A priest, a nun and a rabbi walk in to a bar...
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Speaking to a Christian person I find myself looking back to a time before I became awakened. For decades I had been asleep half believing a story which is centuries old. The story was that human life was created by a mythical being which also created the Universe. There was no other possibility and I was not allowed to question what I was being told.
I grew up during a time of war. There was war on the television each evening and back then we didn’t have the twenty four hour news networks. Normally, as a child I would get up, clean my room, eat breakfast, get dressed, go to school, come home, do my homework, play outside, watch only two hours of television and then go to bed after dinner.
Television was not a factor during my childhood. When I was allowed to watch television my time was very specific. I was allowed to watch the Mickey Mouse Club, the one with live actors, and Mutual Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I was forbidden to watch any thing else and I was always in bed by eight o’clock. No news was allowed. No other programming.
I didn’t know it then but the Vietnam War was taking place and on television there were bloody battles happening. There were reports showing men who had had their legs blown off, there was shooting and a pile of the dead enemy off in the distance. My parents protected me from this horror because they thought little minds shouldn’t see those things.
My father, who was former military, grew up in a much different time. They didn’t have television when he was my same age. He focused on stick ball in the streets, comics or baseball cards for enjoyment. Occasionally he would listen to the radio and he might get to see pictures in the paper. The information given to him was controlled also and by the adults in his life.
My parents controlled what I knew and what I learned. Then they sent me to a Catholic school after I left Kindergarten and was surrounded by nuns who smacked us often; and for some really silly stuff. There was mass which was held every day and we practiced numerous rituals. We were taught their way of understanding. We were taught their way of thinking.
The Catholic school was the comfortable place for my parents because that is what they had experienced when they were my age. My father was raised in an orphanage controlled by Catholic nuns and my mother was in an all-girl school run by nuns. My other siblings, who were much older than I, were in schools controlled by nuns. It was a very nunnery world for my family and it was all because my parents thought it was the right thing to do.
My parents, my teachers, my religious leaders and my siblings were teaching me things every day. They all had a part in my learning phase and they all had in some form or fashion an influence on who I am today. But what if what they were teaching me was wrong? What if some of the information was corrupted?
Yes, I’m positive most of the information relayed by my parents to me was correct. I was taught so many things that it would be impossible to cover even one percent of it in this brief writing, but the real question what portion of what I was taught corrupted information? Where is the line between fact, personal opinion and corrupted information? My parents got their information from many different influences as did their parents before them; then, great, great grand-pa and grand-ma also were influenced by their parents, their leaders and other outside sources. This goes on and on, all the way back, three thousand years and further.
During this span of the transfer of information from one generation to another, information passed was not always correct. Some of the information was incorrect and over time, for various reasons, the lessons faded from view and were forgotten. Tales of monsters and old gods are now folklore and mythology taught in colleges around the world as lessons in humanity. Yet, there was a time when those lessons were golden, that majorities believed them. Monsters did exist and gods did live up on the mountain, throwing down lightning bolts.
With each generation information is passed on and around to others, both truthful and falsehoods. Some information integrity is kept but other information is lost or influenced by external and internal sources. There is no exception to this loss or modification of information and while it can take generations to appear, it does happen. It happens so often that we don’t even notice it.
Our memories fade and I’m reminded of the creatures from the television show Dr. Who called The Silence. The Silence is supposed to be a race of mind control aliens who, when you look at them, you retain all information about them. You can communicate with them; see what they are doing, etc. However, if you look away from them you immediately forget them and everything that you just experienced.
In real life we forget information if it isn’t constantly in use. There are things we forget seconds after being told and other memories we can remember decades later even if we were only two years old when the memory was stored. The human brain is a mysterious and amazing organ but even the information we remember slowly loses integrity. Over time it is lost or manipulated. We repeat the information over and over again to each generation and while we try as best we can to maintain the information, time always wins. Eventually information is lost or it is changed even with the best of systems.
This is why atheists exist.
We question authority. We question facts. We question the tools used. We are the inquisitive and the ones who must be shown proof beyond a reasonable doubt. We do not accept “faith” as being proof. Faith is believing in things blindly. Faith is not questioning why. Faith is source of corruption for information. When religious people tell us “god is real” and “you are a sinner” we laugh because we find it silly. We see that the people who are religious aren’t questioning their faith and that is the difference. We have already questioned what we were taught and we have found it to be false.
Many of us, definitely not all of us, are gentle and understanding. We know where and why you believe in your faith. We have compassion and we let you live your lives in peace but we are very concerned that some of your brethren want to dominate us. They want to make laws which discriminate against us and as well, other religions which are different from their faith.
Many of us believe that while we disapprove of what you say, we will defend to the death your right to say it. We believe the right of free speech but we do not believe just because you speak it that your opinions should rule our lives. We do not believe your religious information should be used to indoctrinate our children either.
I see many of your faith attempt to associate our belief system with anti-American sentiment. You are not the only patriots willing to defend this country. We are patriots too with many of us having served in the military who have fought and died in wars for your religious freedoms. You do not hold a monopoly on defending this country; please remember this.
We believe in the American dream too which isn’t specific to one religion or race. It’s for all people who want to have the freedom to choose their own life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This is the freedom which all people of all nations should have; the right to live free but not impose on others.
So welcome to the Melting Pot we call America. It isn’t Christian, Muslim, Hindu and it isn’t Atheist. What America is and why it was founded was for freedoms, the freedom to think, do, say and live how we feel and with out trampling other beliefs. It is a Melting Pot because our founding fathers wanted the future generations to not be punished and to not be discriminated against for their beliefs.
In closing, does a god exist? Only in the lives of those who choose to have faith for it; and for those of us who choose not to have faith for such a belief? god is a falsehood. It would be best if those who disbelieve and those who believe respect each other and find a peaceful common ground. Trust that if your god wanted to convert us, it would do so in a dramatic and scientific fashion. And for us, we know that in time, maybe, you will realize what we realized and reject the faith that holds you to your current beliefs.