I am an Atheist

I am an Atheist.

I state that not as a means to bring on some new identity, or some type of spiritual coming out of the closet. Merely as a fact.

Check out the church of the flying spaghetti monster

Check out the church of the flying spaghetti monster

I do not mean it as a direct criticism of anyone who believes differently, although I suppose some criticism is inherent in this belief.

It has always been this way I think. When I was young and between the ages of 4-11, I went to a church aided Infant & Junior school. There were hymns sung during morning assembly. These through constant exposure would become somewhat routine, although I still remember the words to most of them, and find many still enjoyable. The school would have us walk to the nearby church, a historical wonder in some respects, for the occasional “special” event, usually a harvest festival service or a festive service. It made a nice change from being in the school. The church had a nice look, old smell, and that coolness that open buildings with high ceilings have. It had beautiful carved wood pews, some with mice carved into them which I would later learn was the work of Robert Thompson.The school would teach religion, but although there was an emphasis on “Church of England”, would teach about other religions as well. That might have been imposed by the government.

Despite all this, the religion never quite rang true to me. It seemed like stories much like any other story. I didn’t understand why there could be different religions with differences between them, but only one God.

As I learnt more about the world and how it works, more about the various sciences, what constitutes a fact, or a theory, or a statement, this seemed to me more evidence for there not being a God. I did not look for evidence to support my views, in fact I looked at it as a way to challenge them. I still look at science this way.

It does not make me an immoral being. I understand right from wrong. I understand when someone can be hurt, or when they can be happy, and that we all live different lives, even if they appear similar in many ways.

It does not mean that without God in my heart, that I cannot see the beauty of the world. I can see perfectly well how beautiful a waterfall might be, or how wonderful a stream looks flowing through a wooded area. Even if I understand the process the water is going through to get there, it does not make it less magnificent, but maybe more so. Understanding can bring enhancement. The word “breathtaking” can still apply.

It does not mean that I cannot see the beauty of a clear night sky, or the dizzying feeling when I look up at a star and remember we are moving through space just as it is. And that there is a lot of space out there which we have yet to discover or know about.

It does not mean I can not get caught up in a great story or find pleasure in a well written line.

In fact, I do not take leave of my emotions. I still love my wife and child loads, and other family or friends too.

I find that understanding and increasing knowledge allows you to see more, and appreciate more. If you can see what is happening and realize the details of it, it can add a lot, because you have a way to view , or listen, or smell, in many more levels. The aesthetic and the meaningful can hold each others hand and enjoy their interaction.

I do not need God in my heart to do these things.

Further info: I do not wish to debate whether God exists in this post, there are many very good websites and blogs which already do this. However if you are interested, you may find the following useful:
– Jerry Coyne’s book “Why evolution is true” which is a good examination of evidence, but also has a very good accompanying blogΒ http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com
– Richard Dawkin’s book “The God Delusion
– Christopher Hitchens book “God is not great“.
The church of the flying spaghetti monster.

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31 comments on “I am an Atheist

  1. DyingNote says:

    I’m not an atheist nor am I believer. It’s just that the question of God’s existence, or lack of it, does not vex me. Having made my half-cent worth comment, what prompted this?

    • Elliot says:

      It was something I almost posted about at some point last year so it was in the back of my mind.

      A few weeks ago I saw a preacher on tv (not the first) who preached that you would never enjoy an amazing sunset (or whatever it was) without the love of God in your heart, that I thought was utterly stupid thing to say.

      It fits in (via a subtle way) to some upcoming slightly linked posts.

      I was interested to see who commented and in what manner, or whether it got ignored.

      • DyingNote says:

        Yes, some very interesting comments further down. The general politeness and restraint (and one or two telling comments on what is ‘considered’ religion) nearly tempt me to create some controversy >;-> But no, I shall go no further

      • Elliot says:

        I’m impressed that it kept a relatively polite tone and as yet, has not pulled in abusive morons. I know some people feel uncomfortable discussing these sorts of views, but they are not forced to comment either!

