You Know What’s Funny?

Mrrrf. [That’s a grunt. A disgruntled grunt. I put the “grunt” in disgruntled.]

 “I finally found where I belong…”

I feel like I have failed you, my reader(s). I feel like a bum of a father who left his wife, and now only comes out to see the kids every couple of months and then wonders why they don’t get more excited to see him when he does show up, and then gets discouraged and comes even less frequently, and the horrible cycle keeps spiraling until finally he’s sitting in a bar in Galveston, Texas crying softly to himself because he’s now 52, and he hasn’t seen his kids for six years, and they don’t want to see him because they think of him as the guy who abandoned them and their mother (which is, of course, not really fair, because they only have their mother’s side of the story, and she neglects to tell them that the divorce was her idea and that he was actually pretty cool about it), and the bartender won’t even come over to try to cheer him up because he does this at least once a week, and it’s getting kind of old, but he could just really use a friend…

That’s sort of how I feel. You, know… about how I haven’t been writing much here.  So… sorry.

I had an interesting conversation the other day. Or rather, I sat there while two of my friends wouldn’t let me get a word in edge-wise in a conversation.  The question at hand was whether, when looked at honestly, the Muslim faith is more homophobic/sexist than the Christian faith.

The answer to that question may seem obvious to you- it may not.  I sat there and listened to my friends battle it out, one on the side of Muslims being more horrible, the other saying it was Christians, and I realized- I really just hate religion.

This may seem obvious coming from a guy who writes an atheist-themed blog, but it shouldn’t.  First off- as I’ve stated before, atheism is not a belief system. There is no set dogma with which you can paint atheists. As a matter of fact, the only thing that all atheists can be said to share is an uncontrollable urge to swear loudly in somebody’s church.

HA! I’m kidding, of course! I’m sure the swearing in church impulse is shared by fewer than nine-thenths of atheists… No, the only common thread that all atheists share is that they don’t have a belief in a specific god. That’s it. Aside from that single lack-of-a-belief, there is nothing that groups us.  Which is why it shouldn’t seem obvious that I dislike religion.  There are plenty of atheists who like religion.  There are actually quite a few who love religion, and wish they could be a part of one.  But they can’t. Because they’re atheist. And they don’t want to be Unitarian.

My point, if I have one, is that the more I look at religion (and yes, I include your religion in this, even though you feel you have several very compelling arguments which clearly demonstrate how much better your religion is than everybody else’s), the more I see how destructive, or at very least counter-productive, religion is.

I’m not talking macro here, though I think it’s pretty easy to make the argument that religions are frequently destructive on a societal level.  I’m thinking here on a micro-scale.  Inside the individual believer.  Psychologically/intellectually.  Religion, without exception, stunts people’s growth. In several ways. In my view. Which I will tell you about. In the next paragraph. Here it is:

First, there’s a fundamental problem with thinking you have the answer to an unanswerable question.  The second you buy in to a system of belief about the way the universe works, you stop looking. And why not? If you have the answer, you no longer need to ask the question.  It’s like continuing to look for your keys after you’ve found them- doesn’t make sense.

The obvious problem with this is that your answer is not only unsupported by any evidence, but is often in direct conflict with what observable facts we do have. That doesn’t make it wrong, but it certainly places a pretty heavy burden of proof on you if you want anybody else to take you seriously. But that’s not what most religious folks think.  Most religious folks feel perfectly free to pronounce their firmly held views with impunity, and get horribly upset if anyone calls them to logical account.  More than that, though, what worries me is that they turn off their brains.  They know the truth, so they don’t have to listen to anybody else.  Anyone who thinks differently is wrong and can just be dismissed.

That brings me to my second point. Religious people are WAY too easy to manipulate. Critical thinking is a skill that must be practiced, and when you’ve turned it off for long enough (or never been trained to use it in the first place), you become very vulnerable to flawed arguments. Couple that with the fact that most religious folks point to some external figure to whom is owed deference and often even obedience.  From popes to bishops to priests to pastors to ministers to imams to rabbis to clerics– everyone in a dogmatic religion has someone that they are used to listening to as some some type of authority.

