Tag Archive | atheism

Religion

Well, it has been quite a while since I talked about religion. But I kinda want to distract myself from certain memories this time of year brings up, and the suicidal thoughts that go along with them.

So, I’m kinda a semi-practicing eclectic pagan now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a non-practicing Discordian and materialist atheist with no belief in any spiritual forces, but I enjoy the ritual. It has it’s uses. It focuses me, and helps  me deal with certain things. And I like the way the turning of the seasons is marked. It feeds me.

Hell, I don’t think this will really make sense to anyone, partially because I’ve kept it pretty vague, but this really isn’t about you anyway.

But I don’t really find community with anyone through religion. All of it still feels so alienating to me.

Anyway, that’s where I am.

Is this hell?

CN: christianity, abuse, trans stuff

Like, sometimes I wonder if I’m in hell. See, one of the things I was taught, or should I say indoctrinated into, is that God’s presence is absent in hell. And I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in gods. But maybe that’s because they really don’t exist on this plane of existence and I’m being punished. I mean, like, why else would I have to go thru the dysphoria, intense chronic pain, and all the rest. Sometimes I wonder if all the abuse is just background that’s inflicted upon me as another form of torture.

So, I don’t actually believe this is the case. I’m not that narcissistic. But yeah, I got some mental issues and hang ups left from when I was Catholic. That shit is toxic, y’all.

Moral Quandary

Another thing happened tonight at work. A card was going around, to be signed for the parent’s of the girl who died from driving while fucked up. What was the quandary you ask? Well, the card was religious in nature, and said that we’d be keeping them in our prayers. This is fucked up for several reasons. I have no idea if they are religious or not. If they aren’t it’d be a slap in the face. If they are, no problem. Another problem is, it forced me to choose between being honest, and doing something to comfort someone.  It felt very wrong to sign my name to that as an atheist. I could have not signed it, but that would have been selfish. No one should be put in that position.

So, please, if you are going to bring a card around for people to sign for a victim’s family, make it secular in nature. Not everyone is a believer.

 

 

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Hello, my new religious followers. And everyone else.

Welcome. You might have noticed that I’m an atheist. Allow me to clarify some things, so I don’t end up banning you.

I am not Richard Dawkins, Samuel Harris, Daniel Dennet, or Alain de Botton. Do not assume that I hold their positions. If you wish to debate them, go bother them, not me. The views of a bunch of white cisgender upper class men have very little relevance to my positions.

So, what exactly do I mean by the term atheist? Well to be more specific, I’m an anti-pistevist, agnostic, atheist.

  • anti-pistevist: against faith. I think that faith is bad methodology, and therefore harmful. 
  • agnostic: I do not know whether or not any god or gods exist. But possibility is not the same thing as probability, and without any evidence for any gods, my best estimate is that the probability of any gods existing, much less your specific god, is very low.
  • atheist: I do not believe in any gods. I do not believe in any gods because I have no evidence for any gods. If you want me to believe in them, you must show me evidence. And no, some philosophical argument is not evidence.

Ok, now that we’ve got that cleared up, I don’t want anyone telling me to prove that no gods exist. That is not my position.

Now, even if you do prove that a god exists, you still have to prove that it is your god that exists. If you somehow manage to accomplish that, it still does not mean that I will follow or worship that god. In fact, I may just fight your gods if I deem them to be morally unacceptable. I sure won’t worship any gods, and will actively oppose many of them. Any god that lets children starve is not worth my allegiance. Any god not powerful enough to help starving children is not worth my time. Any god that would invent a hell is evil and should be actively fought.

So, that being said, if you are religious, and don’t try to make other people follow the rules of your religion, or don’t discriminate because of it, I don’t particularly care. I think that you are wrong, but I care more about where you stand on other issues.

Most of the time I talk about atheism on this blog, it is because either religious people are doing something harmful, or I am criticizing other atheists. If I bring up homophobia in religion, and your beliefs aren’t homophobic, don’t waste both your time and mine saying that not all religious people are like that. I know that they aren’t. Instead of bringing that up to me, why not try doing something about it. I have repeatedly criticized other atheists for being racist, misogynistic, or transphobic.

If your religious beliefs are heterosexist, monosexist, cissexist, racist, or misogynistic, don’t bother spewing that shit on my blog. I’ll edit your comment for my own amusement, and put you in the spam filter.

