Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Hubbub

I love the holiday season. Who doesn’t? People everywhere are happy, giving, loving, caring, all around better. This time of year, the entire world shows how humanity should be. Instead of hating others we should be helping them. And this month shows it best with one of my personal favorite holidays, Christmas.

“What? But, you’re an Atheist!”

Yes, I know. I’m celebrating a religious holiday and don’t even believe in the story behind it. But it goes a bit beyond that. So, this month I’m going to answer one question that always crops up around this time of the year.

“Why do Atheists celebrate religious holidays?”

Actually, the answer is usually a lot simpler than you might think. In most cases it’s a force of habit. Their parents raised them on certain holidays and they feel strange not celebrating them year after year. It’d be like not celebrating your birthday, it just doesn’t feel right. Sure you could get used to not celebrating Christmas or Hanukah, but you don’t really want to.

In my experience, I’ve always celebrated Christmas, not because of Jesus or God, but because of the holiday itself. As a child I believed in Santa Clause, the person, and as an adult I believe in Santa Clause, the concept. I believe in the spirit of giving that Christmas portrays. Other than habit, this is the main reason Atheists celebrate any religious holiday, the message behind it. Or, in the case of an Atheistic child, the presents involved. Let’s be honest, a kid that has no idea about the religious side of the holiday just sees it as a special day where they get all kinds of toys and goodies without needing to do anything but put up with their siblings and peers for the few weeks leading up to it.

So, Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas, Crazy Kwanza, and Happy Holidays from the Land of Disillusionment.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Something from Nothing

As Atheists, we are forced to find evidence for all things we perceive, and some that we do not. It is a rather difficult task to not just fold our hands and jump at the first conclusion given. Even if there is a question to which we currently have no answer, an Atheist must acknowledge that lack and, lacking sufficient evidence, move on until technology improves more. A perfect example of this situation is a very common question asked by Theists, and people in general.

"Where did the universe come from?"

Many Theists believe that, to be an Atheist, you must believe that the universe came from nothing, a giant explosion that created all the matter and energy in the universe. This simply is not true. To be an Atheist, you must acknowledge that nothing is able to come from nothing. EVERYTHING has to come from somewhere. This is a difficult concept to grasp, as it also means that the universe has always been, in one form or another.

The "Big Bang" that Theists point to is not a "Bang" at all. If there was an explosion of any kind it would destroy, not create. Instead of an explosion, the "Bang" was an expansion of material from a singularity. A quick one, but an expansion nonetheless. The term "Big Bang" was created by those who did not believe in an expanding universe, though it has been proven mathematically, and kinda stuck. So, no explosion of or from nothingness.

As for what a singularity is, that's a bit harder to explain. Anyone who knows what an atom is knows that is is more than just the material that makes an atom, there is also a lot of space between the electrons and everything else. If you were to remove that space, everything could be made MUCH smaller. Also factoring in that matter can become energy and energy can become matter, things can be compacted even more. And this singularity isn't just a ball of energy floating around, it also has every force of nature floating around inside like a miniature, energy universe without any room. This is what became the universe, forcing everything to expand away from the center and from everything else.

So, where did the singularity come from? No one knows that one just yet. However, that is not to say we will never know. Science is always advancing and finding ways of looking farther and farther back by examining the present. The singularity had to come from somewhere, and that had to come from somewhere, and THAT had to come from somewhere. There will always be something before and something after what we know.

Everything had to come from something, and nothing can ever be completely destroyed. It all goes somewhere.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why Bother

I am an Atheist.

Those four little words can enrage communities, sadden people, and destroy families. By turning your back on someone's god, they feel you have turned your back on them. This makes them feel angry, disappointed, and many will even pity you.

However, that's not to say you should force yourself to believe in their religion. That's the worst course of action for both sides. False belief is a lot worse than either belief or dis-belief. If you truly don't believe in any god or religion, then it is better to get it out in the open as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be.

For me, it was simple. I was spoiled as a child in the realm of religion. Even though my parents had strong feelings about religion, in varying directions, they never forced their beliefs onto me, allowing my own thoughts to guide me. I tried out various beliefs, never attaching myself to any of them, and eventually settled on an Agnostic viewpoint for a long time. Finally, full Atheism was the only viable option I could see. They were fine with it, and encouraged me the whole way. So, I can't pretend to know how hard it is to express disbelief in heavily religious families. I do know, though, that any painful secret will continue to build as you get older, and eventually wall itself in until you can't tell anyone, forcing you to live a double life.

Once you're out in the open about your “beliefs” you can focus on more important aspects of your life, like LIVING IT! Many hours are spent every week catering to a religion, not least of all being religious gatherings. Once those are out of the way, you can use the time for things you enjoy or working toward a goal. One thing that will be a problem, though, is that you will need to put a little bit of time into your defenses. Not so much physical defenses (unless you live in one of those third world areas) as religious ones. You may not want a fight, but almost every heavily religious person you meet, and say you are an Atheist to, is going to attack you in one form or another. Most of these attacks can be deflected using common sense, but some can be jarring, especially if you do not have an answer for them. So, I recommend brushing up now, even if you haven't told anyone yet, because those attacks will get rather vicious.

For those on the fence, or curious about the Atheist position, I encourage you to stay with this blog. I will attempt to explain our side, without resisting anyone, and show why we are growing in number. Every month I will answer a question directed at Atheists, in an attempt to help those who just don't understand us. Starting with this first, easily answered question:

“If there is no God and no afterlife, why do you even bother going through life?”

Simple, because there is nothing else. This is the only life we have, so we must live it as best we can, accomplishing what we can. Many would argue that there is no point since there is no reward after death, but I disagree. Generations of people may remember you for what you have accomplished, even if they don't know you by name. For example, Gary Gygax is the father of Role Playing Games by creating Dungeons and Dragons. Every RPG from that point on has been based (in whole or in part) on his design. Have you ever heard of him until now? Chances are you haven't, yet I bet you or someone you know plays RPGs all the time, and probably also has never heard of him.

Many years from now, no one will remember us, but they will remember what we've done, even if all you did was create the one that did something great.