This sets up a parent-child dynamic, where congregations are asked to submit to the preaching of this authority figure, and are shunned and scolded if they stray from that. Once an adult subjugates his/her intelligence to the preaching of some other person, they’re in dangerous headspace.

Frankly, could there be a better recipe for a dupe than someone who is used to willingly submitting to the will of others, who has also allowed their reason and skepticism to atrophy? Well, other than, you know, like a bunch of robots, or a clone army, or Canadians, or whatever…

5 thoughts on “You Know What’s Funny?

  1. I’ve often engaged with friends in religous debate. They end up getting the last word most times since I cannot keep up with their crazy logic. Or their seemingly random picks of what is and is not symbolic in the bible.

    I feel that the most infuriating thing is when those same friends display amazing critical thinking skills normally. Yet they seem to turn it off when it comes to their religion and theirs alone.

    I honestly feel sorry for them and wish they would see reason. However I suspect they would feel the same about me being an atheist.

  2. P.S. I guess I’m adding to the audience diversity as well. I’m an Armenian/Native American/European mutt. You guys should make a poll to see where everyone is from.

  3. Yes, Melissa, it seems that we actually have a wealth of diversity in our listenership! And of course, all are welcome. Except French Canadians. Those poutine-eaters can consider themselves EXCLUDED!

    HA! Kidding! We love our francophone kanuks (especially my cousin Gaston- hi G!).

    Keep up the good listening!

  4. People of religious affiliation often are lazy and try to fill in unsolved gaps with the hypothesis “god”. God is rather unnecessary to explain origin of life, diversity, or the universe. The belief in a “god” proves not only you are gullible to “mythological folklore”, but faith in such hypothesis proves that you are uncreative and simple minded.

  5. Hi there Dan, I just found this site while searching for the origins of the quote ” Thank god I’m an atheist”. I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to send the main body of the post above to my Sister who drives me NUTS by sending me emails of cute animals doing stupid things or pictures of beautiful scenery that we all have to thank god for, otherwise we’ll all go to hell in a handcart if we don’t immediately forward the email to everyone we know and even people we don’t, I’m sure you get the idea. One of the reasons I’d like to send it is, I’ve tried to tell her that my inbox is a ” god free zone ” but it doesn’t do any good. What you have articulated above, is more or less my viewpoint, but you’ve put it better than me, she even told me a while back that something I’d said deeply offended her and she considered it blasphemous, but then wouldn’t tell me what it was I’d said. She was definitely offended by my reply!!

    It wouldn’t surprise me that if she could work out how to do it, she’d have a plastic ( non toxic of course ) figure of ol’ jc inside the fridge that would light up and play “jesus wants me for a sunbeam” every time the door was opened.

    She even said ” thank you lord ” when I found her cell phone for her and then got upset when I pointed out that this ” lord fella” had nothing to do with it, then said ” ah, but the lord showed you where to look “, at that point I gave up and went to the pub!

    Another thing that bugs me is, like your friends discussing muslim homophobia, my sister says she hasn’t got any prejudices and then sends me emails that are so islamaphobic they’d make a rabid zionists hair stand on end, or curl or whatever. As for homophobia, when I mentioned in conversation that friends of mine, one of whom is a consultant childrens dental surgeon and the other is a maxilocraniofacial dental surgeon ( basically, he puts peoples faces, teeth and jaws back together after car crashes etc. )and also lectures on the subject, have been together as a couple longer than most heterosexual couples, she suddenly realised I meant they were gay and the expression on her face couldn’t have shown more disgust if she’d bitten into a sandwich and discovered it contained a dog turd rather than a sausage!

    Sorry if I’ve gone on a bit, but I feel sooo much better after that little rant that I’m off to pub again.

    Love the sight by the way, I’ll be visiting again soon, might even send a link to my sister…..!!!!!!!!!!!

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