You know something? I am coining a new phrase. That new phrase is “atheistic dogma.” In debating with atheists, I have found that sadly, many atheists are just as suffocated by dogma as the religious people they want to claim superiority over. I am tired of hearing that if a person believes in a high power, they are religious. If I were religious, I’d say so. I have no reason to lie. Why so rigid with the definitions? Allow me to be rigid with a definition, then:
dog·ma: noun \ˈdȯg-mə, ˈdäg-\ a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
If your definition of “religion” is so strict that you refuse to allow anyone to define it or “spirituality” for themselves, or apply it to themselves and their own lives on their terms, or if you use your definition of “religion” to lump everyone who believes in a higher power into the same category because you feel it denotes the same thing in everybody, you are suffering from atheistic dogma. You – just like the so-called religious people you would like to claim such superiority over, or think you are so different from – are a prisoner of your own uncompromising, inflexible and ridiculous ideas.
A few examples (and yes, these conversations actually happened):
1. “If you used to be an atheist and are not now, then you are religious. Religion; – the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. From the Oxford English dictionary.”
RELIGION and SPIRITUALITY or simple belief in a high power have almost nothing to do with each other. Religion is a man-made institution used to systematically control and extort money from people. It is bound by rules, governance and laws. Spirituality is a personal belief in something higher than the self and nothing more. They are not interchangeable. They are not the same thing. If you don’t agree with my definition of these things, that sounds like your problem. I don’t have to live my life or structure my philosophies according to your – or anyone’s – definition of ANYTHING. It’s funny how you claim that religion is controlling yet you are unable to allow another person any definition of it or spirituality that falls outside of what you think it is, or allow them to define themselves according to their own spiritual philosophies. Do you perhaps not understand what “controlling” means?
There is ALSO a definition of religion which reads: “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects; an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods.” I do not possess or practice these things. You and everyone like you all have the same problem: You claim that those who believe in a higher power are all religious and that they all think the same way. You assume knowing about religion means subscribing to that religion. You assume a belief in a higher power or in God means everyone is a Christian (or follows some type of organized religion) or that it denotes the same exact thing in every situation or with every person. This could not be farther from the truth. People like you think of everybody the same way, then turn around and accuse others of being closed-minded. This is the classic “atheistic dogma.” It would be laughable if it were not so disappointing. Aren’t atheists supposed to be the enlightened, free-thinkers here?
2. “Free will my arse. Don’t be so stupid. Does a rape victim have free will? What a ridiculous thing to say. Free will is the stupidest argument ever made for religion.”
Using one extreme situation where a person’s free will has been taken away by ANOTHER person exercising THEIR free will to describe everybody and every situation is a little disingenuous, don’t you agree? Or maybe just kind of pathetic. If you have to use that type of situation to make your point, maybe your point isn’t all that valid.
3. “Religious people make up their own rules.”
So they have to adhere strictly to a code of laws and governance that you claim not to believe in or somehow they are wrong. OK. I’m glad you’ve proven how controlling RELIGION is. Oh wait, it’s YOU who is being dogmatic and inflexible. Oops. Your game is to try and trap religious people in their own rules and point out their perceived hypocrisy to claim some type of moral, ethical or intellectual victory for yourself and your obviously-deficient ego. That’s why you want to convince me – and yourself – of my being religious by YOUR definition. That’s why you refuse to allow me to define myself the way I choose. You can’t “win” without being able to apply your definition of religion to me and then attempting to point out my perceived hypocrisy as defined by your definition of religion. Sorry to disappoint but I am not religious. That’s why it isn’t working. I don’t have any of those rules.
4. “What about babies dying of starvation or AIDS?”
Do you not think PEOPLE have quite a bit to do with that problem? It’s like that thing where the guy says to Jesus, “Why do you allow war, starvation and genocide?” and Jesus says, “Funny, I was going to ask you the same thing.” People want to remove the human element from it altogether and just say, “If God were real, He would stop these things.” I have never understood that logic. Aside from the logical fallacy involved in that argument (which is glaringly blatant and akin to saying crime proves the police don’t exist), we have the ability to stop these things from happening. We do not. Wouldn’t it make more sense to worry about why that is? Nowhere in anything does it say that God would come in and end all terrible things. If people choose to do things that hurt others, God does not stop them. That isn’t how it works. The people who are dying of starvation are doing so because their government is corrupt and despicable. That is a HUMAN problem. People sometimes think of God as like an enforcer or the supernatural police. RELIGION is controlling. God is not. You are supposed to come to God of your own free will. If you do not, then you do not.
