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God Bless Me

I’m curious.  If a Buddhist were to approach a Catholic and tell this Catholic that their beliefs are wrong and Buddhism is the proper path for them to choose, insisting that their soul won’t be safe until they do so, what would the reaction be?  Surely this action would be protested, as the Catholic has the right to their faith and beliefs without interference from this arrogant Muslim who is trying to impose and change a person’s entire belief system solely based on their opinion that their faith is the one who got it right.  Surely this would be frowned upon, as it is unacceptable to challenge someone simply because you disagree with who they worship or how they worship.

Even in the Christian faith, I’ve seen Baptists and Catholics clash and Episcopalians and Methodists disagree.  Those in religion A know for a fact that they are correct, while religions B, C, and D have either most or all of it wrong.  This by itself is perfectly fine; we are obviously entitled to our opinion and we have freedom of religion and the freedom to believe what we wish.  Although we do have freedom of speech, there is a fine line that out of respect should not be crossed when conversing with someone who doesn’t share your belief system.  It’s simply bad form to try to convince someone that they are wrong or damned for what they choose to believe and deny.

I consider myself to be Agnostic; I don’t deny that there may be some sort of spiritual forces at work here and there, but I don’t believe in organized religion, nor do I believe there is a God in heaven flanked by his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit as I was taught growing up.  I’m not comfortable in calling myself an Atheist as my husband does, but I do identify with them and share many of their opinions on organized religion, faith, and spirituality.  I feel that it would be ignorant for me to say nothing exists out there, especially because I do believe in the existence of ghosts and life after death, but I don’t buy into the religion of my upbringing or any other.  It’s a decision I came to gradually over the years and I’m quite happy with it.

What boggles my mind is that many people, mostly Christians, look at me as someone who requires saving and who needs to know God.  They see it as their duty to tell me I’ll “come around,” I’ll “see the light one day,” or to invite me to their church in the hopes I have some sort of epiphany and praise Jesus.  These are the same people who accept those of other faiths, even though the belief systems differ, but see me as abnormal because I have an absence of faith as it fits into organized religion.  They look at me strangely, as if I’ll burst into flames at any second, and they see me as an immoral person due to my lack of appearances in church and my idea that prayer is useless.

It is not my duty to spread the word to people I encounter and inform them that there is no God, no heaven, no hell, and no Satan.  No one has tasked me with saving people from their misguided faith and silly beliefs, telling them they are wasting their time in church and are teaching their children nonsense.  For me to say those things would be rude, insulting, and totally inappropriate.  I don’t agree with a lot of things people choose to believe, but I also respect their right to believe it and know that it’s not my right or place to make them feel foolish for worshipping what they wish.

I can hardly speak for everyone who feels similar to me when it comes to matters of the Lord, but it’s not a path that is chosen out of laziness and a desire to stay away from church as much as possible.  It’s not something decided on a whim.  It doesn’t make life easier or less stressful, nor does it provide some sort of social boost.  I think my mother would have rather me told her I was gay than tell her I didn’t believe in God, and my husband struggled on how to tell his own mother.  I get asked why I celebrate Christmas and Easter since the origins are religion-based.  I am asked what I teach my son and if I deny him a religious education.  It’s a bit of a stigma and seen as a flaw to not have an acceptable faith.

What I would like is for Atheists and Agnostics to be treated more like they are just another belief system.  If you wouldn’t approach a Jewish man and insult his temple and insist your Baptist church down the road is the only way to be right, don’t approach me and treat me as some sort of spiritual leper who needs your assistance.  Yes, there are misguided Atheists and Agnostics, but misguided people exist in all faiths.  It’s not your job or your place in the world to seek them out and “fix” them.  Bottom line, I’m not a bad person, I don’t need to be repaired, and I haven’t been brainwashed or misinformed.  Lay off and save your judgment and laughter for the afterlife, as I give you permission to mock away from your perch in heaven as I burn in hell.  Send me marshmallows.

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About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on March 30, 2012, in Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Sounds like you had an encounter?

    My wife is Atheist and I am Agnostic. Luckily, they are close enough that they get along with each other just fine. I was not sure which I was until I busted out the Wiki and an e-dictionary to look it up. Based on its definitions, I chose Agnosticism simply because I can not prove, or disprove, the existence of “God.” My wife however, has chosen the more hardline approach of saying there is absolutely no God. I like her spunk, and obviously I agree with her more than I agree with any other “God-fearing religion” out there, but I think Agnosticism is easier to defend.

    If I am going to get into a theological battle with someone, who of course can provide no evidence that god exists, then I really can’t take a position that says god does not exist, when I can not prove that either. So by default, I lose the argument. Agnosticism at least can be defended so I can say that I don’t believe there is a god, but neither can I prove to you with evidence that their isn’t, so I’m just going to tell you my opinion which is that there is no god because nobody can prove it to anyone, just like there are no Unicorns or honest politicians, and you can tell me your opinion, which is all that it is…an opinion…that says there is a god.

    I am torn on the recent movement of Atheists/Agnostics to put up billboards (there is one near me) to educate the god-fearing people on this belief-of-non-belief system. If the campaign is strictly to educate god people out there that there are many non-god-people out there and to leave us alone, just like we always leave you alone, then I am cool with that. If the campaign is to somehow establish a “non-religion” and try to expand the headcount of atheists and agnostics, I don’t think I am okay with that…as we then become gospels preaching the non-word just like those we want to leave us alone.

    Besides, I have always had the opinion that many people NEED to believe in god. Life can be really hard, dangerous, heart-breaking and painful, and some people simply don’t have the mental skills to assess, absorb, process and deal with it. I know many of these people can not handle it because…they are serial bad decision makers which is what is causing their life to be so out of control. If they mentally can not make a good decision, even after the law of averages should have given them one by now, then life will always be hard for them because they are not mentally up to the task. Knowing there is an all-powerful protector watching over you is a nice Ace in the sleeve to have, as far as mental well-being, especially for these people. And I’m not saying all god believers are this way, just saying, in a blunt way, the more stupid you are, the more god helps you not off yourself.

    And to any god people reading this, I would LOVE to join your club. If I could turn off my hyper-analytical brain cell that refuses to let me join your club, that would be great. I don’t like thinking about how I will not see my wife again once one of us dies (this thought upsets me greatly), or that there is nothing beyond this life for me to look forward to, or that potholes in life are not “challenges” by god to continue to believe in him, or that the death of some innocent person in a Japanese tsunami is “Him calling them to His side” or that during hard times, “God” will help me get through it. These are all very supportive, mentally stabilizing, make-life-more-enjoyable thoughts…but alas, I believe none of it, and I cannot, and I never will. So life is harder being an Agnostic/Atheist, I believe, then believing in a “God.”

    But my belief that there is no god, being as strong as yours (the god people), helps me be realistic about life, make better decisions, not rely on others or on luck and to understand and accept that this world is a wonderful, beautiful, extraordinary, dangerous, violent, random place and I need to enjoy it all now, enjoy it completely, enjoy everyone I am with…because I will never see them again. Knowing there is an absolute end where I am nothing but dirt and I will never see anyone or anything ever again, helps me make the more of the now.

    The toughest arguments I have come along when I propose to support someone, for example Ron Paul. My wife, who also likes Ron Paul and his message, likes to point out how could I support anyone who believes in Unicorns. Obviously, Unicorn belief, to an Atheist/Agnostic, is quite the chink in the armor when considering someone who is altogether exceptionally intelligent….except for that nasty Unicorn thingy.

    I have to chalk it up to compromising and marginalizing. I had a boss long ago who was a very, VERY devout Mormon. Large family, very strong value system, son was off in South America mormon-ing, belief in Unicorns, etc… But he was an exceptionally intelligent man who taught me the base of everything that my career is built upon right now. I credit him with giving me the knowledge, the tough kick in the ass I needed to lose my early-20-something obstinateness and the kudos for jobs well done that got me started. It’s hard for me not to credit my future successes, my house, my savings…on his brutal but necessarily-so, father-like guidance. So despite his Unicorn belief, he was an incredible mentor to me.

    Based on that fact, and that dismissing someone for believing is as bad as a believer dismissing someone for not believing, I can’t discount someone despite their exceptional intelligence just because they like Budweiser and I’m a Sam Adams guy.

    Cheers!

    P.S. I always start out with a SHORT comment but damn I get carried away, edit, edit, edit.

    • I just love your long comments though 🙂

      • *bowing* Thank You. I would say that I will work on making them shorter, but alas…I know I would fall woefully short of my goal. 🙂

    • I think it’s fair to say that people are very good at compartmentalising their beliefs, and we’re all prone to confirmation bias the moment we take out eye off the ball. So you can have really quite intelligent people who believe in all sorts of crazy stuff.

      The really sobering thought is that there are probably people who are thinking exactly that about you and me. Worse, they might leave out the intelligent bit. 🙂

  2. to that i say this; take the road penn jillette takes. Thank people for their concern while explaining to them you don’t belive in their particular faith. IF or when they get out of control with pushing their religous views upon you; let them know they’ve crossed a line. If it’s someone at work. Report them for harassment. Shockingly I’m not agnostic or an atheist but I don’t walk the religous path that any “religous” person walks.

    those are my opinions…ignore them as you choose…I’ve got plenty of “God people” in my extended family but rather than tell them I DON’T BELIVE WHAT YOU BELIVE…I let them do what they do ((i don’t entirely disbelive what they believe but a few people in particular…definetly don’t see eye to eye about religion and all that jazz))

    and for the record…I belive in higher power(s)….the body dies..the energy goes on…((even an atheist can’t argue about that point..as to what that energy is..well yeah…but I’m not here to argue that))…everything else..I’m not going to go into…belive in your unicorns or your magic underpants or that we are all from another planet left behind…blah blah blah.

    whatever floats your boat as long as you don’t try to FORCE it down my throat….do what you do..think what you think….eat drink and be merry

    fin~

    • I just would rather it stop at one comment/question instead of turn into a campaign to save me & people who think like I do.

      • you could always go the route my cousin did….one day he happened to be at our house when the bible thumpers of whatever persuasion came knocking…he told them he was a satanist and said something about sacrificing goats…..we haven’t had any of them knock on our door since ((well not when I’ve been around anyway :P))

        if it’s the same person or persons that keep bugging you about it just tell them to STFU each and ever time they go down that road…

        peoples religions teach them they must save the heathens…big reason I had to nonfan organized religion as an entity….there’s just to many people in the world to make that way of thinking correct

    • Magic underpants. I like that one. I’ll have to borrow that.

      • magic underpants is a mormon relay.

        • lol. I started typing “mormon” into Google to learn more about this fascinating subject and lo-and-behold, one of the first auto-fill searches is “mormon underwear.” The world is a truly, truly fascinating place. Sometimes for odd reasons.

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  5. forbid all negativity from your tongue and mind, and make an effort to be nice.

    the end.

    oh, what came before “big bang” and after the future?

    open your mind.

    • This is what boggles my mind about religious people. You want to be respected and be free to believe what you wish, but you are so quick to condemn others for having a different opinion. My mind, unlike yours, is wide open. But you go ahead and believe that a magical man in the sky is responsible for our existence and not science.

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