Agnosticism vs. Atheism Part 1

My About information in the column of this main page reads as follows:

Inquisitive, atheist, moral skeptic. Obsessive by nature and non-apologetic. Interested in science fiction with a particular appreciation for utopias, dystopias, dinosaurs, time travel, parallel universes, androgyny, and artificial intelligence.

The first sentence has been recently changed from ‘agnostic’ to ‘atheist.’ I will explain the reason for this change later and in the next post. But, first is a glimpse into my history.

As an INTP, I have always had very little in common with others. My thirst for knowledge and need to question everything I encounter, manifested very early in life. Until the age of 8, I lived in a community of what can only be described as fanatical Christians.

People in this community went to church several times a week. My grandmother could recite large parts of the Bible. The stories I heard of Jesus seemed incredible if true, but there were too many holes. The explanations of Sunday school teachers never satisfied. The less they satisfied, the more questions I asked.

I considered the possibility that it was just those particular Sunday school teachers that could not come up with a good way of explaining anything. They must be stupid, I thought. The plan was easy: I just needed to question people who would know more–such as the priest. The priest, however, did not satisfy my questions either. In fact, I was singled out, my parents were called in, and there was an exchange about how much shame I ought to feel for questioning God. By age 5, I had been ‘kicked out’ out of Sunday school several times for ‘disrupting the peace’ with my questions.

I was baffled that other children could sing Christian songs and talk about Jesus like they believed. Maybe it was all an elaborate joke and the priest followed by church goers would gather all of us kids one Sunday and say, “Aha! Got you!” We would all laugh and that would be the end of it. For several weeks, I looked at adults suspiciously and scrutinized their moves in attempts to predict the date of the Big Reveal. It was actually quite exciting–that is, until it became obvious there was not going to be a Big Reveal.

I wondered if there was some truth these children were being told that wonderfully and logically explained everything and I had somehow not been made privy to it. I eliminated that possibility soon enough. From my questions and my grandmother’s recitations, I knew far more about Christianity than they did.

I became convinced that there was something wrong with the Bible. Those who wrote it had supposedly been inspired by God. But, God could not possibly be that irrational! I thought, maybe they were not that ‘fine tuned’ to God and therefore misinterpreted the most important details! All those poor people I went to Church with were believing in lies. With so many believing these lies, the problem was out of control. Something had to be done right away. The situation was desperate!

I spoke to anyone who would listen and explained the ‘holes’ and how they were all believing lies. It did not go over well. At first, I thought the reason they did not believe me was because as a child I must not have been explaining it very well. I became obsessed with coming up with more detailed explanations to vanquish everyone’s delusions. None of them worked. It then occurred to me that if I could get the priest to see–someone whose word carried weight–then when he explained the truth, the delusion would automatically disappear.

This did not work either.

The priest would not be swayed. I was told I was embarrassing my family with my disbelief. How dare I a child think such things! I eventually concluded my explanations were not the problem. They just believed in the lies so thoroughly nothing anyone could say would change their minds. I resented being forced to attend Sunday school. I resented that everyone thought I needed to be made an example of.

I tried different ways to escape to no avail. Eventually, I realized since there was no way out and I did not want to be punished all the time, the only recourse was to say nothing. It worked. The elders because convinced that I was now convinced about God and the punishments did not come. In fact, they were extra nice, telling me that everyone loses their way at some point and what mattered was that I found my way back. That was when I became a different kind of example–an example of how God works on even the most deluded.

By the time I was 8, my family moved to a different country. The priest at this new Church was Anglican and they had women priests. Aha! I thought, these people are different. They must not be deluded. If I told them again what I had told everyone else in the last community . . .

This did not work either.

Worse, I had to study and go through the ritual of First Communion and pledge in front of everyone my allegiance to God. My parents were angry with me that day. They said I looked like I was going to my execution instead of to a wonderful ceremony. I told them they were executing my soul. They said I was being dramatic and disobedient. They warned that I better not embarrass them in front of everyone. I looked miserable but I went through with the ceremony. I decided in the end that pretense would avoid punishment.

