a reluctant atheist

I'm an atheist who wishes she wasn't. Life would be so much easier!


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The Evolution of Evolution

True to the greatest scientific theories of the past, the theory of evolution espoused by Darwin is itself evolving. Some people point to this as an indication that evolution is still more theory than fact. But it IS a scientific fact. It’s been proven by science and biology time and again.image

What evolution is NOT is an end-game explanation. Like the evolution of nature, theories evolve and change over time as new information and increased understanding add to the foundation. But nothing discovered so far has wiped away the fact of evolution itself. That’s why it is so important to continue looking at new theories of evolution. It builds on a strong foundation and helps us understand the many facets of evolution that are still taking place today and moving us into the future.

In a recent issue of New Scientist, an article declares, Darwin’s theory must itself be allowed to evolve.” It’s an eloquent explanatio of why atheists and agnostics must not let the theory of evolution keep them from exploring what lies beyond evolution. It’s a reminder that even when it is based on fact, a beautiful theory can calcify into dogma, just like religion.

You can read the complete article here:  Long Live Evolution


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“Like if You Agree, Share to Say ‘Amen!'”

Facebook is a treasure trove of religious beliefs and shared emotions. For this atheist, sometimes there is too much sharing of beliefs, particularly when those beliefs are either misguided or just plain wrong. I’m talking about the millions of postings every day that are accompanied by tag lines that say some variation of “Like if You Agree, Share to Say ‘Amen!'”

It’s not that I mind people sharing a story with religious connotations or a personal account of their own faith journey. Reading sincere stories of faith have moved me more than once, even though I don’t personally believe. I think everyone should be able to share their beliefs with their friends and family. I don’t mind them asking others to like or share their personal testament. What I do object to are the posts that take it one step farther by saying, “Share this prayer/mantra/blessing to be blessed with health/wealth/success!” or veiled threats such as “If you scroll past this post without sharing, you’re denying Jesus.”

Amen Meme

This meme from memegen.com sums up my feelings pretty well.

I realize that many will say that since I don’t have faith myself, I have no right to criticize how others practice theirs. But I did have faith for years, and when I was moving from faith to agnosticism and beyond, I studied the bible, read dozens of books from both sides of the faith equation and talked to more than a few pastors. These admonishments to demonstrate faith by reposting prayers or testimonies smack of the worst kind of superstition. They infer that if you jump through specific hoops you’ll reap the rewards offered by God. I have several problems with this.

  1. God isn’t Santa Claus or a Fairy Godmother. He doesn’t grant wishes to the people who repost the tritest sayings on Facebook. It just doesn’t work that way. You can’t buy your way into heaven or a state of grace.
  2. God doesn’t reward people based on how many Facebook posts they put up or whether they share every prayer or bible verse that shows up on their wall. This would completely negate two very important religious underpinnings – Justification through Faith and Salvation through Christ. Neither of these beliefs requires that believers “earn” blessings.
  3. I hate the undertones of guilt in many of these posts, particularly the ones that say some variation of, “I bet most of you will scroll by this. But if you are a true believer, you will show the world by having the courage to share this.” These posts insinuate that you aren’t really a good Christian/Jew/Muslim/Buddhist/Believer unless you are willing to follow through. There is already so much guilt tied to religion, do people really have to drag it onto Facebook? It’s manipulative.
  4. These posts are often just as much about the egos of the people posting. They post these prayers or statements of faith as a sort of badge of honor reminding the world how powerful their faith is. They are trumpeting it from the mountain top of social media. But I thought faith was supposed to be the opposite of boastful.

It bothers me that many of the people I love take these posts seriously. They feel judged or like they are falling short if they are honest and say they are tired of seeing these kinds of posts. If you are a believer and want someone to pray for you, by all means, ask them. But ask them in an email, over the phone or in person. Posting or reposting an impersonal photograph with a few generic bible verses or words of pray is neither sincere nor effective. And it opens up people who don’t share or repost to questions about their faith, often from virtual strangers.

I’ve actually had people ask me why I don’t repost or share their many prayer postings. I reply that I don’t normally re-share any posts of a religious or political nature. Which is true, but only partly. The whole truth is that I don’t believe in the power of these requests, but I don’t want to have to explain myself to anyone in this respect. So please, don’t ask me to like, comment, share or say “Amen.” If I want to pray, proselytize or preach to others, I’ll do it personally and I won’t plaster it all over an impersonal Facebook page. These posts are the kind of lip service to genuine faith that I associate it with people who only attend church on major holidays or who attend church more to be seen than to learn something.

So when others post, “Like if You Agree, Share to Say, ‘Amen,'” I don’t have any qualms passing them by without action on my part other than to hide them on my own Page. I won’t be perpetuating this magical thinking.


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The Devil is Loose in a School in Colorado

I sighed when I read a recent article on the Patheos website entitled, “Due to Bible Distribution, a Colorado Elementary School Will Now Give Away Satanic Coloring Books.” It’s like the ultra-right wing, conservative Christians can’t help themselves. They have to start stirring up shit until they get what they want, then they discover to their horror that it’s backfired on them. They’ve been down this path before in both Florida and California, and probably several other states as well.

How do they not grasp that freedom of religion in the schools means you have to either present all sides of the religious debate to students or none of the sides? The outrage that the inclusion of coloring books from the Satanic Temple in this small, Colorado town would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. What did they expect when they tried to cram their beliefs down the throats of children who weren’t their own? What about children at the school who might be Jewish, Bhuddist or Muslim? Did they not care that the passing out of Christian materials to these children might be infringing on their rights? Or does it not count if they are outside the fold of Christianity?

While I’m not a proponent of Satanism, I will concede that if you check out the actual website for The Satanic Temple, it’s NOT what most people think it is. They aren’t murdering animals in ritual sacrifice or drinking the blood of virgins. They are, in fact, a wholly rationalist group that relies on science and the real world. They frown on supernatural belief systems in any form. But there are other groups out there that do worship a supernatural Satan. The group in Colorado does not happen to be one of them. I do think that the Satanic Temple espouses a disturbingly extreme view of individualism at the expense of the rules of law and social morality, but that’s a topic for another day. It seems like the most controversial mission they are currently undertaking is to prevent corporal punishment in schools; hardly the work of devil worshipers.

Let’s keep any kind of religion out of the schools – after all, there is plenty for students to focus on during school hours, including learning, participating in sports and developing social skills. They can learn about God, Vishnu, Mohammed and Satan on their own time and within their own homes. It’s not the school board’s job to teach our children about God. It’s their job to provide strong teachers who will guide our children in the way of learning so that they can discover what they believe in themselves.