Quite a few people in my life have struggled with the simple fact that I am an atheist. For me, it is a simple fact; I do not believe in any gods. But, family members, friends, and online strangers strain at this with varying degrees of difficulty, depending on how much they care about me. Some passively post articles about atheists who found their way to faith. Some argue with me at length, using everything from simple, easily shredded arguments such as the “Look at the Trees” argument to the much more subtle “From whence cometh self awareness.”
Each of these are attempts to find the key that unlocks the door to my spirituality, as if I will suddenly snap bolt upright and raise a finger to the sky and proclaim, “Oh, yes, now I get it! I believe in God now!”
For a long time, I did precisely the same thing with atheism, hoping that I could come up with the exact right thing or sequence of things to get those I cared about to shed their religious beliefs. However, the only “Ah-ha!” moment that arrived was my own.
It took nearly three decades for me to arrive at atheism after concerted study of religion, studying the Bible. the Qur’an, and a slew of other religious texts. I spent time as a pagan priest. It was not an easy journey.
What it took me a while to realize is it never is easy. No one reaches their equilibrium point quickly, or easily, or by stepping through a single door. There is no single key to unlock, no single barrier to get past. The friend that asked me the question that brought me to atheism didn’t bring me from hard core belief to absolute non-belief. I was nearly there already, a deist seriously examining all my beliefs. I am never going to come up with a single phrase that will convince my religious father to become an atheist any more than he will come up with a phrase that will convince me to become a Christian again.
All I can say is that one of the primary reasons that I am an atheist is that it is important to me that I believe as many true things as possible. If something is an unknown, I don’t want to believe in it until it is known to be true. No religion fits that description.
For those of you who have read my blog, you know that I recently went through a rough friend breakup. Someone who had been a friend for fifteen years and I parted ways, and it was rough.
I talked about it several times here, because it was particularly devastating, given my health issues.
Well, he offered and olive branch, and, after some thought, I accepted it without condition or argument. Why? Because friendship, especially one as old as ours, is much more important than being right. It doesn’t matter to me if he was right, or if I was right. What happened is in the past, and buried with the hatchet.
I have several men whom I consider to be my brothers in this life (thus far). As some of you know, I do not have any biological brothers. But, blood is not the only thing that makes brothers, it is intent, action, being there for one another. Each of my brothers has been there for me, and I for them. And I will be in the future. I suppose that is why it did not take me long to look past what happened, even though it hurt as much as it did.
It is said by common media that it is hard to find good friends, the older one gets, but I am finding that my friendships are more meaningful, as I have less tolerance for bullshit. I am lucky that I am finding more good friends, even now.
We have seen the passing of one of my personal heroes this week, Leonard Nimoy. To honor him, I watched the first five Star Trek movies. The funeral scene in Wrath of Khan made me cry, as did several of the other scenes related to death. I told my oldest that he was one of my heroes, and I realized he was. His views on life, both in and out of character, helped me through some dark times in my life. I mourn his passing.
I have already seen people speaking of him in Heaven, and some dismissing him as an atheist. From all of the information I can gather, he was a lifelong Jew. So, yes, he may be in Heaven, but he is not hanging out with Saint Peter. Sorry to dash your hopes of playing pinochle with him. To be honest, I don’t know if that was a game he liked or not. I could see him enjoying many different types of games. Maybe that is my own projection.
I’m sorry that it has been a long time since my last update. My heath has been an issue; I got a pretty severe head cold, and, with Multiple Sclerosis, it makes everything more complex. When the fever one is running makes it hard to move or think straight, blogging sometimes takes a hit. Thankfully, I survived it, although our finances have taken a hit, with my lovely wife having also been sick and having to take some time off. So, to cover some of my ongoing medical expenses, I have had to resort to a Gofundme fundraiser. Links are to the right.
Yesterday, I woke up and my right hand had gone all pins and needles. It is a new symptom, a departure from the slow decline of my left side, and something quite worrisome. It will probably take me some time to get used to the way my right hand feels now. My typing has slowed, and I am considering teaching myself touch typing with the new condition to improve my speed. Coding will be difficult, but I have too many projects to be slowed down by something silly like a disability.