I moved countries again a year and a half later. The new community was Anglican. My parents had decided that the Anglican denomination encouraged fairer treatment of women and was more open minded in general. However, there were no Anglican schools. I was sent to Catholic schools and remained there until graduating from High School.

Junior High was the worst. I stressed whenever the school had to walk to the church next door for mass. I thought this was another thing wrong with the Bible. Hell did not exist after death. Hell was right then and there, especially each time I set foot in that church. I bribed my friends into giving me their spot in line in order to be the the very last person to go to confession.

I refused to confess to anything.

The priest would sigh each time he saw me—‘saw’ being the operative word for in this Church one had to confess in a small room looking the priest directly in the eyes. I made a point of stating to the priest that this was not designed to benefit me but rather to humiliate. He learned to just give up and send me off with several dozen Hail Marys and Our Fathers. In my last year of Junior High, I was in and out of the confessional with such speed, it was like a confessional drive thru.

Unfortunately, that last year, I had no choice about getting Confirmed. I had put it off for so long, the people at Church were talking about an intervention. The last thing I wanted, was to sit through that and get preached upon even more.

Without Religion classes, one could not obtain a High School diploma. The High School courses purported to encourage debate unlike the no tolerance approach in Junior High. We were taught about world religions. I asked my religion teacher why we did not learn about Atheism considering we were learning to be ‘open minded’ by studying other religions. Evidently, Atheism was not part of the curriculum.

I have always had little tolerance for hypocrisy, but growing up with Religion, I now possess zero tolerance.

It was not surprising that Atheism was not part of the curriculum. I did not even know such a word existed because in order for that to happen, one has to be aware that there are others who do not believe in God. More importantly, that they actually have evidence to back up their disbelief instead of disbelieving because they are hateful, evil people. Therefore, not only were Atheists evil, misguided souls, but the mere word was to be fervently avoided. It was not until graduating from High School and purchasing a book on Atheism, that I learned the reasons. The arguments were so simple and the evidence so convincing that it was simply . . . beautiful.

The Internet is a wonderful invention. It is good to know there are others who think like me. That there are others who see religion as a delusion. I resent not being taught about Atheism as a child. Everyone acted like the existence of God was a given. All those years, I worked on ‘If God exists and God thinks this, then God must be angry with this or happy with that et cetera.’ It would have saved me a lot of frustration if I had known that the option of not believing in God existed. Moreover, that the option was supported by actual logical reasons and not a byproduct of a flawed character.

Instead, no one spoke of the reasons. Merely asking for them was thoroughly frowned upon. Instead of reasons, one was given ignorance. One’s character was abused, deemed weak for allowing Satan deep into one’s mind to question, reminded of Hell, and most of all, showered and drowned with Guilt.

I think of it as Intellectual Rape. It is abusive. Later on, I became interested in brainwashing practices and techniques. I superimposed them over Religion and with it came even greater clarity. I felt resentment and outrage over what was done to me. But worse than that, was that millions of people over the world looked on these practices and not only did nothing to stop the abuse, but encouraged it.

The reason I was not taught about Atheism is obvious. The God idea cannot survive scrutiny and any idea that cannot survive it is not worth believing, much less modeling one’s life after, or worse yet, dying for.

The God Delusion and its abusive implementation is actually quite beautiful in its perversion. As far as Christianity is concerned, you can look back 2,000 years and marvel at the level of bold, consistent, all encompassing manipulation required to convince so many people.

At its base, exists a relentless thirst for power. 2,000 years ago, humans were already mass brainwashing to such extremes that followers were absolutely convinced into giving up their lives as fuel to ensure and propagate a monstrous delusion! That it continues today is not a testament of its validity as believers would suggest, but rather a testament of a well designed brainwashing machine.

The techniques that machine uses are universal and still powerful and applicable today. This is a major problem. I questioned enough to seek information about Atheism to understand both sides well enough to make a conscious choice. Some people are simply less susceptible to brainwashing than others. These same people are more likely to jump the fence into Atheism or Agnosticism. Yet, even I, someone who considers themselves less susceptible to brainwashing than others, when I first opened the pages of that Atheism book years ago, whilst the arguments were convincing, emotionally I felt guilt for finding them so.

That guilt is now gone of course. However, it cannot be underestimated. For most, the brainwashing is so complete, that simply looking at a book with the word ‘Atheism’ somewhere in the title is enough to turn away in shame much less pick it up and read it. I do not believe most people have the willpower to keep that guilt in check long enough to read the arguments behind Atheism objectively. Looking at them objectively means you are inviting the possibility of being converted, which means you are being blasphemous, and most humans go out of their way to avoid discomfort.

This is why if you ask most Christians about Atheism and they are honest enough, and not ashamed of recognizing their limitations, will admit they do not really know the arguments behind Atheism. All they know is that Atheism is not for them. Having God in their lives enriches them, makes them feel good, gives them a reason to socialize with others, and anything that offers these things cannot be that bad. This just indicates that many care more about what feels good than what is true.

At any rate, most people are not that honest, and Christians being humans, will attack Atheism long before they admit to ignorance on the subject. Most religious leaders, of course, are ever so eager to support this ignorance and so the cycle continues. Whilst I believe a great deal of people are frustratingly dim regardless of religious orientation or lack of it, the major problem I see with believers is not stupidity. It is weakness–a susceptibility to brainwashing. It would be wonderful if advances in psychology, science, and technology could eventually lead to a cure for this.

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6 responses to “Agnosticism vs. Atheism Part 1

  1. Wow, it surprised me to find new posts in here. A nice surprise…

    I gotta ask something first. You explained well why you’re an atheist, but you stopped before elaborating on why you had “agnostic” at first instead of atheist. And how do they really differ, what is the reasoning of the people who are agnostic?

    Colombia is a hispanic country, and like most hispanic countries, it has a strong religiousity, specifically speaking: catholic religion. I grew up in the middle of this. I was baptised when I was 3 months old, I had to attend mass every day on my primary school. It was not an option, it was something that just was. At that moment I was just exploring the world, and questioning religion was the same as questioning if the sky is really blue and why. Except the latter was becoming gradually clearer and the former always stayed the same as confusing. Something that started to break it was the concept of “sin”, one of the things I despise the most about religion. I was told that no matter what I did, I was always going to be a sinner. I was wondering, what the hell have I done wrong… And religious things started to aquire a bad color, and it was weird and didn’t feel right. But you know… they use the fear factor and guilt factor on you. And also the curiosity you mention… why are all these people believing this? There must be something I’m missing right? information I don’t possess and I need to find it. All that caused my religious emancipation to happen only after my first comunion. Ironically, 1 year of church school gave me more and more information to reject the very beliefs I was being thaught. Afterwards I also had the phase where you want everyone to realize what you’ve discovered, but you find a brick wall and have no other option but putting a sock on, and just be happy that I got out of the matrix and everyone is still there…

    It wasn’t as hard for me as it was for you in regards to people rejection. People here are religious but not to extremes. I just didn’t want to go to mass anymore and my grandma was the only one oppossing resistence. I had to lie. To this point she still believes I go to church every sunday, but I really think it’s pointless to fight against her.

    Most people here don’t g0 to church, and can’t recite bible quotes, and you’d even think they’re agnostic or something because they don’t do anything religious. BUT, talk about the mere idea of atheism and they start feeling nervious and guilty and prefer to avoid the subject or to argue with you and in a minute they are praying and I bet next time they see a church they will go in and confess.

    I can’t remember how many people have told me they will be praying for me everyday so my actions don’t make my sould go to hell, and that someday I will understand.

