Posted by on Sep 12, 2011 in Essays | 3 comments

Name: Miller, Enrique

Born: 1984

Location: Katy, Texas

Organization affiliation: Human

Label: Atheist, Humanist

Former Religious Affiliation: Roman Catholic, then Agnostic, Now Atheist.

My Story 

My mom used to tell me about going to the old Catholic cathedrals in Mexico where the Priest still gave the Mass in Latin. She described sitting, then kneeling, then sitting again for over two hours while she was a young girl. She attempted to listen to the echoing, unintelligible droning coming from the pulpit, but ended up doing what most children do when bombarded by something they have little interest in: fidget and attempt to entertain themselves.

She told me during these natural fits of boredom causing her not to pay attention and lose step with the standing, kneeling, and sitting, her mother would set her into line. She would pinch her so hard that it would remove a piece of skin and sometimes even draw blood. My mother told me this after I started laughing during one of the sermons to explain why she pinched me and how it could have been worse.

In a micro chasm, this could describe the evolution (if you could call it that) of Christianity over time, which lies at the base of my disbelief. I had never quite fallen into line with many of the dogmas that were directed toward ‘the flock’ because none of seemed to make sense, beginning with the genesis of every Christian: Baptism. How could god be so unfair, I thought, to deny so many people who existed before Christianity or lived after in a country that didn’t celebrate it or never even heard of it? How could god be so cruel as to send so many un-baptized children, who die in childbirth or soon after, to eternal torment or a never ending limbo?

This inconsistency of logic was the first step I needed to begin to regard the Bible and Catholicism with the same critical thinking I used for everything else in reality. Afterwards I steadily rose in my level of thinking from a simple Christian who believed in Jesus only because of his moral teachings (not so much the sin shouldering,) and not the Bible. After that I began to ask myself what belief really meant. I thought about all the trouble belief imposed on the throngs of humanity before us. Then I saw the Go God Go Episode of South Park where in the future they had learned to extinguish ‘isms’ in their time because in the hands of the irrational, ‘isms’ become dangerous things. When I became a more in depth student of history, I realized this comedy episode’s thesis was a profoundly great idea.

When egos, driven by their particular ‘ism’, are challenged by the light of reality, one witness a violent reaction which leads toward the eventual crumbling of the false premise. The Nazi’s, believing in a pure race being superior, were utterly defeated by a plurality of different peoples. The Soviets, believing in the motherland and price setting, were crumbling beneath the weight of their own delusions. Every cultist who ever thought they were following a god in their own life ultimately fell beneath a hail of gunfire, by burning up in compounds, by a cup of death spiked koolaid, or in some other equally pointless manner.

I found by simplifying my list of beliefs to certain moral tent posts and very little else, the world opened once again. I was able to consider things more objectively than I was ever capable of doing before without dogma or faith deterring or confining my though processes. I found myself regarding death as more of a fact of life rather than the toll booth toward paradise or hell. This made me realize that this life I have is the only one I have (as far as I know) and I had to make the best of it for myself and my fellow creatures. For many years I enjoyed the comfort of “I don’t know” to many questions in my own mind, but I still kept my mouth shut when others proselytized about their blind nationalism or religious faith. Two things happened, however, that would reshape my attitudes toward individuals who preached the illogical.

The first was 9-11 and all of the repercussions that followed. The realization of another Bronze Age religion struggling for dominance through violence was a wakeup call, especially when the religious right in this country followed the mentality and called for a holy war. I would NOT take any part in a Holy War. I would NOT allow the Christians to pervert our intentions to turn this terrible tragedy into a crusade, but they persisted. I realized that I too must persist. I would make it a point to assert logic, factual rationale, and peace.

The second was the release of a series of books by the so-called “New Atheists.” The most notable and well written was God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens taught me not to be meek in my attitudes toward the religious because we, as Atheists, certainly have the facts on our side. His book demonstrated that you don’t have to debate a religious zealot on the merits of the Bible, but on the logical fallacies associated with religion in general. He demonstrated you could be a moral individual without having belief in a cosmic dictator.

As an Atheist, I find the biggest critique against me is: can you prove there is no god? The answer of course is: No, of course not. I don’t think many Atheist claim they can submit proof there is no god, but there are plenty of theist who claim their proof is in their holy books. As Atheist, we simply claim to have nott experienced any evidence for a god or any indication that this supernatural being has ever spoke with any human at any point in history. Many of us disagree with the term, “supernatural.”  We don’t know the mysteries of the universe and we are ok with that.

We still can live rich, fulfilling, and moral lives without any assumptions of the supernatural or half baked answers of the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything (42 is likely a more reasonable hypothesis than Jehovah). Living without these assumptions leaves us inquisitive and open to any of the answers of those questions in reality.  This mentality could lead to a positive zeitgeist in the human condition and once we, as a majority of a species, release our minds from our Bronze Age shackles, and who knows what heights we could reach.

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