Eternity and Beyond

A friend posted this on video facebook.  It compelled me to write a few words about it. The attitude that many Christians, such as Francis Chan in this video, have about life is much of the problem I have with Christianity today. Many of these people are unconcerned with the immediate consequences of their actions because they are focused on a “bigger picture”; one that may not even exist. Their “higher moral ground,” which they believe will grant them access to a heaven that may or may not exist leads them to ignore or even cause atrocities here on Earth.

This concept that people should be “running a moral race” seems ludicrous to me. If there is some sort of loving god, I cannot, and will not believe that s/he/it would approve of ignoring our lives here on Earth in an effort to win his/her/its favor for some life beyond.

If people truly believe there is a god, racing each other to the finishing line is not the answer. Love, truth, and compassion are. Regardless of a person’s faith (or lack there of) the only moral way to behave is to treat others the way you want to be treated. This does not include: belittling someone for having a different religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or being different period. Nor does it include acts of violence–even ones a person deems to be righteous. Bombing abortion clinics, people of different faiths, or anyone else does not make you a religious crusader, it makes you terrorist.

In the end, regardless of our beliefs, we all have only one chance to be a good person on this planet. By turning the quest for eternity into a moral race, Christians can cause more harm than good. Life is not a competition, and shouldn’t be treated as one. Unconditional, brotherly love, or as Aristotle put it, agape, has been missing from our society for a very long time. I know that it is difficult to love our neighbors–I know I struggle with it, but if we all can love one another despite our differences, perhaps a race for eternity won’t be necessary.

Why?

People often ask me why I’m an atheist. I find this question to be absurd. It’s like asking me why my eyes are brown, or why I’m female. Sure, I can give you a long, drawn out scientific reason for each of those, but the plain truth is, that’s the way it is–my default. The same is true for atheism. If no one had told me about a deity, there is no way I would have thought to attribute anything in this world to one on my own. In fact, my skepticism about god was there in my earliest memories.

My parents promised me that they would answer all of my questions…about anything…and tell me the truth about everything I wanted to know. I was told that, “Because I said so,” was not an answer, and that inquiry was a positive thing…until I started asking questions. My favorite question was, “Why?” I always wanted to know why things happened, and from there, I wanted to know how.

By the age of four I knew most of the main scriptures in the bible by heart, and they simply didn’t make sense. Unfortunately, the questions I kept asking made my parents uncomfortable. All of those things I was told about being told the truth, that they would not hold back, that they would never say things like, “just because,” or “because I said so,” went straight out the window. The more questions I asked, the more aggravated my mother got with me. By the time my parents divorced, it seemed like my mom hated me.

For years I lived with mom without religion around. After she died, I was told that my life had been destroyed because I, “had turned my back on god.” That didn’t make sense to begin with, because a child can’t do such a thing, but I decided to look into it. As I looked into the churches in the area, I found sex, drugs, corruption, and so much more–basically a cesspool I really didn’t want to be a part of. From there I started feeling some of my old doubts surfacing.

Someone I really care about believes very much in the existence of god. This person is one of the smartest men I’ve ever known (and I know some outright geniuses) so I set out on a quest. I wanted to find real evidence of the existence of god.

Unfortunately, that did not happen. Scientifically, it is impossible to prove a negative, but what I found came darn close. So many people have been so bent on proving the existence of god, that they fabricate evidence. Over the course of my investigation, I found that all (that’s ALL, not nearly all) of the evidence that supports supernatural biblical events thus far, has been proven to be fabricated.

I find it ridiculous that people try to claim that the bible is accurate because a few of the geographical points of references could be correct. Does that mean that Harry Potter is true because some of the story takes place in London?

After thoroughly researching this subject for many years, I had to conclude that my initial intuition as a child was correct; there is no god.

Pushing Faith

One of my favorite atheist personalities, Seth Andrews, posted a status on facebook that got me thinking:

        “Watched David Silverman on Hannity. I am continually amazed at the proclivity of ALL Fox News hosts to ask a question and then refuse to listen to the answer.

Of course, we know that the segment isn’t about informing a viewing public, but about giving Sean Hannity another opportunity to chest-thump in defense of his personal faith. (Did you catch the O’Reilly guest host, Eric Bolling, in his exchange withDave Muscato and literally bursting out the proclamation that he was a practicing Catholic/Christian?)

Same thing happened to Jerry DeWitt on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, when Joe couldn’t WAIT to exclaim that he believes ‘Jesus is the son of God’ and he believes ‘what the bible says.’

