Quantcast

«

»

Apr 28 2012

Why I am an atheist – Tracy Hemenover

Because I finally stopped bullshitting myself that I believed in “something out there”, not anything portrayed in any of the religious texts, but “something”. Anything to not have to think that scary A word.

Because the universe and everything in it, and everything we know about how it works, makes much more sense if there is no god than if there is one.

Because there is not and never has been any argument or “proof” of the existence of god(s), etc. that stood up to ANY honest, thorough, logical scrutiny. EVER. Not. Even. One. (And it’s not as if believers haven’t had *thousands* of years to come up with one, either.)

Because of all the good things that religion does, *not one* requires religion or belief in god in order to happen. I don’t believe, yet I treat people ethically, I give to charity, I’m kind to animals. But there’s plenty of evil things that religion does that are either a direct result of religion, or are justified or made worse by it: misogyny, homophobia, racism, war, etc.

Because “throughout history, every mystery ever solved has turned out to be NOT MAGIC.” (Thank you, Tim Minchin.)

Because the whole notion of the universe being created by a perfect being is nonsensical and self-contradictory. Perfection means no lack of anything, ergo no reason to create anything. And supposing such a being *did* create a universe and us, how did it manage to screw up so royally on so many things? I mean, putting our airway and esophagus right next to each other with just a little valve to stop food going down the wrong way? Really? That’s the best it can do? (True fact: I once damn near choked to death on an M&M. Not even a whole M&M, a fucking half-chewed fragment of an M&M. Tell me that’s not a design flaw.)

Because, also supposing a perfect being created the universe and us, why would that supposedly perfect being give a flying fuck what we thought of it, or what we wanted? Ooh, what’s that? It loves us? Then why doesn’t it regrow amputated limbs? Why do kids die of cancer, etc.? Because their parents didn’t grovel just right? Why is my best friend a prisoner of crippling pain leaving her barely able to walk while evil assholes get to run around completely healthy all their lives?

Because no one can agree on what this perfect creator being is, or what it looks like, or how it behaves, or what it wants. No one has seen it or heard it, so no one knows, and therefore they’re all just guessing. Billy Graham is just guessing. The Pope is just guessing. Imams and ayatollahs are just guessing. Rabbis are just guessing. And they’re all guessing based on their own culture and prejudices, not evidence.

Because “I feel it in my heart” sucks as an argument.

Because “if you believe and you’re wrong you lose nothing, but if you don’t believe and you’re wrong you’ll go to hell” sucks as an argument.

Because “god moves in mysterious ways/it’s not for us to question/it’s all for the best, we just can’t see it yet” all suck as arguments.

Because if I tortured someone forever for not worshipping me — or actually for ANY reason — I’d be rightly considered a monster, a bully, an evil sick fuck… anything BUT a loving parent.

Because if any set of beliefs demands that you NEVER question it under ANY circumstances, that is a *huge* red flag that it is a shitty belief system that you should get away from as fast as you can.

Because reality matters, and I want to believe as many true things and disbelieve as many false things as I possibly can. Yet there are people in this world who *don’t care*… and they are the majority. That to me is depressing beyond words. I can’t even wrap my head around it.

There’s more, but I think that about covers it for now.

Tracy Hemenover

30 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Inaji

    Good essay, Tracy.

  2. 2
    Ida Know

    Thanks, Caine. Totally shocked me when I saw my entry up just now! (I thought I’d given a pseudonym with it, though — not exactly the way I wanted to make my debut, but oh well.)

    I’ve been lurking for ages and silently cheering you guys on against the trolls, creationists, MRAs, and various and sundry cupcakes. Was debating how and whether to join in (I’m much less confrontational than my essay makes me sound). Guess I’m here now, though.

    It’s way past my bedtime in my particular timezone, so I’ll retire to the shadows again for now, but I did want to say hi.

  3. 3
    redwood

    Nice summary of the Atheist hit parade. I’m with you on all of these and especially agree with your final point about people who just don’t care what’s true. The more I think about it, the more it seems that’s what separates us from theists. It’s not so much a question of believing in a god or not, but in believing that truth matters.

  4. 4
    C8H10N4O2

    I agree, good essay. I think part of your first sentence just sums it up incredibly well though.

    “Why I am an atheist: Because I finally stopped bullshitting myself”

    I think armed with the knowledge of our tendency to engage in confirmation bias, as soon as we start being honest with ourselves and taking measures to check our beliefs in an honest way, the only conclusion is atheism.

    Frankly, if that conclusion pisses a perfect deity off, or even an imperfect deity for that matter, it either shouldn’t have made us thinking creatures, or it should reveal itself.