Oh, and for the record, I’m pro-choice, and pro sex worker.

Most of what I talk about on this blog is trans stuff, poetry, and feminism, and whatever else I happen to feel like talking about on that particular day.

Oh yeah, and I use foul language, if you can’t handle that, then feel free to go the fuck elsewhere.

Stick around and feel welcome to comment, just remember my comment policy: don’t piss me off, and this blog is my space, not yours.

-Emily

Addressing William’s Immanent God

I am responding to this post, by a person I consider to be a friend, William.

http://ihaveseengod.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/the-debate-on-god-a-pagan-perspective/

William, I’m going to respond to you here on my blog, because I have addressed other concepts of god besides a personal one, and I want this to be shown.

Any argument attempting to prove or disprove the existence of a personal God inherently presents a false dichotomy. God is a subjective concept and therefore cannot be reified, rendering the use of logic insufficient as a means to resolve this argument

If we are talking about existence, then we are talking about something quantifiable. Something is either real, or it is not.  And we disprove personal gods all the time.

  In any case, efforts to actually personify God are, in essence, clear examples of anthropomorphic fallacy.

See, you just made a weak case against any personal gods. But the anthropomorphic fallacy doesn’t apply unless you prove that god is inanimate. So, what does the evidence say about personal gods? There is none in favor of them. So why should we believe in any of them? We shouldn’t. Does that mean that we can universally disprove them? No, we do not have infinite knowledge. But we can disprove specific god claims.

 The ongoing debate between atheists and non-pagan theists is an exercise in futility, a complete and utter waste of time in my opinion. Both sides rely upon argumentum ad ignorantiam, meaning an argument based upon ignorance, a practice which violates the laws of logic. Most atheists would disagree with this assessment as they maintain the burden of proof resides upon the claimant; they purport to make no claim and therefore shift the burden of proof to the theist but this practice is itself a fallacy. By the act of engaging in debate and demanding proof, the vocal atheist is effectively claiming that the theist’s belief is lacking evidence and is therefore false. The non-pagan theist in comparison will always find themselves claiming that God must exist simply because the existence of God hasn’t been successfully proven false.

Actually, we have and do prove specific god claims false.  For instance, the problem of unnecessary suffering with an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent god. I can give more. When we ask for proof, we are asking for proof of any claims made. By showing that their arguments do not provide evidence, we are proving those specific arguments false, and returning to the null hypothesis. We have no reason to believe in any gods.

 I do not pretend to understand atheists who challenge any public statement of religious belief with incredulity and generally seem obsessed with the need to castigate those who possess such beliefs. Albert Einstein once characterized such individuals as “slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium of the people’—cannot bear the music of the spheres.”

I’ll give you three of my reasons.

1. Self-defense. People love to try to convince me that their god exists. They won’t just let me not believe, they feel a duty to save my soul. The only way to silence them is to show them that their arguments are bunk.

2. Beliefs have consequences. Rarely does the belief in gods come without baggage attached, whether it is the Christians discriminating against me for being bisexual, the gender essentialism so common in Dianic Wicca, or the classism in certain forms of hinduism.

3. We have an ethical duty to reason. Without it, we cannot possibly tell the consequences of our actions. Religion is based on claiming something, without showing that it is real. It encourages belief on faith instead of reason. You can have all the faith you want that if someone cuts your hand off, it will grow back, but that does not change reality, no matter how comforting the thought is. If you wish to prove me wrong, I suggest we do an experiment.

If you wish to hold a valid debate on God’s existence you must provide a basic definition for God. As previously inferred atheists and non-pagan theists usually attempt to personify God in their arguments and therefore encounter a logic block before they even begin.

1. look up ignostic atheism.

2. Atheist argue against the claims made. If someone defines god as a person, then we argue against their conception of god, and return to the null hypothesis when their claims fail the burden of proof, or we disprove specific claims.

3. The reason we more often argue against a personal god is because people with this conception are usually the ones causing the most problems.

Contemporary Pagan philosophy posits that God is immanent in the universe and equivalent to all that exists. Our definition by itself provides the proof to our claim

And if you stopped there, we wouldn’t have a problem. At that point the term god is nothing more than a poetic way of describing the universe, but most of the time, pagans don’t stop there, and make additional claims about the nature of god.