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    This is a tricky subject to broach. I think you did it well. I especially like how you mentioned you still know right from wrong, and you still appreciate the inherent beauty of things, even if you don’t believe a divine being is behind them.

    • Elliot says:

      Thanks – it just baffles me that some people think you cannot be a good person if you do not follow or believe in some kind of God. I figured it was time to point out a few things.

  3. Margarita says:

    Well done, Elliot! My sweet husband, too, is an Atheist, and a moral, ethical, kind, thoughtful human being! It’s good to talk about all our points of view. Love the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! xoxoM

    • Elliot says:

      I don’t see a reason that I should be a moron, if I don’t believe in a God. Knowledge brings understanding and more. Like your husband I suspect, it is easy to see what is in the world if you open your eyes.

      • Margarita says:

        “it is easy to see what is in the world if you open your eyes.” We are in complete agreement! Sadly, I see many people attached to religions behaving like morons…xoxoM

      • Elliot says:

        I think there are morons everywhere, some of them just like to justify it in a different way.

        If you have chance to come back to the page, check out Sheila’s comment, you might find that interesting.

      • Margarita says:

        Thanks for that heads up, Elliot. I’d like to clarify that I don’t believe in God. And I’m not an Atheist. In both expressions, I feel we’re talking about a belief. For me, God is a concept – not an entity, not an external thing. It is a concept. The concept is that we all share a common source – and I believe science bears me out in this – and that source expresses in infinite ways, eternally. There’s nothing personal about that expression (much as we’d like to think otherwise), it just is. Science is one of the tools, disciplines, modalities that we use to explore that concept, that idea. As is religion. As are the arts. It boggles my mind that we would think that a concept of such complexity could be understood through just one means of calibration. To me, it’s tantamount to saying we can determine how much water there is in the ocean by using a measuring cup! But that’s me.

        Because we all are unique and individual expressions, I feel it’s important to share our experiences and understandings that we may enrich one another, perhaps reveal another path to explore – or not. The discussion is important.

        As you may imagine, we have some very lively discussions in our household. The most interesting thing is that while we have very different approaches, my husband and I are in fundamental agreement that God, especially a god that has to be appeased with appropriate behavior and beliefs, does not exist.

        Back to the belief thing: I don’t have to believe in God, Spirit, a Higher Power, Science, Religion, or anything else. I simply know, and that knowing comes from my experience. Webster defines experience as: “direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge.” My understanding is that Science would say that the ability to replicate that experience with similar results would make it scientific fact. Whatever instruments, calibrators, modalities we choose to use, let’s just be respectful of one another. xoxoM

      • Elliot says:

        I just want to be clear that my previous reply wasn’t pointed at you!

        Thanks for the long and interesting reply. Yes I imagine you have some fun discussions at your house.

        For me God is just a human concept developed to explain things way beyond are actual understanding, and which to an extent, especially in the early days, people were somewhat forced to believe.

        The actual “things going on” are much more brilliant, of which we understand a little but have a lot more to learn. I like your take on God, although you call God in the creation sense (big bang, process, whatever it may be) not in the religious sense which is quite different.

        Anyhoo, great views, and thanks for sharing them – this is one of the reasons why I wanted to continue with the blog. This type of feedback / discussion.

      • Margarita says:

        What? You weren’t singling me out? I’m not THAT special? lol πŸ˜‰
        I’m glad you reminded me to look at other comments. Many times I forget that it’s not just about the post, it’s also about the conversation it engenders. Thanks! xoM

  4. Amen, if you’ll pardon the expression. Some of the nastiest people I’ve ever met have been “Christian” while some of the kindest people I know are atheists. I don’t agree with people who say that you can only be a good person if you’re “God-fearing.” A belief in a higher power—or lack thereof—doesn’t have anything to do with being able to love, or appreciate beauty, or be kind. I get very angry with people who say it does.

