11 August 2021

Born free

There are plenty of atheists on the internet, but at least among US atheists, I'm somewhat unusual in never having "de-converted" from a religion -- I just grew up without religion and never had any religious beliefs or identity to break free from.  It makes a difference.

In my experience, many atheists who were formerly religious still carry around a lot of religious clutter and contamination within their minds, which remained even after they cast off all their supernatural beliefs.  They struggle to find secular rationalizations for these leftover religious attitudes, which they persuade themselves are somehow "universal" values not tied to religion at all.

I harbor no such cobwebs, because I never had them in the first place.  I do not love my enemies.  I do not pray for those who persecute me.  I do not turn the other cheek.  And I disdain their "golden rule" -- I treat others, not as I wish them to treat me, but as is appropriate based on how they actually do treat me.  I am not burdened by Christianity's whole edifice of sniveling nonsense.  I never was.

This is why, for example, I don't feel any concern or sympathy for the legions of wingnut covidiots who are likely to suffer and die because they spurned the vaccines and other precautions.  I read their blogs and sites, remember, and I know how much they hate and disdain people like me.  Thus I have no reason not to hate and disdain them.  They represent a threat, thus it does not bother me if they reduce that threat by destroying themselves, as they are still determined to do, doubling down on all the same misinformation and conspiratardia.

Yes, I do feel concern for the innocent -- the people who for whatever reason can't receive the vaccine or who do not benefit from it, people in poorer countries who want the vaccine but can't get it because local supplies are inadequate.  Compassion is for those who deserve it.  Not for people who never felt any toward me and people like me, and are now suffering (or soon will be) due to their own willful stupidity.

Beliefs have consequences.  I've explained before how religion, in my view, is the root explanation for the staggering level of reality-denial and delusional thinking which now pervades the American right wing.  Since most religious beliefs are contrary to the evidence, holding them fervently and sincerely requires developing the ability to disregard evidence and rationalize clinging to favored ideas in spite of evidence.  Once that ability is established in the mind -- and inevitably becomes a major element of that mind's way of thinking, since religious ideas loom so large in the world-view of the hard-core believer -- it is easily extended to other areas, given enough time.  This is especially true since it inevitably includes a disdain for science, as science is the main discoverer of the evidence which the believer must hand-wave away.

This is how we get a whole major sub-population which is in denial about things like evolution, anthropogenic global warming, and now covid-19 and the tested means of fighting it -- as well as embracing lesser and more specific delusions like "stolen election" or QAnon.  It's because they started off with a religious world-view which they could only sustain in the first place by training themselves to cling to beliefs in the face of contrary evidence.  Those who claim that the wingnuts just naturally have some kind of ex nihilo propensity for reality-denial and that religion is merely one more example of it are failing to see the real picture.  Religion isn't just one example, it's the basis and origin of the whole problem.

Non-belief has consequences too.  Since I was never brainwashed into treating anything as "sacred" in the strict religious sense, it's easier for me to disregard sacred cows more generally.  I don't care where the Overton window currently is.  I'm not going to contort my word usage and capitalization to fit in with whatever the latest Orwellian fads are.  I don't care whether what I write is or is not within the parameters of some cobbled-together set of positions that happens to be embraced by the left-wing mainstream at the current transient moment.  I'm not even slightly impressed when somebody denounces something I've said (or a source I linked to) by brandishing some word ending in "ism" or "ist" as if it were a cross waved in the face of Dracula.  Labeling things is not an argument.  Being offended is not an argument.  Getting upset because I deviated from Mandatory Correct Thought about some issue and said something that "you are simply not supposed to say" is not an argument.  The fact that an idea makes somebody unhappy tells us nothing about whether it's true or not.

I am what I am, and I know what I know.  If it doesn't fit the narrative in some places, so much the worse for the narrative.  I'm not interested in being a spokesman for an existing ideology.  Only the subjugated mind treats anything as sacred.


Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Literally me at parties:
"I do not love my enemies. I do not pray for those who persecute me. I do not turn the other cheek. And I disdain their "golden rule" -- I treat others, not as I wish them to treat me, but as is appropriate based on how they actually do treat me." Pass the wine.

Also, for the people who believe in a fucking talking snake, not 'believing' in science makes me roll my eyes so hard I almost fall asleep.


11 August, 2021 11:09  
Anonymous Mark Alexander said...

I think I love you.

11 August, 2021 11:44  
Blogger Mike said...

You had me looking things up today.
ex nihilo - "out of nothing" ... comes nothing.
Overton window - This could keep me busy for a while.
I am what I am - I yam what I yam, said by the great philosopher, Popeye.

11 August, 2021 12:01  
Blogger Mary Kirkland said...

There's a lot of crazy-thinking people out there right now believing the conspiracies and spreading misinformation. It's unbelievable some of the theories I've heard.

11 August, 2021 13:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Religion is the gateway drug for conspiracy theororist's

11 August, 2021 21:02  
Blogger Lady M said...

I am like you - an organic atheist. Never raised to regard the supernatural as reality. But I do some empathy for those dying of covid. It must be awful to realize too late that the mantra you have spouted is bullshit and that you will pay the ultimate price.

11 August, 2021 21:04  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

I knew, about age 10, after seeing my dog get hit by a car and killed, and praying and praying for her to be brought back, and that not happening, that the whole thing was bullshit.

12 August, 2021 09:30  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

I've said this many times: belief in a religion prepares the mind for beliefs in other ideas that have no bases in facts and for which there is no evidence.

I was raised in a religion, but I let it go long ago. My children were not raised in any religion, nor were my grandchildren.

Anonymous @21:02 said it better than I did: Religion is a gateway drug for conspiracy theorists.

12 August, 2021 09:33  
Blogger Mary said...

I was fortunate not be raised in a religious household as well. It must have served an evolutionary purpose at one time, but it’s long past overdue to be put back in its box. It’s done insidious long term harm to people as well as the planet and animal world. Yet it persists.

12 August, 2021 13:34  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for your honesty.
Thank you for your careful observation of our "human" condition.
We have only each other (to blame or to sympathize with; you pick which one is more appropriate).
In good times sympathy is enough, in times of stress we seem to forget ourselves and learn how to blame each other for faults unrequited.
The "Golden Rule" is one that must be taken with a grain of salt; we are and have been ruled by misanthropes.
We need more people like you in the world.
I am truly sorry we don't.

13 August, 2021 18:09  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sixpence: Good. Those prescriptions for how to live would be a recipe for suicide if actually followed.

Mark: :)

Mike: Ex nihilo in this context would mean without a prior cause. Many people just don't want to accept, for some reason, that religion is the prior cause.

Mary K: People can believe almost anything if they want to believe it and it allows them to blame the "right" targets for their problems.

Anon: That's pretty much it.

Lady M: You're more generous than I am, I guess. Yes, that must be tough, but it's a burden they willingly took on -- and help pass on to others.

14 August, 2021 00:36  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ricko: The "hard" prayers never bring results. The only ones that do are the ones like praying to find your car keys or win a football game, which had a good chance of happening anyway.

Shaw: I'm glad you came to the same conclusion. Your children and grandchildren have a good chance of being more immune.

Mary: It's decaying very fast, though. Every generation is less religious than the one before, even in places like Latin America and the Middle East. Eventually it will decline to a fringe subculture.

Ebon: Thanks. Most religious people are more victims than perpetrators -- that particular kind of indoctrination is hard to shake. I'm a lot less sympathetic with the anti-vaxers and anti-maskers. They're determinedly rejecting a huge amount of easily-available factual information in favor of sources nobody who gave the matter any thought would trust.

14 August, 2021 00:49  

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