Do so-called journalists do this with other topics, like proclaiming to a Tyson exec that they only eat fish, or exclaiming to a BMW rep that they personally drive a Ford, or responding to a political candidate that, ‘I voted for THIS OTHER GUY!’

There are cases, surely, and hosts do like to make the conversation about themselves, but nothing causes these pundit preachers to spontaneously combust like a non-religious person in the room. And Fox News, already a disaster, again jumps the shark with this War On Christmas nonsense.

The only upside to this circus was the Unintentional Comedy Moment of the Year: watching Megyn Kelly assure America’s children that Jesus and Santa are both white.

Caucasian Jesus. Coming to a white person’s nativity scene near you.” 

I just had a few things to say. The reason religion is so prominent for people to “chest thump” about, is because it is a “hot topic” right now. In the United States, there is a need to push ones own ideas onto everyone else, regardless of what those ideas are. If you are sitting in a biker bar, people will push their ideas onto you concerning which kinds of motorcycles you should ride, and which kinds of beer you should drink. If your ideas differ, a(n) debate (argument) will ensue. In a classic car show, people will push their ideas of which model of car was the best. It doesn’t matter the setting, people in this country will always push their ideas of what is better, or what should happen, onto others.

The political arena is probably one of the worst, right next to, or following religion. If someone does not have strong beliefs in these areas, a lot of times that person will create strong beliefs to push onto others. I once attended a secular event where a man tried to push his belief that microwave ovens destroyed all the nutrients in food, leading to sickness and death in humans. He went so far as to say it was unhealthy to heat a cup of water in the microwave. I tried to explain how certain items are dangerous to put into the microwave, and that certain foods can lose some nutrients when heated that way, but that he had taken the concept to an extreme, but he was utterly devout in his faith against microwaves.

The point here is that religion may seem like the only thing people are so devout about, but I think that’s because it’s such a collective delusion. People take strength in their beliefs because they’re not the only ones who believe such insanity. They know it sounds crazy, they know it sounds irrational, they know it sounds ridiculous, but over 60% of the US population believes the same things they do, so it can’t be that crazy, right? The knowledge of the insanity of the beliefs, coupled with the knowledge of so many people who share their beliefs makes them scream even louder about those beliefs. It’s comforting to come together to try to make sense of such insanity.

Other strong beliefs come out when the time and place is right for them. This is mostly because there are fewer people who share those beliefs, and the communities that do, tend to be more tightly knit…like bikers, or chefs, or baristas, or gangs…you get the picture. The subject of politics is more like religion. The people who have strong beliefs about it are spread out, but there are a lot of them. Even if the beliefs are crazy, or irrational, there are plenty of people who share those beliefs, and finding those people is easy over the internet, on forums, ect. Finding those who oppose your views is also easy, therefore picking a fight…pushing your views onto others, is simple.

Don’t think that religion holds a monopoly on pushing ideas onto other people. True, religion is responsible for some horrific things in that area, but people should always be on the alert. Your minds are your own. People should always think for themselves. I get so irritated with labels, with the way we separate ourselves into neat little boxes. Why must we be either Christian or Atheist? Why must we be Republican or Democrat? Why must we be Conservative or Liberal?

What labels do I put on myself? I don’t. I am a free thinker, with new, and fresh ideas. The worn out labels this society has do not apply to me now, and they never will.

What About Me?

I have been using this blog as a bit of an internet diary–a way to vent my frustrations. I’m sure that there are a few people who come across what I have to say are somewhat confused. That’s why I’ve decided to start writing stories and anecdotes from my past. My history, my childhood, had a big part in helping to develop who I’ve become today. I hope that the stories I have to offer are entertaining, as well. Let’s start with how I felt as a child, and why:

Childhood was a very lonely time for me. I loved my little brother immensely, but I also felt responsible for him. I couldn’t just enjoy his company, because if anything were to happen to him, I would get into trouble for not keeping watch over him. Our religion ensured that friends were out of the question. My parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses. This meant that I was completely avoided at school, and everywhere else. Because our religion didn’t believe in holidays, everyone else gave us wide berth, afraid that we had some sort of disease that might be catching. The only holiday we did celebrate was Thanksgiving, you know, the one without gifts…

My childhood wasn’t completely negative. The lack of children’s church at the “Kingdom Hall” gave me in-depth knowledge very early. I won my first biblical debate at age three. I don’t remember the details now, but I know that it was concerning the tower of Babel. My grandfather was saying one thing, and I corrected him. He tried to tell me I was mistaken, but I got my bible story book to show him. All I remember about winning the debate is Grandpa saying, “Well, I’ll be damned!”

