How To Be An Atheist

As this year comes to an end, the atheist blogosphere thing seems to be hotting up.  Lots of posts about why people became atheists, lots of

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism

The Out Campaign

posts about what it means to be an atheist.  Probably something to do with the Rebirth of the Unconquered Sun, which comes but once a year and makes people reflective.

In the spirit of giving, I thought I would share some thoughts with you.  Because I am just that kind.  So, back to me.  I had given Christianity a fair few good goes up until my late teens.  My mum is a lapsed Catholic (though she unlapses for special occasions like funerals) and my dad was probably Protestant.  So I was baptised in my local church (St Peters) and then never set foot in the place again.  My sister was christened in a different local church and my brother in a different one again.  I have the feeling that it was the act of baptism that was important to my mum, rather than anything else.  We never discussed religion in the house and, to all intents and purposes, it didn’t really exist.  But I still had a faith of sorts – though it was a mish mash of things and tended to only get dusted off for Sunday School (which was weird – you had to attend the normal service and then get ushered out part way through.  I used to wonder what happened at the second part of the service that was adults only.  I decided they were taught magic spells and when I was older I’d be able to learn them too.)  Sunday School was all right – lots of rote learning and quizzes and running around the church yard.  And then I didn’t bother – except when the local vicar gave morning assemblies at school.  But, and here’s the thing, despite never going to church and despite not thinking about religion or God or the Bible, I was still a Christian.  D’ya see?

Later on I got taken to a Fellowship Church service by a friend and ended up getting “Baptised in the Spirit” (which is from Acts, I think).  My aim in this second baptism was to get the gift of Tongues.  This is known as Glossolalia and appears to be a nonsense language.  Regardless, I didn’t get it and felt very cheated.  So I didn’t bother with that again.  Truth be told, the whole thing made me very uncomfortable and they had me make up a prayer on the spot as I recall.  A gift for bullshit allowed me to freestyle a prayer which lasted for 5-10 minutes (or, in real terms, for flipping ages) and it seemed to convince them.  And yes, I am well aware that I was probably doing it wrong.

Later again, I returned to the Church of England.  As an aside, CofE is the best of all the various cults – you get to be a Christian but don’t have to prove it or anything like that, it’s very laid back and no one asks any difficult questions.  And I got confirmed there which means I can take communion whenever it’s offered.  It was not long after that that I began to question my half-hearted lame beliefs.  For a short time it was a bit scary – the idea of not believing felt a bit like free-fall.  But I got over it and have been much happier ever since.  I now know that luck/coincidence can happen.  I now know that making wishes to my imaginary friend not only doesn’t work, but that they are entirely unnecessary.  And I don’t feel guilt over sleeping in on Sundays!!

Despite all the chat and the arguments, it’s really easy to be an atheist.  You just don’t have to believe in god or gods.  Which sounds hard, but isn’t.  Christians do not believe in Allah.  They don’t believe in any of the Norse gods or the Indian gods or the Native American gods or the Sumerian gods or in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.  And this goes for the believers of any religion – they don’t believe in anyone else’s gods.  So the unbelief is already there and it just needs a little tip to go into full unbelief.  So there you go, lose the shackles of belief and you, too, can be an atheist.  There are no mandatory meetings (no holidays either unfortunately) and you don’t have to twist your head around any of the weirder writings (a man is his own father and the herald of his own birth, really?  your father was a swan and your father was a rain shower?  Really?) and you don’t have to feel guilty just for existing.

Let’s make 2010 the year of reality and throw off the shackles of your Bronze Age beliefs!

Advertisements

Posted on 29 December, 2009, in Generalities, Writings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. You know, as an atheist myself, I really hate the stereotype's that class us godless people as criminals, evildoers, baby eaters, etc. But most don't realize that on the contrary, most atheists I know are more likely to cherish life and their own lives just as much as a religious person or even more. Most also fall in love with our natural world and all the wonders in the Universe to seek the real truth of why were here, how we came about and so on. As an atheist, most I know realize and accept that this life we were given is our one shot, there is no afterlife so we better make the most of it while we can.

