photos • cartoons • other • movies • texts • links • contact
blasphemous text • previous blasphemous
|What It Feels Like to be an Atheist
A few folks wanna know why I'm an atheist. I'm not
planning on sugar coating this with any platitudes
about how religion helps some folks cope with the
brutal facts of life they never asked for and don't
deserve; it does do that and it does lots of useful
things. But that's not what this is about.
If you don't want to know, stop reading ... now.
I mean it, stop reading this right now. If you've
recently lost someone or are about to lose someone
and religion is the one thread you're hanging onto
to keep from going bonkers, don't read this; If you
need to feel that humans have some kind of special
place in the universe and without that special dispensation,
it's all 'for nothing', don't read this; If you're
easily offended and/or intolerant, don't read this.
Normally I'd be happy to induldge all that, but in
this one singular case I'm not going to be terribly
empathetic about people complaining.
And, I'm gonna do this thing in two parts; one today
and one tomorrow. The first trying to explain what
it feels like to be an atheist, the latter part on
why I'm an atheist. There will be some overlap.
What it feels like to be an Atheist
I've always been an atheist, I know nothing else.
From my earliest memory of considering the question,
I'm talking maybe age three or four, I was skeptical
as hell. The God stories just didn't add up. I'm
amazed everyday of my life that everyone isn't an
atheist like me. But they're not, I have no idea
why that is, but it is reality. And based on many
questions over the years it sounds possibly hard
for someone who is not one to understand it. So follow
me for a bit if you can. And I'll try to describe
the world as seen through atheist eyes.
Imagine that you live in a world where 90% of the
people around you sincerely believe in something
that appears to you to be downright whacky, if perhaps
relatively pleasant on the surface in many respects.
Say they believe in Santa Claus; beard, the big red
suit, the flying reindeer, the sled loaded with a
billion gifts, the North Pole Workshop, Mrs. Claus
and the elves; all of it.
But in this fantasy world, they're not content merely
to believe in Santa Claus, they want you to publicly
agree all the time that you also believe in Santa,
in their specific version of same, and they pressure
everyone else in numerous ways to pretend that they're
not strange or childish for believing in this. They
don't just limit it at that even, they insist everyone
kiss their ass about their Santa belief every damn
day of their lives and if you don't humor them at
the drop of hat under any circumstances, you're being
disrespectful, you're out of line. No matter how
much you humor them, they always demand more.
Imagine, seriously imagine for a moment now, that
these people, the vast majority of the electorate,
vote for politicians based in large part on what
they think Santa wants, campaign speeches all end
with "Be good or Santa won't come to visit".
And most of these voters won't even consider voting
for someone who doesn't believe in Santa Claus and
his factory at the North Pole. Yet they routinely
congratulate themselves as belonging to the most
graciously tolerant and open minded people in all
Imagine that large sections of the country, the majority
in fact, reject modern geography and want to teach
that Santa lives at the North Pole in a giant Dickensian
factory manned by elves as part of that curricula.
They don't just want to teach it at home or in Santa
Mass every Sunday, they wanna teach it as geographical
fact and they're militant about it. They lobby the
schoolboard and stack them with Santa-ists who want
to 'teach both sides of the geographic controversy'
and let the kids decide if they wanna believe in
Santa's Workshop at the North Pole, or not. They
want to 'teach the evidence against naturalistic
North Polism" and no amount of evidence, no
sat photos, no onsite reports, no live North Pole
Cams, will dissuade them from this effort.
Imagine that if you even voice the possibility that
Santa might be a pleasant legend or some aspects
of the story may be more allegorical in nature rather
than literal, at the local school board meeting when
this issue comes up, you're shouted down, called
everything from a Nazi to a demon to a terrorist,
exiled from the neighborhood and maybe isolated at
work. Because while a bunch of nice things get done
in the name of Santa, a lot of nonsense and out and
out bullshit also is justified with the same. For
example; your kids better not repeat any Santa skepticism,
or they'll be teased horribly at the very least and
might get the shit beat out of them by other kids
from time to time.
Now further imagine; although the underlying story
is sweet enough on its own, the actual uses it is
put to by various self-serving factions are about
as ugly as it can get: The ruling party is supported
by a large block of truly radical Santa believers
who want to run the entire country like they believe
the North Pole facility operates, including sweatshops
with kids all busy working away seven days a week
365 days a year in long assembly lines, with hand
tools, in the freezing cold arctic winter, all for
benefit of a few old men with long white beards who
live in complete splendor on that labor. Because
that's how Santa wants it, see?
And even though Santa loves children, it is wrong
for government to do Santa's work, so really, it
would be going against Santa's will to ever just
give the millions of working kids a decent meal,
but throw a couple of dozen of them a toy once a
year you're A-OK with Santa. That's what they want
and they're working hard to get it.
On top of that, based on their Santa beliefs, they
also want to outlaw all cortical steroids and hormone
treatments of any kind for any reason; cancer, growth
defects, hormone deficiencies, replacement therapy,
arthritis and other autoimmune disorders, muscular
dystrophy, and on and on: Because they claim with
utter certainty that Santa likes elves. Elves are
Divine, and some hormones could be used to treat
dwarfism. You might accidentally prevent the normal
development of midgets and the bone pathologies associated
with it, if hormones were legal and widely prescribed.
So no hormonal or cortical drugs, no exceptions.
Some them want to reclassify all drugs as hormones
... just in case.
They try to stack the courts with Santists and they
stacked the regulatory oversight boards with Santists
at every chance and anytime someone rules against
the interest of the sweatshop lobby they're labeled
Activist St. Nicks. Anyone who presents evidence
to the contrary to Santa or any of these government
approved concentration/work camps or ideological
Santist Policies is viciously smeared by a professional
media, most of whom share the same set of Santa beliefs,
and that's on the rare, once in a year occasion when
someone who will argue against the literal existence
of Santa is even allowed airtime. The nation slides
slowly towards Santacracy year by year.
Their entire rationale for this belief system and
all the ugliness and oppression associated with it,
is based purely on one long Christmas Carol handed
down through the ages and some self anointed speakers
for Santa--who happen to be in the employ of the
wealthy bearded caste--and one or two old children's
And BTW it's the same story with various minor differences
all over the world; across the ocean are people who
reject Santa by name, but who believe in Kris Kringle
or Father Christmas or St. Nick with equal or greater
intensity than these domestic Santa believers. And
some of those pagans are ready and willing to kill
each other, kill you and your entire family, in a
split-second, up to and including strapping explosives
to themselves and blowing up a kids daycare or turning
a jet into a missile kamikazi style and plowing it
into a factory; all because of that minor quibble
over the name and/or suit style of Santa, just to
make the point that they really believe their story
more than our Santists believe theirs.
Picture your life unfolding in this world: As a child
you also believe in Santa because your parents told
you to, but as you grow up you become skeptical,
some things just don't seem to add up. By the time
you're six or seven years-old, you start asking legitimate
questions like "How does Santa get down the
little chimney, how does Santa get the time to visit
each house, how does Santa know the kids who've been
good from the ones who've been bad" and so forth.
These questions elicit first strangely evasive answers
devoid of content and a general sense of unease among
the adults you're asking. Over the next few years
that moves onto reactions of scorn, patronizing insults,
and open hostility. But never, ever one single answer
that holds up over time.
Finally you come to suspect there is a real possibility
that there is no literal Santa Claus at the North
Pole with a toy factory run by elves and flying reindeer.
You began gently asking other folks about your concern.
But, when you confide in a few of your most trusted
friends and closest family members that the whole
Santa idea is a nice sentiment to be sure, but it
doesn't make much rational sense and there is no
evidence for it, the reaction ranges from puzzlement,
to pity, to shock, to anger, to open accusations
and implications that you're some kind of mental
defective for even wondering about it.
You don't understand what's going on, none of this
Santa stuff makes any sense and there's zero evidence
for it, why can't everyone just admit that? What's
the big conspiracy about? Why is everyone pretending
there really is a Santa? Then it slowly dawns on
you, around age ten or eleven ... the chilling,
They're Not Pretending. They REALLY Do Believe There
Is a Santa Claus.
Egads! Holy Shit! You suddenly feel a little bit
lonely at age sixteen as you come to realize that
you may surrounded by fully grown adults who are
delusional incompetents that cannot distinguish fiction
from fact and are enthralled by some kind of massive
group hysteria! They're most of them all like that!
And they all think you're nuts for not buying into
their delusion! What the hell is wrong with these
fucking people, can't they see how crazy this shit
So, being an adolescent who wants to know things
and unafraid, you confront people who are trying
to convince you about the existence of Santa with
the what seem to you to be pretty obvious shortcomings
in the story. The result is a torrent of stupidly
phased questions, anger, at times hatred, usually
disguised as pity or concern, but not always.
Where do you think Christmas came from? How do you
think the idea of giving gifts arose in the first
place?" you're asked repeatedly.
Some of the questions you're being badgered with
now are utterly exempt of any semblance of logic, "I've
seen Santa so how do you explain that one?" or "How
do you think the North Pole came to be Santa's Workshop
if there is no Santa for crying out loud???? Huh?
Huh? Answer THAT ONE Mr Smarty-pants!!!"
And no matter how many times you explain it's more
likely Santa was thought up and refined over time
by earlier generations, that there is in fact a long
historical trail of Santa like characters in the
cultures of your ancestors seamlessly leading up
to the present day version, you are ignored or laughed
at. And over and over the same tired old questions
incessantly get thrown in your face again and again
as though there was never a response on your part
and there is no possible explanation outside of Santa
(Or St. Nick or Kris Kringle or Father Christmas,
if you happen to be questioned by those respective
adherents). It's baffling to you.
Come your college years, more serious folks around
now, I'm talking otherwise fully functional adults
who hold jobs, sport an array of impressive degrees
in Law, Philosophy, Science, or Mathematics, and
who make important decisions, bombard you constantly
with "Without Santa there would be no reason
for us to be good, where do you think morality and
ethics come from?; What's your 'world-view' and what
evidence do you have for it, if you have no origin
for morality?; I mean what's to stop you from going
on a killing and raping spree if you don't believe
And no matter how many times you freely state you
have no 'world-view' outside of an intuitive 'reality'
and that such ideas regarding morality and ethical
behavior and what is or is not a crime, likely stem
from the culture you are raised in where they're
acquired as a child unconsciously and then refined
over time as one matures, they ignore you and keep
throwing back the same question. The same question
over and over in a dazzling variety of slick, pseudointellectual
wrappers, while they practically dance in victory
with glee every time they hurl the same dumbass question,
as though they proved their Santa belief beyond any
As you begin your adult life, marry or have a family
of your own, the arguments don't get any better,
they in fact get noticeably worse at times. Irate
e-mailers demand, "How do you explain Rudolph's
glowing red nose?"
And no matter how many times you patiently explain
that Rudolph's existence and his nose is no more
rational or supported than Santa's, that the question
exhibits a fundamental logical fallacy by assuming
the premise, you are ignored as if your response
is invisible to your questioner and the same question
is thrown endlessly back in your face as if it's
a dead-cinch proof of Santa. You begin to understand
that these folks aren't only whacked in the head,
they're either liars or unable to think beyond the
level of a toddler. Because it really is like arguing
with a two-year old most of the time, only these
aren't two-year olds, these are grown educated human
beings. And you start to really worry now; what if
most people are insane and you just happen by the
luck of the draw to be one of the few sane ones?
A lucid person in a world gone mad?
Hey, maybe you've not given this Santa thing a fair
shot. Maybe if you talk to a pro, or meditate or
think on it long and hard, something will click into
place you're missing. So you embark on a multiyear
voyage asking Santa ministers and reading the theology
of Santa. You look at other beliefs like the ones
who worship St. Nick or Father Christmas, you try,
you really try to make it work. You play with altered
states of consciousness and talk to people from other
cultures about their version of the Santa belief.
And sure, you learn some useful tips, like how to
distinguish fresh blotter acid from stuff that's
been laying around turning into strychnine, and you
might be able to lower or raise your heartbeat using
biofeedback after a few sessions. But you find in
the end none of the actual Santa like beliefs make
any more sense than your own homegrown version. And
you can no more force yourself to believe any of
them, than you can flap your arms and fly away.
Still, incessantly they recruit you, incessantly
they beat you down anytime you open your mouth and
try to engage in a real, honest, thoughtful discussion,
with the same damn cheesy worthless lines you've
been hearing for years now. And from time to time,
when you finally convince someone, say someone who
is trying to recruit you to accept that Santa is
a real entity and really does all those amazing things,
that you're not buying it merely on their say-so,
they stalk off screaming things like "OH I get
it! You HATE Santa Claus and you HATE Christmas and
you HATE getting presents, and you're trying to get
even by pretending you don't believe in Him. Well,
I'll be laughing this Christmas when I'm opening
my presents and your only gift is a brand new brain
tumor for being bad".
Imagine, as you puzzle your way through this temporal
menagerie called life, full to the brim with more
of the functionally insane humanoids that make the
fabric of experience; bosses, girlfriends, pals,
enemies, and role models, that Santa reminders are
on every coin, every paper dollar, on every street
corner, on every news show, on every cable network,
that there are radio and TV stations that are dedicated
24 hours a day to extolling the virtues of Santa
and the power of his mighty Sled. Every now and then
you come across a fellow traveler who also marvels
at the insane people, and you might become friends,
compare notes, and laugh about the crazy mother fuckers,
but it's a rare thing to meet them in person.
And in every one of those Santa reminders on every
five cent piece and every dollar bill, lurks a tiny
hint, a latent glimpse of those ugly components of
Santaism and open wounds of rival Santa-like beliefs
that are always at each other's throats; the wars
justified and condoned, we're assured, by Santa;
the sweatshops and pagan suicide bombers and the
political opportunists who want to outlaw a huge
class of life saving drugs based on Santa belief;
the crazies who want to enact laws forcing everyone
else to suffer horrible pain and disfiguring fatal
diseases, all to humor their belief in mythological
elves. Sometimes as you get older, all you can do
is laugh so that you don't cry at the immense human
tragedy of it all.
And sure, you're used to it, it doesn't really bother
you most of the time because you just don't think
about how totally fucking nuts the people around
you are or what easy prey they are for the shameless
predators of this loony jungle, as long as they're
kept from hurting you or enacting their crazed legendary
tenets into law and screwing up your life, but it's
every damn place you go and it's getting worse and
worse. The Santa Clausians are becoming more demanding,
more powerful, more delusional and more arrogant
every year. You grew up swearing your allegiance
at the start of every school day that America was
One Nation Under Santa from kindergarten on, and
now some people are questioning the usefulness of
that tradition, and pointing out it could be seen
as blatant brainwashing, and they're being attacked
day and night by Santa apologists and compared to
pedophiles in the process. The entire Congress shuts
down to pass a unanimous amendment supporting saying
Santa in the Pledge in School and recites it on the
steps of the capitol, shrieking the word Santa out,
playing to the cameras and the demented Santa believers
on the other side of the optical pipes they're attached
to. Which is more comforting? That the leaders of
the nation are lying and pandering to Santa believers?
Or that they actually believe it also? Hell of a
It starts getting uglier: Imagine that one very loud
group of Santa believers regularly demands that you
move to another country and/or that you be prevented
from giving or receiving gifts or having Christmas
Day off because you don't believe in Santa, while
members of the same group are attacking you in an
even louder voice claiming you are trying to ruin
or cancel Christmas, and they demand that you be
forced to celebrate it and participate in each and
every Santa Claus ritual they personally deem requisite.
It's pretty clear to you now: These seemingly normal
people are not just fucking insane when it comes
to Santa, they're incoherent, dangerously unbalanced,
demanding mutually exclusive sets of behavior from
you that would be impossible to comply with.
Now imagine: Just two or three-hundred years ago
it was totally SOP to take folks, men, women, children,
who didn't believe in a specific version of Santa
and stick red-hot steel objects into their rectums
and vaginas, boil their limbs, beat them senseless
with padded clubs, tear them apart with teams of
horses, cut open their stomachs and rip out their
intestines while they're still alive in front of
their loved ones, or slowly burn them alive in public;
all in the name of Santa's good will and often on
the mere anonymous allegation from some two-bit ten-year
old kid or a crazy deranged nutcase suffering from
schizophrenia that you once said you don't believe
Santa can really fly. Now imagine that that still
goes on in some parts of the world AND there's a
whole bunch of people in your country who are clamoring
to bring that all back.
Imagine that when your mom or dad or heart surgeon
or teacher or your best friend tells you they firmly,
devoutly, believe in Santa replete with the flying
reindeer and the ability to get down every chimney
in the world in one evening, that you'd better believe
also or you won't be getting a damn thing in the
will or in life from them ever, or maybe they'll
just treat you like shit in front of the rest of
the family, AND THEY'RE NOT KIDDING IN THE SLIGHTEST
ABOUT ANY OF IT.
You are under a barrage of Santa believers from the
cradle to grave who act everything from shocked to
disgusted that you don't believe in Santa, they're
getting increasingly militant, yet not a one of them
has the slightest bit of evidence that an entity
called Santa really exists; not one of them is willing
to explain why the North Pole is nothing but a barren,
frozen wasteland, except maybe to vaguely explain
that the "Workshop" is incorporeal or not
meant to be taken "literally"; a claim
which other Santa believers disagree with vigorously.
Not one of them offers up the slightest tidbit of
convincing scientific rationale for how reindeer
fly and tow an arial sled, or how Santa reads the
minds and keeps tabs on 2 billion kids, and visits
them in a single 24 hour period once a year to deliver
toys built at his workshop by magic miniature toymakers.
Not one of them can offer any compelling real-world
reasoning for why Santa would want to do this anyway,
what he gets out of it, how he obtains supplies,
feeds himself and his workers, treats disease, avoids
old age and death, or how they all came to play this
role in the first place. And yet you are portrayed
as an imbecile and one chip short of Adolph Hitler
for not believing it.
Pretty ridiculous, huh? A world gone bonkers, populated
and completely run by a majority of people who are
frankly clinically insane, dangerously immature,
often violent, historically monstrous, completely
irrational, closed to any internal questioning, convinced
you're either stupid, evil, or dangerous, and hoping
for all they're worth to infect you with the same
mimetic virus. Can you even imagine how whacked it
would be to have to deal with that kind of shit?