    Any other outcome short of those two options leaves us with a deity unworthy of belief, or it leaves us with no deity; given the essentially insurmountable evidence of significant flaws in an “alleged design” we are left with no deity, and a random, crude, and very flawed design from the ground up not only in creatures, but in every structure in the universe.

  5. 5
    katansi

    I may print this out and keep it with me in case I need to hand it to someone when they try to save me.

  6. 6
    jand

    #5 Katansi

    Yes, I’ll print it and laminate it so instead of wasting precious breath I’d hand it to whoever wants to “save” me: “Here, when you’re done reading that, maybe we can talk”.

    Thanks, Tracy.

  7. 7
    Nick Gotts

    Excellent – both succinct and comprehensive!

  8. 8
    grendel

    Best one of these yet.

  9. 9
    erikthebassist

    I give it a Woot! Very good :)

  10. 10
    madtom1999

    I’d print it out, laminate it and weld it into the front of any Gideons I ever see but I dont stay in hotels…

  11. 11
    ultraevo

    Big thumbs up, Tracy.
    Perfect on a Sunday morning.
    Thanks for writing it.

  12. 12
    'Tis Himself

    Because no one can agree on what this perfect creator being is, or what it looks like, or how it behaves, or what it wants. No one has seen it or heard it, so no one knows, and therefore they’re all just guessing. Billy Graham is just guessing. The Pope is just guessing. Imams and ayatollahs are just guessing. Rabbis are just guessing. And they’re all guessing based on their own culture and prejudices, not evidence.

    When many goddists of the abrahamist persuasions are talking amongst themselves about their god, it’s The Big Guy In The Sky™ with a long white beard who occasionally answers prayers and has a perverse fascination with peoples’ sex lives. When these goddists are talking to us, TBGITS™ is a deist deity who hangs about in the background not doing much of anything and is undetectable in any sort of test.

  13. 13
    Tualha

    Best fit to my own reasons I’ve seen yet.

  14. 14
    Subtract Hominem, a product of Nauseam

    There’s something about this that makes me want to see/hear it delivered to an audience as a speech.

  15. 15
    quarky2

    Excellent resonant summary, Tracy. I’ve often wondered why a perfect being would create anything, and how could it create anything less than perfection. And to say a perfect being gives purpose to our existence when no one knows the purpose of its existence, doesn’t explain things one bit.

  16. 16
    David Marjanović

    Then why doesn’t it regrow amputated limbs? Why do kids die of cancer, etc.?

    Turns out you can’t have large-scale regeneration, high metabolism, and low cancer risk at the same time. Yet another design flaw.

  17. 17
    a3kr0n

    Because I finally stopped bullshitting myself

    Hehe, you could have stopped right there! Great essay!
    Now if we could get ChristianGateFan to stop believing in bullshit she could stop harassing her biology professor…

  18. 18
    Inaji

    Tracy:

    (I thought I’d given a pseudonym with it, though — not exactly the way I wanted to make my debut, but oh well.)

    Ah, well, click on your name above the comment box and go with a nym of your choice. People change them often enough around here.

    I hope you do dive in, you’d be an excellent voice to rank among the commentariat. Welcome to Pharyngula.

  19. 19
    Ida Know

    Back and rested now. :-)

    I’m so flattered that people are talking about printing it out, and saying it should be a speech! Thanks, everyone.

    Caine: I’ll probably be back with a nym when I can think of a cool one.

  20. 20
    generallerong

    Yes, definitely worth printing out as a handout. Now, if I only had a laminator to fire up…

  21. 21
    Thomas Lawson

    Great entry, Tracy. The repetition of “Because” reminded me of one of the original submissions from 1903, from a Dr. J.T. Bohon of Kentucky…

    Because an omnipotent father would not arrogate alone for his children, beyond appreciation or comprehension of a human parent, yet provide a hell for their eternal torture. When a mother would cheerfully endure those tortures to shield HER children.

    .

    Because an affectionate parent would never demand of an innocent child atonement for a guilty one.

    .

    Because a loving father would have manifested his love by assuming the agonies which He imposed upon His Son.

    .

    Because an impartial father would not discriminate amongst his children, but would endow all equally, and promote fraternal relations by community of language, thought, and taste—harmony and supreme happiness being order of every detail; an end so easily decreed by omnipotence.

    .

    Because reputed paternity of the Redeemer is not simply problematic, but unnatural and impossible.

    .

    Because many of Christ’s utterances and commands are contradictory, as bad grammar can make, and often impractical.

    .