    Now I'm not saying all religious people take life for granted but it seems a lot of them do, believing that screwing up in this life, they still await the day to be with their beloved god in a perfect place just because they accept him.

    I say, if you're religious or not, live life to the fullest like there is no afterlife, as nice as an afterlife sounds, it's just not a feasible reality or rational thinking. Don't expect too much when you die, you're likely only to be let down and disappointed when that afterlife doesn't exist, but then again, since it doesn't exist you won't know any better at that point. 😉
    My recent post Lawsuit Threatened Over Atheist City Councilman [2]

  2. I agree completely Drew. I think it's a fact that, in the US at least, 95% of the residents identify as Christian. 95%! Even if there are no other religions identified and everyone outside the 95% is called atheist that still a huge disparity and a very good reason to ditch religion fast.

    It's not so much that Christians take life for granted, it's that many of them are so focused on the next life that they forget that you still have to do around 70 years of this one. If they are right and there is a next life, they should put more effort into this one. Atheists have the advantage in that we know that this is it and want this life to be a good one.
    My recent post How To Be An Atheist

    • Actually the number is growing for non-religious here. Last time I read, it's almost up to 15%, but not all claim to be an atheist, that 15% includes atheists which is still around 5% and the remaining are either agnostic or just claim to be non-religious by the standard of, I don't go to church or affiliate myself with organized religion.

  3. I am not atheist but I believe that religion shouldn't be the one to dictate your actions but your own conscience. You can be good even if you are not religious.

    My recent post Heart Evangelista bagging the trophy on MMFF

  4. Funny post to have after your Christmas post. But it is not that hard to not believe. I think that is an argument amoung Christians that it is harder to believe therefore there must be a God. Either way I think it is best to respect everyones religion or lack of it.

  5. And, IIRC, 15% of the US population identifies itself as "no religion". So, prison populations are a good way of gauging the outside world in terms of religion!

  6. If religion is a mistake of a foolhardy idea, then i you can not be so wrong to die believing
    My recent post PPO Insurance and Plans and deductibles

  7. Beth Charette

    Actually there are no such people as atheists. And there are no real Deists either.

    There are only agnostics. No one knows for sure if there is a big banger out there.

    Eventhe most devout fundamentalist Christian or Muslim doesn't know for sure. (If they did, free will would disappear.)

    So, either we work from faith that there is a God, or we work from faith that there isn't a God. But, at bottom, true atheism or true Deism is impossible. Emotionalism on one side or the other, yes. Absolute knowledge pro or con, NO.

    But, of course, no one wants to admit their ignorance. Instead, they prefer to shout to the rafters about their faith. So be it. No me.
    My recent post New Article: Elf Sightings: Tales from Ancient Lands

    • I have to call bullshit on your terminology and definitions.

      Atheist = Lack of belief in a god or gods, supreme being or creator of universe.
      Agnostic = Someone who doubts the existence of a god(s), supreme being or creator of universe, or the unknowing with existing facts, evidence, lack of evidence, etc.
      Deism = Belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to it.

      There are definitely true atheists, agnostics and or deists. Atheists don't use faith or believe to define their stance. Read the definitions and don't put your own terminology or "belief" into use. I'm an atheist, I'm not agnostic, got it? There's no faith involve in knowing there isn't a god or gods. Faith is the belief that is not based on proof or evidence. There's more evidence and facts around science, using reason and rationale, since science can't prove a god does exist, that likely means he/she/it doesn't exist. Science keeps finding answers to questions while religion and the dogma that follows it is still being preached from a 2000 year old book.

