When Atheists Attack…Other Atheists.

I have a dear friend on Twitter. Her handle is @iamatheistgirl and she is well worth following. Her blog is beautifully written and very easy to navigate. I encourage everyone to check it out here at atheistgirl.com. She and I share many interests, not least of which is our atheism. We are of the same age, share similar family backgrounds and have many other shared interests.

Now, of course @iamatheistgirl (of whom I will now refer to as AG) has her fair share of theist haters, as do I and most other twitter users who identify as atheist. She frequently battles with whiny little keyboard warriors, all out to catch that one ‘GOTCHA’ moment. To catch AG without a leg (or a pithy meme) to stand on. They cannot do it and it makes for great reading when they try.

What truly puzzles me however, are the atheists who decide to judge her unworthy of the moniker and throw forth a barrage of harassment and a pack-like vitriol. One recent attack was so vicious that AG had clearly had enough of the senselessness of it all and considered packing it all in.

The question arises then, why would like minded people wish to tear down other like minded people? Unfortunately, the answer is tediously simple.

In Australia we refer to this as the ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, and many of us gleefully engage in it, almost as if it was a national pastime. This insidious behaviour is almost exclusively the playground of the petty and jealous, and judging by the patchy followers and the vacuously predictable tweets, these atheist hounds are acutely aware of the wit and humour that they sorely lack.

This makes me angry. It is not for each of us to judge ‘how atheist’ we all are. Atheism has no dogma, no prescribed behaviour, no higher accountability. And anyone who believes this…well, go back to theism.

So here is my open letter to ‘Polite Atheists’ who aren’t polite and ‘Honey Bot Creators’ whose tweets are so green they’re nuclear. And to anyone else wanting toImage result for I am atheist girl tear down a true hero of mine.

Dear Atheists,

If you don’t like the message, don’t listen. If you don’t like the greenly uncomfortable feeling that you get when you read a well considered tweet and secretly think, ‘I should have said that’ – don’t follow. But above all, don’t try and tear down that which you wish you had. It’s petty.

It also gets in the way of why we identify as atheists in a public forum. We are here so that people who are questioning can safely do so. Without derision, without fear and most of all, with acceptance and warmth.

AG, and so many other atheist women and men give support and encouragement to those people seeking answers outside of their church and families. Take a look in the mirror and ask yourself – what is the purpose of my behaviour?

Thank you in advance, my fellow atheists.

Mrs A.

Got Soul?

I think that the last remnant of mysticism left behind by my atheism was the notion of a ‘soul’. I touched on this in my last post, but the question as to why there is a need for people to believe in a soul needs to be further unpacked.

A quick google search, and Encyclopedia Brittanica confirms to us that the soul in both religion and philosophy is the immaterial aspect or essence of a human being. It is what gives you your uniqueness and humanity. It is often synonymous with one’s mind, and in theology, the soul is the part of you which has the connection with the divine. This is the part of you which enjoys an afterlife.

A deeper search (and a small reflection on that which I studied as an Anthropology student many years ago) reveals that pretty much every culture analysed, has some variation of the notion of a soul. It is not within the scope of this post to consider all of these manifestations of the soul, so please allow me to discuss the concept of the soul from within my own judeo-christian upbringing.

If you were to ask a person of religion if they believed that they had a soul, you would almost certainly receive a shocked expression and perhaps even an offer for them to pray for you. Indeed, when I have casually mentioned to other  people on Twitter that I don’t have a soul and neither do they, they usually get very upset, pray that my soul doesn’t end up in hell, and promptly block after having the last word.

But why is the idea of a soul necessary ? I admit that even I squirmed uncomfortably for a few days once I realised that my soul was a construct of my judeo-christian upbringing. I’d already accepted that there was no one watching me from the stars, and that some guy was not going to come back down and march us all up to the pearly gates for eternity. But the soul…that was a difficult thing to surrender.

Why? Maybe it’s because a tiny part of me still hoped for all that was offered by my church, and that I might be able to sneak through the gates with a sheepish grin, muttering ‘sorry about my 20’s, my bad, won’t happen again’. Perhaps it was the multitude of movies depicting tortured souls and saviour priests, or the fact that we say things like ‘my heart hurts’ and ‘my job is soul destroying’.

On further reflection however, I think that it is because I tied my ‘soul’ to my identity, my sense of self, and most importantly to my sense of justice and fairness toward others. For a few days at least, I lost the ‘me’ part of me.

We all want to be seen as unique, as special. In my particular cult of christianity I was told that I was those things. That god had a plan for me and that it was big. My cult told me that in my lifetime (probably), jesus would pop down and sort out the chaff from the wheat and that my soul, my beautifully designed soul with my love of god at the centre of it, would accompany him back ‘up’ to heaven.

