A Bottle of Wine and an Incoherent Post

It’s been a while since my last post, so I’ll just see what comes out here in this rant.

Several things have been becoming more apparent to me in the last few months that I thought I’d mention.

I think my attitude towards religion is rounding out a little. I’ve read other experiences of deconverted individuals who often go through a time of backlash at organized religion, but before long many of them come to terms with the fact that the underlying cause of most weirdness is just human nature. I think that I’m getting near, if not at, that point.

It’s not that I am accepting any particular type of religion. I haven’t found Christ, if that’s what you’re wondering (though I think he may be hiding under the sofa).

It’s rather that I’m getting past that initial shock of finding out my core beliefs growing up were false, and that I’ve got to figure everything out from a fresh perspective. That initial shock has lasted several years. As I have found personally and through hearing others’ stories, this ordeal can often turn someone into what you might call a Fundamentalist or Asshole Atheist. That’s not who I want to be. I don’t want to trade one sort of dogmatic fundamentalism into another.

I think the asshole phase is something that a lot of us deconverts go through. Can you blame us? Growing up and being taught that the core of your being is something you find to be a lie is tough. No wonder many of us turn into assholes bashing religion.

That deep-seated fact that many of us have grown up in fundamentalist environments aimed at telling the world the “good” news and converting your neighbor never really leaves you. It’s always going to be there, right below the surface. Trying to convert others to your viewpoint because you think yours is the only way to go is no better than what the fundies are trying to do. Plain and simple. It’s hard to suppress that inner evangelical asshole.

The theory that seems to be growing in my mind lately is one of the good and bad of human nature. As my fiance points out, there are often times that my arguments against religion sound very much like the arguments the religious use against the nonreligious. I no longer find that strange. I think it’s just human nature.

I used to get upset when the religious tried to rail against atheism because of the atrocities caused by atheists in the past, all the while ignoring the facts that the religious mindset has caused countless atrocities. Yet, the same argument can be used against the religious when stated by the atheist.

You end up getting into the same old debates about how “Oh well, they weren’t a true Christian,” or that “They didn’t understand the responsibility of being atheist,” and so on. When it comes down to it, neither the belief in gods or the unbelief in gods has a great track record for supporting humanity. Claiming to believe in a certain god or denying beliefs in all gods isn’t enough, by any means. There has to be some other belief (whether innate or conscious) to be an active member of society. To be human. To be humane. You don’t need a god for that. Though, if some people think they do, then so be it.

Sure, certain versions of each belief system always tend to be more humane, but there are so many types of beliefs in gods or without, that it all just boils down to human nature. Religion or nonreligion proves to magnify human desire and endeavor. It provides a central focal point around which social circles can congregate. I hate to say it, but religion is almost like a necessary evil.

We’re social animals, and religion often gives the social cohesion and in-group separation that people are looking for, albeit unconsciously. It gives people who need it a sense of purpose and wellbeing in life. Not everyone needs that constant assurance that religion can give. Many people don’t mind being told what they want to hear. And there are always those types of people that want to be martyrs, whether their cause is for or against a god.

And it is hard to find the same sort of social group outside of the socially acceptable and binding version of religion that’s so prevalent today, with their accountability groups and social events. I guess in a way, religion is able to overstep that awkward boundary and bring people together in situations they normally wouldn’t find themselves in. Although, this really only happens in the more touchy-feely, Promise Keeper types of groups. Y’know, the ones that are trying to turn men into pussies?

Where am I going with this? Hell, I don’t know. I just drank nearly a full bottle of wine because my fiance is in bed already and I can’t get to sleep. But besides that, I think I wanted to try to get a few of these thoughts on paper. The farther along I go in my journey, the more I realize that it isn’t about religion, as much as it is about rational thought and healthy skepticism in all aspects of life. I find myself appreciating philosophy, psychology, art, and all sciences much, much more.

I’m still very much atheist, yet I’m finding that this term really only applies to religion. There’s so much more to life than identifying oneself on purely religious terms. So anyhoo, I think it’s time to hit the sack. Hope this entry wasn’t too incoherent.

