Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years Reflections

It is the last day of what has been an arduously long, long, long year, and I am up late pondering all that has transpired these last three hundred and sixty five days.

I am one for anniversaries; I usually remember any particular event which holds any significance to me during appropriate time intervals. And in this particular case the New Years roughly marks my acceptance of the fact that I was an atheist. November of last year was certainly the defining month, in which a lot of strong assumptions I had collapsed and I was slowly left to deal with the reality that a lot of the faith I had put into God was for naught, however, during that month and the following I was more or less in a state of mixed emotions and confusion and had little time to really reflect upon my altered perspectives.

During the latter part of Christmas however I began to accept that the beliefs I had held, the subconscious relationship I had with God, was no more, and no matter how I tried I could not retrieve it, no matter if I wanted to or not. Thus began a mental and physical transition in which I had to make sense of a world more or less new to me, and deal with many things I had taken for granted that were no longer so simple.

The one major change that has occurred since then in comparison with my Christian perspective concerns how I interact with feelings and reality. As an atheist I feel as if I have a much closer connection to the world because my actions can no longer be attributed to the 'Will of God.' Equally, I feel much more in touch with my own emotions, thoughts, and actions, because I no longer have a secondary thought process attempting to equate my behavior and thoughts with Christian ideology.

Moreover, I generally feel more in control of who I am as a person, and it is not necessarily a fantastic feeling, it simply feels ... right. I hope that now I can mean what I say and my act accordingly. Ideally, everything I do is simply me, there are no ulterior motives or two faced mindsets. Either way, it is a good feeling, not physically beneficial, but I seem to have a more wholesome attitude about life nowadays.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"Jesus Loves You"

Incidentally, despite my atheist beliefs, I continue to attend church. This is due to three primary reasons: (1) I have been an atheist for barely over a year, and still have many dear friends that I would only see at church. (2) If I chose to openly disclose my atheism I would be confronted with a lot of bothersome social baggage that I would rather avoid at this point in my life. (3) It also so happens that the church I attend is, at least as far as I can tell, one of the closest replicas of how I believe Christian church is supposed to be. There are no abusive priests, sermons about the dangers of hellfire and sin, and more or less the church clergy and members are more concerned with altruism than the unceremonious bigotry and guile of stereotypical churches these days. I wish to avoid sounding ostentatious or conceited when I say that, but it is true that the 'maturity' -if you will- of the particular church I attend spares me of being disgusted or angry whenever I am there.

So, that being said, I attended the Christmas services held at my church very recently. Something particular caught my attention during one of these services, something that I had never observed before. One of the priests, after serving the children or teenagers communion at the front of the church, would say the usual line "the blood of Christ, blah blah blah," but then followed it by "Jesus Loves You." Now, although such a statement may seem perfectly normal, it certainly was not something I was expecting. Additionally-it might have only been my individual perception- but I could swear that I noted a slight tinge of uncertainty and hesitation in his voice as he said it. Perhaps this was due to the fact that it is certainly an odd thing to say to someone, that Jesus loves them, not that I doubt his personal conviction of the words he spoke, but simply that it caught my attention. It was certainly an uncommon and interesting experience for me.

Now, beyond the superficial matters of that anecdote, it was even stranger to me why the priest would feel obligated to make such a statement. Saying "Jesus loves you" in my opinion implies that the recipient of such a comment is in some way in need of encouragement, or is perceived to be in a time of ambiguity or confusion in his or her life and requires advice. Perhaps, considering the season, the priest intended it as a reminder or some sort, but it stills seemed to me then and especially now upon reflection an awkward and obscure thing to say, at least in the setting I encountered it in.

Anyway just some thought.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Separation of Church and State

Mike Huckabee has appeared in recent news due to his involvement with churches during the Christmas season. I do not intend to insult or judge Mr. Huckabee, only to use these incidents as case studies for what I feel one should not do in politics: combine belief and

To begin with, in what has been dubbed a largely Christian Nation, any politician should be aware that openly declaring his or her support or belief in Christianity carries with it prolific societal implications and associations. Despite the ostensible excuse of “reminding people there’s a time for political things and this is not one of them,” by declaring "Merry Christmas! Jesus is Lord!” as a politician one inextricably links his or her campaign with religion. It is impossible to justify such actions with the defense that there is a time for politics and there is a time for religion, for although this is true, a politician breaks this pact when he or she stands in front of 5,500 people and asserts his or her faith or belief. Such an act bonds ones' political and religious character together, creating many unnecessary and unhelpful results.

Although one's decisions as a lawmaker may not be affected by publicly declaring one's beliefs or not-that is to say an individual's strong faith would cause them to make certain decisions regardless of whether or not they use their faith as a political tool- publicly associating oneself with a particular religion does nothing but ostracize some potential voters and cheaply persuade others. The point here is that there is no way to include religion in politics that would not play in some way to the interest or disinterest of the candidate, and because religion is such a personal, and in many cases arbitrary predicament, politicians should sidestep involvement in such ignobly sleazy tactics.

Clearly, despite outwardly professing that one is "not here to make a political statement or deliver a political message," by simply appearing and speaking at a church one gains the support of the "evangelical community" eager to "hear something good about a candidate from someone they trust through a religious network." The full effects of Mr. Huckabee's political strategies can be found here.

A candidate who understands the particular distinction between church and state will have my vote, unfortunately in our world religion has become much more of a tool used to manipulate citizen's opinions rather than a practice of a self fulfilling life which benefits others. For if one was to truly understand the concept of benefiting others they would put as much distance between public relations and religious affiliations as possible.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


So I came across this website about mega churches which I found particularly disturbing. Now, the homepage of this website apparently offered a "Mega Gas Cards" to first time church visitors advertised by the slogan: "Fill your spirit and help fill your tank."

