As an atheist my beliefs obviously do not include a belief in God or creationism. In fact, I think creationism is a fairly twisted thing to believe in. However, let me make this clear... I get it. I get why so many want to believe in God or a higher being. I get that people want to feel a deeper purpose and that when horrible things happen, they desperately want to seek comfort in their faith and believe that somehow it's all part of some big plan. However,when a person believes that their 3 year old being killed by a drunk driver is a test or part of a grand plan designed by God and they somehow find comfort in that....I'm sorry, that's disturbing to me. Sometimes people will say things like, "God must have needed another angel up there..." when faced with a tragic death. Really? Really? I find it scary the things people will force themselves to believe so they don't step outside the chains of their religious belief. With religion, does "sense" matter at all or is it all about blind faith and just believing what makes you feel better? I get that in a world filled with unbearable pain and suffering that believing that a supernatural force has got everything under control can ease a person's mind. I get that believing your loved ones are living on in a beautiful, eternal place of pure comfort and peace is something you would want to believe. I get it....and yet I don't.
More after the heathen Cheeto...
Have the fundamentalists ever really thought about what it is they believe in? I mean on a very basic level? They believe that a long, long time ago (or maybe just a few thousand years ago if you believe Jesus snuggled baby dinosaurs) God just up and decided to create everything in existence including the creation of human beings simply to test them and their worthiness. Eve (of course it was Eve) failed and BOOM! Original Sin. These lucky new humans could have lived and flourished in a Utopian garden forever for....for some reason I suppose. ??? God's entertainment? Anyway, Eve (of course!) screwed it ALL up by eating that darn apple and mankind was doomed into suffering unless they worshiped and followed their creator. (clever caveat!) Should a human deviate then they will suffer and eventually burn in eternal hell. So, the entire purpose of creating these beings (us!) was so they (we!) would worship him? Sounds a bit narcissistic, huh? The sole purpose of our existence is to please, worship and follow this almighty, magical being who created all of mankind from two test subjects. (by the way, that means we're literally all related) That sounds totally awesome and reasonable and not at all twisted or disturbing. If you worship and follow him the right way, you will be rewarded with glorious eternal life....if you don't, you'll suffer for all of eternity in hell. Yikes.
This same God who out of boredom or curiosity (wait, he's all knowing and all is predetermined, so how could he be curious, he already knows every single thing that will happen) created a whole new world and whole new "beings" to inhabit it also allows unimaginable and continual suffering because.....hmmmm? Oh, yes, it's all a test. A test of faith. Or maybe it's becasue of gay marriage or because we don't pray in public schools. It's something like that. Yeah, that's not twisted AT ALL. I don't know...it all sounds like pretty much the most disturbing thing to believe in, yet...millions and millions do. This "God" they worship also commanded the suffering and deaths of countless people in the bible they like to thump and quite often out of pure rage or jealousy. Sounds like a great guy!
My husband comes from a pretty religious family, though he does not attend church or even really talk about it. When we first got together he came to realize my beliefs and we decided that religion just wasn't something we could or should discuss. A few times in the beginning it did come up and we had some very emotionally-charged arguments/discussions. When he struggled to explain how or why he could believe this, this and that (insert typical supernatural/baffling things Christians believe without question) he finally said in frustration, "I know it doesn't make sense...I know that! I just have to believe we are here for a reason!" I told him that if he believed in creationism and everything else in the bible...then he was basically believing in a God who created humans who had to worship HIM and follow his "rules"...and if they didn't, they would be made to suffer greatly. I asked if that sounds like the kind of "God" you would actually want to believe in. I asked if he believed the "reason" we are here is to worship and please God, the very being that supposedly created us. Didn't that seem strange and shallow....and disturbing? He had never thought of it like that before and the discussion ended abruptly. We've never discussed religion again.
Like I stressed earlier in the diary, I get why people would want to believe. What I don't get (or condone more precisely) is how organized religion has brought about the most horrific and senseless hatred, wars and division in history. It's interesting; if a person doesn't believe what I do (that there is no "god" and that the world evolved over billions of years and that just living your life to be a good human being to other beings and the world around us because it's simply the right thing to do) I in turn don't believe that they are doomed to suffer unimaginably for it. However, if I do not subscribe to their beliefs....then I will in fact be damned to burn in hell. Who's the twisted one? Who's the one with issues?
I am aware that there are many positive aspects to religion and in its practice. What too many religious people are not aware of, however, is that there are many positive aspects to atheists. We are seen as either pitifully ignorant or persistently evil. How can we NOT believe in God? I say, "How CAN you? WHY do you?" The positive aspects of, for example, Christianity, are not exclusive to Christianity. The morality I embrace does not come from doctrine, it comes from common sense and a healthy respect and concern for others. Being a good person has nothing to do with being religious. Just as it's true that atheists are perfectly capable of being good people (and I'll bet overwhelming they are) I understand that not every religious person is a brainwashed bigot.
There are people in my family who are religious, though none of them are loud-mouthed fundies by any stretch. When my mom sends me a text message that says something like, "I knew God would see you through that" in reference to one of life's typical struggles I don't roll my eyes. My mom is literally one of the best people I've ever known in my life and I don't mean that in the the "she's my mom" kind of way...I mean that in the literal way. She is amazing actually, but her religious beliefs do not define her, just as my lack of religious belief does not define me. She doesn't use her religious beliefs to excuse hateful thoughts or actions (she doesn't have them anyway to be honest). She has her beliefs and although they are not mine and I have serious issues with them, I love my mom and accept her completely. If she knew that I was an atheist I know she would love me exactly the same. If only most religious people would be as open-minded.
My dad died of kidney cancer three years ago on his 62nd Birthday and my entire family believes he's in "heaven" and that they'll all get to hang out again when they pass through those pearly gates. He wasn't a religious man and he did not believe in all of the supernatural "nonsense" that everyone around him did. One of our last conversations was about religion and it was literally our first and last conversation on the topic. He wanted to make sure that his Celebration of Life (he did not want a funeral) was about his life and most importantly about his friends and family....and about memories, NOT about religion. I told him I'd do my my best to make it something he would have wanted. In one of our last conversations he said to me, "You've never pretended that I'm going to heaven and that everything will be wonderful...it sounds strange, but I appreciate that." I think he knew I was an atheist, though I'd never told him or anyone in my family that. I said, "I'd like to be wrong, I'd love to think of you in a perfect place surrounded by everyone you've lost...but I honestly don't believe that. What matters is that you will always be in my heart and everything you've ever taught me and everything you've ever done for me has shaped me into the person I am and into the parent that I now am...and that means you will live forever."
I wish that more people could simply believe in people. I wish that the divisiveness of religion did not exist. I wish that if a person did believe in a higher power it didn't mean that they judged and condemned those who do not (and yes, I know some religious people are not that way. Some.) I wish people didn't use their religion to discriminate against others and to excuse their own wickedness. I wish politicians would have the sense not to mix religion and politics, particularly when they use it to harm others. I wish that more people believed in doing the right thing; for ourselves, our loved ones, our fellow human beings, our fellow creatures and our shared planet simply because it's the best thing for all of us, not some of us.