I spent so many years thinking all these silly vestments, and hats, and rituals, and incense and ringing bells and holy days all meant something. But it’s all just a way to make the flock feel like there is some significance to the equally silly pretensions underlying all religion. It’s just an elaborate smokescreen to paint a veneer of respectability over a much more insidious process happening outside our view.
Ricky Gervais wrote an incendiary article for the Wall Street Journal a few months ago, titled “Why I’m an Atheist”. Perhaps you saw it? It was around Christmas. It got the dander up of many Christians who seem to always take offense whenever someone says they are not a Christian, and don’t believe in god, giving well thought out and articulate reasons why, as if they were insulted in some way.
I think one of the hallmarks of atheism is the quest for knowledge.
That’s a very broad, generalized statement, so let me explain. Atheists, at least the ones I know from the atheosphere and the internet, spend a considerable amount of time studying, parsing, analyzing and generally commenting on religion, and all of its aspects in our culture. We try to understand the subject, and I think we have a very good grasp of religious dogma, or at least enough to discuss it; we know our Bible, and there are many among us that can cite chapter and verse. We are able to discuss intelligently most facets of religious life, from the notion that the United States is a Christian nation, to the effects of religious mindsets on our culture, politics and sexuality.
I really should read the Bible. I’m not one of those atheists who claims that my reading of the Bible actually caused my deconversion. I haven’t read it from cover to cover, primarily because it’s written so archaically, that I can’t get through it, and because there’s really no point to reading it. Logic says that you don’t put the cart before the horse, and logic also says you don’t read the Bible to find evidence of the existence of god. God must be proven first before I’d read it for that reason (and what other reason to read it?). To say god exists because the Bible says it’s true is circular.
It seems that just about everything I read coming out of the mouths of Republicans these day sounds so self-serving, so weaselly, so obnoxious, that I get only the sense that whatever they are saying boils down to one thing, and one thing only – “Vote Republican this November”. I never feel that when they speak, they are trying to voice an honestly held opinion, or are trying to relay facts they believe their constituents and the American people need to have to understand the great issues they are grappling with on a day to day basis. I also get the distinct sense that when their lips are moving I can be assured that they are, in fact, lying. Jaw movement and sound is all I need to confirm prevarication and falsehood.
This one actually made me chuckle. A christian scholar and theologian, Gunnar Samuelsson, has written a 400 page thesis in which he concludes, after studying ancient texts, that Christ was not crucified, at least in the manner we commonly understood the term to mean. Apparently, there is no mention of a cross-beam and nails in the original text. More so, there is no evidence that the Romans were even crucifying prisoners in the first century. What we’ve been basing our “knowledge” on for the past 2000 years has been a mixture of traditions and artistic illustrations, not fact. Here’s an abstract of the thesis: