Monday, September 24, 2012

Fear and Wisdom

According to Psalms 111:10 the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. " The root of wisdom is fear of Yahweh; those who attain it are wise. His praise will continue for ever. But many try to rationalize this text by stating that it does not mean fear as defined by us today, but rather respect. I disagree and feel that nothing could be further from the truth. The biblical deity demands love and fear of his followers. Throughout the scriptures he makes threats to his followers and reminds them often how great and powerful he is. Talk about vanity and someone who is full of himself!

"See now that I, I am he, and beside me there is no other god. It is I who deal death and life; when I have struck, it is I who heal (no one can rescue anyone from me)." Now that clearly sounds like a threat to me. It reminds me of the old saying parents used on their children sometimes that basically stated: " I brought you into this world and I will take you out of it." This is a clear message that fear means fear as in be afraid, love, and respect God (forcefully of course). Unlike us puny humans who believe that love and respect are things that must be earned; God demands it!

Wisdom and fear have nothing to do with one another and in fact when used in this context are actually two contradictory ideas. You can't be wise if you are afraid all the time. You can be prudent for example in knowing not to play with Cobras for instance, and the fear you might demonstrate is respect for what such a dangerous animal can do to you with just one single bite.

The fear of the Lord is not only unwise, it is irrational. Theists fear the unknown as they themselves admit that God is ineffable (indescribable). They know nothing about the god they claim and worship except for what was written by a bunch of anonymous authors around 5,000 years ago! Where is the wisdom in serving something you don't even know to exist? Or in committing your life to a lie and trying to live according to the laws and precepts of this imaginary guy in the sky?

Where is the wisdom of being coerced into subservience? The very language of the bible reminds of the very same terms utilized in the subject of human slavery in America just before the civil war. Christians like to see themselves as children of the Lord pfft! No father demands that his "children" bow down and worship him! Neither does a father love his children conditionally as the biblical demon you call God does. Normal parents love their children unconditionally and although they don't always turn out the way we would like them to, we try our best to give them some guidance and direction in life. But no matter what they do with their lives we still love them. No father threatens to torment his children eternally for not worshiping him and kissing his all powerful ass!

The only thing I see as the suspension of superstitious beliefs and fairy tales as found in most major religions. There is no God, hell, evil personified as demons or fallen angels, etc. All of those things are the products of legend and myth and nothing more. Man invented the gods and although the reasons may not be entirely clear since there are many that I have contemplated, it doesn't change the fact that in the beginning man created the gods and not the other way around. We may not know the why's and the wherefores of our existence, but you can rest assured that it wasn't God or gods that brought us into being. We live in a natural world and I am inclined to believe that we evolved naturally as taught by the theory of evolution.

Note: All biblical citations come from the New Jerusalem Bible 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Responsible Atheism

When I first declared myself an atheist and rejected the probability of the existence of God I was what you would call an angry atheist. In those days 19 years ago I would visit theist forums and chat rooms to pick fights and incite the ire of the Christians. I would feel some mean sort of satisfaction when I was able to piss them off and have them lose it and end up cursing me out. I would taunt them about showing the love of Jesus, loving their enemies, and blessing those that cursed them.

Through the years I began to lose my feelings of anger towards God who at the time I did not realize was an irrational anger, since I myself had declared that he did not exist. How can one be angry at a non-existent being? Upon realizing this I began to delve deeper into finding an outlet where I could express my non-beliefs freely as Christians do with their own and opposite beliefs. I began visiting atheist forums where I began debating theists. I found this very satisfying and it helped me better understand my own ideas on the subject.

After a few years of debating theists on forums I was able to obtain a sort of calm when discussing issues with theists. I found that although at times they managed to frustrate me to no end I had to learn patience. Today I am a different kind of atheist in that having been a theists and an evangelist; I have been on both sides of the fence. This gives me the ability to discuss theological concepts both from my own experiences as an evangelist and understand how theists think and why they think what they do. I've pretty much seen and heard just about every possible theistic argument or defense for God etc. and have been there myself and done that so nothing really surprises me.

Sometimes you just have to agree to disagree and let things go when you are discussing issues with theists. Just like you have a right to express your ideas and beliefs they too have and posses those same rights. Every once in a while I will make a flippant comment or agree to some other atheist comment but for the most part I try to keep a lid on it. I am not here to try and convert anyone to atheism since if I was, it would once again just be an illogical idea; since I have nothing to convert anyone to.

The only time I take offense to theism is when they try to foist their beliefs on me and make silly comments about how I did not really know nor have a relationship with God/Jesus. I take comments like that very seriously and I must admit that it sometimes upsets me. I think I gave God or as I like to say now the concept of God a fair shake. I preached every weekend on the streets, in local churches, and seriously tried to walk the walk. I lived what I preached to the fullest and gave God my all which included fasts, fervent prayer, visiting the sick, praying for strangers, and I believed that I was baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit.

My embracing the concept of atheism was a six year long project that was scary, and painful at times. It took a lot to "get the God out of me." The fear of hell was very real and when I least expected it it would creep back up in the back of my mind. Finding myself was a long and winding road filled with many twists and turns and at times dead ends.

I've grown leaps and bounds as an atheist since those early days, and most of all I have matured as a person greatly. I am happy with my life as it is and do not feel the need to worship a god or follow some form of religion. My life in and of itself is fulfilling and satisfying and I will continue to live and educate myself regarding theism and atheism. Most importantly I will share what I learn through this blog or my hub page where I can at least help new atheists or agnostics deal with their doubts and fears regarding their recent separation from enslavement to religion.

To all my fellow atheists; give yourself a chance to grow and mature and be responsible for what comes out of your mouth and how you treat theists or others who disagree with you.Calling each other names gets you nowhere and leads to nothing but frustration and unnecessary stress. Learn from everyone and educate yourself so that you can provide rational arguments for what you believe or in this case don't believe. Be professional and courteous and remember that all you are doing is having a discussion. Sometimes like I stated earlier you just have to know when to fold the cards and agree to disagree.Even if it means that the theist thinks that they have won the argument. Get that idea about winning and losing out of your mind and keep it friendly.

In conclusion, be responsible atheist and represent your ideas and beliefs with dignity. As atheists we have nothing to be ashamed of. Remember that we are free to think and speak our minds on certain issues; and that in doing so we also teach others and learn from one another. Take responsibility for your actions and words and live life to the fullest, living and loving every moment that we are allowed on this earth. Life is short and a little longer for some, but enjoy it while it lasts and hold your head up high. Nothing is more fulfilling for me than being able to think for myself and doing the things I enjoy most. Good luck to all and I will see you in the comments and in my next post.