    It usually leads to such absurd conversations that I prefer not to touch the subject at all if not necessary. But I like to bring the subject up…. I like to see the reaction on their faces, and the look, like I had become a demon or something. It only lasts a second, and then they put themselves together… but I like to see it.

  2. “I will explain the reason for this change later and in the next post. ”

    PART 1.

    Oh I see… Nevermind my questions then. I’ll wait.

  3. Wow, it surprised me to find new posts in here. A nice surprise…

    Ah, yes. I altered the theme. No more android banner or avatar. I think the change reflects my personality better. Since my return, the blog is taking a different direction as well.

    Ironically, 1 year of church school gave me more and more information to reject the very beliefs I was being thaught.

    Up to the age of 9, whilst living in religiously fanatical communities, I did not attend religious schools. It was not until I did, that my bullshit tolerance drastically reduced to almost zero. This has been true for many Atheists. Many moderate Christians cherry pick from the Bible. But, when you attend a religious institution, and the whole point is to know far more than you would care to know about the Bible, than the dissonance becomes too much.

    I recall the majority of my classmates dreading Religion class. In Junior High, I had a very stern and strict Brother teach the class. If you did not give him your full attention, you suffered. When I was 11, I was sent to an Anglican summer camp. I remember saying to my parents, “If you love me as much as you claim to, please don’t make me go!” It did not work. I was there one week and when I returned, I refused to talk to them for several weeks. I said to them, “I do not forgive you for the trauma you purposely put me through.” I was a very serious child and very rarely said anything I did not mean. They knew I meant it. The following year, they did not make me go. Although, I had to sit through a long winded speech about how obedience had never been my forte, I always questioned everything, I was the most stubborn person they had ever met, and that when I made up my mind about anything I would rather die than change it . . . therefore, arguing with me was not just futile, but gave them ulcers. It was not an especially bad trade off. They gave these speeches all the time. Furthermore, they were not that far from the truth in those parts of their rants. 😛

    So, here is a suggestion: to convince INTPs about Atheism: feed them religion with such frequency and quantity, that they have no choice but to vomit it all.

    I have noticed that the majority of INTPs that I have encountered are either Agnostics or Atheists. As far as I know, no study to determine if there is a possible correlation between certain types of personalities and their tendency either to Theism or Agnosticism/Atheism has been made. Nonetheless, the results may prove to be interesting. Rationals are prone to question, and be less impressed with poor explanations that have little to do with hard evidence just because they come from an authority figure.

    Afterwards I also had the phase where you want everyone to realize what you’ve discovered, but you find a brick wall and have no other option but putting a sock on, and just be happy that I got out of the matrix and everyone is still there…

    I think the major problem back then was that I was still a child. The fact that I lived in a fanatical community was secondary. I recently became acquainted with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Dennett and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I spent quite a few hours watching their speeches for Atheist Alliance International 2007. Since yesterday, I now have in my possession ‘End of Faith’ by Sam Harris and ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins. Listening to them has made me realize that we can no longer afford the luxury of sitting in our own corner of the universe and shaking our heads at those still in The Matrix. If their delusions were self-contained it would not be a serious problem. Except, our beliefs guide what we do, and theirs have the very real potential of killing us all–literally. Promoting Atheism awareness has become extremely important and the Internet is a wonderful international tool for this task.

    As Atheists we must move forward on multiple fronts. There is a place for all types of methods. I notice some Atheist bloggers who comment on entries that are clearly made by those afflicted by the most extreme levels of delusion. It is fortunate that there are those among us who are willing to subject themselves to such ordeals because it is not an act I care to partake in. Ideally, I want to engage with reflective individuals–those who profess an appreciation for logic–and then proceed to cause as much cognitive dissonance as possible.

    The scarlet A is now part of my widgets and I noticed that you have recently included it to your blog as well. Success one person at at time. 🙂

    As for your questions on Agnosticism vs Atheism, I will address them in part 2. I still intend to make the entry. I have just been busy watching the speeches made by those I listed earlier in this entry. I also want the those two books and their knowledge to add greater depth to part 2.

