8/21/2014 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S. ~
Am I and others like me, the kind of persons referred to when most people say, “It takes all kinds?” In other words, are we eccentric, not dangerous, harmless outsiders to “common sense explanations” of the majority? After all, we don't accept the “obvious truths” of dogmatic things believers take for granted and prefer not to think about. We don't believe in supernatural gods/forces/explanations. We not only question, but outright dismiss “sacred” texts and the “authorities” who quote them for their own purposes. (We OFTEN find those things boring.) Does this make us dangerous and unhappy? A hell of a lot of believers are taught to believe it's so.
A hell of a lot of believers are afraid of becoming “that kind” of person like me. They believe that in leaving belief they would take the chance of being condemned to eternal torture; that belief is of paramount importance for everyone's happiness. And they raise their children to ignore or shun “people like him.” This is part of their contract; their eternal insurance policy for their kids. If they can keep me/us in the closet, they can make me/us into any kinds of demons they want to. (A method the Nazis successfully employed against the Jewish people.) This isolation alone, because we're social animals, ought to cause us unhappiness. It comes with a cost-benefit: We do not have that unhappiness which comes from trying to force ourselves to believe things we just can't. (We leave that for those who are unnecessarily struggling to force themselves to believe.)
One reason that believers of all faiths avoid atheists may be that they don't want to take the CHANCE that atheists will question their beliefs or even imply that religious doctrines actually INSULT their intelligences. Nobody wants to face the possibility of being a victim of a con job. Nobody. It's much the human thing to deny and avoid, than to discuss and face that possibility. This is cause for non-believers' outside-the-box head scratching, and investigating.
In some countries, atheists are imprisoned and even await EXECUTION for “blasphemy” because they refuse to PRETEND to believe! Let's face it: if they pretend to believe, then nothing will happen to them. A so-called “Almighty” God is threatened by non-believers in him and can't have his faithful hearing from them? It isn't enough to punish them after death, eternally, either? He sends his goons out to make the lives of non-believers miserable for the short time they have on Earth. Or to end their lives, as we say, “prematurely.” Talk about insecure faiths! And the source of all this misery comes from an intolerance to those who merely declare that they find no proofs for a One god or many gods. THIS is what brands atheists as dangerous and unhappy? No, WE'RE not the dangerous and unhappy ones.
Before the believers get their hackles and defenses up, let me tell you this atheist's point of view. We'll start with a great quote from Charles Kingsley : “WE ACT AS IF COMFORT AND LUXURY WERE THE CHIEF REQUIREMENTS OF LIFE, WHEN ALL WE NEED TO MAKE US REALLY HAPPY IS SOMETHING TO BE ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT.”
Back in the 1960's, they said, “Whatever turns you on.” (Of course we must add, “Just so it doesn't harm anyone.”) If someone came up to me beaming away and said, “I'm a born-again Christian!” I'd say, “Whatever.” The person might be offended by that. What it comes down to is simple. If you're enthusiastic about it, go for it. But don't expect me to share your enthusiasms. I've got my own, like music, humanism, evolution, etc., etc. ( I'm enthusiastic when sending money to buy birth control pills for a mother who already has 4 kids and lives on two dollars a day, for example, rather than to some god who should be providing for them and doesn't.) If YOU want to purchase a four foot statue of the Virgin Mary, garland it with flowers, light a dozen votive candles in front of it, then go for it. If, on the other hand, you want to put that garland on a bed and the votive lights around the room so that you've made a sweet atmosphere for lovemaking, well... that's what I would be enthusiastic about. You can take your guitar and drums to church, play your heart out for Jesus, and/or spend the evening jamming with a rock combo. Whatever you're enthused about. I'm all for it. Just leave my enthusiasms alone.
If I find religions boring, anti-thinking and unreasonable, that's no reason for you as a believer not to enjoy the comforting fantasies you're enthusiastic about. No problem for me if that's what turns you on. Just allow me the same freedoms for my enthusiastic pursuits.Sadly, those who would convert us non-believers are unwilling to allow US to give OUR input. They're missing out. Many atheists/agnostics have been there, already have done what they're doing, and are now free. My personal responses for them at this point in my life are, “Whatever turns you on.” (Or they might echo Judge Judy's: “That’s your problem, not mine,” or, “What has that to do with anything?”) Write me off as insulting, but isn't mine a better attitude than the Shias, Sunnis, Israelis and Palestinians, Evangelicals and Catholics, have to each other? Yet atheists are their common enemy!
If I find religions boring, anti-thinking and unreasonable, that's no reason for you as a believer not to enjoy the comforting fantasies you're enthusiastic about. No problem for me if that's what turns you on. Just allow me the same freedoms for my enthusiastic pursuits.
I don't care if someone enthusiastically does good deeds and gives credit to God, Allah, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Krishna, Jehovah Satan, etc., or if the good deed doer takes all the credit, enjoys pitching in, relieving suffering. Just so the person is doing good. This is something to be enthused about. On the other hand, if that Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc., is enthusiastically doing evil deeds in the name of a god, the acts are still evil - something for their victims to be unenthusiastic about. And before anyone points out the atheists Stalin and Mao, Catholic Hitler and Franco, Muslim Saddam, let's be honest: they were only being themselves. (As God the Dictator is only being himself.)
WHEN we consider happiness as having something to be enthusiastic about, as a “chief requirement of life,” then we naturally should extend THAT possibility to EVERY individual. This is where atheism/humanism are MUCH BETTER at promoting enthusiasms and happiness, rather than religions, (which claim to bring comfort and happiness.) Religions RESTRICT or DENY this aspect of happiness, that possibility, to others: predominately WOMEN, non-religious, and those adults and children in those religions, who really need to know the world as it is. There is so much to be known, to be enthusiastic about in knowing and discovering in REALITY that religions smother!
Good reasons atheists like me would give for not being a faithful member of any Abrahamic religion come from statements made by, of all people, Nazi Rudolph Hess. His speech of June 30th, 1934, contain the words, “One man remains beyond all criticism, and that is the Fuhrer. This is because everyone senses and knows: He will always be right. The National Socialism of all of us in anchored uncritical loyalty, in a surrender to the Fuhrer.” If you substitute “God” for “Fuhrer”, and “the Faith” for “National Socialism,” you have the foundations of Abrahamic religions. On a practical level, for “the Fuhrer,” substitute “God's spokesmen,” and for “National Socialism” substitute whatever faith they represent. Now you get the picture. Atheists/humanists, as all other freedom of conscience supporters, are opposed to what are religious dictatorships.
Happy atheists? I'M happy without any gods or their dictators in my life. No one can really be happy without God? Let's see now. We know of wheelchair-bound individuals who are happy without legs and blind people happy without sight. There are people happy though they have practically nothing in material goods to be happy about - but they're enthused about their kids, friends, hobbies, sports teams, etc., etc. I and you are happy without tons of money, luxuries, and extraordinary pleasures. Sure - you can be perfectly happy without “God,” too. Millions and millions of people are.
Happiness isn't without sorrow, betrayals, or disappointments either; life is a kaleidoscope including “mistakes“ experiences. Sometimes you just have to accept that there are some things you've done or not done for which you'll never be forgiven. And there are some things you won't be “all right about.” That's life. Sometimes you might want to consider that you were happier before belief than after, and now you've returned to that prior state. Be enthused about the New World you've found! And if some believers are unhappy, upset, angry about this, well, maybe it's time they ASK why you're happy.