To have to go through life walking on eggshells on
the subject of Santa lest you offend a believer and
they blow their stack at you, target you for persecution
for political purposes, and/or question your worth,
your job, your very life?
Well, if you can imagine all that, you know for just
a few moments how it feels everyday to be a grown
adult surrounded by wishful childish thinkers clinging
to nonsensical myths as if they were real and insisting,
in fact force feeding, that mythology to you; people
who sometimes turn quite violent, get downright nasty
if you express the slightest disagreement with their
specific version of the Jolly Old Guy; people who
happen to wield incredibly powerful arsenals of WMDs
and massive traditional military might as well as
running everything from the local police department
to the IRS; people who are now are reopening torture
chambers and gulags with armies of pundits cackling
with delight at the very thought of returning to
the good ole torture days.
It's not like we're living everyday in mortal fear,
but it's nevertheless a little nerve racking that
we find ourselves surrounded, defenseless, and at
the mercy of hordes of people that for all the world
appear to have lost their minds. And it's a bit depressing
that this is the best the human species and/or our
own nation can do or has done in millennia, especially
now given our potential and the technology/knowldge
now at our disposal.
And in the end, you can either pretend to be a Santa
believer, basically live a lie 24/7 and try to avoid
any showdowns over it that would expose you. Or you
can be yourself, embrace reason, live truth, and
take your chances, thanking your lucky stars the
whole time you don't live in the past or somewhere
else in the present; hoping to hell that the Santa
believers don't completely dominate everything and
go on some kind of anti-Santa purge.
That's kind of what it feels like to be an atheist.
If you try and imagine further why you don't believe
that Santa is real regardless of how nice a story
it is or all the nice things about Christmas you
enjoy, you'll be ahead of the game for tomorrow's
post on why I don't believe in deities, including
yours. More then...
It Feels Like to be an Atheist, Part 2
Life is a gift to all of us. And yet, when one
is an atheist, they are sometimes bothered by perhaps
well meaning but nevertheless annoying theists,
them of not caring about the life of anyone or anything. It's an odd reaction,
because for the atheist, this life is it. In our view, we humans get a few decades
on average, a tiny arc of consciousness across the infinite ocean of space-time,
a blink of the cosmic eye, in which the universe can be uniquely aware of itself
through each of us. And accepting that there is likely nothing afterward, nothing
but the comforting non-existence that preceded conception, makes this time far
more precious to the atheist, than many theists seem willing to contemplate.
Once again, a fair warning to all, this might be offensive as hell to some. Just
try and understand that even though I think religion may be crazy or irrational,
that doesn't mean I universally dislike religious people or that I think everything
they do outside of religion is worthless. Point of Fact: This two-part series
came about last evening during a friendly e-mail exchange with a Kossack friend
who is definitely a believer and s/he happens to be someone whose integrity,
character, and compassion, I greatly admire.
Now a foreword and a suggested code of conduct since the post got so distended:
Take some time to decide if something is really worth your time to respond to,
there will be trolls on both sides looking to agitate you anyway they can.
Your religion may be inspiring to you. It may have stories that are inspiring
to me. It may have mnemonic value; critically important value at that. It may
be rich in tradition and culture, it may encapsulate important events in human
history. It may offer hope to people who have no hope left. It may serve as a
useful insight into human nature. Humans may indeed have a preexisting facility
to acquire belief systems similar to the one for language. It may provide a valuable
ethical and behavioral framework. It may spread like a virus and mutate like
bird flu. I don't necessarily think you are weak minded for buying it, I think
enculturation and peer pressure is some powerful gumbo. But this diary isn't
about any of that.
This is about why I am an atheist, not why you should be one. And by atheist
I mean that I strongly suspect that the core, underlying, supernatural claims
of religion are nonsense. If you want me to not be an atheist and share your
particular flavor of supernatural belief, you need to be able to perform the
magic or produce the supernatural being you claim exists and subject that creature
to a battery of tests under controlled conditions.
That's it folks. That's the criteria if you want me to believe that your underlying
supernatural being or beings are for real. Spare me/us word games, meaning try
and avoid twisting words into unrecognizable states of vague meaningless mush.
EG: The assumption that Cap'n Crunch exists and the assumption that dogs exist
are not on the same rung in the ladder of 'faith'. One requires extraordinary
faith and the mind of a child or a 'tard, the other only requires a trip to my
backyard. Same for redefining atheism as a religion. You can call atheism anything
you want, but you may just confuse people if you do so. Because if atheism is
a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby and baldness is a hair color.
