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Saturday, August 27, 2011

This is what we, as atheists, are up against. Also - why I despise Fox "News"

Here is Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, on Fox Business.

First - go watch this video, then come back and read the rest of this entry.

So - What did you think? Personally, I had quite a few feelings arise while watching.  I wish Silverman would have been given more of an opportunity to speak his mind, but as is common on Fox, the wingnuts completely took over.

I understand how Silverman's comments could have been seen as offensive to Christians, especially when he says that the others were delusional. However, what do you call someone when they believe something false?  Are people delusional when they believe that fairies, vampires, elves, etc. truly exist? How is the belief in an deity any different?

I do understand that Christians believe that they have a personal relationship with their god, but I have to question whether this is a real relationship, or is it just perceived to be real. As an atheist, I know that I am not talking to any god when I try and think things through in my mind. As a thinker, I have these conversations with myself all the time. They're almost identical to my prayers that I said as a believer, only now I know that the entire discussion is occurring only in my mind. The thoughts are only my own. It's something that we all do when we have something that is bothering us, or when we are trying to make our mind up about something. We all reflect inward.

Anyway, back to the video - Silverman was outright attacked for not believing like any of the others in the discussion. He was talked over and the overall tone of the other people, especially the main interviewer (didn't catch his name) was filled with derision.

Atheists do not live a less meaningful life. There is no hole that we're trying to fill. We're simply looking to get through this life the best way we know how - just as everyone else is doing.

When it comes to a crisis, we simply get a move-on. We may stop to rant about our situation. As we're working to prepare, or fix our situation, we may hope that the situation improves, but we understand that simply standing back and hoping is utterly useless.  In fact, there have been more times than I can count that I wished for not having hope.

I'm sure that this may sound odd, but I truly wish that I could just accept that the worst case scenario IS going to happen. If it doesn't, who cares?? I'll just end up happily surprised at the outcome -but to have hope just leaves me devastated when the worst-case scenario becomes reality.

Belief can be comforting - so can hope. I see the similarities between the two and believe that they are one and the same. Christians believe in their god because it's comforting. It's comforting to think that something/someone is out there listening to you, understanding you. It's comforting to think that you have something more to look forward to when you die. Death is scary.. For any of us!

But it doesn't have to be. It's simply a state of non-existence. I didn't exist before I was conceived, and I won't exist after I die. I will lose my memories, but I will live on through the memories other people have of me. Hopefully, I will be missed, but hopefully I'll leave this earth knowing that I did the best I could for my friends, family and the world.

And I am okay with this. Truthfully, I don't think I'd want to live forever in a state of bliss. Wouldn't it get boring? Wouldn't it be like people living in San Diego and seeing gorgeous weather day in an day out - just wishing for something to break up the monotony? Would it be like the elderly just wishing that they could die because they feel they have lived long enough?

I don't want that. As painful as this life has been for me I couldn't imagine a place without conflict. It is the pain that makes you realize the good when it happens!

How can someone look down at an atheist as if their life is worth less because they don't believe in something that requires faith because there just isn't any real evidence of it actually existing?

So, we will go on, gathering candles and matches for hurricane Irene. We will shutter our windows and bring in the patio furniture. We will huddle together with the ones we love as the storm rages outside. We will do this, just as Christians do this. The only difference being that we won't be praying to an unprovable deity.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Walking on Eggshells

For reasons I don't understand, I constantly feel that I am walking on eggshells around the most religious people in my life. Simply asking a question about what someone believes and why will most often be seen as an attack. When reading other atheist blogs I see this as a constant theme, so I don't think it's ME. 

I don't think asking questions should automatically lead the other person to become defensive. If I ask, it is because I want to know.

Also, if you are secure enough in your beliefs that you're not worried about them  changing, then what is the harm about discussing them? Or with having those beliefs challenged? Does it make you uncomfortable? Why is that? Of course, I have my own theories, and that is often all I have as those who disagree with me will often just not answer.

I have this blog for several reasons.
   1. I like to write and I have a lot to say on my life, and especially, my life as an atheist in an, *ahem*, 'Christian Nation'.

   2. I write this for my like-minded contemporaries, as well as for my religious friends and family. I want you to read what I have to write about because I find these topics to be important. I want to be understood - not just agreed with. I write this blog with a lot of understanding of where others are coming from, and I'm just hoping for the same.

