Atheism 101

THE Atheist Agenda

Last week, I watched CNN Special Report: Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers. I figured it was going to be a serious, in-depth look at atheism. After all, the show has TWO colons in its title. That is serious. While the show was a pretty fair look at atheism, there are some things that just weren’t fully discussed. So, I would like to give you my take on being an atheist.

Atheist Agenda – Some religious folks think that atheists have some sort of agenda to take away religion. This is simply not true. Most atheists do not care if people worship God, or Tinkerbelle, or cheese, they just want God to stay out of their lives and government. In other words, atheists don’t want religion forced on them, and it is in many ways, like:

Worshipping Satan – The CNN reporter kept mentioning that a lot of people think atheists worship Satan. This is beyond illogical. Atheists do not believe in any supernatural being. So, the devil does not exist to them. If Satan does not exist, he can’t be worshipped. Atheists aren’t dark and scary. They would just rather have brunch than go to church. Think of them as your non-praying Belgian waffle-eating friends.

No Morals – I have had religious people ask me how I can have morals without God. This is scary because it tells me that the only thing keeping some people from raping and killing is a belief that there is an invisible man in the sky watching them.   It’s kind of like Santa Claus for grownups. I tend to think more like Katherine Hepburn, who said, “I’m an atheist, and that’s it. I believe there’s nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for each other.” People without morals are called psychopaths, not atheists.

Angry at God – Now that we have established that atheists do not believe in any supernatural beings, we can probably do away with that whole, “You’re just angry at God” argument. Just like you can’t worship something you don’t believe in, you also can’t be angry at something that doesn’t exist.

Religious Knowledge – The CNN reporter said that she was shocked to see an atheist pursuing a graduate degree in religion because she couldn’t imagine an atheist being comfortable learning about religion. A lot of atheists enjoy reading about all sorts of things, including religion, but they don’t do it because they want to be persuaded to believe in God. Some religious folks think that an atheist just needs to go to church and read the Bible to be convinced.   The parents of an atheist college student in the documentary referred to their son as a dead man, and regretted not forcing him to go to church more. They believe that would have made a difference. More religious education is not going to make God real for atheists. God is just something that feels fake right from the beginning.

Some Splainin – Most atheists are confused and a little bit angered because the burden of proof seems to fall on them, especially in the USA. Why do people WITHOUT an imaginary friend owe an explanation as to why they don’t believe in an invisible supernatural being? This is especially evident by the fact that CNN felt it necessary to create a documentary to look inside the world of non-believers, like they are mystical creatures who must be studied behind glass. It’s really simple. Atheists do not believe in God, any god at all. They don’t believe in Jesus, Allah, Zeus, Jupiter, or any of the thousands of gods and goddesses. They don’t believe because there is no real evidence that gods exist.

Splainin

I am an atheist. I have been an atheist my whole life, even when I was being forced to attend Baptist church by a family friend. I was still an atheist when I opted to get baptized in college because it’s what normal people did. I volunteer at the zoo. I work and take care of my family. I appreciate a good martini. I love Christmas trees and Easter baskets. I am a nice person unless you ring my doorbell and try to sell me something, including religion, or make laws to discriminate against my friends. Then, I’m a bit irritable.

 

27 thoughts on “Atheism 101

    1. Lisa!
      I am an athiest also and saw the meme above on Facebook. Just wondering if it’s yours or borrowed?

      1. Hi Derick,

        Thanks for asking. 🙂 I created the one in this blog. There is another plagiarized version of it floating around. Someone else took my original meme, and changed it just enough to call it their own. They copied the one I created.

        Lisa

    2. I forget the exact quote but it went something like “most religious people reject all gods but one. Atheists simply believe in one less god than they do. “

  1. Incidentally, my mother just stopped by with a wrapped “Easter gift” of a picture of Jesus/The Sacred Heart. Of course the toddler eagerly attacked it because, PRESENT! but was quickly disinterested because it’s a picture of a guy holding a thorny heart. She immediately asked where I was going to hang out up and started suggesting good places. I said nothing. She left and it took me about 37.2 seconds to take it down to the donation pile. *sigh*

    1. I have a friend who thought a picture of Jesus was Barry Gibb when she was little. This story made me think of that. Your poor toddler needs a real present now. What a let down. 🙂

  2. Love it. I’m not an atheist. That seems too much like I know that there isn’t a God. But I’m also not a believer. I was dipped in a river once because it seemed the right thing to do that day. I think the best thing would be for everybody to quit worrying about Gods and religions and to just be fucking nice to each other.

    1. EXACTLY!!! I’m writing a blog in my head right now about how people should just stop getting emotional about things that don’t concern them. If two guys get married, it is none of my business. If one of those guys is my husband, it becomes my business. I think people need to stop making public laws for personal matters.

  3. Loooove this column! It cracks me up that anyone would think atheists worship Satan….the don’t worship….anything. Get it?

    For the record, I’m not an atheist, but still don’t want God shoved down my throat either. God does not have a place in the government, nor in public schools…look it up!

    Keep eating those babies.

    1. Julie,

      I don’t want anything shoved down my throat. So, if an atheist came to my door with brochures, I would tell him/her to go eff off. Pushy is the devil.

      And babies are so tasty with a little butter and salt. 🙂

      Hugs,
      Lisa

    1. Malay,
      Of course I had to look this up, and wow! I’m glad I took the time to do that. So, killing babies is Biblical. That is good to know.
      Thanks,
      Lisa

  4. I am an excatholic. My youngest finished her K-12 education this spring in Catholic schools. Why? The public schools around here are underfunded and overcrowded. My two daughters now say they are atheist and Buddhist.

    I also love Christmas, trees and giving. Just leave the virgin birth myth out of it.

    My thought: if you need a book to tell you that rape and murder are wrong, then you are a bad human.

    1. Rob,

      True story: I came THISCLOSE to putting my atheist son in catholic school a few years ago. He was hanging out with really trashy kids and I thought maybe he would meet better kids in Catholic school. I didn’t end up going through with it because I knew I would end up getting a call from Father So and So telling me that my son was telling everyone that Jesus was a hippie and he probably would have smoked pot with the Grateful Dead. 🙂
      Another true story: I spent Kindergarten and half of first grade in a Lutheran school and I loved it. I hated having to leave to go to my local ghetto elementary school. My single mom just couldn’t afford to keep me there.
      Thanks for posting!
      Lisa

      1. The problem with Catholic school is that a period a day for 4 years taught me all I could ever need to about the Bible, the Sacraments, marriage within Christianity, and finally one good class senior year on “comparative religion.”

        Alas, I never learned how to fix the engine in my damned lawn mower, though. 1/2 year of shop class probably woulda been enough.

      2. Not learning enough useful information is a problem at most schools, in my humble opinion. The most useful classes I took were Home Ec and Peer Counseling. I have never used algebra. Ever.

  5. Excellent article overall. I completely agree with most of what you say.

    Can I just ask, however — what does being gluten-free have to do with being atheist? I saw in the HuffPo comment thread that you just thought it was funny and that you do in fact eat gluten-free.

    The problem with making jokes like this (and if you are indeed so gluten intolerant that you cannot ingest even a tiny bit without getting sick, then you will probably recognize these experiences) is that, lately, gluten-free is just thrown in mindlessly to many jokes. It’s a cheap laugh. Think for a second about why it’s supposedly funny. Yes, many people think it’s just a liberal fad. And this is exactly the problem for people (including myself) who have Celiac disease and will get very ill for 2 weeks or more from just a tiny exposure. When everyone makes fun of gluten-free, and feels judgy and mean toward the person ordering something gluten-free, no one is reacting with compassion or care, and no one is being careful not to cross-contaminate that order. Jokes like this do perpetuate that impression in our society, and add just another drop in the bucket, pushing societal thinking one increment more in the wrong direction. Perhaps everyone needs to slow down, and open their minds to compassion for atheists, those with Celiac disease and IBS alike.

    For those of us at the more severe end of the spectrum (and there is a big range, I know), it’s not funny and it’s not fun to see the little eye roll, the little sigh (oh, one of THOSE people) when I ask if there are options available that are safe for me. I’m just trying to quietly place my order and not become violently ill. I think it’s a reasonable ask. Jokes like this are not helping.