Of course, if I didn’t accept jesus christ as my lord and saviour and submit my soul to god, they would have no choice but to deliver me to evil. Meaning of course, that my soul would spend eternity in whatever hell and damnation my minister could drum up for me at the time. (Thankfully for my young absorbent brain, he wasn’t very imaginative and could only come up with, ‘Hell is wherever jesus isn’t)

‘What does your soul look like?’ was a common enough question on bible study nights. ‘It doesn’t look like anything. It’s invisible and only god will know it’ was a standard response.

Well, that’s weird. If it’s invisible and isn’t physical in any way…why is hell located in the centre of the earth? Why does a non physical thing (which couldn’t feel anything on account of it well, not being physical!) need a physical and definitively located place? Moreover,  why is heaven in the sky? At least that makes slightly more sense…you don’t need an actual floor to stand on if you’re not physically there.

Put simply, this notion of a soul reinforced the fear of the afterlife and where you were going. Your soul simply lived on forever and you got what you were given because of the choice you made in the tiniest eyeblink of your first part of life.

What a foolish and dangerous thing to tell a person.

Nowadays however, I find that I have a curious affection for my lack of soul. I am gorgeously unattached to this idea that, unless I live by the moral code of a vengeful god and his long suffering son, I will be punished – even though they love me very much. I am awkwardly proud of my ability to show morality and respect for others in my everyday life, to stand up and know that my one, short life is filled with people, experience, hope and love. No soul required, I am the complete package.

No Soul required.

So until my next post I truly hope that you live a soulless life. You deserve it!

 

 

A long time between disgruntled comments.

Its been quite a long time since my last post. I’ve  been insulted by muslims and christians alike, a despot has become President, and a once great nation is now in the hands of their long time enemy.

But I digress. There is much to catch up on, and I am very good at procrastinating, so I shall begin. Today, I want to reflect on the question: “What do christians believe happened to the billions of people who lived and died before the birth of christianity?” Where did these ‘souls’ go? *Let me caveat this question with the disclosure that I personally do not believe in the concept of a soul, however christians certainly do and this goes to the heart of this dilemma.

I recently posted a meme on Twitter which posed this question, as you can see on the right hand side here.

The reactions I got were quite curious and at least one respondent was very insulted by it.

Why?

So I asked, as politely as I knew how. The responses that I received were angry and highly emotive, and yet…not one person could tell me where these ‘souls’ go. Perhaps the best response was a very vague ‘there is something in the old testament about people of  abrahamic religions getting a ticket to heaven on account of them waiting for jesus to turn up.

Ok. But what about everyone else? Some Indigenous Australians believe in the Rainbow Serpent. Are they included? The answer was ‘I don’t know’.

What about the vikings who didn’t know about jesus before first contact with early christians? Same answer, ‘I don’t know’.

Native Americans? ‘I don’t know’ was the response again.

So, I guess the question now is, to what level of wilful ignorance do you have to get to, to believe in jesus as the lord and saviour of well…a tiny fraction of the population?

This dilemma of where the souls of the ‘no idea about jesus’ population brings up an even bigger question: how can a deity even possibly be considered ‘moral’ if it never bothered to pop down and say hello until about 2000 years ago, and only to a very select group of people in a very tiny part of the world? Why did god keep jesus up there with him and not allow Neanderthals or Early Modern Humans access to ‘the way, the truth and the light’? Why did a moral god sit back and let people worship Rainbow Serpents, Mother Earth, Oden, Thor and others? The simple answer is that it isn’t in fact, a moral god.

Or of course it isn’t moral, because it simply doesn’t exist.

If there are definitive answers to these questions, I’d dearly like to know.

 

An introduction to the disgruntled musings of an atheist.

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Hello there.

I  never thought that being an atheist would be so enlightening, and so frustrating. As an Australian, the whole idea of identifying as an atheist, is well…meh. We Aussies don’t seem to have the over zealous affection toward an imaginary being as many other nationalities do (particularly America and the Middle east), but when I first joined Twitter as an ‘out and proud’ atheist I was completely blindsided by the intense vitriol leveled at myself and my fellow atheists.

In fact, just by identifying as an atheist I was all of a sudden discriminating against theists (particularly the Christian kind) and disavowing them of their rights to practice their religion in peace.  How curious.

Practice their religion in peace? All of a sudden I was part of a group who was actively and intimidatingly persecuting vast numbers of people whose choice of imaginary being was for the most part given to them by the parents who made them, and the culture they grew up with!  I didn’t know that I had that kind of power over my fellow men and women, what an amazing feeling!

So what is it that is so intimidating by a group of people who have not yet been privy to sufficient evidence to support a deity? This question is far more complex than I have imagined, and far harder to pin down.

The definition, at least in part, appears to cause some theists to come undone. ‘Are you a new atheist or and old atheist?’ is often a question tweeted at me (and sometimes with quite an aggressive tone and with a meme about Hitler being an evil atheist).  I never thought that I was a new or old anything. But what do I know?

This is merely my introductory post on a largely ignored blog (Thanks Jessica!). I have to say that I’ve enjoyed writing it, and I intend to further unpack what atheism means, both to atheists and the people who seem to be so afraid of them.

Thanks.