Agnosticism > Atheism (and Theism)

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With as much as I generally don’t like to run, you’d think I was running some crazy ass marathon for the amount my intellectual landscape has shifted over the last 5 years.

From lifelong believer to outspoken atheist full of venom to an atheist that’s just live and let live to now just a plain old boring lacks the balls to take a firm stance agnostic.

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Can An Atheist Do Church?

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For a good while now, I’ve immensely enjoyed having 2 day weekends. I work Monday through Friday and, generally, don’t work weekends unless my shop is busy during outage season, but even then, it’s not a common occurrence.

When I was a regular church attendee and worked this same schedule, I had a 2 day weekend, but largely felt cheated out of the 2nd day. Why? Well, you’ve got stuff to do! You’ve got to wake up and make yourself look presentable and get your ass to church!

From wake up to walk back in the door of your house, you’re looking at a minimum of a solid couple of hours removed from your “free” day. Since I did this 5 times a week already, a 6th time is a drag, especially when there’s so much other stuff I could be doing, but leaving the church has allowed me to fully enjoy the 2 day weekend! Continue reading

Two Years Later – 10 Things I’ve Learned

lessonIt’s been well over two years now since I first admitted to myself that I no longer believed in a god. Two years. Wow. That isn’t a massive amount of time by any stretch of the imagination, but when I look at all that has transpired in those two short years, I’m astounded at what I’ve learned, how I’ve grown and what I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. Continue reading

Celebrating Ignorance with Joel Osteen

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I’m sorry but this guy is dangerous and spreading nonsense to millions of people. Why people send this man more and more money truly baffles me. It’s a celebration of ignorance and an assurance that feeling and intuition trumps information and data. It’s gross.

Maybe it’s time to convert to the prosperity gospel and spout off nonsense that makes people feel good and rake in piles of cash.

As much as I love to hate on the guy, I’ve got to give it to him. He’s a phenomenal salesman.

It reminds me of a great moment and line from the amazing flick “There Will Be Blood.” After Daniel Plainview, an oil man and capitalist, watches a preacher named Eli do a faith healing and cast out demons, Daniel sees through the performance and looks at Eli and says sincerely, “That was one Goddamn hell of a show.”

 

Atheism, You’re Smothering Me

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I’ve been feeling this way more and more and it’s my own fault really. I’ve not only surrounded myself with the online culture, but I’ve perpetuated it by blogging about it for the last year or so myself.

Given enough time and exposure, anything in life can get wearisome or old and I feel like that’s where I’m at with the culture right now. This does not mean I feel atheism is wrong, in fact, this is the most sure I’ve felt about a belief (or lack thereof) in my entire life. It’s just that I feel like the newness and excitement of it has finally wore off. I don’t recognize a belief in gods….yippee….what now? Keep talking about how I don’t believe in something? Being honest with myself, it feels like it would be bordering on nonsensical for me personally.

Originally, my blog was to help me flesh out my own thoughts and as a way to inform friends and family of the why and how I became an atheist. I feel like I’ve more than accomplished that goal.

When I first left religion, the internet was the greatest friend I had. It connected me to Facebook groups and blogs and people that all felt as I did. The solidarity it helped build in me was invaluable at that point in my life. I read every article I could on unbelief and watched endless debates. I comprehensively studied apologetics and worked hard to break them down so as to better understand my opposites. I wrote and talked to many people online that I now count as good friends and I couldn’t be more thankful, grateful or happy for all of you and for all of that.

My final push into frustration/annoyance/embarrassment was this morning when I read about a privately owned diner that gave 15% discounts to it’s patrons if they pray before their meal. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent them a letter threatening a lawsuit if they didn’t stop. It was then that I realized that many atheists like to feel as persecuted as the believers that they mock for feeling constantly victimized. This move by the FFRF did nothing to help freethinkers except further “prove” stereotypes about us as true in the minds of believers.

One very pivotal person in my life, the son of a preacher that turned agnostic over a decade ago, once gave me some excellent advice. He told me to live excellently and to be a great man. That when people see that I can be a good person that lives a fulfilled, happy and morally upstanding life without a god, I’ll effect more lives that way than I ever could with words. It’s a form of reverse proselytizing that I’ve come to love immensely, but if we’re keeping track, I’ve led more people away from Jesus in 2 years than I led to Jesus in 29, so I count my efforts at blogging and openly challenging religion to not have been for nothing.

I will probably still write posts on unbelief if I ever feel compelled to, but I can finally say I’ve accomplished my goal and that I feel wonderfully at ease. I’m just going to enjoy being Nate again and not Nate the Strong Minded Atheist as it will, from this point on, not add anything to my life, but headache.

