Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Going back to God? Advice to an atheist in pain

I received the following from an atheist friend on Facebook - a young atheist, with an atheist spouse and two children well on their way to becoming freethinkers.

“I’ve been under enormous stress lately; the tragic loss of loved ones, anxiety ... stuff.  How do I cope with this without blaming "God" or wanting it to help me? I was raised Christian so I keep finding myself wanting to make god somehow a part of it and it isn’t making it easier since I am well aware that it doesn’t exist. I really just need some advice on how to do this while keeping it real!” – J.

My response:

Dear J.,
So sorry you've had to go through so much.

I assume you've been getting professional attention for your anxiety. If you haven’t then I encourage you to do so because there is no reason to suffer with medical science’s advancements. That said, I won't attempt any Psych 101 with you. 

As for the God thing ... relax. It is perfectly normal.  The religion meme runs very deep in humans. It will often reemerge in times of stress over powering your reason and logic. Having the inclination to ask “god” for support, or blaming it for your situation is not uncommon during periods of high stress and loss among otherwise rational non-believers who were indoctrinated early and raised in religious doctrine. How easy it is to wish there was really a comforting god to appeal to to relieve the pain; or a heaven at which to shake your fist, vent your anger, and demand answers for some perceived injustice.  It certainly would be cathartic and comforting.  You'd be doing the same thing if you were an Indian atheist raised in an ultra religious Hindu family - except the god/s in question might have a trunk, fangs or multiple appendages.  

I personally don't experience the god blame/appeal syndrome because I was fortunate to not have religious parents, thus virtually no religious upbringing.  But people like me are the minority in this country.

On the other hand, if you weren’t seeking help for your anxiety and instead opted to rely on “God’s intervention;”  or were blaming a mythical god for your problems instead of rationally reflecting on their natural cause and how to address them, then you would have justification for concern.   By virtue of your inquiry clearly that's not the case. You are aware that only reason, reality, and the effect of chemical reactions on the brain are in charge right now. Only time and a rational approach will heal and comfort.  

Right now your challenge is to get the anxiety managed professionally. If you do you’ll feel better and that specter of concern over backsliding into religious self deception will evaporate as gods always do when exposed to the light of science and reason.

Hang in there; you've got a camel friend in NH.

- Hump

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

If there were a God, we’d have to kill it.

Readers of The Atheist Camel Rants Again!  will be familiar with the chapter on “Faithicide,” a term I use to describe the gradual destruction of superstitious religious belief by reason and rationality in the scientific age.  In that chapter I dismissed “deicide,” the act of god killing, because it makes no sense since you can’t kill what does not exist.

But what if a god/God did exist and proved itself to be real?  How would we react?
I’ll proffer that it depends on the god’s persona. If it is a hands (or trunk, or tentacles) off god, who created us and lets us live out our lives as independent beings unfettered by its irrational  threats and demands; perhaps a fun loving kind of being that finds our behavior amusing or disgusting, but nevertheless nonjudgmental-  perhaps asking only for an occasional acknowledgement and thank you now and then I’d have no problem with it. Acknowledge and move on.

But if the supreme being in question was the Judeo-Christian God, and its persona is accurately portrayed in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments - what then? That’s something else altogether.

Then we would know this God’s personality in its entire minutia.  Its jealousy, its rage, its unpredictable nature, its sadistic side, its propensity for genocide ... mass extinction even. We’d know about the lies it has told, the cruelty of tests of allegiance, the punishments for supposed wrongs that it knew we would commit.. We’d have hundreds of examples of inconsistent behavior and contradictions.  Indeed the thing killed its own child to make some convoluted point of some sort and to placate itself.

If that wasn’t reason enough to feel disgust and revulsion for it, worst of all is the threat of an eternal punishment so horrific that it exceeds all human experience... eternal torture by fire.  Oh, not necessarily for the worst among us, for those people have an escape clause readily available to them.  No, they can opt out before they expire and live for an eternity among the righteous and God loving, or those who confuse fear and terror for love.

