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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Happy Good Friday!

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I hope you all have a better Good Friday than Jesus did!!

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Religion, War, and Malala

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I have been thinking about the role of religion in war torn countries lately, as I have recently become a volunteer tutor for refugee high schoolers and religious extremism has caused some of them to flee their countries. I think it’s interesting that they still believe in the religion that has caused them so many difficulties. I don’t understand this, but it is okay. I feel completely inspired by these students. Despite all the difficulties they have been through, they are rising above it and working on their education.

Malala Yousafzai is a personal hero of mine. She is a strong Muslim, I am an atheist. But this is okay. She may not know it, but she is fighting for my cause. Education teaches you to think critically and once you got that happening, atheism is the natural conclusion. Or at least it was for me. I can’t believe that she is still holding onto this religion that caused her to get shot, the religion that’s tearing apart countries, terrorising people and opposing the very thing she is fighting for.

Education and development go hand in hand, as it seems, does atheism and development. Highly developed countries such as Sweden and Norway, tend to have high levels of atheism. There seems to be a strong relationship between atheism, development and education.

Keep fighting, Malala. For human rights, for development and for education.

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An Unfortunate Regret

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Atheism and Choice

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I was always taught that the reason non-Christians don’t believe in God is because they do not want to believe in him. They want to continue in their sinful ways. They have consciously made a decision to reject God, when deep down, they know he is real.

My experience of de-conversion has really challenged me on this view. I now think it is pretty bullshitty. It is my experience that beliefs are formed through what an individual has been taught and exposed to, and the relevant evidence they have seen, not their wants or desires. At least that’s how my beliefs changed. Matt Dillahunty from The Atheist Experience puts it like this:

To me, belief is acceptance that a claim is true, and acceptance is a result of being convinced. Now you can be convinced for good reasons or bad reasons, but I am not convinced that you can be convinced simply by an exercise of will.

I agree.

Faith is a different story. By definition, faith is believing something when the reasons for believing it are not substantial. This is something I do not understand. How is believing something against the evidence a good thing? It seems basically synonymous with stupidity. Christopher Hitchens seems to make a lot of sense on this topic:

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This idea of belief being a product of free will is an especially important consideration when it comes to the idea of Hell. If I haven’t become an atheist through a choice of my own free will (as I believe is the case) it means I am going to Hell not because I chose to reject God, but simply because I was convinced by the wrong argument, despite my vigorous attempts to find truth. How can a good God punish me for what I believe (or don’t believe) when it really isn’t my choice at all?

Honestly, being an atheist has actually been a massive inconvenience to me. It has made me an outsider at school, at work, in my family. It means I’ll never be able to have my dream job at International Justice Mission. It means I can no longer be a student leader or youth leader. I would not choose this for myself. I never wanted it. I just wanted truth.

In many ways, I want to believe in Christianity. The comfort of having a cosmic all-powerful daddy, the promise of eternal life, peace with my parents; it would all be so nice. But I can’t force myself to believe something I don’t believe, and if you love a God who would send me to a place of eternal torment because of this, I think maybe you need to reconsider. Something has to be wrong here.

Catholics and Condoms

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This is wonderful. It’s a collage of the ex-Pope. Made out of condoms. LOL.

One thing that completely confounds me about Christianity is that it could oppose contraception. How ridiculous! I’m lucky that the Christianity I grew up in didn’t have a problem with it. Condoms save lives. Why oppose that? How can you oppose that and still consider yourself moral?

Mother Teresa herself said that: “living love is destroyed by contraception.” WHAT? Why? How? What gives you the right to say things like that? It destroys love?? No. Just no.

You would have to be a fucking crazy lunatic uncaring psychopathic moron to oppose condoms in a world with AIDS. Such idiocy is not acceptable at all in this age. Please stop. Just stop.

The Purity Myth

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I recently read The Purity Myth by feminist writer Jessica Valenti.

At first, I really identified with this book. I’ve been through many Christian sex education classes and I’m only just beginning to realise some of the deeper effects this has had on my sexuality and the way I view gender roles.

