Please Keep Writing Your Atheist Blog

If you’re familiar with this blog you’ll probably know I am an atheist. You may also wonder why I don’t post more about atheism: I (usually) don’t rant about organized religion. In fact, I don’t even discuss it. In most of my posts you’ll see I just assume there’s no God, without even discussing the possibility. Why?

The short answer is I can’t be bothered. Read on for some clarification.

First, I need to say I’m extremely lucky. I was born in Barcelona, a city where most people (last figure I read was 65%) are atheists. The social pressure, then, goes the opposite way you’re probably used to: people who believe in God feel sometimes prosecuted or laughed at. It’s not that we’re mean to them. It’s just that, when you say you believe in God in my city, people look at you much like they would if you said you still believed in Santa Claus. We just don’t get it. It’s like: “you know it’s just a story, right?” So yes, religious people in Barcelona are the ones that feel estranged, not atheists. Honestly, I can’t say I’m sorry.

English: Santa Claus as illustrated in , v. 52...

We don’t believe in Santa either. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am also lucky because my parents are atheists. Now they did run into problems because of their atheism in the highly Catholic  Spain of the dictatorship. But that Spain is gone (though it survives in some regions of my beloved country and in the party in government) and I didn’t inherit their problems. They did the fighting for me. Thanks, dad. Thanks, mom. I’m not baptized and nobody cares. It’s quite an achievement.

These extremely lucky circumstances have let me avoid the darker sides of religion, in the sense that I haven’t had to confront hordes of intolerant maniacs who told me I would burn in hell if I got a divorce or used a condom. In fact, in Spain we have gay marriage and almost nobody gives a crap. I daresay Barcelona is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. But, again, we just take it for granted. And that has made my reactions to religion a lot more tempered, though that doesn’t mean I don’t get mad. What it means is that I am able to put the matter behind me most of the time, because it doesn’t affect me (much) on an everyday level.

As you can see, these are personal reasons. If I had been born in the US my reactions would probably be very different. In fact, I would probably be a militant atheist. I would have plenty of reasons to. In a highly religious society, finding some kind of support – even if it’s online – from like-minded individuals seems pretty important to me. Something that would help you keep your sanity while your family or co-workers try to evangelize you. I believe atheist blogs play a crucial role, especially in countries where atheists are still prosecuted or enjoy reduced rights, like in America (swearing on the Bible, anyone?).

Atheism

Atheism (Photo credit: atheism)

It is just me. I can’t find the motivation because I have been a lucky bastard and have never had to deal with this kind of stuff. This doesn’t mean I think other people shouldn’t do it. In fact, I think they should. Doing some proselytizing of atheism is absolutely necessary in the world we live in. I will even contribute from time to time. Just not all the time. I just can’t be bothered.

The thing is I find the whole arguing with religious people really exhausting. In my whole life I have never, ever managed to convince anyone, probably because by the end I get too worked up. It is not the religiosity that makes me rail, but the lack of rational discussion. The lack of understanding of the most basic scientific concepts. There is a moment when I just can’t take it. That’s why I never bother to visit some blog written by a religious fanatic (and there are plenty of them, especially in the “atheism” tag of the wordpress reader) and start an argument. I feel it would be useless. Sometimes I really, really want to. Sometimes my whole body is asking me to. But then I simulate the discussion in my mind: I imagine the hours I’m going to spend replying to each one of their arguments, for lack of a better name, getting angry to eventually convince nobody. And I stop myself.

I just can’t be bothered.

(And yes, I do know there are rational religious people that are perfectly capable of having a debate. They’re just hard to find. I also know some atheists are not rational. I also know all atheists are different and all religious people are different. I also know you can’t generalize. Please don’t be the person who points out the obvious.)

Seattle Pride Weekend 2009.

Seattle Pride Weekend 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And the thing is, I should be bothered. Yes, most religious people won’t change their minds. But maybe one or two readers will. And that is enough. So I actually believe in the wisdom of confronting religious views, of unmasking bigotry and intolerance. S

omeone has to do it. I just find it really, really exhausting. I know I won’t get anything but frustration from the discussion. And so, like the lazy ass I am, I just sit back and enjoy it while other people do the work. I am not proud of it. I am a little embarrassed, in fact. But I just can’t be bothered.

