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BACK DOOR BOY IN A FRONT DOOR WORLD
OUTSIDE OF SOCIETY - THAT'S WHERE I WANT TO BE
My Journey To Reason 
30th-Oct-2002 06:32 am


I do not believe there is any higher consciousness. I do not believe in God, Jesus, heaven, hell, Divine Intervention, Immaculate Conception, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, Allah, Yahweh, or the boogeyman. Or Xenu. Because these things are all the same. I shouldn't imagine that any adult truly believes in the existence of the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, or Santa Claus now, but did as children for the same reason people believe in God - because somewhere along the line you were told by someone you trust to tell you the truth that this is, in fact, true. Don't really question why, just because I said so. And like most children, you take that trusted person's word and that's just that. Once you find out the truth about the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and Santa you don't really apply the same logic that you've been lied to by someone you trusted to the existence of God, but why not? If they'll lie about those things, what won't they lie about? That was how I processed it, and that is initially where my skepticism began. My parents are both religious people, as are all of my 6 siblings and their children. My entire family is devout and I accept my position as the lone heathen. My mother has never really discussed with me that I'm an Atheist, it would only cause her grief and worry and she doesn't need that. My father knows I put a lot of thought into my decision and that I read a great deal to conclude my position on God. Though he doesn't like it, he accepts it. My siblings don't understand but I maintain active relationships with some of them and they don't view me any differently as a result - though that has not always been the case.

As a child, my home was teeming with religion and a very severe awareness of Jesus and the saints. I knew the Commandments and the Act Of Contrition. I knew how to pray and how to behave in church, which we attended weekly. I was told on a daily basis reasons for why I was to do and believe certain things, but it was never reasoned to me in such a way that I could understand why this was to be so. I had to distill everything that was told to me and internalized that Jesus loved me, but he would let me burn in hell forever if I didn't do exactly this or exactly that. Some things I could agree with, some I was skeptical of. Jesus loved me and I would be rewarded with his love forever if I just believed. No one explained to me at this point that I would have to die in order to get the prize of his eternal love and protection. There were no dead people available for me to consult and find out if this were true, I had to accept it at face value and just believe blindly like everything else.

I was never scared of the boogeyman as a child until the day I reasoned this fear was substantial enough to make a home in me. If Jesus loved me but would let me be tortured forever in Hell by the Devil for being bad, then Jesus was the boogeyman!! We had pictures and statues and icons of Jesus and Mary all over, but no pictures of God. I had never actually seen the boogeyman, so I took from this realization (mind you, I'm like 6 years old here) that God had to be the boogeyman! After a while, I dismissed the idea of God being all good and loving if he was terrorizing me on a nightly basis. I lived in fear of the boogeyman, and heard the term 'God fearing' often - so it was a natural conclusion. I told my mother about this revelation and she made me pray with her to the baby Jesus for deliverance from my blasphemous freethought. It angered me to the point of pretending to pray out of spite and instead singing "3 Is A Magic Number" silently to myself. That is still my favorite Schoolhouse Rock song.

While walking home from first grade one day (back when it was considered safe to let your 6 year old children do such a thing) my sister told me that the man whose house we had to walk past daily, who sat on his front porch and would wave at anyone passing by, who was seemingly nice enough, THIS man was some evil ogre who murdered children and ate their flesh - or something equally lame. I didn't believe it, because he always waved at me and smiled - but kept his distance. His gesture made me feel better every day, and I thought it was ridiculous to say such disparaging things about a man who was being nice to us. I told her she was a liar and sometime later decided that I had no fear of him. I reasoned that if he was bad or mean that he would have tried to scare me. If he didn't, then he was okay by me but I wasn't going to think bad things about him just because she said he was.

