Some More Facts About Atheism

I took a stab at making an 'atheist superhero', inspired by the star ship of the imagination from 'Cosmos'.
I took a stab at making an 'atheist superhero', inspired by the star ship of the imagination from 'Cosmos'.

A while back I wrote a hub titled “Some Facts about Atheism” that addressed a few of the misconceptions among the general public about non-theist beliefs. While debating if I should expand that article, I decided that there were enough new things to be addressed to justify a new hub. As with before, these points reflect my specific atheistic beliefs and, therefore, might not apply to other non-theists.

Atheists don’t have ‘faith’ that god doesn’t exist.

I’ve heard this argument quite a few times wherein a theist will say that an atheist (who claims there is no god) must be relying on some degree of faith. The reason is because god can never be definitively disproven, therefore we must have ‘faith’ that there isn’t a god. What this argument fails to realize is that atheism is more of a conclusion, than a philosophical stance. If I told you to imagine a vehicle that is large, red and shoots water, there is a good chance you would imagine a fire truck. You might even ask me, is it a fire truck? But I would only respond: ‘I don’t know’. All the evidence exists that it is a fire truck, but since it isn’t confirmed, you can never be 100% certain. I feel very similarly about life and the universe. Science and history paint a picture of an atheist universe. It never states it outright and probably never will, but all the evidence is there.

While there is still the possibility that evidence of god will materialize, it is so unlikely as to be non-existent. For example, if a primitive society said that water contained a special ingredient for healing, we might be inclined to study it. We learn the chemical composition of the water. We learn the source of the water, its history, and how it varies from location to location. We dissect as much of the water as we can with what we have, but still no evidence has materialized that this special ingredient exists. If a hypothesis is subject to repeated scrutiny and keeps falling short, then it has failed. We must form a new hypothesis based on the information we gathered. God, is a failed hypothesis. We needed it when we knew very little about the universe, but it has not stood up to the repeated scrutiny of modern science. Therefore I have concluded that god does not exist. I don’t have faith in it; I’ve just followed the data. If it walks like an atheist universe and talks like an atheist universe, it’s probably an atheist universe.

Kumare
Kumare

A powerful movie about spirituality and human relationships. Highly recommended.

 

Atheist Organizations do not speak for all atheists.

I often find myself at odds with atheist organizations. Some have taken a rather harsh stance on the issue and continue to press the subject in ways that I wouldn’t if I were running said organization. I already addressed the misconception that atheists are mean, in my previous article, but I would also like to reiterate the difference between an individual and a group. A kind, law-abiding Christian certainly wouldn’t want to be grouped with the Westboro Baptist Church or the KKK (which was a historically Christian group).

The specific example that I’m thinking of is the efforts by American Atheists to remove the cross-shaped support beams from the 9/11 memorial in New York City. The beams, which no one can deny are a symbol of Christian spirituality, would be displayed on government-owned land which is a potential violation of the separation of church and state. While this is technically true, I think that American Atheist’s efforts to get the cross removed are counterproductive to what I’m trying to do, which is to make less animosity between theists and atheists. Their actions certainly don’t make them as evil as the Westboro Baptist Church or the KKK, but when this article was circulating the social media world, I found myself wanting to disassociate with American Atheists as much as possible. Despite their legal logic, such an effort just makes them look anti-9/11 memorial, rather than pro-separation-of-church-and-state. I feel very similarly about their frequent billboard campaigns that deliberately display shocking messages to get attention.

I ran into a similar issue in my home city. The local library and courthouse decided to host artwork made by sexual abuse victims. The goal was to spread awareness of sexual abuse as part of a larger campaign on the subject. I noticed that many of these artworks were religious in nature (for example using direct quotes from the bible and invoking the name of Jesus). One of my first thoughts, upon seeing this, was that I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to display such religious messages on government land (more so the courthouse than the library, though both qualify). However I kept my mouth shut because I knew that such an effort would be interpreted as an atheist being pro-sexual-abuse rather than pro-separation-of-church-and-state. Such sensitive battles like this are best left alone. One of the places that theists and atheists can see eye-to-eye is on humanitarian efforts. So we shouldn’t try to bicker about wording when one is actually helping others. This is why, if I was running an organization like American Atheists, I would rather we focus our efforts on Humanitarian projects.

