I’ve dug up the following posts from a blog I had a few years ago. I think it’s interesting to note the earliest emergence of an atheist.

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Post 1

I’ve been studying my thought patterns lately. Especially comparing them to my thought patterns of the past. And I realized I have been less in a certain religious state of mind that I grew up in.

I think that a common feature of most religious mindsets is one of supplication. One is either actively praying for, or is trying to live, in order to convince the divine being to either do something good, or not do something bad.

We want our lives to go smoother. We want peace of mind. We want to be fed, healthy, and fit. We want that perfect lover or spouse. We want to advance higher in our religion’s heiarchy. We want to have more money, or at least to lead a comfortable life. We want the doubts and questions in our heads answered. We want to be able to sleep without tossing and turning, thinking about regrets and missed opportunities. We want our enemies struck down, or at least humbled and made to follow us. We want to lay up treasures and go to heaven. We want to bask in the blissful presence of our beloved divine being. We want to be happy. We want power, strenth, and glory. We want to live like gods.

Or we live in constant fear. We don’t want the divine being let bad things happen to us. Or make bad things happen to us. We want to stay on their good side. We treat he or she like a boss that is constantly watching us. We don’t want to be punished or tortured by he or she. We don’t want to go to hell.

Even when we offer thanks and praise, it’s so we’ll get something good.

And we accomplish this many ways. We go to church and sing in tongues. We pray. We read the scriptures. We buy religious books and tapes. We attend seminars, take notes, underline passages, and buy more books. We socialize with like-minded co-religionists and reinforce each others beliefs. We put down those not as religious as us. We try not to sin. And we feel guilt and ask for forgiveness after we do. We vote how our religion’s leader tells us how to vote. We protest outside clinics. We put down the non-religious on talk shows. We go to war.

All to better our standing in the divine being’s eyes.

It’s a consistent, exhausting, belittling life. It makes us feal weak. It’s like being a cow-towing courtier or step-and-fetchit slave. We never truly get what we want, so we either blame ourselves for not being good enough, or we blame the divine being for being unfair.

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Post 2

My spiritual background has, for a long time, been quite anthropomorphic. And because of that, much of my existential funks were centered either around being upset at the divine being for not makings things good for me, or being upset at myself for not being good enough to convince the divine being to make things good for me. It had always been a very subservient and penitent relationship. And all that I did focused around making the divine being happy with me by convincing him I was good, serious, determined, and loving. I felt small, worthless, unworthy, and weak. Or, at least I felt like life was a crap shoot, slave to his mysterious whims.

But, what if what we should do, and what happened to us, was based not on the will and decisions made by a divine consciousness, and more on a universal law or environment? What if it was more like a science, like if you put your hand on a hot stove, you’ll burn yourself. In that case, you would have no one to appease. You wouldn’t feel small or shamed. At the worst, you’d just feel stupid. You’d be no more mad at that being, or yourself, than if you stubbed your toe. And if you did stub your toe, you merely have to be more careful next time, or wear more protective shoes, rather than pleading to that divine being to stop stubbing your toe.

What if there was not a magic talisman or elixir? What if there was not one true religion or scripture? What if there was nothing extroridinary you could find that would turn your life around, save you from hell, and make you happy this day, and every day, until you ceased to be? What if all wisdom was more or less equal. Or at least some wisdom only somewhat more effective than other wisdom?

Just think, no longer looking under every rock, or reading every tea leaf, or searching for some clue in every scripture that is finally going to explain everything to you and finally make everything in your life go perfectly? That that key someone told you is in that room somewhere doesn’t really exist? And you either can open the door without the key, or that there’s nothing outside that door. What if that secret to that clock is actually the simple, rational, scientific workings of the unseen movements, and not “magic” or some little fairy?

What if the purpose of life was not the search for the purpose of life? What if the secret to happiness was not discovering and bending to God’s true will? What if you no longer felt obliged, when at your lowest, to lean back and just say, “okay, I submit to your will”? What if it took no more appeasement than when you no longer want to be burned by the hot water you put your hand in, you simply take your hand out? And if you neglect to pull it out, at the worst you consider yourself stupid–but not “bad”.

