Thursday, October 16, 2008

That Atheist Meme

Tagged by R.E.S.E.A.R.C.H.E.R.S. I swear this thing was written by a theist who wants to make us look bad or something!

Can You Remember The Day That You Officially Became An Atheist?

There was no specific day, and I didn't realise it had to be official. Do I need to get a certificate? I can remember the first time I said "I'm an atheist" rather than "I'm not religious", does that count? (It was in the UK so the recipient didn't care).

Do you remember the day you officially became an agnostic?

Again, there was no specific day, it was a very gradual process. My path to agnosticism and atheism is described in more detail in this post if anyone is interested.

How about the last time you spoke or prayed to God with actual thought that someone was listening?

I did mentally recite the Lord's Prayer to myself most nights when I was much younger, but it was more a superstition than an attempt to actually "speak to God". I don't think I've ever done that with any real thought that there was someone listening.

Did anger towards God or religion help cause you to be an atheist or agnostic?

As just about everyone else has already pointed out, being angry at something requires a belief in that thing. I'm not angry at God, nor at leprechauns.

Being angry at religion is a much more interesting (and actually valid) question. But no, religion has never harmed me personally, and animosity to religion played no role in my path to atheism. I feel frustrated and yeah, occasionally angry, with people who try to impose their own religious beliefs on others, but that came after my realisation that they are, in all likelihood, completely wrong.

Were you agnostic towards ghosts, even after you became an atheist?

This is where you all get to laugh with me (Dr. A has promised that no-one will laugh at me).

I do not necessarily disbelieve in ghosts. I emphatically do NOT believe in any kind of conscious spirit that deliberately haunts the people who wronged it during its life or whatever. However I think it is possible that people sometimes, somehow, manage to see a glimpse into a different time. A replay of a past event that happened in that place. I know too many completely trustworthy people with "ghost" stories that they swear are true. Including my Dad, who saw a fellow student come out of his bedroom and walk right past him in his hall of residence at University. This despite the fact that the other student had fatally broken his neck in a rugby scrum a few weeks earlier, and that his parents had taken away all his belongings and the room was locked up for the remainder of the year since no-one else wanted to live there. My Dad knew the guy well and says that there is NO WAY it could have been anyone else.

Now my Dad is a lapsed Catholic, a skeptic, and enjoys telling a good story, but you have to really push him and push him (and ply him with whisky) before he'll tell you that one. And I've heard similar stories from other people I trust.

There is also this, the most famous of the many ghost stories that come from my home town. The ghosts were first seen before the Roman road was discovered.

I've heard more evidence for the existence of ghosts than for the existence of any god!

Do you want to be wrong?

About which god? The one described in the Old Testament? No, he sounds like a mean spirited old bugger. New Testament? Maybe. Buddhism? If I'm wrong about anything I'd like it to be Buddhism. It would indeed be nice (and convenient to ruling authorities) if there really were an omniscient entity or system that rewards good behaviour and punishes the bad guys. And if I could see my Grandma and Nana again. That's why religion is so appealing, right?

I would also like free presents from Santa and a pet unicorn, if anyone's keeping count.

I tag: any atheists who would like to play!


  1. Hmmm... I don't know why but, I sort of sense (and I may be going out on a limb here), that you did not really like this quiz... :-)

  2. Hmmm, whatever gave you that impression?!

    Your answer kinda implied that you thought the questions were pretty dumb too! Especially the 4th one!

  3. i gave you an in depth answer regarding the zombies... ;)

    I find it somewhat interesting to read the answers but since I don't really like the tone they were asked (ohhh... sensitive religious person without humour) I don't put much into it...

    back to bed and not eating. Gosh I'm hungry...

  4. "i gave you an in depth answer regarding the zombies... ;)

    That is one of the most bizarre comments I've ever had and may very well make it into Bragging Rights Central next week.

  5. Huh, I actually thought the questions were kind of interesting. Maybe it's an agnostic thing. ;)

    Well questions one and two are dumb. Who knows when they officially became an atheist/agnostic? I've been an agnostic my whole life, though I think reading "The Satanic Verses" gave me the means to really articulate how I felt. So I guess you can say that that was when.

    The last time I prayed to God with the thought that someone was listening? This is interesting because there were times in my life when I prayed every night a rote prayer that I made up that was essentially "Please let all the people I love live." But I do think it stemmed more from superstition than anything. Sort of like how one knocks on wood.

    Anger towards God? I don't really feel angry towards God because that would mean I'd have faith, right? I guess this is a kinda dumb question. Actually when my dad died, and my mom was diagnosed with cancer at his funeral, I said, "I hate God." And I meant it at the time, but it was with the caveat of "in the event that S/he exists, then I hate you right now." Which is sort of warped, but I was under extreme stress! But except for that moment, I can't remember hating God, mostly because, again, I don't have faith. I have had anger towards religion, but it's generally been from a point of not understanding. Since I essentially grew up agnostic, religion is not something I really understand on some basic levels I guess. So I guess the answer is no. anger towards religion didn't make me an agnostic.

    Agnostic to ghosts? I don't believe in ghosts that haunt the Earth. I like to believe that my dad and my friends are able to watch me from some sort of after-life. I say "like to believe" because my brain tells me that when people die, that's it. There's nothing. But my heart tells me it would split into a million pieces if I couldn't latch on to the idea that my dad is able to hear me when I talk to him. Cognitive dissonance. One of the many reasons I love the flexibility of agnosticism!

    Wanting to be wrong...? The thing is, and I guess this is going to sound horrible, so maybe I'll be smited after I submit this comment and then we'll have concrete evidence of God, but, I'm not really interested in God per se. I like the idea of meeting my dad again, and my friends Kim and Doug. I wouldn't mind being reincarnated. Mostly I wouldn't mind just hanging out with friends, and drinking tea, and basically having a good old time after I die. But I don't particularly care if God is there or not. I guess that's one of those fundamental disconnects with religion that I have. I don't understand what is so awesome exactly about being in the presence of God. Intellectually, I understand that it's like being in the presence of Barack Obama only better, but emotionally, I just don't get it. :)

    Okay, with that said, I'm probably going to hell so....

  6. it does have a slighly nasty tone doesn't it?

  7. Ruchi, interesting answers. Knocking on wood is a good analogy for the way I used to "pray" too - kinda like "if I don't do it, something bad might happen". And I know what you mean about your disconnect from religion - I'm missing that gene for sure.

    An afterlife drinking tea with friends sounds awesome. Although if there is such a thing as hell, I'll be there, along with most of my friends!

    Wayfarer, yep! It was interesting that atheists and theists alike are picking up on some kind of weird tone to the questions. I tried to trace the meme back but lost the trail somewhere - either the person who wrote the questions did not take credit for writing them, or someone forgot to link back to the person who tagged them.


I promise to respond to all respectful non-spam comments! Don't be shy! Oh, and please don't type my surname in your comments; I know you all know what it is, but I'd prefer Google to rank other pages before this blog.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.