10 Popular Myths About Atheists and Atheism by Amanda Marcotte

Angry man

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I’m frequently accosted by readers that respond to my blog posts, who use one or more of several common myths about atheists and atheism in their arguments with me.

It’s therefore quite obliging of Amanda Marcotte, author of It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments, to collate 10 of the most popular myths for us all.

In an article on AlterNet she writes as follows:

In a regular poll conducted by political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell on American political attitudes, atheists recently lost their spot as as the most disliked group in America to the Tea Party. Still, number two is simply way too high in the unpopularity rankings for a group of people who just happen to spend Sunday mornings in bed instead of in church. Polling data shows that nearly half of Americans would disapprove if their child married an atheist and nearly 40 percent of Americans don’t see atheists as sharing their vision of American society, numbers that outstripped similar prejudices toward Muslims and African Americans.

Of course, the real reason atheists are so hated has little to do with jealousy for all their free time, but largely because most Americans are better acquainted with myths than with the realities of atheists’ lives. Unfortunately, atheists often have these myths tossed in their faces, usually by believers who would rather talk about what they heard atheists are like rather than uncomfortable subjects such as the lack of proof for any gods.

And here’s one of my all-time favorites; never fails to amuse me every time it’s used against me:

Atheists are just angry with God. Atheists often point out the logical inconsistencies of many religious beliefs—such as the belief both that God is all-good and all-powerful, but he somehow also allows evil to exist—and believers use that to conclude that atheists are angry with God. We aren’t. You can’t be angry with a being that you don’t believe exists. I’m no angrier with God than I am angry with Zeus or the aliens that keep kidnapping drunks sleeping in their cars. Anger with religions for promoting false beliefs isn’t the same thing as being angry at the being that believers invented.

Catch the other 9 here on AlterNet.

Some Random Thoughts on Creation, Death, Re-creation, Heaven and Hell

Creation stories have been around for a long, long time, from ancient civilizations to modern man with his Monotheistic religions. Strange tales of creation abound, such as those from Greece which tells of Gaia (or Eurynome) laying a monster egg from which emerged Uranus, whose “incestuous partnership” with Gaia gave rise to the Titans, one of whom Prometheus finally created humans from clay, after two previous botched attempts by the Titan gods. And the Mesopotamian tale of the battle between Marduk and Tiamat which led to the creation of mankind from the blood of Kingu, Tiamat’s champion in battle. Persia produced its own delightful creation tale which tells of the battle between Ahura Mazda who created the first man, and Ahriman, his (Ahura’s) brother, who introduced evil to the world. These tales have long been classified as Mythology, but  for some reason, the Genesis creation myth and the Hindu “Bramha” creation myth, no less strange than the other ancient myths, are largely believed as the literal truth by the Western and Eastern religions that still teach it.

In an effort to find compelling reasons (apart from faith) why these creation myths have endured, I have rather found more reasons why they should be consigned to the “bizarre , but persistent” section of ancient mythology. Let’s suspend all credulity and for a maddening moment, imagine that these creation tales were true. I will start with the Christian creation myth, being the most incessant ideology. God “creates” you for a purpose, according to his divine plan; no problems there, but I am not so much concerned with the “beginning”, as with the “end,” that is what happens when you cease to exist, or die. Assuming you were a “good” person or a bad-egg who has been forgiven, you go to heaven. Simple, right? Well, more people than not, are bound to wind up in heaven, and only the really, really “bad guys’ (presumably this includes Atheists), go to hell.

Well, since man first appeared on earth (about 6000 years ago, if we are still suspending credulity), if you consider all the people that have expired, this means that heaven is seriously bursting at the seams by now. But wait, we still haven’t factored in all the animals that also go to heaven. I mean seriously;  how could god not allow his very own creation into heaven (bar that evil snake of course who tempted Eve, and who is now roasting very nicely in hell). But why stop there? What about all the dinosaurs (and other assorted weird creatures) that existed prior to man. By now, even the most fundamentalist Christian has got to admit that there is ample evidence for the existence of these creatures, even if it was only 6000 years ago. Surely, god has admitted these creatures into heaven as well? Okay, so heaven is a huge place, and maybe its only dead souls that are there, floating around like soap bubbles. Meanwhile, back on earth people and animals continue to be “created” only to eventually end up in heaven. What’s the point? Is earth the great holding area for man and beast, while god sorts out his space planning in heaven?

So what about the Eastern creation ideologies? Here again you are created for a purpose, but unlike the more fortunate Christians who get to go to heaven (or hell) immediately after death, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, some Gnostic Christian and Jewish sects, Native Americans and Inuits have to suffer the ignominy of being constantly reborn into different bodies, until they get their act together and prove that they are ready for heaven. Even animals are not spared this fate. And if the Jains are right, a human may be reincarnated as a lesser being (such as a fly or ant) if his transgressions were particularly bad, prior to his death. You’ve got to feel for Satan in this scenario; waiting in vain for evil souls. Here again, what’s the point? An all-knowing god would know that his “creation” would turn out bad, and apart from satisfying some sort of sadsistic desire to inflict pain, there is simply no reason to subject a man or animal to constant suffering. But, I guess even god needs to have some fun, because watching his “creation” incessantly trying to destroy each other really sucks all the enjoyment out of living for so long.

So while credulity is still suspended, I have to reasonably conclude that god favors the reincarnation model because it gives him more time to do space planning, while getting a few laughs watching puny humans, and mindless beasts squirm and suffer,  while still finding the time to have a go at the idle Satan. And yes, you really have to be a dumb-ass loser, to end up in hell, because you get a chance to pull the wool over your creator’s eyes in the Christian model, and you get to be born again and again in the reincarnation model.

But the eternal satirist that now resides in my body, concludes that god creates you to wait around on earth for a bit, die, then float up to heaven to become a sort of floating soap bubble. The alternative conclusion is that god creates you knowing full well that you’re going to screw up, so he waits for you to die, then re-ignites your motor and lets you have another bash, only to watch you blow it again, because it gives him a few giggles, each time you fail. So there you have the meaning of life, in a nutshell.