone in this country. I don't know what happened. But now they want Intelligent Design, which is thinly veiled creationism taught to school children. No. Sunday school is the place to teach religious beliefs. Public schools are the place for secular beliefs. If you want your child to get a religious education, it is not for the state to give them this education. Send them to parochial school.
It seems to me, looking through histories, no one really cared if you believed in God for a good number of years. Then it became part of the cold war propaganda. So it has been building, especially in this country.
Then they start with which God is the right God? Did you know you're only a Christian if you're born again? Sorry to all you Catholics, Dutch Reformed, Church of England, Universal Unitarians, Presbyterians and Methodists out there. Unless you're born again Baptists or Pentacostal, you are not a Christian anymore. It doesn't mean a thing that Christian means one who worships Jesus. You're all burning in hell, along with us heathens who worship other Gods or have no God. It's all so stupid to judge people on who they worship. Especially when there are so many other things to hate people for being. Like stupid.
10/24/2005 1:32 pm
MissAnnThrope I think we agree from different sides of the coin. When you say 'He believed, but he didn't believe the way they believe' or 'Then they start with which God is the right God?' the point is made that religion is devisive and subjective. This being the case I have difficulty with any established religion being anything more that a device for manipulation of a populace.|
Since I see no evidence for a devine being, and since those who believe cannot agree (and often violently disagree) about the nature of the devine being(s) I cannot believe in such things in any form myself.
Thank you for your thought provoking and comprehensive response.
10/28/2005 4:37 pm
I was raised Irish Catholic. I am now an atheist. At least to the extent that I don't believe in the "biblical God" ... or the existence of any of the "gods" I have attempted to understand throughout my life ... it is a matter of simple logic to me and one I choose not to freely discuss ...|
However, I hope and therefore open myself up to the idea that there may exist another dimension beyond this one ... and yet, accept as well, that this may be all there really is ... is this hedging my bets ? I think it's just simply a matter of not knowing or not being convinced one way or the other !
I applaud you for this post ... and thank you for posting it ...