Personal

So, I’m an Atheist Now. How Are You Doing?

I swapped my Agnostic religious status to Atheist last night on Facebook—because, as you know, nothing is official until it’s Facebook official. It’s something that I should’ve done months, if not years, ago. I began to find it impossible that something can exist outside of the physical. That there’s some designer in the sky who expects our obedience. I don’t believe in a god. And I haven’t for a very long time, before I even heard the name Richard Dawkins. And I want to make this clear, my disbelief isn’t based on The God Delusion (which I just decided to read) or The Blind Watchmaker (which I’ve never read) as my former creative writing professor turned friend seems to believe (I’ve decided to call him the Lizard King, though I caution  him about calling himself such as the conspiracy nuts will have a field day believing that he’s the head of their shadow government). My Agnosticism/Atheism/Doubtism sprouted before I ever picked up a philosophy book, before I fell in love with Christopher Hitchens’ essays, back when “God is dead” was a song lyric to a Nine Inch Nails song and not a Friedrich Nietzsche line, and even before I heard that song.

Atheist symbol
Atheist symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My seed of doubt—the seed of reason and desire to further my knowledge in truth and not fantasy—was planted by a CCD (bible school) teacher who gave me the bad news that I’d be burning in hell for killing insects that did me wrong—apparently, Catholic Sunday school teachers are practicing Buddhists with a great sense of guilt. Because it was at that moment when I realized that if Hell were real and I was surely going there, it’d be by my hand, my choice, not hers.

I was a blasphemous youth who grew into a blasphemous adult who learned that blasphemy is a victimless crime. However, for the longest time, I held on to the belief—because the half-doubt I carried was a belief—that humans couldn’t know for a fact if there was or wasn’t a higher power as there wasn’t enough evidence on either side. But that was my arrogance getting the better of me. I mistook my inability to learn, in my short life (as I do not believe in an afterlife), the truth as the great human flaw.

So here I am. An Atheist.

Before signing off and spell checking, I want to mention that the original post that was “slated” to go here was a well-thought out piece about beauty. I hope to get it out to you tomorrow.

 

Doldrums

“Count the bodies like sheep…”

"Veins rhymes with rains but you can only see one of them." --Gregory Sherl, Monogamy Songs
“Veins rhymes with rains but you can only see one of them.” –Gregory Sherl, Monogamy Songs

Age isn’t for the weak, it’s been said. I’m no stranger to weakness, but I can say that I’ve never been afraid of growing old. Useless, maybe. Dying, once

Today, [redacted] state that I accompany [redacted] to [redacted] in order to help with the shopping. Why is it that [redacted] always feels that stealing people from [redacted]’s department is perfectly fine? And when our work isn’t up to par, we’re blamed for not doing anything.

On the way to [redacted], [redacted] flips through the radio looking for a Christian station. I chuckle which quickly turns to a gulp when the realization sets in. She’s not joking. We’re  going to listen to Christian music all the way to [redacted]. She states in a couple of years that I’ll be listening to it, as well. Only if, in a couple of years, the hand of this deity known as God parts the skies and bitch slaps me. Otherwise, I will continue not to cripple myself with a crutch of a higher power when there are answers that need seeking.

And why is it so hard to believe that Agnostics and Atheists exist? She tells me that she needed a lot of light in her life. I bite back the urge to suggest the investment of a flashlight. Or, at the very least, a book lamp

As of late, I’ve been especially unnerved at work. With the nuisance (more on her later, perhaps) and Grace’s termination, the last thing I need is someone stating that if I accept their imaginary friend into my life, I’ll somehow be happier. I’ve traveled down that path and I felt nothing. Besides, my religion is my son. My religion is making sure that I mold him into a freethinking, open-minded individual. And should he seek a higher power, then so be it. I won’t let my beliefs poison his like so many believers do with their children, raising little clones who can’t answer the simple question of why the are religious with anything but, “Well, I was raised this way.” So was I, and shackles of ignorance are easily broken.

Not to say those who are religious are ignorant. But if you don’t know why you’re a Catholic, Baptist, Mormon, Jew, etc., then you are. Sorry.

I have this short story I wrote a few years ago sitting somewhere in a box. I remember the first lines because it was a prompt piece that I wrote for a class, or for fun. On the day he was fired, Gilbert left his home through the back door. It goes one to describe his boss as  a flank of a man. A shitty head of hair–the tendrils of a squid sucked into a vortex. The slits of lizard eyes secured behind wire frames.

Considering the whole thing, I think predicted that I would meet [redacted] and grow to abhor him. Fancy that.

Doldrums

Once More. With Feeling.

And she beckoned me to follow

Patter. Patter. Sounds resonating from somewhere in the depths of being. Patter. Patter.

The old man: I have always expected to become devout. All my family died very devout. But somehow it does not come. Perhaps I have outlived my religious feeling.

A man drifts into the sea. His body never is recovered. Sinking below. The drops of rain upon his frozen skin. Patter. Patter. Into the depths of all eternity. Patter.

