Life as an Atheist

I live my life as a proud atheist. That’s actually a little weird to say. There isn’t really anything about not believing in gods that should make a person feel proud. I don’t live my life “proud” of the fact that I don’t believe Harry Potter really battled Voldemort. I’m not “proud” that I’m not scared of clowns and balloons because I know that Stephen King’s It is a work of fiction. (Actually, fuck that…clowns and balloons are scary, I don’t care who you are. Particularly if you’ve read It, which I am currently doing). But living in the United States, where atheists still land near the top of the list of people most despised and near the bottom of the list of people most likely to get elected to public office, I feel like I need to throw that adjective – proud – in there.

Fortunately, I’m in a position in which it doesn’t change my life one way or the other for me to be an “out” atheist. Not everybody is in that same position. People lose jobs, friends, and even families for having the nerve to openly question the validity of claims made by the religious. While we generally don’t need to worry about losing our lives in the United States for being “heathens” as is the terrifying case in places like Bangladesh, it is still something that has extraordinarily negative impacts on the lives of a large percentage of our population.

As I said, I’m luckily in a position in which it’s okay for me to be “out”. Growing up, my family was pretty laid back with religion. At one point, we started a thing where I’d go to the candlelight service at our Presbyterian church with my grandparents, mom, uncle, aunt, and cousins on Christmas Eve. That was largely the extent of church for me and truth be told, I always kind of felt like even that was really more about the beautiful music and the coolness of all the lit candles. I didn’t even get in trouble when I spent the whole service with my unlit candle gripped in my hand until it was soft enough to bend into a “U” to make the candlelight portion of the ceremony a bit funnier. I mean, I ended up at church for some reason or other, here and there, but it was always very casual. More of the “Geez, we should really probably go to church at some point” kind of thing than anything else. My friends all know how I feel and they all accept it. I have annoyed all of them at one point or another, but nobody sees it as a reason to end a friendship. At work, people don’t generally talk about religion. The people I work closest with know where I stand but for the most part, it just doesn’t come up. I certainly wouldn’t need to worry about losing my job regardless of who found out and it certainly wouldn’t matter to me to find out a coworker was religious.

But even though I don’t experience any truly negative impacts in my life due to my lack of religious belief, that doesn’t mean it is irrelevant. Even with a network of incredibly understanding family, friends, and coworkers, I still get the incredulous questions. I still get the invitations to church because if I just experienced this church, it would change my life. I still get the proclamations that I should turn things over to Christ.

That leads me to my point. I’m going to do a series of posts that attempt to bridge that gap between believing and not believing. In my personal life, most of what I deal with in regards to religion is the difficulty believers have in understanding how it is that I can live a normal life without knowing a god is looking out for me. That’s always been the most prominent sort of question but it became noticeably more pronounced after my son was diagnosed with cancer and even more so after we lost him. I totally get that and that’s the first thing I’m going to cover. Actually, death in general. First from the perspective of what I’ve spent the last couple years coming to grips with and then from the other side – accepting our own personal mortality. I’ve also got ideas for a few other things I want to touch on and I know more will come.

The idea here is to give those with a religious mindset a view into the mindset of the atheist. The more people there are who start to understand those differences, accept them as they are, and realize that they don’t mean “evil”, the more people there will be who can comfortably live their lives the way they want to live them without fear of negative repercussions.

I Thought It Would Be Easier

Something I recently posted on Facebook:

I know I have annoyed a fair number of you with my incessant rants about the orange turd currently occupying the White House. I apologize for that. I’ve even made an attempt to back off on it some because I know it gets annoying and I also know that a monotonous tone ends up just becoming background noise anyway. But this. To this I have to once again say something. Entering the final stretch on the way to that line-in-the-sand 100-day moment…this is what we get from our “esteemed” leader:

“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

I cannot possibly say this to our president with more heartfelt emotion:

Fuck. You. Fuck you, you arrogant, stuuuuupid man. Fuck you and everything about you. Are you seriously admitting to the nation you now lead that you were just playing games with this whole “president thing”? Whoops? Hadn’t thought that all the way through? Fuck you. I thought you were stupid from the start. But you have proven to have far less intellect than I ever imagined. You are a disgrace to everything about that office and this country.

And did I mention?

Fuck You.

