4.11.2012

Myths about atheists.


In a place where an overwhelming amount of blogs have the little sidebar link with "My Faith" or "Our Beliefs" on it, it's kind of daunting sometimes feeling like I'm the only atheist out there.  In fact, living in Salt Lake City, sometimes I feel that way anyway, but the feeling seems to intensify as soon as I step on my Blogger page.  I don't mind, but it definitely puts me at an odd end when it comes to writing about atheism. I never really seem to know what to say, and I'm awkward in general, so unlike things like writing or nature where I can just type for hours and not notice the clock, I sit here thinking about my beliefs and seriously, have no utter idea where to begin.

However, atheism is a huge part of my life.  Pretty much the only social networking I do (other than blogging) is geared towards atheist activism.  I have an atheist testimonial video on weareatheism.com. I have subscriptions to atheist newsletters, newspapers, and magazines, which I like to sit and read and feel like a sir.  Atheism is gaining ground in America, and for someone who grew up in a small backwoods Baptist community, this is entirely fascinating to watch develop. Of the few causes I consider myself an "activist" in, atheism tops my list.  So, I'm going to do my best to show a few of what I've come to find are the most common myths about atheists/atheism, and explain why, at least from this atheist's point of view, they are myths.

1. Atheists in general are unhappy/are missing a piece in their life.  I get this one all the time.  I recently got really upset when someone blatantly accused my brother of being unhappy "and not knowing it" (he is an atheist as well.)  The road to atheism is very rarely driven by people who don't have a lot of curiosity and a lot of questions for the world.  We find happiness in all the things non-atheists find happiness in--companionship, family, good food, funny movies, sports, whatever it is that floats your boat.  As far as the "void" that we get talked to about a lot, most of us have tried to fill that with religion at some point in the past and for whatever reason it didn't work, so we turned instead to reason, logic, and science.  And for most of us, in different amounts, that fascination with the Universe is the only thing we can equivalate in any terms to a void we've filled.  I'm not saying that all atheists are happy Atomic Age families---but to categorize us all as generally unhappy is completely unfair and unrealistic, when there are just as many religious people with issues that can make them unhappy.


2. Atheists have never given religion a chance; they don't understand what it's about.  False.  We DO understand what it's about.  We just simply don't agree with it or find it reasonable to accept as the truth.  I have never personally met an atheist or talked to one, or listened to an atheist's story, and NOT heard "I tried praying" or "I tried to believe/make sense of it all" and couldn't.  I myself have been in and out of so many different churches I can't count them.  I worked at a church for two years.  Again, the path to atheism is rarely, for Americans at least, something we're taught from birth.  It's always a story of deep consideration.  And it's always difficult, because the amount of families who are accepting is marginally smaller than the amount who are not accepting.  When my own mother heard that I believed in evolution she broke down in tears and blamed herself.  (I was 12 years old.)  I won't get too personal here, but I will say that I've had moments where I really needed peace and comfort, I begged for it, and was met with silence.  This has happened since I was ten years old.  So, don't assume that every atheist is just a smug brainiac who has always been self-assured of their godless existence. Rarely is it so.



3. Atheists have no morals/or; nowhere to get their morals from.  I think this one bothers me the most.  Morals are not exclusive to the Bible (or other religious text.)  Morals come from understanding what is acceptable and decent in this life.  Atheists have interactions with friends and family just like religious people.  Atheists also have their own decisions to weigh and make just like religious people do.  We have to live with ourselves the same way anyone else does.  The difference is that our only "Judge" is ourselves.  We must make decisions that affect ourselves and others based on what we feel is right.  And honestly, usually what atheists feel is right or wrong does not hugely differ from the standard "religious" texts.  We know killing is bad.  We know stealing is bad.  We know you should apologize when you're wrong, and be grateful when something good happens.  We love and cherish people in our lives and don't wish to hurt them.  The only thing missing out of the equation is literally a book with a list we have to follow.  Independent, we make our own conclusions and though they might not be based on God's Word, they are almost always based on deep personal reflection as well as logic and reason.




4. Atheism is a religion. I've tried to understand this one and I simply can't, yet I hear it all the time.  From everyone to random forum users to politicians.  If atheism is a religion, bald is a hairstyle.  Off is a television channel.  Dead is a career. There is no religion in the equation.  We may congregate and support each other, but we do not worship a deity, which is what religion is.  So, wherever this myth has formed from--it's just that, a myth.  And on that same note, we are NOT DEVIL WORSHIPPERS OR SATANIC.  We don't believe in God, so we likewise do NOT believe in Satan.  I literally have had this happen to me, verbatim:  "So are you a Christian?" "No, I'm an atheist."  "Are you satanic?"

