11 April 2013

Ask me about my wein -- errr... atheism. I meant atheism.


I am an outspoken atheist from a small town on the border of Georgia and Alabama. Because of this, the majority of those I know and care for have strong religious convictions that encourage them to talk religion with me. More often than not, those that I am approached by are Christians and Jehovah's Witnesses (I am not counting the door knockers). I am rarely approached by Jewish, Muslim, or Mormon friends/strangers (outside of door knockers, which I am not counting) that wish to discuss religion, and I am not sure why to be honest. I suppose I just do not know as many of them. 

In all of  the times that I have been approached by strangers and loved ones that hold a religious belief, not once have they ever wanted to talk about atheism. What it is like living without god. Why I am happier as an atheist, or even if I am happier. Often they will incite a discussion under the guise of curiosity about atheism, but the moment the conversation starts, they go from feigning curiosity to simply waiting for their turn to talk so they can say, "Well, you know the Bible says..." followed by some cliche line, common sense statement, or twisted interpretation they think will relate enough with me to say, "Hey! I think shooting children in the face is wrong too! Maybe I was wrong about this whole religion thing, gee golly pumpernickel pop," or do their best to convince me that I subconsciously believe and am only saying I don't because of traumatic experiences.

By the way, the assumption and accusation that I could only be an atheist if I experienced some kind of trauma that just made me angry is insulting in ways I cannot even begin to explain. If you are a Christian or any other believer in a higher power, and you think like this, stop it. Stop it right fucking now. You may not realize it, but you are basically telling us we are petulant children throwing a tantrum. Idiots incapable of independent thought or self discovery. It is patronizing, infuriating, and shows a total lack of interest in the truth or who we are. I have never, not once, met a single atheist that claims trauma and anger as their reason for leaving their religion. Some may have had trauma or mistreatment give them reason to question and research, but it was not the reason. A catalyst is not a reason. Remember that.

So, back to the point of this post, all religious discussions end up being me debating with the believer in ways that feel like a competition to see who knows the most about THEIR belief system. The thing is, I have stopped trying to learn more about their religion[s], because I do not believe in them. I do not want to waste my time trying to learn more about something I do not believe in, just to explain to other people why I do not believe in it. It’s ridiculous. I do not need to justify or explain why I do not believe a fantastical claim that lacks ANY actual evidence. On top of that, not once has any of them shown any attempt at understanding atheism. At most, there will be one or two that claim to have been atheists or agnostic at one time, and then attribute that time to being angry at the world or god or just following a fad. These people are often the ones that are the most positive that trauma is why we do not believe, while often stating that they found Jesus BECAUSE OF A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE (What do you know? The trauma argument comes full circle).

Just once I would like to have someone actually show an interest in why I deconverted and/or what MY atheism is, and not because they want to try and reverse it. Someone with an honest curiosity. You know, besides other atheists. We seem to be the only ones interested in why and how we came to where we are, and our stories are mostly the same. We often come from different levels of previous religious belief, but almost all of us have an increased knowledge and understanding of our previous religion as the reason we stopped buying into them. A sense of truth over comfort, which surprisingly enough, is more comforting than the comfortable lie we were force-fed as children. But more importantly than why or how we got to where we are, is who we are now. What things do we believe? What motivates us? Excites us about life? Where does our passion lie? Instead of throwing verse after verse at us in hopes of proving we misread something, ask us what we feel is a better alternative to religion for gaining the same benefits you are telling us you get from your faith.

My name is Jason Caldwell. I am 30 years old and have been openly atheist for 10 years. I do not care about the things I do not believe in, and do not owe anyone an answer for why I do not believe outlandish claims. I do not reject truth to protect my ego, and I do not need to believe in a supreme being to be a good person. I do not believe there is anything positive for humanity that is unique to religious faith. I enjoy sharing and learning what others believe and do not believe, but I do not enjoy being denied the courtesies that I give in discussions about personal beliefs and ideals. I am open about everything, and I do not filter my opinions to coddle the beliefs of others, nor do I expect or want anyone to filter their beliefs to coddle me.

Go ahead, ask me about my atheism. Ask me why I do not need religious faith.

4 comments:

  1. and this is why I refuse to discuss religion with most people. It's not that I'm "afraid" or anything ridiculous like that. Their arguments are never based on facts, something I value highly...and they have to shove their values down my throat while totally disregarding mine, which I don't impose on others.

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    1. On top of that, the moment you start showing any kind of passion for your own views in opposition of their views, you will be called "no better than the fundamentalists you despise," which is even more infuriating.

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  2. I have been ready to declare myself an atheist for quite a long time, but conversations like this have kept me afraid. Following any teachings of a god does not compel me to be a good person. I do. Again, you have given me much food for thought.

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    1. Religion holds no copyright on morality, and I think that is something people of all walks of life need to understand. I'm glad I was able to relate to you. :)

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