Friday, October 8, 2010

Drink some of this, Believer! Be one of US!

Drink some of this, believer! Be one of US!

The recent PEW survey and my re-posting of my Finding My Religion blog got me thinking about the cocktail of faiths I had before giving up religion. There is a quote from someone more famous than I that claims everyone is an atheist in regards to some god or deity; atheists simply reject one more. The statement goes on to claim if one understands why they do not believe in Zeus or Odin, they will better understand why the atheist also rejects the existence of their god. I think this is true, to a degree, and that is the subject of this blog.

I’m starting a student group of non-believers at the college I currently attend. We held our first un-official meeting about a week ago. There, it was obvious that of all the members, my journey to apostasy was the most turbulent, and my indoctrination was the fiercest. The most turbulence came from looking at other religions and trying to get my ethics to fit in the religion’s box.

Perhaps because I was so indoctrinated, I had to look to other religions in order to break free. Whatever the case, I certainly did. In doing so, lots of commonalities arose. Every religion I looked at wanted me to employ faith. I had to simply accept some tenant of the religion without any evidence to support the claim. It really struck me that the parts of the religion I tended to discard were those that had no supporting evidence. The only redeeming quality in any of them was a moral code and a philosophy of good will. I already had that. I was looking for a reliable, reasonable belief system.

Since all the faith-based portions of the religions were easily discarded, I figured I’d just make some up myself. Thus me-ism began. It would seem I’d make a horrible religion-starter. I kept trying to re-make my faith so that it would match what I observed in reality. The more I did so, the less faith made any sense. But the morality seemed to remain constant. So the question became, how do I make sense of morality without god?

When I got to Satanism, I found this easier. Satanism stressed the individual more than any other faith I had found. I suppose I should explain that by this time, I had become convinced that god was imaginary, and Satanism was not devil-worship. At least, not for me. I call it faith, however, because Satanism had a large “magical” component. There was “black magic”, for example. There were rituals and spells, many similar to those I had picked up in Wicca. In other words, there forces out there one cannot possibly understand. It took me a long time to see the bullshit here.

But morality was simple in Satanism. Do what feels good. I enjoy doing the right thing, so here, in Satanism, I forged the idea that morality MUST be organic. I had to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate my moral code to be sure I was as moral as I could be. I hold this philosophy today.

Since the PEW report, it does seem the atheist knows more about other faiths than the faithful. I know when I began my investigation into other faiths, I did so only because I had heard a teacher of mine tell his story of doing the same, and returning to Catholicism. That was the path I thought I wanted to take, and he said it was possible. The atheist needs to at least hear the claim so the claim can be rejected. It’s hard to do that when you are conditioned to cover your ears whenever a claim from another religion is recited.

Perhaps the elixir of atheism is a bit of each of the world’s religions mixed altogether. Perhaps this bitter drink is enough to induce faith-vomiting. Perhaps this is why every atheist I know supports a world-religion class in schools. If we followed NBC’s star, would the slogan have read, “The More You Know….The More Likely You Are To Apostatize” ?

Or perhaps the elixir is nothing more than education. There is no better way to dissolve delusion, than with education. So, drink, believer. Be one of us. God isn’t here; we are.

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