I wrote this for my college comp class a little while back. I was discussing Frink's paper and he asked that I post mine...I am doing so. I will also post it in .doc format.
From an early age I found myself believing in what is contrary to the norm of society. I, like many young children, adopted the religious beliefs of my parents. But unlike most parents in our society, mine are atheist. I was just as unknowing about my own belief as most of the children of my age. The only difference was when I said, “atheist” everyone stopped, starred, and questioned me.
I clearly remember one incident at lunch where two young friends of mine were discussing their own religious beliefs. I decided to pipe in, exclaiming my atheistic beliefs. The seat creaked and moaned as if it was ridiculing me as one of my friends turned to me and said, “Wait, you don’t believe in God?” Of course it did not seem like it should have been so shocking to me, being raised to accept all religious beliefs, but to him it an unheard of statement. “No, I am an atheist”, I said starring at him in complete confusion. At that moment, he turned his back to me, giving me the “cold shoulder”. He blatantly told me that we could no longer be friends because if I did not believe in God, that I was the devil. I was so shocked by his reaction. He thought that I, an eight year old kid, was so driven by an invisible force of evil, he should shun me forever.
It seemed to me that everything and everyone was turning against me. The weather seemed to change from a pleasant sunny day, to the most dismal and depressing thunder storm I had seen in a long time. With every clash of thunder or streak of white lightening, I could hear the heavens disappointment in me. I had never seen such hatred in my eight short years of existence. Little did my ill-advised mind know that I was not the first and I would surely not be the last, to experience this sort of intolerant attitude.
Throughout the school day, the story evolved from me being an atheist, to me being a “God hater.” People would approach me asking why I hated them for believing in God, and why I wanted to kill them and their parents. I was abashed and dispirited at this point. Looking back now, I see a young child who did not even truly understand what atheist meant, all he knew was that I was different from everyone else, and that was enough for him to pass judgment. Somewhere along the long trek of civilization atheists were given a bad name. Why?
Atheism is not a God hating belief. It is an enlightened thought process ruled by reason and free thinking. Many atheists call themselves freethinkers, non-believers, humanists, or rationalists. In short, atheism is simply the belief there are no Gods or deities.
Denominations such as Christianity, Sikhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism are all beliefs that do acknowledge the existence of a higher being and their extreme roles in the world. They believe that their God will answer their prays and forgive them for “sins” they have committed. Such religions have many sects and followers, this is why there is so much controversy in all major religions.
On the other hand, religions such as Deism, Damanhur, and Dadaji would be considered more closely related to atheism because of their beliefs. Such beliefs include interpersonal gods, and God not being apart of ones life. God created the world and let nature take its course.
A recent poll in the United States shows that Atheists are the less trusted minority. Why? What have atheists done to bring this mistrust upon them? All one must do is look back in time. It is not what the atheist has done, but what they have not done; their lack of belief and the constant question of century old beliefs that millions hold dear to their hearts.
The mistrust of atheists comes mainly from the Enlightenment and Renaissance era. As thinkers and philosophers began to question the religious community, the church saw their attendance numbers dropping. They knew that something had to be done. The church began teaching that non-believers were heretics and “the work of the Devil.” They taught their followers that to question the teaching of the church and God was a one way ticket to damnation.
To see how such intolerance could be justified, one must look at the holy books of the church. “Whoever denies “that Jesus is the Christ” is a liar and an anit-Christ.” 1 John 2:22. “Do not associate with non-Christians…” 2 John 1:10. And my personal favorite, “Everyone will have to worship Jesus--whether they want to or not.” Philippians 2:10. With such hateful words it is no wonder there is such unrest among the religious community.
Such intolerant beliefs will ultimately ripe our fragile civilization apart from the seems. Thousands have already died in the name of what we cannot see. Too much blood has already been shed in the name of a holy all powerful being. I am not saying that your beliefs are true or false, I am simply exclaiming my dire call for religion to turn put their arms down against each other and atheists.
The misunderstanding against atheist has gone on for too long. If you are of an religious faith then think of an atheist like this: we only believe in one less god then you do. We have the same feelings, families and thoughts. We are all humans on this earth and should strive to enjoy our life as much as possible. Hating each other for petty differences will only hinder the existence of our short time on this planet. I believe that Eldridge Cleaver said it best when he said “The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.”