When I got my first boyfriend at 14/15, my mother gave me a sex talk. She sat me down on the bed pulled out a tissue. She began ripping this tissue into shreds: “This tissue is your purity. Every time you give your body to a boy, a piece of yourself is ripped away and you can never get it back. You can never be whole again. One day, when you find a husband, all you will have to give him is a ripped up, incomplete, worthless tissue. Sex is special. Sex is sacred. So save it for marriage.”

This is pretty much the only time she’s ever attempted to “teach” me about sex. Every other time she has mentioned sex to me is basically having a go at me for wanting to have it.

Of course, when I was 14/15, I knew beyond a doubt that I was going to marry this boyfriend of mine. He was my true love, so we got a little bit sexual, the tissue thing didn’t mean a whole lot to me.

However, when this boyfriend dumped me, feelings of shame and regret consumed me. I had sinned against God, I had sinned against my parents, I had sinned against my future husband, I had sinned against my own body. I was dirty, tainted and tarnished. I would never be completely pure again. I asked for forgiveness and eventually got over it, as my doubts grew and faith dwindled.

Now I’m an atheist, and I’ve been thinking about this rather traumatic experience. I don’t understand why sexual activity makes someone dirty, I don’t understand how it takes something away from me. It is just another life experience. The skewed Christian view of sex is what makes people feel dirty, used and empty, not sex itself.

These Christian conservatives describe sex in extremely negative terms. It results in the loss of one’s health, self esteem, freedom, happiness. My thoughts on this echo Valenti’s:

“When did sex become such a downer?…These are fighting words for those of us who see sex as a healthy expression. Would it be so terrible to talk about sex in a way that acknowledges how wonderful it can be?”

When I began actually having sex, it turned out to be great for my health, self esteem, freedom and happiness. Obviously, sex isn’t so great for every teenager. But Christians shouldn’t hide the fact that it can be.

Another thing that Valenti wrote really stood out to me and challenged my thinking. I used to think abstinence was about self-respect because it ensures your partner values your heart and personality more than your sexuality, but as Valenti explains, the purity thing can easily turn people into sexual objects:

“By focusing on girls’ virginity they’re actually positioning them as as sexual objects before they’ve even hit puberty.”

In Pop Culture, the value of a person is often determined by how sexy they can be. In Christianity, the value of a person is often determined by their virginity. The church would never admit it openly, but illustrations like my mother’s tissue make it pretty clear. Either way, an individual’s value is determined by sexuality, not their personality, not their morality. These world views are just as shallow as each other.

There were some things in Valenti’s book that I disagreed with though.

It focused on how females are affected by the Purity Myth, and barely said anything about it’s effects on boys and men. I guess that’s the feminism coming out, but it seemed more like sexism to me. I’m not American, so perhaps the situation there is different to what I have experienced, but in my school and church, boys have been encouraged to be abstinent just as much as the girls have. If anything, they’ve probably had it shoved down their throat even more than the girls have, because they (supposedly) have a sex-drive that is more difficult to control.

Another thing I didn’t really like about the book was how Valenti blamed struggles women go through on patriarchy. She argues that men want to control women’s sexuality, that they do not trust women to make responsible decisions about their own bodies. I think religion is the culprit, not men. The men are just obeying the Word of the Good Lord.

Despite this, The Purity Myth is an important book and it addresses some deeply damaging effects of Christianity.

God gets the credit, man gets the blame

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I find it amusing that Christians can blame the world’s suffering on man’s free will, but then when man does something great out of free will, it’s attributed to God. Perfect example was in church the other week: The pastor said “If this sermon is any good then it’s all because of God, but if it’s bad you can blame me later on.” What the hell? Why can’t man do good things without God? If we have free will, then we are responsible for the wonderful things we do as well as the bad stuff. Either give us credit for both, or give God credit for it all. ¬†As I seem to have to remind you repeatedly, dear Christians, you can’t pick and choose. Some intellectual consistency would really help me be less confused by your shit. Thanks.