Atheists do not ‘hate’ god.

I’ve heard it said before that some theists believe atheists do actually believe in god, but refuse to admit it for whatever reason. Maybe they hate god because they’ve been slighted by religion, or the idea of god makes them angry. But, thinking that atheists hate god, represents a misunderstanding of what atheism is. It is not anti-theism. So, when I say I’m an atheist, I’m not saying that belief in god is inherently bad and must be abolished. I’m simply saying that I personally do not believe in a god of any kind. Believing that something does not exist makes it impossible to hate it. Sure, an atheist could hate the idea of god. Maybe they dislike how vengeful and jealous he was portrayed in the old testament, or maybe they hate how modern theists give him credit for the courageous efforts of real people (like a doctor healing someone, but the patient thanks god instead.) But these are reactions to things that are not god. One is in response to a narrative; god the character in the bible. And the other is in response to how people act in modern life. Neither is a hatred of god, whom they believe never existed in the first place.

To think of this a different way, let’s imagine a scenario. We’re co-workers and we chat occasionally at the watercooler. I tell you that I have a girlfriend, but I don’t have any pictures to prove it. As time goes by, my girlfriend is never present at any of the office parties and my stories about her seem a little inconsistent. After several years you start to wonder if maybe I’m making up this girlfriend. When you confront me with this theory, I respond with “Why do you hate my girlfriend?” Considering you don’t believe my girlfriend exists, it seems odd that I would accuse you of hating her. Maybe you disliked how I would talk about her, or even some of the stories about her, but without having met her, you probably wouldn’t hate her. It’s the same reason you probably wouldn’t hate Zeus or Poseidon. You might think the Greek gods were a little cruel and childish in the stories told about them, but saying “Man, I really hate Zeus” would probably never come out of your mouth. For atheists, god is the girlfriend your co-worker made up, or one of the Greek gods. We may have opinions about his portrayal in stories and people’s reactions to him, but we have no feelings of hatred for something we believe doesn’t exist.

Atheism is not a dirty word.

As I’ve said before, my goal with articles like this is to spread awareness of atheism and to dispel some of the more hateful stereotypes about it. There is an effort that exists to paint atheists as immoral and hateful people and it simply isn’t true. Some might say that my viewpoints on the subject are harsh, but I’m opening them up to you, the reader, as a means of spreading awareness. The more we know about something, the less we fear it. The future I envision isn’t one where everyone is a forced atheist. Rather, I envision one where someone can say “I’m an atheist” and not be feared or feel ostracized. Hopefully, by speaking openly about it, we can start to take baby steps in that direction.

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Comments 56 comments

Borsia profile image

Borsia 2 years ago from Currently, Philippines

All good points.

Especially the one about atheist groups. The whole of atheist philosophy (I can't really call it a belief) is really just 3 words "No Gods Exist" ,,, that's it. We have no churches, no books, no other common bonds. We are all individuals and if one wants to know how we feel about any subject you have to ask us as individuals. Nobody speaks for me other than me.

Good Hub keep it up


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

I am a theist and I don't see anything wrong with real atheism. That is, atheism with high ethical standards. However as the current atheist trends are veering significantly from high ethical standards and basic human values it is hard to class this trend as real atheism. It has instead quickly become all of the things you claim it isn't! It has become a philosophical frankenstein of confused thinking and not just "disbelief in God". We have to typify it by such influential leaders such as the Dawkins types who promote bigotry towards all religions (and by association with races and groups) and the Singer types who see the cutting edge of this new philosophy as beastiality and infanticide.

Can't you see these trends?


chriscamaro profile image

chriscamaro 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

While I agree with you that there are many atheists out there who "enjoy" their opposing viewpoint and what they get out of confronting theists with it, most of us are not out to score points or anything and either enjoy healthy debate or keep our opinions to ourselves. Dawkins can be arrogant and sarcastic but I think the reason is because he genuinely can't figure out how a person could believe in a god. To him it's nonsensical and his frustration sometimes comes out in his voice. I don't think he's on a hate mission though.


