“What Exactly Do You Mean When You Say You Are an Atheist?”
There is more to this question than meets the eye. To be honest I suppose I’m more of a cynical agnostic. This basically means that I’m 99% sure that God and/or Gods do not exist and that their nature, if they do exist, is nigh-unfathomable. If there are indeed gods and if they fit any of the general descriptions given by Christians, Catholics and Muslims, then I have no interest in living by their terms.
The “In-Gods” are no different to me than the Greek Pantheon or the many gods of Ancient Egypt. A worshipper of modern gods criticising Scientology or ancient Deities is the ultimate form of ironic comedy. It’s someone stupid calling another stupid person stupid - an exercise in comparing varying degrees of stupidity. They will fade in time to be replaced by newly-imagined phantoms of naive humans and history will laugh at them.
Mainstream gods have proven to be jealous, ill-tempered, possessive, overbearing, self-contradicting, vengeful, violent and vitriolic beings. The faiths that have formed around them are a reflection of their obsolescence and folly. These gods are an amalgamation of what society 2000 years ago held to be the platonic ideal of a higher being. Perhaps then, it is ironic that they seem to exhibit so many vices that are unmistakably… human.
The stupidest words I have ever heard spoken in my life have consistently come from the lips of the god-fearing. The greatest injustices and tragedies I have witnessed in my life and those of others have been caused by religious-turmoil and coercion. I would go on about the religions themselves, but I’d end up writing enough to fill many pages and so I shan’t.
I hold the view that we come from nothing and will eventually return to that state some day. Just as existence before existence itself is incomprehensible, so to is the non-existence that comes with death. Stuart, a friend of mine, summed it up perfectly when I asked him if he was afraid of death and the end of his consciousness. He simply said: “That’s like asking if you are afraid of the unknown”.
I pursue the rational explanation of all questions - including the big ones, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll just defer to the bogus logic of religious faith if I can’t figure it out. I believe that life is a wonderful, precious and finite gift from no one in particular and that it is not to be squandered. Depriving oneself of earthly delights and all the things we are predisposed to enjoy by nature is foolish and wasteful. Even before we are dead our bodies and minds will deteriorate to the point where such luxuries will be all but impossible. Imagine an ascetic monk, nearing death at the ripe age of 85 years. Suddenly he has an epiphany that his faith was misplaced and that he had wasted his entire existence by wilfully denying himself the pleasures that make life so much of a joy. Most importantly, I believe that care and love should be dispensed genuinely and not as a means to purchase a place in Heaven or to escape the clutches of Hell.
Atheism to me is not all about debating, debunking or being cynical. It’s about freeing my mind from the prison built around it. It’s about realising that I could have been born a fly, and thus condemned to spend my existence eating shit, but I was instead born a Human.
Live your life the way you want. Love yourself. Love your friends and family. Make mistakes. Forgive yourself. Ask questions. Be genuinely kind. Make Out. Have fantastic sex. Think for yourself. Act as you want, rather than how you “should” or how you are expected to. Take Responsibility. Look back on your younger years when you are older and think of all the great things you did that would not have been possible if you lived true to the word of God. Live a full and meaningful life as if there is no life after death, because there isn’t.
That’s what I mean when I say I’m an Atheist