No, this irrational God would punish the best among us, the most intelligent and productive: the peace makers; those who have made our lives better and longer; people of conscience and rational ethics; even those who have opted to abide by this God’s earliest edicts, from five-thousand years ago and not his updated ones.  All of them are in for a never ending world of hurt.

If it were true as written in the god thing’s second edition that all those who do not love this God of vengeance and horrors; all those who see it as a tyrant and an oppressor of unimaginable power, with a psychosis that would make humanity’s worst mass murderers seem petty by comparison will face eternal excruciating unrelenting pain -  then we would have only two choices:  Acquiesce to its tyranny, or fight it to the death.

Where scientists never before bothered to contemplate the supernatural, many of them, and our freethinking brethren, would now kowtow to this God’s demands.  But many more would turn their attention toward one objective...find a way to destroy it.  An underground movement, an army of partisans, dedicated to freedom of thought, rationality, fairness and conscience battling not only for the freedom to live life free from omnipotent oppression and irrationality, but for the freedom and right to die and fade into oblivion without pain and fear.
If there were a proven God of the Bible in all its horrendous glory man would be compelled to stop killing each other. The thinking among us would turn our undivided attention to find a way to kill this God monster ... once and for all. I’d volunteer to come up with the secret hand shake and motto.  Maybe “Death to the God Thing: Live Free and Die Like a Human.”  

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vacationing camel, or Lazy camel

One of those two things are for sure...possibly both.

But the Hump is taking a not so well deserved sabbatical during the dog days of summer.

Watch for a new blog article next week.

Stay cool.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Christian apologies: Always too little too late

It took the Catholic Church almost  four hundred years to admit it was wrong and apologize for the persecution of Galileo.  In 2000 Pope John Paul issued an apology for the Church’s role in the persecution of Jews; the mass murder of heretics; the Crusades; and their various manifestations of religious intolerance.  

Over the past ten years the Southern Baptist Church apologized for their endorsement of slavery.  The Lutheran church apologized for Martin Luther’s vicious anti-Semitic screeds. The Methodist church apologized for a preacher that led a massacre of Native Americans during the Civil War. The Mormons apologized for their sect’s murder of innocent settlers in 1857 at the Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah

What all these apologies have in common is they came between 400 and 140 years after the fact. The victims of those atrocities and wrongful persecutions are all dead and benefit not a sou from their crocodile tears of guilt or admission of wrong doing in the name of their god.  Apologies to the long dead wronged fixes nothing, purges the guilt of their religious delusions and fanaticism not a bit. Whether it is heart felt admission and request for forgiveness, or if it’s a cheap throw away, a ploy, a transparent PR play for some kind of redemption and acceptance I don’t know, and I don’t care. 

But what is clear is that they haven’t learned a damn thing.
- The majority of Christian sects continue to condemn homosexuality as a sin, as a deviant behavior of choice and relegate them to second class citizenship. 
- They continue to subjugate women to the whims of male dominated denominations; continue to invoke ancient biblical precepts to exercise control over women’s reproductive systems.
- They continue to sentence to death by AIDS third world peoples by condemning condoms.  
- They continue to deny the reality of climate change claiming god wouldn’t permit his planet to be destroyed by his creations. 
-They continue to perpetrate the lie of Creationism which flies in face of overwhelming scientific evidence and modernity.
-The Catholic hierarchy continues to pay lip service to condemnation of massive priestly pedophilia, engaging in a culture of cover-up and denial ten years after a papal promise to end it.

Will their apologies and corrective adjustments to these crimes against humanity ever be forth coming?  Oh, yes... it will come eventually. When they can no longer justify with myth that which science has proven; when the evidence for their failure to reason is blatantly obvious, so heinously horrific, and widely condemned; when their unsupportable apologetics falls on the deaf ears of the millions of apostates who have come to reality, civility and science; when their lies and denials and devotion to myth becomes more of a burden than they can bear in the face of truth - then the apologies will flow.

The only question is when: four hundred years, one-hundred and forty years, fifty years?  No sense holding our collective breaths.  We are all their victims and we will be long dead before it comes.  If history tells us anything religionists don’t relinquish their apologies readily. Their lack of honesty just doesn’t permit it.