A death in the family and on being an atheist
Fortunately, I haven’t had to go to too many funerals, there was my grandmother a few years ago and my dad a couple of years ago. This Christmas was marked by the funeral of my father-in-law, whom I really liked and thought well of. Following a day out with the in-laws at a bird sanctuary, my father-in-law succumbed to a heart attack on the doorstep, as we arrived back at our house to have tea and cake to finish the day off. It was a lovely day out, we saw one or two wild birds, storks, herons and other wildfowl. My wife and I pushed around a wheelchair with the old feller in it and we even took photographs during the day.
We all have to die in the end and I’m sure that most of us wish that it will be at the end of a super happy day. Not only that, one would hope that it would be quick and painless, with a minimum of suffering. That’s the way that it worked out for Victoriano and as we would say in England, he had had a good innings. Most of the time that I have known him, he was quite disabled, but never grumbled about it and kept trying to do the things he liked to do. He was fond of doing DIY, as completely the other end of the scale from a cabinetmaker, but so what, he enjoyed it.
My own juvenile decision to be an atheist
I have been an atheist for quite long time now, having first decided that I didn’t believe that there was a God when I had reached the tender age of 10. I stopped singing the hymns in the school assembly in the morning. I didn’t follow the instructions to put my hands together and bow my head and pray either. Seeing as I am now nearly 54 years old, I can’t remember and awful lot about that decision. I probably didn’t tell anyone about it, or talk to any of the teachers, because I don’t remember anybody trying to convert me back into the God squad.
An introduction to religion for my namesake David Allen, the comedian
The stranglehold that religion has on dying
Religions like to get hold of their victims even before they are born and do their best to make sure that they profit at the time of death. It is quite understandable for a thinking being to be scared of dying. It is also fairly understandable that creatures with the power of thought and imagination would latch upon the idea that there is a life after death and a place called heaven. Religions are quite happy to use this need for comfort regarding death to their own ends, to get more people believing in their fairy stories. Having a man in the sky that can’t be seen and can’t be proven is perfect for those with power to use to control the populace. It doesn’t cost anything, apart from the ability to lie through your teeth convincingly to offer uneducated people an afterlife.
Subjugate the populace with a need to believe
On the one hand you can get subservience by promising the perfect place to live through eternity. On the other hand you have the stick to beat people with, that is called hell. As a religion you can get whatever you want from your browbeaten subjects once you’ve got them to say that they believe. Just as an example, Christianity has had its subjects build huge buildings in the name of God at a time when those same subjects were living in substandard buildings, that probably didn’t even have running water, let alone having toilet facilities. It has always been the rich and powerful dominating the poor. When you apply some thought and reasoning to the way that religions have behaved over the last couple of thousands of years, you can’t help but think that something went badly wrong somewhere. Religions have done some pretty evil things to human beings in the name of something that has been invented and doesn’t exist.
Pushing for a secular world
Lately I have been following other atheists on Twitter, who have been challenging some of the idiocy demonstrated by theists. It started with following someone called the Godless Spellchecker who easily wins every challenge made by the devout of whatever religion. He pushes for the ideal of thinking and reason, that you might find in a secular world. He does it without ever having to resort to swearing or shouting. You will often find that he will retweet the bad things that the god fearing folk say and append the hashtag #TheThingsTheGodlySay. It is not surprising that a number of times the same people will try to block him or stop him from doing his stuff on Twitter. I’m always amused by his arguments and I haven’t seen him lose one yet.
Reasoned debate on Twitter
The reason that the Godless Spellchecker has taken his debate to Twitter is to promote reasoned thinking and he is not necessarily out to convert the godly to atheists. It seems reasonable to believe that if you can get people to question everything and to not take what is served up at face value, by those that are caught up by the religious crap that has been heaped up on them, then there may be one or two people that do turn to secular ways. One of the arguments that he used, that I particularly liked, gave reasons why you shouldn’t believe in any gods. The way it goes is like this, think of all the reasons why you don’t believe in the gods of other religions, and that is why I don’t believe in yours.
An antidote to blind belief
Particularly at this time of year, Christmas time, there is a need to have something to counteract the religious fervour. People will do whatever they want to do, especially in terms of what they want to believe. What I really disagree with though, is where people have been indoctrinated from birth with religious dogma. Of course, these people don’t realise that they have been brainwashed and that is why there is a need for an antidote to this religious teaching.
The funeral that I went to was a religious funeral, of course. I was disappointed that the priest at this Catholic event, didn’t find time to talk to the family to find out more about the man that had died. He did talk about some family morality in general, but he also followed the party line and used his speech to promote the cult of Christianity. It would have been far better if he had arranged for a member of the family to stand up and say something about Victoriano. What else they can you expect from man standing there wearing a dress and who believes in an invisible man in the sky that controls everything. He even believes in a cosmic zombie Jew and a book of fairy stories.
The need for sensitivity
A sensible right-thinking person will not get into religious arguments with the godly during difficult times such as when somebody dies. I attended the religious event because it was expected of me as a member of the family. It wasn’t necessary for me to upset anyone by telling them that they were all deluded. Just as it wasn’t necessary for me to believe in their God, it would have been insensitive to ask them to also not believe in the lie. Emotions are running high at times like this, so it is better to think of the living and their most pressing need, which is comfort.
The way forward is secular
The religious way of thinking has in the past caused so much damage, pain and suffering. I’m sure that believing in any of the gods can hold back humanity from the true enlightenment. It is not acceptable for religions to tell girls that they can’t have an education. It is not acceptable for religions to promote genital mutilation. It is not acceptable for a religion to deny medical attention such as a blood transfusion. There are in fact too many areas of life were religion has an influence where it shouldn’t. As an atheist, I have chosen not to believe in a God and it is right to promote critical thinking and reason in others. It is not right for atheists to tell people who are religious, how they should think, as that would be just as bad as how the religious have conducted themselves over the years.