Not so very long ago, I wrote a blog post where I discussed the history of Christian violence. Shortly after, I discussed the use of the Bible to justify discrimination against African Americans, women and homosexuals. Those two post obviously represent my feelings toward the church and its power. I find it frightening, but not in that “We’ll put the fear of God in you” sort of way; in the “boy you sure got a pretty mouth” sort of way.
As an atheist, it is surprising to me that the first thought that came to my mind after hearing Bill Maher say, “Someday we all do have to confront the notion that our silly gods cost us too much” was: Bill Maher better be glad he’s wearing a rubber suit ‘cuz God going to strike him down with lightening.
It then occurred to me that I may subconsciously be a believer in “God.” All day today I debated the ramifications of what it will mean now that I realize I do believe in God. Now, instead of sleeping in on Sunday until 9 a.m. (10 if I’m lucky), I will have to rise early, dress like I’m going to the office, have a nice breakfast so my stomach doesn’t interrupt the guy at the altar, drive 50-ish miles to the nearest city (I’m certainly not ready to go to church in the country) and listen while I’m told what my belief in God will require.
That’s where the fantasy of my thoughts end. I realized at that very moment that the reason I do not believe in God (now or even when listening to Bill Maher) is because people expect you to do certain things in order to believe in God. You can’t declare, “I believe in God” and just have people believe you, you must prove you believe in God.
How does one prove they believe in God? Let’s see:
- Go to church.
- Say, “Bless you,” way too often.
- Tell other people they must believe in God too.
- Donate money to organizations that make people cry, but not tears of joy.
- Pray over my meals.
- Tell other people they must pray with me or their eternal soul will suffer unthinkable ill.
- Give 10% of my assets to the church.
- Pray the church will raise enough money from the very person that is giving the church the money.
- Get married to some-one of the opposite sex whether or not we love each other.
- Have children.
- Teach my children to believe in the same God I believe in.
- Never have an independent thought without thinking its a sin.
So, if you ever wonder what makes a person who was once a believer stop believing, the answer is simple, I can only believe what it is I believe, whether it be in tooth fairies or money trees, gods or a God, it is what I believe. Perhaps ironically, I “believe” that is exactly the same reason people do believe in God.
Therefore, I disagree with what Bill Maher did, but not what Bill Maher said. I agree that “gods,” by away of religion, have cost us greatly. I disagree with him using the term “silly.” It was disrespectful to a people. As someone in a group that is often disrespected (homosexuals), I can truly empathize with the way it feels to be disrespected. The way those that are believers in God felt as those words fell from his mouth is exactly the same feeling I feel every time I hear you condemn me.