Tag Archives: atheism

Notes from 15-year old me, the blossoming atheist

I once populated my office with any piece of office supplies I had at home. This included leftover materials from the college years, which in turn was made up of leftover high school materials. So there I am, assembling training binders when I stumble upon a paper-and-pen journal entry from eons ago. My guess (from the grandiose language and the slight flourish of philosophical-induced misery) is age 15. I’ve reproduced it here for posterity and for my own reference some day, for teen-Mary’s livejournal is a thing that should never, ever be opened. No, really.

The age-old Catholic theory of the afterlife is a peaceful, sacred heaven where all are united in love for and worship of the god figure. But if people strive so much for this precious sense of humanity and individuality while in this “trial world” only to abandon it to be part of a utopian collective, then this earthly quest loses all purpose. What meaning could we seek here if our only goals must be eternal pain or eternal subservience? (To conveniently snuff out this line of questioning, the Church simply had Lucifer be the one to ask it.) In this cooperative heaven, how would our creative and industrial characteristics be suppressed while still retaining the earthly identities we toiled so hard to build? And what of our inherent ego-centrism? Our cliquish minds which cannot comprehend more than some finite number of relationships? Man cannot simply worship a god and rejoice for beauty and then begin the next day the same. A being so cultural and philosophically diverse as man….how could the ultimate reward be anonymous communal worship? And if such piety in humans were attainable for enough people so as to make god’s plan even remotely reasonable, why do essentially none ever reach it? It’s apparent that even the most devout, whose piety splinters when their closet of skeletons and inner demons break loose in public scandal, won’t be eternally happy with such an outcome after life, nor happy for even one week.

If the Catholic god truly is the all-knowledgeable and loving figure of which the stories tell, then the age-old vision of heaven is not comprehensive nor can it be considered credible by the standards of the modern thinker. It wreaks of the “perfect world” fallacy, heaven being some holy tyranny where a god is surrounded by adoring creations who proved themselves “worthy” to be in his presence. If the god figure were a loving god, he would not build such a narcissistic echo chamber populated by what are essentially slave creations who only worshiped in life out of fear of punishment if they pursued contrary goals. Such sadistic torture dungeons are the things of crime novels and horror films from which we recoil 6 days a week, yet Catholics discuss it openly and proudly on Sunday without any sense of irony or cognitive dissonance.

While we each may have a different idea of what the afterlife will be, it would take quite a god to create one place that everyone could call utopia and yet maintain and exercise their individuality. Such a feat is impossible in light of our (allegedly purposeful) design to have interests and personalities contrary to each other. Consequently, the same principle would hold true for marriage. Exact matches would be misery for the caged intellectual. With no sparring partner or otherwise inspirational force in one’s life to divert from the routine, how could a marriage fight an onslaught of immediate and utter boredom? What can they express except affection, for the narcissist has married him or herself. What kind of paradise is a marriage with an organic copy? The conceptions of a perfect world, perfect love, perfect marriage, perfect heaven have no credence. “Perfection” is ideological tyranny. How can anyone beyond the age of 10 sit in a pew listening to elementary-level drivel about god, love, heaven, hell, and any other philosophical notions oversimplified for the dullards of humanity and not be repulsed? Offended? Condescended to? A celibate and single priest giving relationship advice to married couples? A man commenting on women’s place and rights because desert fables thousands of years’ old make him feel obliged to do so? Please explain the mass appeal of this faith beyond “people are stupid en masse”, because my youthful optimism begs for an alternate explanation.


Institute for Creation Research: It Exists (Sort of) and Is Everything I Hoped It Would Be

I just learned there is something called the Institute for Creation Research, a place where one might be tempted to assume research takes place since it’s in the name (until one remembers that it’s about creationism). Here’s one attendee’s anticlimactic account of his visit:

I know there is a lot of… scientific evidence — we are here at the Institute for Creation Research — and there is a lot of, really, all science, it just points to the validation of the Genesis account.

My morbid curiosity took over, and I had to learn more about this place where science goes to die. As the boy says, there must be research because “research” is in the name! Is this like one of those pregnancy crisis centers that provide counsel on neither crisis nor pregnancies? What does this creation research look like? Do they sit around a table and read the bible together? Do they have tea with the pope and discuss his information conduit to Jesus, wherein Jesus shares all sorts of factoids? Tell me more! I want to dance through the Sistine Chapel and shout “peer reviewed articles” and “Genesis!”

cage

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The Avoidance of Emotional Pretense

As the only atheist in a large family of born-again protestants I’m no stranger to uncomfortable gatherings where “getting saved” is a predominant topic (and even a requirement for attending). So it was that I endured the 2 hour journey through rural Christendom that was my aunt’s funeral with acquired composure and a shrug [where the proselytizing was concerned]. Unlike most people of her faith, though, this woman was a good Christian in most of her values and deeds–the kind that give the faith a positive light while most members seem to work tirelessly to achieve the opposite. While the persistent attempts at converting people wasn’t an admirable quality, absolutely everything else about her was–she didn’t see race, nationality, or gender, and offered kindness and generosity to all those she met. My praise for her, though, is simply a backdrop to this post and is unrelated sentiment I felt obligated to share since my story occurs at her memorial service.

As my cousin finally got up to give the ultimate in personal reactions to his mother’s death and began with a shaky voice and glossy eyes, my dad silently left to “take his turn” watching Sean (his 18 mo. grandson, who my brother was corralling for the majority of the ceremony). My dad returned about 20 minutes later, long enough to be assured that the most emotional speech of the ceremony, the one succeeding in its threats to provoke tears, would be long since over. He leaned in and nonchalantly droned, “Did I miss anything?”, of course referring to the 9th iteration of spiritual testimonials currently transpiring. At that moment when dad made a joke it hit me. This is where I get it from. My entire life has been a journey to remain emotionally aloof in public, living the mantra “Keep It Together” even when no one expects me to and perhaps no one around me is either…. to push through moments where I feel my face burning, my stomach lurching, and my eyes stinging just so no one will witness my being moved before an audience. This often leads people to think I don’t care. Ironically enough, my dad takes the role of my persecutor at these times–he, the king of this tactic. For example, I remember when our dog died when I was 16. I chose to mourn alone and not interact with the family or watch the burial. Because I didn’t burst into tears [publicly] like a good nancy woman-folk, I caught him twaddling to the rest of the family that I was some “callous” kid who didn’t have respect for life or who didn’t love the dog or [fill in other phrases for “valuable human being” here]. Not a tear did he shed, by the way… but as a woman I was expected to build a wailing wall and subsist on the vapors to validate the family’s sense of loss.

Blatantly sexist anecdote aside, though, I never realized before today at the funeral from whom or where I got this feature. My father’s and my shared trait of grief secrecy (i.e., wearing a cool face at all times) has the downside of assuring presumptuous assholes that I’m inhuman because I don’t mourn or carry on in public. But our trait also has an upside: when a born-again devotee whips out an enormous, 4 foot long shofar and tries to bring down the walls of Jericho at the reception, my father is the only person in the room to whom I could have leaned over and whispered, “This is some Planet of the Apes shit right here” and who would then laugh hysterically. I shit you not, a room of born-again evangelicals whipped this out like they were the Chosen People:

shofar


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