Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The practical benefits of atheism.

And now for something completely similar, the practical benefits of atheism!

Ok, maybe this has been done before, but I am compiling my own list off the top of my head.

1. Sleep in on Fri. Sat. Sun. or whatever day the predominant religion in your culture insists you get up early to reinforce your claim of faith with sleep-deprived co-miserators. In essence, you're 'Taking Back Sunday'. Or Friday, or Saturday. ;)

2. No waiting around. Since you won't be praying, there's no need to wait around wondering when the all-powerful creator of the Universe will see fit to help you clear up that zit before your date with Jamie in accounting.
Worse, you won't have to wonder why he DID clear up your pimple but made a ginormous tsunami for Southeast Asia, or giant earthquakes for Chile and Haiti.

3. You are now free to embrace science. Since you no longer believe in a bible of any sort, you're free to appeal to reason and logic, as well as offer provisional acceptance of the peer-reviewed opinions of experts in the sciences. The Earth is 4.5 billion years old? No problem. We share common ancestry with other primates? Great! Atheists don't need to shun any established, peer-reviewed science due to supernatural claims which contradict that science. If the science is valid, it gets published. If peer review can't falsify it, it stands. Atheists don't have conclusions about reality that they need to twist reality to fit, since atheism is simply the absence of a belief in any god(s). The pursuit of facts is unfettered by religious dogma.

4. You don't have to fear looking stupid. As a theist, your faith is all well and good until you run into a non-believer who can undermine your religious logic in a few sentences. You won't have to face another believer who should agree on some basic doctrine but doesn't!

5. If you encounter another believer you disagree with, you're faced with the futile task of convincing him or her with dogma when the dogma of others hasn't yet swayed you. Worse, you won't have to be made into an ass when you trot our ridiculous arguments in favor of god in front of real skeptics, making yourself and humankind look like muttering crazies and forcing you into intellectualy uncomfortable position of dishonesty, excuses, transparent distractions, intimidation or attempting to silence or run from the messenger. On some level, theists know the weaknesses of their arguments, which is probably why some resort to childish distractions and intellectual dishonesty when their claims are challenged head-on.

6. Save money. No more dumping money in to the coffers of kid-diddlers or rich churches who squander it on hush money or support legislation which might impinge your rights and the rights of your loved ones (read: Prop H8 funded by the Mormon church). Instead, save your money or give it directly to causes you support. Most churches don't even pay taxes in the U.S., so you're going to be supporting them indirectly anyway, so you may as well stop giving them extra.

7. Save time and energy. It takes effort for all those unanswered prayers, and your food gets cold in the process. Bar/Bat Mitzvahs cost money, time and energy as well as Baptisms, Communions, Confirmations. Hell that chicken you're using in your Santeria ritual might be better off eaten fried with a side of corn rather than just wasted on some pointless ceremony...or just leave that chicken alone to do what it will.

8. No religious reason to get married. Weddings are generally religiously-inspired and cost a huge amount, and even if you get to choose your own bride or groom you're still often left with a gargantuan bar tab. Atheists don't need to pray, waste time and effort in church or church events, spend resources on magic rituals or buy religious paraphernalia of any sort. If you're not religious, you'll almost certainly never be one of those poor people who spend their life savings making Benny Hinn rich thinking he'll cure your cancer, which he most likely won't, and amputees, you're right out!

9. Nobody asks atheists to kill or die for atheism. You don't see Sweden standing at the border of Denmark, ready to convert passive atheists to explicit atheism! You don't see the French Universalists invading the UK to forcibly convert agnostics. Atheists don't strap bombs to themselves in the name of Darwin to blow up those who espouse the science of Einstein or who mention Wallace in the same sentence. Lacking belief in a religion is without dogma and thus, there's nothing to die or kill for. Imagine that. (The astute reader will note the homage to John Lennon's song, 'Imagine').

10. No enforced silliness or crazy rituals: No funny suits, clothing, hats, berkas, hijab, habits, skullcaps, fFez, pointy duncecaps, dresses, robes, etc. No speaking in tongues or 'Glossalalia' as it were, no slaying in the spirit or having to talk to perfect strangers with uncomfortable intimacy. No confessions to the celibate, no virtual cannibalism, animal sacrifice, blood drinking (as wine or otherwise), no zombie beliefs, or circumcision (male or female) and omg leave the poor virgins alone!

11. No violating naughty bits! Naughty bits remain untouched in atheism. There's no need to circumcise boys (or girls for that matter) as a part of not believing in sky pixies. Your kid's nether-regions can remain unscathed and untouched by the meddling hands of doctors or Sandeks by those who deem there to be some pressing galactic reason why the omnipotent creator of the Universe finds them unecessary or offensive.

12. Relationships, you get to pick your own girlfriend/boyfriend or spouse, and you even get to have sex with before marriage! Arranged marriages are practically unheard-of as a direct tenet of atheism, since atheism of course has no tenets and they don't believe there's any tenant in 'Heaven' either. Hell, as an atheist, there's no pressure to even get married if you don't want to, and no instruction against gay marriage or even poly-amory among consenting adults.

13. Politics. Vote how you want. There's no atheist doctrine or masses of churchgoers asking you to vote in lockstep. Republican one year, democrat the next...green party....well nevermind the green party. Vote how you want!

14. Food. Eat how you want. If you like pork shank with dairy, have at it. Meat on good Friday? Pass the steak-sauce. Passover? Pass it right over. Ramadan? Eat that Top Ramen™ till you're Ramadone. No starvation or simu-fasting in atheism. Nobody's passing around atheist food prohibitions and it's not likely to happen anytime soon.

Googol. Religion invariably restricts freedom, expression and social-progress.

Without religion, you're free to make your own choices for logical and ethical reasons without consulting the myth of one of 80,000 some-odd religions. Whether the issue is personal freedoms, sex, food, dress, behavior, etc., religion has no say in the life of an atheist. Instead, any restrictions in personal freedoms must be sold with an appeal to logic and reason, not mere dogma and tradition.

Religion has been on the wrong side of most social issues, including gay rights, civil rights, women's rights, atheist rights, unpopular opinons or self-expression and science in general.

The very definition of 'freethinker' is one who thinks about religion outside the confines of tradition and dogma....and the extra day to sleep in doesn't hurt either.

-dB-

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