    I’m sure it was just a quick moment, and you threw it in there without much thought, and I get that. It’s OK. But it might be good to edit it now, or to say something as a follow-up. For someone asking others to pause, and consider the full humanity of someone who disagrees with them about religion, perhaps you could do the same regarding this issue. Thank you in advance for considering this viewpoint.

      1. Thanks for the link. I see, now, where you’re coming from. I appreciated your “gluten detectives” piece very much! 🙂

        There’s just a lot of eye-rolling these days about gluten (I see from your piece that you are living this, too) — and the throw-away joke in the atheist article just sounded like more of the same, to me, when I first read it. I’m just getting really sick of that attitude, because everyone who decides they’re not going to take it seriously makes me less safe. Plus, frankly, you and I and everyone with these serious dietary issues — we’re already putting up with a lot. It’s limiting, it’s frustrating, and most of us cheerfully carry on without complaint — but we do NOT need to also be made fun of casually, on top of it all. So when I first saw your joke, I thought it was yet one more example of this. Anyway, carry on, GF warrior. 🙂

  6. Great article. I agree with a lot of what you say! Can I just ask about the gluten-free joke thrown into the mix, however? I’m sure it was just a quick moment without thinking about it too deeply. But I and many others with Celiac disease are getting tired of being one of the current trendy “go-to” running jokes. Why does this matter? When everyone makes fun of gluten-free, and feels judgy and mean toward the person ordering something gluten-free, no one is reacting with compassion or care, and no one is being careful not to cross-contaminate that order. Jokes like this do perpetuate that impression in our society, and add just another drop in the bucket, pushing societal thinking one increment more in the wrong direction. Perhaps everyone needs to slow down, and open their minds to compassion for atheists, those with Celiac disease and IBS alike.

    1. Hi Fiona,

      You are not the first to ask about that. My cousin has Celiacs and I have IBS. So, I don’t eat gluten much either. I wrote the Atheist Agenda from the point of view of a conservative christian. Most conservatives I know think the whole gluten free movement is silly. So, I had to throw that in for lunch, especially since we eat babies for breakfast and dinner. 🙂 In other words, it was sarcasm.

      Thanks for posting!
      Lisa

      1. Yes, I know what you mean. In fairness, I have many liberal friends who go the other direction, and think that my Celiac disease would be magically cured if I just ate the wheat they have in Europe because they don’t use the same sprays and it’s a different non-GMO variety. Well, those are nice ideas, but they first discovered Celiac disease in Europe. It was first described medically at least 100 years ago, and the connection to wheat/gluten was made after bread shortages in Holland during WWII made most people less healthy but the Celiacs got much healthier. So, no, it’s not the modern U.S. wheat causing my Celiac disease, and no, if I went to Europe I couldn’t eat regular bread. (Yes, I have literally been told these things.) Sigh.

  7. Sadly, what transpires in much of our current dialogue and debate on religion v atheism is an endless and tiresome exchange of opinion. The argument for, or against, the existence of god is about as futile as trying to convince a five year-old there are no monsters under their bed.

    For most believers, their thinking processes, faith, rationale and perception revolve around the concept of a supernatural force or Creator, its accompanying cosmology, dogma, ritual, scriptural texts and anecdotal experience are de facto attestations of that subjective reality. The purpose of theology is to fabricate or spin this Cartesian formula into a false epistemology ( Boghossian) that either mimics science, or contradicts it with a litany of logical fallacies. As Daniel Dennett has often said, “Theologians are the spin doctors of religion”.

    Of course, there are many of those for whom atheism is merely an opinion too, formed without the benefit or awareness of the multiple scientific disciplines and scholarship of a true epistemology, supported by empirical evidence. Ultimately, the task for advanced atheism is to move beyond opinionated debate and learn the overwhelming corpus of science, history and fact that support it.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Michael. I totally agree that everyone, on all sides of the religion issue, should educate themselves more. I’m including myself in the group as I was never one to pay attention in history or science class. I guess I wasn’t alone. For some reason, opinions are valued as much, if not more than, facts now.

      Thanks again!
      Lisa

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