    • Elliot says:

      I know a few like that also. Somewhat selfish but because they go to church every sunday they think it is ok to behave that way.Yet if I do a single deed that is selfish, it is (to them) because I don’t believe, with the implication that I am not a good person.

      I agree with you, belief or non belief has little to do with love, appreciation, and many of those things. Maybe 500 years ago when people were not in a position to get educated, but now?

  5. One thing I’ve learned, and glad that I have, is to respect the beliefs of others, as I see that you do, as well. Each person comes to their place of faith, or lack thereof, based on their experiences and exposures. I was raised in a strict Pentecostal home until the age of about 9 or 10 when we stopped going to church altogether. I began to explore different Christian religions when I was a teen. I found myself entrenched in a local church a few years ago, all of my activities surrounding that church until it literally sucked the life out of me. The result was a mix of rebellion and some bad choices, and terrible disappointment by the people and church I’d put myself into, but the entire experience made me question, for the first time in my life, my faith. I felt as if I’d had the wind knocked out of me. The road has been a very difficult one. I’m uncertain as to why humanity has to suffer that way it does. I’m uncertain why we must make mistakes in order to learn. I’m uncertain why people we are meant to be with are yanked away from us too early by death or broken promises. The questions remain, will always remain, but I do believe in God. I think that’s the point of faith, believing even when everything around us is a mess. I’m no longer a believer in religion as I once did, but I am a believer in spirituality. I am happy to recognize each individual as a special contributor to the world. You have made your choices based on your experiences and exposures. What gives you happiness and peace differs from what gives those things to me, and that doesn’t make either one of us wrong – it only makes us different. Thank you for a wonderful topic of discussion.

    • Elliot says:

      This one grabbed you didn’t it?

      I don’t think I was ever a believer and I never liked this idea of faith. That by definition you just have to believe and fundamental to that, you cannot question. The questions are often the fun part. But that said that doesn’t meant that everything a church does is wrong, or that there is not good story, or for example, good architecture.

      Good people exist as believers or non believers, just as bad people do. Some use faith or a belief in something to drive it, others have no interest. Many people have something to offer. Some make more sense than others. Sometimes a point needs to be put across when stupid assertions are being made (which was my original thought behind this post). Or sometimes it is not necessary. So differences all round.

      As a side note I can see how it is difficult for someone brought up with religion who believed it, to really question or, for want of a better way of putting it, break free. To change one way or the other, you need to have confidence in the evidence you have before you, to assert that no, this is what I see as correct.

      Thanks for the thoughts, and long reply Sheila.

      • I love discussing the subject with others who put a lot of thought into it and are respectful to one another. Religion and hypocrisy is a subject I’ve attacked through my poetry and other writings before and as a matter of fact, my next post will be a poem about the very subject. I hope you will read it, even if the message is aimed at Christians πŸ™‚ Thanks again for a great post!

      • Elliot says:

        I think the level we have been discussing it here is much different from arguing about which is “right” and the evidence for and against. Both are interesting in different ways. The hypocrisy is also an interesting topic.

        Yes I shall read the poem. Just because I do not believe in God doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy aspects of it or think everything about it is wrong. I don’t say that as a means to correct you, just to point out that I think that way. Still lots of interesting writings on the subject πŸ™‚

  6. RebeccaV says:

    I really appreciated this post. I’m on the Christian end of the spectrum on this, but every time I consider a post about something related to my faith it usually sits in “drafts” for several days (if not weeks or months) and only gets posted after a few seconds (minutes?) of trepidation over the “publish” button. I’m not sure why that’s the case: more personal? More controversial? More serious? In any case, thanks for hitting the button and sharing with the blogosphere. There’s such value in hearing other honest stories and perspectives on this topic.

    • Elliot says:

      Thanks Rebecca. Sometimes you just have to go for it and put it out there, and people can think what they want about it, or agree / disagree. Being challenged or being challenging, is part of the fun πŸ™‚

      Thanks for your comments, and glad you got something out of this post.

