Saturday, January 06, 2007

The world through the eyes of an atheist

A Christian commenter wrote this on a blog I was visiting:

I don’t see much beauty in humanity and have a hard time believing that this was all by chance. I couldn’t live in a world where there is no hope….and a world without God is hopeless. Where in everyone’s 80-100yrs of life their body will eventually turn into fertilizer. How pointless is that. Try to picture the world solely of Atheist’s.

My response:
This is very sad if the only value you can see for life is in the finality of it. It is also very sad that you see no beauty in humanity, and this is the problem I have with religious folks. They are blinded by negativity, and brainwashed into believing that humans are bad. You are pretty much saying that your god's creations are a crappy mistake and can only be redeemed after they are dead and fly up into some never-never land wherever that is or go to some burning lake of fire. That is extremely morbid thinking to me, either way.


This heaven to me sounds no better than the hell you threaten people with. Being a god's little pet 24-7 for all eternity with the likes of all the self-righteous xians who claim they will be there sounds more like hell than a firey lake! Study World Mythologies of other cultures throughout the ages and you will see that the xian mythology is as absurd as any of the mythologies ever invented by human imagination.

Humanity is beautiful! People are wonderful and there are far, far more good people in the world than bad. People who can do wonderful things, who are helpful, kind, loving, talented. Look at inventions humans have come up with...amazing that we can go to the moon and back and to send probes to other planets to give us an upclose view.

Human beings are creative...creative enough to create belief systems for conveying morals, and for coping with difficulties in life...and mostly to cope with the fact that we are not immortal. If some people need this to get through life,so be it, but some of us do not need it.

Living a pointless life to me is spending all this energy on negative thoughts and looking for the bad in the world and humanity. Try to look at the world through the eyes of an Atheist? Life through the eyes of an atheist seems far more positive to me than gloom and doom, death obsessed religious folks.

Life is a continual cycle. We live, we die...nothing in the universe lasts forever. It is how we live, and love and what we leave for future generations that matters. We can be productive and live for each moment, making each day count. Write a book, do artwork, volunteer and help those in need....there is so much one can do to make your life worthwhile.

Look at Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking...they looked beyond the stars and contributed much to the field of astronomy, and Hawking has done all of his research and book-writing from a wheelchair with a voice-controlled computer because he is totally paralyzed. He isn't gloom and doom...he is living life more fully than most people who have the function of all of their extremities.

Life is what you choose to make it. Sit around and watch Jerry Springer and cry that life is meaningless and it will be. Or get up and go out there and actually live and you will find joy...and won't need to look for hope because you will be making things happen for yourself.

Joseph Campbell said "“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is Whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.”

Also, just because you don't understand how everything came to be doesn't mean that a god did it. And one more thing...we are so "out there" because religion is in our face all the time...and if xian folks would just keep their religion to themselves instead of trying to force it on other people, and try to force it into our secular government we would have no need to be so vocal...and we would actually prefer not to talk about it at all as we have better things to do with whatever time we have in this life.

24 comments:

CyberKitten said...

It always does amuse me when a theist says that atheism leads to a meaningless life - like they haven't just 'bought' a meaning 'off-the-shelf'. At least most atheists came to their conclusion/lifestyle through thought and (often) some heartache....

Anonymous said...

I can't help noticing that this particular theist seems to be clueless about evolution and the process of natural selection. The thing about life being "all by chance" is about as far from natural selection as one can get!

Anyway, I liked your response. I see too many Christians clinging desperately to their pre-packaged meaning while non-believers are actively exploring and creating real meaning.

Stardust said...

Cyberkitten and vjack -

I would like xians to define this "hope" they talk about and say we do not have without a god. What is Hope? And Hope for what, exactly?

Many xians, despite their god beliefs seem to be feeling quite hopeless and certain "devout" members of my own family have gone from being happy and fun to crabby, cynical and gloomy all the time. They focus on the bad in people instead of the good. They think the world is a terrible place. It's always about the negative.

I don't see their god beliefs doing much good for them. They can take a teeny tiny thing and make it into a huge problem. They relish problems and they like to cry and they cry A LOT...and pray and cry, pray and cry. They are just sad all the time and have such pity on themselves and everyone and everything and it's so unnecessary.

Andrea said...