    Because, in concluding recital of the signs and wonders to perceive or foretell His second coming, he declared that that generation should certainly live to see fulfillment of all and, necessarily, some of them be on hand to greet him.

    .

    Because, in his declaration that only the Father knows the hour of his second advent, Christ contradicts co-equality of the individual members of that complex chimera—the Trinity.

    .

    Because Josephus, King, and Tacitus would have made copious records of those miraculous phenomena, which, “according to only Matthew,” men associated with the crucifixion, if SO.

    .

    Because of the forty gospels, the writers of the four, which were arbitrarily and miraculously determined authentic, should certainly have agreed on the inscription which was over the cross.

    .

    Because evolution, revision, and remunerations of theology in memory of the middle-aged pronounce the imperfections of the pretended source.

    .

    Because the proposed expurgation to fit the Holy Scriptures for polite society is horrible and blasphemous in its defiance of the curses promised those who add to or take from.

    .

    Because God’s children are divided into hundreds of factions, wrangling over foolish dogmas with tigerish ferocity, which has provoked more brutal atrocities than all other dissentions, and in their denominational propagandism there is often greater rejoicing over one proselyte than ninety-nine sinners brought to repentance.

    .

    Because physiology, and especially embryology, conclusively disproves orthodox (?) psychology.

    .

    Because denominational domination of civil governments would assure a speedy re-establishment of the Holy Inquisition, with additional and improved implements of torture.

    .

    Because to subscribe to orthodoxy is to “write me down” a Dogberry or a Pecksniff.

    .

    Et cetera ad infinitum.

  22. 22
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Another high five, and I agree with the cleverly nymmed Subtract Hominem that it should be given as a speech. I can imagine it getting, ironically, church-style “Uh-huhs” and “Right ons” at an atheist convention.

  23. 23
    fireweaver

    @17 a3kr0n: “Now if we could get ChristianGateFan to stop believing in bullshit she could stop harassing her biology professor…”

    Put her in one of PZ’s classes. :D :D

  24. 24
    Tay

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

    This line pretty much sums up my feelings of late…

    Yet there are people in this world who *don’t care*… and they are the majority. That to me is depressing beyond words. I can’t even wrap my head around it.

    Amendment 1 looms in the 21st century, in my home state! I’m so ashamed of this contingent of barefoot, backward, bobble-heads that have taken over the legislature of this damn state. Home to the Research Triangle Park, once had some of the best environmental protections in the country and now we’re considering fracking and legislating discrimination/bigotry against people for loving someone and wanting to be partnered with that person for life.

    Yep, I’d say depressed pretty much covers it.

  25. 25
    gabrielfitzpatrick

    Utilitarianism explains that reality, like all things, is valuable only insofar as it makes us happy. If religion makes people happier than irreligion, the irrational absurdity is in expecting atheism to matter to them. The fact that I have to explain that is “depressing beyond words.”

  26. 26
    allencdexter

    “Caine: I’ll probably be back with a nym when I can think of a cool one.”

    Why?

    Maybe it’s just me, but I refuse to hide behind a false identity. It took me decades to wise up and become a straight and honest free thinker. I’m not ashamed to stand up and be counted.

    You just wrote one terrific essay, and I also printed it out. I may steal a point or two to use on my own blog on blogger.
    No closets for me. I’m going to stand right up there in plain view with P. Z. Myers, Greta Christina, etc. I encourage you to do the same.

  27. 27
    Ida Know

    Hi allencdexter,

    It’s not so much being afraid to use my real name or stand up and be counted. I just like cool nyms (the more creative and apt, the better) and don’t think there’s anything wrong with choosing to use one.

    By all means feel free to “steal” as many points as you like!

  28. 28
    Dhorvath, OM

    Tracy, my thoughts are similar. My nym is who I am as much as my birth name, in fact it reflects me in a manner that my driver’s license cannot.

  29. 29
    csmiller

    On Pascal’s Wager, I always liked P’Terry’s corollary to to it, in Hogfather.

    This is very similar to the suggestion put forward by the Quirmian philosopher Ventre, who said, “Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So why not believe in them in any case? If it’s all true you’ll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn’t then you’ve lost nothing, right?” When he died he woke up in a circle of gods holding nasty-looking sticks and one of them said, “We’re going to show you what we think of Mr Clever Dick in these parts…”

  30. 30
    Snoof

    Tracy, my thoughts are similar. My nym is who I am as much as my birth name, in fact it reflects me in a manner that my driver’s license cannot.

    Oh yeah, I know that feeling. I’ve been Snoof for 16 years or so. It’s as much a part of my identity as my “real” name.

Comments have been disabled.