Why I’m an atheist

PZ Myers at UofT
Image by hyfen via Flickr

If you’re not following the “Why I’m an atheist” series at Pharygula, you’re missing out. A few weeks ago, PZ Myers made a request for submissions and was overwhelmed with the response. The call was for stories about people’s personal atheist story. Pseudonyms, partial or full names could respond.

He intermittently posts one of the submissions, and they are worth a read. Testimonies are a large part of the Christian culture. They encourage other believers to take a more serious look at their own views.

I can see why this effective and popular on PZ’s site.

Here are three recent ones:

I would like to make one “Master of the Obvious” observation. Lately, it feels like we’re getting some responses from the believers’ camp. It strikes me how absent of criticism these people are toward their own belief system.

This may be revisionist history on my part, but the way I was taught was to look critically at my faith. I was able to point out what other people would find wrong, but somehow be able to justify it.

Lately, it seems like no one is able to view their faith with a critical eye.

I think it hurts the cause.

One thing I have found about atheists, and many Christians in my life, is that it feels like at least they can admit certain weaknesses in their views. Why are the vocal kids on this blog unable to do that?

What the funny kids are posting

The funny in the following items is the best the Internet has to offer at this very second.

The … best.

Facebook update says, “Losing hair is not about hair loss. Its about face gain…one day I will have a whole head of face.” 

Dare to fight!



Image of doctor smiling into camera. Guy in background says, “Doctor! your patient is dying.” Doc says, “Shut the hell up! I’m posing for a stock photo. 



Check list reads, “Saddam Hussein [Check], Osama bin Laden {check], Muammar Gaddafi [check]. Justin Bieber [no check]. 

Image of girl with funny hair reads, “My hair is a ballsack.” 

Image of Bob Ross painting slayer album cover. 

Via I have seen all the funny on the Internet and I post it and Tastefully Offensive

The Nepalese man, a monkey hat, Yeshua the Buddhist Hindu and you.

Last week, Tina and I were walking around New York. On 9th Ave, between 37th and 38th streets and we passed a store with these super cute ear flap beanie knit hats of animal heads.

As we were trying on the hats on the street outside the store, the store owner popped out to talk to us. He explained the hats were made in Nepal, and that as fast as he can get them, he sells them. He must have just received a shipment, because when we went in the store, there were bags of them all over, and he was pulling them out to shelve them.

We liked that the guy wasn’t pushy at all. He genuinely seemed to love these hats. And like a child excited about new toys, he wanted to show us each and every version of the hat.

There were monkeys, cats, dogs, gorillas, beavers, lions, tigers, and bears. Oh my.

We bought the monkey hat above, but we could have bought just about all of them. I’m kicking myself for not buying a white Yeti hat. It was so fucking cool.

If I was the murdering kind, this monkey hat is so cute and Tina is so protective of it, that I would have to hire a hit man to take her out so that I can have the hat for myself.

The Nepalese shop owner was named Biswa. As we shopped around his little store, we chatted with Biswa about travel. Tina explained that we were hoping to travel for her mega birthday that’s approaching.

“Maybe we should visit Nepal,” I told Tina. Biswa’s face lit up, and he told us — through a rather thick accent — how beautiful the country is. Biswa explained that [world] traveling is knowledge. It expands the mind. It teaches you in a way the classroom never will.

Write down your experiences

Biswa told us about his daughter who is college age and has traveled to seven different countries in the past year. His only requirement is that she writes her experiences down.

“We travel to where the food is,” he told us. “Food is what drives us.” This was a metaphor for so much. We need sustenance to live. We work for what? Money?

No, we work for food. Without food, there is no life. Without life, there is no knowledge.

As a gift for her birthday, Biswa explained he is making a book of his daughter’s journals to give to her.

We all want to be connected to animals

Biswa told us while we were both trying on hats that people love animals, and that they disarm us and sooth us in a way that no other thing can. He said, “Have you noticed that you could be angrier than you’ve ever been, and when you see a dog on the street, suddenly you aren’t angry any more?”

We agreed.

“We strive to connect with animals, because we are all one,” he continued.

I wanted to hug him.

Meditation bowls you over

He was also turned on by how much Tina and I liked a set of singing meditation bowls he had on display. He showed us how to properly use them, and we probably spent a few more minutes than we needed playing with them.

I am not a fan of woo, but I loved these bowls. They were beautiful, and listening to them and feeling their vibrations was calming and inviting. They were musical instruments in a way.

Tina explained to Biswa that she’s attracted to Buddhist and Hindu culture, but she admits that she knows very little about them. Biswa told us that he was raised Hindu, but he finds it harder to practice than Buddhism. He said that the philosophies of hinduism are harder to follow.

Yeshua and his hindu and buddhist past

The last thing we talked about before leaving the store was the traditional view of Jesus from within Nepalese (and other Southeast Asian) cultures. If you don’t know, the Southeast Asian culture teaches that Jesus’ lost years — between 13 and 30 — were spent traveling through hindu and buddhist cultures in India, Nepal, Tibet.

Read the wiki here.

As Biswa explained to us, Yeshua’s views were direct derivations of ancient thought predating Jesus and Christianity.

This view is dismissed by Christians, but it is probably the coolest explanation as to where Jesus pulled his ideas from. One of the best takes on this story is in the book Lamb, the Gospel according to Biff, by Christopher Moore. You should read it. It’s hilarious.

Biswa explained that his culture teaches that Jesus got his ideas traveling, claimed to not like them, but taught Hindu and Buddhist ideas to his followers, and Christianity claimed it as their own.

As an atheist, it blows my mind that this kind of information exists, and it’s dismissed so easily as diabolical mimicry. Yeshua’s personal messages were amazing. The conclusions that Christianity made about Jesus, they really aren’t that great. Eternal life. Heaven. Hell. Thinking about these things fully really isn’t that fantastic.

I happen to appreciate Jesus’ message, and so does Tina. It’s the supernatural elements that Paul and others added that aren’t as cracked up as believers like to think they are.

Walking south on 9th. 

As away from the store, we talked about Biswa, the experience, and how we should probably have spent more time talking to him. We should have recorded the conversation. We should have shared it with others. We desperately wish more people would open their minds others ideas, cultures and beliefs.

“We just learned more in a ten minute conversation with Biswa than we have in 1000s of conversations in the past 10 years,” I told Tina.

And then we passed a load of Jewish families as walked.  I turned to Tina and said, “You know, the Christians hate other ideas so much it’s pathetic. I mean, they hated the Jews so much — despite that Jesus was Jewish — they changed the Sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday so not to be anything like them.”

Isn’t that the truth. Christianity has stripped Jesus the Jew with Buddhist and Hindu influences out of everything, and — stereotypically — all they’re left with is the old testament God/Jesus/Holy Spirit of greed, destruction, bad stories, bad ideas and negative influence.

They call Jesus the bread of life. Have you ever had ancient Jewish bread? It’s bland and unsatisfying.

That’s why I’m an atheist. The food is much more exciting, satisfying, and tastes a helluva lot better.