We know beyond any possible doubt that God exists and indeed that consciousness itself continues after the death of the physical body although we do not claim to know in what form it continues.

See, another claim about reality. Evidence of this please. The existence of the universe doesn’t show that consciousness continues after death.

 Conscious thought must be energetic for all that exists is fundamentally comprised of energy in one form or another.

Yes, the physical, chemical and electric reactions in the nervous system. How does this show a soul?

One of the basic scientific laws maintains that energy cannot in fact be destroyed, it may only be changed in some way.

Yes. Energy is always being changed from one form to another, most of which escapes as non-usable heat. All of this occurs in the physical realm.

I have said before that in order for religion to be relevant in this modern age, it must mark its beginning where science ends while remaining in agreement with everything science has previously determined to be true.

And you claim that atheists are making an argument from ignorance?

I forgot who said this but:

“First god was on the mountain, then we climbed the mountain, and god was not there. Then god was a god of the sky, then we built airplanes and god was not there. Then god was above the sky, now we have gone into space, and god was not there.”

Yes I realize that this is not your conception of god. But the point remains: every single time we have postulated a god instead of looking at the evidence, when the science improved, the god was shown to be non-existent. Why do you think our current ignorance is any different?

I would like to conclude by returning to the words of Professor Einstein, who believed that “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

Our desires do not change reality. If you wish to argue otherwise, allow me to cut off one of your fingers and see if your desire for it to be there will cause it to regrow without any medical intervention.

A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings and aspirations to which he clings because of their super-personal value.

And once again, someone gives religion the credit for something people achieve. Applied empathy and ethics do not equal Religiously enlightened.

It seems to me that what is important is the force of this super-personal content … regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a Divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities

Religion is irrelevant to these values. Unless you wish to argue that someone like me who has no religion is incapable of empathy and applying empathy ethically. Religion carries all sorts of beliefs, and most of them are not benevolent. Sexism, homophobia, Transphobia, racism, classism, just to name a few that are prevalent in modern day religions. And yes, I know you will just say that these people are not religiously enlightened. But if the modern religions propagate this filth along with what you consider benevolent values, how can you ignore that it is part of the religion?

Accordingly a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance of those super-personal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation

You want a rational foundation? How about, “What kind of world do I want to live in?” Work outwards from there.

For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be.

Yes, but science is not the only tool. Logic. Reason. Empathy. All are needed.

So Emily, Why are you an atheist?

Well, because what is real matters. The truth is better than a lie no matter how hard it is to accept.If you believe in something that is false, say for instance that homosexual acts are a sin worthy of torture, then in order for you to act morally based on that belief, you have to convince gay and bisexual people not to act on their attractions, which does a real harm in the real world. But since their is no evidence that homosexual acts are a sin, then you are doing a real harm that has consequences in this world without reducing any other harm. So why atheism? Because there is no evidence for any god or gods. If there is no evidence, why should we believe? We shouldn’t. Empiricism is the only reliable way to know what exists outside of a mental construct. And our desires have no bearing on reality except how they influence our actions.

But atheism alone is not enough. It is just one right answer. Having that answer has consequences though. If their is no god to help us, then we must help each other. No one is going to make the world a better place just by wishing, praying, or hoping. We must take action.

If you don’t have empathy, then nothing I say will make you want to make the world a better place. An atheist without empathy is useless to me. If you don’t use reason, evidence, and logic to justify your positions, then how is that different from religious faith?

So atheism alone is not enough, we also need skepticism, empathy, reason, logic, and evidence.

So you people who read my blog, why do you believe what you believe? This question is open to people of all religions and none.

Fuck it….. I guess I’ll write about this tonight….. Emotions, Anger, and Dealing with Harassment

I woke up angry today. Even when I’m enjoying myself, even when I’m laughing, lately there has been a low grade anger burning underneath the surface that never really goes away. Less suicidal thoughts and more violent ones. Luckily, I learned to deal with my violent tendencies when I was much younger. I’ve been trying to figure out the source of this anger. There are plenty of things that it could be. Things that I deal with on a day to day basis. But those things usually just make me angry while I’m experiencing them. Like Tim.

What could it be? Could it be a reaction to the trans-misogyny rampant in society? Is it related to my depression, some weird new form? Is it a side effect of dysphoria? Resentment from having to pretend to be something I’m not all day long? That last one is definitely a part of it.

