I Believe

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I Believe

I’ve shared my labels in Part One and my journey in Part Two.

Today is the final in my atheist series and it’s purpose is to paint a clear picture of what I believe.  My goal is not to offend or to begin arguments (I’ve already heard plenty of them) but to state where my journey of questioning has brought me.  Most of you will disagree and that’s quite alright with me.  This is my truth.  I don’t expect it to be yours.

*For this post (all posts really) when I refer to religion I’m also referring to a relationship with God or JC.  Too often people will dismiss what I am saying by stating, “I’m not religious.  I don’t believe in religion.  What I have is different.  I have a relationship with God.  Not religion”.  I used to use this same reasoning.  Therefore religion=any following or relationship with God.

I Believe…

1.  Religion is a powerful tool often used to control the masses.

2.  Religion stifles free thought.

3.  Religion can cause and leave very deep wounds.

4.  People need religion because they need to believe that there is more than this life.  They need religion because religion provides them with something they are unable to provide for themselves.  It could be community, accountability, grace, protection, an afterlife, any multitude of things.

5.  The idea of hell is both cruel and absurd.

6.  Heaven is fantasy.

7.  This life is the only life we are gifted in experiencing.  For some of us we had the luck of the draw and found ourselves living in very comfortable conditions.  For others life is quite more burdensome.  Either way it’s pretty remarkable to have life at all.

8.  Evangelism is the ultimate ego trip.  It’s the belief that you have the ONLY way to God and that you 100% KNOW it to be true.

9.  Nothing can be fully known.

10.  Science and reason provide a more accurate measure of truth than faith and feelings.

11.  Global warming is a valid concern.

12.  Evolution did occur and continues to occur.  Creation should not be taught as science.

13.  All life has value. ALL

14.  Religion, power, and money are the most divisive tools used to excuse war and the slaughtering of lives.  This is one of those areas in which anger surfaces for me.  I don’t believe in your religion or in their religion yet I will suffer at the hands of those who want to fight over religion.

15.  Religion and politics do not mix.  Religious beliefs should not be used to form public policies.

16.  We should have freedom of religion and freedom from religion.  We all should have the right to believe what we choose to believe but we should not have the right to impose that belief on others.  I should not be subjected to prayer before a school day or public meeting.  I should not have to swear on a Bible in court.  Just as you should not be subjected to prayers or religious rituals of another belief system before you start your day at work or at your child’s public school graduation.

17.  God does not exist.  But if he does exist (because there’s always that chance), he does not exist in the sense that we believe him to.  If he does exist, my choice to deny his existence will not ultimately matter.

18.  If God does exist and he chooses to send me to a fiery hell for all eternity simply because I couldn’t find enough evidence to support his existence then he’s a tyrant and somebody I wouldn’t choose to worship anyhow.

19.  Prayer does help heal people.  Not because god is sitting up there granting wishes to some people and denying them to others but because prayer causes us to focus on what our bodies need.  It’s calming.  Just like meditation.  Just like hugging.  Just like positive thinking.  Prayer is also just as equally harmful.  It’s harmful because instead of finding resolutions to problems or actively helping persons in need we rely on god to do it for us.  Prayer is an excuse for inactivity.  It’s easier to say “I’ll pray for you” than to physically lend a hand to those who need help.  Again this topic requires an entire post!

20.  A borderless world is ideal.  Borders cause separation and division.

21.  When we become aware of this life being our only life then life becomes more beautiful.  Each day a gift.  We stop living for life after death and instead live for this life.  Right here.  Right now.  We start to value the smallest of things and respect every decision we make.  We understand the importance of making green choices, of growing our own foods, of educating ourselves on the importance of sustainable living, of choosing our battles wisely, of loving the least of us, and so many other issues that affect the health of our planet and the future of our species.

22.  A woman has a right to choose.  You can read about my opinion here and here.

23.  People should be able to marry whomever they like.  Boys should be able to marry boys.  Girls should be able to marry girls.  And a man or woman should be able to have multiple spouses if that works for them (assuming they are all adults when the decision is made).  Just because it doesn’t work for you does not mean it should not be a viable option for someone else. And those families should be able to adopt children.  I guarantee you many of those families are healthier and more capable of raising children than many heterosexual couples and singles who simply have the ability to get knocked up.

