This is about atheism and how other people’s reaction to learning about it causes their misconceptions to become applied to me. I learn about their misconceptions when they make their comments or pose their questions. A comment made by a ‘newbie’ atheist upon joining a discussion group prompted me to write this. The comment, which boils down to, “I have known I’m an atheist for years, but I was always afraid to say so. I was 63 years old before I dared to declare my true feelings. I thought I would feel ashamed, but I feel wonderful and free. I no longer feel required to lie, but people press me with questions for which I have no answers. I came here to learn what to tell them.”

There have been more comments and questions over the years than I will ever remember, some with good intent, and many quite apparently prompted by malicious feelings. To my relief, the first have outnumbered the latter. To my displeasure, much of the latter came from other atheists. To my joy, the malicious responses have declined over time, as the people around me become more tolerant due to their increased exposure to alternatives to their beliefs, and my own increasing ability to provide them with better responses. I have only a couple of rules to follow: Treat every comment or question as though the person really wanted to learn; and tell confrontational people something like, “You seem upset with me, and I don’t want you to feel that way so I would rather not talk about it now.”

Questions/Comments:

Well, what kind of atheist are you? I would suppose that question would come from there being so many sects within the Christian cult, layers upon layers in fact, if I had not heard that question also coming from atheists. My answer is that the only kind of atheist is one whose doubt concerning religious claims led to rejection of them all until believable evidence arrives to convince him or her otherwise. Beyond that, we are just people in all the shades and shapes of our species, so any other description of us must be about that. There is, however, a spectrum of varying strengths of atheism, on a scale that runs from strong to weak. On the opposite side of the same scale is a faith meter that runs between self and others in the opposite direction, so a strong atheist’s faith will indicate self-confidence, and a weak atheist’s faith will show as stronger faith in others.

There is an aspect of your question to which it seems no one pays much attention. I will use myself as an example: I spent my childhood in a Christian home under the influence of a variety of opinionated, argumentative people in our household and circle of acquaintances. Baptisms were performed on me in at least three different churches while I grew, and I fully accepted the seriousness and meaning of the rite. I got sprinkled, dunked and splashed, prayed over and prayed for, and fully accepted my future role as a spokesperson for the god named God. Somewhere, as my sins got washed away by all that water and all that grape juice drunk in the name of wine, backsliding set in and my brain began to function. I asked too many questions for which the only answer seemed to be, “Just another one of God’s mysteries, m’boy.” Too young to know about context, I began to notice how verse-fragments used to make a point, once I put them back together, too often had nothing to do with what it had been used for.

My loss of belief made me an atheist, but giving up my Christian upbringing made of me an apostate. As such, I am still a Christian according to my history and the teachings I had been given. “Just another one of God’s mysteries?”

What caused you to make that choice? There was no choice but between honesty and hypocrisy. This is one of many comment-hiding questions people make that tells more about the asker than the one attempting to answer. From it, I learn that you chose a belief and chose to believe, and so you expect that has to be true of everyone. But, hear this coming back to you: “What caused you to not believe in Paul Bunyan, Porky Pig or Rumplestiltskin?” Were you told they were fictional characters, or did you figure that out for yourself? How would you respond to being made to feign belief in them just to appease your parents, neighbors and friends?

That means you are involved in the war against Christians! I am no soldier for any army, but reading so much of your literature should convince anyone that Christianity has declared war against the rest of humanity. Almost every case available to my awareness shows nonparticipants to your cult responding to aggressive actions on your part, or done under your banner. Christianity goes beyond suffering from the failures of monotheism to demand aggressiveness of its participants and so tops the list of the three most hated religions world-wide, which are also the most successful. There must be a lesson of some kind here.

You have doomed yourself to eternity in Hell! Your problem is, I do not believe in hell, and your only way to convince me is to try to raise enough Hell so I will stop doubting your word. Of a long line of you down through the years repeating to me that it’s the word of a god named God, not one has produced believable evidence of all your claims. Hell without a god, or with a god that has vacated the planet, is equally as meaningless.

What about refusing to say “under God” while saluting the flag of our Christian nation? Freedom of expression has to include freedom of refusal to perform under duress, and freedom from duress. Being forced to choose between making a spectacle of yourself by leaving, or to make a spectacle of yourself by standing mute, or having unwanted attention given you by overzealous authorities, is a form of duress that often leads to misfortunate consequences.

