You will not often hear me
rant and rave about the actions of the religious people around my little slice of contemporary society. So what I have to say here is a bit out of character. But none the less, it has to be said.
Let me first say that my experience of letting go of “God”, and just living life without religion in general, has been quite good (comparatively to the stories of a great many other secularists that have come out of the closet all over).
I did have a bit of friction with my extended family for a year or so, but it all went away (more or less).
My parents did not know, but they were not all that religious in nature, so they didn’t present any opposition. The home I grew up in was not exactly “godless” or “atheistic/secular”, the subject of either god or religion just, never came up. And over all, with the exception of a few outspoken individuals, religion did not play a whole lot into every day life at school or elsewhere in the city I grew up. Though this city is notoriously conservative christian and has churches practically every 3 blocks, its nothing like some of the horror stories I have heard coming out of the deep south on places like the RAman podcast (Aron Ra hosts).
If anything, most of the intimidation I felt about the subject was just my seemingly irrational fear.
An irrational fear that I likely would have kept to this day, had I not accidentally outed myself on facebook by commenting on meme labeled “Jesus Fucking Christ” with (unknown to me at the time) to loose of privacy settings. Though my mistake was unknown at 3am when I posted, it was at around 8am when my aunt seen the image (and my connection to it) and freaked out. Interestingly, not as much over the image itself as with the chance of my little cousin seeing it (back then, to young for facebook).
Being that happened sometime in November of that year, that incident totally ruined Christmas for that year. Not for everyone else, but more for me. Partly out of embarrassment and partly because I was not sure what the reaction would be. Which is important since home would be 200+Kms away if the reaction was less then positive.
The next year I went in, took a bit of shit for it. But mostly didn’t come up. If anything, everyone was more angry about my dad forgetting a Christmas gift for my sister at home. An incident that permanently altered the way I “celebrate” the holidays (I gave up on most gift giving, and instead started giving charitable donations. I give nothing, I expect nothing. Simple and stress free as the holidays should be. Well, in my idealistic world anyway).
Either way, as time went on, the topic came up less and less. In fact, though I do not take ANY credit for kicking open any doors or unshackling anyone In my family from faith, a few members seem to be questioning their long held beliefs out of their own accord. I doubt that any of them will end up full on secular, but thats not important. As far as im concerned, the fact that they are questioning is enough for me.
Would my ideal outcome be them joining me on the side of Atheism/Secularism?
But its a personal choice. One that I stay out of as a policy (if I don’t hear about their view, they don’t hear about mine).
Anyway, as you can see, its been relatively easy to be secular in my case. If anything, I have had more trouble with many of my fellow Atheio-secularists of late then I have ever had with Theists. But even that has settled down largely.
Im even back to calling myself loosely an “atheist” just for ease of conversation. I have messed around with several terms over the last year (Agnostic, Apatheist are the most memorable), but in reality, none of them really fit. Not even my former Agnostic Atheist.
However, as I have learned, people seem to have little ability to see viewpoints outside of their box (or ideology) of choice. And even those that change viewpoints, tend to just change the contents of the box, thus applying the same rigidity to whatever the new belief is. Which is why you have Atheists that insist on it being a logical fallacy to entertain anything between Atheism and Theism. And because these people have crossed into the “logical, reasonable and rational” side of the fence they see little reason to do more then repeat what they already “know”. Something that they have no problem in calling out a theist for.
But its not something that surprises me anymore really. Considering that most mainstream online Atheists tend to be of average (or lower) intellect, and tend to be educated in areas other then those that would clear up the topic (like philosophy).
One thing I do wish however, was that social media would not make it so easy to become ann “educated” atheist. I don’t mean your Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris types (though they annoy me in ways as well).
I mean more, these people that (as Madalyn Murray O’Hair put it) look at Christianity one day, and do a double take. Then make a career on Youtube (or elsewhere) just from that vantage point alone.
This is not to say that all the big Atheistic personalities of youtube are this way. I watch the videos of some that have a more wise mind then that, and they are a treat. But there are many that do little more then pander. Pander for ad revenue, Patreon money or other crowd funded cash.
In any case, I have mostly dropped that conversation. I don’t agree and don’t mind sticking up for what I feel is right (even if im the lone wolf a lot of the time), but there comes a point when everyone gets tired. So I just use the label when applicable, to keep the conversation going.
This argument has not been without an educational element however. It all begun, and surrounds how many do not take the stance “Agnostic” serious because the current usage is NOT what it was originally coined as. Something that is in a sense true, as it was not really supposed to be representative of a “creed” (unlike the other options, like Christian and Atheist).
However, if one looks up the original definition of Atheism as coined, one gets something like this:
Hilarious place to put an ad for “Xaverian Missionaries USA” by the way. Reminds me of facebook desktop which liked to serve up Christian Mingle and Muslim Singles ads all the time.
But anyway, the definition is important, because it specifically states “a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or supreme beings”. Which is a positive claim of knowledge. Meaning that the onus is on the the person making the claim to prove their claims validity.
Which varies from the contemporary definition that is floating around most mainstream Atheist circles now, which is:
Which is not all that much different. But its an important difference because it makes it possible to claim an atheist stance without making it a positive claim.
In some of the “Agnostics are Atheists!” conversations, i have brought this change in terminology up to atheists, in denial of such a change. The answer was invariably some condescending variant of “well, some defined words DO change meaning over time”.
Thus telling me that Atheism as defined changing slightly over time is all good. But the the slight changing of the definition of Agnostic as defined over time to be a label (as opposed to simply a position), is completely false. Changing the goal posts.
Intellectually honesty? My ass.
But now, finally, I will tell you about what spurred the title of this piece.
Not to long ago I wrote a humorous piece entitled “Biblical Toilet Paper”, which was about some church pastor leaving little biblical literature pieces all over town. In this case, in my workplace, in the public washroom, taped to the back of the toilet paper dispenser (where you will likely only see it if your taking a dump).
The piece practically wrote itself.
But there is another somewhat annoying trend in my workplace for me, and likely for many people in similar positions elsewhere.
Often times when I am working on the floor cleaning, dusting, stocking (whatever), passing customers will remark “Say a word for me while you are down there!”.
There is nothing really wrong with the statement, it was harmless in the beginning. But as time went on, it became more and more annoying.
Then a few days ago some older fellow put his hand on my shoulder and held me almost to the point of it hurting, which makes me turn around (thinking he needed assistance). But I get the spiel instead.
Or last night, where I am behind (as usual really, not that I much care. But thats a new post entirely) and I hear someone say it from a ways away. I am in a bit of a rotten mood, and somewhat in a hurry, so I just ignore the comment. Its not a customer request after all, its just a stupid religious comment.
However, I hear “EXCUSE ME, she is TALKING TO YOU!”, so I look to see an older lady and (presumably) her middle aged daughter. Upon looking, the mother repeats, I acknowledge and get back to it.
I have no problem with you having religion, nor really with the comment itself, as idiotic and fucking annoying as it is.
But get your fucking hands off me. And do not waste my time by forcing me to acknowledge your religious bullshit.
Or else I WILL say a word, whilst im down there on my knees. I will say a word to Satan.
If the Christian has a right to the religious freedom of displaying their faith publicly, then I also have the right to display MY religious preferences publicly.
Is this a can of worms that I really want to open? Im not sure. But at this point, its entirely possible.