5. “That’s the paradox. He can’t prevent it because we have free will, but how can a loving god who says he loves each and everyone of us watch babies die through no fault of their own?”
I look at it like when you have a grown child. You love your child regardless. Even if they were a murderer you would love them, or a pedophile or whatever. But you don’t interfere with their lives. They have to live it themselves. I also wouldn’t say He CAN’T prevent it, but that He won’t. It is a sad fact that exercising your own free will can and often does affect more than just you. I don’t claim to have all the answers or to know the mind of God. That’s just how I see it.
It is the person committing the bad act who is letting children die. That’s what I mean about free will: it affects others, including babies. And from a spiritual standpoint: If God sees us all equally, then we are all His children. Therefore, if that is so, it is no different for anyone to be killed if they are 15 or 150 or 15 months old.
To me it’s different, but I’m not God.
In the end, nearly everyone involved in this type of debate – religious and atheist – is making the leap in logic that science and belief in a higher power must be mutually exclusive. This also could not be further from the truth; most truly intelligent minds realize that spirituality and science CAN co-exist. It seems that you only hear that argument from insecure people who do not truly understand either of these things.
I am not religious but the growing discrimination against Christians and religious people in general is beginning to alarm me. Those who I’ve debated with don’t seem to really be offended on behalf of gays or women or other hot button issues. Not really. They seem to have actually been offended by the mere mention of religion. For many, it seems to be a platform for them to express their own bigoted and discriminatory views — against Christians and/or religion in general. I’m no expert but it would seem that the answer to perceived bigotry and discrimination can hardly be more bigotry and discrimination.
I find it sad and a shame that people who claim they are all about equality and fair treatment for all just ignore this, or worse – they participate in it. Discrimination against anybody should alarm everybody. But it doesn’t, and that alarms me. I really feel that if, say, religious people were all rounded up to be shot simply for being religious, many of the people in this country would not protest or even care. I find that terrifying. “First they came for the Communists” and all that.
What I don’t get is, do they not realize how easily that actually could be them? Do they really think that could never happen? What about when it’s me? What about when it’s you? I tell myself every day not to give in to my ego or superego or whichever it is; that people cannot possibly be as stupid as I sometimes think they are. But every day I hear things like that (“Oh, it’s OK if it’s them, because it’ll never be me!”) and it gets harder and harder to believe that. I think they really do believe that. It’s frightening.
But what can you say about a society where scientific studies are done and psychiatric illnesses are dreamed up solely for the reason of giving people an excuse to escape personal responsibility? Not much, I guess.
It is a shame when people cannot see past their own hatred and bias. I posted a picture of Jesus on Facebook with a story attached that gave reasons why things the person thought were bad (losing car keys) were actually good (kept him from being in an accident). I stated that even if you don’t believe in God, the sentiment of the story was wonderful because we should always remember that things we think are bad could be – and often are – a blessing in disguise.
Someone commented that they thought the story was terrifying because people who believe God is controlling their lives are “mentally deranged.” No matter how many times this person was told that the point of the post had nothing to do with God or religion but rather, had to do with the fact that many negatives often turn out to be positives with the fullness of time, he could not seem to understand and continued to rant about religion and the craziness of people who have faith. It was as if this person was having a completely different conversation from the rest of us.
It was funny at first but then it became sad and actually scary that someone could be so blinded by hatred like that. I’ve never seen anything like it. That’s saying a lot because I have lived and worked with people who have mental illness and developmental disorders for over 10 years and I have absolutely never had such a hard time explaining to someone that they’ve misunderstood. No, I gotta say: I’ve never seen anything like that.
If the mere mention of the word “God” – or any word, for that matter – can make you that blind, you need to examine yourself and your motives, because if you cannot look past your bias to see the bigger picture, you are the one with the handicap.
The blatant bias and hatred that were on display are really sad. When you cannot look past a fucking word or a concept to see the bigger picture, you are the one with the handicap. When you are having a conversation that is completely different from the one everyone else is having but cannot even see that, you are the one who looks mentally deranged. When you attack everything that is even tangentially related to the subject just because it’s sort of, kind of, a little related, you are the one who looks hateful. When you make blanket statements regarding everybody in a certain group, you are the one that looks intolerant. And when you are so carried away by your own self-righteous buffoonery that you cannot even see that you’ve misunderstood – let alone accept it – you are the one who looks stupid.