Why I Am Not A Christian

Love they neighbor, unless he is different. Thou shalt not kill, unless your government or religious leader absolves you first. Do not covet what is your neighbors, unless its the slick black economy. Thou shall not worship any gods before me, unless he states that he is my voice.

Some may say it’s the hypocrisy that drove me down this road. The religious will state it was an act of being tempted by Satan. As a child, I was told by a bible class teacher that I would burn in hell for killing a mosquito. I decided my damnation would be on my own terms.

I’m not a Christian because I was raised Catholic.

Why I Am Not An Atheist

To believe in nothing is just a hard concept for me to grasp that the sheer faith of something. Morals aside, Atheists are on the same level as the righteous Christians. Rather than allowing others to continue on with their beliefs, they are headstrong to “convert” believers into nonbelievers, labeling them delusional.

I’m guilty of such arguments, but only when I’m driven to it. I am the devil’s advocate. “Prove to me there is a god,” the nonbeliever will say. “Prove to me there isn’t,” the believer snaps back. Neither have evidence to the contrary. They argue in circles. Rather than allowing each other to believe what the choose to, they have an urge to prove the other wrong.

Humans and their religions. Such pathetic swine.

But why?

In the season premiere of Dexter, he takes Harrison to a Catholic preschool for an interview. The nun asks what denomination Dexter prescribes to. He doesn’t believe in anything. When he asks Angel Batista why religion is important and to what evidence does one have to proving the existence of a higher power, he receives a confused answer. Truth is, there is no evidence in faith. If there was, it’d be called fact. Faith makes no room for reason or logic. Faith is a drug. It alleviates pain, calms the mind and brings inner peace to its user. I see no harm in it, except when faith takes the place of common sense. Praying that a higher power will spare you from a natural disaster will not cloak your house in god’s force field. Making proper preparations, on the other hand, makes more sense. Prayer can be used to ease one’s fears, sure. It just cannot take the place of rational preparation.

No matter how hard Angel attempts to explain his answer to Dexter, the outcome is the same – Faith makes no sense.

Philosophy

Agnosticism isn’t a religion just as Atheism isn’t a form for faith. They are anti-beliefs. I don’t believe in the god, but I also allow the possibility of one to exist. I’m not going to live my life by a set of rules that are based on archaic practices. Besides, morals and ethics do not stem from religion. They stem from common sense and social contract. People should be allowed to live as they see fit as long as they do not enforce their ideals and beliefs in others, or cause them harm.

Despite The Ugly, There Is Beauty In This World

The old shell of hate doesn’t fit right anymore. This new suit of skin fits just right. My life is been one disguise after another, jumping from role to role. We all wear masks, it just depends how long we hide behind them. Patter. Patter. Not rain. No, those are the walls of my anti-faith crumbling. No a religious waking, but an Agnostic Enlightenment. Patter. Patter.

I was once told by a friend that I became disenchanted with being disenchanted. Patter. Patter. That I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. Patter. Patter. That I blamed myself for things outside of my control. Patter. Patter. For years, I carried the blame of my cousin’s death. If only I could have done things differently, then maybe…just maybe…Patter. Patter. The shell crumbles around me. The sky is clear overhead. Patter. Patter. That sound of breath. That cool breeze? That is a new life. A new mentality. Patter. Patter. Sometimes we have to let go of ourselves, no matter how much it hurts. Patter. Patter. Because there is so much to live for. So much worth fighting for. Patter. Patter. Here it comes. Hold on. The sky opens to swallow the earth below. We are one. We are one. The sound of everything breaking. Reshaping. Creating. Ever lasting. Patter.

Patter. Patter.

Pitter.

Doldrums

The Agnostic Who Believed in Charity

 

I noticed the crack, too

If you mean by a “Christian” a man who loves his neighbor, who has wide sympathy with suffering, and who ardently desires a world freed from the cruelties and abominations which at present disfigure it, then, certainly, you will be justified in calling me a Christian. And, in this sense, I think you will find more “Christians” among agnostics than among the orthodox.

The other day, I tweeted something that came to mind. This past weekend, outside of Barnes and Noble, I was hit up by a homeless family. Now I’ve seen this family several times already, and I’ve given them money most of the time – sometimes, I only have my card on me. Despite their situation – meaning, whether they’re actually going to use the money I give them for food or if they’re going to spend it on booze – I do my best to give as much as possible. And like I tell people, I judge the amount I hand out based on the story they tell me. This is only a half joke.

It always gets me, however, when they end the “transaction” with “Que dios de la bendiga – God bless you.” My kindness isn’t god motivated. I don’t think it ever was, or ever will be. There isn’t a Christian thought that passes my head when I decide to give someone down on his luck a couple of bucks – I usually stop at $5. And what they do with the money is their business, like I said. It’s their guilty conscience they’ll have to deal with later for feeding addictions and not feeding themselves.

