Truth is Truth

ragnarok's picture

For 26 years I have refused to believe in a divine being of any sort, and I am glad that there are others who agree with me. Although I severed my connection to the alleged-godhead at the age of 12 in a fit of pique, I have used logic, history and rational analysis to continually come to the same conclusions and maintain my vigil against the God-fearing among us.
Upon admitting that I am an atheist, I experience a range of responses; anything from the old and trite utterance, "There are no atheists in foxholes," to the intentionally patronizing "That's okay, Jesus loves you anyway." Undoubtedly at some point, all of you will experience things like this, but I caution you to not become angry.
Religious belief is just another kind of ignorance, like anti-Semitism or racism or misogyny. Any attempt to broker understanding to another human being purely through words will only end in failure. You must live your life in what they might term a moral fashion, and show them through deeds that even the 'godless' can be good and decent members of the community and that we positively contribute to society.
But when you are asked about it do not deny it, and when you discuss it, use your faith-fighting skills and the power of truthful knowledge to remove the stigma with which we are all marked. I look forward to hearing about your experiences in the struggle against the occluded.

I have little poignant or anecdotal to share in this space, but I'm glad I wrote something that made someone like you waste their time reading it. HAVE SOME.

Dissident1's picture

You have to be more militant than that

At every encounter that I have, there have been little misunderstandings. Particularly with Christians. They learn really quickly that I know more about their holy book than they could ever hope to. They know that I have read and analyzed it. They know that they cannot argue with me, because they will lose every time.

I have also had occasion to oppose Islam, but I have never read the Quaran.

When you state that you must live your life in what they would term a moral fashion, you are saying that you must bow down to their god. That is exactly how they see it. If you are following the moral precepts laid down by their theology, you are responding to the will of their god and proving that they are right.

When Judea was occupied by the Hellenes near the beginning of what we call the Classical Greek Period, they did now seek to convert the Jews by force nor did they act in accordance with Jewish traditions or ideals. They simply showed them a mode of living that was relatively carefree and joyous. They showed by example that you could be happy and free without being a slave to your religion. The Jews were being effected. Many were adopting Hellenistic ways. If not for the problematic end of the Peloponesian Wars, the Jews might have fully converted.

We have to first and foremost indicate that we are not weak. They look at us as being a weak underclass in desperate need of god's salvation. We have to show that we are stronger than they are, so strong that we are able to live without resort to paternalistic modes of submission.

Secondly, show that we are not like them. We do not need the voice of god to give us moral direction! We do not adhere to the same moral constructs that they do! We have our own moral compass, and it comes from things like using our intelligence and respecting those around us! Moreover, we do not feel guilty about every little thing in our lives, so we do not need to "repent" in order to eleviate that sense of guilt or shame. We are free.

Most importantly, we have to be upfront and direct. We cannot be hypocrites. If some delusional twit sees you doing something that is totally in opposition to the mode of ethics and morals that you proclaim, it sets you back! Christians already know that they are hypocrites, so they are always seeking to find hypocrisy in others!

The biggest falling point in debates with Christians seems to be in the expression of law. Since Christians wrote and made the laws here, legislative acts have been made mostly to support Christian ideals and values. Thus, Christians readily proclaim that if you will just believe in their god and live in accordance with the commands in their holy book, than you will be happy and free from police scrutiny. This means that anyone who isn't a Christian is, in the minds of Christians, a criminal.

This includes Muslims, Hindu, and Buddhists as well as Atheists.

So we must find ways to force our legislatures to support the interests of all citizens. We have to be politically active and vigilant. There is no room to be complacent or apathetic here.

Do not delude yourself into thinking that Christians will just leave you be, or that they will gradually accept nonChristians. They feel that they are at war with everyone who does not accept their gospel and live by their principles and ideals.

It's like they have a gun to your head and they are about to pull the trigger. The only way that you are going to get out is to point a bigger gun at them. You cannot sit unarmed against an army.

I am become death, destroyer of worlds

ragnarok's picture

Militancy is unnecessary friction

Dissident, I understand your stance completely, but I must clarify. When I say 'what they term a moral fashion' I do not mean to bow down to their god in any way. But there are inescapable boundaries that we all have to deal with, namely the local, state and federal laws that inhibit or control us all, regardless of sectarian affiliation. The downside to this is that many of the laws are direct projections of religious inculcation, but in examination of all religious systems and previous legal systems, there is a common ground that is not reliant on religious conviction. Some of it makes some sense: do you wish to be murdered or robbed or have your wife commit adultery? "Do unto others as you would have them do to you" is a salient exhortation, and kind of says it all in a nutshell.
Yes, Christians are like children: they neither understand nor care to understand others, and their lack of knowledge and understanding of their own religion is staggering and at the same time disappointing and bewildering. Muslims have a similar difficulty with the Quran. The Medieval urge to indoctrinate all under the yoke of religious fealty is still quite alive, but butting heads with it is counter-productive. It is here, and it is all around us, and despite our reluctance to join the cults, it's not going away.
While individuals like Michael Newdow may be heroes to some, he should be reviled for letting his personal problems and his childish response to them take center stage in the struggle against the believers. His hostility towards his ex-wife drove him to his actions, while law firms like Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia that supported the fight against Intelligent Design in public schools (pro bono, by the way) should be praised for their sensibilities and their true support for the separation of church and state. Unlike Newdow, we must take the higher ground and rise above any pettiness and challenge the dogma-pushers where it makes sense. But to rail against it openly and forcefully only shows that more of us are like Newdow than we probably should be.

I have little poignant or anecdotal to share in this space, but I'm glad I wrote something that made someone like you waste their time reading it. HAVE SOME.