I really do.
Actually, no. Not really. The title is a throwback to my days in high school. A point sometime between grades 9 and 10, when little made sense in my teenaged mind. I had just finished dealing with year long simaltanuous ordeals that were an emotionally blackmailing girlfriend (attempted extortionist would also fit), and a year long cyber bullying campaign. It was an interesting situation, since both ended up being the ultimate culmination of my making seemingly the right choice. The girl situation begun 2 years earlier, after I decided to befriend 2 girls that seemed alone amongst our grade 8 class. And the cyber bullying situation started after I found a bashing forum filled with all manor of vitriol aimed anonymously at other students in my school. A situation that I decided to take on using my real name.
Since all this is behind me by over a decade now, I am mostly beyond regrets. I used to tie myself into knots, fussing over what could have been. But that is unhealthy. Even if I find myself tempted make a few adjustments if offered the use of a time machine, those decisions only matter in that context. You can not control what could have been. You can only control what will be. Well, you have some control anyway.
Either way, having been dealt this harsh lesson of the real world turned me into an angry contrarian (of sorts). Though god was not a big part of my (or my families) life at the time, I found myself angry at him. Having lived though an emotional rollar coaster that at times came quite close to ending prematurely, he seemed the logical culprit. He who is all knowing and powerful, allowed THIS to happen?
Of course, I didn’t stay that way. Anger at god based around ones anecdotal experience is silly. As is anger based around a wider scope of understanding (“Why would he allow starving children!”). I would eventually come to an understanding of a void. When faced with the choice of evil god! or nothing , I settled on the latter. Keep in mind that it was a months long process (not an epiphany, as seems to be eluded to previously). But none the less, I arrived. And I would learn the term for my conclusions later (atheist). And as it turns out, my continued spiritual(?) evolution would not end there. But more on that later.
Early adulthood would introduce me into the world of facebook and religous debate. I enjoyed it for a number of years (along with my more trollish shit disturbing activities aside from the conversation). But it would eventually grow boring and pointless (even counterproductive).
I woudn’t officially drop it (atheistic discussion and interaction, and even the label) however, until running into grief with the vast majority of atheists I was connected to concerning the term agnostic. A term that I had always known but never given much thought to, I didn’t find a problem in its typical usage (a middle ground). In fact, when attempting to create groups on Facebook to fostor discussion, I tried to use names like Non-Believers Unite! in order to be more accommodating to all viewpoints. One can come across hundreds of groups for atheists (or groups that list a few adjectives in the title), but almost none that welcome all secularists as one. The reason for this would become crystal clear to me in short order however.
It started with an anti-agnostic meme in a popular atheist group I was once a part of. The following meme is not the meme I seen, but it perfectly showcases the stupidity I was soon to run into.
If you come to this point as a self professed agnostic , rest assured, you are in the clear. There is controversy in the middle ground interpretation of the term (many feel it to be decoupled from the original definition). That said however, the current accepted definition of atheism also differs from its initial form. A lack of belief was once the more fitting denial of the existence of. A notable change since it veers atheism away from the positove claim that it is. Hence the necessity for Agnostic Atheist.
I have also spoken to well educated people that are outside of the atheist community, but also dislike the middle ground usage of the term agnostic. It is these people that made me to decide to not continue using the term as an adjective anymore. That said however, even if that label itself may not fit and may be hard to replace, the position (essentially I don’t know) is still valid. I try not to bother with any sort of discussion anymore, so its relatively easy for me to not even label myself really (though I like a new term I recently came across, post theist). And so I have exposed my rule of thumb that I have largly lived by lately . . . if your method of discussion is to play in boxes, you’re generally not worth my time. It can be a lonley position, being very intrested in forwarding the agenda and goals of the secular community, yet seeing a majority of its inhabitants as intolerant baffoons. But such is life.
Atheists like to tell all secularists that they are in the label by definition, but rest assured, they are idiots. I attribute this mainly to the existence of at least 2 diffrent types of atheist.
*It should be noted that the following is based on personal anecdotal observations made over a number of years. If someone beat me to the punch, its strictly coincidental
1.) Learned Atheists – Those that realized the philosophy though outside references (be it books, YouTube videos etc)
2.) Found Atheists – Those that found the philosophy independently of outside factors. Its less a matter of discovering ones atheism than it is realizing that were likley not being guided by anything supernatural.
