1st January 2012

“I have received a great deal of advice from believers on how atheists should run our movement… and it is always, always, always in the direction of politely suggesting that we shut up.”

Greta Christina

9 Responses to “1st January 2012”

  1. archaeopteryx Says:

    Happy new year, fellow atheists! Let’s keep evidence based worldviews in the public arena.

  2. Dan Says:

    The degree to which I stop questioning religion is directly proportional to the degree that I have it shoved in my face. I’ll shut up when they do.

    Happy New Years everyone, with warm wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2012!!!

  3. Mr. R Says:

    I’ll second that Dan! We would be much better off if they used their religion as a SILENT moral compass rather than a blaring trumpet…

  4. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Last night was revealing. We had a New Years Eve party and an informative conversation between myself and two of my Catholic friends: Kevin and John.

    Both have brought up the subject before and I find it interesting that they do. From our earliest days as friends, they have known that I was not a religious person. I never made it any kind of point to let them know, we just live in a predominantly Catholic town, they noticed I was never at Sunday Mass, and they inquired about which church I went to.

    When I told them I didn’t go to church, that I wasn’t religious, they both remarked with surprise “but you believe in God right?” When I said no they were like “really?” It was as I had told them something completely preposterous.

    They have inquired several times over the years about my lack of faith, both prompting me for some simple explanation that would resolve the matter for them. My answer has always been “well the answer isn’t really simple, it is very complicated and involves considerations from many varied perspectives to be considered objectively”.

    Last night’s inquiry revealed that Kevin and John aren’t on exactly the same page. John is “on the team” and regularly attends “practice” (he is at Mass as I type this), but he refers to God as the unknown, he describes his belief as a “just in case” plan that he finds easy to participate in. I was left thinking he doesn’t really buy it.

    Kevin on the other hand buys the ruse. He has difficulties with it too. John is your ordinary guy of average intelligence, Kevin is brighter than average and as is so often the case struggles with belief. Buying into it has a price that must be paid over and over again.

    Kevin’s Mother died when he was in his early teens and of the dying wishes she had for her children faith-in-god was the one thing she made him promise her. Thus began the conflict between doubt and faith within the man. John just doesn’t care about the conflict

    Kevin for being the brighter of the two has sought validation for his beliefs, as most of us do, since he made the commitment to his Mother all those years ago.

    Unfortunately the validation for religious belief has a threshold where the irrational belief of the faithful becomes the rational acceptance of the theologian.

    For instance: It is easy to say that Jesus founded the Christian church and as such many religious people say this. It is hard to understand that it was actually Paul many years after the supposed Jesus died. It is easy to accept that Jesus was born on Christmas in the year 0.It is hard to come to terms with logic that suggests Jesus was more likely born in the month of July and several years BC. It is easy to believe that the Jesus story is unique to Christianity and difficult to learn of the Mitra cult and its similarities that predate the Jesus story.

    All of us here are aware of the too numerous to list contradictions that pervade the Sunday school version of Christianity that the great majority of the faithful accept as true.

    I’ve told the joke before, where one priest says to another “If you graduated seminary school and still believe in God you weren’t paying attention” and that humor is common to theologians. For more on this see http://amzn.com/1591024765

    John isn’t bothered by the contradictions, he just doesn’t care. Kevin cares. It is as if he is losing some last little vestige of his Mother to accept what he has come to know is true.

    He wears his badge of tolerance in having me an atheist as a friend forgetting that beyond religion we share political ideologies, interests in sports and music, and we have children of the same age. He used to live across the street from me, and now lives just up the road. We have a lot in common. The religion or lack thereof just doesn’t matter.

    So for part of the conversation, while I was reminding him about Paul, Jesus, Mitra, he was a bit agitated. He had spewed the Sunday school stuff and when I corrected him, and gave as my reference of all things the Vatican (which surprisingly John confirmed), Kevin had that terrible moment where he realized he was mistaken, where he knows he was just spewing the Sunday school stuff, he himself knew better.

    The option he came up with was to move onto other things, which we did and the rest of the night went well, it was after all the only option friends have.

  5. Capt'Z Says:

    Happy New Year, Godless heathens. I’m with you, Dan. The god-addled never seem to realize that they ARE shoving it down everyone’s throats though, do they?

  6. Dan Says:

    Sinjin,
    There are plenty of people I know that resemble your friends John and Kevin. More that are like John though, to be honest.

    For me I feel that I’m in an interesting situation, being a young father with a 2-year-old daughter to raise, and I differ in my point of view on religion with my wife and in-laws. They want to raise our daughter Greek Orthodox, to which I don’t feel that I have much choice, and it’s more of what Dennett described in Breaking the Spell as a benign belief in the virtue of belief, than anything else.

    It’s quite the interesting situation, I think.

    But after giving it much thought, I’m of the opinion that because I’m an active part of my daughter’s life, she’ll be exposed to equal doses of religious and irreligious attitudes during her development. And thus she’ll be well equipped to make up her own mind.

    And for myself, I don’t much mind my wife’s occasional attendance of church. She knows that I won’t go with unless it’s a wedding, funeral or christening, and only if we know the family involved well at that. It’s a nice arrangement.

    Also we don’t need to talk about religion. We know our views, we accept the difference of point of view, and we get on with our daily family life. It’s actually quite secular. Given this environment, I think my daughter will turn out just fine, even if she chooses religion (I can’t see why she would, but it’ll be her choice).

    I wonder if others here have similar family situations?

  7. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Dan,

    I think having a agenda is part of the problem and I wouldn’t want to raise my children to be atheists anymore than to indoctrinate them into a cult.

    Idealism for sure. As for reality I think you are making the best of what is likely a nice situation. The logic “do your best and let the chips fall where they may” applies.

    As for my wife she is very soft agnostic. She doesn’t even think about matters of faith much less have any interest in coming up with answers or opinions. Pressed for an answer on the question of god’s existence she’d just say she doesn’t know one way or the other. She has never attended church. I suppose had she married a religious person she would follow that person’s lead on matters of faith.

    That my wife married me and for the fact that she is an educator says something tough.

    As for our children, girls 9 and 12, we talk about religion and they know I deny god’s existence. They also know that if they want to experiment with religion, like other self destructive activities like alcohol and drugs, they will have to wait until they are adults.

    I would not have married a religious woman. I’m uncomfortable entrusting matters most important to me to a person reliant upon a supernatural deity system.

    I guard against “being the enabler”, apologizing for religion’s shortcomings. I have an intolerance for religion that is similar to my intolerance for criminal behavior. I’m not going to fall back on the familiar “religion has its redeeming qualities” as it doesn’t have nearly enough redeeming qualities to make for its rotten qualities.

    For all this I do think your daughter will turn out fine. I recognize that most people turn out fine too. Regardless of religion or a lack it. I’ve found interesting facts about the religiosity of inmates, but as far as religion contributing to the honesty of non-criminals I haven’t seen anything positive or negative.

  8. Dan Says:

    Agreed, Sinjin.
    The primary issue will probably become how to foster our children’s emotional and intellectual development, and there needn’t be concern over existential matters – they’ll work themselves out on their own.

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