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Tag Archives: Integrity

How My Atheism Led to My Vegetarianism

I’ve only been a vegetarian for a few months. I feel almost dishonest to be using the word “vegetarian”, as even within those months I have not had a perfect track record. Perhaps “aspiring vegetarian” would be a better way to put it. Anyway, why would a dedicated steak devourer, bacon gorger and fried chicken consumer such as myself even consider giving up one of the purest pleasures of life?

Same reason I became a Christian: Intellectual integrity.

I feel like the arguments for vegetarianism are more compelling than those for meat eating:

Arguments for Vegetarianism 

  • Meat produces a lot of greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change
  • It’s an inefficient use of resources: the animals consume lots of grain and water before they end up on my plate.
  • In a world where there are humans starving, it seems questionable to give food and water to animals simply for the purpose of turning them into a steak.
  • Deforestation: Forest land is cleared both for raising the animals and for growing their food.
  • Vegetables are good for you!
  • Vegetables are cheap.
  • Animals are sentient beings, they feel pain, have interests, etc.
  • If you do it right, you can be just as healthy, (if not healthier) as a vegetarian.

Arguments for Meat Eating

  • It’s yummy
  • We’ve evolved to be omnivores
  • It’s tradition
  • Health: source of protein, iron

As a person committed to critical thinking, rationality, ethics and integrity, if I cannot justify doing a thing, I don’t do it. And I can’t see any way to justify eating meat. I can get my protein and iron elsewhere, so why should an animal have to die for it and the environment be depleted for it?

I feel like if I am to have any creditability in criticising the hypocrisies and inconsistencies in the actions and beliefs of others (Christians in particular), then I have to be striving to remove them from my own life. Christian or atheist: practice what you preach.


The Bloody Pursuit of Truth

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Rachael Slick is a non-Christian daughter of a Christian apologist. Her Christian upbringing was really full on, much more so than mine was. In her guest post on the Friendly Atheist she describes how it felt when her relationship with God ended:

“I still remember sitting there in my dorm room bunk bed, staring at the cheap plywood desk, and feeling something horrible shift inside me, a vast chasm opening up beneath my identity, and I could only sit there and watch it fall away into darkness. The Bible is not infallible, logic whispered from the depths, and I had no defense against it. If it’s not infallible, you’ve been basing your life’s beliefs on the oral traditions of a Middle Eastern tribe. The Bible lied to you.

Everything I was, everything I knew, the structure of my reality, my society, and my sense of self suddenly crumbled away, and I was left naked.

I was no longer a Christian. That thought was a punch to the gut, a wave of nausea and terror. Who was I, now, when all this had gone away? What did I know? What did I have to cling to? Where was my comfort? 

I didn’t know it, but I was free.”

This is how it feels to become a non-Christian. It’s not fun. It’s not that we’ve “lost our faith” or given up on God” or “taken the easy route” or “given in to temptation”. Becoming a non-Christian hurts like hell. It’s terrifying. My Christian friends thought I was giving into my selfish desires, that I became an atheist so I could get away with sin. In fact, becoming an atheist was about letting go of my desires. I desired to believe in a loving God. I wanted there to be someone ensuring that “all things to work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:23).” I wanted my sins to be atoned for. I wanted to praise Him in heaven for eternity. But no matter how badly I wanted to believe it, I had to stop lying to myself. God was not love. God did not love me. Jesus was not my best friend. None of it was not real. I had to accept that He was gone and learn to live without Him. At this time I did not know how wonderful living without him would turn out to be.

You talk about atheists being angry and arrogant, I think that’s because a lot of us are hurt. We’re trying to live by integrity, but you make us feel like we’re alone and like we’re failures. You say that this is a choice and that we’ll be punished accordingly. We have to stay strong when our families makes it clear that you are not one of them. We have to take responsibility for our actions, no forgiveness. I have to face everyday without knowing there’s someone ensuring I will be okay at the end. Don’t you dare tell me I’ve “taken the easy way out.” After living your life with God for so many years, it’s incredibly hard to let it go. It’s embedded in every part of you. Losing that rips you apart, but lying to yourself is worse. I may not have the comfort or the joy of being in love with Jesus. The life I live might be harder, but I am free and nothing can beat that.

To all the people in the same place as I was a few years ago, please read this before go clear your internet history incase your parents see that you’ve been on an atheist blog. One day you won’t have to wait for everyone to go to bed before you can read your Richard Dawkins. One day you’ll be able to change your Facebook religious views to “atheist”. One day you will come out and you’ll inspire others to do the same. Know that you are not alone, and that it gets better. Don’t give up on pursuing the truth. It’s messy and it hurts. But it is worth it.