I make my own decisions. I rejected the god hypothesis of my own accord. No one steered me towards atheism. No one suggested that I reject religion. I didn’t experience some trauma that made me “hate god.” I didn’t decide to live a godless life because I “want to live free, without having to answer to a transcendent moral authority” (although the freedom that came with atheism is refreshing). As I’ve said time and time again, I came to atheism through a process of education and rational thinking. Simply put, I do not believe in god, because there is no good, solid, rational reason for doing so.
Despite having given my reasons, and despite having repeated them time and time again, it always amazes me how the Christians in my social circle reject my honest confession and opt for a completely different explanation of my motives that neither makes any sense nor is supported by any evidence whatsoever. But, hey, let’s face it… believing things without evidence isn’t a new concept for most religious people.
While most of these are rather silly and humorous, some of these are just disrespectful. Let me go over a few, (and if you don’t want to read this and just want to know which one pisses me off the most, just scroll down):
1. My god is obvious, and if you don’t see him, you must be blind.
Ahh, the old “my god is obvious” shtick. You have to appreciate the irony of it: clearly, if a worshiper of the ancient Greek gods were to say “how can you reject Poseidon… he’s so obvious!” most of these same people would laugh. It’s kinda like how they always refer to anything having to do with their faith as “truth.” As if, like putting “all natural” on a food label, the mere act of calling it something is going to make people not question it and accept it without them having to provide any real evidence for how “obvious” it is. Why is it that the “obvious” god of 1.4 billion Muslims isn’t so obvious to anyone else? Close to one billion Hindus think their gods are obvious, so why doesn’t the rest of the world feel the same way? To a Christian, the existence of Yahweh and his magic carpenter son are “obvious,” but still the majority of the world hasn’t bought in to this purportedly “obvious” truth.
Christians who claim that their god is obvious or has already proven himself, should be ready to explain what they mean. The shirt on my back is obviously real. The food on my plate is obviously real. The computer keys I’m hitting are obviously real. If whatever god you’re convinced exists is truly as “obvious” as you claim, then it shouldn’t be too hard to convince people as such. But instead, after two thousand years of Christianity and a millennium-and-a-half of Islam, half the world still thinks that those two religions have it all wrong.
Or perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps when Jehovah sent out his “I exist” e-mails, I didn’t get it because I was glued to the television watching a hurricane, or an earthquake, or a tidal wave wipe out another million people or watching people suffer from debilitating diseases and die horrible painful deaths for no reason. If that’s the god you think is so obvious, then in the immortal words of Ricky Ricardo, “you’ve got some ‘splaining to do.”
2. Clearly you just don’t want to believe in god, and any evidence we show you will be dismissed right away because you’ve already made up your mind on the matter.
Right. Because denying the evidence for something magically makes it not exist. I mean, it works so well for many Christians when it concerns evolution. Clearly, I’ve been shown compelling evidence already, and I think that by denying that evidence, I can magically make hell disappear so I don’t have to go there. Makes perfect sense.
The fact is, this accusation is totally false. I demand to be convinced. I want to be convinced. It would be great if there were an afterlife, wouldn’t it? I’d be more than willing to accept the presence of any god that was kind enough to give me the physical evidence for his or her existence. Or even have one of his followers do it. I don’t care. I just want to see the good evidence.
But, it would have to be good evidence. It would have to be irrefutable, and unable to be equally claimed by another religion. Let me give you examples of evidence that I would accept as support for the existence of a god (and I will elaborate more on this in a future entry):
- Verified, specific prophecies that could not possibly have been contrived or made to fit after the fact.
- Specific scientific knowledge that wasn’t available at the time.
- A true, irrefutable miracle; especially if brought about by prayer.
- Scientifically-sound, repeatable evidence that praying to a specific god works significantly better than praying to any other god or not praying at all.
- Any direct manifestation of the divine.
- A genuinely flawless holy book, completely free of even apparent contradictions.
- A religion without internal factions, disputes, or differences of opinion.
- A religion who’s followers had never committed or taken part in any atrocities.
I think anyone would argue that these are perfectly reasonable criteria. And just in case you think you’re up to the challenge, here’s a helpful list of things that will not convince me, just so you don’t waste your time and mine:
- Any subjective experience, such as “I feel him in my heart” or “I felt god’s presence.”
- A personal conversion story, such as “I used to be a gay, drug-dealing prostitute and god changed me.”
- Speaking in tongues, fake faith-healing or any other pseudo-miracles.