There had always been things in the bible that didn’t made sense to me. I tried to take them at face value, but it was hard. The story of Lot’s wife bothered me. God said don’t look back, yet Lot’s wife looked back, and was turned to a pillar of salt. How would Lot know that unless he looked back to see that? Yet nothing bad ever happened to him. Why is curiosity depicted as such a horrible thing? Not just in the story of Lot’s wife, but in the creation story, as well. The fall of humanity is caused by curiosity–wanting to know the truth of good and evil. Why else would Adam and Eve partake of the fruit that gives knowledge of good and evil?

Every time I would ask questions about the logic of these things, someone would tell me that it was not my place to ask such questions. Well, if not my place, then whose? Someone needed to ask these questions, because they needed to be answered. At no point during this phase did it occur to me to doubt the existence of God. It was a given, to me, that he was there. He was listening to my prayers, and watching over my life. The concept of atheism hadn’t even been introduced to me. Nor had I been introduced to any other religions, either monotheistic or polytheistic. All I had ever known, all I had ever been taught was that God existed, He was watching, and He was listening, therefore, that was what I believed, without considering any alternatives, because I didn’t know there were alternatives.

My life now is far different from what it was during my childhood. I strive to shake off isolation as much as I can. Though I don’t like extremely large get-togethers (perhaps because I feel alone in large crowds), I really enjoy smaller engagements where everyone knows each other. I especially like to host these parties. I love the holidays. Being an atheist doesn’t detract from my holiday spirit in any way. I don’t care about greetings–Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Chanukah, whatever. I’m just happy to know that someone is saying something nice to me (that’s rare here in California). Believe it or not, I probably knew more about the bible at three than I do now. I did so much studying over the years trying to figure out what was real and what wasn’t, that I packed so much biblical knowledge into my head, it almost exploded. Over the last ten years or so, I let it all go. Of course the knowledge is still there, but it isn’t all consuming anymore. I no longer feel the need to throw biblical trivia at people when they say something that is incorrect, or something I don’t agree with. I came to the realization that the bible is just a book, like so many others. With that realization, I no longer need to “prove” anything, for or against it.

There are many other things that helped to shape who I am today, but my outgoing, friendly personality definitely comes from the isolation I felt as a child, and my love for holidays and get-togethers comes from being deprived of having those things when I was young. So many times in the past I’ve wished that my parents would have celebrated holidays–I often wondered if their choice of religion was more about faith or a lack of love for me and my brother. Now, I wonder if they had celebrated holidays like everyone else when I was young, would I cherish them as much as I do now?

Because of Christianity, or In Spite of It

Not long ago I wrote a blog about the need for more outspoken women in the atheist community. On that blog, I drew a very persistent commenter who felt the need to steer the direction of the conversation away from the point of the blog. That did irritate my a little, because the subject of role models is a very important one to me. My life was bereft of people who were close to me, and had the ability to inspire and motivate me. I walked aimlessly for years before relying on my own inspiration to guide me. Perhaps others can be spared that aimless struggle if they had something or someone, even if from afar, to aspire to.

Once again I am wandering off point. The troll **ahem** I mean, commenter, kept trying to make the point that without Christianity, western society would not exist. Let’s look at some of what he said:

“Did you know that all the great civilizations grew up around religion? And the greatest religion of them all, Christianity, powered the rise of mankind’s greatest civilization, Western Civilization.”

“The Catholic Church is the oldest institution on the planet. And name even one civilization that progressed past the slave, beast of burden and bone grinding manual labor besides Western Civilization. Thanks to Christianity, Western Civilization developed modern science which permitted mankind to quantum leap into a future of internal combustion and jet engines, flight, mass production, modern medicine, human rights, etc., etc. There simply is no comparison between any civilization Western Civilization with regard to technological, social and political advancement.”