      Okay, I'm done ranting about why people say such asinine utter crap and twist meanings of words around to suit themselves.
      My recent post Lawsuit Threatened Over Atheist City Councilman [2]

  8. Step One:don't believe in any gods.

    That's it, there are no steps two, three, or four. All you have to do is not believe in the existence of any gods. None of the following are steps in becoming an atheist:

    # You don't have to deny the existence of any gods
    # You don't have to assert that no gods exist
    # You don't have to be certain that no gods exist
    # You don't have to join the Communist Party
    # You don't have to be rebelling against your family
    # You don't have to stop celebrating Christmas
    # You don't have to burn a picture of Jesus
    # You don't have to eat Christian babies in satanic

  9. laughed a little @Msilvestre's steps.

    It's a pretty serious conversation. I know a few atheists; getting them to admit it is pretty tough. I know one guy who keeps it to himself because he believes it will hurt his chances at getting his next job.
    My recent post Rhode Island Auto Glass and Windshield page

  10. AdwordsConsutant

    Step One:don't believe in any gods.

    That's it, there are no steps two, three, or four. All you have to do is not believe in the existence of any gods.

    Atheism, in its broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of gods. This definition includes both those who assert that there are no gods, and those who make no claim about whether gods exist or not. Simply stated, anyone who does not say "I believe a god/gods exist," is, by definition, an atheist. Narrower and more common definitions, however, often only qualify those who assert there are no gods as atheists, labeling the others as agnostics or simply non-theists.

    There is no single ideology that all atheists share, nor are there any institutionalized rituals or behaviors. There are certain individuals whose religious or spiritual beliefs some might describe as atheistic, though those holding such beliefs do not normally describe themselves as atheists.

    Google Adwords Consutant

  11. Step One:don't believe in any gods.

    That's it, there are no steps two, three, or four. All you have to do is not believe in the existence of any gods. None of the following are steps in becoming an atheist:

    # You don't have to deny the existence of any gods
    # You don't have to assert that no gods exist
    # You don't have to be certain that no gods exist
    # You don't have to join the Communist Party

    There is no single ideology that all atheists share, nor are there any institutionalized rituals or behaviors. There are certain individuals whose religious or spiritual beliefs some might describe as atheistic, though those holding such beliefs do not normally describe themselves as atheists.

  12. The idea that atheism is some sort of rebellion is a common one, but also quite absurd. I often receive emails saying that I'm rebelling because I don't like the idea of "something bigger than me", or I don't want to be accountable to a higher power, and so on. If that was the case, then I would not be an atheist, because I would still believe in the God I was trying to get away from! I do not merely say I am an atheist in order to make life easier for myself – I actually am an atheist. I do not believe in the gods of the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and all the rest. If I was just rebelling, then surely I would know that God would still be there, waiting for me when I die. The accusation of rebellion seems to come from theists who are simply unable to accept the fact that there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who just do not believe in their god, or anyone else's. The idea that "everyone believes in something" is so deeply ingrained in their psyche, and their own belief is so deeply held and important to them, that the only way they can deal with non-belief is to deny that it actually exists (or they start saying that atheism is itself a religion). It's funny, but I've never heard of a Christian saying to a Hindu "Ah, but you really do believe in Jesus Christ, you're just in denial. When are you going to stop pretending? All this worship of Vishnu is just rebelling against what you know in your heart is true!"

  13. Being an atheist is easy — all that it requires is not believing in any gods. Existing as an atheist, though, isn’t always easy because so many people think so poorly of atheists. In more secular societies where lots of people are atheists, existing as an atheist will be easier because there is less pressure telling them that being an atheist is immoral, unpatriotic, or dangerous. In more religious societies, the increased pressure will make existing as an atheist very difficult for some.

  14. An atheist believes that a god/gods do NOT exist. Most atheists observe that there is no proof that a god/gods exist. Because there is no verifiable evidence that a god/gods exist, they do not incorporate a god/gods into their decision making. Agnostics do not believe it is possible to know of the existence of a god or gods.

