Atheism, Politics, Faith, and the Failure of Followers
Quite a wordy title! But I was trying to snag all the keywords that this (relative to the title) short article is about. In Honor of Colbert I’ll be supporting my points with “the gut” and you can make your own personal judgment of whether or not I’m being accurate :). I like to think I’m fairly good at this sort of thing so we shall see.
Recently I was asked if Atheism means that one knows, unequivocally, there is no God. I do think indeed that there are a large group of people who call themselves Atheists because they believe this and I’d be willing to go farther and say that like the word “Gay” the term “Atheist” no longer encompasses in the majority the group it originally was intended for (originally Gay meant Happy as far as I’m aware; But no nicer group of people could have snagged it so good for them).
Atheism is not necessarily a belief in anything, I do not mean in the context of Nihilism, but it is not a belief structure it is a knowledge structure. It’s name may merely be a misnomer? I’m in no position to create a better one, though I do think that “Intellectual” or “Scientist” are better options. Though the former has been butchered by Fox News and the latter isn’t necessarily anymore accurate for some folks. Which leads me into what will follow this coming paragraph.
Atheism is a lifestyle where a person applies the scientific method throughout their life where necessary. It is not that they know that God does not exist, but given the evidence, there is no reason to believe that God does. This does not mean in the future that evidence may indeed show that there is a God, it merely means that at this time there is no evidence to support the idea. Because of this Atheists do not believe in God, just like they do not believe that (as I’ve heard it said) Invisible Tea Cups orbit Mars and radiate pure dreams. It is possible, but there is no evidence to support it beyond anecdotal.
Alright I lied two paragraphs ago, I have more before we move on. Atheism like most lifestyles has been dominated by an incredibly loud and incredibly misinformed group of people. Unfortunately for reasons unbeknownst to me (maybe God knows ;)) they seem to be the ones that end up having lots of free money and time that they can invest in shouting through megaphones at churches or badger faithful people about their foolish life choices. These people are not Atheists, they are more closely related to a group known as “Douche Bags”. The problem is that, like popular Tea Partiers, they have become so engrained in the ‘movement’ (I use that word because it is late and my vocabulary is tanking) that they are seen as the movement. This is never the case and luckily many of them make poor life choices and die young. That wasn’t too harsh was it?
Now to help redeem myself in your eyes I will move back to my point about the terminology not being accurate (I know it has been so long since I was talking about it we’ve both forgotten, it’s ok we’ll work through this). In every faith, every political body, and indeed every organization on the planet there are vast majorities of what I like to call “Ignoraleeches.” These are people who are largely ignorant of the faith/political body/organization of which they are apart of, but they saw a line or two in a pamphlet somewhere and thought “That’s a pretty good idea.” Because of this when you ask them about their own life and how they identify themselves they might say something akin to the following “I’m a Christian Democrat.”
That statement sounds harmless, but it is usually wrong. They are not an actual Christian, they are someone who believes that Jesus existed and that there is likely a God. But they more-than-likely did not read the bible, if you name a famous line from the bible they can’t recite it, if you ask them the name of the Prophets they can’t tell you. If you ask them who condemned Jesus they will likely guess (and guess wrong). I’m not saying Christians are stupid, because I’ve only met maybe 1 or 2 in my entire life, the rest are merely Ignoraleeches, they love the idea of a god and of a very nice guy who came down to wash away their sins. They haven’t dwelled farther than that, they may have seen a church once but that was the extent of it.
This is true of every faith, the majority (that is to say over 50% I couldn’t give a more accurate number than that) of people are not actual followers of their beliefs. Because to be a follower you need to take in the whole picture. You can’t just pick and choose what you like and ignore what you don’t, that’s not the same thing, faith is not a build-a-bear. What you become is a Chimera which is not necessarily bad thing (Chimeras are badass). But what it does is create a massive Zerg like mass of flesh that unfortunately does not share the single mindedness the Zerg are famous for. You have the illusion of a bunch of cohesive people when really it’s hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of subtypes that each share only the vaguest similarities.