And please, try and limit any long-winded philosophical explanations of why your
particular deity or supernatural claim is untestable or perfectly resembles one
that does not exist; if it cannot be tested and happens to perfectly imitate
one that does not exist, skeptics are not going to buy it. Same for excuses that
the magic doesn't work when a skeptic is present with a camcorder. It doesn't
matter, even if it's written in a book that it worked once upon a time. Same
for demanding I prove your magic wizard/dragon/powers/sea monster/pantheon doesn't
exist or 'you win'. This is for your own good: You don't win anything outside
of exposing yourself as logically clueless.
Speaking of which here's an exhaustive list of Logical Fallacies many of which
were known to even the ancients and most of which are required topics for a degree
in philosophy. If you regale us in comments with your philosophical prowess or
try to snow anyone in that regard, and go onto commit even one of them, you will
probably be laughed at and ridiculed by people who have real training in philosophy
or formal debate.
Why am I an Atheist?
In my Santa Claus analogy I mentioned near the end to imagine why it is you don't
literally believe in Santa and his North Pole factory. I bet for most of you,
it's not because you hate Santa, I mean who would? It's probably not because
you hate Christmas or despise giving or receiving gifts. I doubt it's because
you detest having days off or eating kickass food with your family and friends.
You probably can't prove there is no Santa and even if you try, I assure you
from long experience in dealing with creationists* I can offer a counter argument.
No, none of that is the reason: Your disbelief in a literal Santa Claus, flying
reindeer, nocturnal visits, toy factories, elves, etc., likely centers on three
1. "It" makes no sense
2. There is no evidence for "it"
3. We're adults who can get by fine at Christmas time and enjoy ourselves without "it" having
to be true
Evidence by far is the key. Something might not make sense, like Quantum Mechanics,
but we accept it because of the evidence. OTOH something might make sense, like
the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, but we don't accept it as
valid, yet, because we have no evidence. The reason for this asymmetry is, as
the late Carl Sagan said: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Combine a bunch of bundled extraordinary claims that have no evidence to support
them, not even mediocre evidence, with the fact that the set of claims don't
make any sense at all kinds of levels, and that's a real problem for someone
like me to get past.
Simply substitute "it" for religion in the above three points and you
understand the framework of why I'm an atheist. Since most of the people who
ask me about this are Christians and that's the religion I know the most about,
I'll address that particular tradition under the three qualifiers I mentioned
above. With the understanding that I don't think your religion is any sillier
than any other as it can easily be extended to cover other supernatural cosmogonies.
It makes no sense
There is so much in the Bible (And the Quron and everything else) that makes
no sense, it's pretty hard to pick a place to begin. I suppose a good enough
place would be the beginning of the book: It makes no sense to create some kind
of paradise in which man and woman have no inkling of right and wrong, and then
hold them responsible for doing something wrong. It makes no sense to hold their
descendants for all time responsible for them doing something wrong even if they
did in fact have some mysterious way of determining right and wrong prior to
being taught how to distinguish right from wrong.
It makes no sense for YVHW to kill off every living thing on earth with a flood
or any other psychotic method of genocide if he can do whatever he wants and
his goal is to engender love for His masterful and benevolent rule. It is in
fact an act far, far, to the right of Hitler and Ghangas Kahn combined; it makes
those two pikers look like candy-stripers. And the flood is just one of many
It makes no sense to talk about an immortal being dying, because by definition
immortal beings cannot die. It's like talking about a square circle, or an even
number that is not divisible by two; it's nonsensical words strung together in
a transparently vacuous parody of meaning.
Speaking of which, what generally makes dying such a big sacrifice in the first
place is that you stay dead, forever. Another thing that makes torture and execution
such an unpleasant experience is that you're utterly helpless throughout the
ordeal. Being the omnipotent Creator of all space and time kind of takes the
edge of that, and it makes no sense that someone would try to pitch it as a big
This example of what I feel is nonsense bears special emphasis by graphic comparison:
Casey Sheehan was sacrificed; Pat Tillman was sacrificed; People in New Orleans
were sacrificed; Every fireman that ran into the WTC was sacrificed. What makes
those tragedies a sacrifice is not just that we know they happened or the cause
they died for, but that it meant they were gone forever. OTOH, being unconscious
for three days and then coming to as the Immortal Ruler of the Universe is not
a sacrifice, it's a stunt. And the consequences for the stunt man are the sweetest
deal in the history of mankind.
It makes no sense that God would disguise himself as a human, fake his death,
and expect us to drop to our knees in abject awe at his 'sacrifice', because
it pales in comparison to the ones we mere mortals face. In my view, it's frankly
a grotesque insult to humanity to try and pass that off as anything close to
the fear, horror, and pain that real people have to deal with under torture and
execution. And it makes little sense to me that a being which creates Quasars
and butterflies would come up with such an empty and downright bizarre stunt
as a solution to problems they intentionally created in the first place and expect
us to whimper in admiration at their sense of compassion. Especially since by
all accounts they could have remedied it with the snap of their supernatural
fingers, or just not let the problem happen in the first place.
