Saturday, December 11, 2010

On Faith

You know what bothers me? If I tell someone that I am an atheist, they ask, without fail, why. "Why are you an atheist?" I don't know, I think it's kind of rude, like they're waiting for you to say something that they think is wrong, so they can correct you. If someone tells me that they are, say, Christian, I don't immediately ask "Why are you Christian?" I do enjoy talking about my own beliefs concerning us and the world, but not in this context. Everyone who asks gets this look on their face, and it's always the same. It's very self-assured, and almost scornful. I'm trying to think of the right word, but it's not coming to mind at the moment. Whatever it is though, I don't like it. I think, though, that next time someone asks me why I believe what I believe, I'm going to ask them the same.

I get the feeling most people wouldn't be able to answer it properly anyway. I'm going to use Christianity as my go-to religious example here, because it's the most common. If I were to ask someone why they were Christian (only ever in response to them asking me why I'm an atheist, because it's rude both ways) I get the feeling that most people would pussy-foot around the real answer. Because for the most part, if you're religious it's because your parents taught you to be that way.

Now, read this. I'm simply stating facts and I have a right to do that, and if you feel I'm being unjust, you can tell me so, nicely, in the comments. Or hey, just stop reading.

For the most part, it is your parents that teach you your faith. Church and other people can reinforce your beliefs, but it is your parents who teach you what to believe in. Now, this obviously doesn't apply to people who "found" God. But if you follow a certain religion, it is because your parents followed it, and their parents, and their parents, and so on.

The same can be said for atheists as well. If your parents were non-religious, chances are that you will be too.

I discovered my own beliefs pretty much on my own. My parents were both raised in devout Catholic families, but never forced me to take part. I went to church up until I was 5 years old, and then my mother became pregnant with my brother and the trip on Sundays became too hard. My father never came to church with us; he had gone to a religious boarding school in Italy when he was very young, and suffered rather cruely at the hands of the monks who ran the schools. I believe he is still spiritual, although he has no great love for the Church.

Age 5 was pretty much the last time I would have said that I believed in God, but even then it was only because that's what I assumed all people did. I didn't really think too much about any of it again until I turned 10. A girl in my class, Ashley, invited me to go to Church with her one Sunday. I politely declined, because I was starting to have my doubts about this God fellow. She argued with me, and I argued back. I said "If there's a God, why are little children starving to death all over the world? Kids our age and babies?" Her response was that they "must have sinned." I was just so... horrified, by this statement. My first thought was that I wanted to part in an organization that brainwashed it's believers into thinking that it was okay that babies starved to death, because they were sinners (I never said I was a normal 10 year old).

Of course, I know that obviously not every devoutly faithful person believes this. I was only 10 at the time of this.

I feel that the main reason people believe in God, or gods, is because they:

1) fear death, and
2) fear purposelessness.

Now, I know I've talked about these two things before, but please bear with me.

I think that one of the reasons people believe in a higher power is so they don't have to be afraid of death, because with most religions, there is no true death. You die, but then you continue living in some kind of ethereal world. While I'll admit that that does sound lovely, I just don't need it. I'm not all that terrified of being dead. Dying, yeah, is a pretty scary thought. Actually, someone once said "I'm not afraid of death, but dying scares the hell out of me." Isaac Asimov said "Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome."

Okay, okay, one more because I really like this one: "From my rotting body, flowers shall grow and I am in them and that is eternity." -Munch Edvard

But my point is, I don't think death is something we should be scared of. Sure, it's a weird thought. It's hard to wrap your head around the idea of just not existing. The reason most people are scared of death is because they think of it as this crushing, blank void. Just you and the darkness. It might just be that, but the reason they're really afraid of it is because it will just be them, stuck there for all eternity, alone. But the thing most people are forgetting is... you'll be dead! You're not going to be conscious, or awake! You won't even be aware of anything, because you'll be dead. So I'm not afraid of death.

The other reason I think most people flock to religion is because it gives them some meaning in life. What I really think is that "it's easier to believe that an almighty God created us, and that he's got a plan for everyone. You may not know what that plan is yet, and hell, you may never know, but just the fact that there IS a plan is comforting. You're not a worthless speck. Someone put you here for a reason." (Yes, I'm quoting myself. You know you're conceited when...) But yes, that is what I think is going on. Humans are constantly obsessed with having a purpose, a reason for being. Most of the time I say "Isn't it enough to just live and be happy?" But no one is ever satisfied with that. It's not grand enough.

While I firmly believe that the only reason we're around is to reproduce and continue our species (there's a Darwinist for you), I don't see why we can't just enjoy living while we're at it.

I know that probably no one is going to read this, or comment on it, but I'm used to it. I enjoy talking to myself anyway.

Yesterday I went shopping, and actually bought myself some nice things. I hadn't intended to, but they were all nice things that I needed. A new coat, 2 long sleeves, a button up, socks, a metal water bottle, and a purse (okay, I didn't really need the purse). Buying things is nice :D
I also (finally) figured out what I'm going to get Max for Christmas, and I'm so excited! I think it's perfect for him.

Nothing else much. Work today. I really got to packing last night, which I'm relieved about. Pretty much all my clothes are packed up, except for some that I'll be needing over the next couple of days. All my knick knacks are in boxes, and now I only have to deal with the junk under my bed, which there isn't much of, and the random stuff in the top shelf of my closet. I'm moving on Wednesday! And apparently my dad found a stove in the basement of the new place that is in perfect working order, and that's going to go up on my floor. Oh wow. I just realized we'll get to have our nice big Christmas Eve dinner at the new house! That'll be a relief. Before we always had to cook everything in the tiny kitchen of our old house, and there was practically no room for us to all sit down and eat. The kitchen in the new place is huuuuge. Now I'm extra excited :)

Alrighty children, I suppose I should be doing something more useful with my time, like... actually, I have no idea what. Getting ready for work, I suppose. Have a nice day, everyone.

1 comment:

  1. yup, ditto
    I guess I still think there's a purpose, but maybe not a God-Given one.
    Mostly when it comes to the being alone thing; I have to believe for my own sake that I'm supposed to find someone, but I don't think it's part of "the plan"