-facepalm-


5.  Atheists can't be thankful or grateful. This one is pretty commonplace too, which surprises me.  I guess it does make sense, when one is religious, to thank God for every grace and moment of gratefulness.  That might explain why religious folk don't often understand who or what we thank.  And the answer to that is, we don't have a who or a what.  We just are.  We just are thankful.  Becoming an atheist was so infinitely humbling for me, and I'm still humbled everyday thanks to my choice.  When you see things like the Hubble Deep Field or listen to someone like Carl Sagan speak about the Blue Dot, life becomes so indescribably fragile and fleeting.  Atheists don't believe they were created for any cosmic purpose, rather that our very complex existence in itself is one of the Universe's amazing accomplishments.  In other words, a fortunate accident.  A "lucky" mashup of all the necessary items for our survival.  And that, when you consider the scope of the Universe itself, is uplifting and humbling at the same time.

So when I am thankful, no I don't thank God, rather I just enjoy the feeling of whatever is making me happy at the time.  I understand how insignificant yet how astounding our race and our planet are, and that is the basis of atheist living.  It may sound lonely, especially to a devoted follower of religion, but you have nothing to worry about.  It's liberating and enjoyable.  If it wasn't, for us atheists, we would no doubt be religious.  Our choices are for us.

“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life - weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.” 

--Lawrence Krauss





























13 comments :

  1. I have a theory as to why religious people accuse us of having a religion called atheism. It is the same reason they say that it takes faith to beieve certain scientific principles. They do not understand logic. They believe that we blindly chose Atheism like they blindly chose their mythology. They cannot wrap their heads around the idea of really analyzing a view point, not finding justification but really scrutinizing. So, they accuse us of the same silly self deciet that they engage in.

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    1. That makes sense to me, I think it is indeed a manner of not stepping outside their own mindset and thought matrices. They seem to be unable to fathom the idea of "nothing" as clearly as we've rejected the idea of "Skydaddy." lol.

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  2. Hmmm... Although I'm a Christian, I do see where your points make sense. I'm not one to go around telling people "you're wrong you're going to HELLLLLLL!!!" and I can't stand the people that do. If atheism is what makes you happy, go for it! Christianity is what makes me happy. And besides, the only way anyone will find out if they're wrong or right is when they die, and by then it's a little late to change your mind... Just saying.

    The quote you posted about the stardust was AWESOME. Made me stop and think for a second. And look from my right hand to my left again and again like an infant who has just discovered their hands. :P

    LOVE your blog!! :D P.S. - Every tim I see your banner, I think of a song my grandfather ues to play for me when i was a kid... "Hey little red riding hood you sure are looking good. You're everything a big bad wolf could want..." :P

    -Ella

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    1. Before I have to say anything, lol, I have to mention that I love your derpette picture. And I looove your blog, I follow you! :D

      Anyway, some of my best friends on this earth are Christian--one is a very devout Mormon who I can't even say the word "ass" around. LOL. I just feel like atheists have an undeserved bad rep. It's nothing against anyone's religion, more of a defense against my own lack of religion. If that makes sense.

      That quote is one of my favorites!!! I'm glad you liked it. It really helps me feel better when I'm in a crappy mood. I'M STARDUST. :D

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    2. I think it's silly that Christians whos say "oh don't judge people it's bad" are some of the most judgemental people I know.

      I love my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but some of them give us a bad rep, too. If you don't believe in my God or even in any god, okay. End of story. Time for a new topic. But a lot of people can't move on from that, and that bugs me.

      I'm soooo thrilled that you like my derpette picture!! :D I love that you said "like a sir" in one of your blogs! Woot!

      And I follow you now, too! Hooray for interwebs stalkers!!

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    3. hahahah well I truly believe it is human nature to observe things and people and make judgments on them, but I think it's entirely unfair to judge someone on a religious label, as everyone is different. No two atheists are alike, no two Mormons are alike, et cetera. Which is why I never ask that. My friends all have one thing in common: they're beautiful and loving people who enrich the world in some way. I don't care who they talk to in their head over Sunday breakfast. hahah! (or who they DON'T talk to, either)

      I will agree though that Christians are the reason for Christianity's bad rep. You'd be amazed at some of the epic judging that goes on. Or maybe you wouldn't, which is worse, lol. It's almost as nasty a topic as politics, and one I like to keep out of my blog for the most part, but I do love atheism and am passionate about it, so every now and then it'll pop up.

