On the controversy of atheism

In my own life, I have always sought out issues that are controversial. It’s no secret I’m a highly opinionated individual; I’ve chosen to take a stand on issues I consider to be of fundamental importance. I know there are many out there, even some of my fans, who consider the issue of a person’s religion to be a private affair. One fan accused me of being insensitive by ‘outing’ my sister on my radio show, believing her marriage was now in trouble for me doing so (it isn’t, so everyone can relax).

It’s reminded me that there are many who feel the issue of a person’s belief should remain entirely private, specifically because of the turmoil it can cause. This, in my opinion, is exactly WHY it cannot remain only personal. Religion does not exist in a bubble. It infects every part of a person’s life. It makes them hate gays, distrust evolution, demand stem cell research be halted, and worst of all, tries to infect the minds of other human beings. If religion were a drug, the warning label would read as follows:

WARNING: when ingested, religion may cause feelings of euphoria, delusion, hallucinations, irritability, intolerance, violent behavior, inflexibility, oppression, irrationality, and will impair your ability to formulate logical thought.

It’s important to try and look at the bigger picture when considering what it means to actually be an atheist. I’m aware most people would love nothing more than the opportunity to be left alone about this issue, but in truth this is impossible so long as religion still plays a role in dictating the lives of other human beings who in turn affect our lives. Perhaps some of you who are non-believers have taken a passive attitude towards the whole affair. But religion is a slow poison infecting everything it touches, and passivity is not the way to fight it.

Atheism is controversial, and I can see why so many people are covert about it. I find this to be a shame; if you don’t believe in the afterlife, than why spend your only life living in fear and hiding your true feelings and beliefs from others, merely for the convenience? Perhaps some of you think admitting your godlessness would only create a rift in your relationship with your family and loved ones. But ask yourself this question: who would be the one creating that rift? What does that tell you about the danger or religion?

There are places in the world where atheism is a death sentence. I think about this every time I talk about it. As I contribute to the dialog about living life without God, I feel in some way I am helping pave the way for others to ‘come out godless‘ and to finally have the chance to talk about their non-belief. I cannot sit idly by and watch religion destroy the lives of those who chose not to buy into the hype. I hope that as these issues grow in visibility and importance, more people will feel compelled to take part in that dialog rather than retreat to the safety of having no opinion on the subject.

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Comments (10)

  • avatar

    Ptah

    Here’s a comeback you could have used:

    “A marriage that in trouble because one party becomes an atheist is a marriage that -ought- to be in trouble anyway.”

    By the way: if religion was a drug, wouldn’t you advocate legalizing it? :-P

  • avatar

    Rose

    “come out godless”

    Wow, you almost quoted one of my sites!! ;)

    http://comingoutgodless.com

    Great post, btw

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    Love the site btw. I visited it when it was still in it’s infancy. Glad you are making so much progress!

  • avatar

    Demeon

    I can feel your strength and passion in this piece. I very much enjoyed reading your work. I for one have never branched out as far as you have on religion, but I did do so on America and society in its self. It is inappropriate to post at this site. In the words of Demeon, “Never again will i be oppressed, never again will i face defeat. I have rightful vengeance on this world and the so called God that dwells here. I will have my vengeance!”

  • avatar

    WCLPeter

    You’re not getting it Jacob. This comment pretty much proves the point:

    “I’m aware that most people would love nothing more than the opportunity to be left alone about this issue, but in truth this is impossible so long as religion still plays a role in dictating the lives of other human beings who in turn affect our lives.”

    Yet somehow, like the religious, you arbitrarily dictated that your sister would be much happier if you went ahead and announced her conversion from agnosticism to atheism to the world.

    I mean hey, why not? If religious leaders get to decide what makes religious people, and everyone else, happy, why shouldn’t an atheist get to dictate what makes other atheists, and everyone else, happy? Right?

    It shocks me Jacob, considering your appearance of being both smart *and* intelligent, that you can’t fathom doing what you did denied her the most basic of dignities. The right to determine who to share personal details about ourselves with.

    Just because you have made these decisions for yourself, unless you want to take a page out of the “Theocratic Ruler” playbook, you cannot presume you have any right to make those choices for others.

    You want to be one of our voices. I applaud you for the intense courage it takes to do that. I’m certainly not afraid to admit that when it comes to speaking on this topic, you have far more courage than I; no-one outside of my close family and friends knows of my atheism.