  4. I never suffered that much because of people wanting to push religion into me, mainly because my parents themselves were never too fanatical. They were Catholic, just because everyone is Catholic… like “I go to school and then university, and then I get a job and have kids… because that’s how life is supposed to be”. The same was with church. It just WAS. After I started going away from that, and explained them my thoughts, they resisted at first… somehow something started to make sense for them. And although it was hard to give up years of traditions, soon they made their own questions and right now they’re pretty much atheists… well, my dad. My mom is still undecided and scared of jumping off the fence.

    So, luckily, the problem was never with my parents, and that was an advantage you didn’t have while growing up. After all, I was a kid too, and if my parents wanted to, they could have made me do things that at the moment were out of my control… and that would have made me resent them for.

    I like to think that I injected some doubt in my parents minds that made them think about it, which ultimately resulted in them becoming non religious by choice. So, I guess it IS possible that other people around there are religious just because they’re going by the flow, and haven’t considered what it’s like not to.

    Those are good candidates to take out of the Matrix.

    So, here is a suggestion: to convince INTPs about Atheism: feed them religion with such frequency and quantity, that they have no choice but to vomit it all.

    Haha, it is a great idea. For an INTP, an idea that doesn’t prove to be logical, will not be followed, no matter who proposed it. Religion never survives scrutiny, because it’s based on the opposite. Maybe if the idea of religion doesn’t interfere much in the INTPs lives, they will not focus much on it and may ignore it. But if they are flooded by all those illogical ideas at the same time, it will soon be unbearable for them.

    So, all INTPs, go to church school! 🙂

    I think the study you mention would be really interesting too. I also want to meet a religious INTP, and see what they have to say about it…

    Have you met any religious INTPs?

    Hey, I haven’t heard anything about the people you mention (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Dennett and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.) I’m still enjoying the luxury of sitting in my own corner outside the matrix… for me it is too annoying and complicated to try to convince someone, so I don’t.

    But part of why I put the scarlet A out there, is because I might want to try… maybe not everyone is thick minded and some might actually react like my parents did.

    But I’m still unconvinced of the potential danger religious people could present… they still look kinda inofensive for the most part. I will try to look online for the atheists you mentioned… are their speeches easily available?

  5. Pingback: Agnosticism vs. Atheism Part 2 « satoruvash

  6. So, all INTPs, go to church school! 🙂

    I suspect that the teachers would be as displeased as the INTPs that attend. 😛

    I’m still enjoying the luxury of sitting in my own corner outside the matrix… for me it is too annoying and complicated to try to convince someone, so I don’t.

    Trying to convince individuals to see their delusions for what they are when they have no intention of being convinced regardless of the arguments is like bashing one’s head against a brick wall for kicks–if there is any pleasure at all to be had and it did not happen on the first try, it is not going to get any better after each repetition. To avoid such frustrations, one must choose the targets carefully.

    Have you met any religious INTPs?

    Few. Very sad.

    But I’m still unconvinced of the potential danger religious people could present… they still look kinda inofensive for the most part.

    Perhaps little danger in your part of the world. Unfortunately, that is not the case when you look elsewhere. Stories about hell and eternal damnation for example, are hardly PG and can be very damaging to the child psyche. It is certainly cause for nightmares, which is precisely the point. Children are impressionable. Indoctrination through fear is understandably effective. They are not taught Truth in any sense of the word. The choice to believe is made for them. That is not intellectual freedom.

    From the start, children are forced to identity by the Religion of their parents. At that stage, their reasoning skills are still in development, rendering them inadequate at making well informed decisions about a subject that may very well affect the way they live the rest of their youth and/or adult life. To force that decision on them is irresponsible. It will have little to do with truth and almost everything to do with the need to please their parents.

    I will try to look online for the atheists you mentioned… are their speeches easily available?

    Here is a link to Richard Dawkins’ speech at Atheist Alliance International 2007. On the right, you will find speeches by other guest speakers.

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