Your Belief, Not Mine

From Atheist Republic a piece by  Lizmari M. Collazo addressing religious nonsense.

I was a believer for 30 some years of my life. I've been catholic, presbyterian, fundamentalist non-denominational creationist... I've been a lot of things. I am now an atheist.

It's been a long journey of self awareness and introspection. And I am at peace where I am, and with what I understand about life and living. I've lost loved ones both as a believer, and as a non-believer.

But I've come to a point where I find it challenging relating to many believers because they speak to us atheists as if we had never heard of their god or ever read their bible, or ever studied the proper apologetical arguments for their faith, or the problem of evil, or that we never realized we could be comforted by their beliefs, or the words of Jesus, or the Psalms, or that we're somehow angry at their god, or that we have poor character because we gave up and didn't try hard enough, or that we were never true believers to begin with, or anything else. (Otherwise, you know, we'd convert right away!)

As if we had made a sloppy, poorly thought choice -- when if I have ever scrutinized anything deeply... it was leaving my beliefs. And it was painful -- not because I was "hurt" by a god, but because I didn't want to leave faith, and it was Not easy. It was a security blanket from which I did not wish to part, and it took a Lot of scrutinizing and study.

But all of this is kind of like someone demanding you not just like and love their favorite flavor of ice cream, but declare it's the only flavor, and the best flavor, ever... If only you'd try it (but those other 3000 times you tried it do not count.)

Imagine if someone accused a Christian and said the only reason they don't believe in Mohammed, or Vishnu, or Wotan, or Thor, is because they are angry at them, or once got hurt by them, or are rebellious, etc? Yeah. It's exactly like that. Like accusing someone of being angry at Santa because he didn't bring them presents, and then you proceeded to comfort them with "He had a reason, and he works in mysterious ways... and you'll get a much better present next year..." It's only a serious and sacred belief to you, and not to me. But I guess that makes people feel like they need to shine a personal light on why They believe, or if they are strong enough believers or not, and so they begin nagging the rest of us. Some will claim that they simply care, and need to save us desperately... but they conveniently forget they don't wield the same amount of disrespect for people who are already a part of a different religion. Just to us atheists, who I guess they might think are a blank slate for their carving.

Even as I say these words, already someone out there is thinking I'm angry, and bitter... and wishing and hoping one day I'll find the 'true peace of Jesus' or Really know or understand, one day.

No -- let me decipher that for you: What you are Really thinking to yourself is "What do They know that I don't know, that made them leave their faith? I had better strengthen My faith, and put Their experience down, because it can't possibly have any validity to reality... Their decision hurts the strength of my own choice, so I had better downplay their choice, and just claim they're doing it wrong. They just don't know what they're doing -- that's it."

There, I fixed it for you. And yes, belief is a frail thing. That's why the Bible spends So Much  language attacking reason, attacking doubt, attacking relying on your own mind. It makes you doubt your own self and your own senses... 'If you don't believe, you're a bad person... or you're foolish...' or even more conveniently, 'God has confused man's wisdom, so he thinks crazy things are wisdom.'

The big problem is, of course, that this makes faith unfalsifiable. "Believe, because you can't tell it's not real anyway, because I've confounded your reason, anyway." Of course, why give anyone the ability to reason and doubt and discern, when supposedly all that is foolish anyway, right? Oh no, it's a test... it's 'mysterious ways' -- except, all of this is not exclusive proof for your religion, but proof of Every unfalsifiable belief, and every religion, so it makes all of it irredeemable.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

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