      Stalkers unite! :D

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  3. We learned in biology about how we are actually made of stars and the science behind it and I loved it! I've heard it before, but never knew the science behind it.

    This was a great and truthful post! I don't consider myself atheist or anything else because I don't feel the need to label myself when it comes to something that doesn't affect my life in a major way, but I'd be closest to an atheist than most religions. Though I don't believe in 'nothing' because I do believe in energy and whatnot, but I never feel the need to explain it to people haha I did like this though and your points are all so valid and I love that you're not just saying, 'You're stupid because you believe in God!'

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    1. I honestly would love to sit down in a lecture and hear that discussion. That would seriously be amazing.

      I really totally get what you're saying with not feeling the need to label yourself. It honestly didn't affect me for quite a few years either, so I never really thought about it, but I started becoming an activist when I noticed the bad rep that atheists get and how they're not really "accepted" in a lot of places (especially in the world capital of Mormons lol)

      I still never like debating with religious people, because it's not my place or my want to change anyone's mind, and I hate arguing over things like that, we may as well be arguing over what the best color is. Entirely pointless. lol.

      I'm not an atheist in the most traditional sense either! Other atheists tease me for charting horoscopes and reading tarot cards and things like that :P But hey, my great-grandmother was one of the most notorious witches in the south, I have to keep up the family traditions LOOOL!

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  4. Although I believe in God, I have the utmost respect for other people's different beliefs (or non-beliefs). Truly, I think the best way to share your beliefs is to let your actions speak louder than your words. Be an awesome person and that's all that should matter, in my opinion!
    I hope you don't feel like you're alone in a world of religious blogging! I think, overall, the blogworld is a pretty accepting and diverse place :)

    Andrea
    Left brain, right brain, pug brain.

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    1. As an atheist, I really don't have much respect for Christian (or any other religious) belief, but I do have respect for people who earn it. And I agree absolutely, that's all about action. If there was a way for me to never know someone else's religion or lack of, that'd be fine. Actions speak the loudest and that's what I go off of!

      I feel less alone after writing this post, actually! I'd never really mentioned it here before, but I think afterward I feel not so alone. Religious or not, the ladies around here are pretty supportive and awesome :D Thanks for commenting!

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  5. You dear lady are brilliant. I was just telling someone that when I read blogs I have a hard time continuing if they have the OUR FAITH or MY LOVE OF GOD section. Which unfortunately can lead me away from several blogs I might otherwise like. It seems tiresome to spend ones life living for something that may or be not be there, but to each their own, I like you have friends in both sects. As a debater, the logical proof orientated part of me has aligned with most great thinkers of our time in my lack of belief, but as you discuss that doesn't eliminate whole parts of me. I do love that you chose to write about it, it always shocks people to find someone to be an atheist, which might actually be sadder!

    PS I love that you chose the damask.

    PPS You deserve the Leibster

    PPPS Have a good day my ginga sista.

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    1. hahahah I know what you mean, I look at those buttons with a perturbed look, a la Leo DiCaprio in the Aviator. LOL.

      I'm glad that you can relate; it's so frustrating to be assumed to be "less whole" than those with their fancy sky-residing friends. And that's why I'm an atheism activist; not to push religion away, but to show people it's okay to come out as atheist. It shouldn't be feared of frowned upon, and the more common it becomes, the less close-minded people will have sway over the popular opinion.

      So I just HAD to write something!!! I may write more as the mood strikes. Haha. And I guess love it or hate it this is one of my most viewed entries so far, so there you go.

      I'm glad you like the damask! I'm in love with it!!!

      yes ma'am miss ginger!!!!!

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  6. I love this post, and I think you might be one of my new favourite bloggers. :)

    I'm an atheist too, and I've also felt like I'm the ONLY blogger who doesn't have references to God/Jesus/my faith in my bio or writing. It doesn't bother me as much now as it used to, but I still feel like I stick out a bit, and like maybe my (mostly Christian) readers are judging me a bit. :S

    Fortunately for me, I live in New Zealand, which is a pretty liberal and secular country, so at least I don't feel like my non-belief makes me stand out in real life.

    "If atheism is a religion, bald is a hairstyle. Off is a television channel. Dead is a career." <- I really like this. It makes sense. :)

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