I’ll continue blogging about movies, music and anything else that feels appropriate. And maybe I’ll finally get down to writing some sets and give stand-up a go.

So thanks to any of you reading this or any of you that have posted on this blog as I count all of you as friends. Your support, love, challenges and friendships have made me a better person, a better man and a better freethinker.

I love you all.

Knowledge Does Not Restrict Free Will

Free Will“Because free will” has to be one of the most oft-quoted phrases uttered over and over by apologists or defenders of belief. It’s used as a cure all for any critical talk of gods or holy texts.

When I prod as to why god doesn’t reveal himself or make himself known in a tangible way, that seems to be the only response I ever get. “Because god wants us to use our free will to chose him or reject him.”

What everyone needs to understand is that the knowledge of a god being real wouldn’t stop someone from being able to choose to follow it or not. If a god revealed itself to the world, we would still be free to reject it’s authority, divinity, or rule. I wouldn’t automatically be subjugated to it’s leadership. Having knowledge that a god exists wouldn’t in any way force me to worship it. If anything, it would most help me make an informed choice because you know, there’s thousands of gods to choose from.

This point couldn’t be made any clearer than from Christians’ own bibles:

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” – James 2:19

Demons, according to the bible, believe in god and reject him. They’ve seen god with their own ethereal eyes and still reject him. Could humans not possess the same ability?

So I ask, what would your god have to lose by revealing itself? There are currently 2.18 billion Christians on a planet holding 6.9 billion people. That means that at least 4.72 billion people are going to hell at this rate. Wouldn’t god making itself known stand to potentially save billions more from hell, the very place it desires strongly to save us from?

One friend berated me when I was very early in my doubting phase when I asked that question. “How dare you be so selfish, Nate. How dare you ask questions of god like that.” I didn’t think it was too much to ask. If anything, I thought it was more compassionate and loving to make itself known. If the end result is hell, why wouldn’t a loving god help more? It’s then that I remember that the loving god made hell, or allowed it’s creation, and it’s that same god that created the rules for us to go there, so it’s probably not that loving to begin with.

So please, stop yelling “FREE WILL” anytime you’re backed into a corner. A god that made it’s existence known to the world in a tangible way could still be rejected, but at least all doubt would be removed from the situation.

Now if we could only get Bigfoot to reveal himself in something other than blurry pictures and shaky camera footage…..

 

 

 

Be You

I received a call from an old friend today that was noticeably under immense stress. This stress, I soon realized, is the by product of living a double life: one half a believing and practicing Christian and the other as a closeted atheist.

It’s something he and I have talked about numerous times over drinks in the past, but I’ve never heard such exhaustion in his voice in all our years of friendship.

He’s absolutely torn, just as I once was, between keeping his current facade of belief and Christianity going or being true to himself. He’s done a very good job of keeping up appearances, but the cracks are showing and he’s feeling the stress of living a double life.

Regrettably, he confided in me that he’s most terrified of losing his relationship with his parents.

As someone who mutually finds identity and solace in my close relationships with my family, my heart breaks for the guy. Admittedly, the hardest two people to admit I was an atheist to were my parents. The talk, the explanation, the reassurance that it’s not a phase. That no, I’m not mad and no, I don’t think I’ll see Phil again and no, I won’t be going to heaven or hell.

To take the lights out of someone’s eyes like that is not an experience I wish to ever have again, but it’s one I’m glad I had.

Having tried to fake belief for a while myself, I told my friend about when I decided I wasn’t going to live a double life anymore. A non-believing friend of mine told me about an acquaintance of his that was, at that time, 66 years old. Turns out this man had been an atheist for over 30 years and nobody in his family knew. He’d lied his way through every prayer and conversation all in the name of not rocking the boat. Of not letting people down.

I knew immediately after that story that I’d not only be honest with everyone I loved, but also with myself. I didn’t want to live in a prison in my head. Afraid and ashamed to be me.

Most people I told took it in stride and a good many tried to convince me to just love Jesus! That I can choose to follow him! It took a good while for them to understand that you can’t force yourself to believe something your mind doesn’t. It literally gets to a point where it’s not a choice that can be made. You can’t shut off your brain.

So, for my old and dear friend that was patient, kind and loving to me as I poured out my heart, and a few tears, about my deceased sibling, I say, be yourself, brother. Be true to you and be honest with those you love and hope they have the sense to love you for the amazing man you’ve become and not for what god you associate with.

There’s far more peace and happiness to be found when we don’t reject who we are for the sake of those that are supposed to love us unconditionally. Rejoice in being you and be the man that others aspire to be.