There is a common myth, still persistent, even in this enlightened age of the post jock dominant world, that Geeks, Nerds, and other titles given to the smart, socially awkward among us are virgins, and this is a bad thing. This wraps up several misconceptions and stereotypes into one prejudicial statement that I would like to address. Let’s go back to front.
Virginity is Bad, but only for boys
The pressure on adolescents to have sex is pretty damn strong. It is perpetuated in media, which uses sex to sell pretty much everything, is blasted from music and movies, and, why not? The human body has evolved to pump hormones into the developing body that seem custom tailored for marketing departments to be able to push the latest energy drink or cosmetic product. Complicate that with small town America who think that any activity that includes teenagers will lead to sex and/or drug use, and, therefore, must be shut down, and what are you left with? That’s right. Sex is the measure of a young man among his peers.
So, a young man is made fun of if he has not “scored” with a woman. Zod help him if he is attracted to boys! (I digress… this is not about homosexuality). So, virginity is bad for young men among his peers, in the same way it is a virtue for a young girl among her peers (The old double standard, still surviving, even now).
This cultural pressure is so bad that it has become a culture of forced sex. Rape culture is so pervasive that it is distorting not only how we raise male children, but how we raise females as well, and how we deal with sex altogether.
Interests are only good when Accepted by Society
This one has always irked me. I am not a big fan of football. Sure, I go to Superbowl parties. I could care less about the game. I go to be with friends. Do you know how many games I have gone to in my life? Two. One was with my mother when I was about eight. We were at the Hoosier Dome, and were literally at the back wall of the stadium. The field was so far away I could not make out the numbers on the jerseys. The second game was in high school. The only reason I went was because I was waiting to go to the dance afterwards, and they would not let me wait outside the game. Other sports are similar. The only sport I got into at all was soccer, and, even then, it was only barely. But, it was clear when I was younger that the football players and the basketball players were the ones who got the good treatment. Why? Here’s the thing.
It’s a cycle of pointlessness. All sports are entertainments. The owners pay the players to entertain the fans. The fans pay to be entertained. Nothing other than entertainment is produced. That’s all well and good, and the same thing can be said of computer games. But the thing is that the amount of money, and the way it is handled is what is the issue.
Take the average grade school football player. Maybe he has some talent. He plays in high school. In high school, he is shown special treatment. They have special transportation to and from matches. They give him a letter for his letterman jacket. He can get a special ring. He goes on to college. He plays there. There is a multi-million dollar industry supporting him. He goes on the the NFL. Now it is a multi-BILLION dollar industry. All along the way are perks, special treatment, he is groomed, treated like a prize pony, and is recognized the world over. Children are taught by their parents to idolize him. The stadiums he plays in were built using taxpayer money. The tickets cost an enormous amount. Television networks fight for the right to broadcast the game.
At the end of his career, what has he produced? Statistics, highlights, videos, memories. That’s all well and good. But society puts him and his activities on a pedestal. Why? We need heroes. Fine. We are not in any good wars, so that makes sense. At least, no wars that make sense and produce heroes.
Why, then, do we have to stigmatize those that do not choose the same path?
Thankfully, things are changing. Now that people are realizing that being a geek pays a lot better than the average jock, they are waking up to it.
Geeks don’t get the girls
This one, I think, irks me the most, because it is the least true, and the one most based on faulty knowledge. It presumes that girls cannot be geeks, and that all girls want non-geeks.
Guess what, jocks. Geek girls not only exist, but they are a lot more fun than the girls you like to date.
Think about it for a moment. Joe Average Jock asks Jane Average Cheerleader out on a date. He spends the evening talking about his Sports Team, which she knows a little about, since she is a Cheerleader. She starts talking about what she is into and he blankly stares off into space. This is what their marriage is going to look like.,
Meanwhile, Tom the Geek is out on a date with Meredith the Nerd. The spend the evening sharing a Butterbeer and trading Doctor Who and Monty Python quotes. On their thirties wedding anniversary, they share a booth at Gencon, promoting their new card game.
Jocks, geeks do get girls. We just don’t need to brag about it. We’re too busy having fun.