What if your existential peace was just as easy to attain as your physical peace? Just think what your mind and consciousness could focus on. Sure, you still might want to explore the meanings and twistings of life, the universe, and everything. But you’d be able to explore it like a scientist, not like a wounded animal that’s bleeding to death. Geologists don’t study rocks because they think they’ll find this one rock that will make all their problems go away. They study rocks because they think they’re cool.

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Post 3

I find that any relgion is being misused when it is held on and latched onto as a crutch. As a soothing balm. As a flag one waves. Something to hide beneath, afraid to face the world, naked. It happens in every relgion. Even in the most religion-free religions. And for non-religious identities as well. The world is full of people afraid to be thereselves, afraid to face the world. They don’t like what they saw when they left their mother’s shadow, when they left their parents house. We create our own stories and worlds in which we feel comfortable. We join the kingdoms where we figure higher in the heiarchy.

Should religions/philosophies challenge us? Should they splash water in our faces and say deal with it? This is a social world. Unless it teaches us how to live with each other, it is doing a disservice to us. Though, it would be a shame if that’s the best relgion can do for us. Keep us from killing each other. Does it have to be religion?

What about the common concern and decency that many smaller, more primitive, and often poorer groups seem to share? Yes, they could be starving. But they don’t take it out on each other? However, in a way, they sometimes will exhibit animosity against neighboring tribes. For the sake of land, food, grudge, or just because “they’re not us.”

But still, I see little being afraid of the world. They have too much real things to be afraid of, like starving. They knew the world was rough the second they joined their parents in the field or on the hunt. Also, it seems like they are held together naturally, rather than with a seige mentality, working just as hard to hold on to their identity and keep the faith, as they fight against the other. They don’t turn off the rational side of their mind and keep telling themselves who they are.

So, are there alternatives to teaching people to be kind to each other? To try and exhibit, society-wide, the care that is usually found in smaller groups. Is the fear of punishment enought? Is it a dearth of social programs? Is there a criculumm or philosophy that can be taught to the masses?

It seems unlikely, becasue to some religions, any instruction that isn’t infused with their religion, is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s taking the issue out of the polarized atmosphere they created, and need, to hold onto their identity and their followers.

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And what do I think now?

When I read these older posts, I noticed something. I really used to think a lot about life. More precisely, I was both trying to figure it out, as well as reconcile suffering with either a divine plan, or simply a purpose to life. But presently, I really do less of this. Or at least in this fashion.

That is because – presently – I do not believe in any meaning, purpose, will, or secret to life that is outside my own body and mind. And my daily kvetching of “why am I here” and “why is this happening to me” has been replaced by “how can I get my book done?” “how can I make sure my family is financially secure?” and “how can we stop the idiots from destroying the world?”

Yes, I had been guilty of years of navel-gazing. And, for a short time, it had benefited me. But I realize that my first stage of navel-gazing had been entered into to solve what had been at that time, my foremost personal crisis: “Why don’t I fit in?” I spent some time analyzing myself, those I associated with (or tried to), and society in general. And it truly helped.

Whereas this first stage was social, my next one was more spiritual. Or maybe religious, since I still believed in a benevolent, divine being. This journey was accomplished not only by the same thinking, reading, and writing as the previous stage, but participation, of some kind or another, in different religions. And while I was taken by that religion, I was happy. But it never lasted. And after a lot more soul-searching (and serendipitous discovery of videos by Richard Dawkins and Jonathan Harris), I discovered that I no longer believed in a divine being.

This recognition comes with it’s own dilemma. And I consider this stage more existential. I no longer worried “Why is God doing this to me?” Instead, I was very unhappy that there was no afterlife. And that eventually, it will be as if I never existed.

Have I come to terms with this now? A little. But some of that has to do with my focus on the more practical and physical sides of life. I’ve learned to accept that life, by definition, is a struggle. It is a constant search for resources and a safe and comfortable environment. Rocks do not need resources, so they don’t struggle. But they do not live or think either. Life and struggle is inseparable. Not because it’s a curse. But because life=struggle. Sure, we can feel pleasure and contentment. But sometimes we may not. Such pleasures should be treated as luxuries, not a standard we think we should constantly strive to attain.

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