“The Catholic Church was the most powerful institution in Europe if not the entire world for the 1000 leading up to the Reformation. It controlled or greatly influenced EVERYTHING, especially thought and worldview. Any intellectual was subject to Inquisition. Consequently, science developed because the Catholic Church guided intellectual thinking away from the tar pits of alchemy, magic, astrology and the secular commandeering of religion, education and science that prevailed in almost all other civilizations. Nevertheless, it was in alchemy that the precise measurement necessary for modern chemistry was developed and it was in astrology that the mathematics of astronomy, physics and cosmology was developed. The major mover of the efforts behind the study of alchemy and astrology was boo koo bucks. Royalty paid handsomely for good astrological forecasts. The study alchemy was outrageously expensive but the promise of being able to turn a base metal into gold or silver made expenditures seem like investments. This according to James Hannam in his most recent book, “The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched Scientific Revolution.”

I will not deny that humanity is prone to superstition. When people cannot explain something, the first thing they do is rarely find a logical explanation. Most of the time, people come up with ridiculous, and off the wall scenarios that evolve into crazy legends. Legends of old include the headless horseman from Sleepy Hollow, vampires, werewolves, king Arthur (and everything that comes with him: Excalibur, the lady in the lake, ect.), and many more. More recent legends, often referred to as “urban legends” include: Bloody Mary, the hook man, the hatchet killer, Candyman, and man more. When someone else sees the crazy stories for what they are, and produces evidence that shows a logical and rational explanation for the phenomenon that started the story, people become defensive. Once they’ve invested time and emotion into a story, the concept of letting it go is upsetting.

The Catholic Church is quite old, and it holds tight to its traditions, much as it always has. Much like people who get upset at facing the possibility that their legends might not be true, an organization, whose entire foundation hinges on the words written in an ancient book, gets very upset when those words are challenged. So upset that they will go so far as to ensure that those words do not get challenged. If that means silencing the challenger, so be it. If that means covering up the challenge, so be it. Whatever it takes to protect the sanctity of the institution, that’s what they will do.

There were people who believed that our solar system could be heliocentric as early as the 3rd century. This view contradicted biblical teachings and was generally frowned upon. In the 16th century, Copernicus set after this train of thought against popular thought and belief, and amid heavy criticism. Despite the obstacles he faced, Copernicus was able to show through a mathematical model that his hypothesis was correct. Even then, many did not believe him. Even now there are some that claim that the earth is flat because that’s what the bible says. The Flat Earth Society believes that because the bible claims that the Earth is flat, it is.

The commenter said that we should believe that Christianity is responsible for the rise of western society because the church micromanaged everything. This means that the church controlled everything; they could approve, disapprove, suppress, or do whatever they wanted to with research, technology, politics…well…everything.

He also says that no other civilization could do what we have done. Is that true? Greek and Roman artists, philosophers, engineers, and so on were taking the world by storm long before Christianity ever came onto the scene. The gods in both Greece and Rome were much more adaptable to the changing times. Their human attributes meant that the gods, along with the religion they represented, evolved along with its people.

The ancient Egyptians were quite innovative in their own right. Many of the Egyptian gods were not as versatile as many of the ones found in Greece and Rome, but they still were more capable of evolving with their people than the Christian god was.

Before the Catholic Church came around, Roman engineers had built amazing architectural structures, improved the quality of concrete to ensure its strength and longevity, created central heating, and much more. The Egyptians had produced mortuary practices that could preserve a body for eons, created structures that would last even longer, and created an equal opportunity society. Both societies had produced beautiful works of art.

Once Christianity began to spread through the known world, these advancements slowed. For many years the church forbade literacy for ordinary people. It was an exclusive privilege reserved for the clergy. This ensured that any “scientific inquiry” could only be done by the church. It took the people waking up and realizing that they were being denied basic knowledge that should have been a right before anything was really done.

What if Constantine had not seen the potential for control in Christianity? Christianity became a force in the western world because a very powerful man saw the potential for control. In a polytheistic system, there is no central control. There will always be different factions who believe differently and have quarrels with one another. A monotheistic system resolves those issues. There are no different gods to angle against one another. Everyone worships the same god, has the same beliefs, and strives for the same goals. If one leader (Constantine) could be the figure head for such a movement, nothing could stop him…or so was the plan. It worked quite well…for a while. Once Martin Luther came along the all for one, one for all stuff went down the drain. Now there are over 4000 different denominations of Christianity, and they are probably just as bad at bashing each other than any of the ancient polytheistic religions were. In fact, if you look at the history of Ireland, you’ll find that some of these factions have even gone to war against each other.

