When I made my decision to leave Christianity I felt so alone. I didn’t know anyone else that had taken this path and felt like I was doing something that no one else was doing.
Almost 10 years on from that day and I have been witnessing many Christians leaving their faith behind and joining the fold of non believers. Which has got me wondering, why? Is their an increased sense of awareness? Are people thinking more critically? Is it because I now live in a much bigger city where people tend to be more open minded? Or maybe it’s because I am now older and more people come to this revelation at an older age?
I don’t have an answer to this question, but the question in of itself is interesting.
I have talked around this before. But many believers talk about being an atheist as if it was a believe, like a religion. The fact is this, plain and simple. I didn’t decide to become an atheist. I was a Christian, I realised that I didn’t believe. So that meant I defaulted to an atheist. It wasn’t the acceptance of a believe system, it’s the void of a belief system.
Bible Contradictions - Quiz Skit -
This is pretty entertaining
Something that always bothered me when I was a Christian was this. Are all the people who died without hearing about Jesus going to hell? Even if they were good people and would have believed if they heard? What about the non jews before Jesus came? And small children and babies that died without being old enough to “commit their lives to Jesus”?
This is my second post about the phrase “it takes faith to be an atheist”. This comment annoys me like you can’t believe because it makes no sense.
So to get it clear, I’m a non believer before I am an atheist. I used to be a Christian, and a fundamentalist one at that. I stopped believing because I couldn’t see any manifestation of a personal god above randomness and nature. To understand the details you can read my blog posts called “My Testimony”. When I left the Christian faith I did not entertain any other religions as l did not see them to hold any more water than Christianity. So that left me believing in no god and hence a non believer. So then technically that makes me an agnostic or an atheist. The difference is not that large other than an agnostic is a little less certain that there is no god than an atheist.
Being an atheist does not take faith. It is by definition a lack of faith.
Idealistic Animals - Dear Reader -
“We feed our hunger, clothe our cold, we’re just idealistic animals” - I love this band. Lead singer Cherilyn Mac Neil is also a south african, a similar age to me and has she has a similar story to me. If you listen to their 3 albums “The Younger” (under the name Harris Tweed), “Replace why with funny” and “Idealistic Animals” you can follow her story. And not to mention, hear their amazing music!
I’ve been dating the most wonderful girl for close on a year and a half now. She is the love of my life and I know that I will spend my life with her. I call her my Carbon Copy Girl because we are so alike. We do have one significant difference. My love is a Christian. I’ve heard it said that a couple have to have the same religious and political views to maintain a relationship. Well, clearly that isn’t the case with us. In the early days we spent a lot of time grappling with this and working out what this meant. What we realised is that it is about mutual respect. As soon as one of looks down on the other’s beliefs (or lack thereof) and considers them stupid for believing them then the relationship will be in turmoil. We utterly respect each other’s beliefs and engage in interesting respectful discussions about them. We both know where the other one is coming from and support each other. She reads my blog and I occasionally attend church with her. This shows that even though we don’t share the same view points we support each other regardless.
Probably the hardest part has been some of her friends. At the beginning there were those that said to her that she shouldn’t date me. They quoted the scripture “do not yoke yourself to the non believer”. Totally to her credit she never let them sway her.
A common atheist trait is to look down on believers as stupid for believing. Well, my Carbon Copy Girl is one of the most intelligent people I know. I understand what it is to believe and I know that you can’t just write off all believers off as unintelligent. In an alternative universe she is the atheist and I’m the believer. But we are still together!
When I was a Christian we used to use the word “secular” for things that were not related to Christianity but were linked to main stream society. So for example a musician who wasn’t a christian artist was a secular artist. However when I used the word secular when talking to supposibly “secular people”, they did not know what I was talking about.
Similarly, atheists tend to refer to non atheists as theists. Purely speaking this a terminology that does make sense, however I’ve never heard any religious person call themselves a theist. However most of them do call themselves believers, and hence I use this term instead.
By using a term for someone that they don’t even use themselves we end up encouraging us and them behaviours as, they (them) don’t even know the name of the box you are putting them in.
Human nature is to box/ group things together. This is a useful mechanism as it allows us to make calls on things with less processing going into the decision. For example, if go to a few branches of supermarket chain A and to a few branches of supermarket chain B and I find that most the shops from supermarket A are expensive and the produce isn’t fresh while the supermarket B has competitively priced and high quality food I would probably tend to favour stores from supermarket B. I have therefore then boxed these supermarket chains into a good place to shop and a bad place to shop.
But this human tendency has some huge shortfalls, especially when it comes to people. While boxing people into groups can be useful it can in fact also be dangerous. The most dangerous boxes are “us and them” boxes. The group I belong to (us) is superior to the group that they belong to. We are right and they are wrong. Have you ever wondered how countless Nazis could have committed incredibly haness atrocities against the Jewish people. We tend to think of Nazis as monsters, but do you think that they were born monsters. The sad truth is that they were certainly very average people. So then how did they end up committing such atrocities? Well they were brainwashed to believe that they (us) are the elite pure race and that the jews (them) were no more than vermon. With this mentality they were able to mass murder good people and then go back to their families and love and take care of them. A chilling fact! This is an extreme example of the power of us and them.
But why are we so happy to quickly box people like this. Well, as I’ve said before this is an instinct that facilitates quick decision making. But it’s more than that, by belonging to a group you feel like you belong. You have a place in the world.
I’ve spoken before about how I’m not a militant atheist. But I’d like to build on this now. It is argued that religion creates great atrocities and that religion is the cause of many wars. This is due to the fact that people are often prepared to die for their faith or even worse, kill for it. This all comes down to the Us and Them mentality again. “The muslims are wrong (them) and we are right (us), clearly they worship a false god”. And so people are strongly polarlised along religious lines. But what happens when an atheist is so fervent in their non belief, even enough so to call themselves a militant atheist and to strive to bring the end to religion? Well, then we have an us and them situation. And now if we are prepared to fight for what we don’t believe and believers are prepared to fight for what they do believe, then we are in trouble and are the cause of exactly what we said we were against.
For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened, that unleased the power of our imagination, we learned to talk! — Hawkins (used in Pink Floyd, Keep talking)