The Rock Paradox
One of my oldest and best friends once told me, when we were speaking of god, “Can god create a rock even he can’t lift?” He was the first other atheist I’d ever met and that question become the pebble in my pocket, my worry stone so to speak. It was one of the first paradoxes that anyone ever pointed out to me and it reminds that there was always more to know.
Why is the rock paradox important? Well other than pointing out a logical inconsistency, it is a simple illustrator of how easy it is to tear down the idea of god. It shows that we can indeed provide some evidence that the idea of god is a poor one. Once you cast doubt on god, you cast doubt on religion; religion is wholly dependent on the existence of a god(s). The rock paradox is far from a shining example of the failure of religion and the concept of god but it’s important because it’s one simple question, sent instantly over the internet, and it triggers such a complex series of further questions. Questions that, if you answer them honestly and seriously, will lead you to the realization that not only is religion a farce but god is so insanely impossible that worrying over the existence of such a being is an immense waste of ones finite time on Earth.
Fear And Loathing In The Age Of Information
Many people, myself included, have said the two following statements “The internet is where religion goes to die” and “The internet is full of assholes.” You will invariably find these two statements all over the internet, the second far more commonly than the first. These two statements are often linked, as many would say that anyone found saying the first statement is an asshole. It’s very true that many atheists go after religion in a less than tactful way, it’s because of this group, of which I am a part, atheists have earned the reputation for being “angry.” In truth this isn’t exactly an unfair characterization as many of us are angry and for almost all of us that anger is completely justified. However that justified anger doesn’t give people the right to act like assholes but this also doesn’t mean that no one from the other side doesn’t do the exact same thing, which isn’t right either.
The religious debate is a messy one, in twenty years of having it I’ve never had an easy conversation. Even among atheists there is argument and angry words concerning what religion and the concept of god do. Those are always the most intense and mentally draining. Suffice it to say atheists like being right, most of us have a genuine thirst for the truth, no matter what the truth means or how it will impact us or others. It is often because of our endless need to find the truth that we feel compelled to tell others, as this is the only way to test our information and find like minded individuals. Often times atheists will find great pieces of truth through scholars, writers, academics, humorists and such, they will cling to that truth, defending it and waving it about every place they go. This is fairly common in people who are new to atheism, they’ve found the answers and now they must tell the world. Except most of the world either isn’t interested or opposed to the new atheist. People new to atheism are often times the angriest, they feel betrayed by a god they loved, a religion they counted on and all this is exacerbated by the retreat of former close friends, a community they cared for and sadly sometimes family members or even whole families.
For many this doesn’t change as time goes on, if anything it becomes a harsh reminder of the pain religion has caused them. Even if they’re not anti-theists themselves they see the trouble religion causes in their own lives. People, like myself, who have been atheists for long periods of time generally see that religion, if nothing else, needs to be something people keep inside their own minds and homes. In truth there is a fine line between atheism and anti-theism that some refuse to cross, and many an atheist see anti-theism as detrimental to their own ideas concerning belief and non-belief. Non-believers as a whole are usually quite specific about what their non-belief is and how it relates to religion and god. This is one of the many reasons atheists seem to come off as inherently combative. Being an atheist is a tough experience, you have to find you own way and few will help you in that endever as many people simply tell you to follow their path or try to lead you back to religion.
As an atheist begins to accept that they are mostly alone in their journey and that religion isn’t going anywhere anytime soon they speak out against the things religion does. It becomes hard watching others harm themselves in the name of a nonexistent being and a greedy religion. When you’ve been an atheist as long as I have you begin to realize how cold religion really is and you start to see the more subtle ways religion destroys. Sometimes you want to grab people by the shoulders and scream “DO YOU NOT SEE HOW THIS KILLING YOU?” You feel quite powerless when people refuse to even consider what you find so easy to see.
The anger never really goes away, every time I hear people tell children homosexuality is wrong I get angry. Every time I hear about how some group of religious followers has gone on a rape spree and them blames it on women, I get angry. Every time someone tells someone else to ask god for the answers instead of helping or finding the answers themselves, I get angry. Every time I see a religious person put their hand on a holy book and use it as permission for barbarous acts and hateful rhetoric I get angry. But the one above all others that sends me into fits of lathering rage? The one that calls up a fire inside me that cannot be quenched? The indifference of the rest, these cowering masses, afraid to condemn the actions of their so-called “brethren”for fear of being told they’re unbelievers, heretics or that they aren’t truly faithful. Often the most mild of criticisms is rejected by those who will freely admit to not following their faith to the letter. These people are often the first and most vicious when it comes to criticizing the faith or actions of others. These are generally the true great enemy of any atheist on the internet as a short conversation with such a person usually results in the atheist furiously typing arrogant responses interspersed with cruel insults and hateful speech while all of which only further damages their credibility with theists and ensures few, if any, will take the atheist seriously.