This gives faiths more power than they deserve, the idea of a text that suggests peaceful and love filled life is a fantastic thing but I’m still waiting on one to be made. Those that I’ve read have had some extremely harsh rhetoric and stories within them that have troubled me deeply. If you are an actual follower of your faith, following the text that is the unquestionable word of the all powerful (whichever all powerful that might be) there is no way you can accept the existence of folks whose faith differs from yours. I cannot speak on Scientology but every other faith I’ve read into and read the book of explicitly says that no other faith can exist and the followers cannot be (conversion through word or death).
I understand faith and I’m not trying to make it sound bad, that’s not my intention. I’m merely pointing out the problem with organizations of any type. You have a massive organism where only a few pieces actually understand the central structure and the rest just pick and choose, it is easy but it is not correct. I can’t choose which sections of math work for me and ignore those that don’t, I can try and it might look like I’ve succeeded but I’ll never understand the domain entirely because of it. I’m merely a member of a certain part of math, not the entire body of mathematics (Calculus is a gangster).
Political parties are a huge perpetrator of this problem, perhaps worse than faith in the sense that they quite directly affect my life in a very negative manner. Nearly nobody in either party in the US is actually a part of that party. They cannot tell you the actual founding principles of their party nor can they tell you about the most influential leaders of their party. This might sound like a bold statement, but give it a shot, you’ll be so successful you’ll swear it is confirmation bias. What this creates is to mega parties that seemingly represent mass portions of the US when in actuality they represent ridiculously small portions. The rest pick and choose what they like and then call themselves a “Democrat” or a “Republican”. I’m also quickly going to acknowledge the position of Independent/Moderate and the fact that most folks (at least if Polls are to be believed) consider themselves a part of these (which I tend to consider the same thing but even they seem to have divides). This is probably accurate because by design this position is one that is defined by the desire to pick and choose, which is generally the only honest option people have.
What we have is a planet full of fleshy snowflakes, each trying to take their own personal experiences and transpose them on the global scale. They assume that their beliefs are accurate and thus must represent the entirety of those in their group. I am immediately aware of the humor in this article in relation to that last sentence (for those that didn’t catch it you could apply my last sentence to me as well right this moment). I’m often reminded of this when people speak of “moderate” *insert group here* versus “extremist” *insert group here*, be it Christians, Muslims, Tea Partiers, Republicans, or the less discussed “Chess Club” (They can kill you with a Rook from 50 yards), we are apparently able to identify that there are two groups of people but we make the mistake of labeling one “good” and one “bad”. For the sake of accuracy you have the first group, the moderates, which are your pick and choosers. They take what they like and ignore what they like on the intellectual buffet they’ve taken a seat at. These people do not represent the essence of the organization they affiliate themselves with, they merely legitimize a (generally) otherwise ridiculous concept by taking only the reasonable pieces of it and ignoring the other 99% that would make a creative writers mind explode (“Oh come on…nobody could ever believe that.”
I’m not picking on faith, that is true about Republicans, Democrats, Religions, Atheists, and basically any group you can think of (I’m sure even your softball team has this issue). It’s a hidden dissonance that desperately needs to be addressed. You are much more unique than you think, any group you think you are a member of is probably inaccurate at best, and the attempt to globalize your personal experiences is a dangerous precedent.
MLK famously said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Now I’m not a fan of milking others but he said it better than I could have and far earlier than I am saying it.
Though he was speaking against racism and a utopia in which we are more concerned with the character’s story than the character’s physical person (which I like) I think this also fits in with my point. Don’t define yourself by race, belief, political party, or anything else that ties you inseparably from a global beast. It is that which is in you that is most important, the content of your character should be the most precious treasure you house from birth till death. It is the compilation of every event in your life big or small and is ultimately unique in its final sum.
Label yourself a non label, so to speak, take a title that merely describes and does not dictate. You don’t belong to a faith, or a party, or a group, you belong to yourself. Finally to quote one more amazing person to finish my point which by now has likely been entirely lost:
"You are an important person just the way you are. You can make healthy decisions." – Fred Rogers.
(^ The quote could quite easily be a tl;dr to my entire topic.)
I’m sure this’ll get lost in the ethos of the internet never to be seen again, which I feel, as one would expect, to be a shame.