Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lil Snarky Erica

Is there a way to explain why you've chosen to be an atheist without sounding condescending?

On sounding condescending, I relate to when I was a vegetarian (1 year). There was no way for me to say that eating something that was once alive and breathing grossed me out without making it sound like I was also grossed out by the person asking the question for them eating meat. How do I say that the notion of a god existing is a silly one without sounding like I also think the believer is a little off their rocker as well?

My old youth pastor messaged me on facebook this weekend asking why I decided to be an atheist. It took me a while to answer because I didn't want my response to be rude or disrespectful in anyway. I basically said that I can't rely on blind faith in a god to direct my life. Here's what I wrote him.
"The atheist thing sort of came about over time. I'd always struggled with believing in all of it even when I was a little kid. I wanted to believe but, from what I've found, the existence of God doesn't make sense. I could go into the whole evidence and science thing but I know the likely response to that will be the argument of faith taking the place of evidence. It's a circular debate. There was no "if god existed then (insert bad event) would never have happened!" moment. There was no one whispering in my ear telling me god wasn't real. I just began evaluating what I believed and why."

I felt pretty good about that answer.
I wanted to write "Atheism makes me happy!"
Strangely enough, it does. Freedom is an amazing feeling.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

EhHem, Your Attention Please

I listened to a podcast with Adam Carolla interviewing Seth MacFarlane about about his "near death" experience on 9-11. Seth had tickets for one of the planes that hit the World Trade Center. Because of mistakes made by his travel agent, he missed his flight and lived. Now, most people in that situation would think there was some sort of divine reason he was spared and he now has some super-natural purpose to be on this planet. Along that same line of thought, what is the divine reason all the other people didn't get to live? If there was a reason the creator of The Family Guy was "chosen" to live, why were the others "chosen" to die?

How arrogant we are to think we are special when in reality it's just chance. Life and death are chance and it makes no difference who you are or what you believe in.

He was lucky that day. That wasn't the first flight he'd ever missed and surely not his last.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Atheism is Kinda Like an STD

When I was a kid I remember trying to get the courage up to talk to my friends about going to church and god. My major fear was they they were going to have an argument that I wouldn't have an answer for and I would start to doubt my faith. Even then I knew that what I was being taught didn't make sense to people who weren't raised in it. I knew it was hard to believe.
For me, religion was based on feelings and my need to fit in and be loved.
Now, I fear being judged for my lack of belief.

Like I talked about in my previous post, I get annoyed by the insertion of belief in everyday media, conversation and life. I don't like being forced to pray at public ceremonies and events. I always hope that there isn't going to be some local mega-church leader standing at the front giving his dramatic pre-dinner prayer.
I always keep my eyes open. It's my little protest.

I don't know how to approach religion in public.

I thought I was going to have one theme for this post but I was mistaken!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Prayer Chain

I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter if what you're saying makes sense.

Example #1: One evening I was watching Extreme Home Make Over. (I know, bad idea.) An entire city was devastated by a horrible tornado. One part of the show centered around this old woman whose house had been completely demolished but the heart warming part was that God spared her rose garden. Really? That line of thinking seems a little backwards to me. Ok, so God was like, "I need to destroy this town but leave them a shred of hope to cling to so I'll cut this old lady some slack and NOT blow her roses away. They'll appreciate that for sure." It's strange that they seem to think that one thing is not related to the other. They seem to think it was like a battle between the weather and God and the one thing God was able save was a bush. How is it that God is given credit for what he saved from the tornado that he brought? That's weird, right?

This next example has been spinning around my brain for days.

In order to protect the identity of the innocent I will call this person, "Frank"
The conversation went as follows:
Frank: My wife is flying to Texas to be with her brother in the hospital.
Me: Oh no, what's going on?
Frank: Her brother is only 36 and had back surgery but something went wrong and now his internal organs are failing and he might not make it.
Me: That's awful!
Frank: Yea, tonight when I get home I'm gonna get on the phone and start a "Prayer Chain".
Me: *eyes widen, brain explodes*

This conversation reinforced my suspicion that what you say doesn't need to make sense if enough people say it. I'll explain what a prayer chain is for those who aren't familiar with it. One person calls a bunch of people and asks them to pray for something and those people call more people and ask the same and so on.

