Going to Hell in a bucket, babe, but at least I'll enjoy the ride.

berlandk's picture

Ok, because I'm an attention-whore, I cut and pasted this blog that I posted a couple nights ago on MySpace. Will anyone read it? I don't know. You tell me. Here it is:

Even though I've been openly Atheist for the past decade, I decided it was time to go public, by which I mean, posting it up on YouTube. I'm participating in the Rational Response Squad's "Blasphemy Challenge", where they send you a free movie if you say "I deny the Holy Spirit" and post it on YouTube. I've watched the movie, and I thought it was well-intentioned but poorly executed, deteriorating into one ex-Catholic using the medium to exorcise his own personal childhood demons. I felt it asked the wrong questions. Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether or not Jesus actually existed. Yes, it's always good to point out how most of the key events of Jesus' life were "borrowed" from other contemporary or past mythologies and try to educate people so they see that the mythos of Christianity is heavily influenced by everything else that came before it (and since). But trying to bash people over the head with "Religion dumb! Jesus not exist!" doesn't really make an honest attempt at dialogue that might sway hearts and minds.

But, that's not even the point of this blog. The point is to let people know about my video and make a simple case for why I think it's important that more of us Atheists "come out of the closet." Religion's had the monopoly on proselytizing for like, forever. I think it's high time the people who embrace thought and reason to have our turn.

It didn't hit me until sometime in college that people really, truly, deeply believe what they were taught in Sunday school. I was stunned when I realized that, because I never had believed. I used to go to church with my family every week. At some point in the service, they'd send all of us kiddies away to go upstairs to Sunday school. I remember learning about Noah's ark, and Jonah and the whale, and the Good Samaritan, and all of that. But it never occurred to me to take the stories literally. Like, for instance, the story of Jonah. I always assumed that if a whale ate you, you'd get chewed up and digested. (These were in the days before I knew about baleen and how some whales "graze"). I didn't believe Jonah for the same reason I didn't believe Little Red Riding Hood. I mean, did anyone ever (even at four or five years old) really think that a wolf could gobble up LRRH and her grannie, and then have a woodsman come along, cut open the wolf, and have the two of them pop out alive and whole? Barking mad (to borrow a phrase from Richard Dawkins). How is Jonah and the whale any different? Because one story was written longer ago? I guess magic used to happen a lot more often in olden times, because it wouldn't happen today.

Same for Noah's Ark. I never believed it could rain for 40 days. Nah-uh. And the whole two-by-two thing? Even as a kid, I wondered how that was going to work for the animal babies to be making more babies later on. Were they going to get busy with their brothers and sisters? Do animals have different rules about mating within the family? I don't think so.

"Ok, calm down, Kathi," I hear some of you saying. "That's not the point. Yes, some simple people out there really do believe that everything in the Bible literally happened, even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff. But the vast majority of people simply see those stories as exaggerations and embellishment of actual events, and use the Bible as a guide for clean living." (Ignoring all the times God - for no good reason given - commanded his followers to slaughter innocents, sacrifice children, and commit genocide). I mean, that's an ok premise on the face of it, until you get people that start cherry-picking the Bible, latching onto the parts that can justify doing evil evil deeds to homosexuals, Jews, the poor, etc. Not to mention totally glossing over all the stupid shit that we now consider backwards and wrong (sacrificing two pigeons every month after you menstruate? yeah, let's go back to that). Why should one verse in Leviticus (18:22) be more valid than another (15:29)? (Go look 'em up, you'll see what I mean.)

Why take the time and effort to create a deity, ascribe a bunch of attributes to it, and then spend your life trying to interpret how to live your life the way it would want you to? I don't have time for that. Why not recognize that life is precious, fleeting, and finite? And spend your life living it the way you think you should? I bet what you come up with is at least as good (or better) than what God or church or (by the way) state comes up with. Stop being a baby. You know what's right or wrong, you don't need someone else telling you what to do, what to think, or how to play well with others.

I've been happily Atheist for about 11 years. (Before that, I'd classified myself as "agnostic" for about six years.) What have I been able to do without God? I graduated from high school and college, got married, and had two children. (Ok, not entirely in that order). I'm now going to one of the country's best law schools so I can fulfill my desire to save the world through lawyering. (Shut up, it's a good goal.) I don't want to "thank God" for my accomplishments. I did everything myself, with a little help from my husband, family, and friends. If anyone besides me is going to share in the credit for my life, it's them.