So what can I say? I don’t write about religion because I’m lazy. Because I wouldn’t be writing about what I care about, but trying to convince a bunch of people that don’t want to be convinced. And my desire to convince these people is smaller than my desire to ponder the imponderable mysteries of the universe. So I write a post about time and consciousness instead of explaining why there is no God. I just can’t be bothered.

If you’re reading this and you have an atheist blog then, please, for the love of God, don’t do the same. Don’t stop writing. Keep on. You see, the fact that I can’t be bothered reflects poorly on me. You are a social service. You are a beacon of light for the millions of atheists out there who have to struggle every day because of their lack of belief. You are the only hope we have of making this society rational and enlightened, of finally placing our values on what makes sense instead of what we’ve always been doing, also known as tradition. It is thanks to you and people like you that I can write this blog without being burned at the stake. And for that I am extremely thankful.

So please be bothered. Bother as many people as you can. This is not a piece of advice. This is just a plea from someone who enjoys the kind of world people like you have made possible.

Anyway, just letting you know.

Thanks for everything.

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33 thoughts on “Please Keep Writing Your Atheist Blog

  1. quantumfood

    I get your dislike of religion, but believing in God is a whole other matter…first of all because no one can really define what ‘God’ is in the first place. But I would also rather not get into that argument. The only thing I would like to point out is the widespread label of irrationality you apply to religious people. You go on to say that religious people are not all the same, but the meaning implied is that religion is inherently irrational. On the contrary, religion is entirely rational for human happiness – a matter of having faith in a positive force in the universe, whatever one chooses to call it. That’s why it’s stuck around for so long. Of course, some people take it to superstitious levels, but I feel that that is also a survival mechanism for them.

    And, too, since we’re human and not machines (yet), aren’t all of us susceptible to irrationality some of the time?

    Again, this is not to wholesale attack your post. I get the distaste for people who hate on evolution/ban condoms/etc. I used to hate these kinds of people, but now, kind of like you, I just find it funny. I think after a while I tuned out most things, and started thinking only about the stuff I could do something about.

    Reply
    1. David Yerle Post author

      First of all, I have to say I loved the tone of your reply. This is exactly what I mean by having a fruitful, calm and friendly discussion. Thank you very much for disagreeing politely. I really, really appreciate it.
      Now to my reply.
      I guess it depends on what you define by “rational.” When I speak about rationality I am referring to the ability to defend your points using logical arguments, which is scarce among religious people. That said, it could be rational for me to act in an irrational way (for example, by embracing a system of beliefs that make me happy, whether or not they are substantiated by any kind of evidence.) Even though this fits the definition of rational, it is not the type of rationality that I find interesting. What I mean by that is that, although this person may be happier than me, there is little she can bring into the conversation on topics I am interested in, precisely because of her choice of being irrational for happiness’s sake (which is nonetheless a rational choice, I admit.)
      I don’t think believing in God per se is irrational, but I do think believing in a personal God is. If you call nature itself God, I could question your choice of words but I wouldn’t consider it an irrational belief. However, believing there is an omnipotent being which created the universe and somehow has human attributes such as love or rage does seem irrational to me. The reason it does is it fails to realize the difference between a human and a being with infinite (or extremely great) knowledge. This type of humanization of the supernatural seems completely illogical to me.
      Concerning your point that humans are susceptible of irrationality, I completely grant it. Heck, I have a lot of completely irrational fears. I think when I speak about rationality I am speaking about the kind of reasoning (or lack of it) one uses when debating with another human being. Your way of arguing, for example, seems completely rational, in the sense that you employ sound arguments and actually reply to what I’ve said, instead of going out on a limb and saying whatever you please, related or not to the point. That is what I mean by “rational” and I admit that, while not usual, you can find plenty of rational people among believers of any religion.
      Anyway, I think we probably don’t disagree on the main points and, again, it was a pleasure to engage in a discussion with you. Please feel free to keep it going!

