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Jul 19 2012

Because I am an atheist: WilloNyx

Today’s contribution comes from reader and bl0g-buddy WilloNyx, who writes at IdioPrag.

Because I am an atheist…

…I am more moral.  The confidence that I was doing “god’s work” kept me blind to the harm I caused with my religion. I believed the “hate the sin love the sinner” trope and I did not actively campaign for gay rights. Because I am an atheist, I no longer have doubts that fighting for equality is the most moral path I can take.

Because I am an atheist: I am a trans feminist. If it were not me seeking out other atheists like myself, I probably wouldn’t have found various atheist sites that taught me that feminism wasn’t a dirty word.  No matter how cultured I try to be I am limited by my geography. Atheism, and atheists taught me to look skeptically at my own biases toward feminism. Transgender atheists taught me to look skeptically at those feminists who would erase the experiences of women they deem not women enough. Because I am an atheist, I fight sexism against all women.

Because I am an atheist: I don’t  indoctrinate my kids. I no longer fear hell for their sake. Because I am an atheist, I can love my children for who they are rather than who god wants them to be.

Because I am an atheist: I no longer believe my rapes were destiny. God’s plan for me was not that I must suffer the consequence of childhood abuse. God isn’t real, and my abuse is nothing more than the actions of a sexual predator. Because I am an atheist, I no longer believe that something “good” must come out of abuse, and I am free to view it for the horror it was.

Because I am an atheist: I am happier. God was not good for me. I could not reconcile the idea of this existence being the product of a compassionate deity. I could not love god. I could not follow a god that hid behind “free will” to escape the consequences of his creation. I could not follow a god that hated the people I loved. I could not find a friend in my prayers. Because I am an atheist, I can find the joy and love in this world without always comparing it to the sadness and hate.

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16 comments

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  1. 1
    Aaron Ross

    Simply being “an atheist” leads to none of your conlusions.

    It is lack of belief in God, nothing more.

    There is nothing moral, or immoral, about being an atheist…you can build hospitals, you can be a mass murderer, you can be a liberal, or a right winger like Ayn Rand.

    Whatever, atheism has nothing to do with it.

  2. 2
    Crommunist

    You’ve missed the entire point of this series, Aaron. Atheism leads a number of people to do a number of different things. WilloNyx’s atheism has informed specific decisions and feelings in her life. It doesn’t mean that it necessarily has to do the same for anyone else. This is descriptive, not proscriptive.

    Also, literally everyone reading this comment has heard your tired-ass explanation of dictionary atheism a MILLION times before. We’re past that particular pedantry, and have been for a while.

  3. 3
    hall-of-rage

    Quick and clean and wonderful writing. <3

  4. 4
    mythbri

    I didn’t see anything in WilloNyx’s post that said everything that comes from her being an atheist is a universal experience. I’m curious as to why you seemed to read it that way.

  5. 5
    WilloNyx

    While Crommunist did a fantastic and quick take down of your points I am going to give you my own thoughts.

    The Because I am an Atheist series is atheists talking about how atheism has guided their behavior and their lives. It is similar how people state their belief in god is why they give to charity. Belief in god is not a direct forceful cause into giving to charity. Plenty of believers don’t give to charity. Rather giving to charity is instead a decision they made about their own behavior that was influenced by the god belief.

    In that respect, the behaviors, decisions and thoughts listed above are all my own and are influenced by my atheism.

    Think about it like this: I wrote Because I am an Atheist because I was influenced by both Crommunist’s requests, and my own desire to show how atheism can be a force for good in the world. Neither were the ultimate cause for the words above, but you can’t really say I didn’t write the post because Crommunist asked me to or to be a force for good in this world.

  6. 6
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    I’m particularly moved by your third point:

    Because I am an atheist: I don’t indoctrinate my kids. I no longer fear hell for their sake. Because I am an atheist, I can love my children for who they are rather than who god wants them to be.

    Would that more parents were moved to abandon Godly damage to the parent-child relationship.

    It wasn’t done to me but I hate to see it and its results.

  7. 7
    Steinman

    And Atheism led to some people hating religion so much that they participated in the mass murder of beleivers.

    So, yes, their actions were because of their atheism.

  8. 8
    Crommunist

    (Citation needed)

  9. 9
    Aaron Ross

    Interesting response; so if atheism leads some people to do certain things, atheism could lead people to kill.

    Thus, arguing that people like Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin did not kill BECAUSE of their atheim…as I often see claimed…may be incorrect.

    More details would be needed, but there is, as I read you, nothing inherently implausible the claim that atheism led some people in positions of power to carry out the mass murder of believers. (Which is what Alexander Solzhenitsyn argued in The Gulag Archipelago series.)

    Of course, it may also lead them to build hospitals, but in either case their atheism led them to it.

  10. 10
    Aaron Ross

    I gather you are referring to Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and their minions are the atheists you are referring to?

    If so, The Gulag Archipelago series by the Nobel Prize Winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn is an amazing resource.

  11. 11
    Crommunist

    Yes, I suppose atheism could lead people to kill. I don’t know that it ever has or that there’s any logical justification to support that position. The argument, incidentally, is not that atheism can lead people to devalue life, it’s that it does by necessity. This is patently absurd and evidently false.

    What the post above says is “because atheism gives me this particular outlook on life, I do these actions accordingly. If I believed in a god, I would probably not have this outlook”. Your insistence that atheism is a consequence-free stance is baffling, and also evidently false.

  12. 12
    MaryL

    Some atheists may be behind some mass-murders, but compared to the numbers theists have racked up, we’re WAY behind.

  13. 13
    Musical Atheist

    I’m a regular lurker on this blog, but wanted to say I really enjoy the ‘Because’ series.

    WilloNyx, I’m very moved by your point about the emotional tyranny of the pressure to see good in the terrible things that sometimes happen to us. I think this tendency is something that organised religion and new age, neo-pagan and less organised superstitious beliefs have in common. We are enjoined to accept evil as part God’s plan for our development, or to learn what the universe is trying to teach us. This mindset can be paralysing, meaning that one fears to make choices because one might be jeopardising this plan. It can also prevent us from escaping damaging situations because we think we’re ‘supposed to’ learn something. It is so freeing to leave this mindset behind and realise that one can choose to learn from a given misfortune, but that if something terrible happens to us, it’s not because of any cosmic plan, and we don’t have to humbly accept it as such. We can, as you said, see it for what it is, and work on healing or moving on from it in whatever way seems best to us. We don’t have to believe that we brought it on ourselves through sin, or karma, or that the universe gives back the energy we put out, or any other of these doctrines that seem superficially empowering, but are actually emotionally violent and constraining.

  14. 14
    Steinman

    MaryL, not really. Practitioners of admittedly Officially Atheistic Philosophies killed 100 Million people in the last century alone, and they are still doing it in Officially Atheistic countries around the world.

    (Source: The Black Book of Communism, Harvard University Press)

    There is no question but that the leaders of that movement, as expressed in the last century and in some countries today, were Militant Atheists. (In the sense that they wanted religion eliminated…and that meant killing people.) 100 Million is more people killed than in all the conflicts of the previous two millenia.

    (And it was not a question of greater technology, it was a queston of motivation. After all, rounding people up and putting them in Gulags and working them to death or letting them starve does not require particularly advanced means.)

  15. 15
    mynameischeese

    @Steinman,

    Oh, that old chesnut again.

    So you read through willonyx’s story about her personal experience with atheism and read it as a call to arms to revive Stalinism? Brilliant reading comprehension skills there.

    Hilarious. I’m just rereading her story here, looking for where she mentions how much she loves State Atheism. Oh wait. It’s not in there. Funny that.

  16. 16
    mynameischeese

    P.S. Find yourself a better history book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Book_of_Communism#Criticism

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