Whatever it is, my workplace environment is amplifying it. Today I had a conversation with a co-worker who was convinced that gender inequality exists, but that it favors women. Luckily for me, it was the only rational person I work with. (Hint: It’s not the other atheist.) I was able to completely turn his views around. Yay feminism. But this usually isn’t the case. My job is a hotbed of sexism and misogyny, perpetuated by the women and the men. I do what I can, but it doesn’t accomplish much. The people are also extremely homophobic, which even though no one, except for the aforementioned rational person, knows that I’m bisexual (he doesn’t know that I’m trans*), I can’t help but take personally. Not to mention that there is a rumor going around that I’m gay.

And being an atheist doesn’t help my situation there. I don’t face rampant discrimination for it most of the time, but, with a few exceptions  people treat me differently after they find out. They are still cordial, but there is a wall between us that wasn’t present before. Then there is the fact that one of my managers is a deacon at a local church, and another one is recruiting people I work with to go to church with him.

Not to mention that I have to go behind lazy people and do their jobs after them.

But along with all the other stuff I’m dealing with, I’m being sexually harassed. I’ve actually experienced work based sexual harassment in several forms from different people at different jobs. And this is while everybody assumes that I’m a cis straight guy. Well maybe they don’t always assume that I’m straight. Gives me a mere taste of the metric fuckton of harassment I’ll get to experience once I’m further along in transition. One time, at a different job, One of the owners, a gay guy was the culprit. And his husband, one of the other owners, was the chef. They both did occasionally. Many feminists talk about the male gaze. Well, I know exactly what they’re talking about. But they would also  “joke” in a sexual manner with me. One time they were talking about coming in when the restaurant was closed for a heavy cleaning day. One of them told me that the dress code for the day was tight jeans and no shirt. You should have seen the look on his face. A different time, after I finished closing up the kitchen, one of them told me that I should come back to the bar later, that they were having a wet underwear contest. No, it wasn’t a gay bar, but it was a gay and lesbian friendly hangout for an older crowd. These are only two of the many instances from that job.

Another of the instances of sexual harassment was done by a woman I worked with who was not in management. It got so bad at one point, that she was literally rubbing her body ( and I don’t mean the side of her body) up against me while I was trying to do my job. She’s the only person who has ever harassed me that I was able to get to stop. All it took for her to stop was a conversation. By then, I was at the breaking point, and I think it showed in my face. I think the thing that got her to back down were the words “Please stop.” I didn’t say them very assertively though, almost begging in tone.

Now to the harassment I’m currently facing. It’s coming from the other atheist, who I’ll call Bob, and it is a different type of sexual harassment. There have been many instances, but the most egregious happened recently.

To give a much needed setup, I need to introduce one of my co-workers that I haven’t previously mentioned. Let’s call her Angela. Angela is one of the few people, along with her daughter who also works there, who hasn’t changed her disposition towards me after finding out that I’m an atheist. That might change if she found out the rest of the facts about me, but for the moment, she is one of the best friends I have at my job. People joke about us as if we are a couple, and there was even a rumor that went around briefly. Heck, we even joke about being together romantically, though the relationship is nothing like that. Even though she’s active with the state republican party, and a committed catholic, she doesn’t treat me any differently for being an ex-catholic atheist, and that simple kindness goes a long way. If you’ve been reading this blog, you already know this, but I’ve been growing my hair out, and people comment on it. Angela hates my hair being long and keeps after me trying to get me to get it cut. I won’t do that. Fuck that. It makes me look more feminine. I love my hair, and I’m going to keep growing it out, but I can’t tell her the reason for that.

So one day, Bob hollers out loud so everyone in the kitchen can hear him, “We all know that Angela really likes your hair. She’s just covering up the fact that she likes to pull it while she fucks you up the ass with a strap-on.”

Yeah.

No one is willing to corroborate my story with HR even though they think it is harassment. If they did, they might just have to examine their own behavior towards the women I work with.

See, they don’t think what he did is wrong because of the nature of it, he jokes about me all the time. They just think he crossed a line because he got that specific about describing a sexual behavior. Most of the time his jokes are more of the nature of, “We need to get [birthname removed] a hooker and some Viagra.”

So yeah, I’m angry, I’m dealing with a bunch of shit that is aggravating it, and I can’t even tell my parents what I’m dealing with, and I really want to be able to lean on them, cause fuck trusting Tim with anything personal.