This is how sense works imo, using the Bible itself: Either Jesus died and stayed
that way in which case he did not rise and Christianity is built on an erroneous
premise, or he did rise in which case he did not die and there was no sacrifice,
and Christianity is built on an erroneous premise. It really is that simple.
It makes no sense that an omnipotent being who wishes so much to be recognized
and loved would conceal its existence with a sustained vigor well beyond the
designation of paranoid. It does makes sense that if H & R Block can open
up a branch office in every small town, that a motivated, omnipotent being could
do the same, and personally man it himself 24/7 with angels out front serving
food and drink.
It makes no sense that a perfect being would need to create the universe or mankind,
because by definition a perfect beings needs or wants for nothing.
Hell, even their own beliefs don't make sense as purely cultural precepts: Morality
under God is absolute, never relative--> It's immoral to destroy children
at any stage after conception because it is an absolute, regardless of what good
may come of it for individual people or the society they live in, except it's
perfectly moral we're told by wingnuts, to drop bombs on children in Iraq, precisely
because of the good that may come of it for the individual or the culture; this
is 'absolute morality'? Well, It Makes No Sense.
In general, and this one applies to all Abrahamic Faiths and most others: It
makes no sense that the oral histories of a few bands of rival roaming shepherds
during the bronze age would harbor the one and only true secret of how the Cosmos
came to be. It's far, far, more likely that they made this shit up over many
generations, and we can tell that is probably exactly the case, because again,
it makes no sense at all, and there is a long line of historical antecedents
in ANE Mythology leading right up to the early Christian version. We can literally
read old scrolls and accounts and see the various components of the God of the
OT come together from other deities.
And even if the entire universe turns out to be an artificially manufactured
object made by Intelligent Agency, as fascinating as that would be, it makes
no sense to automatically assume the entire 10^36 cubic light-year Cosmos was
made exclusively for us.
It makes no sense to me that I have this indestructible, undefined, supernatural
attachment called a 'soul' which gets reincarnated or goes to a vague 'afterlife'.
And if that soul existed before I did, has little or no recollection of my life
while I'm alive, does not interact with me in any discernible way, and retains
little or none of what makes me 'me' after I'm gone, I have news for you: The
soul and have very different agendas to say the least! It doesn't make any sense
to me that I'd give a hoot what happens to it, it's an unsubstantiated supernatural
parasite as far as I'm concerned and its future welfare is about as important
to me as an imaginary tapeworm.
Lastly, no matter how sophisticated one's apologetics are, it makes no sense
that a being can be simultaneously omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient, while
evil and pain exists and still provide us with free will while at the same time
expecting us to choose door number two or be condemned to eternal torture. All
those qualities and conditionals taken together are mutually exclusive in more
ways than I can count. If you argue otherwise, no matter how slick and polished
your arguments, you're arguing that circles can be squares. And it makes no sense
to me that such convoluted apologetics would be required in the first place to
reconcile all these crazy inconsistent claims, or explain why these supernatural
creatures happen to exactly imitate ones that were made up, if all this stuff
was The One Truth of the Universe.
That's just a handful Biblical claims that make little or no sense to me. I'm
not saying they didn't happen or that they're impossible, only that they make
little or no sense To Me. I'm sure others can provide other exemplars that make
no sense to them in comments.
There is no evidence for it
I don't know how the Bible, or the Quron, or a Native American Creation Fable,
could mean anything else other than literally happened ... when it states clearly
that something literally happened. Make sense?
With that literal interpretation in mind for the OT then, there is no evidence
the universe is a few thousand years old and a shitload of evidence that it is
much older. There is no evidence that there was ever a Garden of Eden and there
is a mountain of evidence that neither humans or many other species descend from
a single mating pair in the geologically recent past. As would be predicted by
both the Garden Story and the Ark Story.