  7. A very interesting post. Yes we do see much hipocrasy and evil deeds committed in the name of “religion” and yet, I do sometimes wonder how our solar systems were created accientally. I subscribe to the Pascal Wager – it is more beneficial to believe that God exists than not, although the truth can never be known. And, your post also reminded me how much I want to read Christopher Hitchens. So I’m going to.

    • Elliot says:

      I’m not so sure we were created accidentally, more in the sense of there being some complex processes going on that we don’t fully understand yet, but might be mind blowing if we can work them out. Or at least the ingredients and recipe of it. I think some of it is like throwing a bowl of sweets in the air and watching the pattern as they land. Each time will be different although the fundamental building blocks are the same. That sort of randomness creates different life forms (well that and evolutionary processes).

      Jerry Coyne’s book shows some evidence in our own bodies for how we have evolved, and it is very interesting, whether you believe something else or not. You cannot go wrong with Hitch though. Have you ever read any of his collections of essays?

      • No, I have never read his essays but I know that he is a great writer. I used to see him on Bill Maher’s show and loved what he had to say. Do you have a particular collection of essays to recommend?

      • Elliot says:

        The two main ones are “Love, Poverty & war” or the more recent “Arguably” but both are good (still working on and off through the latter). They are the sort of thing you can read an essay every day or two, whilst also reading something else.

        I used to like on Bill’s show how he wasn’t ashamed of the whiskey in a clear glass, and complained of other guests hiding it in a mug!

  8. jmmcdowell says:

    I’ll never post about religion or politics because I don’t want trolls on my blog. Also, I’d like my future books to appeal to a wide variety of readers, and in this day and age, there seems to be far too much of the “if you’re not like me, then I don’t like you” mentality. Also, I’m just not the kind of person to talk openly with others about such personal subjects.

    I’m glad to see that with the respectful tone of your post, the comments are following suit. Of course, that may simply mean respectful people are the ones commenting and the trolls haven’t found you yet. πŸ˜‰

    • Elliot says:

      I was after a more considered tone for this. Looking into what is considered right and the relevant arguments for such, are covered in many places in a much better way than I could. I figured this was about all I could really add to that at this time.

      If someone doesn’t like it, they are welcome to disagree or not follow, or whatever, but if they don’t like me for it, then that’s for them and it is no real loss on my part. I see where you are coming from and once over I considered not putting something like this up. But then I figured that if that puts some people off, that they are not really willing to engage / accept / agree to disagree then I will not be pandering to them. I’ll take considered comments from anyone whether I think their beliefs are correct or not because I’m willing to give everyone a chance to contribute or add something, or even reconsider my own opinions. Ones who are not willing to give more or less the same back are welcome to move on.

  9. I don’t think religion and morality go hand in hand. I’ve met some really amoral people who believed in God yet never lived by the moral tenets of their beliefs. I think owning your beliefs and structuring a life you can be proud of are the apex of being a human being. πŸ™‚

    • Elliot says:

      I think many the religious view is that they do, but I think you refer more to the reality of it, or more specifically, the reality of how many live it. – But I pretty much agree πŸ™‚

  10. Me too. Raised Catholic, and that was enough to put me off for life, what with their ridiculous thoughts on contraception and homosexuality. I consider myself a moral person, and I don’t need the big stick to beat myself of some all-powerful father… the only thing I wonder is why humans have always sought some religion or another, it’s definitely all about power, the power of story-telling, the use of mythology as a tool to control.

    • Elliot says:

      Although I went to a church aided school my parents are not religious, but don’t really make a big deal out of it either, so I suspect that was an obvious influence. Nothing I have learnt since has convinced me I was wrong.

      If you look up some of the history of story, what we can know anyway, some of the earliest stories are God like in some way or other, and would later appear in revised form in religious texts. It was probably a convenient way to describe the world. When we didn’t know how much of it worked, then someone else must be controlling it, more powerful than ourselves. How we got to the other stuff, “you must do this and that” I suspect is more about control, an trying to reduce the amount of people killing each other within a society, (although that didn’t stop it much one society to the next).

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