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 2 years ago from Singapore

Atheists are people who are seekers and they never find the truth. Neither do those who believe in god.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA

Glad to see another hub expanding on your thoughts on atheism, M.T. While I happen to disagree with you regarding the "9/11 cross" and anti-theism in general, you do offer some good analogies that will, hopefully, help clarify atheism for some.

Incidentally, while I also agree with you that atheists can often take too harsh an approach to issues of faith, Daniel Dennet makes an excellent point regarding the intellectual "dishonesty" of taking too soft an approach -- to the point of condescension.

I believe that, if we are truly committed to transforming humanity into something more rational and reasonable than it currently is, a variety of approaches are necessary. The "brutal truth" approach of some like Dawkins is just as necessary as the more cautious and tender approach of others, like yourself.

In any case, thumbs up!

I'd also like to give a "shout out" to Chris Camaro! I haven't seen you over at WebAnswers for a while, and it's good to know you're still lurking out there in the ether. :-)


chriscamaro profile image

chriscamaro 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Woot Paladin :D I am indeed lurking in the ether, although I like to think of it as swimming in pilsner. Cheers!


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

Lumping all religion together is sheer bigotry and is certainly NOT scientific or logical debate due to this bigotry and "pull out all stops" religious intolerance. That alleged atheist level of gross intolerance to religion makes an average religious hypocrite look like a boy scout.

Dawkins himself says he can accept the idea of God but not religion: this too is gross hypocrisy as the definition of an atheist is a person who doesn't believe in God. So what's the definition of a person who won't tolerate all religions? Answer: a bigot.


chriscamaro profile image

chriscamaro 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Let me explain to you why you're wrong:

1) Lumping all religions together is done to address the common thread in all of them - a belief in a supernatural entity. The point is not to call them all the same.

2) God and religion are 2 different things. God can be a symbolic term representing something awe-inspiring that created everything, which we do not understand. Religion can not. Religion is a collection of philosophies, rules, accounts and assertions. It takes more conviction to be religious than to have faith in a higher power. You're getting too personal about it and making some incorrect assumptions.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Borsia - Thank you for the comment! That is exactly why I usually have a disclaimer on all of my atheism hubs; because we all tend to differ wildly after those three words. But I thoroughly enjoy seeing input from other atheists.

Orztinato - Again, you're trying to paint atheists as baby killers and/or pro-bestiality, but I've seen no evidence of such a thing, from Dawkins or anyone else. And Richard Dawkins isn't the equivalent to the pope, he doesn't speak for all atheists (see the section on atheist organizations).

chriscamaro - I agree with your assessment, both about atheists and Dawkins. Most atheists I know don't talk about the subject at all, and those that do aren't trying to win some sort of invisible tug of war. But, rather, are just trying to express their opinions. Thanks for the comment!

MG Singh - Ultimate truth, certainly, will never be found. But I do think there is something to be said about finding personal truth, which I think is one of the reasons religion is so popular. It is a personal truth, but so is atheism. But, personal truths can't really be debated, only the facts that led to the conclusion. Thanks for the comment!

Paladin - I often find myself at that line between being too soft and being too harsh, when debating god and religion. On the one hand, I feel that religion has not properly answered for the atrocities it has committed (and continues to commit). But, at the same time, your average theist is undeserving of such judgement. It would be like attacking the cashier because you dislike how Walmart does business. It would just be cruel to the cashier. I still haven't quite found the medium, but thank you for the great comment!

Oztinato - I believe what Dawkins meant was that he could accept that someone would believe in god, but not a religion that kills for that god. Theism, in and of itself is harmless. It's only when people start forging it into a weapon that it becomes a problem.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 2 years ago from Tasmania

M. T. Dremer, I really love your honest and caring way of writing this hub. It's been a joy to read. Also, your replies to everyone have been warm and non-judgmental, just like the message you have portrayed.

Thank you.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

No Dremer you are wrong.

I have clearly stated there is only a particularly odd large international school of atheism that has this as its agenda; I have been encouraging other ethical atheists to stand up and to oppose these twin "evils", and to be tolerant of religion; even beyond that to admit the long millennial contribution of religion to the evolution of the history, culture, art, music, law and ethics of man AND to yes to improve upon it if they feel they can.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

jonnycomelately - Thank you for the comment and the compliment!