Soon after I began my quest for proof of all things I was supposed to make a judgment call on. My mother told me that I was to take people on their actions, and not on their words. It was a variation on sticks and stones. I became skeptical of the Devil, especially when my mother would point out his handiwork in other people. I never could reason for myself the stories I heard from the bible. I was told so many things that I was not to question, things I felt were a blatant contradiction in terms. God loves all of the children - but he let his own son be murdered. Jesus loved me, but not unconditionally. That whole having to agree with every part of the written word does not equal unconditional. You will have eternal life if you die for it first. God murders people in mass numbers who disagree with him to do their own thing without hurting others. And miracles? I never saw one, and the ones I heard of sounded far fetched at best. What I hear being passed off as a miracle is really just an odd circumstance in my view, sometimes with really interesting coincidences. It wasn't a miracle when I died for a couple of minutes after my first lung collapse in '95 and then came 'back to life', it was a mixture of biological accident and skilled medical intervention - God had NOTHING to do with it!

As a teenager I read voraciously. I wanted to know why I was made to feel guilty about questioning things I didn't understand, and I wanted proof of these things I was "supposed" to believe on blind faith. The feelings of guilt were never a good fit on me and were really starting to piss me off. I was raised to ask questions and investigate, and this was encouraged when my parents left the church and the concept of religion was no longer discussed in our home. I read from the Talmud and the Torah. I read from the Bible and the Koran. I read on the Buddha and the Bhagavad Gita. I studied the crusades and anything I could find on Catechism without getting directly involved. I read on existentialism, nihilism, agnosticism, and assorted other philosophical writings. I read academic work on freethought and how one doesn't need religion or God to be moral and have values. I wanted proof of God. I wanted proof of his/her/its existence. I wanted to know if there was life after death. All the while I read and studied of this immaculate, perfect, wonderful love of God I never had any emotional or spiritual connection to anything I discovered. Others prayed and swooned with some kind of blissful presence, I felt nothing but a nauseating feeling that they were either faking or that it was a psychosomatic act of sorts. I kept going back to my childhood mythology and how robbed I felt to discover the lie of Santa and the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny. These feelings were one and the same. I was raised to believe in God and could find no proof he existed. I was angry because everyone I questioned gave answers that were so full of shit I was left feeling insulted, for I truly wanted to believe more than I ever really did. And now I found I was standing at the very precipice of my truth - did I jump off without the security of what I knew to be true, or did I conclude that it was all a lie?

I chose reason. I chose logic. I chose science. I chose to be responsible for my life's actions because it was my choice to be a decent human and make good decisions and judgments. I chose to be responsible for my actions and own my mistakes and wrongdoings without blaming them on a Devil. I chose to do right by people because I loved them and not because I had the incentive of a mythical place I would go after I died as reward for being a good man.

I rejected the idea of a way of life that would prevent me from enjoying what I felt were harmless things. I rejected the assertion that Jesus loved me but didn't love my sins. I rejected the notion that I lead a good life, yet I was a sinner. If there is no God, there is no such thing as sin and by that logic I decided that I had never sinned a day in my life. I rejected people who claimed to be Christians who didn't live every moment of their lives according to the Bible's teachings. You either accept the Bible as a whole and live by every standard in it or you are not a Christian - there is no editing out the bits you don't agree with. You follow all the teachings of Catholicism and attend regular mass & confession (if that is still what it is called) or you're not a Catholic. You follow the teachings of Allah and Mohamed and say your 5 prayers a day and live my the Islamic faith as depicted in the Koran or you're not a Muslim. You take it all or you cannot claim the label. You're a hypocrite or you're not.

I truly believe that I'm happier without the idea of God in my life. I never feel guilty or shameful, because I never do things I'll later feel guilty for or ashamed of. I feel more enlightened without the choke-hold religion and blind faith put on me as a child. I was born an Atheist just like every other living person - and now I've come full circle. I feel completely liberated. I never feel the imposition of judgment for things I cannot control. I believe this life is all that there is and that makes each day special and meaningful. I have come to appreciate life in a much more complete sense now that I live each day as fully as possible. I make moments count while I have them instead of waiting for a payoff at the end of my life. I don't live in fear of the consequences of thinking for myself.

I have a responsible life full of friends and family. I have a home to be responsible for and children to help raise. I have a community I try to be active in so that it will be a better place for these children to call home when they no longer need me. I try to help them be individuals and think for themselves to make better decisions in their own best interests, and not let others do the work for them.