People keep wanting to say that Atheists are immoral, evil, misguided people. Let's look at that for a minute. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I've never committed adultery. I take good care of my children. I'm gainfully employed and self-sufficient. I'm going to school to better myself and my world, which even though I'll be departed from it in another 70 years (give or take), I feel deeply obligated to improve. Where exactly is the immorality in my life? I don't see it. I sincerely wish that all the people out there that are praying for my soul would cut it out. Spend that time and effort on improving your own life - I don't need you.

"People said I was dumb, but I proved them!"~Fry

Vastet's picture

That was beautiful. Though I

That was beautiful. Though I have to say I believe it can rain for 40 days. I've seen it. Strangely enough the world didn't get flooded. Go figure.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.

berlandk's picture

I can't believe I left out

I can't believe I left out the link to my video on YouTube. If anyone's interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiURS53uWrA

"People said I was dumb, but I proved them!"~Fry

GlamourKat's picture

Great post. And living in

Great post. And living in Vancouver, I have to believe it can rain for 40 days.

We even have tourist gifts centred around rain.... 

Maybe 40 is a bit much hough... :D 

berlandk's picture

Well, I was young and

Well, I was young and growing up in a place where it didn't rain more than two or three days in a row, so 40 seemed excessive at the time.

"People said I was dumb, but I proved them!"~Fry

Susan's picture

The God Who Wasn't There

First I will acknowledge that I'm biased about The God Who Wasn't There and have been promoting it for Beyond Belief Media since prior to its release in 2005. Smiling

berlandk wrote:
I've watched the movie, and I thought it was well-intentioned but poorly executed, deteriorating into one ex-Catholic using the medium to exorcise his own personal childhood demons.

Mr. Flemming is a former fundamentalist Christian. Interesting that something made you think he was Catholic.

berlandk wrote:
I felt it asked the wrong questions. Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether or not Jesus actually existed. [...] But trying to bash people over the head with "Religion dumb! Jesus not exist!" doesn't really make an honest attempt at dialogue that might sway hearts and minds.

I disagree. Most xians hang their hat on what Jesus supposedly said or did. After all, when a xian is born again, they accept Jesus into their heart (not god - I guess god is supposed to already be there). By dispelling the notion of Jesus' existence, that's shaking the foundation of xianity.

Different people have different tipping points as to what might make them question theistic ideas. In your case, it was obviously "preaching to the choir" so there wasn't the same impact.

As for your assertion that The God Who Wasn't There doesn't create dialogue, I also disagree. This film is the first time many people have entertained any type of atheistic thought.

There have been many positive communications indicating just that. On MySpace alone, there have been comments such as:

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I just got the DVD and its AWESOME! I let a friend watch it and it really opened our eyes about alot of things. I am really suprised he liked it, the way it was put together was supurb and really did it justice. Peace be with you.

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Please keep up the good work and thank you for all the education and help you provide to the world.

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This is the age of reason, correct? You've clearly shown us that you're quite the honorable participant in this respect. It seems painfully clear though, that some people have yet to receive this memo; Pity.

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Great documentary, going to get all the freaks christians i know to watch it.

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I give all my props, reverence, respect, kudos, etc. to you for creating this remedial film in efforts to end the corruption religion has brought into our world.

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Um...so yeah.. my friend and I talked for hours after the film. The absurdity of organized religion and the POWER IT GIVES TO MEN who don' t want to be politicians or who don't have any talent to be famous as an actor or rock star. They like the power and influence over other people. That's my humble opinion for religious crazies.

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.

berlandk's picture

Thanks for calling me on

Thanks for calling me on Flemming not being an ex-Catholic, but an ex-fundamentalist Christian. I have a tendency to lump all Christians together (and include Jews and Muslims in the same category - after all, they're all praying to the same God). I'd thought I heard "Catholic", but apparently not.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that The God Who Wasn't There is opening some peoples' minds. For people who have never questioned anything, I can see how it might be a way in the door. But the fallacy of the movie is that its premise gets rendered null and void if it's shown conclusively (or even more probable than not) that Jesus did actually exist. Moreover, and I say this as the proud holder of a BA in Religious Studies who has actually examined a fair amount of scholarly discourse on this subject, the general consensus among historians is that Jesus probably did exist, though many of the things he supposedly did were attributed to him long after his death, and the details of his life are fairly fuzzy.

I still say the better question isn't whether or not Jesus the man actually existed, but rather what his life really was, what it was not, and call out all the inconsistencies in the "Jesus" mythos. If that's done effectively, it simply ceases to matter whether he was real or a fictional character made up later.

When I have a chance, I'm going to go back and watch the movie again (it's been awhile), but I still feel that it didn't bring the argument to the level of intellectual discourse that I personally expect and want from this type of film. In short, I was bored by it.

"People said I was dumb, but I proved them!"~Fry