Oztinato - As I stated in the article, I disagreed with American Atheists about their opposition of the 9/11 cross. They are a specific organization with a very public stance on that issue. This other group you speak of, the 'large international school of atheism' that has 'influential leaders such as Dawkins' is too vague to be seen as anything but anti-atheism on your part. If you have a verifiable instance of a group of atheists promoting bestiality, then I will happily agree that what they are doing is wrong. But, I also said in the article that I don't associate all Christians with the KKK and my hope is that you wouldn't associate all atheists with whichever organization is doing something you don't agree with. Atheists, by and large, are not on a downward spiral, nor are they out to get theists.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

I do not class all atheists as the odd Singer types. There are powerful groups inching towards these more bizarre results of the Singer style branch of modern atheism. They usually call upon Singer to bless their new activities. For example, 1.the book "Citizen Canine" has seen Singer surface again. 2. Only recently in Germany a powerful lobby group attempted to legalize beastiality but it was narrowly defeated in the German Parliament.

In my view Atheism can of course be a powerful force for social advancement if it retains high ethical standards and builds on the positive achievements of the millenniums of slow religious evolution of ethics.


WiccanSage profile image

WiccanSage 2 years ago

Good points, though I'm not an atheist I don't follow an orthodoxic religion so I'm more open to different people's beliefs. I've said these things myself to theists, of atheists, in that their absence of belief is not a religion or a faith, but merely one position on one issue.

I've seen Kumare and The God Who Wasn't There-- both are excellent, interesting films.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 2 years ago from Tasmania

Oztinato, are your views your very own, or do they reflect a common Catholic opinion in your State?


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Oztinato - Good, now we're getting somewhere. Peter Singer is actually someone I can look up. I can tell you, honestly, that in all the years I've been discussing atheism, this is the first time I've ever heard of the man. That just goes to show how unified atheists aren't. In regards to Singer's views, I would also disagree with his stance on bestiality and abortion. Though it should be noted that he is a strong advocate of helping the poor, and preserving the lives of both animals and humans. I'm not saying that to justify his stances that I disagree with, I'm saying it to illustrate that his reasoning doesn't stem from a mustache twirling tendency towards villainy. And, he can't be held responsible for the actions of people who try to legalize bestiality anymore than a minister in Iowa can be held responsible for a mayor who tries to make gay marriage illegal. Atheism is a belief that no gods exist, it isn't a movement and we don't all agree on everything. The purpose of this article was to illustrate that.

WiccanSage - Differentiating 'atheism' from 'religion' is a difficult task. So, I think the more we discuss it, the more we have a chance to spread a greater awareness and understanding. Thank you for the comment!


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

There seems to be some selective memory problems with online atheists as they "have never heard of Peter Singer".

Ok now you've heard of him are you going to rail against these new populist atheist views? No, you just shrug it off and criticize religion.

Also, Hitler "loved animals and children" too but that doesn't excuse his mass slaughter etc.

Wiki clearly lists atheist organizations worldwide; they are not gathering to celebrate "no god" but have religious intolerance in mind and a whole odd patchwork school of philosophy going.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Oztinato - I assure you it isn't a selective memory problem, I legitimately never heard of him before now. The difference between Peter Singer and someone like Fred Phelps is that Peter Singer isn't trying to force his radical beliefs onto people. His views are not 'populist atheist views'. In fact, I would argue that the majority of atheists wouldn't agree with him on a great many things. Since he doesn't have the power to sway us, he isn't a threat. But religion does have the power to sway the masses. Dangerous people, like Hitler, use religion as a tool to bring people to a cause. They hurt people and burn books that don't agree with their world view and it is done under the guise of moral superiority.

And when I refer to religion, I'm not simply speaking of Christianity. The Muslim faith has a terrible reputation because of all the people who kill in its name. One man in favor of bestiality and abortion will never be the same as centuries of racism, homophobia and violence. Religion made that possible, not necessarily as the source, but as justification.

You misunderstand the thrust of my articles. I do not seek to crush religion. I seek to spread knowledge and encourage compassionate thinking towards atheists. We do not have the power to abolish religion, but religion certainly has the power to abolish us. I wish only that religion no longer be used as a tool to shed such blood. People who are informed and empathetic will not allow themselves to be rallied to such hateful causes.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

When a particular individual like a Hitler uses religion to justify hideous acts this does not mean that all religious people do the same thing.