   3. Atheists are looked down upon in this society. I write this blog to dispel the myth that they're inherently evil or bad. I am not out to convert you (but would be overjoyed if you started questioning your faith because of something I said or linked to). Wouldn't you as Christians, feel the same if I were to return to Christianity?  With how many people have come down on me for not taking Patrick to church I can guarantee that the answer to that question is a resounding "Yes!".

By blogging about my life, opinions, and ideas I am not "forcing it down your throat". I am not acting in anyway to take away the rights of Christians. I am simply exposing you to a viewpoint opposite of your own.

Feel free to write your own blog or respond to mine. I will gladly read the responses or go to your blog and read what you have to say. For those that know me well - email me, call me, just talk to me. Feel free to call me out if I'm acting like an ass, as I can guarantee that I will do the same.  One thing that I ask, though, is that if you tell me I'm wrong, or if I offended you, etc., that you let me know exactly how and where I went awry and why.  Be prepared to back up your talking points and I promise to do the same.

And just a few comments for those that I've talked with in the past few days:

If you make a claim, be prepared to back it up and try and be consistant. If you are claiming that a deity exists, and that you know it's will (ex. It loves me.) Don't get offended when I say "How do you know?"  You are making the claim - back it up with something of substance.

I am not angry at your deity. I can't be angry with something that I do not believe exists. I'm not happy with or angry with unicorns.  I am angry with the way that religious beliefs automatically pit people against each other. I am angry with the way people seem to want to stick their hands in their ears and scream "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!" when I start speaking.

I don't care what you believe - as long as you're not hurting anyone in the process. However, once you take those beliefs and try and push them on others (ie. voting against gay marriage, church vs. state issues, supporting groups that actively work against non-Christians and gays, supporting anti-women's rights legislation), then yes, you and I are definitely going to butt heads. One can simply stand by their religion and say, "okay, that is not for me," but still use their heads when actively trying to deny others rights. This is why I do not support the Boy Scouts and I do not support the American Legion.

This is a country where Christianity is VERY in your face. People on Facebook copy/paste their pro-G O D statuses, just daring someone to say something against it. We have Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann as the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination and they are constantly trying to out-Jesus each other, and it makes me physically ill watching them.

In summary, even though I feel like I must walk on eggshells around you, I refuse to. These issues are too important and if you care even the littlest bit about me, you will keep reading. Perhaps you will learn something, and perhaps I will learn something from you. But I won't shut up and I'm not going away.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

An end of a friendship

It is with sadness in my heart that I admit that my best friend is now my ex-best friend. And it came down to a matter of beliefs. She is a devout Christian, considers herself a fundamentalist and I, of course, am an atheist.

We met while working together at a contract lab/hellhole of a company. That was back in 2003. When I first told her about my lack of belief, she wondered why I didn't just kill myself. At the time I wasn't sure if the new friendship could continue after that, but I did my best just to explain to her that even though I didn't believe in her god, or any gods, for that matter, that I still felt this life was worth living - even more so since I didn't have an afterlife to look forward to. To me, that makes this life so much more valuable as it is the only one you get!

But still, we became close friends. We shared the same sense of humor and agreed to disagree on matters of religion, though we would discuss it on occasion.

I have never been one to hide who I am, but over the past 8 years I have become more vocal. I post my thoughts on facebook, and I now have this blog.

Perhaps it's important to remind believers here that, as an atheist, I do not believe in God or gods - I do not believe in hell or heaven. I am not saying that they do not exist, but that I have not seen any evidence backing up any religion. However, I do not believe in vampires, or fairies, ghosts or tiny tea pots flying around the moon. To me, these examples and gods are in the same group - fiction.

There is a difference though between them - people look at their religion as fact. It is passed down from generation to generation in the beliefs that the parents are doing the right thing - after all - who would want to send their child to hell? If I believed that hell existed, I know I would do everything in my power to protect myself and my children from that fate.

But is it true? The evidence in nature says no. Nature and science do not require faith - Science changes due to additional evidence - it is a strength that it changes and adapts to new information.

The problem that led to the end of this friendship came as a surprise to me. I have had an avatar in my gmail chat - a tool that my ex-best friend and I used often to chat through - that has been there for at least 2, but up to 4 years (time flies!) that says "Teaching children about a made up hell is child abuse."

I had it there, in open view, for YEARS, and she never brought it up until  we had a fight about something completely unrelated last week. At that point she brought up that she was offended by it, and was offended by other things that I had posted, though I don't know what those were.

