Thanks, but No Thanks, I’m an Atheist

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Very often I am asked by a needy, possibly homeless person for a handout. Disavowing the Conservative notion that these people are just going to buy booze, I generally oblige by giving a few dollars, depending on what I’m carrying and how needy they appear. Perhaps I’m being scammed, but the fact they are out in the generally hot Vegas sun to beg means they need it more than me. The universal response upon receiving the money is “God Bless.” I generally respond, that’s ok and go on my merry way. This past weekend, I decided to mix it up a little.

In a store parking lot, a man approached and said, “ma’am can you spare a bit? I’m a day laborer and work is hard to come by this weekend (as it was Memorial Weekend) and I need to bring something home to my family.” So I asked the man to wait a moment while I unloaded my oversized Costco merchandise from the cart and he proceeded to help me. While he returned the cart to the storage area of the lot, I grabbed a $10 bill and gave it to the man. Perhaps I gave more than usual because he mentioned he also had cats to feed and I am a feline lover. Nonetheless, he was very grateful. On cue, he responded, “God bless.”

Deciding this was a good time for a quick debate, I replied, ‘I don’t believe in god.’ He said, ‘really? You’re an Atheist? You’d better be an Agnostic, ya know, for insurance purposes.’ I replied, ‘if there’s a deity who’s so petty I must undoubtedly believe in his or her existence, I really want no part of that.’ I did mention that my religion is kindness to other humans and I don’t require a belief in the supernatural. Unexpectedly, the man replied simply, ‘Good point.’ We said our good byes and I drove away.

I thought about the encounter and decided he was either a.) diplomatic and not interested in a debate or b.) convinced I had a point and he too was grappling with the idea that God might not be real. Perhaps he is an Atheist and says God bless because it’s de rigueur. The whole episode made me take inventory of what it means to be without “faith.”

Recently, Pope Francis decided Atheists can also be redeemed and enter Heaven, so perhaps, in time, folks like us won’t be stereotyped as “bad people.” Because so much of our society is embedded with the thought that churchiness is directly proportional to goodness, people literally shudder when I mention my absence of theism. Having lived in Oklahoma for a few years, I learned not to disclose this information too publicly. People unfortunately mistake your public religious persona with your sense of morality.

Sigmund Freud had many theories of behavior that I don’t entirely believe are fully accurate. However, his assessment of religion does seem pretty spot on. Primarily:
Religions are human constructions. His other points, summarized:

The monotheistic God is an illusion based upon the infantile emotional need for a powerful, supernatural father-figure and that religion, once necessary to restrain man’s violent nature in the early stages of civilization can, in modern times, be set aside in favor of reason and science. So…anyone wonder why science is being downplayed and attacked — and not taught? And why reason isn’t effective with religious zealots of any faith? Or why people are kept ignorant to be more programmable? Simply put, religion stifles emotional, scientific and social progress. The fact we have such a pronounced anti-science/pro-religion movement in this country demonstrates the antipathy between the two components of our society, proving they cannot symbiotically coexist. Heaven forbid we teach critical thinking to the indoctrinated. What value would religious fantasy have to a society that critically analyzes scientific concepts?

This country continues to suffer at the hands of the über-religious, anti-climate change, anti-science, polluting plutocrats. This belief in God is a handicap that the Plutocracy requires for control of the brainwashed masses. The evidence required for something so extraordinary should be as extraordinary as the claim itself, yet no true tangible proof has been presented and for the deeply religious, no evidence is enough to satisfy their concerns. The idea that morality is co-dependent on religion is as ludicrous as the idea that we’re born with “original sin” as prophesied in a book of preposterous fiction. Saddling children with the guilt of this concept is cruel and downright crazy.

The belief in God is just a mythic reproduction of the universal state of infantile helplessness. Like an idealized father, God is the projection of childish wishes for an omnipotent protector. And, hopefully, we all can see the paranoia of the religious right, their wish for the world to end and for their savior to save and protect them.

We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.”
~ Christopher Hitchens

If I may be so audacious and speak for the great Hitchens himself, I would also say, “thanks, but I’m good without god.”