Alright, here's my beef with the prayer chain. The logic behind it. God is causing this guys internal organs to fail, but if enough people pray for the man God might change his mind and not kill him. It's Gods will to kill or not kill but apparently if we all pray we might sway him. Is it that they don't think God is aware of the situation? Did they forget that according to their line of thought God is the one willing this to happen? Isn't praying questioning Gods infinite wisdom?

What if the entire world prayed all at once to end global warming? What if we all prayed to grow tails? (I would totally do that.)

When I bring these questions up to people who say things like this I get the stink eye and told that I'm just being negative. Huh. I'd never equated logic and negativity before.

Perhaps what they want is to remain blissfully ignorant.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Well hello. Thanks for stopping by. My name is Erica and I'm a recovering Christian. Through this blog I'm going to walk my way through understanding what it means to no longer under the weight of religion or a god or a hell or any of that business.
I'll first tell you the story of how I got to where I'm at right now.

At 19 my mother married an alcoholic. She went on to have 4 children with said alcoholic. She had 4 children with him despite the fact that he beat her and her 2 oldest. Eventually she decided she'd had enough and after 8 blissful years of marriage, walked out.
Yours truly was 5. About this time my mother started going to church...I think in hopes of meeting a nice man. At this age the only thing I knew of a father was one that hit me and my family. I was brought into this church where I was taught that God is my heavenly father that would never do anything to harm me. This was a great concept for me at the time. For the next 10 or 11 years I would hold on to the idea of a heavenly father who loved me. It wasn't until I got a little older and started getting mixed reviews of who God was to everyone else. My mom did meet a man at church. When I was 14 he became my step father. I got one very different view of who god was from him. When I would get into trouble my step dad would yell and say that he would ask god how he should punish me and the next morning I'd have some ridiculous sentence laid on me. So, here I was thinking god was on my side and all of the sudden he's on my step dads side. Huh.
The church I was raised in was Pentecostal. They are big on using scare tactics as a means of conversion. It was ACCEPT JESUS AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR RIGHT NOW OR BURN IN HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY!!!! NOW NOW NOW! REPENT YOU SINNER! This scared the shit out of me. Growing up I was always terrified of dying because I was afraid that I wouldn't have time to repent whatever measly sin I'd committed and I would end up in hell anyway. Later I'd come to realize that I was a Christian out of a fear of hell and not for feeling the love of Christ. When I was old enough to be able to step back from the church and look at it as an outsider is seemed ludicrous. Why would someone want to worship a being who could so easily send anyone to hell? Why was the god I thought if as my replacement father this awful person that scared the shit out of me?
By the time I was 17 the puzzle was falling apart. Slowly pieces didn't quite fit the same anymore. I didn't understand the contradictions in the way that I felt versus how I was supposed to feel. That's when I stopped going to church. At the time I attributed it to my teen rebellion, but after leaving the church I felt like a sane person. I was no longer beating myself up about not being the good christian I was expected to be. I've never been good at conforming without question. That stance is not conducive with organized religion. During this time I still believed there was a god and a devil and a heaven and hell but I didn't understand where I fit into all of it. I wanted to believe in something but I wasn't sure what.
For the next few years I would go through life and not think too much about religion. My mom had stopped asking me to go to church on holidays and I didn't feel right about closing my eyes during prayers. That was about the extent of my participation.
After one night of heavy drinking with a friend, we stumbled on to the topic of religion and she asked me if I believed in god. I said I didn't think there was a god. That was the first time I said it out loud. Even in my drunken state I knew I'd done something. She then asked me what my motivation was for wanting to go into nonprofit work after I graduate. I said I just want to help people. I couldn't get her to understand that I didn't need a set of religious rules to dictate to me how to be a decent person. I want to be a good person for the sake of being a good person. Helping people makes me feel good. I know, I'm selfish that way.
The thought that the only thing keeping people from killing each other is a set of stone tablets handed to Moses from god is horrifying to me.
Not long after that drunk conversation I started hanging out with a girl who proudly called herself an atheist. She was a good person. Before this, atheist equated satanist to me. In my head an atheist was someone causing trouble, running a muck and bringing chaos to the rest of us. It never crossed my mind that an atheist was just someone who didn't believe in god. That's when it occurred to me that I was an atheist.
Ok, so I'm an atheist.
Now what?