  15. Actually, atheism in it's only sense is an absence of belief in gods. There are various people who assign various names to themselves but atheism is an awesome club and the only requirement for membership is to not believe in any deities at all.

    No badges, no rituals, no belief.

  16. I used to attend church fervently when I was young. And there was this time this Canadian evangelist came over and conducted a small "crusade." At the end of the service, I asked to be baptized in the Holy Spirit to receive the gift of tongues, guess what happened? I did not feel anything and the evangelist pressed me down until I fell. After that, some helpers came and put some white clothing on me. I had to close my eyes for fear I would be labeled "lacking in faith." Nothing happened. And, that's the truth. Don't let that stop you from believing in God though….I still believe there is a God out there.
    My recent post Termite damage photos

  17. I tried to be an athiest and I tried to be a Christian as well (in my early years). However, I'm not at the point to be an athiest yet. Not because I believe in god, because I believe its impossible to know whether there is a god or not. Therefore, I am an agnostic. I simply don't know. So I don't 'believe' there isn't a God. But I don't 'believe' there is either.
    My recent post Douchebag of the Decade | Glenn Beck

    • There is no shame at all in being being an agnostic. Another label is "weak atheist" ("strong atheists" are more sure about there being no God/s) and the word "weak" makes no comment on you as a person, by the way. Yes, there are lots of things we do not know. But the answer should not be "so it's magic". Being agnostic means you are still looking for an answer and by rejecting the magical option, it shows that your brain is still working 🙂
      My recent post Tim Minchin – Storm

  18. I agree with Beth. We are all in the dark to one degree or another. No one knows for sure whether there is a God watching over us or not.

    But, the problem is that both Atheists and Deists alike, without any definitive knowledge have chose to get exciting emotionally about there conclusion in the matter. The fundamentalist gets all lathered up, and in response to that lather the atheist gets all lathered up.

    Why don't they both settle down, admit that they don't know for sure, and have a cup of tea together.
    My recent post New Article: Elf Culture: One with Nature

    • Because more and more, Christian groups around the world are bringing their pressures to bear on the real lives of real people. The current issues in Uganda (look up the Ugandan response to homosexuality), the current craze for burning/branding/disfiguring "witches" in Africa, the fight against civil unions and equality for homosexuals show what could happen if a theocracy were to take place. If you want to know why active atheists (or atheist activists) do not want this to happen look at the stonings taking place because of adultery or the whippings for modelling. If religion were this moderate guiding light that it portrays itself to be, there would be no need for atheists to be so vocal.
      My recent post Tim Minchin – Storm

  19. The thing that shits me off about religion is that it fosters laziness and pisses all over the scientific method. When something is beautifully complex and no science can explain its existence yet, instead of figuring out where it came from and how it got there, they'll just say God made it. That's extremely LAZY and UNIMAGINATIVE. If you want to believe that, then so be it. But PLEASE keep it to yourselves, and spare the children–don't train them to think this way. If you wish, think of it this way: God gave you the brains to think with. Use them. God never forbade man from knowing. (After the whole incident with the fruit anyway.)

    Side story: my parents are devout Catholics. When they saw me reading The God Delusion they almost kicked me out of the house. 😛

  20. Will there be any unwanted side effects?

  21. There are various people who assign various names to themselves but atheism is an awesome club and the only requirement for membership is to not believe in any deities at all.

  22. I know this is an older article, but I just wanted to put it out there that like agnostics are "weak atheists" in a kind sense or "not true atheists" then I believe that most of you have interacted with "not true Christians" and I find it sad that they influence your picture of what Christians truly are.