I'm a better man without God than I would have ever been with God. I know that some would think this is crazy - but then again, that's their prerogative and I'm fine with that. At the end of most every day, I am satisfied in knowing that I actively did something to help someone else less fortunate than I, even if that was just to smile at them and wish them well, instead of wasting my time trying to ascribe to some higher spiritual purpose.

I'm a good man because I choose to be. I don't hurt anyone on purpose. I try to make life better for my own family and don't concern myself with other's morality issues as it is none of my business how others choose to live so long as they're not hurting me or my family. I have a great sense of humor, because there is no humor in being righteous. I'd rather have fun than worry about some sky fairy who's looking at me from a cloud with a shameful eye plotting my imminent roasting in Hell.

All of this having been said, I do leave a fraction of room for error that I could be wrong. I believe completely that God is a made up thing. Assuming I'm wrong and there really were a God, I would still feel the same way and would reject him on sight - for a million reasons - the first of which is his crimes against humanity and allowing the painful suffering of those he claims to love so much yet forsakes every day. This is unacceptable to me, so in the highly unlikely event that there really was a God I would want to be the first one to spit in his face for crimes against humanity alone and tell him to burn in his own hell. Why you ask? Because I'd say the same thing to anyone who held my life in his hands and claimed to love me but would consign me to a painful death if I didn't do his bidding. Because that's not love. True love has no conditions. And if I died for taking that stand, then I lived according to what I thought was right and that's a noble way to go. And I'm more than fine with that.

As to the issue of my sexuality, all I can add here is that in all my life of having religious people never fully accept that my homosexuality was just as normal, natural, acceptable, and equal as their heterosexuality is to them, it has never once occurred to me that there was anything 'wrong' with me being gay. It has never occurred to me to be anyone but who I am to that end, and therefore I have no shame attached to it. I think it is really sad and unfortunate that because of reasons that point squarely back to religion alone many others do. People even kill themselves and get rejected by their families and friends because of this, and that is one of the most astoundingly horrifying things about it to me.

So for all I've read on the subject of religion and God (particularly Christianity), this is why I think it is all completely insane. In order to have faith, you have to believe what amounts to this: The universe was created by an all-powerful all-knowing being who came down to us in the form of a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father who can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. I don't believe in fairytale, supernatural, mythical beings of any kind, regardless of the form they allegedly take. This one is no exception simply because most people throughout the world do in some form or another.

I don't need anyone to agree with me. I don't require others to walk a similar path to mine in order to be part of my life, just to understand my point of view and respect my choice to live as I see fit. That's the way we SHOULD be with one another. If this resonated with you, good - you're not alone. If you got to the end of this and feel sad for me because you're convinced I'm wrong about all of this and you know a truth I'm rejecting, do yourself a favor and take a little time to consider what would happen if I actually COULD prove that I'm right in everything I've said so far and YOU are the one who's had it all wrong your entire life. What then? You may not like it, but that might actually be the case - and all the faith in the world wouldn't change that. So before you try to convince, convert, or chastise me - be me for one day - and know that you're wasting your time, because I'm a happy man just as I am and wouldn't have it any other way.

Thanks for taking the time if you've gotten this far!
Comments 
30th-Oct-2002 07:34 am (UTC)
You either accept the Bible as a whole and live by every standard in it or you are not a Christian - there is no editing out the bits you don't agree with.

That's funny since most 'Christian' churches use the King James version of the bible. I guess that doesn't count, huh?

Did you ever see the joke about how Dr. Lara said that Homosexuality was against God 'cause of a line in the old testament? The joke went on to ask the good Dr. if the whole town had to get together for the stoning of the neighboring farmer for working on Sunday or if just a few of them could take care of it.

There was also a line about wearing 2 different fabrics and some other silliness from the old testament.

If I saved it,I'll post it for you.
30th-Oct-2002 10:21 am (UTC) - sky fairy, ha ha ha
wow, talk about a refreshing post to read today. i said a lot of the same things to the christian couselor (woo hoo) yesterday. the whole "morality is cool but religion is bull shit" etc etc. i have to fully respect you for what you wrote. it's funny how atheists are so stigmatized in society. probably because most of them are not as intelligent, eloquent, and as firm in their foundation as you are. the ones that i have met in the past have been firmly rooted in the hatred of their parents and the church they attended. either way, bravo for a firm stance. i'm going to repost your entry in my journal if you don't mind. i'll take it down if you do mind. but i have to say, BRAVO. lightened my day and lightened my load. thanks.
30th-Oct-2002 12:32 pm (UTC)
hey... i linked over from missingyourbed's journal. i found your posted dissertation to be interesting/thought-provoking. your childhood logic was amusing, and quite thorough for such a young age. also, i appreciated you admitting that you could be in error. i think with so many religions, schools of thought, and opinions, obviously none of us could be 100% correct in knowing the way the spiritual world works.

i was curious, however, if i could hear a deeper explaination of some of your thoughts that you touched on. i'd just like to better understand what you personally believe. as intelligent as you may be, what do you think of things that you, science, or reason cannot concretely explain? have you faith that those things are in place, or have you ruled out the concept of faith altogether?

also... what is your definition of "good"? you mentioned that you were a good person (not that i am disagreeing that fact!), but is there anything that makes a person bad? or are all people generally good? do you think that there is there a worldwide standard of good, or is it merely a question of personal opinion?

one last thing - i know you said you are an atheist, but do you hold anything higher than yourself? something that would be considered life-altering, such as truth, love, beauty, or good?

i hope you don't mind answering my questions! your writing just caused me to think on a slightly different level, and i was just wondering about some tangents that may not have been clear (to me) in what you wrote. maybe i'm just not up to speed today, and missed your points completely. anyways... i think that's all. thank-you for your honesty.

-christina
30th-Oct-2002 02:09 pm (UTC) - Well now, let me see here...
Hi Christina, thanks for your inquiry!

I'm going to try and answer you by reposting some of your own questions with the appropriate answers, as that would keep me from writing another dissertation and stay focused...

1. i was curious, however, if i could hear a deeper explaination of some of your thoughts that you touched on. i'd just like to better understand what you personally believe. as intelligent as you may be, what do you think of things that you, science, or reason cannot concretely explain? have you faith that those things are in place, or have you ruled out the concept of faith altogether?

- For me to answer this, I'd need to know specifically what you're interested in having my opinion on. Fire away!

2. also... what is your definition of "good"?

- When referring to myself as being "good", I mean being selfless and giving, trying to make time for people instead of making my stuff more important than theirs, being a good example for others (especially children), that sort of thing.

3. ...is there anything that makes a person bad?

- Yes - many things, the first that come to mind being people who make their pleasure at the expense of someone else's pain, general greediness, negativity (to an excess), and righteousness to name a few.

4. are all people generally good?

- Yes, I think that we are all born good and all have the potential to remain good, if only people didn't completely fuck that up along the way. As a child, you cannot control what gets put into your head. As an adult, you have fewer excuses for being a blind follower.

Hatred is learned behavior. Subscribing to religion and all concepts of God or higher power are learned behaviors. Assigning blame rather than assuming responsibility is learned behavior. Lying is learned behavior. You get the idea. As children, we are innocent until parents, society, and the like impose their own ideals on us and make us what we evolve into. It is a parent's responsibility and obligation to their children to raise them to be strong and independent freethinkers; not doormats and victims for the sake of their own naieveté.

5. do you think that there is there a worldwide standard of good, or is it merely a question of personal opinion?

- I think that there are as many variables there as you could imagine, if for no other reason than because different cultures vary in regard to what they deem "good", or polite or even acceptable for that matter. You could say that murdering innocents is wrong or bad, but that is also subjective according to another standard of what construes innocent in that given society.

6. i know you said you are an atheist, but do you hold anything higher than yourself? something that would be considered life-altering, such as truth, love, beauty, or good?

- I do not believe in any kind of deity, but I do believe in energy. Truth is tantamount to my values system. Love, beauty, good, meaning, value, gratitude - these are all things that are subjective. Depends on how one views each individual thing I suppose. I do hold those things in a high regard.

Hope I answered you to your satisfaction, and keep in touch with me! May I add you to my friends list?

Energy & light to you,
Jude

30th-Oct-2002 05:36 pm (UTC)
wow, that was a fast and organized response. :) i'll try to do the same.

1. i've always been absolutely horrid at science and math. but i guess i was referring to things that science and reason have not been able to fully explain. are you able to just throw up your hands and admit that science and reason may not be able to come up with an exact formula for how things work? or do you believe that we have the ability to explain everything that goes on in the world around us through reason? (i'm trying to be general - i really don't want to get into debates over where the world came from, etc. those always seem to end up going in circles.)

2-3. are you always good? or just mostly good? is there some sort of formula for how good you have to be to outweigh the bad? and (playing devil's advocate, hehe) what is the point in being good?

4-5-6. if truth is subjective, then how can there be order? do you think that there are there any absolutes?

you may add me to your friends list if i may add you to mine!
30th-Oct-2002 10:51 pm (UTC)
1. i've always been absolutely horrid at science and math. but i guess i was referring to things that science and reason have not been able to fully explain. are you able to just throw up your hands and admit that science and reason may not be able to come up with an exact formula for how things work? or do you believe that we have the ability to explain everything that goes on in the world around us through reason? (i'm trying to be general - i really don't want to get into debates over where the world came from, etc. those always seem to end up going in circles.)

- I think that there are some things that possibly we are not meant to know, and that the key is figuring that fact of life out early on. For instance - a very devout Christian acquaintance of mine asked me once "If you don't believe in God, the how did you get here?" My reply was "My father's sperm met my mother's ovum in 1970 on the kitchen table after a bottle of wine. As far as the "magical" part that you would attribute to God, I don't know how I got here - I don't care how or why I'm here - that I AM here is enough for me."

2-3. are you always good? or just mostly good? is there some sort of formula for how good you have to be to outweigh the bad? and (playing devil's advocate, hehe) what is the point in being good?

- Interesting question. I would have to say that I strive to be a better man when I'm faced with making a decision that affects those I love. Once you are a parent and/or become responsible for children, your priorities change radically! I'm not sure if your good deeds or inherent goodness makes up for your badness, that's subject to forgiveness. Forgiveness is a Christian notion and not one I subscribe to. Anyone who hurts or misuses my emotions on purpose to deliberately inflict harm is dead to me from that point on.

4-5-6. if truth is subjective, then how can there be order? do you think that there are there any absolutes?

- I don't believe in absolutes.

you may add me to your friends list if i may add you to mine!

- Done!
31st-Oct-2002 11:13 am (UTC)
thank-you for answering ALL those questions, ha. sorry to have taken up your time with them. but i think i now have a slightly better understanding of where you are coming from.
and i disagree with the good majority of it.
ah, the beauty of opinion!