Without Christianity, would western society exist? I don’t have a “what if” machine to check, but my guess is, yes. In fact, I’d wager that we would have gotten where we are a few centuries faster without the church being so worried about scientific discoveries contradicting their holy texts. The Roman Empire was the dominant force in the western world when Christianity came into its own. The only reason Christianity went from a few stories told by goat herders to a world-wide religion is because a cunning leader saw its potential for controlling the masses. Within the Roman Empire there were artists, philosophers, engineers, scientists…everyone necessary to bring technology and advancement to a society. Even today people quote the wisdom of those philosophers, scientists, engineers, and artists that had nothing to do with Christianity.

Did we need Christianity then? Obviously not. Someone used it to take control. Do we need it now? Not at all. Much like those legends we spoke of earlier, people have a hard time letting go of stories they’ve grown attached to, even if all of the evidence shows that the story isn’t true.

Religious Rejection

I’ve been thinking about why so many women would be scared to identify themselves as atheists. Some women don’t have children, and have secure, reputable careers, therefore the threat of losing their jobs and family is moot. What else could keep these women silent?

I dived into my own experiences for some of these answers. In my family, there is a sense of parental failure because of my lack of belief in God. This is frustrating for me because that sentiment is never directly voiced to me. If my father would just say, “I think I failed you as a parent because you don’t believe in God,” I could rebut. My father taught me to look at things critically, and to follow the evidence. If the hypothesis is not congruent with the evidence, I must adjust my premise. It took many years and a lot of research to get where I am. Even now, my father and step-mother make passive-aggressive attempts to force me to participate in their Christian rituals such as prayer, thanking God, church gatherings on special occasions, and so on. I have several homemade cards that have either bible verses or other references to Jesus or God in them that have been sent to me.

Statistically speaking, most of a person’s family is going to be religious. To declare against that would create friction. For many women, family (and even extended family) tends to be very important. The concept of upsetting the delicate balance of the family life is frightening. A woman might not believe in God, go to church, or teach her children that biblical stories are fact the way that other mothers do, but if her mother-in-law were to hear the word atheist in reference to her daughter-in-law, that delicate balance would be thrown into limbo.

Love, tolerance, kindness, understanding…virtues like these are what Christians are supposed to display, yet when faced with someone who does not live up to their idea of what a human is supposed to be, most Christians are anything but. My own experiences range from being cussed at and called names on the internet to having some Christian extremist chase me down when they found out I was an atheist. I have no idea what they intended to do to me once they caught me (fortunately I reached a well populated area first), but I’m sure it wasn’t something Christ would endorse.

When I was attending the University of Oklahoma a Christian group was protesting against abortion. They did so by blowing up photos of aborted tissue and creating a morbid display roughly 20 feet by 20 feet in the middle of the campus. This display was strategically placed right in front of the public bus stop. Several young children were exposed to these graphic photos that may have traumatized them for life. These are the same people who, once this child they work so hard to ensure is born, they’d turn their back on him/her, voting against food stamps, social security, medicare, or any other help that child may need in the future. They are pro-birth, not pro-life. The worst part is, if they don’t get their way, if other people don’t agree with them, they start blowing things up…like abortion clinics.

It seems like women’s issues are at a forefront of Christian attack. A woman’s right to make her own decisions, to control her own body, has been under attack from Christians for a very long time. A woman’s right to raise her children how she see’s fit–without church or government influence, is now under attack as well.

With women’s rights being under attack and family values being so important to most women, the reasons for women to keep silent about their lack of belief is understandable. The issue I have is this: the more women remain silent, the less role models we have for the next generation. We have some wonderful guys: Richard Dawkins, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and many others, but in this day, we need women for young girls to look up to and relate with. As an adolescent, when the world is barely making sense, then your entire worldview begins to unravel and the only people you have to look up to and ask questions of are men? That isn’t right. We need women to help these girls make sense of the world around them.

UPDATE:

I was looking around for more more to go on concerning some female role models within the atheist community. What I found was a bit frustrating. There are online communities for women who lack belief, but finding truly outspoken women who do not value their anonymity is more than difficult. Atheist Women and the Price of Speaking Out talks about the consequences many women deal with for speaking their minds on the subject of God and religion.