The majority of atheists these days (and likley always, really) fall into the first catagory. This is not to minimize the struggle that these people face. That said however, though many indeed do shed much of their religious baggage, the supporting structures on which that baggage was built often remains quite visible afterwards. As is evidenced by all of the atheists out there that cling to the label to the point of being comparable to many religious sects. Though this tends to include a majority of atheists, a few take it beyond any realm of reason. One example being the “Rocks and babies are atheist!” people. Another being the “if you do not believe in a god but don’t call yourself an atheist, you are an atheist in denial” people.
The first of the 2 tend to be merely idiotic, the ideology of the typical condesending type of the cohort. The other group however, go beyond idiocy and into the realm of intolerance. I hypothesize a product of previous fundamentalist faith (remember those structures I mentioned earlier?). I caution against this use of the atheist term as defined. For one, it introduces unnecessary friction into the secular community (not to mention that it turns everyone into drones. See the theistic parallel?). And for another, it seems a misuse of a term that is more descriptive than rule. Its hard to argue against belonging into certain cohorts such as nationality or race (you may not have to aknowledge it, but generally its not wrong to consider an African American from the US to be a Black American). Religious (or non-religious) affiliations are not this way, however. Just as people are not born Christian or Muslim, people are also not born Atheist. And as such, just because it tends to be a catch all for most leaving faith behind, it is not the rule.
Atheist Vs Theist, PERIOD, is stupid. I don’t care where you align on the secular spectrum. Because it dosen’t matter.
So, as is noticeable, I have little use for the atheist community anymore. My resentment is not nearly what it was 1 or 2 years ago when I wrote the first post in the atheism criticisms category. Im even far enough away from situation to not involuntarily cringe each time I hear “I am an atheist” in almost any context. Having said that however, the group still does annoy me in its antics. I am not annoyed as much by the often irrational stubbornness of many atheists as I am with how it counteracts what should be the ultimate goal of the community. The religous opposition HAS NEVER STOPPED making gains and moving themselves forward, yet here are the atheists trying to herd a bunch of cats into a feild with no boundries.
Not to mention the fact that Atheism (at least in the online world) is increasingly turning into a brand. Though clinging to an identity irrationally at the expense of unity is one thing, it is quite another if it is for economic gain and enrichment. Of couse, it needs to be stated that I do not think that all atheists that make a living (or even just an income) off of the philosophy are promoting an atheism first agenda with this corrupt attitude in mind. But for someone like me that try to look at the big picture . . . I can’t ignore it.
I am indeed, a very principled person. Though I have become an outsider to the mainstream secular community in recent years, I still like to think that I am at least trying to make a difference. Though writing for a largly non-existent audience seems an odd methodology, its what works for me. Direct conversation often becomes counter productive confrontation, so I stand back and write on a public chalkboard. People can read it and do as they please with it (and leave a comment if they choose).
To move away from my utopian vision of what the secular community should be, we come back to religion. Though not really touched for awhile, its intresting how my views have evolved over time. To put it simply, I may not call myself a firebrand atheist (I don’t use the label at all, as stated previously), but im pretty sure thet my current views would put me well beyond even notables like David Silverman.
For around a year or two now, for the most part, religion has had absolutely no place or impact on my life. I quit debating it with both religous and irreligious people. And my existence in the real world is largly void of its overt influence. I understand that I am lucky to be able to say this (privileged?). For all intents and purposes, I have become post theistic.
But even so, religion does not get a free pass from me. Generally speaking, I am more skeptical than I was before. The best example of this is in the paranormal. Ive always held it at a distance, neither believer nor absolute skeptic (because both choices are stupid). Though that mindframe still applies, my bar of acceptable evidence has changed drastically. Though I still keep my options open, benefit of the doubt trust is largly gone. For example, I simply can’t watch paranormal shows PERIOD, because they can not be trusted. Weird stories get a bit more leniency, but not much. Even my personal anecdotes of the past are gone.
But that was a bit of a tangent.
The past month or so has seen a number of religion oriented stories hit the airwaves. To be fair, there are always tons. But these were particularly nasty examples of past and present atrocities. Unsurprisingly, the victims are almost always the most vulnerable citizens of society. Children.
Massive Sex Abuse Scandal In Pennsylvania
Religious Leader Abuses Boys For The Sin Of Masturbation. For DECADES.
Hundreds Of Childrens Remains Found In Septic Tank Of Formerly Nun Run Home
Top this off with the stories of both past and present (Canadian Residential Schools), large and small, and you have quite a picture. An old and outdated ideology running wild with its firmly held status quo positioning.
And then I seen this.
A crucifix has been returned to the wall of a Quebec City hospital after an earlier decision to take it down prompted complaints, a petition and what officials considered a “serious threat.”
The cross, which is just under a metre in length, was put back overnight in its original spot, between two elevators near the entrance of the Saint-Sacrement Hospital.
A temporary plaque was also added to explain the religious heritage of the building and the fact that hospitals in the province are now secular institutions. A permanent plaque will be put up in the next few months.
“Health-care facilities in Quebec have been secular for many years,” reads the plaque, written in French.
“This crucifix recalls the importance of the contribution of the religious communities to the construction of this hospital.”
Saint-Sacrement said it had received at least 600 phone calls about the decision to remove the religious symbol, which was prompted by a single complaint. A petition opposing the removal was signed by thousands of people.
In a news release Wednesday, the hospital’s administration (CHU de Québec) said it would be reinstalled “at the demand of the health ministry” by the end of the day.
The first thing that came to mind was, in all honesty, “really? This is what someone complained about?!”. But then I seen the full story, and the reaction. Thousands signing a petition. Hundreds of callers. Tens of interviewed people, acting the part of persecuted martyrs (including the health minister of the province!). And one apparently credible threat (doing gods work, eh?).
The first thing that comes to mind is, I now know how to get many people to pay attention to something. Wrap a cross and Jesus F Christ around it. The second thing that comes to mind is . . . FUCK YOU! Over privileged zombie worshippers.
I get that the initial complaint is a bit silly in light of the longevity of the crucifixes location. Though a secular institution, I am more concerned with how it is run than with what decor it has in its halls. There is an argument for the removal of religious symbolism from these places, no doubt about it. I just don’t worry about it. So long as no one is preaching to the helpless on the public dime, whatever.
But, this reaction . . . uh.
Actually, this is a HUGE overreaction to having just one little cross removed from a location where it should not be the first place. Its not like the Christian cohort does not already contol this town, and many other areas of our (and the wests) government’s. Hell, churches don’t even have to worry about taxes! Think about that for a second . . . an organisation that no longer IN ANY WAY contributes to the upkeep of this hospital, flips shit when its logo is taken down.
Not all churches are equal. Some are worse than others. But none the less, its time for some changes. Removing tax exemptions would be an ultimate utopia, but I am merciful. Start keeping tabs on how the money is flowing, and reward jesus like behavier. Those that keep to themselves or live to give, have no problems. Those that attempt to meddle in political (or other) affairs, lose exemption for a set period (5 years?).
Then there is the land issue. My city alone has at least 35 churches, ranging from small ones in neighbourhoods to large ones. Many of these buildings more than likley sit empty all week, heated and/or air conditioned for nothing. And yet, my city (as with many others!) has an affordable housing crisis.
Which begs the question . . . why does a city of below 50,000 need so y churches?! Its idiotic redundancy to waste perfectly good land on weekly usage, when people working full time often can’t afford to eat AND put a roof over their heads.
Learn to share space, theists. As for the leftover buildings, they can either be renovated into dwellings, or razed to make way for dwellings. Normally I am against such measures (I hate seeing perfectly good homes and buildings demolished, even if to make way for apartments). But really . . . what good is a church? Think of all the wasted energy going into heating those cavernous cathedrals alone!
On the subject of churches and cathedrals, I can connect my seemingly controversial conclusions to an interesting source. Norwegian Black Metal.
Its an interesting thing, really. I knew about the church burnings and such even in high school, having looked up some black metal tunes online for friends. Though I liked Cradle of Filth’s Nymphetamine Overdose for some reason, the rest of the genre was just . . . noise. Its been that way until fairly recently (oddly enough). But moving on, I was against the church burnings. Arguably the logical response.
That said however, I would later see the black metal documentary Until The Light Takes Us. Its definitely not for the faint of heart, first of all (its intense). If you don’t get it, expect to be super #triggered by the end of it.
There comes a part in the timeline where church burnings start happening. While one may think that there is no possible excuse or reason that one could EVER use to justify this activity . . . they found one.
And now, is where I must tread carefully.
I do not, and I would not, burn down churches, or any other such sites. I do not condone this sort of thing either. I just . . . get it. I’m not going to jump in a car and go torch churches whilst blasting black metal tunes. But I also won’t feel bad about finding it hilarious the next time someone somewhere, does just that.
To close, it seemed like a good time to explore that age old topic of my liking that is religion. It seemed a good time see just how much I have changed over the years. I personally think that I have matured greatly in this area. I doubt many in the peanut gallary will agree.
Good thing I don’t give a shit.