    But just because you’ve decided to be one our voices doesn’t give you *any* right to decide when a person divulges their atheism.

    The individual alone gets to make that choice. I know for myself I’d be extremely upset, and rightly so, if you decided my rights were meaningless and announced my atheism to world.

    You’ve asked us to trust you, well trust *us*. Trust yourself. Don’t assume you have the right to dictate terms, or somehow know better than us or those you care about.

    Do your job and let people make their own decisions. If you things right, we’ll tell people we’re atheists of our own free will. We certainly don’t need you to decide to do it for us.

  • avatar

    Jacob Fortin

    That’s under the blanket assumption you’ve made. if the situation had been different, and had her marriage been a threat, no I wouldn’t have said anything of the sort. But I would have encouraged her to reveal that she was an atheist.

    I council many people, but I have as of yet never given any reason for them to not trust me.

    Besides, you can’t know what it meant to allow my sister the opportunity to express her view of the Universe as she say it. It felt as though I had given her a chance to stop living under the facade of playing “the agnostic” simply for the sake of appearance. Her stance has largely excluded her from being able to real dialog with other people about the question of god. Now finally these thoughts could be expressed and understood in a coherent way.

    You would not know these facts because they were never revealed to you. You see it as a betrayal of trust, though I see it, as part of the wonderful moment we shared and connected. It would be hard for some to understand and difficult to properly explain. All that I can say for sure is that it’s something you would feel compelled to do.

  • avatar

    WCLPeter

    Ptah:
    ““A marriage that in trouble because one party becomes an atheist is a marriage that -ought- to be in trouble anyway.””

    Atheists are a minority. We will be for some time. While it would nice if everyone gave up on their fairy tales and started relying on rational thought and reason, it isn’t likely to happen in our lifetimes.

    Like it or not we’re going to have to live with the religious for the foreseeable future and, unless you are one of the lucky few to find a significant other who is also an atheist, you’re likely going to end up in a relationship with someone religious.

    Should your relationship automatically fail? For some people, the answer is yes, for others they’ll tell a little while lie in a [nudge, nudge, wink, wink] kind of way and hope to ignore the issue.

    Depending on the person, either way could work for them. There really is no right or wrong answer.

  • avatar

    WCLPeter

    Jacob,

    Thank you for elaborating on this situation. I *do* understand where you’re coming from. I fully understand the excitement created by the special connection you’ve had with your sister and I am truly happy for you.

    I’ve had connections like that before, and I certainly do treasure them. I completely agree that it is so special when a person is able to connect on such a deeply personal level with someone they care about. It’s like a special brand of euphoria that not even the doctor’s finest happy pills could match.

    It is such an incredible honor to have someone I care deeply about put their trust and faith in me to share something so vitally important about themselves. Just knowing the amount of trust they have in is the greatest feeling in the world.

    But I never talk about these experiences. Not because I don’t want to, but because it’s not my place. Every person has a right to decide who truly knows them, and when. If you were to tell me something private about yourself, I would respect that right and keep it to myself. If you wanted others to know, you would tell them yourself, they wouldn’t hear it from me.

    If you and your sister have a different arrangement, and she is truly okay with you sharing her connection with you to your audience, then I am truly sorry for causing you so much trouble.

  • avatar

    Ptah

    @WCLPeter:
    I admit that I’m not like Ryan, who has to lie about his beliefs to get laid, so my perspective might be skewed.

    But my point is that if you live with someone who gives you a hard time about being an atheist, you shouldn’t be living with them anyway.

    You don’t have to find an atheist to live with, you just have to find a religious person who isn’t an asshole about it.

  • avatar

    Stew

    “Perhaps some of you think that admitting your godlessness would only create a rift in your relationship with your family and loved ones. But ask yourself this question: who would be the one creating that rift?”

    True. I haven’t come out because my parents (and possibly a sibling or two) would be causing a rift. And I’ve asked myself this question, but the problem is I still don’t want that rift. I depend on my parents too much at this time. It would feel great to have finally come out, but at what cost? I have to look at it this way: is it better to hide my feelings about my parents religion or is it better to be constantly reminded by them about how I am going to hell? Until I can remove myself from that second situation, the first seems to me like a better way of living.

    As far as relationships…. I dated a Christian girl once and told her early in the relationship that I was an atheist. I tried to talk to her about her beliefs but she did not want to debate, she said you just didn’t do that with god, there’s nothing to debate! Well, the relationship finally ended when I asked her if she believed that I would go to hell. She did.

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