4 thoughts on “A Bottle of Wine and an Incoherent Post

  1. I have been down a similar path myself and found i hate the same insatiable hatred to those i used to count myself one of. and like you i found that hatred dissipate without me being conscious of it. until one day i realized i no-longer found the urge to go out and find those without my beliefs and argue them into submission, in other words i wanted let my inner evangelical asshole out. its nice hearing from those who have come down a similar path and although i still believe there is a god out there i believe the god-entity is different for everyone and everyone needs there own beliefs to focus their own life.

  2. Nice article and post from two thoughtful people.

    My own background is Jewish, and I wasn’t brought up (very) religious, though I did go through a brief born-again phase in my mid-teens.

    I recovered quickly, so never went through the anti-religious backlash thing, though I do have severe antipathy (OK, it’s animus) to rigid dogma. I’m fairly relaxed about the religious viewpoints of others, but I do have my limits – especially when their religious viewpoint makes falsifiable claims about the natural world, or claim that there is a connection between religion and morality. The evidence is that there isn’t andy such connection, any more than there’s a connection between non believers and immorality.

    People of good conscience certainly have opposing viewpoints about this, but I think humans gravitate towards religion because of evolutionary biology.

    Our immediate survival depended for eons on our brain’s ability to connect two data points and perceive a pattern, even if there wasn’t one there. We developed a remarkably powerful inference engine that serves us well in many circumstances.

    For example, the reeds on the riverbank moved and I think I see ripples in the water. Probably a crocodile, so I better get out of the water.

    The downside is that we frequently make connections that are wrong, or based on a false premise. When your day to day survival depends on detecting threats and behaving constructively about them, coming to a false conclusion is much less harmful than over analyzing each situation and missing a deadly threat.

    These days things are a bit different, so we can compare claims of an immortal soul with statements like “the mind is as the brain does” and “there is no mind without matter”.

    I would go on (and on), but my eyes are a bit tired as I just had PRK three days ago (that’s how I found this blog).

    Peace.

  3. Well, I guess I’m luckier than you in that respect – I was indoctrinated much because my parents were too deaf and “strange” to be a part of any dogmatic religious congregation. For the most part, we were, well, just “Deaf” (I’m not deaf, but I’ve grown up with deaf people and have been around them all my life)

    When I first ran into atheism, it was a smooth transition for me: I lived my life with the only thing I had: consistency – and when I finally brought God under the microscope and saw that it’s probably just human agent-detection misfire, I just gave up on the idea like I gave up on any other discredited unsubstantiated conviction.

    I can sympathize with the need to “evangelize”, I bet a lot of atheists just scour the internet “looking for a fight with dem bible-thumperz”. Well, I don’t think we need to “fight” anyone just for believing something we think is untrue – but debating is kickass. Debating is always fun, even if no one changes their minds – you end up somewhat wiser no matter how tired the arguments get – every theist is also a person, and no two believe in the exact same nonsense in the exact same way.

  4. I have been an atheist since as far back as I can remember and I too am filled with “rage” (or maybe it’s just passion). I probably come across as an “Asshole Atheist” myself a lot of the time. I have often thought that I probably sound just like any other fundie. Here’s where I currently stand on the issue: I believe that the entire human race would ultimately benefit if all religious and superstitious beliefs simply went away. But in the meantime I/we have to live amongst these people and try to be peaceful and civilized. I do my thing and they do their thing. Just so long as no one gets hurt. These are the rules and I’m totally willing to follow them. However, they often think that they don’t have to play by the rules (even the rules they make up). So I think we need to “be the better people” and not stoop to their level. But at the same time, not be silent. We need to let these people know that they shouldn’t get a free pass when it comes to certain laws (taxes, child molestation,genocide) and also that they can’t be allowed to but their noses in other people’s lives (gay marriage, stem cell research, war). Maybe I’m rambling now. Sorry, it’s you blog, not mine (not that I even have one).

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