And without that Garden and the whole bit of blaming Eve for disobeying before
she knew what disobeying was, which remember makes no sense to start with, and
blaming us for all eternity, which again recall makes no sense, there is no original
sin and thus no need for salvation from it, which means your entire religion
is built on something for which there is no evidence for. (And no I didn't invent
this, Young Earth Creationists have used it for years as part of their spiel)
There is no evidence for a global flood involving trillions of cubic kilometers
of water which somehow completely disappeared without a trace in the recent past,
or in the distant past for that matter. And there is massive evidence against
No matter what kind of tests I propose for the existence of supernatural critters,
the respective adherents always shoot it down as unworkable. But that's where
you're stuck imo. Because there is no testable, reasonably clear evidence for
fairies or invisible dragons or Zeus or any of the Gods, Godesses, Godlets, demi-Gods
of any kind, and those are all extraordinary claims which therefore require ___
I'm an adult
And just as a child must abandon comfortable fantasy, like Santa, if they're
going to be a productive member of society and deal with real life, we as a species
must abandon comforting fantasy, like YVWH, and face the cold hard truth if we're
going to deal with it. The truth is, by every measure we can make, we're fragile,
ephemeral sacks of meat just like every other animal species. The truth is, by
every measure we can make, our minds, our sensation of love, hate, taste, sight,
morality, science, sense of consciousness, everything, are all utterly dependent
on the proper functioning of a mass of neurons housed in our skull weighing less
than four pounds. And, if any significant portion of that mass gets heavily traumatized,
it's bye-bye birdie for the owner. Asking where you 'go' when that structure
ceases to exist, is like asking where your files on your hard drive 'go' when
you melt it into slag. They don't 'go' anywhere, they no longer exist.
Yes, it would be nice if there was a magic invisible sky wizard who took care
of us when we die and redress injustices committed against you while alive by
others. It would be nice if your kid or your mom or your loved one who was cruelly
cut down by painful lingering cancer was still 'out there' somewhere. It would
be nice if there was a Santa Claus, and I don't mean that to sound flippant;
Who wouldn't want there to be a Santa Claus? For that matter who wouldn't like
to be able to think themselves into the air and fly like a bird at will? Well,
it doesn't matter how nice the idea of Santa is, there isn't a real Santa, and
you can concentrate for all your worth and flap your arms for days, you will
It doesn't make sense, there is no evidence for it, and I'm an adult. I deal
in reality as it is, not as I wish it would be, so that I can perhaps change
that reality. And that's important. Because if I could be said to 'believe in'
anything, it's that I believe in the human potential for progress, problem solving,
and flexibility. That's how we've managed to solve problems in the past.
If we put that proven methodology to work, I think probably, one by one, diseases
will fall or be engineered out of existence. I think using that methodology we
can get a handle on hunger, poverty, war, greed, natural disasters, and on and
on. One day it may happen that we will conquer aging, that we can record and
share our minds. Maybe, sooner or later, we will even eliminate death itself;
or at least postpone for practical eternity.
This "we" I'm talking about is no doubt a very different we than exists
now, this is our remote descendants. They may have linked minds, be cybernetic,
meld machine and biology, design themselves at the molecular level. Their consciousness
may be carried by silicon, nanodevices, ensconced in exotic dark matter, or housed
in something we cannot even conceive of. These descendants might ply the ocean
of space time as easily as you drive to the store, make planets, create stars,
build black-holes and farm them for gravity waves. They, our children's children,
might learn to reconfigure the entire universe.
But a spark of us will still burn in them, all down the ages, just as a vestige
of the first hominid, the first tetrapod, the first cell, is part of us. And
unless there is some kind of serious disruption in record keeping, they'll probably
know that they came from a single planet orbiting a small yellow star, where
generations of their ancestors busted their asses so that they could be free,
truly free. If so, they'll probably be able to retrieve data on the 21st century,
know there was a thing called the Internet, that on it there were blogs, maybe
even know about the Daily Kos: They might be able to pull up this very post.
For the last few paragraphs I've left the world of the known and engaged in some
pretty far out speculation, but I see no reason why it cannot be that way, or
close to it, in the distant future ... IF. IF we want it, if we make it happen.
The quicker we accept that no one is likely to just hand us these wonderful abilities
and gifts, the quicker we'll get to work developing it for real, on our own.
Because ultimately, we are responsible for us. What becomes of us is not in the
mythical hands of invisible Gods-- as best we can tell and for better or worse.
It's in our hands; and it's high time we all started accepting that wonderful
gift of self determination. Hell, we should be dancing on the rooftops that we
get the chance to determine our destiny as a species, because we're the only
one on earth that can!
We owe it to try, to shoot for the stars, for all the people who came before
us and helped pull us out of the pit of animal savagery. We owe it to the wonderful
diversity of life on earth of which we are a part and which gave birth to our
species; an unbroken lineage stretching back four billion years of which we are
the managing agent. Is there anyone who doesn't feel that's special enough?
We owe it to ourselves to keep that flame burning, keep pushing the boundaries,
so that each and every generation will more and more inherit the promise of what
can be, while leaving the grimmer world of what was behind. I may reject the
deities that human intellects have cooked up, but I don't doubt the potential
of that intellect. That's what I 'believe in' if I could be said to 'believe
in' anything; I believe in our future, because I believe in us. I believe in
And that's why I'm an atheist.