Well……. That was a fucked up conversation.

So, I just got off the phone. Somehow, despite my best efforts, Tim brings up atheism. He always does this late at fucking night when I can’t think right. Fucker. He starts going on about how atheists are just like 9/11 truthers. “They’re always asking for more evidence, They get really mad when you don’t agree with them, come on man, you know I’m right, YOU’RE just like them.” What the Fuck? Seriously. That’s how you escape the burden of proof. Fuck you. The difference is that the 9/11 truthers are offering a theory that contradicts the evidence. Of course I didn’t say that. Instead, I told him that I would rather not get into atheist/christian debate right now. I told him that if we got into it, we probably wouldn’t remain friends much longer. This guy.

So then he goes into how much it pisses him off when someone tries to change the subject. Now get this shit. He says that if I really piss him off, “I could really fuck up your life with one phone call.” He’s referring to outing me as bisexual to my parents. I go dead silent. What the fuck do you even say to something like that? It’s hard to even describe how that made me feel. What a fucking betrayal. A slap to the face. An utter repudiation of everything that we have ever done for each other. I think that my ability to hear even went out momentarily. Next thing I hear over the phone is him saying “hello?” I respond that I’m still there. The next part is a little blurry, even though it just happened. I tell him that I need to know if what I just heard was what he meant, that he would out me to my parents if I pissed him off enough. He got mad at me for believing that he would actually do that, that he was joking around. That, “after all I’ve done for you, do you think that I would do something like that to harm you?” You know what, I didn’t say this to him, but that is exactly why I don’t trust him with anything personal anymore. I don’t fucking trust him. He’s manipulative. He’s constantly tearing me down. And now, because I trusted him, he has power over me until I come out to my parents as Bi. This is one of the many reasons he doesn’t know I’m trans*. He doesn’t even bother to hide his contempt for me for being an atheist like I showed above. And I never knew how ridiculously homophobic he was until I came out to him. Why the fuck did I ever waste so much time, effort and emotion on this guy? And now, I have to pretend like everything is normal, because he holds power over me. I’m even going to hang out with him tomorrow. I feel like crying.

At times, atheism can be very comforting.

This is something no one seems to talk about. The positive emotional effects of being an atheist. I wonder why.

I was driving home from a “friend’s” house, when I started crying thinking about, “why? Why do I have to be this way? Why can’t I just be normal? Why do I have to deal with this shit?” Then I remembered something. I am the way that I am because of natural variation in the species, and I just happened to get the short straw in life. See, there is an explanation for why I’m trans*. No god did this to me, it’s just a natural part of life.  I don’t have to beg and plead to a supernatural entity with the false hope of changing, I can just deal with the cards on the table, make a plan, and get on with life. It was very calming. Reality has that effect.

I no longer have to fear hell, or the wrath of an unjust god. Any pain, any misery this life brings me will eventually pass, so why not try to be happy? It too, will eventually pass, so I might as well make the most out of this one life that I do have.

Religion, on the other hand, never gave me comfort. When I was young, I had a pretty severe anger problem. Prayer never helped with it. In fact, prayer made it worse. Only after being taught a secular version of meditation was I able to get control over my anger. Belief in god never brought me comfort. God was judge, jury, and executioner, and no one could ever live up to his standards. I crushed my sense of self, I crushed my attraction to guys, and never had a chance of being happy because I was a true believer in Catholicism. Prayer never calmed me. I was taught that god helps those who help themselves, so I never had any hope that God would do anything for me, but that I was still supposed to rely on him anyway. Religion fucked me right up. Even after I left Catholicism, even after I left christianity all together, none of the religions I tried out ever brought me comfort. Because I was relying on something that was never there for me. Once you realise that there is nothing to rely on, the universe makes sense, and you can just get on with your life. And you don’t have to worry about all the stupid arbitrary rules.

I think the reason most atheists don’t talk about this is that they don’t want to try to sway religious people into deconverting for emotional reasons. They want people to deconvert because of a rational argument. Well, I’m not trying to deconvert anyone here. I just think that the emotional side effects of the atheist world view need to be talked about. We shouldn’t let the religious dominate this dialogue, too. To my atheist readers, what have been the positive emotional effects that you have had since becoming an atheist?