i think the blog title says all that needs to be said. no forward needed.
1. "you're just being closed minded"
OK, this one should be pretty obvious but i will answer for the people that always say it to me (as unlikely that it is that they are reading this, i will be open minded to the possibility). i was first introduced to god the same way that i was introduced to everything. as a child. i was told that there was a real god, he was the creator of all things, all things happen as a result of his will and that my eternity will be decided based upon my reaction to free will. all of this was told to me as fact. undeniable fact. certainly to question the existence of a personal and almighty universe creating god would be outlandish and unnecessary.
now, lets say as a child i turned over a rock to see what was underneath it or caught a lightning bug to count how long it takes between illuminations... would you call me closed minded? if i grew up and continued to search for answers and followed through on ideas... would you call me closed minded? if you could, i would most certainly have to argue your deduction. more than likely by writing something similar to this. the notion that an atheist has a closed mind is a complete misjudgment by the accuser. you see, having an open mind is most likely the reason that the atheist came to the end result that he/she is an atheist. we dared to explore different ideas than the very first one planted into our minds. i would actually argue that the person with a religious belief has the closed mind, as they have most likely never explored the possibility that there is another option aside from god.
2. "i don't need proof, i have faith"
well, then you have faith that i bought you that BMW don't you? i mean, i did buy it for you. no, at no point can you drive it or even see it in this lifetime. but its yours. go rush out and tell everyone that you have a BMW. while you're at it, tell them that i bought them one too. what? you don't have faith that i bought you a BMW? maybe you think that because you know my financial status, or that you know there aren't enough BMW's for everyone in the whole world. wait a second, are you thinking rationally about the promise that i made to you? are you deciding, based on logic and reasoning, that there is no way that i can possibly be telling the truth? you sure are. now, when i had faith that there was a god, i started doing the same thing that you just did to my BMW promise. now i am an atheist. go ahead, give it a try. i would bet that you start to reverse the words of question 2.
3. "i will keep you in my prayers"
please don't. some may call this one personal opinion. maybe some atheists consider it a kind gesture and i will try to explain why it isn't. i ask you this... you probably don't believe in positive effects of practicing witch doctors, right? would you let a witch doctor chant over you in order to heal some soft of ailment? see, to me prayer is very much the same thing. that witch doctor wants to heal and help very much like you feel your prayers would help or heal me. but just as crazy as you think that witch doctor ways are, i think yours are. i know that sounds really mean and for that i am slightly sorry but i do want you to understand what is really going through my head as i grin and bear it.
another reason is that i don't feel like it is 100% in the spirit of love and concern for my well being. why? because unless it is required by holy law that i know, my knowing wont effect your prayer. taking that into consideration... when you tell me that you are going to pray for me it is just you getting in the last word. no different than two people arguing and one has to say something completely over the volume of the other and then slam the door as to prevent a rebuttal. you are just doing it with more tact. it is rude. pray for me all you want, just don't rub it in my face.
4. "what if you're wrong?"
i imagine that this one is very common across the board. i would guess that every atheist that is vocal about what they believe has been asked this one quite a few times. it was once asked to Richard Dawkins during the Q&A part of one of his lectures. He did a perfect job in answering it. ill give you the cartoon version as it is slightly more entertaining.
i love this for a few reasons....
first, how arrogant of anyone to assume that they know the answer to things that we currently cant answer. this is probably where you say "but you assume that you're right". this is were i set you straight. you see, i have come to a conclusion about the existence of a supernatural being based on everything that the wonderful world of science has placed before me. it makes the most sense and holds up the best when put against the laws of physics and nature. if tomorrow, someone came up with evidence to prove otherwise, evidence that lead to a more refined and precise conclusion... i would adhere to that. you might say that is what an agnostic is. again, will set you straight. i do not believe in god. i have no reason to believe in god. if i had lived thousands of years ago i would not believe that the earth was round. when someone came to me and put it in my face that it was, i would go "wow, awesome. how about that, a round earth". it isn't that i am unsure about a god. it is that i don't believe in one and will continue on that road until otherwise proven. sorry, i just cant trust the text of ancient people telling me that they got me a BMW.
second, a persons religion is so closely tied to the time and place that they were born that you could pretty much determine which religion they are based upon those two details. this is almost non debatable. sure, there are exceptions but for the extreme majority it is true. this is largely due to what i like to call the tooth fairy effect and touches on certain parts of part 1 of this blog. as children we just take everything that adults tell as truth. i totally believed that there was a tooth fairy. her name was Tia and she lived on a sedan sized island in the middle of the James river in Richmond. kids will believe anything. again, please refer to part 1 and more specifically paragraph 1. it was preached to me that there was a christian god. i believed it. my parents believe it. their parents believed it and so on. it has to be the only answer and most certainly is right. wrong. you think you are right because you were told you are. i think i am right because i went looking for answers. my answers give me a more probable sense of "right" than your religion. my answers have started to take "what if" out of the equation.
third. what if I'm right. why don't people ever ask it that way to themselves first? i will tell you. to ask it that way shines a negative light on their belief. to ask it that way opens up the conversation to the possibility of there being no god and not just the possibility that there is. from my perspective, this reinforces the fact that people under the influence of religion are far more closed minded. if you want to say I'm twisting words and trying to make a big deal over phrasing, go ahead. we both know its a valid point.
fourth. "what if your car explodes today" "what if cell phones cause cancer?" "what it, what if, what if..?". i can not live my life and make my decisions based off of the fear of what i believe isn't real. i will not stop driving just because there is a slim to none chance that my car will explode if i drive it. i will not stop living my life the way that i do just because there is no proof that i will go to a made up place when i die. i feel sad for people who default to believing in god purely out of fear.
5. "well then where do you get your morals?"
um, evolution. duh. now, if you re a creationist... you may as well skip this part. id love for you to read it but you just wouldn't understand. you can skip to the next paragraph. are they gone? good. OK, on with the reasoning. i think its pretty obvious that without morals and an instinctive sense of right and wrong then the species we are would have never come to be. we are not the most fit of all the species in the world when we stand alone but when we come together as a group... that's a different story. we traveled in packs and watched each others back. i can only imagine that if one of the group decided it was in their best interest to act like an ass that the rest of the group would cut them off. i don't see how we could have survived any other way than taking care of each other. looking out for the tribes best interest is just like looking out for the best interests of the individual and is a very integral part of who we are and how we came to be such a dominant species (stealing no credit from our big brain).
welcome back creationists. now we look at your morals. since an atheist cant have any because all morals were created by god then we can only refer to yours. how about that biblical slavery? awesome stuff. and rape? racism? yeah that too. yup, its all there. in exodus we learn that we can buy a slave and keep him for 7 years. now, if he gets married while he is your slave and has kids, you get to keep the wife and kids. the only way that he can stay with them is if he stays your slave. also, slave owners can sleep with slave women at their disposal. you could beat them too. the only catch is you cant kill them. as long as they heal in time it is a-ok. slaves continue even into the new testament where it is told to slaves to respect their owners as they would respect christ and vise versa. um, why not just say "hey, don't keep slaves.... its freakin wrong". rape... Duet 22:28-29 says its cool to rape a girl as long as you pay her dad 50 silver and then marry her and never divorce. i bet she will be soooo happy to marry her rapist. racism.... the slaves were foreigners. the 7 year thing was only for Hebrews, other races you could keep forever and pass down to your kids. you could not enslave an Israelite. WOW!!! morals huh? is this the part that you argue that its all changed now and that the new testament makes it all better? i refer you to that visa versa part from Ephesians. further, if the old testament makes it all different.... why are the ten commandments still so freaking important?
i don't feel like i need to defend myself about morals any longer. it is plain as day that the ethical decisions we make are not at all tied to those of religion. they are tied to the survival and advancement of humanity. besides, at the end of the day i like knowing that i make the honorable choices that i make because i want to and not because i am scared of going to hell.... oh, that's not why you make your moral choices? you mean you'd still make good choices without the influence of god? HA, gotcha.
6. there is no six. this thing is called 5 things, not 6. i just wanted to use the number as a way to notate that the 5th thing is over.
that's it, all done. i wanted to do more (like "what happened to you that caused you to abandon god?") but then i realized how freaking long this thing had become. so i am done. maybe i will do another 5 in another blog a good chunk of time from now.
if you're reading this line, thanks. it means a lot to me that you pushed thru all of the bad grammar and the huge opinions. really, thanks.