Stardust, I used to have that same canned opinion as that commenter. I pity them now, because what you said was right. I'm surprised you went through the trouble to write such a long, thoughtful, nonagressive response, but I'm glad you did.
Also keep in mind that part of the reason they think the way they do is because they've been taught to fear God...not just love/respect him. Literal fear. That's a hard thing to let go of.

The Merchant of Menace said...

It's hard to contemplate anything that is more meaningless that someone claiming to believe in a non-existent supernatural magick wizard that's going to make life after death wonderful for them providing they wish-fulfil their life away rather than live it to its fullness!

By and large, however, one does not get anywhere with them by trying to explain that to them (and you did a good job, Stardust), because, as I have stated elsewhere, religious belief is pathological, and so-called believers are truly delusional as they have immunised themselves not to accept the evidence that their faith is just so much nonsense (and simply one of several thousand alternative wacko man-made wish-fulfilment systems known as 'religion'.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your lengthy reply. I can see that this is something that you feel strongly about. That said, this should be an anti-christians blog rather than atheist. I said I didn't see "much" beauty in humanity....not none, only that I can see the negative too. I would be listing the beauty in humanity in novels, sorry for the confusion. I am not a religious person (does believing a God make you religious...I am just wondering your thoughts on that?) but if I was a Buddhist or a Muslim there wouldn't be a problem. I told myself that I was only going to write the once despite what was written in reply, but it was difficult not to return my thoughts. I was a bit confused by your comment on "secular" government because the President is in fact a christian. But I am going to go out on a limb and guess you are also anti Bush. I wish you all the best though in your continuous efforts. I do agree that there are many christians out there who do try to force their beliefs on others and can see how that can really piss people off. I know many christians that I am not fond off. I agree with your quote by Joseph Campbell, I don't care what people believe but it is their choice what kind of meaning they bring to their lives. You're right.

Stardust said...

shanilie, thanks for your polite response.

Actually, this is blog of many things...astronomy, nature, odd news, funnies, and yes...religious irreverance for which I am an equal-opportunity satirist. ;) I do not believe in the existence of any gods, goddesses or anything supernatural. I only visit and comment on atheist blogs, and do not frequent or comment on xian blogs, (but xians sure love to hang out on mine and other atheist blogs!)

I am not saying that religion should be outlawed, for this is a free country. All I would like to see happen is people keep their religion to themselves, as you say you do, and not try to push it off on others.

This country was founded on the separation of church and state and should remain so. This is a very diverse nation and we cannot accomodate one set of beliefs. When we do, there is a threat of our democracy turning into a theocracy. Evangelicals would love to see this happen and try to force their version of xianity on all people who live here. That is not acceptable. I want to point out that because Bush is a xian does not mean that we should interject the xian religion into our government. Again, separation of church and state should be upheld. Yes, I am anti-Bush because...well...the polls speak for themselves, and the voters answered that question in November. He is a liar, ineffective and stupid. I do not declare myself loyal to any party and it pisses me off that people follow a party simply because they believe one of the parties has a hotline to god.

As for the term, "religious":

Merriam-Webster's definition for religious is
1 : relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity (a religious person) (religious attitudes)
2 : of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs or observances (joined a religious order)
3 a : scrupulously and conscientiously faithful

So, if you firmly belief in a god, and go to a church, I guess you could say that you are then religious. My niece and her husband go "faithfully" to the Baptist church yet they claim that they are not religious (they seem to think that is an insult). They are then saying that the officially recognized definition of "religious" is wrong when in fact, that is exactly what they are...religious in their faith in their god.

Stardust said...

I said I didn't see "much" beauty in humanity.

I beg to differ...I see MUCH beauty in humanity. I see far more beauty in humanity than ugliness. Again, this is the problem with religion. It teaches to dwell on the negative aspects of humankind instead of finding the good. Did you ever stop to think just how destructive religion actually is? Xianity started with a war in heaven between a god and an angel who dared to disagree with him. The bible is full of violence, killing, revenge, infanticide, most of the time committed by god, or via the orders by god. Is a peaceful solution found by this omnipotent sky daddy? NO...he impregnates a virgin, creates a son for himself to torment and allow to be murdered in a most gruesome way. Then there is the whole Lake of Fire and eternal torment part of the mythology. And let us not forget the grande finale of the great war and 4 Horsemen and all of the chaos and violence they will bring at the end of the world.