Easter Message

What with the Easter Bunny, eggs, candy, plastic grass, and all that shit, it can be pretty easy to overlook the true meaning of Jesus’s zombification:

God (the all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful creator of the universe) made mankind (in his likeness) which ended up being riddled with so many assholes that they couldn’t even follow simple rules like not boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk and not eating the bird known as a bat. The obvious response to this blatant depravity (which also included the horror show of wearing clothes made from two different types of fabric) was for God to knock up a human chick and wait for roughly thirty-three years (long con) until the kid annoyed enough people to the point that they decided to torture and kill him (although he might also actually be God himself – it’s kind of unclear and depends on who you ask). But the kid only needed to be dead for three days. Then he got turned into a zombie, wandered around for a bit, and got voiped off to some ill-defined place called “Heaven”. Heaven is of particular note because it is eternal paradise (also ill-defined…like, if you’re dead, but all the people you want to hang out with are still alive, are you still in paradise? Whatever. Stop asking questions!) and for the rest of forever, as long as people state that they believe this story, they will also go to Heaven when they die.

And that’s why we have a rabbit bring chicken eggs, full of sugar, to children. And hide them. (The eggs, not the children).

Got it? Good.

Happy Easter.

A Letter to Conservatives

Dear people on the right who are actively telling people on the left to stop whining, crying, and throwing a tantrum,

I would respectfully urge you to go eat a dick. We just got done witnessing Republicans throw an eight-year-long, whiny tantrum by being obstructionist any chance they could find and by straight up fear-mongering with made-up stories about people coming for your guns or setting up death panels or who the hell knows how many other ridiculous stories.

Now we have this prick as our president. See, the thing is, we don’t have to make up conspiracy theories and stories about him being a misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, narcissistic, imbecilic, megalomaniac. We have video and tweets of him doing it every damn day and being proud of it. We aren’t only protesting what he could possibly do. We are protesting the disgrace that such a pile of shit brings to a noble office. Regardless of what he might do, right now it’s about who he objectively is.

To the notion that I should respect him simply because he’s the president, I will say that I intend to give him all the respect he deserves based on his actions. If he treats people with respect, he will earn respect in return. But so long as he stays the current course, you and our “esteemed” leader can feel completely free to fuck right off.

Cheers!

Iowa Bible Reading Fun

This article about Iowans reading Bibles at government buildings is absolutely hilarious. First of all, I find it astonishing to think that anybody could truly read the Bible and still say, with a straight face, that they find it to be inspirational or beautiful or about “just love, mercy and grace”. If that is all you take away from the Bible, then I’m sorry…you didn’t read the fucking Bible. I don’t care what you claim. Go back to page one and start over. Read it straight through. Don’t just cherry-pick the passages your preacher told you to read. Both the message and the writing are truly horrific. Not to mention how mind-numbingly boooooooring the damn thing is!

I love how the guy in the video is reading Genesis. That could not be a more perfect example of what “reading the Bible” means to most people. I assume he got through the creation story (which violates physics, chemistry, and basically every other discipline of science) and then wanted to claw his own eyes out because he realized how stupid the book is. I don’t know, maybe he made it all the way to the begats. But if he did, I’m certain he then made it look like he had to pee super bad and ran away.

I honestly couldn’t care less where people choose to read their Bibles. I would find it annoying to have somebody near me reading out loud but hell, I would find that annoying if they were reading the fucking Lord of the Rings and I love those books!

I do have to wonder, though, if the people reading the Bible out loud in the Capitol have gotten to this verse yet:

Matthew 6:6 New International Version (NIV)

6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Eh, whatever. As long as all they do is read their Bible in public, I don’t care. Just don’t try to make our government be “biblical”. I’ve already addressed that.

And Still…Climate Change

Climate change is a topic I have covered ad nauseam here. I found it completely absurd years ago that we were even still having this debate and now the United States of America has gone and elected a fuckwit science denier to the highest post in the land.

I truly do feel like having nearly 100% of climate scientists agree on a topic should be enough. But silly me, there I go giving conservatives orders of magnitude more credit than they deserve.

Have a look at this page. Scroll down a bit to the chart listing the 16 warmest years on record. Notice anything? Anything at all? Specifically take a look at that “Year” column. Now do you notice anything? How about the fact that 15 of those 16 years all start with “2”? And the only other one was two years before years started with “2”.