Misinformation regarding the nature of our secular nation has grown rampant over the past few decades, in the name of Christianity, as you allow outsiders and pretenders to use your religion for their own gain by misquoting history and out of context scriptures, quoting and creating apologia to preach against what were common practices in the Bible or never mentioned in it, and by preaching intolerance in the sacred name of love. Here, from your own sourcebook: 2 Timothy 2:15 and 1John 4:8

All that green grass and trees out there, and you don’t believe in God? [1]Evolution offers a better (because it is verifiable) explanation than creationism for the presence of those trees and that grass, plus all the flowers and grains, the animals grazing among them, and the animals feasting on them. The balance of Nature is a wonderful system that permeates the entirety of existence. It would take care of itself, if we would stop toying with it.

Who do you pray to? To whom do I pray? I think, sometimes. When that occurs I hear my voice inside my head, and so I believe I am talking very privately to my own self. Is that what you mean?

Doesn’t atheism make an empty hole in your life that God used to fill? That psychological hole you referred to came from dumping a memeplex and all its associated baggage. The strange emptiness comes from the unfamiliar feeling of freedom such as most of humanity, in our time, never gets to experience. It feels empty because we have never been schooled in what to do with it. If we fill it up again by simply switching to a new cult or sect, we miss what can be the only opportunity we’ll ever get to advantage ourselves with that freedom.

That hole also arises from the former habits reinforced by religious rituals and the associations with former acquaintances with whom we performed them. Serious involvement in religion takes up a lot of time, during which we now find ourselves suddenly unoccupied in ways we had not expected. Atheist organizations may be missing a tremendous opportunity to earn the rewards of helping future apostates prepare for the various effects of making the break away from a centralized control of their lives so they can succeed at developing an autonomous existence.

Who’s going to forgive your sins? If I recognize that I have sinned, it was done against my fellow human beings and the life forms with whom I share this planet. My only recourse is to acknowledge my wrongs and work to correct my errors however I can. The damage my ignorance caused has been done and cannot be repaired without increasing the amount of it. Corrections must happen in the future, as the past and its missed opportunities have faded and gone, leaving only the results, for which I must forgive myself so that I can go on unfettered with guilt over misinformed actions. Who will there be to forgive those who misinformed billons through all the generations and led them into sin disguised as religion? Our world melts while awaiting the answer.

What do you believe in, then? I believe a fully developed, fully understood version of hedonism such as described in [2]Equalitarianism. Hedonism as expressed by the Greek philosopher, Epicurus, never had a chance to get off the ground. The word ‘pleasure’ expressed as an important aspect seems to be where all thinking stopped and all emotions took over. Hedonism became about pleasure only, to religious and commercial interests. A better, more accurate choice of words would be of a triad: reward, penalty and balance, the last to replace such as ataraxia or eudemonia in the antiquated language. The philosophy is simple, do good and feeling good rewards you; do bad and face the consequences; maintain equilibrium in your life and enjoy a less stressful existence free of depression-inducing influences.

Where will you go when you die? My ashes will be placed in the ground at the cemetery in Mina, New York unless the children change that plan while I’m not there to care.

How can anyone trust you to stay moral without God’s Commandments? Really, I need to make that inquiry of this questioner. I began to compile a legitimate list of rules to live by, and have gathered 111 as of this writing. You have only ten that you proclaim, even though over 6-hundred can be found in that same location. I know that you have rejected the 600, for the most part, and practice maybe eight out of the ten. I try very hard to keep my 111. Jesus proclaimed only two, and a whole lot of you folks violate half of those in bright daylight while acting proud to do what shames the likes of me to even think about.

Morality, of course, depends upon your frame of reference. A Christian will think a Muslim immoral for having more than one wife. A Muslim will believe you are immoral for insisting that you be allowed to display your idols on every public property, especially the sword that stands atop of your churches. I look to Nature to see what behavior will help me fare best as a human being, and have seen that a hedonic [2]Equalitarian approach is all around best in a civil social setting. The Muslim and the Christian may see that as an immoral philosophy against which both may have been misinformed by their religious leaders, which I consider immoral.

That is, of course, not all there ever will be. The Cumbax Trilogy levels hundreds of responses to aggressive queries like the foregoing. Make yourself ready for when they next appear on your doorstep to play games with your mind. If you own a computer, you can read any of these ebooks with the free app offered by amazon.com.

The Cumbax Trilogy: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0064QDSSA


NOTES

[1]Evolution ebook:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00529BSBE

[2]Equalitarianism ebook: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B1U8HL2

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