Lovely story, is it? I don't think so.

but if I was a Buddhist or a Muslim there wouldn't be a problem.

This is not true concerning Muslims. If you have not noticed what has been happening for the past several years.

As for Buddhists, I have never been evangelized to by a Buddhist, never had one knock on my door, never had one witness to me. They don't troll my blog, and they never tell me I am a bad person who is going to burn in a lake of fire.

Xians are allowed to speak out and tell non xians they are bad, and their opinions about the big-evil world. Why should atheists not be allowed this same freedom?

Anonymous said...

Great post, Stardust. Problem is that Xians, Muslim, Buddhists, etc, won't confront the truth that is before their eyes. That takes bravery and acceptance that Santa was a beautiful myth for children.

But I wouldn't care what religious people believe if only they'd stop quarreling with each other and threatening world peace.

Peace!

Stardust said...

But I wouldn't care what religious people believe if only they'd stop quarreling with each other and threatening world peace.

Yes daniel, this is the whole problem. Religion hasn't brought peace, but wars, and more wars...and division between countries and even families. It actually promotes the idea of fathers against sons, brother against brother, etc.

Andrea said...

I'm sorry, I didn't realize you were a former christian too. I'm still trying to read through your blog and a few others. I especially relate to the deconverts because they understand how guilt-and-fear-inducing this untangling and detaching process can be.
I really understand what you said about seeing more beauty and potential in people now that I don't simply dismiss them as "lost" or "unsaved." I also used to willfully deny and ignore the difficult aspects of my faith. It's embarrassing now to look back on how irrational my thinking was.

Alli said...

Stardust, thanks for this beautiful post -- I already felt this way about atheism, even while I still purported to be a xian myself. Now that I've (formally, as of 1/1) come out of the closet as an atheist, I feel this even more strongly.

The first time I genuinely questioned the existence of God, I felt terrified -- and very lonely. As time passed, I realized that letting go of god (thanks, julia sweeney) is empowering. Instead of relying on someone else's "plan" for my life, I can create my own map, blueprint, or guidelines.

Andrea, good luck with the birth -- I'd comment at your place, but it seems you're on hiatus!

Stardust said...

I also used to willfully deny and ignore the difficult aspects of my faith. It's embarrassing now to look back on how irrational my thinking was.

andrea - I don't think you should feel embarrassed about things you were taught to believe. We all grow and change and some of us just finally realize that we don't need a religion. You can congratulate yourself for being brave enough to question those beliefs and walking away from them.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. :-)

Stardust said...

I already felt this way about atheism, even while I still purported to be a xian myself. Now that I've (formally, as of 1/1) come out of the closet as an atheist, I feel this even more strongly.

alli - congratulations on "coming out of the closet" concerning your atheism and taking "the road less traveled." It really is empowering, and for myself I have never been more at peace in my personal life.

I would be even more at peace if religious folks would stop trying to assimilate everyone and stop trying to force their religion into our public schools and government.

Stardust said...

I would be even more at peace if religious folks would stop trying to assimilate everyone and stop trying to force their religion into our public schools and government.

and NASA (forgot to add that one)

Tommy said...

Wrote Andrea "Also keep in mind that part of the reason they think the way they do is because they've been taught to fear God...not just love/respect him. Literal fear. That's a hard thing to let go of."

Quite right Andrea. As you may notice, Christians always mention Stalin and Mao as examples of what would happen if atheism replaced Christianity, but for a lot of fundies, their ideal of God is pretty much the same as that of a Stalinist dictator in a police state. Not only are we expected to be servile in deed, but in thought as well. Just as in the USSR, every public work was for the glory of Comrade Stalin, for hardcore evangelicals, it's always "praise God!" or "praise be to Jesus!" And just like a Stalin or a Mao, the god described in the Old Testament is moody, jealous and narcissistic. For true believers, qualities that are viewed as negative or bad in humans become virtues when displayed by God.

Andrea said...

Thanks, Alli. Yeah, I'm putting my blog on hold for a bit, but I think I might start another more serious one later. I'm working on a rough outline of why I left xtianity. I'm jealous that you're "out" :)

Stardust, it's not just embarrassment...it's also disgust, you know? I still check the blogs of people I used to be in complete agreement with, and it's just shameful...the way they condemn gay people because "God" says so in "his word." And so on. They're so smug.