    I'm a Christian, I believe in the Father, who is Love, who is revealed to us through Jesus his son and through his word (the bible. written by people, but still under identical inspiration.) Just to flag any bias. 🙂

    I'm against murder. (That's biblical!)
    I'm against discrimination (ditto!)
    I'm all for living this life to the full. (bible again)
    I'm all for using my brains to marvel at creation by studying it through the sciences. (bible)
    My recent post flat packed furniture

    • Hi Al, thanks for commenting. "Weak Atheists" is simply a term used to put people onto a scale, ranging from the "I'm not sure whether there is a guiding force" all the way up to "I know that there is no God". It shouldn't be used, IMO, to segregate the lack of belief. As atheists, we all have a lack of belief (whatever it's strength) in common and the only atheist that isn't a true atheist is one who professes to believe in God/s but still wish to be termed atheist. Hope that all makes sense!!

      The "not true Christian" argument is used by every Christian. I have many Christian friends and they all approach their belief differently and I consider them all "true Christians". I see all believers in Christ as Christians and really don't discriminate between them. The "not a true Christian" argument is used most often to point out that X version is better than Y version. Going by the "not a true Christian" argument, no Christian is a true Christian.

      All your 4 last lines (minus the bracketed notes) apply to atheists, skeptics, waverers and so on. Many more intelligent people than I have discussed the ramfications of morals and whether they apply to atheists as well as believers (so far, I haven't murdered anyone, though I have given out a few dirty looks!). Though, reading through the OT and the NT I would have to take issue with "not discriminating" and "not murdering" as being Biblical – aside from the 10 Commandments, one can find plenty of instances where the Commandments are broken (hugely) at the will of God. For many atheists, noticing the massively contradictory nature of the Bible is the first step.

      All that said, I have no desire to convert/de-convert any Christian. I simply put my rambling tale out there to firstly show that atheists are people just like you (that's a general "you", not just you in particular 🙂 ) and to show that you can live without beliefs in a deity and that you won't suddenly find that your life falls apart.
      My recent post Tim Minchin – Storm

    • The most splintered/fractured religion of all is Christianity, I'm convinced. I think you can find every kind of "version" of Christianity under the sun, with each one believing their version is the right one.

      A Christian does not necessarily have to go to church or spout a cross, or celebrate Christmas to call himself / herself a Christian. Each person's road is different, but in the end, they may still end up in the same place. I think the book of Romans alludes to that…God reveals Himself / Herself/ Itself differently to different people….God is supposed to be everything and nothing all at the same time.

      My recent post Termite damage photos

    • As an atheist, I could say the same things but with different reasons and it still makes sense or is just as credible:

      I'm against murder. (That's human nature)
      I'm against discrimination (Human nature)
      I'm all for living this life to the full. (That's the atheist in me since I know I only got one shot at life)
      I'm all for using my brains to marvel at creation by studying it through the sciences. (Brain evolution and human nature)

      I'm with Ray though, I'm not out to convert people. I try to bring up logical and rational arguments when the topic comes about. Being an atheist is almost like being a closeted homosexual but it's time to start speaking out with the alternatives. Science can't prove everything yet but in time, it will only find more and more answers to our questions, sadly, the bible doesn't provide me any answers to life, I've read it close to 4 times in my life and I can say I can live a great life without it or a god(s). To me, the bible is just a little outdated and to understand how the bible was brought forth just tells me it's just more tales from men long ago to help explain the unknowing and help rule and govern people.
      My recent post Lawsuit Threatened Over Atheist City Councilman [2]

      • Being an atheist is almost like being a closeted homosexual

        Except our clothes are slightly less fabulous. 😀

        I have been looking around recently and it seems that a new year is a great excuse for reading the Bible. So I'm planning to do that. It's awesome and should be rated 18 or R. And it contradicts itself everywhere. So yeah, I'm going to read the Bible and summarise it.

  23. At bottom we are all really agnostic in that the ultimate questions cannot be answered with our current level of consciousness.

    We can add emotion to our agnosticism and affiliate with a sect of some kind. Or we can add emotion to our agnosticism and declare ourselves atheists.

    It makes no difference. The eternal questions are still there.

    Whether Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Atheist, what happened before the Big Bang; Where the intelligence demonstrated at the quantum level by entangled electrons; and, what happens to our consciousness at the moment of death, ALL of these questions remain unanswered and unanswerable.

    So, intellectually, we have no choice but to be Agnostic, and then add the window dressing of emotion if we wish and declare for a conviction.

    But, we must not kid ourselves. We are all in the same boat. None of us really knows for sure. Although it is quite correct that many will argue forever that they are one sect or another, including the sect of atheism. However, the argument always leaves the questions unanswered and unanswerable. Welcome to the bottom line: Agnosticism.

    Beth

    ToysPeriod is a leading online shop specializing in lego sets and model railroad equipment.

  24. I'm a firm believer of Christ and christenism…Hence when I came across this post it was really annoying to know that people just simply over judge them self and get converted in to a Atheist…where as GOD resides in the heart of every living thing….he is IMMORTAL.
    My recent post NEWS: Google says what recession, Q4 09 revenue up

  25. Hey, you can still take advantage of the holidays! 🙂

    The tough part for me about being an atheist is breaking it to my dad, who is devout Christian. I just know it would break his heart to hear the truth from me. So, I still have to somewhat live the lie of halfass, lame beliefs. I always wonder if revealing the truth would be better. It would be easier if I didn't like my Dad, but he is the nicest guy in the world, for real.
    My recent post

    • While Scooby Doo's experience of "coming out" has been largely positive, it is worth mentioning that every scenario is different. Only you can gauge how your dad will react and a lot of people have had very negative experiences. It may be worth probing around the edges to find out how he may react.

      Whatever your decision, I wish you all the best with it.
      My recent post The Bible – Singalong Edition

    • While Scooby Doo's experience of "coming out" has been largely positive, it is worth mentioning that every scenario is different. Only you can gauge how your dad will react and a lot of people have had very negative experiences. It may be worth probing around the edges to find out how he may react.

      Whatever your decision, I wish you all the best with it.
      My recent post The Bible – Singalong Edition

  26. Josh, I know very good what you are talking about. I have the same problem with my mom. She is also devout Christian. One diference is that that I said to her that I am an atheist. Of course she was very sad and it took her some time to accept it.Now Ican say that it didn't affect our relationship. Maybe you can also say it to your father. 🙂

  27. Bible is not like just any other books out there. The bible is very life-changing for it is the very Word of God. I know this is an atheist blog but I just want you to think of this. If there is really no God, then all of these things are useless. Why work? Why eat? Why breathe? Why blog? For nothing? There is a purpose for all of this. Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, no one and nothing else. Since we're talking about the bible, why don't you guys take a look at John 14:6? Thanks!

  28. They claim to only posses a mere lack of belief in a deity, and nothing else. But this is disingenuous, because, as they demonstrate here time and again, they clearly have beliefs about God, His nature, etc.

    • "They" do, do "they"? Atheism is a lack of belief, not a belief in a lack. We can read about, and comment on, the nature of God and the actions he is supposed to have taken and we can do that without believing in the deity. Equally, I can talk about other fictional characters such as Aslan, the Emperor Palpatine and Indiana Jones and I can do so without believing they exist.
      My recent post The Bible – Singalong Edition

  29. Whether an agnostic, atheist, pagan, christian or whatever – there is only one thing I believe in and that is to have and make as many real friends as you can. If there is an afterlife, great…but I truly doubt it, so make the most of this one but please do so in way that makes it good for others too, regardless of their religion or beliefs. I have seen too many excuses used by religions to cover basic human errors and also depravity. Own up to being a human and we all might find the world a better place to be while we are still here. As for me, I'd love to be a pagan and paint myself woad blue…but the wife won't let me sacrifice animals in the back garden….;)

  30. Someday I’ll have to write a lengthy post about why I became non-religious. I say “non-religious”, because I’m not quite an atheist but I definitely don’t follow organized religion.

    Anyway, I just don’t see how anyone can believe in “God” as how it is described in the Bible. There are way, way, way too many flaws in that reasoning.

%d bloggers like this: