Choosing the “Hard Road”

24 05 2011

Been a while I know, but I’ve been having a bit of writers block, even though I’m not a writer. But I’m back, so buckle your seat belts.

What is the “Hard Road”?

I guess the easiest way to explain it is to say life as an Atheist is a hard road. It’s kind of strange to hear that coming from an atheist I guess, so this is today’s topic. Explaining why I find it difficult to be an atheist. First! DO NOT take my statement as a sign of weakness, or a sign of changing my stance on things. You will hopefully come to that conclusion after reading the rest, but had to put that disclaimer to avoid those comments from building in the mind in the first place. Also, please read through to the end before sending any angry comments. But please do comment. Maybe you can change my mind on something.

What is an “Atheist”?

I know you probably already know very well what an atheist is, but for those who may be a little confused, or lack the definition I will explain it anyway. By brief definition an atheist is; “a person lacking faith or belief in a god or deity”. This is what I call the easy answer, because it sums up the basis of the most common point of what atheist’s as a whole are in agreement with. We agree that there is no god or deity no matter the religion in question. The further definition can get messy and usually becomes more of a personal definition. A better way to explain this version is when you think of a new born child. They do not believe in a god or deity because they have no understanding of the concept no matter how hard the parent might try. But they are susceptible to believing in monsters or ghosts or other strange things they believe they are experiencing until they are older and able to understand things around them. However, an adult may call themselves an atheist and their definition could include things such as ghosts and other paranormal activities.

What is “My Atheist”?

My use of the word atheist is in reference to many things that I consider simply non existent, and some things that I accept as fact. Many would include a large part of these things under the category of skeptic, but I find that word just sounds negative. Even the definition sounds negative, “a person who habitually doubts or questions generally accepted conclusions.” I hope you see why I try to avoid the word skeptic, because it could be used against me to make the assumption that I just disagree with things for the sake of it. That is not me. I will admit to questioning many things at the first moment I hear of it, but not always in a negative “that’s not true” manner. I genuinely want to learn more about how that conclusion was found, how they tested it, who did it, who are they, what other studies have they done, how credible are the sources, etc. Once I accomplish the validity of the conclusion, I then try to figure out more about what they discovered, what does it mean, how does it affect other scientific conclusions and studies, etc. Many things fall under the common sense category, and I can almost certainly skip the validity stages, unless it’s a touchy subject that involves gains to a specific side in a current debate.

A perfect example of a “hidden gain post” is a person I have on my Facebook who posts very regularly, and the things they post almost always have a political undertone hidden amongst the article or video they post as well as false information. Some examples are medical marijuana, one world government control, mind control, or governments poisoning the public and their food supplies. These are the topics, but they will post things like, “New study proves air is poisoning us” or “Scientist reveals proof that Marijuana heals all diseases.” While many people would immediately see that these are likely false claims using the name of science to attempt to fool people. I actually take the time to read it anyway, see who the study is done by, research that person, look into their methods, if they actually talk about it, which in these types of cases usually shows that they either don’t exist, or are not actually scientists as they claim and many times never list any facts or results of any tests. This is why I don’t consider myself a skeptic. I try to actually think about the things I consider to be true and false. In my opinion, skeptics just assume they know and go with the assumption regardless of the source or facts.

So now that I’ve managed to swerve from my topic a bit, I will continue my atheist explanation. I have a lack of, or to be more exact, non existent belief in things like gods, ghosts, spirits, monsters, psychics, magic, astrology, mythology, afterlife, Ouija boards, paranormal activity, doomsdays, curses, voodoo, and just about any other thing that claims to be extraordinary and unexplainable. Then on the flip side, my use of atheist would mean I do believe the following to be fact, evolution, big bang, possible life elsewhere in the universe, earth age to be approx 4.5 billion years, etc. I could list everything, but I’d be here all day. Basically, I do not let a belief in a god or other spiritual and otherworldly invisibles prevent me changing what I consider as fact.  So my personal definition of atheist is a bit further than some others.

I understand that the definition of the word doesn’t actually change, but wanted to clear up the way I look at the world with a single word. I also understand that atheist is generally accepted to only refer to god and religion, but just know that when I use the word atheist, I’m referring to a larger group of things as well that I do not believe to exist and a group of things that I do accept that many religions do not.

Why is it “Hard”?