Tommy, now that I'm no longer a believer, I can see how stupid that dictator argument is, and how hollow the xtian claim to moral superiority is.

Anonymous said...

I am a new semi-converted atheist. The true problem I am now faced with is how do I break this news to my devoted Catholic wife? We have a 6 year old and a new baby due in a few weeks. I love my wife dearly, but I doubt she could live with this news. Do I 'stay in the closet'? I need help, but the great sky daddy just won't be able to do anything for me. :)

The Merchant of Menace said...

Hugh,

One of the most common complaints that marriage guidance counsellors hear is that one party accuses the other of "not being the person I married"; in other words, they being accused of having changed in some way. Life, however, is constantly changing, and one has to accept that.

Changing your view about the existence or non-existence of god, or a political party, or some other external matter, does not indicate that you love your wife any the less, or that you are entitled to expect her to continue to love you any the less in turn. If, however, the love she professes for you is unable to accept this change in you, then it was not you she loved at all, but some idealised version of you.

You say that you love your wife dearly, which is why you don't want to hurt her by declaring that you are losing your faith. However, it is a two-sided coin; she should be prepared not to hurt you either.

Far be it for me to give you advice, but since I believe in total honesty in a relationship, I'll tell you what I would do. I would tell my wife how I felt, and, if necessary, be prepared to discuss it in an urbane and civilised fashion, over a protracted period of time (and probably several sessions). In an ideal world she will accept that you are entitled to feel the way that you do, and that it does not mean that you love her any the less for it; she, however, has to be convinced that you accept her in the same way.

Either you base your relationship on honesty, or you live a lie; the choice is entirely yours. At worst, you might have to maintain the fiction that you are devout, attending church etc. You will feel horrible about this, but in truth you will be no different from many others who do not have the courage of their convictions. Don't beat yourself up about it.

Pax vobiscum.

The Merchant of Menace said...

Hugh,

I should have added, "Have you thought about discussing your doubts with your priest?"

Admittedly, most of them will dismiss your objections out of hand, or overwhelm you with so-called religious evidence, but I have known of one or two who have had sufficient personal integrity to accept that religious belief is not for everyone, and that it does not make one a bad person for having none. Either way, it may help crystallise your thinking, and you wife cannot object to you speaking to your priest - in fact, she should welcome it, if you tell her that you are having doubts (about faith) and want to speak to the priest about it, and indeed this may be a good way to bring the issue up with her.

CyberKitten said...

Tommy said: For true believers, qualities that are viewed as negative or bad in humans become virtues when displayed by God.

What an *excellent* point!

The Merchant of Menace said...

Shanilie,

Believing in some higher supernatural entity that has the capacity to interact with humans, and is often claimed to have created them, is, de facto, religious, so your claim that you are not is evidence of some confusion in your mind.

However, I find this remark you made further evidence of your apparent confusion: "I am not a religious person (does believing a God make you religious...I am just wondering your thoughts on that?) but if I was a Buddhist or a Muslim there wouldn't be a problem." What, exactly, do you mean by that, since it doesn't make sense as it stands?

As for your claim that you don't see much 'beauty' in humanity, that all depends on how you define the word; what do you mean by 'beauty'?

And as for your charge that this blog should be classified as anti-xtian, that implies that you consider that xtians are the only theists in the world, and that is not the case. It is quite clear that the comments made are atheist, so that they apply equally to Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Mormons etc.

CyberKitten said...

The more I read about American atheists the more amazed I am. Thank God [grin] that I live in a [largely] Secular country and can actually think & express my beliefs as I want. Every time I read of atheists standing up for their beliefs over there and having the guts to 'come out' as a atheist I am more and more impressed.

Kudos to you all...!

MichaelBains said...

When I first read those words of Joseph Campbell's, in the QPBC issue of the guide to his "Power of Myth" series, I knew, then and at that moment, that I had no more vestigial need for a belief in god.

I still say "thanks god" or "thank the gods" out of habit and because the feeling of gratitude has, rather than diminished, only grown more so. Gratitude to the whatever twists and quirks of quantum reality cause our Big Bang to occur and our planet to materialize from the dust and fusion of Sol so that our species did evolve and I got a "chance" to see it all.

RAmen! {-; and thanks for a beautifully well-shared Meaning of Life.