Let that truly sink in for just a moment. Except for the year 2000 itself, every single year of this new millennium is essentially in the hottest “however many years it’s been since 2000” list. And all indications point to the fact that 2016 will top 2015.

I mean, that almost makes it seem like the globe is getting…warmer. But at least Fuckwit the Orange will soon be taking control. That should really get things back on fucking track.

The Return

Well…it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. The last time I wrote anything for Empty Beer Bottles was in May of 2015 when my son was battling cancer. In short, he unfortunately lost that battle a few months later, so posting here became a very low priority.

Recently, though, I’ve realized that I’ve missed it. So I decided to try clearing away the cobwebs, loading up the snark cannon, and taking aim at any worthy targets. I sure hope I can think of some!

Welcome back, me.

Cancer? No Worries. God Will Fix That.

On December 31, 2014, my fourteen-year-old son was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Since that day, as one would expect, I have received many variations of the prayer sentiment. “I’m praying for you”, or “Your family is in our prayers”, or “Our whole church is praying for your son”. Now, even being very firmly in the atheist camp, I can recognize that sentiment for what it is. I realize that it is the person’s mechanism for attempting to say something encouraging in the face of something so awful. So when it happens, I smile and I sincerely tell the person, “Thank you. I really appreciate that”.

But then the prayer sentiment can go a step further. And that’s when my hackles start to get up. In this form, the sentiment has been something like, “You need to remember, God works miracles”, or “You should come to church”, or “You really need to turn things over to the Lord”. Do you see the difference? In the first set, the person is telling me that something is being done on our behalf. It doesn’t matter two shits if I happen to think that praying for my son does exactly as much good as eating a jelly bean for my son. That person is still simply expressing a nice sentiment. In the second set, the implication is that I need to change my behavior. And this is because the person talking to me can simply not fathom how anybody could know peace and learn to accept the situation without believing in the same invisible sky-man in which he or she believes.

This leads me to feel that it is at least worth discussing the fact that my lack of belief in any sort of god is every bit as sincere as your belief in Yahweh and Jesus. And just like you wouldn’t appreciate me coming to you in a time of stress and desperation telling you how much better your life would be if you would just stop with all of your ridiculous, bullshit beliefs, I don’t appreciate you coming to me and telling me that I need to change mine. I understand that many Christians in this country have never been adequately exposed to the notion that there are other ways of thinking, so I’m here to help with that.

Let’s start off with the easy part. I know you feel what you feel and you feel that everybody needs to feel what you feel. But here’s the thing…if you want to tell me that your god can perform a miracle and cure my son, then I see that as equivalent to a thief stealing my stuff but then finding it in his heart to give the stuff back. So, I guess…thanks for giving it back? But still…fuck you to begin with! I would have been much happier if you just hadn’t stolen my shit in the first place! Asshole. In other words, even if there is a god, I see no reason to praise him for undoing what he allowed to happen to begin with. So if that’s what you’ve got, then I say your god is an asshole who is unworthy of adulation even if he does exist.

But what can it hurt to put my faith in the Lord to help my child? Do you mean putting my faith in the hate-filled, genocidal phychopath told about in disjointed tales in a geriatric storybook and his zombie kid who gets pissed off at fig trees? I don’t know. Should we compare the track records of faith healing sects to those of science-based medicine? Because I have news for you, when you use science-based medicine and also still pray…<whisper>It isn’t your sky-wizard who makes things better</whisper>.

But now let’s move beyond the ridiculousness of me putting faith in a book that I find to be, literally, no different than The Iliad or The Odyssey (except nowhere near as good). Now let’s get to you telling me I should. Why? Why do you feel like you need to do that? As I said before, I’m not yammering on to you about the obvious benefits of not believing in a sky-man. For instance, when I found out my son had cancer, I didn’t have to reconcile that horrible fact with my belief in some “all-loving” god. I didn’t have to waste time and emotion jumping through hoops trying to figure out what sky-man meant by that. I didn’t have to resent sky-man.

I realize I’m telling you that now. But I would never have the gall to say something like that when you were at your wit’s end trying to figure out how to get your kid through cancer. So tell me, Christian who insists you know what I need better than I do…why don’t you have the same respect for me?