Why I am an atheist
It didn’t just happen one day. It took nearly a lifetime. Actually, it took many lifetimes because I know my family history and can trace the thinking process to the point of my evolvement.
One grand ancestor worked for King James, translating the Bible. Another ancestor translated the Bible from English to Welsh. Before that, there were Jewish ancestors who traveled out of the land of Egypt through India, Iran, and Russia, through Croatia and onto to Wales. All of that time, many were religious men and women, speaking to their communities about love and tolerance for one another.
In the course of time, they adapted the stories passed down from fellow human beings who used them as a means to cope with the unknown and to establish rules of civility. Religious rules were for all mankind while kings and tyrants, tribal leaders, and eventually governments prevailed.
Discovering life’s truths is humbling. Studying science and the history of humankind creates a context for which there is no end in any direction. Whether we look outward or inward, what we find are more infinite details.
I was raised a Christian by deeply religious parents as were their parents. In the course of upbringing, I discovered two types of “believers” in my midst: 1) humble, kind, gentle, faithful people who could not and would not hurt a fellow human being as they would give all the benefit of the doubt and trusted in their “Lord” to find the right answers, and 2) confident, forceful, arrogant individuals who used their church to justify their being right in their mind about most everything because their “Lord” entrusted them with their being correct. There are many variations of these types of people in the world as we are diverse.
People who study people, formally or informally, people who observe and contemplate their own behavior may eventually see the light.
Human beings are unique among the living for having the capacity to imagine and to wonder. Those who keep imagination fresh and who keep on thinking will push the envelope of evolution. Those who stop thinking may be confined to their moment on this earth will see only what is before them. In either case, both have capacity to apply their brains to construct a better world or to make it worse.
At night I still think a simple prayer taught to me by my Mother.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray, my Lord, my soul to take.
I once contemplated that soulful energy might be real. I thought maybe Einstein had it right, that energy is conserved. All of that thought and emotion represented by an individual human being must not just go away with their death. It must be conserved somewhere, somehow.
Then a scientist friend reminded me that when the chemistry stops, it all goes away.
Yet, he is wrong to believe that chemistry stops, because it doesn’t really.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust is all a part of the grand scheme in which we are encapsulated.
Particles we are of something grander here and there, everywhere, we are.
Posted by Mollie
A few weeks ago there was quite a brouhaha over an atheist challenge to a street sign honoring 9/11 victims. The name of the street is Richards Street but underneath the sign at one intersection is another street sign saying “Seven In Heaven Way” to honor seven local firefighters who were killed on September 11. And so newspapers and media outlets ran with the story. Most news stories seemed fine. One, I recall included quite a few atheists objecting to the complaint on the grounds it was petty or hurtful.
Well yesterday American Atheists filed suit to prevent cross-shaped steel girders from the wreckage of the World Trade Center towers from being included in the September 11 memorial. American Atheists president Dave Silverman was quoted by Courthouse News:
Mincing no words, Silverman, who is not a named plaintiff, added: “It [the cross] has been blessed by so-called holy men and presented as a reminder that their god, who couldn’t be bothered to stop the Muslim terrorists or prevent 3,000 people from being killed in his name, cared only enough to bestow upon us some rubble that resembles a cross. It’s a truly ridiculous assertion.”
ABC wrote up the lawsuit:
Jane Everhart, who is part of the atheist’s suit, derided the cross as nothing more than “ugly piece of wreckage” that “does not represent anything … but horror and death.” …
“The Christian community found a piece of rubble that looked like an icon and they deified it. But really 9/11 had nothing to do with Christianity,” said American Atheists president Dave Silverman. “They want a monopoly and we don’t want that to happen.”
The article talked to the September 11 Memorial folks and they explained that other religious artifacts would also be on display, including a Star of David cut from WTC steel, a Bible fused to a piece of steel that was found during recovery efforts, and a Jewish prayer shawl that was donated by a victim’s family member:
In a statement to ABCNews.com, the memorial foundation identified the cross as a “symbol of spiritual comfort for the thousands of recovery workers who toiled at ground zero,” as well as an “authentic physical reminder” that “tell[s] the story of 9/11 in a way nothing else can.”
The article ends with competing quotes. One is from the rescue worker who found the cross after digging three bodies out from the rubble of the collapsed Twin Towers. He says he was overwhelmed upon its discovery and believes it’s a beautiful symbol of faith and freedom. He argues that it’s a “natural artifact” from Ground Zero. The other quote comes from the communications director for the American Atheists who says she can’t visit the memorial so long as there’s a cross there.
The article is fine but I wonder if it wouldn’t have been improved by including the voices of atheists who are not fans of this lawsuit. Otherwise it gives the impression that all atheists think lawsuits against featuring the remnant beam from the World Trade Center are a good idea.
One other thing. USA Today basically just quoted extensively from the American Atheist press release (which was unwise considering it had some errors of fact). But it mentioned that one of the plaintiffs was a man whose brother had done rescue work at the World Trade Center for two weeks following the attack and died in 2005. We’re told that the man wouldn’t want a cross to honor his brother unless it’s a Lutheran cross.
Now, as you may have picked up from previous blog posts, I am Lutheran. And I have literally no idea what a “Lutheran cross” is. I mean, is it a crucifix? We do like our crucifixes. Is it a plain rustic cross? I guess not, since that’s what the cross in question is. Is it something to do with the Lutheran Rose? What is it? I have no idea.
Image via Wikipedia.
Written by: Mollie on July 28, 2011”
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Indianapolis, Indiana, United States