Certainly not all of them – believe me, I know. Average Atheist for some reason really wants to scream and yell about how stupid believing something besides Atheism is. Belittlement and arrogance and a loud voice – not very nice at all.
Of course, philosophically, Atheists are at least as nice as anyone else. Lots of Christians want to scream Bible quotes at Atheists for example. Lots of them like to take signs to homosexual soldiers’ funerals that say “GOD HATES FAGS.” Some of them even like to pretend to serve the Christian God, while actually using their powerful positions to molest children – that’s not a one time thing, you know.
So don’t get too cocky about how much nicer Christians are than Atheists. There are jerks and princes in both groups, no doubt about it.
I don’t really sit around talking about my lack of a religion very often, mostly because there is no point. Nothing good tends to come of it, when people find out I don’t believe in God, and that I’m not too worried about it.
For example, when our children were younger and we lived out in the country, some of the parents wouldn’t let their kids hang out with our kids. Because we were heathens.
Yes, they figured they’d better take that out on my kids – I guess that’s what Jesus would have done. Kind of made me sick and really reinforced some of the things that knocked me off of religion in the first place.
I’m not even an Athiest for real – I’m an agnostic. But the current trend in “discussing” religion or a lack of it is to accuse the agnostic of being a sissy, basically. The argument goes like this:
Being an agnostic is really just a matter of deciding not to decide. So you, Mr. Agnostic, lack the conviction to decide. That’s weakness. If you don’t even have the capacity to make a decision here, if you can’t even come out and say what you believe is true or false, then how are you so sure that everyone else’s convictions are wrong?
So then the Agnostic says, okay well, if I have to decide right this second, then no, I don’t believe in God. Guess I’m an Atheist.
Of course, the main flaw right there at the center of that whole exchange is that you don’t have to decide right now. Just like you don’t have to decide if it’s going to snow this Christmas or if you’ll be sick on vacation or anything else that you don’t have sufficient information to decide at the current time.
Some guy standing in front of you, swearing up and down that it’s going to snow this Christmas – you’d be positive that the guy knows no such thing, but you wouldn’t have the conviction to slam down your fist and insist that it’s NOT going to snow this Christmas.
Neither of you has any idea – that was the whole point.
The only way it’s imperative that you decide right now about religion is if you’ve already decided you believe in God, the vengeful kind who’s going to send you to Hell for not “deciding” to believe in Him.
If you already believe in That Guy, then absolutely – you better announce your convictions and start praying, or make the really weird move of deciding that you still don’t want to be a Christian, even though you truly believe you’ll go to Hell for it. A lot like deciding to give a guy on the street a hundred dollars, just because he’s pointing a knife at you.
However, if things are the way the average Agnostic suspects, then although there may well be much more going on in the universe than we’re privy to, more than we can begin to comprehend, and although this particular life on this particular planet may not be the end, we have time to really mull over the decision. In fact the way most Agnostics see it, that’s the meaning of life itself.
Deliberate, rational exploration of this very spiritual topic. Starting from scratch, rather than starting from the concepts pounded into your head when you were a terrified child, concepts which bear a striking resemblance to Santa Claus on the surface. Suspect concepts, the kind on which we’ve been burned before.
That’s usually what drives the initial leap from religious to skeptic – the desire to not get duped.
We felt duped by Santa Claus, definitely. Parents and society at large said big fat guy drops off presents, watches us all the time, knows when we’re sleeping, etc. Later on – a LOT later, it seemed to us, since it was our entire lives up to that point – they say, yeah, we were just screwing with you to keep you in line.
And suddenly we started wondering, how much else was told to us in order to screw with us? To keep us in line?
And we also sort of start wondering, wait a second – how much was told to my parents and my family and my society, in order to keep them in line? Have they figured out every single scheme, or are there still lies out there, lies we hold sacred, lies keeping us in line?
Most of the people I know who have lost their religions have a deep aversion to these two core concepts – being lied to, and being kept in line.
So we start looking around, reading up on what other people think, people with doubts, people without them. We find that not only do many, many people believe many different things, they believe with the same zeal. The conviction people have in their own faiths is less meaningful when you can see clear as day that at least some of them are wrong.
Because if some of them can be wrong despite such absolute conviction, then all of them can be wrong despite such absolute conviction.