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20 thoughts on “Thanks, but No Thanks, I’m an Atheist

  1. Believing or not believing…either way the world needs more people like you. People who are willing to give a helping hand to those in need. Everyday, we are all evolving. Sometimes slowly, sometimes rather quickly. Physically, mentally, emotionally and I believe even spiritually people are evolving and progressing. Having known you for many years, I have seen your morality and I think it is spot on compared to some of your theistic counterparts. Keep on going in whatever direction you chose, but I’m telling you first….god dammit, the next time you have 10 dollars give it to me! I’ll throw it down on blackjack and triple your investment

  2. I am totally in love with your common sense and beauty. However, personally speaking, I thank God for free-will ~ especially your free-will ~ and I’m looking forward to having a cup of coffee with you in heaven…

  3. You can be an atheist, it bothers me not. I choose to believe in God after many many hours searching my intellect, which frankly, is considerable despite some readers first reactions to that statement, and the available evidence, and deciding that despite the protestations of many so-called ‘scientists’, God can neither be proven or more importantly, dis-proven scientifically. Science simply doesn’t have the means to measure spirituality yet. It’s like science saying back in the day “Germs aren’t real because we can’t see them.’ That seems silly today, but it holds just as true.
    The thing that bothers me more than any other part of this article though, is the writer’s arrogant and ignorant assertion that “This country continues to suffer at the hands of the über-religious, anti-climate change, anti-science, polluting plutocrats.” I am one Christian who most definitely believes in climate change, and I’m doing my utmost to solve it by thinking globally and acting locally. I have solar panels on my roof. I recycle as much as I can and don’t waste anything. I also take on good faith and intention the words of the Bible in Genesis, where God commanded Adam & Eve to ‘have husbandry’ over the earth, which means to take care of this great gift of life-sustaining creation, not to usurp or destroy it for greedy gain.
    Lumping all Christians or other people of faith into the same basket is as dangerous and negatively stereotypical as the writer claims she undergoes in Oklahoma for being atheist, and demotes her credibility instantly.

    1. I didn’t lump them all into one basket. I’m referencing the society of the Judeo Christian-god obsessed USA where it is assumed one must be moral by believing in a deity. That was my point. I am not condemning Christians, I’m condemning a society where generalizations are rampant and unnecessary.

    2. Peter, science doesn’t bother with spirituality because it is an improperly defined and incoherent concept. But don’t bother trying to define spirituality. Others before you have tried, and all have failed.

    3. So you believe in Adam and Eve. Hmmm. I believe the Bible says that Adam and Eve had 55 children. I have one question for you. Where did the grandkids come from? The use of the word “intellect” to justify the belief in an unseen, unheard from bearded magic man in the sky who can hear the thoughts and prayers of every being in the universe is an insult to all true people of intellect. If you really understand the principles of science then you know that the burden of proof lies with the person making the claim. If I told you “pigs can fly,” being a man of “intellect” you would ask me for proof. Then why not use the same standards when it comes to the deity you “believe in?” The existence of your “God” is no more astounding claim. Sorry Peter, religious dogma is a blight on mankind.

  4. I gave water to a homeless man yesterday he was holding a sign that said water please…and he poured it on his face i guess to wash off the sweat and dirt from the flamingo and the 15 off ramp…he said god bless and I thought what about the rest of your dirt encrusted rank body. Surely there are some other parts down south that may need a drip of that water that I gave u because I thought u were thirsty. I hope it rains soon.

  5. Like baking bacon because it sounded good. Baked bacon…. Who knew your oven would be offended. Officially over domestic lameness. #allgayguysarentnaturalhousewives

  6. My problem is with fundamentalists…..of any religion !! I believe in a Higher Power because it works for me. What you believe is none of my business.

  7. Hiya vegasjessie, I really enjoyed your blog today. I am also an irreligious and sometimes militant atheist who wishes he had more in order to give more. I have just one favour to ask: please make some bumper stickers that read: “my religion is kindness to other humans” and put me down for 20 🙂

  8. What’s up it’s me, I am also visiting this site on a regular basis,
    this website is genuinely nice and the visitors are genuinely sharing nice thoughts.

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