I’ve gone through life long enough now to come to the conclusion I’m an Atheist. Many people hate the ring that word has too it, and instead choose terms like Agnostic or Free Thinker. The reason being is many people misinterpret Atheism. People think you might somehow be sacrificing your intellect when choosing to say you don’t know.
I like to think being an Atheist means you live in the land of not knowing, rather than being at “war with the gods”.
I’ll delve into a few of the myths, or false impressions people have about Atheists. (The following myths I took from this website: http://www.wayofthemind.org/2006/08/15/16-common-myths-about-atheists/). Although the responses are my own…think of me conducting my own interview. 😉
“Atheists hate Christians and Christianity.”
Atheists don’t buy into the idea of believing in one single God. I tolerate many different beliefs of other people, this doesn’t mean that because I despise the people I despise the religion they hold dear. In fact if you ever met me, religion is most likely the last topic of conversation I’d go into. I don’t feel the need to tell the world what my views on life are. My opinions on God scare those who haven’t looked inside themselves, so I prefer to question and get to know the person rather than the religion.
“Most atheists started out as Christians, and stopped believing because of some bad experience with other Christians.”
Atheism for me isn’t born out of an accident. You may aswell say that Christians bumped into the Bible. After long discussions, questioning, thinking and reading up of ideas I felt I gained more meaning from other places than some parts of the Bible. Yes I used to be a Christian, and everyone has bad experiences, however, I got to my area of non-belief through my own choices and experiences.
“Atheists’ lives are cold and empty, as they can’t feel the joy and love that comes only from God.”
God isn’t a factory for happiness. There is beauty and joy in so many other things. If people do believe in a God, my hope is they do it not for the sake of pleasant feelings, but rather because they feel secure, rooted, and challenged.
“Atheists live their lives in constant fear of death.”
We are all born to die. From the moment we come squealing out of the womb, we are more vulnerable to getting wiped out by some disease. I’m a very mellow and easy going person. I suffer from depression and anxiety, however, I’ve had the balls to manage it. I hold down a decent job, and I’m too busting with great ideas for paranoia to be my prerogative. In fact, coming to terms with their being no god, means you’re prepared to live with the grit under you own hands. It’s an amazing empowering and authentic thing to know you are the muscles in your own cerebral wings.
“Atheists are depressive and nihilistic, since they believe there’s nothing after death, and therefore there’s no point to anything.”
You may think I’ve already shot myself in the foot, since I’ve already mentioned that I’m dealing with depression. Well no I’m just being honest and upfront. If there was no point to anything I wouldn’t feel the need for this interview, or to explain myself like this.
Orthodox Religion is a form of nihility against the Self. The reason being…you spend so much energy in prayer, song and ritual that you forget to look inside yourself, and pay attention to your ideas. Too much focus in one direction means, you’re losing sight of something equally important.
“Atheists want to forbid religious worship.”
When last did you see a group of Atheists shouting anti-Religious slogans and waving weapons in the air? People misunderstand Atheists and believe we are at war with everything. Many are under the assumption that the basis to an atheist’s argument begins and ends with “I Hate God”.
In fact, if I were asked “Why do you believe there is no God?” I would go on to question the person of their exact definition of ‘belief’ and ‘god’. The fact that I care enough to question the ideas, and get to know the person, means I have no issue with how people express themselves. The only time I get agitated with religion, is if it forcefully tries to tell me I’m wrong and I should rather just ‘believe’ and join them.
“Atheists are incapable of feeling awe at simple things, like a beautiful sunset, as they see everything in terms of cold science, instead of miracles.”
Yes many Atheists are scholars, scientists, and higher minded people, however, this means that they are thinkers who like to get to the truth. I surely hope religion isn’t merely there for the sake of miracles. Religion (if you feel it’s the one for you) should be chosen, because you have found meaning, not simply seeing some sleight of hand and buying into it.
Atheists can be skeptics, and we do enjoy a good debate, but this doesn’t consume our personality to the point of making us stiff, cold and austere beings. I question when I feel the time is right, otherwise, I take everything else in stride.
“Atheists make bad parents.”
Bad choices turn parents against their children. Parenting is tough for anyone, however most Atheists I know take a down to earth interest in people. As I said earlier choosing not to stick to a particular religion and be part of ‘the club’, is liberating and those people are often most caring and textured, than the stiffly ironed people bustling off to church on a Sunday.
My father told me a story about an experience he had in Church.
He was in his early twenties. Young, eager, and full of cleanly honed Bible verses. During the church service one of the elders announced they were looking for Youth Leaders in the Church, and those that see themselves fit should head to the front of the Church so that they can be prayed for, and then they would be interviewed at a later stage.
My father went up there, determined to make the world a better place. The prayer happened shortly after, and then the service continued as usual. Once the congregation had sung the last few words of the final song, everyone bows their heads in prayer, and then got up and said their goodbyes to those around them.
As my father was leaving and old man approached him. He was bald, with thin wisps of hair clinging around his freckled head.
The old man to him, “Let me see your hands boy.”
He thrust his two hands towards the chest of the old man.
“Hmmm,” he said as he turned my fathers hands over and inspected them.
“What’s wrong?” my father replied.
“They’re not dirty.”
My father anxiously looked into the creases and lines of his hand, searching for the dirt the old man may have missed.
“Look at my hands.”
The old man raised up his gnarly, wrinkled hands to show him.
“These are dirty hands that have seen life. Yours have not. Before you become a leader go out into the world, and get some real dirt on your hands boy.”