a⋅the⋅ist – a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings. (Dictionary.com)
Yes this is Christmas. I’m back from hiatus for a short time.
A few years ago in my zeal to put the local idiotic right wingers in their place I wrote letters to the paper. True to form those “good Christian brethren” responded with nasty words and accusations. One of the accusations was that I was an atheist. My mom was still with us and her dear old Baptist friends had shared with her something of the letters and she was worried. One day while I was re-roofing her home due to hurricane damage she looked up at me on the house and asked, “son, are you an atheist?”
“No, mah, I’m not,” I said. And I wasn’t. I was at that time trying to hold onto some kind of faith after having been ripped asunder by a collection of cowardly Christians (the story is in the archives of this blog). I tried hard. I really did. But faith just would not come.
As my mom lay dying in the hospital and I spent every minute with her (more archived stories here) my faith in a so-called God fizzled away. My conservative Christian siblings were in large part the main reason I lost all faith. As I’ve written before here, by the time Mom died I’d become a true Buddhist. But I wasn’t yet ready to call myself an atheist. That seemed so hopeless and final!
Buddha, of course, believed in the existence of “gods,” spirit beings, though he did not consider them any more than consciousnesses on a higher plane. He did not from all accounts ever believe there was a “supreme being” of any sort. For some time I tried to believe in the “Higher Power” concept, that there must be a creator or “God,” just not the one described and worshiped by the Big Three, Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Over the course of the year since Mom passed I’ve wrestled with that word “atheist.” It is the antithesis of everything I stood for for more than forty-five years. Atheists were, at one time, the ultimate enemy. I moved closer and closer to the term “Agnostic,” which means “a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience,” according to dictionary.com. It’s a convenient cop-out for a lot of folks who are really atheists and for a lot more who just won’t accept all of their particular learned religion but can’t turn loose of it altogether. But being an “agnostic” is merely choosing not to deal with the subject: “…yeah, maybe, sure, there has to be a God or something, doesn’t there? I mean, just look….” The “just look” is followed by assorted “evidence” provided by that person’s learned religion.
I was just like that. I didn’t want to call myself an “atheist.” it sounded to final, too cold. But I knew I could not accept the idea of a “supreme” God. I have no problem believing there are entities that some call spirits that inhabit some kind of existential or other-world place. I’ve witnessed things in my life that makes it hard to deny there are some kinds of evil spirits around, or at least spirits that contradict Christian belief. Or maybe it’s all part of a spiritual game being played on us by the other-world entities, or aliens, or who knows what. I don’t. But what I cannot any longer believe is that there is a “Creator” who created the whole universe.
One of the clinchers for me was a wonderful but terrifying graphic derived from Hubble called the Deep Space Survey. I think I’ve written about that here too. Considering the unfathomable size of this universe it’s impossible to believe all that is “out there” was “created.” If it was, if that entire vastness was or is the creation of some kind of deity, there’s no logical reason such a deity would visit itself on this planet as the Big Three contend. We’re a speck on a speck on a speck. Our galaxy is a dot on a slide on some distant alien’s telescope. We are nothing. So no, I can’t accept the idea of a “Creator.”
Beyond that, I cannot accept anything the Christian church teaches with the exception that a man named Jesus may have existed. There is really so little about him in the book Christians use and so little paid to the teachings attributed to him that he’s really an insignificant figure used as a figurehead for a religion full of cruelty, condescending attitudes, hatred and fear. Especially fear.
In Christian circles one hears the word “love” thrown about as if it matters. Many quote the “Love chapter,” a very nice set of verses in an otherwise unbelievable and contradictory collection of “letters” supposedly written by a guy named Saul/Paul. Don’t kid yourself. Christians are not Christians out of love. They are Christians out of fear. There is such tremendous and deep-seated fear within every Christian that they with few exceptions ever step outside the walls, ever listen honestly to anything “non-Christian” or ever for a split second consider abandoning their religion. To do so is to send oneself to hell. It is fear of hell, not “love of God” or “the love of Jesus” that keeps them nailed to the cross with Jesus.
I know. I was one of them. Nothing matters more to an evangelical Christian than being “saved.” My mother on her dying bed sought me out and asked me, “son, are you saved.” I smiled a kind smile to my beloved mother and lied. “Yes, mom, you don’t have to worry about me.” To say anything else would have meant she would die with a broken heart. So, I told her what she wanted to hear when by that time I had concluded there was no such thing as “salvation.”
Long after my mom died I felt an obligation to family (and any who might be a friend though I have so very few) to “respect” their faith and not be so blatantly defiant by saying I did not believe in their god or their religion. I still think it’s rude to verbally slap someone in the face deliberately with my lack of belief but I am no longer skittish about saying I do not believe or that I think Christianity is a bad thing. It is a bad thing. If it were truly based upon the teachings of the Christ they claim for “Savior” it would be a good thing. Christianity is not based on that person’s teachings. Not at all. It is a political concoction designed to enslave ignorant populations. It did just that for many centuries. It still serves to enslave though fortunately in some places the ties with government have been cut to some extent. In America the ties were never entirely severed even with all the talk of “freedom of religion.” In the past decade conservative Christian fools managed to dig in and increase the corruption of our already corrupt system.
Now that the greedy people behind the scenes have the control they’ve sought they have thrown off their conservative Christian facade, much to the chagrin of conservatives who now twist in the wind. They went from believing they were the power behind the president to recognizing they’re the village idiots and they just don’t like that at all. Nothing proves the illegitimacy of Christianity more than the way so-called Conservative Christians have been acting since they got kicked in the balls by the present administration. For all their grand claims and intensive prayer sessions and really naive views they get nothing but the boot. Some powerful god they serve, huh?
Although the U.S. government has excised religious conservatives Texas still suffers from the obnoxious fumes of conservative Christianity. Our state government is in a terrible struggle against the idiotic attitudes of religious nuts who want to cram their ideas down our throats and our kids’ throats. I sure hope they loose.
In this little ramble I’ve sure stirred a lot of hornet nests. And all I started out to do was declare that I am an atheist. Finally I can say that without any qualms. The idea of a supreme god is absurd. The Christian view of a god who on the one hand loves us all and on the other is firing up the furnaces of hell for the vast majority of the earth’s population doesn’t sound like a god I’m interested in. The Catholic view of god isn’t much better. Of course the Jewish and Islamic views of god are even worse. God is good and loving, so good and loving he sat back and watched six million of his people roast in Nazi extermination camps. Muslims can kill themselves and win a few virgins in paradise or they can fuck up just a little and find real retribution right here as they loose hands, fingers, eyes or whatever at the hands of their religious governments. But god is love, right?
I’ve seen the fools storm the White House and get duped. I’ve seen my beloved state turned to crap by religious idiots. I’ve heard all the arguments. I’ve measured all the “evidence” and sifted all the bullshit. There is no supreme god. yes, mom, I am an atheist. But I know you still love me, where ever you are! Merry Xmas.