24.  In individual freedom and a person’s ability to make the right choices for their life (without government interference) but at times government is needed to change the policies on freedoms that are causing more harm than good.  For example…gun control.  At what point do we say enough is enough?!?  But that’s another post.

25.  We’ve gone backwards in educating our children.  As a society we’ve not only stolen their ability to think for themselves or outside the box but we’ve reduced them to test scores and tightly sealed the box we put them in.  Our children have become a measurement, a standard to be met.  Education is about performance not about forming well-rounded, thoughtful, and educated adults.  This method of education encourages children to find ways to meet that standard.  To appear like they are performing. It reduces them to measures like cheating.  But why not cheat…

26.  Our society values wealth, positions of power, and status above all else.  Even above compassion, empathy, and integrity.

27.  The best education is to travel the world.  When we leave the comfort of our bubble we are quick to discover that we are rich beyond measure, those who we think of as enemies are in fact not much different than us, and the experiences of seeing new cultures and different values teaches us to live the life that is our most genuine life.

28.  Religion does not own the monopoly on morality.  Morality is a human component in the fabric of societies that value what appears to be good and right.  Being religious does not make one morally superior.

29.  There is no good and bad.  Right and wrong.  These words are subjective.  I do believe that all of our choices have consequences.  Some positive.  Some negative.  But that does not reduce our choices to good or bad.

30.  The world is not black and white.  Life is not black and white.  Therefore thinking is a requirement to living life.

31.  We should continually challenge our absolutes.  We should consistently educate ourselves, question our beliefs, and seek knowledge.

32.  Empathy is king.

33.  Our voices should be heard.  Silence signifies agreement.

34.  Belief in god is taught.  Children are not in a position to take any religious stance.  My children are not atheists any more than another child is a christian.  Children are merely products of what they are told to believe.  My children are taught to ask questions, to research for answers, and to live the life that makes the most sense to them.  They know that I will love and support them no matter what.  There are no requirements to be met in order to receive that love.

35.  I believe all these things and so much more.  I believe I still have areas to grow, that I sometimes contradict myself, that I have more to learn, that I can be more than I am.  I believe that my questioning leaves room for me to change my mind, change my stance, and change my opinions.  Change is not negative.  On the contrary.  Change is positive.  Change allows for perspective.  Perspective grows empathy.  Empathy allows me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes without judgement.  And that is education!

I hope that each of you will challenge your status quo.  Do one thing this week that makes you uncomfortable.  Ask a question and seek an answer.  Have an open mind and see where that mind travels.  Start your journey…the one that leads you to your truth, your set of beliefs and your genuine self.

Journey on, friends.  Journey on.

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3 responses »

  1. I finally got around to reading this series (it’s been a busy few weeks) and 1. Kudos – beautifully written and it took a lot of guts for you and Adam to come out of your proverbial closet, especially given your upbringing and family ties. I so admire you for this. 2.) Although I don’t share your “non-belief”, my beliefs are actually quite similar…my anger at religion, my disillusion with the church, etc. there are more days than not that I’m ashamed to associate myself with American Christianity. But we are all different. And what I have/believe is probably considered heresy by so many that call themselves Christians.

    Anyway, just wanted to say this was an awesome piece. Keep writing…

    • Shannan, I always appreciate your comments and your ability to see me through our differences. I recognize that my beliefs about religion may really be quite abrasive. What I haven’t said is that I appreciate the progressives. I appreciate the people with beliefs in God who stand up against their religious leaders and followers when those members are dysfunctional and harmful to others. And just because one believes differently than me does not mean that I don’t have a respect for them as an individual. For me, personally, I could not reconcile my increasingly progressive views with my religion and therefore I needed to ask the really hard questions. For me, that led me away from any belief in god or any religion. But I certainly can respect those who have not come to the same conclusion. You are one that I have a deep deep respect for, Shannan. Hope life slows a little for you 🙂

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