Saturday, August 6, 2011

Don't You Mean Agnostic?

Here is the scenario. I'm having a conversation with a new acquaintance. The conversation is long enough that religion comes up, which here in Utah is any conversation that isn't small talk about the weather. I let the new acquaintance know that I'm an atheist. If the next words uttered from their mouth isn't "Oh, um..." they will almost be guaranteed to say, "Don't you mean agnostic?"

I don't mean agnostic. I mean atheist.

It's almost as though they can't wrap their heads around the concept that I believe in zero gods. They would rather twist my words so what I just told them could mean there is still a chance I will set my world into a religious frame. Like, please let him be only on the fence. Alas, that isn't so. I do not believe or think any gods exist, let alone your particular deity.

This exposes what I believe to be a fundamental problem with our current society, particularly in Utah. Everyone assume you're a theist. Or, more to the point, a Christian (Mormon). I can't begin to tell you how many asides I get from people at work talking about true belief in Jesus, and that making you a good person, that I am privy to on an almost daily basis. They all just assume I believe exactly as they do, and they are wrong. If I point that out, bam, tensions arise in the work place. Those tensions become my fault somehow and relationships become strained. They take offense that I do not believe as they do. Somehow I become the jerk. Why? I don't give two shits about what their religious preference is. The only time I care is when people try to force their religion on others, i.e. proselytizing, public policy, yelling at me about my sinful ways, those sorts of things. Why do they care so much about my lack of belief? It baffles me.

I am openly critical of religion. I don't think it deserves any special protections from critical thought, but this doesn't mean I am without tact. I don't find it appropriate to go to work and call out my coworkers on what I find to be silliness. Just like I would be taken aback if they started telling me only evil sinners don't believe in the prophet Joseph Smith. Just like I am taken aback when I hear about believers in Jesus being good automatically. It's not the appropriate venue for such things.

I have yet to see any evidence for any of the supernatural claims religions provide. I don' think your magic sky daddy is looking over me or punishing the wicked or what have you. I find your willingness to allow another person to make choices for you or to interpret text for you appalling. I hate all dogma, especially dogma that teaches our children to be ashamed of being human and abuses them with guilt and the fear of hell. I completely look down on doctrines that support the ideas that women are inferior, rape is OK, genocide isn't bad, slavery is allowed, and knowledge is a sin (I also don't recognize the concept of sin). So, no, I don't mean agnostic.


  1. I'm totally fine with everyone believing what they want to, it's when they try to make others. But, yes, I agree. To each their own.

  2. As a recovering Catholic, I have no use for organized religion of any sort, but I do have my own spiritual beliefs and they seem to work for me quite nicely. To each his own.