The Idiots Guide to the Universe It's a big weird world, best to be snarky!

11Apr/13Off

The Idiocy of Being ‘Preachy’

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I have had people mention my fervent defense of atheism and of a barring of religion from all things in the public sector. I even had one person say "You sure are preachy for an atheist." (Edit to add This is the cause for the title, I am the preachy Idiot.) It all comes down to my daughter, and something she said.

My move from Christianity to atheism was, in some ways, a slow one, and in many ways a fast one. I spent most of my youth calling myself a Christian, but even then I had my doubts. But I was happy to call myself a Christian since that what my friends were, that's what my family called themselves. I participated in Christian youth groups, I went to Christian concerts, though I also went to, what I then called secular concerts. I hung out with mostly Christian friends. I even converted several people, including my cousin who remains very Christian to this day, to Christianity. In a lot of ways I wanted to be as firm in my belief as so many other people around me seemed, so it made sense to get more people around me to believe. But I struggled daily with reconciling what I said I believed with what I really believed based on my understanding of the world around me, history, and the two sided nature of what religion did to me and other people. It just felt wrong.

The arrogance of saying "I know there is a God" felt wrong to me. I didn't know then, and I still don't know to this day. Sure, I have read the Bible, cover to cover, as well as in a daily devotional sense. To me, the best way to put doubt in me was to read the Bible. It didn't gel, the center did not hold. I went on to studying the history surrounding Christianity, more holes. When it came down to it, it just didn't make sense. Then I got on to reading Hitchens and other Atheist writers. Now things were starting to make sense. Basically, I didn't believe, I was trying to believe something and going through the motions, while the whole time I was full of doubt.

I took to calling myself a deist for a while. If it was good enough for Thomas Jefferson, it was surely good enough for me. But even that was wrong, when it came down to it, I didn't actually believe a God existed. So I started calling myself agnostic, but even that was bullshit. Being agnostic doesn't answer the question of whether or not I believed in God. That is a yes or no question. You can be unsure about whether or not God exists. But when it really comes down to it, you either believe in God or you don't. This is the one place there is no wiggle room. In my case, I don't believe there is a God. Does he or she exist, I honestly do not know, but I don't think so. That is as honest as I can get. I wasn't able to word it that way until I'd heard Penn Jillette word it that way. That crystallized what I felt.

When it came to raising the kids, I have let them go their own way. I didn't want to steer them any direction. I have even been overly careful not to steer them in any direction. So long as they weren't running of to join some suicide, or sex cult, or worse Scientology. Belief in God was something they had to come to on their own. They certainly had their exposure. They have a Mother who while never truly Catholic went through the motions. After a childhood of having it funneled into her, she still does some little thing that shows she still has the mournfully depressing trappings of a Catholic childhood. They have had Christian friends, Muslim friends, Jewish friends and even some I am missing I'm sure. They had Christian family members and a wonderful young Christian woman as their nanny for a few years. They went to some church functions with that nanny, and my daughter went to church with a friend once.

My daughter being the oldest is facing a lot of this head on. She is in that uncomfortable, unsure part of her life where she is finding her way as a young adult, and still trying to be a kid. She is 14, and she is wickedly intelligent. Sometimes her incites into life are very well above her years. Somewhat frightening when you are her father. Overall, she isn't just a good kid, she is a fantastic kid. She genuinely cares about people. She started to speak openly with me about her beliefs. She doesn't call herself any athiest, but she doesn't believe there is a God. She mentioned her frustration about the fact that she has seen several people at her high school (a school she no longer goes to for other reasons) ridiculed, harassed, and even physically threatened and in some cases assaulted because they openly said they didn't believe in God. There were groups of kids that called themselves Christians that were doing this. She said that she couldn't believe the arrogance of their belief. This hit me like a ton of bricks.