- Vague, loosely-worded prophecies that can be construed to apply to anything.
- Self-fulfilling prophecies, where the mere presence of the prophecy inspired people to make it happen.
- Any purported “bible code” or numerology nonsense in a particular holy book.
- Creationist claims of any kind. (That would include “Intelligent Design”)
3. All you knew before was religion, and it’s no wonder you rejected it. Yahweh/Jesus/Allah/Zeus is all about a relationship, not religion.
Sorry to break this to you, but my father is a pastor. I grew up being taught the “Word of God.” I know about all the dogma and beliefs that come with being a Christian (actually that would depend on which version of Christianity you happen to follow), and I still rejected it. Five years ago, I would have made the same claim. “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship” is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to make one’s irrational beliefs somehow seem less crazy than every other religion out there. Call it whatever else you want, but the fact is, Christianity is a religion. It’s a set of beliefs concerning the cause and nature of the universe, based on articles of faith. Attempting to divorce one’s beliefs about god and the supernatural by claiming that they aren’t what they clearly are is not only dumb, it’s arrogant. Everyone else who applies other attributes to god or calls him by a different name or claims that there are more than one, are members of a religion, but you’re not?
This reminds me of my favorite favorite favorite stupid claim…
4. It’s obvious you were never a real Christian, or you wouldn’t have rejected God.
Yes, of course. Because anyone who decides to stop eating junk food must have never tasted real junk food. Anyone who decides to quit smoking must never have smoked real cigarettes. Anyone who believes Lord of the Rings isn’t true must have never really read Lord of the Rings. This is not only misguided, but also arrogant. By claiming this, you’re not only supposing that you somehow know everything about me and why I do things and what was going on in my head at every period in my life, but you’re also claiming that only your version of Christianity is the correct one.
I’m sorry to have to burst your delusional bubble, but hundreds of thousands (maybe even millions) of people went from being true, devout Christians to non-believers. This includes ex-pastors, ex-apologists, ex-missionaries, ex-exorcists (which is weird to say), and just plain old ex-Christians. If you think that none of these people were “real” Christians, then you need to explain what it is you think a “real” Christian is. Someone who never admits that they were wrong? Someone who sticks to unfounded beliefs, even in the face of evidence to the contrary and strong opposing arguments?
And finally, the most ignorant, misinformed, ridiculously unfounded assertion of all…
5. Your fiancée turned you away from God. Now instead of worshiping God, you worship her.
This one annoys me most of all. Not only does it show a complete lack of scruples; not only does it advertise the claimant’s unbridled arrogance in assuming that they know everything about my relationship and my life; not only is it extremely insulting and disrespectful to suggest that the woman who plans to devote the rest of her life to my happiness has anything but my best interests in mind, but it also implies that I cannot think for myself or make intelligent, rational decisions on my own.
I am not stupid. I am not anyone’s pawn, or puppet, or plaything. I make my own decisions regarding what I believe or don’t believe, without consultation or direction or persuasion from anyone, and I base those decisions on science and rational inquiry, and if you don’t like the conclusions I come to, then tough. But don’t for a second think that you can make ignorant hypotheses based on your skewed, ridiculous worldview and that I’m just going to sit around and not tell you how utterly deluded and full of shit you are. I’m patient with believers for the most part, but I’m not that patient. I will not tolerate anything slanderous said about the woman that I love, especially if these things are said by small-minded individuals with a faith so weak that they need to completely deny that anyone could reject their faith on purely rational grounds, so as not to disrupt their worldview.
I’m very serious about this. My fiancée had nothing to do with my rejection of your religion. I rejected Christianity for purely rational reasons, and you’d do well to accept my sincere answer, rather than substituting in a fallacious explanation from your own misinformed, unbridled imagination.
The irony here is that, after I finally admitted to her that I no longer believed in God, she actually got mad at me. She actually tried to convince me to attempt to find some kind of middle ground, if that were possible. She was the one that kept me clinging to that last ray of religious hope. I put in that last bit of effort to keep some degree of spirituality, just to try to make her happy. But my heart can’t accept what I know isn’t true. She understood and soon thereafter, she accepted this.
So anyone who even begins to claim that this woman steered me away from my faith is a coward and a moron. If you’re reading this and you’ve said this or heard it from someone and believed it… yes, I am talking to you. You are a moron. And you will have no audience with me whatsoever until you stop making sad, baseless, pathetic theories and start accepting my honest and sincere explanations for why I no longer believe.