Tuesday, December 6, 2011
What do Atheists Feel?
Not unless you're being discriminated for it. Depression is depressing. Grieving is grieving no matter whether you believe in God. Believers must really work their rationalization skills when bad things happen to them. Whatever happiness or comfort they get is as much from their social network as from the "answers" they get in their religion. Why else would funerals be universal amongst religious practices? Religion gives comfort, and we atheists recognize this.
Aren't you afraid of hell?
You just want to sin.
Atheists are just angry at God.
How many Christians are angry with Vishnu or Thor or Zeus? A lot of atheists harbor anger toward religion or individual members of their previous religions. But it's impossible to be angry toward a god that you don't believe exists. And yet this is one of the most common accusations I've heard.
Doesn't atheism make you feel lonely?
Yes, it does sometimes, especially in the Bible Belt. This is why there are so many "closet athiests," who belong to a church and take part in its activities despite not believing in any of the tenets. Some of these closeted atheists are even pastors, priests and rabbis. They are perhaps the loneliest atheists.
Fortunately for us, this is changing. We have the ability via the internet to find each other, and there are groups popping up everywhere. This includes schools. We don't have rummage sales, spaghetti dinners, or softball leagues, but that may come some day! We do have "retreats" in a sense, with the few conferences we can attend.
Again, feelings don't prove the truth of a position. Feeling comfort from your religion is very, well, comforting. That doesn't mean there's a supernatural sky-daddy looking in on you. It's a comforting fantasy, but just a fantasy.
Belonging to a megachurch that offers dozens of weekly activities may stave off loneliness, and that's a good thing. Having a "prayer circle" that checks in on you when you're in the hospital is a very nice thing. Having dozens of people show up at a loved one's funeral makes it easier to go on with life.
We don't dismiss the comfort that religion brings, only the tenets that religion requires.
You worship Dawkins (or Darwin or whomever).
Atheism is a rejection of supernatural religious beliefs, and for some people those beliefs are grounded on respect for authority. If you have an authoritarian viewpoint, naturally you would expect to substitute another authority for the law-giving God.
How can you look at the stars (nature, babies, etc.) and not feel that there is a God?
You are your own God
A lot of Christians are more like us in this respect already. Christ's sacrifice supposedly granted them forgiveness from breaking God's laws, so what really keeps them from running amok? Parents can inculcate a conscience in their children without reference to "What would Jesus do?" After all, Jesus did some strange things so he's not the best role model anyway. If you feel like having a fig and the fig tree isn't due to produce figs for several more months, would you set it on fire? No, of course not. You'd eat something else. Christians should give themselves more credit for their own common sense and respect for humanity. If they did, they'd realize atheists are pretty much the same.
But what about things like homosexuality and abortion? Some sects of Christianity leave it to their believers to figure out their own positions, and some are "liberal" in the sense of not viewing these things as sins. Atheists can come to various positions based on the way they frame the questions, just as Christians can. For a lot of us, not being told what to believe by a supernatural authority figure presents an interesting intellectual problem. But some of us are as emotional as believers are, and may decide that homosexuality is wrong based on projection of feelings: i.e., fighting their own urges, or feeling revulsion at the idea of sex with someone of their own gender. As the high number of anti-gay evangelicals who have turned out to be gay themselves shows, there is more to the question than reading some ancient text. Anyone who has actually read the Bible knows that there are many, many prohibitions against a lot of things that modern Christians don't pay any attention to at all. How many evangelicals refuse to eat shellfish because the Bible says it is an abomination? In reality, believers pick and choose which "laws" they will follow based on whether they want to do those things or not. Personally, I don't eat shellfish because I think it's icky. I don't have sex with women because I think that is icky too. I don't care if other people do either of those things, though. My own feelings on the subject guide only my own life, and I don't think I should dictate the actions of others.