Environmental implications aside, why would a church attempt to draw in new members by offering them materialistic compensation in this way, doesn't the bible teach to store your treasures up in heaven. And on a larger scale, someone attending a church because it was advantageous to him or herself to do so do is about as meaningful as a passing grade on a test someone cheated on in order to acquire.

Something so valuable as one's salvation should not be trivially bartered with monetary rewards, especially in this case were the reward is an awful manifestation of American Consumerism which cripples the environment, God's wonderful Creation, which Christian supposedly prize most dearly. Moreover, the validity of religion becomes highly questionable when its' actions imply a greater value on quantity rather than quality, another reason why God being real or not, religion as an official institution seems doomed to fail inevitably.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Universal Precedence

Here's a nice thought I've had, which will probably receive a much larger post at a later time.

To begin I should say I was primarily 'deconverted' if you will, not by reason or science, but by my feelings and emotion (this is also a longer story). Now, if I was offered sufficient evidence that God did exist, I would not change my beliefs, for I still contend that belief is not a choice that is made. But I would also have no fear or apprehensive, especially about dying. This is due to the fact that our world, especially nature, exhibits such abundant beauty (not to say it also beholds the worst of evils at times), that, if it was created by a God, such a God could never intend 'eternal torture and damnation' in his plan for humanity. In fact He would be much more concerned with humanity doing as He willed rather than what He should do with humanity when they don't.

For this reason I would be little perturbed if somehow the existence of God was proven to me, for I aspire to live as graciously toward my fellow man as possible. Ironically, many of the actions and choices I held dear as a Christian I still hold dear now. These choices simply contain much more meaning and value now, rather than adding to a growing web of foolishness and confusion as the did before.

Thus, I would propose that in the face of belief in God or not, compassion and kindness, tolerance and empathy, love and sincerity, basicly general qualities of benevolence easily supersede any other absolute. I would say that these qualities contain a certain condition of transcendence that one's ability to achieve them is far more important than what one believes, says, or thinks.

Indeed, some of the occasions I have felt most alive have been times of closer friendship, or in the presence of particularly beautiful and humbling scenes of nature.

Most importantly, I would say that this assertion is valid regardless of God, equally true with or without, and if many theists and religions could understand this concept rather than focusing on the superficial expression of 'belief alone=salvation' than this world might become a little bit better of a place to live in.

And what greater goal could any human have, at any point in time?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

avant-garde Axioms

So, I shall begin this blog with a description of my personal beliefs, because although I consider myself an atheist I feel that some of my thoughts concerning religion and humanity differ from the general perception of atheism.

In the majority of my history I was a Christian, and for the meaningful part of that existence I felt as if my life and decisions were significantly impacted by my relationship with God. Interestingly enough, I was led to atheism as I pursued this relationship's implications further and further. I never considered myself to have a great deal of faith, and greatly dislike the concept of "Christ as your personal Savior that you must only accept into your heart." Then and now I fervently maintain that one's action's should align with one's beliefs, if not, both are void of meaning. My own atheism is a consequence of the above statement, however that is a much longer story not fit for here.

Now, in regard for belief in God, a universal being, or a deity of any sort, I feel that all humans have a natural desire to avoid the true reality of the world in which they live. If this means explaining lightening as thunderbolts from an angry Zeus, or interpreting an abundance of rain as a sign of God's contentment, it matters not. I have come to this conclusion because when I believed in God, especially in retrospect, it seems to me that God was no more than an augmentation or addition to my conscience. Of course my initial acceptance of God's existence originated from my early upbringings, but later in life as I began to engage with God, I subconsciously formed an idea of what God wanted, what his plan was, and how I should live, based off a interpretation of the events surrounding my life and what I knew and was learning of God and religion at the time. Simply put, the events in my life were not really attributed to God, but only associated with God because I choose them to be.

In this way, God was more of a supplement to my being as was my imagination, my conscience, my selfishness, my desires, and my compassion. Belief in God is perhaps a distortion of genuine emotions because it restricts one from certain actions. For instance I made many incorrigible mistakes because I believed at one time that dating would conflict with what I felt my life in the context of Christianity should become.

Clearly belief in God affects actions: personal spirituality however is more or less inherently logical, at least to some extent- it is that very logic that brought me, as I strove closer and closer to God, to realize that He is mostly likely not there at all- the problem arises when the innate tendency to accredit meaning to coincidence, to allot our lives with meaning, meets community, forming standardized doctrine and official Religion. It is here that one finds atrocities such as the Holocaust, the Crusades, South African Apartheid, or any other indoctrinated bloodshed, in vividly prophetic context.

My point is to say that the concept of God is no more a result of human nature as the remainder of one's personality. It is foolish to think that believing anything can cause any change after one's death, in fact I would say that one who truly believes something would never need to mention their belief in it for their actions would be so inextricably bound with their thoughts that there would be no need for them to justify themselves. Religion is a result of the human emotions of fear and foolishness.

Thus result statements like this one, uttered by a completely moronic teacher I once had, "The way I see it, I might as well believe in God and do all that stuff, because... what is there to lose, either after I die and there is nothing, or after I die I get into heaven. Besides, I have nothing to lose by just 'believing.'" This statement is so devoid of logic and reason that it makes me sick to think of it.

Anyhow, there's a bit to think about. Cheers.