For me, as an atheist, I see teaching children about hell cruel. No evidence suggests it exists; thus telling children that it's real - causing the child to become terrified of being stuck there for an eternity, if they don't follow the rules correctly, is wrong if it isn't going to actually happen. For me, believing this is a natural, logical progression of my atheism.

I hope that the Christians who read this can step back from the dogma and just look at it from my (and others') point of view. I want them to challenge their beliefs and question whether there truly is enough evidence for them to say that hell exists. For me, the answer is clear once you leave one particular book out of the question... A book written by humans, translated by humans and interpreted by humans. I have discussed Christianity with many different people and everyone of those individuals has their own idea of what Christianity is and should be. That should be telling.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Reading comprehension...

This isn't related to atheism, but just to show why reading comprehension is so very critical.

Today, I tried to use a Groupon - I followed their directions to a "T", but when I went to check out, the website said that the Groupon code was already used!

So, I sent Groupon an email stating such - as in "I tried to use my Groupon today, but the website stated that the code had already been used". Not that it was invalid, or not recognized, but that it had already been used. I even went into detail how I changed my password to my Groupon account to be on the safe side and asked them to look into things further.

This is the email that I got back:

    Hi Tanya,

    Thanks for your email. I do see this is not valid for sale
    items and is only valid only for women's fall/winter collection.
    Are you purchasing something from the women's fall/winter

    Please also make sure you are using the barcode on the lower
    right hand corner of your Groupon print out.

    If you are still receiving an invalid code please let me know!


    Laura M.

SERIOUSLY??? WTF?? How much clearer could I have been?

So I sent this in return:

   I'm not sure if you actually read my message, but when I
   went to use the code, it didn't say it wasn't  valid, but that
   the Groupon was already used!

   I tried to purchase a dress, not on sale, from their brand new fall

I'm still waiting on a second reply. I hope it's better than the first. So much frustration on my side could have been saved had she just read my original message in detail. ARGH!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Something for everyone to read. (Originally posted in FB notes)

The past few days, I've bee bothered and down and I've figured out why.. I have been told that people have freedom of speech and that I should just live and let live. Well, FUCK THAT! Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism.

Also, persecution does not mean criticism of your beliefs. Having your rights diminished because of your beliefs DOES! Yes, I am well aware of the persecution that Christians have gone through over the years. However, Christians have done more than their fair share of persecuting. They're persecuting Atheists and Gays right this VERY SECOND in the US. Two very well known groups that do this are The American Legion and The Boy Scouts.  Though, not "generally" enforced, there are SEVEN states in the US that would prevent atheists from holding public office, bearing witness, or being a juror.

How's this for horrible?? There are MANY instances where atheists are being persecuted in the military. Many of these people are KIDS, aged 18, not even able to drink - encouraged to go off and die for our country, and yet they have to fight tooth and nail to even be counted as atheist. Go read: This is a more humorous account of a story against an atheist, but there are countless others.

How difficult of a concept is that to grasp? When will the majority in this country realize this? And stand with those of us that want to guarantee rights for ALL American?

I don't know how someone can look at their child and love them up until the point they tell them that they've chosen another religion, or that they "like" members of the same sex.

I have noticed family and so-called friends de-friend me over the past couple years and I know that at least some of them are because I am an (out-spoken) atheist. I have been an outcast all my life.. I was shy, short, very near-sighted, and smart when I was in elementary and middle school. I was picked on relentlessly. I remember having only a couple of really good friends. That pattern continued throughout high-school.

While I put on a happy-face, I have always been depressed. I have felt different. And that was when I WAS A CHRISTIAN! I wasn't even close friends with the kids that went to my damn church - hell, the damn pastor completely forgot who I was after I went through the worthless confirmation classes.

I still have issues with depression, but you know what? If you have a problem with what I say and feel like hitting the "unfriend" button, be my guest. If asked i would give you the shirt off my back, and I have. But in return I end up getting judged, and harshly.

The reason I mention this, is that I will keep the depression, and I will keep being the outcast if it means standing up for what I believe in. For me, that means more than being popular and going along with what "society tells you".

I want my child to grow up where he is accepted no matter what sort of title he places on himself or others place on him. And it's not just for him, but for every little child growing up. I would have them grow up guilt free for who they are born as. If they are not hurting ANYONE, then WHAT THE FUCK MATTER does it make who they love? What matter does it make what they believe if they take it as it's okay for themselves!! And not force it on anyone else! It's not okay to force it in legislation.

And with that, I think I'm done with my rant.