It ain’t easy being an atheist

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Being an atheist is not all fun and games. Sure, you get to sleep in on a Sunday with no guilt, eat whatever you want, whenever you want, but it’s not all sunshine and roses. For one, there’s no set holidays with treats and goodies. The upside of this is you can do the ones you want (who doesn’t love decorating a tree, baking jam doughnuts and lighting candles all in the one week). The downside is you feel a bit of a fraud while you do it and its hard to be convincing in front of increasingly sceptical kids. Particularly in regards to the Easter bunny – I still don’t understand how that one managed to get onto the roster.

I don’t think anyone starts out life wanting to believe in nothing. It just kind of creeps in there, even after eleven years of religious education. I’ve read the bible, cover to cover. I’ve studied and read about other religions and gave the matter a serious amount of thought. I’ve gone to ceremonies in all the major religions, usually at the best time which are weddings or around the birth of children. I’ve given religion quite a lot of opportunity to convert me.

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People who feel strongly about their religious views volunteer their time. I personally volunteer for Ethics, which fits in with my worldview. What is ironic is my littlest guy sneaking off to scripture instead of heading to ethics. I haven’t yet found exactly which religion he’s attending as the results are rather garbled. Allegedly Christmas is the birth of Santa and the death of God. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the person up front is saying, which makes me wonder why we’re making such of fuss about religion in schools. How many kids are actually getting what it is all about?

The reason I’m putting it out there, because generally I don’t think of my views are necessary to the existence of others, is because I got slammed this week. I was accused of being a bad parent for not giving my children the Christian upbringing that is vital to their wellbeing. I was told that children cannot decide for themselves what is right and wrong, they need religious instruction (presumably before they start roaming the streets and dealing crack to other primary school kids).

Despite knowing nothing about what is taught in Ethics, it was dismissed as sub-par. Now if this had been a stranger, I would have shaken it off, but it is someone who knows me well. Given that I lead a completely ordinary suburban life, largely indistinguishable from my neighbours and everything seems to be swimming along in a normal and reasonable manner, this criticism seemed overly harsh. If I had been Jewish or Muslim, I’m sure the way I bring up my kids wouldn’t have been scorned in the manner that it was.

Faith is the belief in something despite having no evidence. No one knows what happens after you die. Atheists are in the same boat as everyone else when it comes to that. But just because I don’t believe in a deity doesn’t mean that I’m out to destroy society because I don’t know right from wrong. My law degree might have helped, but I’m pretty sure I could figure most of it out myself, even without the somewhat opaque religious lessons of my childhood.

By far the worst thing about being an atheist  is being open to criticism because supposedly I have nothing to offend. Why is it okay for insults to be lobbed at me but then I don’t have the right to respond without being “intolerant” if I point out the limitations of their beliefs?

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5 thoughts on “It ain’t easy being an atheist

  1. That is so not cool that someone said that to you, especially someone who knows you. And it’s completely outside of the true spirit of Christianity for him/her to have done that.

    In America, Catholic-bashing seems to be a perfectly acceptable sport. I have a close friend who every once in a while seems to hold me personally responsible for anything the Pope might do or say. It hurts to feel that venom rolling off of her simply because I practice my faith a different way than she does, so I know how you feel.

    The way I see it, everone connects in a different way and we should each go with the route that’s most effective for us. Even though you don’t believe, you’re still connecting with the goodness that resides within every human and that effort to educate yourself and others in those things should be respected, not dissed.

  2. Dammit! My comment went wonky & now I don’t know if it’s awaiting moderation of if Google ate it. Well…sorry if this is a double. What I said was:.

    That’s so not cool that someone said that to you, especially someone who knows you well. And it was way outside the true spirit of Christianity for her/him to have done that.

    In America, Catholic-bashing seems to be a perfectly acceptable sport. I have a close friend who every once in a while seems to hold me personally responsible for anythig the Pope might say or do. It hurts to feel that venom rolling off her simply because I practice my faith in a different way than she does.

    The way I see it, we all have different ways of connectings, and we should each go with the route that’s most effective for us. Even though you don’t believe, you’re still connecting with the goodness that resides in all humans, and educating yourself and others in those things should be respected, not dissed.

  3. My favorite topic of all time. Have you ever read or heard of N.T. Wright? I was pointed to him when I asked for some “real-deal” books to read about christianity etc. Not “Case for Christ” type-shyat, but actual historical critical scholarship. Anyhow, you might check him out if you enjoy reading about Christianity and are actually “open” to the whole thing. I was raised Southern Baptist until I left for college. My battle with the subject and people seems to always be a losing one too. N.T. Wright has some interesting arguments and research and from what I understand is fairly respected by educated people–like yourself. Too much for a first comment, but there you go. 🙂

    Pete

  4. For me, spirituality can be such an uplifting element. I hate when religion is used to judge others, like how it was used against you. The title of your post is rather provocative in a time where some Christians are feeling attacked as America is becoming more secular. Did people then attack you? If so, that sucks.

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