I’m not justifying that time when an atheist told you “All Christians (Jews, Muslims, whatever) are violent, stupid people and are complete children for believing in the sky daddy myth.” What I am saying is that person has at least some reason, probably a good one, for being so angry. Atheists are constantly are told they’re wrong, crazy, evil, just rebelling or hateful, and that weighs on people, especially those who are just realizing faith isn’t for them. I tend to get angry when atheists say thing like “There is no atheist community” or “Atheism isn’t a movement.” This is totally unfair and completely untrue, atheists everywhere are coming together, and not just online, we have things now like the Reason Rally and The Atheist Church (not ideal but I’ll take it). These things promote reason, altruism, togetherness and community not mention illustrating that atheists are moving forward. The days of being the lone atheist at the party are coming to an end and for good reason, atheists are everywhere.
Captain Atheist In The 21st Century
Atheism has come a long way in a very short period of time. I can remember when being atheist was not something you told most people and when you did, you did so in a hushed tone and you had to know the other person well. Now I work with a fellow atheist who wears a jacket bearing a Satanic Pentagram every day as a challenge to management because a fellow co-worker was asked to remove a shirt concerning Satan.
Yes things are moving forward, I know of at least three unknown atheist/anti-theist content creators besides myself and I’m not even including all of the people I’ve met here at WordPress or on other content creation sites. Atheists like myself have realized that arguing in the comment sections of youtube channels or cracking jokes on theists in private Facebook groups doesn’t change minds, for that matter neither does endlessly starting theological debates in other places.
It is because of people like TJ Kirk (TheAmazingAtheist), Dr. Phil Mason (thunderf00t) and others like them that atheists like myself are making content. They were the pioneers, settling new ground and bringing atheism to a new audience. It is my privilage and I feel my duty to take up the fight with them but their message is not my message. I will certainly criticize, even condemn religion, but I am not here to just fling hate. I want people to see why atheists like me do what we do and that we’re not just out to start arguments, that we really care, even if you don’t. You see every day someone else starts a channel, a blog, a page or an account aimed at bringing people around to the idea that religion is an antiquated, that it should be left in the past where it belongs alongside all our other failed ideas. We do this not because we like starting arguments or because we’re angry we do it because we desperately want to help.
Many have said that in the age of information ignorance is a choice and they are not wrong. Gone are the days when you’d have to go somewhere or find someone who knew more than you to verify the truth of a thing. The worlds greatest source of information can now be carried in your pocket. Advancing your understanding of a concept is now completely dependent on how much time you want to devote to learning about it. True you still have to go to a University if you want to hone your understanding to a fine edge but for most concepts you can become reasonably educated in by simply reading what you find on the internet. Combine this with digital libraries like that of Amazon.com and you’re more than capable of establishing at least a rudimentary understand of even the most advanced concepts. And as more and more people begin to understand that science has the real answers, not god or religion, the more people will reject the so-called “truths” of old.
In all likelihood future generations will become less and less religious as people begin to adapt to and embrace the digital age. This post, this blog, is on the internet forever now, it will be here after I am gone. As a new generation comes to the internet for more and more reasons they will encounter many people like me, it’s unavoidable. Their friends will be atheists and so will their teachers. Religion can no longer surpress the truth, information travels too fast now, even in places where certain content is illegal there are just too many cracks for it to slip through. The internet, social media in particular, has become a loudspeaker for the oppressed, the abused and the misunderstood. See I don’t have to make anyone realize god doesn’t exist, I all have to do is make them question. Once the seed of doubt has been planted it will never stop growing, no matter how hard they try to uproot it. To do this all I need is a platform and a question, a simple question that whether answered or unanswered creates more questions. Sound familiar? The information is out there, if they don’t find it through me than they will find it somewhere because the future isn’t coming, it’s here and it has no use for the gods of men.
In closing I would like to say that atheism will continue to rise, but the fight between faith and reason has only just begun. We have a long road ahead of us and we need you to help. Share the work of atheists like myself, even if you don’t like my work, share someones, get the word out there, remember the internet is a big place and small creators like myself have limited means. Many content creators do what they do for free because they want to so please help them by putting their work out there. Also remember that atheists are people, we have faults like anyone else, so if someone is being intentionally mean or cruel remember they might have a bad experience that made them that way. Keep asking questions and try to do one thing, no matter how small, to help someone else. – Captain Atheist