Harvey Walnut

What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence

Posts Tagged ‘Christopher hitchens

Why I’m an Atheist

with 6 comments

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Like most Irish people of my generation I grew up going to mass every Sunday, went to a Catholic school and took part in the usual cult like initiation rituals like communion and then confirmation. It was in primary school when I was very young that my first suspicions that maybe this god stuff was not all it was made out to be started to germinate.

Every now and then one of the local parish priests would arrive, unannounced of course, and spend several hours telling us that Jesus loved us and if we didn’t love him back just as much we’d burn in hell. Along with the obligatory prayer sessions, we also went to confession once a month (8 year olds being renowned for their wickedness) where we would usually wait patiently for our turn to go into the confession box and make up some sins.

Usually the sins in question were discussed and agreed upon with fellow class mates beforehand.

But well I remember one particular priest who just loved to make children cry, for horrific crimes such as not blessing ones self right or for having said a bad word(fuck having been just discovered). While we sat waiting our turn, child after child would come out crying hands clasped tightly together ready to say 20 Hail Marys in order to be forgiven for their crimes.

Even then I felt that something about this chap, who was supposed to represent the essence of love, was flawed. But it was one particular occasion when I had my epiphany. A different priest, a scarecrow like character with a bald pate, pinched face and permanent hunch arrived in for the usual indoctrination session. After several suicide inducing hours he began talking about good old Adam and Eve and the talking snake. One clearly precocious student (alas not me) eagerly threw his hand into the air to ask a question. Essentially asking, well if this is true then what about all that evolution stuff we’ve been covering as well?

The scarecrow sputtered and waffled, that the only truth was the truth in the Bible etc his head bobbing sagely, eyes bulging at the effrontery of such a question, while our teacher busied herself with finding something under her desk, lest her opinion be asked.

And I knew, I just knew he was lying. My young mind couldn’t really quite grasp why or intellectualise the feeling but there it was, the genesis of my journey to atheism. By the time I was in high school I’d discarded the entire edifice of Christian belief and told my parents that mass and I would be parting company.

But it was as an adult that I began to look forensically at religion and it’s proponents. The hateful, misogynistic, genocidal and narcissistic nature of the god all these people believed in was so obvious to me that it was clear it was a man-made delusion. Its entire purpose to act as a security blanket against the guaranteed end awaiting us all and as a powerful weapon of control over the illiterate , gullible and uneducated.

Add the insane claims these religion make for themselves, their seemingly never-ending thirst for killing people who disagree with them, it really is a miracle anyone believes at all. And without obligatory religious indoctrination of children in many schools throughout the world the number of religious people would be far fewer than it is now.

Thankfully in Europe religion has for the most part been domesticated and reduced to the realm of personal belief where it should be. But we still have a very long way to go.

While I do not believe in a god I do accept the idea of the numinous and love that frisson of excitement that I get when I hear or see something that touches me profoundly whether it be art, music, science or a line of prose. For these are far more rewarding than any biblical fairy tale and I dare anyone to look at the Hubble Deep Field image and not to be awed and to see how paltry and petty religion is in comparison.

We are lucky to live in a time when we’ve had the eloquence of the late Christopher Hitchens fighting for reason alongside, Dawkins, Harris and A.C Grayling.

So what happens after we die? no idea and it doesn’t matter because what’s important is what we do while we live.

I’ll leave the final world to the great Christopher Hitchens.

Written by harveywalnut

June 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm

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