God and Cigarettes


I don’t believe that God exists, but I did for a while. We weren’t overly religious when I was growing up, but I knew then that God existed. Leaving behind all supreme beings was a conscious decision, the rational end result of intellectual consideration of the matter. God does not exist.

But sometimes I forget that I don’t believe in God, and I’ll catch myself starting to ask a question or throwing a request up to the omnipresent, kindly, guiding, father figure of my youth*. Then I stop and remember…oh yeah. And for a moment it makes me sad that the God I once looked up to isn’t there.

But then I remember all of the bad shit that the idea of God is responsible for and I’m relieved that there isn’t one. Because as atheists like to say: s/he would have some serious explaining to do.

I remember God the way I remember cigarettes. They were enjoyable and a comfort for a while, they were hard to put down**, and even though both are a blight on this earth, every so often I find myself craving one or the other.

God isn’t welcome at my deathbed, but I sure hope I get a few last puffs off of a cigarette before I go.

_____________________________________________

*I blame fucking C.S. Lewis’s Aslan for my mental image of God. His fictional character helped solidify the way I thought of the imaginary character I was raised to believe in. Jerk.

**Smoking was a lot harder to quit than God. Quitting smoking affected me physically, emotionally, behaviorally, and socially. For me, quitting God was only a matter of quitting a thought pattern.

Comments

  1. Cris says

    Long time, no see, Brianne!

    This question is coming from someone who continually questions faith and searches for answers: Is it possible that people are responsible for “all of the bad shit”…and not necessarily God (or the idea of God)? Coming from a scientific position myself, I find it difficult to reconcile that the beauty and order of this world is a result of evolution…especially when everything around us is subject to the Law of Atrophy. Evolution and atrophy don’t seem like logical scientific complements. So, in my mind, there has to be something more; something driving all of this forward, making it grow and expand. I’m stuck because I’ve always felt that aspects of the Big Bang Theory are just as fragile as many of the Bible-based theologies.

    As for humans, groupthink has historically been the cause of our demise as a progressive society…not the overarching messages of peace, charity or love found in most of the world’s religions. Although I would agree that groupthink is often the result of social and/or religious indoctrination, it is humans who subvert what is intended to be good. For example, even the Christian Bible suggests, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6, NIV, 1984.) Although these instructions were written by men, I believe the intention was to stress that one’s relationship with God (or concept of God) was an intimate experience and private consideration…not the public, bigoted, cluster-fuck spectacle we see from so many obstinate religionists these days.

    Anyway, I’ve been enjoying your blog. I just wanted to spar with you more than anything :^)

    • Randomfactor says

      When I see the public, bigoted, cluster-fuck spectacle we see from so many obstinate religionists these days, I find that difficult to reconcile with the existence of any kind of a god worth worshipping. Surely she could do better than a world which contains such.

      I find NO problem reconciling that with a world shaped by evolution, which contains both objects of beauty and hideous evil, both being valid routes to survival–if not equally desirable.

      • Cris says

        I argue people and their tendency toward groupthink are to blame for distorting otherwise benevolent ideals and beliefs. That is to say, I can not find reason to blame God or a concept of God.

        I think my argument works both ways. Science can certainly advance our civilization AND generate great good in this world. However, people have the capacity to twist science/evolution on its head, too. For example, at Auschwitz, doctor Josef Mengele and doctor Sigmund Rascher performed scientifically credible experiments on unwilling human guinea pigs. They called it “research”. (Randomfactor, you can look up their gruesome experiments in your spare time.) These experiments were used to establish racial superiority and racial inferiority…all in the name of science and evolution. Ultimately, I hope you can see how their acts of “hideous evil” were not valid routes to survival.

        We are humans who have the ability to discern right from wrong whether we are theists or atheists or somewhere in between. In my opinion, it’s when we find power in a group that discourages individual responsibility that we find ourselves jeopardizing our innate and individual understanding of right and wrong.

        • Rumtopf says

          “all in the name of science and evolution”
          I’ve seen this argument made and it’s been quite thoroughly debunked already. Ills committed -using- science(a tool, a method of pursuing knowledge) just don’t compare to ills -instructed- by religion(with religious texts that also instruct their followers to believe it all, to follow it all, even the instructions that are obviously, by modern standards, immoral and divisive).
          A lot of Christians cherry pick around the bad stuff, which is great, it means their natural sense of empathy is stronger than their faith so the religion is generalised as being all about love. A lot of them don’t though, maybe they should be considered more Christian for adhering to their bibles more closely, strange world.

    • Brianne Bilyeu says

      Is it possible that people are responsible for “all of the bad shit”…and not necessarily God (or the idea of God)?

      Yes, people are responsible for “all of the bad shit”. There is no God, so it’s all on us. The excuse “God” is used to justify a lot of that bad shit, but the onus ultimately falls on us. If we didn’t use God as an excuse, bad shit would still happen, but at least we could eliminate the religion-justified crimes against humanity.

      I’m finishing a book right now called “Cruel Creeds, Virtuous Violence”. The author, Eller, focuses on this subject of where violence comes from, and the part that religion can play. Pretty interesting read, akshully.

      I find it difficult to reconcile that the beauty and order of this world is a result of evolution…especially when everything around us is subject to the Law of Atrophy.

      Different argument for god altogether from your first sentence. All I can say to this is…I’m sorry you feel that way. I look around at the beauty and order of the world, realize that it is a result of evolution and am humbled and amazed that we exist.

      You don’t think evolution and atrophy are compatible (they are. PZ Myers takes apart this well-known creationist argument here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/11/10/entropy-and-evolution/), and there must be something more, so the answer is God? That’s a big leap.

      I’ll answer more later, Cris. You have about nine more different arguments in the rest of this message that I could respond to, but right now I have to run.

      • Cris says

        First, let me make this clear: I wasn’t trying to convert you. I was trying to find new angles in my own journey. I am a woman married to a woman in California and we have kids on the way….don’t you think I’m on the receiving end of a lot of religious BS? At one point, my in-laws even suggested they’d go to hell if I asked them to celebrate our marriage…it was religion that fucked up what could’ve been a great family situation.

        I’ve been reading “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris. And have worked through many other atheistic and religious books. So far, religion or science don’t answer the questions for me…and I simply thought you could open my mind to some new ways of thinking (kindof’ like you did in college.)

        Part of your reply read, “Different argument for god altogether from your first sentence. All I can say to this is…I’m sorry you feel that way”. I don’t need your pity, Brianne. I was excited to have a conversation about this…that is all. The response I received from Randomfactor, you and Steerpike is no different than the responses I get from religious zealots when I ask them to discuss the same damn things. I was clearly a fool to assume atheists would be a little more intellectual and less insulting than the obstinate religionists.

        So, no need to reply any more…it was my mistake for walking into this gated community. I don’t have time for needless backlash. I’ll look for others who actually want to have an substance-based discussion without resulting to pity and insults.

  2. Zengaze says

    The looneys rank the chronicles of narnia only second to the bible, and more of them have read it than have read the bible, I’m pretty sure if they had their choice they’d do a swap.

    Working on that premise, and witnessing the goo light on their faces when you refer to anything narnia related, I have taken to talking to Christians about narnia, the conversations are great, until they realise I don’t think it is fiction, and that Alan actually exists, is a lion, and takes people to the other world through wardrobes. I’ve had quite a few people desperately try to explain to me that it isn’t real, and usually leave me with the opinion that I’ve went nuts.

    On the more important point stopping smoking is fucking hard, once that poison gets its claws into your bio chemistry you’re fucked for life, like alcohol addiction, the “just one won’t hurt” gremlin is a little bastard that needs smacked down when it pops up its ugly head.

  3. says

    I don’t think that it’s surprising that you find yourself doing this, even if you were raised completely atheist. We are completely surrounded by religion. Our culture is so rife with it, you can’t possible avoid exposing yourself and accidentally parroting it.

    How many times have you heard, read, or seen somebody say “Thank God,” “Oh for the love of God, “Christs sake,” etc… Most people aren’t actually referencing God when they say these things, they are just parroting other people they’ve heard say them in similar situations.

    The truly appalling thing about this, is that some religionists (I’ll use that, since I saw it today) claim that when they hear an atheist talk like that they’ll point to it and say, “see, they actually believe in god subconsciously.”

    • Brianne Bilyeu says

      Benjamen, they’re right – we all do actually believe in god subconciously. Well at least all Americans do. I have proof: We all carry money that says “In God We Trust” on them. HA! Definitive proof! If we really didn’t believe in God we’d stop using God’s money! Mwahaha! *retreats to gloat over her unassailable logic*

  4. Steerpike says

    I need a ruling from the judges: Is it possible that “Cris” meant “Law of Entropy”, rather than “Law of atrophy” above? If so, I believe I have a diagonal on my believer’s bingo card!

    OTOH, I kind of like the idea of a low of atrophy. This makes my current physical condition totes not my fault; I’m just obeying the law!

    • Cris says

      I stand corrected; “Law of Entrophy” (or the second law of thermodynamics) would have been more appropriate…and yet you knew what I was talking about.

      In your infinite wisdom, you have me completely figured out. I wanted to take into consideration a scientist’s thoughts and have a discussion with her because I wanted you to win “believer’s bingo”…not because I wanted to learn anything or pick up any new ideas.

  5. Francisco Bacopa says

    Quitting smoking is about the hardest shit ever. Every cell of your body cries out with its little mouth asking for nicotine. Dizziness, rage over every little slight, inability to eat without gagging, inability to sleep…I finally found that stuff went away after about five days. But then you still have that hole in your life where your smokes were your buddy. That takes a couple of months to go away.

    Wasn’t raised religious, so never had to quit God. But I did have to go through that combo extended-adolescence/early-midlife crisis where you have to come to terms with the fact you’re never going to be a rock star. Tommy Womack’s album There, I said it! really helped with that.

  6. The Rose says

    I like the way you combine the pair. You have to be irrational to smoke cigarettes considering the health risks. When I quit, I thought about “who am I?”, “am I a smoker?”. No. I will define myself. I will not be a slave to cigarettes; I will not pray to cigarettes.

    I haven’t heard of other would be ex-smokers talk of using this methodology, but I really think it helped me in quitting.

    I still pray to beer though…

  7. says

    I think most Christians would say they believe God does not like anything that harms your body, however, in this day and age, thats pretty much everything.

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