thanks again for letting me question you. and glad to have you as a friend, now. :)
11th-Jun-2005 11:58 am (UTC) - Thanx *^^*
Thanx for the link here I really enjoyed the...umm, well it's long enough to be an article in my opinion, so guess what? I'm calling it an article.
Any way, whatever it is I enjoyed it, the comments were rather interesting too. Personallly I think you make a vallid point considering your personal experiances and all. I know some people who just picked up atheism(sry,crap speller)b/c nothing else was working for them at the time. They basically just woke up one morning and decided, I'm gonna be atheist today. That sorta thing pisses me off but I'm glad you gave reasoning behind your decision. *^^*
Oddly enough in my case I'm the one who really brought religion back into my home. Sadly now I'm getting major hurt from various relatives who were already heavily affiliated w/ the church b/c they think I'm 'slipping away' and I've committed some big sin b/cI had originally been so deep into it and now... well I've 'changed'.*shrug* Whatever the hell that's s'pose to mean... It's just kinda ironic that I was the first person in my immidiate family to suggest going to church since my mother gave up the faith as a teen(my dad wasn't brought up to be much of anything)Now I'm your average punk/emo teenager who's parents think she wears to much black and wonders why she has never had a boyfriend. But the thing is I consider myself, and a surprising number of my more religious friends consider, me more of a christian then my mother and she can be really Nazi-ish about somethings. I'm talking to a scary point.*shiver*
I don't like labeling myself a Christian but that's the easiest way to classify my beliefs. If I have the time a prefer to explain that I believe in God but not neccassarily the 'Christian' God who is constantly ranting about how much he hates me and how wrong I am. I believe in a God who would cry if a killed myself even if he might ahve to send me to hell, though somehow I don't think my mother would be all that sad or even care past the blood staine on her carpet(after all it's just another dead fag but the carpet is expensive to replace!). I believe in a God who kept me safe when my girlfriend started getting abusive and I couldn't convinse myself to dump her until another friend ended up with a hairline fracture at her hands. It's shit like that that has happened in my life, everthing it seems from nearly being murdered to atempted suicide, and the fact that I'm still here that helps me continue believing in my God. Maybe it's just my teenage hormones or something but I don't think I'll ever be able to drop my faith.
Sry, for the rant....*^^* It's early and I'm a bit energetic, not to mention this is a subject I love to discuse. I look foreward to future rants of yours for me to comment on! ^.~*

Lotsa Luv ~Dassani
PS.If I get anyoing tell me, please.
11th-Jun-2005 01:32 pm (UTC) - Re: Thanx *^^*
First things first. There is no such thing as a "big" sin - all sins are equal, to include passing judgement, which these family members seem to be doing in their "you need to get right with God" assertioning. Um, hypocrisy much? I don't even believe there IS such a thing as sin and know that much. ;-)

The reason you're still here is because somewhere really deep down that you just haven't found yet is this extraordinary person that you are supposed to be - this person that doesn't take shit off of ANYBODY, that people are afraid to argue with, and that accepts people - ALL people - as they are and not as you would wish them to be. That, my young friend, is your authentic self and the person you have a responsibility to be in time. Stay with me, here.

The best thing you can do to make things equal with these (possibly well-meaning but still oppressive) CHristian people who are making life so difficult is to enlighten yourself. Read. Study. Question. Empower yourself with more knowledge than they have and you'll beat them at their own game. There are millions of books on these subjects, and the sociology and philosophy sections of any public library or bookstore in your area are just waiting on you to get off your ass and feed your brain. Imagine what the looks on their faces will be when they speak judgementally to you and you blow them away by quoting scripture to them that totally negates thier argument, then saying "Perhaps you'd do well to know more of what you're talking about before opening your mouth to me about these things."

Read the opinions of others and see what people thing in general, then base your opinion on how YOU feel and what YOU think about all of it - not based on what someone else thinks is appropriate or right. You're not an idiot, you're not some blind follower who doesn't have the common sense to question, or else you never would have bothered with me - starting to get the picture?

Feed your brain. Start with the free stuff, like the internet and the public library. Check out the following websites first, then I'll list some books for you to read.

http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/index.html
http://www.religioustolerance.org/rcc.htm
http://myweb.cableone.net/silentdave/index.htm
http://members.aol.com/ckbloomfld/index.html
http://biblical.justdrew.net/
http://www.worldagesarchive.com/Reference_Links/False_Testament_(Harpers).htm
http://www.becominghuman.org/
http://www.skeptic.com/

Check out books in philosophy by Michael Shermer (LOVE that man), George W. Smith, and anything that gives an alternative to fundamentalism. Arm yourself!
12th-Jun-2005 12:31 am (UTC) - Re: Thanx *^^*
Again, thank you! Your really helpful you know that. Those books might have to wait though, mom isn't to keen on me snooping around the 'smart liturature'. She's always telling me being smart won't find me a good husband. *sigh* The woes of a teenager.
I did hear mention of George W. Smith from a teacher, so I'll see if I can get a few books from him when school starts back up and I'm sisters usually good about sneeking me stuff when she vistits.
Thanx again, you really brightened my day.
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