Ok, so we’ve arrived at my reason for writing. Why do I find it difficult to be an atheist. Well, it just comes down to a few things that frustrate me. Many people have no patience for atheists if they aren’t one themselves. What am I referring to? For example, let’s say I’m bored, so I watch a video about evolution that inspires me to quote it, and I post that quote onto my Facebook status. It’s very likely that I will receive at least 1 negative comment about how it’s wrong, and that humans were created. That’s fine, I accept discussion, and this isn’t my point. That comment will go on my post, and nobody will bat an eye at it, or think twice about the message it sends. But if that person was to watch a video about creation, and become inspired to quote on their Facebook, and I commented with how it’s wrong and humans evolved from apes, guaranteed, I would get negative comments about how I shouldn’t interfere with people’s beliefs and that it’s not polite or acceptable.

1- So my first issue is the double standard that exists all over. Religion is expected to receive a courtesy that atheists aren’t expected to receive. This topic is discussed in just about every book about atheism, and drives the frustrations that you may encounter when you see the two sides debating or even just discussing in private. We atheists have to tip toe around certain topics or else we are considered mean or crude. I think this one needs to change ASAP. Without this change, we cannot get anywhere with the huge debate publicly, and have to rely on the celebrities from each side to do it for us, and we all learn nothing in the exchange, and continue to wave the flag of our favorite debater regardless of the outcome of the debates. If we allow public discussion among friends, and obviously only if both parties are willing to remain civil and calm, we can both learn more about each others positions on the topics at hand.

2- A second reason being an atheist is hard is the way people who are religious will just plain deny facts. They will deny it regardless of how much evidence is there for them to see with their own eyes. They deny because it will mean that some part of what they currently believe is wrong, and they aren’t willing to change what they believe. That is actually my one of my biggest problems with religion, that it controls people so effortlessly and blindly. If a person is unwilling to change their beliefs or opinions on any topic when given the proper information to show them that it is the correct view to have on it, that person is essentially unwilling to learn. And any person who is unwilling to learn should not be taken seriously nor given a chance to have any type of position of power. Yet many countries leaders are chosen based on their faulty views of these very topics.

Any person can see that a society that has a population, let alone their leader, that is mostly religious cannot easily advance because it’s “immoral” to do the things that the religious people don’t like, even though it’s better for humans as a whole. For example, stem cell research. This allows other areas around the world that are less religious to advance while the more religious parts will start to fall behind. It also affects education. Teachers are forced to either not teach a full course and leave out the “touchy topics” to avoid the religious parents outrage, or to teach both the “touchy topics” and the false information to give the students the opportunity to decide for themselves. But students have teachers for a reason, they are there to teach the students what is correct, if the teacher isn’t allowed to express the validity between two options, that leaves the teachers powerless. Imagine a teacher telling students they can either add or subtract when they see the + sign, but they can’t tell them which is correct. That student is not going to do well in life if they choose the wrong option.

3- I find it hard to see children being affected by religion in any way. Whether it’s their education suffering a lack of information, or it’s parents forcing their child to be part of a religion because they think it’s best for them. As I mentioned earlier, all children are born atheist, and it should stay that way until the child decides for themselves. Religion shouldn’t play a part in a childs life until they are of age. They cannot make proper life decisions when it comes to most things like politics, alcohol, smoking, legal issues, yet they are expected to have a religious view by the time they can walk and mumble a few simple words.

My “Hard” Closing.

So by now, anybody who is religious is probably very upset with what they are reading. So I’ll say this. What I’m saying, is an opinion. I respect all other opinions, and am willing to accept that there are people who do believe in gods, and ghosts, and goblins. I’m not going to try to take that away from anybody, nor do I expect anybody to give up their beliefs because of a few words from a person they don’t know. This is what I do expect. I expect that same sense of acceptability when I comment or talk about subjects I consider personally accepted. If I comment about evolution, I’m fine with someone saying they don’t believe me, but I want that person to explain to me how they can deny things that are proven. And on the other side, if I comment on something about creation, call me on it and ask me to explain myself. Also what I don’t want is for anybody to continue to expect a safety zone to surround religion but not atheists. Religion preaches about fairness, do to others as you would have them do to you. So practice what you preach and let me discuss things without calling me crude or mean.

4- My last hard part of being an atheist. People assume too much about atheists. We are viewed as evil hating people. Some think we believe the things we believe as a way of being against religion. Or that we do not like to be happy and or be safe ourselves. We do have morals, and we do want the best for humanity as a whole. We want peace on earth, and we want poverty and hunger to end. We want war to be something we battle through words and reasonable compromise from both sides. We want to share the resources of the world with each other to ensure we all have what we need and aren’t being greedy at someones misfortune. We want to understand as much as we can about how the world works, and what we can do to make it better for us. We want to end diseases and we too want to live long healthy lives free of the horrors that we currently see all over the globe. We just want these things naturally because it benefits the well being of all people, not just the ones who agree with us. And lastly, we don’t need a god, book, or virgin born son of a god to tell us that this is what we want. It’s what we’ve always wanted since we were born atheists like you.

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