People who don’t know me, however, don’t buy this. And sometimes I joke about it, as well. Everyone thinks I give because there is some doubt in me about the existence of a higher power. And I’d be lying if I denied this. But, helping others isn’t exclusively Christian:

Apart from other objections to it, it seems rude to Jews, Buddhists, Mohammedans, and other non-Christians, who, so far as history shows, have been at least as apt as Christians to practice the virtues which some modern Christians arrogantly claim as distinctive as their own religion.

In other words, showing kindness to your neighbor and helping the needy isn’t something invented in the minds of those who followed Christ, but has always existed. I don’t help people because some omnipotent watches down on me, spreading his benevolence through me, but because it essentially makes me feel better about my life.

As much as it may sound foreign to believers’ ears, Atheists and Agnostics are probably more charitable towards others than those who proclaim it’s a trait of their religion. And we’re all, essentially, aiming for the same thing. Although, Atheists and Agnostics are more incline to experience a “heaven” on earth idea, than one afterward.

After I gave that family the three dollars I had in my wallet, Jyg and I went home. On the drive, she asked me if it was the same family she’d seen before. I mentioned it probably was. She, as did I, remembered the child being just a baby when they first showed up in McAllen. By the looks of the child, that was probably three years ago.

“Did he speak in English?”

“No,” I said. “He said, ‘May god bless you.'” After a moment’s pause, “It bugs me when they say that. A simple thank you would suffice. Then again, if I’m wrong about this whole deal, I might just slip by St. Peter.”

Once again, the text quoted in this post is from “What is an Agnostic?” by Bertrand Russell, which you can read here.

 

Doldrums

I, Agnostic

My man, Buddha

The person who needs religion to bolster up his own purposes is a timorous person, and I cannot think as well of him as of the man who takes his chances, while admitting that defeat is not impossible. —Bertrand Russell, “What is an Agnostic?”

Before you go jumping down my throat with arguments against this thought that I shall present to you in a few moments, let me explain that it has taken me years on contemplation and conversation that has brought me to it. You see, the idea was placed in my head several years by the ghost I call Alice – who isn’t a real ghost, so much as a very real person who has the tendency of returning to my world whenever it pleases her the most. After several dreams that presented my maternal grandmother, I confided in her that I was losing my wits, my grasp on reality. Her explanation was Hispanic Catholic in fashion – “The dead communicate to us through our dreams so they are not forgotten.”

To any other person, this might have calmed my nerves. It might have even comforted me, knowing that somewhere out there, my grandmother was watching down on me, still guiding me through this world. Only, I’m not any other person. I’m me, and that’s a person who once – or still does believe – that once we die, that’s pretty much it for us. Our memory will continue on for a few short weeks, months or years, but after that, life must continue on. We are essentially over.

“We all have to believe in something,” Alice said. “It’s in human nature to believe in [a higher power].”

Being very much human, I found it rather insulting. After a few years thought, however, I’ve come to accept her simplistic explanation why several of us still look up to the sky and think someone is looking back down – with the expect of the paranoid/delusional people out there as there is probably several people looking down on them, waiting to make their move.

Then explain the rest of us, you ask? I’m not very pithy with words, so just read this, this and this for further explanation. Hell, even read this. Evolution is my usual suspect for things like this, however. Evolution is always the go-to reason, like Hitler is the go-to example in Ethics.

So why am I an agnostic and not a full blown Atheist? Is it because I’m not fully evolved – as if Agnostics are the link between believers and Atheists. I’ll turn to my man, Bertrand Russell to answer this one for me:

An agnostic thinks it impossible to know the truth in matters such as God and the future life with which Christianity and other religions are concerned.

Okay, I get why you’re not a Christian, but why aren’t you an Atheist? Mr. Russell doesn’t like to be interrupted, is my answer to that question. Please continue, Bertrand:

The Agnostic suspends judgment, saying that there are not sufficient grounds either for affirmation or for denial. At the same time, an Agnostic may hold that the existence of God, though not imp0ssible, is very improbable; he may even hold it so improbable that it is not worth considering in practice.

It’s simple – I’m a creature of evidence. Just because I’ve never seen a UFO doesn’t mean I’m going to disregard the possibility of life on other planets – though, I will probably disregard you if you ever told me you’ve seen an alien or UFO. And while I’ll leave the window open for the god possibility, I’m not going to let the possibility rule my life, decide my fate without my regard. In other words, I refuse the role of sheep among shepherds.

As Russell would say, I believe “a man should think out questions of conduct for himself.” Or better yet, the Buddhists said it best – “every one must bear the burden of his own sins, that every man must be the fabricator of his own salvation, that not even a God can do for man what self-help in the form of self-conquest and self-emancipation can accomplish.” (Of course, both of these quotes can relate to Atheists, as well.)

Like Russell states – “he will seek to profit by the wisdom of others” – I’ve sought out several people whose wisdom and intelligence has molded my thoughts and insights. It doesn’t make me any less “human” or “Christian,” in my mannerisms. But that, in of itself, is a topic for a later date.

Meaning, tomorrow.

Texts used within the post:

  1. What is an Agnostic?” by Bertrand Russell
  2. A Buddhist Bible edited by Dwight Goddard