I see both certain atheists and certain theists acting hypocritically but that does not mean all atheists/theists are hypocrites.

Once we start to lump all groups together we have slipped into bigotry.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 2 years ago from Tasmania

"Once we start to lump all groups together we have slipped into bigotry.".....mark these words!


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Oztinato - I don't know how many times I can say that I don't think all religious people are bad. I'm not a fan of sports either, but that doesn't mean I'm against sports fans. Religion is a mechanism; it's not sentient. Hitler using religion to control people isn't proof that religious people can be grouped together, it's proof that religion can be used as a weapon. Religion is dangerous; that's the whole point of this article. It's just like an assault rifle. In the right hands, it could be used to save lives. In the wrong hands, it could be used to end them. Acknowledging this danger is the first steps towards preventing atrocities in the future.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

Anything can be used as a weapon by a nut: they could choke a person with a piece of candy if they wanted to. So what?

Maybe a nut could choke somebody with a brazil nut :)


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Oztinato - Certain weapons are more dangerous than others. A knife is more dangerous than a piece of candy. A gun is more dangerous than a knife. A bomb is more dangerous than a gun, etc. The more powerful the weapon, the more cautious we should be with its use. And, one of the points I made in the article was that religion can often shelter and hide these nuts who would use it as a weapon. You might think you're listening to a passionate preacher and the next minute he's advocating violent protests. Where is the line drawn between the passionate and the nut? Anyone can be seduced by the right speaker, but religion creates an ideal environment for it.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

A marshmallow is not a weapon and neither is a religion. The actula weapon by law is the Intent to use whatever as a weapon.

The most dangerous weapons in WW2 were the new tech weapons. For example the A bomb.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Oztinato - I agree that the fault lies with the person using the weapon, not the weapon itself. But there is a reason that mentally unstable people don't have access to nuclear weapons. I'm not trying to imply that religion is more of a weapon than the atomic bomb, but would religious extremists rise to such positions of power if religion wasn't helping them? What is religion but a primitive government with its own laws, punishments and rewards? Clearly government can be used as a weapon, so why can't religion? To deny it is to let one's guard down to the very people who use it to manipulate and cause harm. I want theists to be aware of the danger so that when a cry raises up to 'kill all the nonbelievers' they don't answer it. I don't think that's an unreasonable request.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

There are many totally innocuous religions eg. Tibetans, so we need to be careful not to generalise.

It is highly likely that the insane atheist leader of North Korea will use a nuclear weapon.

Of course religion can be used as a weapon just like a marshmallow can. It is the Intent that is evil not the marshmallow.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Oztinato - I suppose I should clarify that I'm referring to religions with a history of violence. Though I did say that, in the right hands, religion can be used to do good things. So, I suppose if there are innocuous religious that exist, what are specific branches like Christianity and Islam doing differently that allows "evil-doers" to rise in their ranks? Faiths that promote self empowerment over obedience and subordination are probably less likely to produce foot soldiers in the event of a war.

The leader of North Korea has power because he was born into it and because the government gives him power. He didn't achieve that power because atheists rallied behind him. Similarly, he could not rally atheists to his cause because nothing about atheism establishes a common goal. It isn't a religion in the same way that theism isn't a religion. People who are theists are completely harmless until they band together to such a degree that they have the power to destroy someone else. If an organization like American Atheists ever got that big, then they would most certainly be a threat. Too much power in the hands of anyone is dangerous, but there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between religion in theory and religion in practice. At its best it's a source of humanitarian efforts. At its worst, it's the sword at your neck.

The solution isn't to ban all religion because it might be used for evil. Rather, the solution is the proliferation of knowledge. The more people know about atheism, the less they will think of atheists as villains. The more they know about science, the less they will think of it as a threat to theism. And the more they know about other religions, the less they will feel the need to prove they are right.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA

Pardon the interruption, but I'm wondering...does anyone actually have any PROOF that Kim Jong-un, the current leader of North Korea, is an atheist?

Not that it's essential to the discussion at hand, but I'm getting tired of people just assuming that communist=atheist (it doesn't, by the way).


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Paladin - According to Wikipedia (the infallible source of information on the internet) North Korea is officially regarded as an atheist state. Apparently they think religions pose a threat to their government. Whether that's accurate or not is up the the air, but I wouldn't be surprised if they feared organized religion, based on their desire to maintain power. However it isn't exactly proof that Kim Jong-un is an atheist, it just suggests that most people in his country are restricted from being anything else. But, you're right. Communist does not equal atheist. And questioning religion doesn't equal bigotry.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

Of course religion needs to evolve further with the all encompassing tolerance so typical of Hinduism.

I have always repeated that atheism has a place but it shouldn't turn its back on ethics that have evolved for thousands of years. The atheists who are trying to blot out all religion and start again with new experiments in ethics are making a scientific error.


Borsia profile image

Borsia 2 years ago from Currently, Philippines

Or; Every atheist I know, and I know many, follow one very simple ethical mantra.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"

Contrary to what most theist would like us to believe this didn't come from any religion and evolved socially, as did the majority of our moral compass.

It is the only "commandment" needed yet it can't be found in the 10 the Christian world claims should guide us. Nor is it found in most other religious moral guides.

If we followed the examples set forth in most religious texts the world would be a very violent place. The bible for example had no problem with slavery, murder, rape, pillaging or genocide, just to name a few. The bible is by no means alone in religious texts with questionable moral and ethical references.

I'm always amused when people tell me that we should look to the moral or ethical teachings brought from religions. They tend to be the worst offenders in history, the least tolerant and most violent.

I can say that in my own life the most moral, ethical and noble people I've known have been atheist. The most two faced and questionable have been the most religious.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Oztinato - I don't think our views on ethics are as far apart as some might think. Where we differ, I believe, is in the source of those ethics. You believe they came from religion whereas I believe they came from a primitive need to survive, with religion being only one of its incarnations (government being another). On this aspect of the debate, we will probably just go around in circles. I suppose we should just be happy that there is any common ground at all. I still believe that the ideal is peaceful co-existence, rather than one philosophy crushing another.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

Basic ethics included in our laws did indeed evolve out of religion. Also there is definitely a sharing of ethics between real atheism and real theism. For example, blanket intolerance of other religions and or all religions is seen by both as bigotry. All forms of intolerance are avoided by both. Therefore if a so called atheist like Dawkins practices religious intolerance he has dismissed himself from atheism and joined the bigots.

Likewise with any so called religious person who is intolerant of other religions.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 years ago

It doesn’t make sense to say that an atheist “hates God” because an atheist would have to believe in God in order to hate god. Does that make sense? I am not an atheist but neither am I a “Christian” in their sense of the word. It does bug me very much when some Christian asks me if I am a Christian because I know they want to proselytize. I ran one such person off by telling him more about his religion than he knew. Sometimes I just want to answer “none of your business.”

Several times in the last few years either my husband or I have found ourself in the hospital. The first thing the hospital does is send the chaplain around. The first thing the chaplain does is ask what church we belong to. I’ve learned to say that we are “Native American, but you may say a prayer”. Then he prays and it is over.

Regarding the 9/11 cross, I wish all groups, both religious and atheists could agree on one humanitarian symbol and use it. Although I’m not an atheist, in some ways the cross offends me, too. To conventional Christians it symbolizes a loving sacrifice of their son of God, but to some of us it symbolizes bloody violence and hatred coming from a people, not the benevolent love of a higher power.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

MizBejabbers - It is usually easier to offer a 'no comment' when people ask what religion you are. For some reason 'non-religious' and 'agnostic' are acceptable answers but atheism is offensive. I'm still trying to figure that one out. Though, I've never encountered a hospital situation like the one you've encountered. I'll have to watch out for that.

It would be great if a general humanitarian symbol could be established. But I think the nature of groups/packs is to be distrustful of those outside. Again, it comes from our survival instincts. But, in the case of religion, it's the source for a lot of really unusual shunning. Like Harry Potter. Most Christians are perfectly fine with the book's (entirely moral) storyline. But a select few still discard it because of the witchcraft thing. So I wouldn't be surprised if a generic humanitarian symbol would become a satanic symbol, given enough religious support. Similar to how the swastika wasn't a bad symbol before the Nazi's drug it through the mud. Thanks for the comment!


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 2 years ago from Tasmania

I love all the stories about the origin of the "cross." Like fertility symbol, the phallus and two testes, etc. So many ideas come from ancient beliefs and understandings, most of them arrived at by simply observing the visible world -- then adding imaginative explanations. Just like I am doing now!

Then bring in some carefully researched scientific knowledge and we aught to become more enlightened, but.....hmmmm!


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

jonnycomelately - That's the thing about symbols, it's incredibly easy to assign meaning to them, especially when they consist of basic geometric shapes. Nearly any symbol could be assigned to any belief system with the right context and a creative writer. Which I would say is indicative of the way we think as humans, more so than anything else. There is a word for finding patterns in nature, but I don't recall what it is.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 2 years ago from Tasmania

Impatternable? (This is NOT yet in the dictionary!)

Im would imply the negative I think, so: Patternable.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

JCL

the problem with your theory about the cross is that phallic symbols go UP not down.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 2 years ago from Tasmania

I have read about some of the history behind those symbols. They are not my theories. History. Do your own research Oztinato. Discussions about phallic symbols do not have to be lewd or vulgar. Jokes are ok, provided we can all laugh with them. But learning to live with different points of view and different opinions is an important process for democracy.

You can't legitimately exclude people who have an atheist opinion from living alongside people who are theist. Neither side has all the answers, but we are each entitled to a personal opinion.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

I am not being vulgar. Phallic symbols point up and that's simply the truth about the symbol. Therefore the cross is not a phallic symbol.

I have found for many years now that when I clearly win a discussion with logic or refuse to admit certain atheist ideas that I am vigorously defamed online. I stand with scientific logic in debate not vilification.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 years ago

Some researchers and anthropologists (Sitchen, Von Daniken, et al) now are saying that certain objects modern society has called phallic symbols are symbolizing space ships of an ancient world, kind of like the natives of Easter Island building airplanes out of grasses to bring back the "gods". I'm not speaking of the cross. I didn't know that anyone had called it a phallic symbol. I just knew that it was an instrument of extreme torture.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 2 years ago from Tasmania

http://www.amazon.com/Phallic-Worship-History-Sexu...

MizBejabbers, this book by George Scott is a fascinating read, I can recommend it. I make no claim to be at all knowledgeable in the subject beyond what I have read in the book, but it has opened my mind to other possible understandings.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

Von Daniken and also scientology started the trend of turning atheism into a quasireligion. Since then the structure of atheism resembles a religious movement with aliens as angels etc.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 2 years ago from Tasmania

Von Daniken ?!!!! Scientology ?!!!! Have you been reading about those things? My, you must be searching for something different in life!

Have you booked your ticket to outer space? Might find some god out there that suits you.


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

I study and research all subjects. I don't believe von daniken knew anything of value and was mainly interested in money from gullible people.

Life is in every atom therefore it exists everywhere as God. Once again the hindus knew this millenia ago.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 2 years ago from Tasmania

I agree... there is much of value to learn from Asian religions.


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

I would just like to point out that not all atheists believe in the ancient astronaut theory. (That the 'gods' in mythology were actually space aliens). While it makes for an entertaining history channel show, the theory holds no real weight in scientific communities, where many (if not most) atheists gravitate.

I also have to agree that the cross symbol doesn't really look like a phallus. However that doesn't mean an argument can't be made for it. The problem with any phallic associations is that the modern perception of it (particularly in the U.S.) is something dirty, chauvinistic and/or single-minded. In other words, a symbol that is phallic wasn't made that way because its creator was obsessed with penises. I had a very similar argument a long time ago about swords. Though a sword is quite obviously phallic, I found the accusation offensive because (I thought) it implied the book I was writing was just one long ode to a penis. After I got older I realized that such a gross oversimplification was a disservice not only to my book, but to the phallus as a symbol, which represents more than the dirty associations we've created.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA

Count me as another atheist, anti-theist, rationalist and humanist who finds the "ancient astronauts" hypothesis absolutely absurd.