Salon magazine gives 5 reasons there aren’t more women in atheism, though I have to disagree with some of their assessments. In my opinion, their first reason is bunk. Most religious families give more to their church than they receive from it. A 10% income tithe far out ways the bag of groceries or bundle of clothes the church might give back once in a while. The second reason is just plain ludicrous. I have been a member of the atheist community for over 25 years. Rape jokes? Please…leave your idiotic stereotypes at home. I have no use for them in the real world. Men are over-represented in this society, but that’s about the only logical thing said in #3. It takes someone who has been raised religious and still believes that way to call atheism a “movement.” The “gender bias” the article is referring to has nothing to do with any “movement.” It has everything to do with the media. Even if a woman atheist does something wonderfully newsworthy, the media will gloss it over, cover it up, or do what they can to ensure that people do not see it. I had no idea that Rebecca Vitsmun had courageously saved her son from a tornado, as well as revealed her status as an atheist to a national audience, only 20 miles from where my family lives, until the video was posted on an atheist feed I monitor. Sexism is real alright, but the media needs to look in the mirror on this one, too.

I’m wondering if mass media might be one of our main issues here. Without mass media, would women be so afraid to reveal their true identities? Would the perception of a “gender bias” be so great, causing so many women to shrink into the shadows, rather than bring their thoughts and ideas out into the light? Would as many hopeful and inspiring stories of courage and ingenuity get lost and/or covered up by those who don’t agree with our lack of belief? With the human body constantly being objectified in the media, and women’s worth reduced to how pretty she is and how well she can please someone; would sexism be as prevalent without mass media?

Hidden Heroes

In the past I’ve expressed concern over the fact that most prominent atheists are male. Here in the US, there is a strong anti-secular sentiment. Roughly 15% of the overall population in the states is considered secular, which means they have no religious affiliation. Atheists are counted within this category, but not everyone who is secular is an atheist. Between 70% and 80% of the US population is some denomination of Christianity. This could range from Protestant to Baptist to Catholic and anything in between. The US has small statistical markers of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and a few other religions.

Religions_of_the_United_States

Many of the Christians I’ve come across honestly believe that without the unsubstantiated belief in a deity, a person is incapable of sustaining moral behavior. The truth is, morality cannot be simply dictated by an ancient text. This has been proven over and over by religious extremists who slaughter those who believe differently from the way they do. Whether the underlying reason for war is money, resources or any number of mundane things, religious conflict makes a perfect scapegoat to begin the bloodshed. Sometimes the religious beliefs are the sole basis for war. The Israelis and Palestinians have been shedding blood over the Holy City of Israel for generations, simply because the Israelis feel that they have a right to Palestinian land.

Years ago I wrote a paper depicting many of the issues concerning the ten commandments. I’ll summarize some of it here. In scripture, there are many contradictions concerning the fact that God orders his people never to commit these grievances. According to Exodus 20:13-16 “Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” Yet, Exodus 32:27 says, “And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.” Hosea 1:2 “1:2 The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.” Ezekiel 39:10 “So that they shall take no wood out of the field, neither cut down any out of the forests; for they shall burn the weapons with fire: and they shall spoil those that spoiled them, and rob those that robbed them, saith the Lord GOD.” 1 Samuel 21:2 “And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place.” (But David was an enemy of King Saul, and was not on the king’s business. We know that God approved of this lie, since 1 Kings 15:5 says that God approved of everything David did, with the single exception of the matter of Uriah.)

Of course, as far as the ten commandments are concerned, I prefer George Carlin’s approach:

Now, back to the original point. Why is it that there aren’t very many female atheists to look up to? I think that Rebecca Vitsmun might have an answer for me:

(Video Credit: The Thinking Atheist)

From what I see here, the issue is fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of persecution. Fear of misunderstanding. Believe it or not, women have a lot more to lose from society than men do. If women are perceived as soulless, immoral and lost, the consequences could be devastating. Women are already at a disadvantage. They make less money in the work place, have a harder time finding jobs to begin with, and have to deal with employers constantly suspecting them of getting pregnant and “stealing” money from the company to take leave to have the child. If a woman already has children, being seen as immoral puts her at risk for losing the children she has. People can say, “You can’t lose your children just for being an atheist!” That’s true, but you can lose your children if you have too many anonymous calls to children’s services. If someone doesn’t like how you look, your religious affiliation (or lack there of), or anything else about you, they can anonymously call children’s services over and over again and you can eventually lose your children, even if they find nothing wrong. Apparently, just the calls are “just cause” to indicate a problem.

Rebecca had a lot to lose when she “came out” on national television. I know that there are a lot more hidden heroes out there who have the strength and initiative to inspire the rest of us. I look forward to hearing from those heroes. I know that the Beyond Belief Network would appreciate any help that people are willing to offer.