      Reply
      1. quantumfood

        Thank you for your long and thoughtful reply. I always enjoy these discussions as well, especially what you said to end your first paragraph: “However, believing there is an omnipotent being which created the universe and somehow has human attributes such as love or rage does seem irrational to me. The reason it does is it fails to realize the difference between a human and a being with infinite (or extremely great) knowledge. This type of humanization of the supernatural seems completely illogical to me.” I completely agree with your point. And I see where you’re coming from now with the rationality/religion argument. It also further bolsters my suspicion that people aren’t often talking at divergent wavelengths; their problem is that they don’t listen. Good day to you, sir!

        Reply
        1. David Yerle Post author

          You’re completely right. I’m sure most disagreements boil down to misunderstandings and a lack of will to listen or to explain things in a less confrontational way.
          Good day to you too!

          Reply
  2. OBNXS1

    A big thing that came up on the news here yesterday, Chicago suburbs, was the ramifications of a settlement with the Catholic diocese of Joliet, another suburb. Sixty, SIXTY, years of records regarding abuse allegations against priests. It had obviously been out long enough for someone to put together bar chart tracing VERIFIABLE abuse and it was determined that 75% of churches in the area had had a pedophile priest at one point.

    For six decades they shuffled predators around to protect themselves and said to Hell with the children. News like this isn’t the number one reason I’m an Atheist, but it’s in the top five. I just can’t see how even the staunchest followers of the cult of God can look at this and say “Yeah, there’s someone up there”.

    Reply
  3. livelysceptic

    Thank you for writing this thoughtful post. I must admit I get mad and I rant, from time to time. (Remember the pope?) The one thing about organised religion that is unacceptable to me is when it’s trying to rule my life. If you don’t want to get an abortion, have a gay marriage, or euthanasia, that is absolutely fine with me. I would not dream of forcing my beliefs on you. So why could other people not be just as generous?

    Still, I find I’ve almost given up on discussing these things. For the exact same reason you have, probably. It doesn’t help. It doesn’t help because faith is an irrational thing. In the end, it cannot yield to reason and information. There is a psychological theory that states discussion might serve to reinforce important beliefs.

    At the moment, I am trying to find new avenues by becoming aware of the many beliefs we have. I have an inkling that it might be useful to take a levelheaded look at all of them: politics, psychology, philosophy, you name it. Maybe religion is not the problem; maybe faith is.

    Reply
    1. David Yerle Post author

      I totally agree with you: the culprit is faith. This friend of mine once told me: “but faith is a good thing, isn’t it?” and suddenly I saw it: somehow, religions have gotten people to believe that unquestioning belief in something is a good thing. Why on Earth? How many dictatorships have gotten away with murder because of “faith” in the leaders? How many lies does our government tell us and we just gobble them up with our “faith” in them?
      I guess that’s why the only faith I allow myself to have is the belief that chronic skepticism will actually lead me somewhere. It’s my way of making sure I don’t take anything on faith.

      Reply
      1. Hasnain mohammed

        After years of careful planning and exhausting labor, biochemists have succeeded in discovering certain experimental organisms on a very simple and primitive level from which all trace of life is absent. This scientific triumph was regarded as very valuable and received with great enthusiasm in scientific circles, and nobody claimed that this highly deficient and primitive laboratory creation had come into being as the result of chance, without direction, planning and precision.

        This being the case, those who ascribe all the beings in the vast system of the universe, together with their complex and mysterious properties to the blind and unconscious forces of matter, are, in reality, doing violence and injustice to logic and human intelligence and waging open war on the truth.

        http://www.al-islam.org/god-and-his-attributes-sayyid-mujtaba-musawi-lari/lesson-5-manifestations-god-nature

        Reply
    2. quantumfood

      If I may put in my two cents… I think skepticism should be the default, but the one thing that I would put my faith in is goodness. Not in some kumbaya way, but in a way that transcends everything else, even the threat of death. That is the only thing I believe in, the only thing I believe is worthy of belief, but few see it. Perhaps that’s why those dictators came to power.

      Reply
      1. David Yerle Post author

        I wish I could have faith in goodness. I actually don’t, but just because (as I’ve mentioned somewhere else) I don’t really believe in an objective good and evil.
        However, faith in goodness seems like one of the least silly and more laudable faiths to have. I wish I could feel the same, really.