People who muse about alien visitations to Earth have no comprehension of the mind-boggling vastness of space and the physical limits on travelling through it. If we EVER make contact with an extra-terrestrial intelligence, I have no doubt it will be via some sort of long-distance messaging.

Yet, even sending messages at the speed of light, it will probably take years (or even decades) between replies. I'm afraid that's the best we can hope for (but even that would be awesome!)


Oztinato profile image

Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

JCL

well its good to see that we are not trying to de horse each other like two old knights. There are just too many other things about atheism that worries me.

If life exists elsewhere and is aware of us then it must possess wisdom so we are safe! Whew no hollywood monsters.

Dremer

Swords can be a phallic symbol. Phallic symbols in general are not necessarily a bad thing. The Hindu lingam is worshipped in India and there is a claim that its size and shape was how the universe looked prior to the big bang just as science has theorised. Strange but true.

To all: I am pro atheist if atheism retains the good bits of ancient wisdom. I prefer theism.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 2 years ago from Tasmania

I wish there was a term that could be used for not accepting the idea of a god that sits in judgment; yet retaining the possibility of some creative influence the somehow designed (and continues to modify) the universe of which we are a part.

When I consider the intricacy and complexity of, for example, the musculature of our bodies, how it works in such clever fashion; how some living thing as minute as a mite living on my skin can have a brain with which to make choices; and in every other area of life forms: then I wonder how it all has come about.

This way of thinking is in common with minds throughout history

that have attributed such ability to a "god" ....


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

Paladin - I agree that messaging with life elsewhere in the universe would be pretty awesome. With all the new planets being discovered in the 'goldilocks zone' of other solar systems, I have hopes that some form of alien life will be discovered in my lifetime. Though I acknowledge that such a discovery is still probably a long way off.

Oztinato - Groups of any kind should only be feared when they have too much power. As of right now, trying to organize a group of atheists is like trying to herd cats. While we share the belief that there are no gods, we have a tendency to agree on little else. So, if a dangerous leader tried to rise up and wipe out all religion, I doubt he would get enough support from atheists to build any kind of army. Which is why many atheists fear Christianity, because it does have that kind of power. That doesn't mean we expect a religious war to break out at any moment, but it's kind of like sitting in a room with someone holding a gun. Sure, they might not shoot you, but that doesn't make us any less nervous.

jonnycomelately - What you're describing sounds more like pantheism than theism or deism. But I think that a lot of people are in a similar boat as you. They still believe in a deity, but the wrathful god of the old testament is a little too abrasive for modern culture. Which I think is a good thing because if one does believe in a god, then I would hope it's a positive influence in their lives, rather than a source of fear and self loathing.


SUPERLADDERCAT profile image

SUPERLADDERCAT 2 years ago from INDIA

I loved the article. Three cheers for opinions! I was like an atheist the whole of my life but kept pretending i wasn't and going to temples and churches because I thought if i accepted it, I would have no faith and become mean, grudgy, old and angry. Thank you for spreading the awareness. Love your articles btw (:


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 2 years ago from United States Author

SUPERLADDERCAT - There is certainly a stigma around 'coming out' as an atheist. I recall when my in-laws discovered I was an atheist there was a brief period of debate before they decided that I just hadn't grown up enough to accept god. Which, I suppose I'll take over outright animosity. Thank you for sharing your experience and thank you for the comment!


lyoness913 profile image

lyoness913 18 months ago from Overland Park, KS

I appreciate this article and ironically, I feel that it's the Atheist philosophy that would save the world at this time. If everyone was an Atheist, we would have more common sense and less ridiculous and brutal murder in the name of 'God'


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 18 months ago from United States Author

lyoness913 - I would certainly like to think that more atheists would equal less violence, but it's hard to say. Humans are violent by nature and it's debatable if we would just find some other reason to be violent. South Park tackled the concept in one of their episodes where Cartman goes to the future. Despite the future being dominated by atheists, they're at war with each other over what to call themselves. But I suppose the nature of man is a separate topic for a separate hub. Thank you for your comment!

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    M. T. Dremer profile image

    M. T. Dremer671 Followers
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    M. T. Dremer has been an atheist for more than 20 years and has been debating theology openly for almost 7 years.



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