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Atheists catch a lot of heat. I know because I am one. I live in the Heart of Darkness, (that would be the opposite of enlightenment). There are churches everywhere and the little town, which needs commerce regularly hosts brand new mega churches, but eschews restaurants and retail.
Many of the people I have met go to church every Sunday, and some on Wednesday, which I never understood, and when services are over they’re at home drinking beer talking about hanging “niggers.”
This is life in the Deep South. It’s a region that is full of contradictions, hypocrisy and an awful prejudice, coupled with a narrow minded view of the world, while all the while preaching Jesus.
Most businesses close on Sunday and during the week restaurants, dentist’s offices, and some retail outlets pipe in Christian music which is sometime blared at full volume over the sound system. The local electric co-op holds quarterly meetings for the public. The entertainment: A Christian Rock band!
One of the first things you will be asked when attending any sort of function is what church you attend. If you don’t have an answer, or, worse yet, claim atheism, you will be shunned. So I am attuned to the discrimination that we atheists sometimes suffer.
Here Nate Thomas states his case:
After delivering a series of strongly worded personal views and aggressively thought provoking opinions, a now-absent Christian acquaintance wrote me on Facebook and asked how I could “be so calloused and have so much bitterness toward the world” for merely being an atheist. This was my reply:
Let me begin by saying I lost my faith while sitting in Confirmation class during one of my high school years. Finding out that there were two stories of Creationism – no matter how similar – in the Bible, tells me Yahweh couldn’t get his own story straight. A record of writings doesn’t prove the existence of a god in any manner. Harry Potter is a book, too, but it doesn’t mean Voldemort is real. The Bible was constructed out of hundreds of books (or even thousands by some scholars’ records) by a bunch of old, wealthy, white men who chose which books were divinely inspired. Who are we, as humble and lowly humans, to interpret what is holy and divine? Man’s brain is a peanut compared to the magnificence of a Great Creator, right?
If you want to get your moral fabric from a book, it should perceptibly not be from the Bible. Something tells me you haven’t read it cover to cover, but perhaps only learned of select passages as they were preached. Was the following passage ever preached to the congregation of your church? To me, this is one of the most exceedingly immoral demands:
If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. (Deuteronomy 17:2-3,5)
In plain English, you are ordered to kill me because I’m atheist.
There are countless other passages that I will not bore you with, but let’s look at the story of Abraham just briefly. We all know it well: Yahweh tells Abraham to kill his son on a mountain, only to say, “Nah, I’m just kidding! I was testing your faith.” Seems to me that Yahweh is pretty cruel and has a sick sense of humor. If there was one true god, would he not know the level of faith possessed by Abraham? After all, he is said to be all-knowing.
Let’s also review free will versus a god-given plan. You simply cannot have both. If you have free will, then it is not possible for Yahweh to have a plan made out for you. If Yahweh does have a plan for you, then you cannot truly have free will for your destiny is already mapped. This is an absurdly conflicting paradox.
The query I raise to you is, “Why does there HAVE TO BE something after this?” I am intimately content in knowing that the energy levels of my body will be deposited back into the Universe upon my death. Carl Sagan said it best in his book Cosmos:
The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff. (190)
From Mr. Sagan’s Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium:
I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. (258)
It amazes me that I can take a simple comedic anecdote and “offend” you (or anyone, rather, for that matter). Why should it offend you? I do not become offended when someone says they’ll pray for me. I instead offer them a lighter load in their daily prayers by suggesting they can save their breath on my behalf. I also find it funny how every religion is OK with offending every other religion so long as their own god isn’t the one catching any flak. For example, the man who voiced the character of Chef on South Park left because the show began poking fun at Scientology, of which he was a follower, but for years he bashed Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and countless other minor religions. Have you ever said, “Holy cow!”? Congratulations, you just offended most of India who hold cows sacred. Do you enjoy indulging in a hot ham and cheese sandwich? You sicken the Jews and Muslims!
And if my beliefs send me to hell because I find it hard in this time of scientific advancement to believe in something so rudimentary, even though I’m a really good person being nothing more than a victim of my time, then that’s OK; that’s not the kind of god I want to be associated with. By dogmatic rule, all the interesting people are in hell anyway. Unfortunately, I’m sure I would get pretty bored of them after the first million years. And that’ll be just the beginning!
Not surprisingly, I received no reply.
Many thanks to the South Dakota Examiner