        Reply
      1. john zande

        Thanks, David! Like you I’m actually a passive atheist. Being Australian i had a very similar experience to yours. Religion just doesn’t play a role there… and no one talks about it. It was only after arriving in Brazil did i start to see the effect it had on people. I find it all rather silly, and that makes it fun 🙂

        Reply
  4. Tongue Sandwich

    That’s one of the things I love about blogging/conversing with other bloggers: I actually learn something, pretty much on a daily basis. I had no idea that Barcelona is a city of non-believers! Sounds like my kinda town. Should I consider moving?

    The incongruous statement “religion is entirely rational for human happiness” in the very first comment made me smile. Some people really seem to have no clue what the words they use actually mean.

    “The existence of God, I discovered one day, is not a problem. Whether he exists or not doesn’t affect us; in the slightest, and there is no reason to worry about something that doesn’t affect us. But religion on the other hand does affect us; it stuck its pointed nose into even the most hidden depths of our lives. Like an invisible policeman, it had tried to keep our existence under surveillance, to regulate with its cruel, cold, hypocritical logic.” Francisco Rebolledo

    Reply
    1. David Yerle Post author

      I wouldn’t move there if I were you. Unbelievers or not, Spain is now one of the most depressed countries in the world. I’m afraid even the number of atheists doesn’t make up for that…

      Reply
      1. Tongue Sandwich

        Well, I’m sure you suspected that I wasn’t really serious about moving to Barcelona. I haven’t been to Spain for a very long time, but I once read that among Spain’s attractions nowadays are not only the highest number of smokers in the European Union, but also just about the highest level of noise pollution (especially through blaring music) anywhere in the so-called civilized world. I guess you’re right, no percentage of non-believers could possibly make up for that.

        Reply
        1. David Yerle Post author

          Another noise hater! Someone who understands! One of the reasons I can’t stand Barcelona is the noise pollution. It’s unbearable. It’s something that most people in Barcelona doesn’t notice, though. They don’t really care. For me, it’s torture. You sleep worse, your mood is worse. I hate it.
          That said, compared to China, Barcelona is a silent paradise…

          Reply
  5. Misty

    I’m working on a post for a private blog I have that addresses some of these same questions. Would you be interested in an invitation?

    Reply
  6. murakamilovescat

    Thanks for the great post again. Haa I just read a fb comment “Pray and stop the pain in the name of Jesus.” on a friend’s status because he’s sick!!! And that’s supposed to help more than a doctor?

    Sorry for getting sidetracked. Likewise I’ve tried to engage in discussions with religious people and I got the same result. They just can’t be convinced, so to stop myself from losing friends I’ve decided to stop talking about atheism, at least in front of my religious friends.

    Recently I went to a Law of Attraction meetup just out of curiosity, and I find it quite similar to organized religions. They need you to “believe without doubt”, very similar to “faith” I’d say, or irrational beliefs. It seems like the existence of cults and organized religions relies heavily on irrational beliefs, so it seems to make a lot of sense for you to say that many religious people (didn’t say most) are incapable of having a rational discussion.

    I’ve read a bit of Alain de botton’s “Religion for Atheists”, and I can understand where he’s coming from. The world has enough wars that we don’t need to start a war with religious people. And you’re right, there’s no point in doing so, because they just can’t be convinced, or they won’t accept your logical arguments. But since we are the open-minded ones, we might be able to see religions in different ways so we can benefit from them.

    I used to be like, “What? NO…” when friends tell me they are starting to go to church, but now I’m like, “If it works for you, that’s great and I’m happy for you.”

    I know you can’t be bothered but pleeease write more on this, it’s great to know that there are logical and intelligent people.

    Reply
  7. lwboyle

    You gave me a good chuckle but your right in the US trying to get different religious org. to agree on sometime is like getting Dem and Rep in congress to actually pass some bills that help Americans! I with you brother don’t waste your breath or should I say key strokes!

    Reply
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  13. sue

    Last stats I read was Bible Christians are about 8 percent of the population. And that’s supposed to stop us writing our blogs? Dream on.

    Reply

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