Usually I am called the arrogant one, but my daughter's statement made me realize how absolutely wrong that is. "You're so sure of your beliefs, that you are willing to go to hell for it, that's arrogant!" Really, it's not. All I am saying is that I don't think there is a God, and I certainly don't believe there is a God. That's not arrogant, it's honest. "So you are so sure that science has it all figured out, that's arrogant!" Woah!! Slow down! I certainly don't believe that science has it all figured out. But when I apply the logic in my brain, and I look at the narrative that science provides for how we got here, and then I look at the many narratives that religion provides. I know which one makes sense, and I know which one has evidence I can not only read about, but I can go into nature, or a museum, or a classroom and touch the proof. I can physically hold the fossil of a creature that looks at the religious narrative, sticks out it's tongue, makes a raspberry sound, and says, "explain the carbon dating that predates your first human, and while you're at it explain how one of the sons of the first man and woman was banished to a populated place," but I digress. Science doesn't have all the answers, but at least it is open to trying to find them and more importantly, prove them. Science isn't shackled to seeing things from one perspective without question, because questioning is against the will of God. Science can approach things from multiple angles, and it is wrong more often that it is right. But it is honest if you approach it with the correct doubt. So no, I don't think it is arrogant to believe that science provides a better explanation for the world around me. I don't think it is arrogant to believe that all I need in this life is my beautiful wife, my wonderful kids, my loving family, my friends, a good soccer match, beautiful nature, good food, and an occasional shot of whiskey while I shoot the shit with my Dad to make my life enjoyable. It is not arrogant to think I want to be as nice as I can because the people I care about are worth it.

But my daughter had a point. It is arrogant to believe that there is a being that exists outside of time, space, human understanding and this being cares about me, cares about who I marry, who I sleep with and when, and how much money I am putting in the basket at church. That is far more arrogant than simply saying, I don't know if there is a God. This arrogance clearly has carried through in these students at my daughter's school to giving them a sense of entitlement to belittling others that don't believe as they do.

My daughter has thus been reluctant to publicly identify herself as an atheist. She's young, she may end up going through a Hare Krishna stage for all I know. But right now she is afraid to say in a class discussion, that she feels someone's argument is missing the point that not everyone is Christian, and laws and rules can't be made in a free society that are based on a religious philosophy. That is not freedom, it is Theocracy. Looking down through history, the darkest times in this world came about because of Theocracy. Millions of pieces of art, literature, scientific discovery, mathematical theory have been lost to the world forever because it didn't answer the "Do you believe in my God question right." It's a shame that my daughter doesn't feel comfortable expressing what is in her, and it pisses me off.

So yes, I am going to become even more fervent in my pushing of having personal freedom of AND from religion. By my life, and my love of it, I will not stand by and watch any religion be used to destroy personal freedoms, or as a basis for law in this country, even if the majority of people support it. Sometimes the majority is wrong, just ask those that supported slavery, or segregation. I am going to do it so that my kids, and my grand kids, and every American can feel comfortable stating that they don't believe in God without that being some kind of wild ass statement, or a reason for that person to be ridiculed. So I am sorry if this makes you uncomfortable, or offends you, but it's real, and it is happening. If you are religious I am going to say that I believe you are wrong, and the basis for most of your decision making is a fairy tail in my eyes. If you have to defriend me, or unfollow me on Twitter, or uncircle me that's okay, I understand, really I do. I can be a bit of an asshole in how I word things sometimes. Just don't do so quietly. That's cowardly. Send me a message, or a tweet or a post letting me know. I seriously want to know when I have offended someone enough that they feel they can no longer tolerate it. I want to judge what it was I did and consider if I could have worded it better.

But by the same token, that also means that I support your ability to believe what ever the hell you want. So long as your belief is not imposing on the personal freedoms of others, or being propagated or supported through law, or tax money, knock yourself out. Sometimes this will feel unfair, "so it's okay to kick the Christian message out of public schools, keep 'Intelligent Design' out but still teach evolution" Yes it is. Evolution is a theory based upon observable facts found in a nature and in the fossil record. Yes it is a theory because we can't go back in time and observe each stage of what we believe happened. But gravity is a theory too and my ass is staying in my chair. If this world were 'Intelligently Designed' by a loving God, bacon would have the nutritional and caloric properties of kale. So no I don't think it reasonable that a tax funded classroom full of kids from many beliefs should be force fed some drivel just because what happens to be the repeatable scientific evidence doesn't jive with what a lot of people believe. Not on my tax dollar. Prayer in schools, he'll yes, so long as no tax funds go to it and it is not done in an organized manner. If Sally Sue wants to give a verbal high five to Jesus, Mary and and anyone else before she takes a test, or starts her school day. I will defend her right to do so to the death. To have a special time set aside in a school run with tax money, thus making those that don't want to pray feel ostracized, hell no. Now if you want to open the discussion on taking the public out of schools, that's an entirely different topic, but a good one.

So my stance is believe what you want, even Scientology. But seriously, if you're a Scientologist please reconsider, that is some loony toons crazy shit right there.

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