What’s that you ask?
Why don’t I believe in God?
Let me ask you a series of questions and then we’ll come back to that.
Why don’t you believe in Thor?
Do you think that maybe it’s because you are angry with Him for failing to bring Storm and Thunder down on your enemies? Or water the crops? Or do you blame Him for giving your mother cancer?
Do you think that if you stopped being angry with Thor you might be able to love Him once more?
Perhaps you should come to my study group of the Poetica Eddas on Thursday (Thor’s Day—his holy day) night? We take turns reading His tales from the Eddas, and talk about the meaning the ancient oral tradition of Iceland has on our modern lifestyle, and how we can be closer to Thor and his compatriots. There’s also Spaghetti.
Why are you so bent out of shape that everything shuts down early on Thursday? It’s Thor’s Holy day; it should be spent in reflection and the slaughter of lambs in His honor. Speaking of that, I know it’s your daughter’s birthday on this Friday, but it’s the Full Moon in January—Thurseblot, we celebrate Thor and invoke his protection during these cold months so that spring returns in March. I can’t work that day. Please respect my beliefs.
In the Poetica Eddas, Thor speaks badly of the Giants who tried to trick him. These giants are feasting on mutton and Juniper berry wine. When Thor curses them, their wine turns to snake’s venom. This clearly illustrates his disapproval of Juniper, therefore I’m going to have to ask that you not display that cedar bush in your front yard; my family finds it disrespectful of our beliefs.
Also, Thor clearly states that a blood tested warrior may freely take a woman, who must cleave to him upon the vanquishment of her champion. So I need you and your wife to come outside so I can beat the snot out of you and rape your wife. You understand right? You must respect my beliefs. By the way, my friends and I are lobbying to make it law in this State that men must carry a sword at all times. Men who die without a sword in their hand can’t get into Valhalla, so it’s really your immortal fighting soul we’re worried about. Also it makes it easier to defend your wife from would-be vanquishers. Also if you don’t or can’t grow a beard, we’re going to find you in violation of the warrior ethic and nullify your rights as a man. Men grow beards. What? You can’t grow a fully lustrous and manly beard? I don’t believe you, that is a choice you made. Choose to grow a beard right now. Otherwise I’m going to nullify your marriage by raping your wife.
Have I made my point yet? Do you understand why I find your beliefs unfathomable? Do you understand why I when you ask me why I don’t believe in God I give you a slightly baffled look. Why the look of bafflement turns to full-on eye-rolling when you postulate I’m a non-believer because I’m just “angry with God.”
I am no more angry with God for killing my mother than I am at Santa Clause (you know, Odin?) for failing to bring me an Austin Martin for Christmas, or at the Tooth Fairy for failing to reimburse me for those wisdom teeth I had the dentist pull—I was planning on that money to help pay the bill.
Oh and in case you’re wondering why all the rape threats in my questions. It’s because rape was a normal event in the Poetica Eddas. That doesn’t apply to you, you’re Christian? Have I got news for you. Do you know how many rapes are in the Eddas? How about the Bible? Go count both, I’ll wait.
What do you mean that’s not fair, those were Old Testament rapes? So we get to ignore the Old Testament now? Including the parts that make homosexuality a sin? And the Ten Commandments—those are in the Old Testament right? No—no, “Yes—but…” Either the whole thing counts or none of it, you don’t get to pick and choose the parts you like and enforce those, and then ignore the parts that make you look bad.
Look, I’m not trying to attack your beliefs. I’m trying to challenge them; there is a huge fundamental difference. Besides, you’re challenging mine by demanding an explanation why I do not subscribe to the laws and teaching of Bronze Age goat-herders who got their butts kicked and enslaved by the Egyptians. I’m responding by asking why you don’t subscribe to the beliefs of Iron Age conquerors and explorers who discovered the Americas and established the first trading empire in the North Atlantic. I’m doing it not to mock you, but to illustrate we both reject them for the same reasons.
We are the same you and I.
You reject all gods, past and present, but your own. I just go one step farther than you and reject all gods, past and present—including yours. That’s it. That’s our fundamental difference. Seems pretty small doesn’t it?
We agree on nearly everything else. Help those less fortunate than ourselves, be kind to our neighbors, and treat others as we would like to be treated. No, those aren’t Christian values. For one, they appeared in many cultures long before Christianity or even Judaism made it on the scene. That’s because they are human values. Religion does not get ‘dibs’ on the basic tenants of just being a pleasant person to be around. No, I don’t require religion to have morality. I’m a moral person without threat of eternal torture and damnation. Look I’ll prove it.
See what? See, I’m not raping and murdering you. Without religious based morality I still am not an evil sociopath. Cool huh?
Without religion, I rape and pillage exactly as much as I want too—which is not at all. See, aren’t you glad I’m really not a worshipper of Thor? Then I’d have too, to assure my place in Valhalla.
This is what it’s like in the world of the non-believer, the skeptic, and the atheist.
We live in a world surrounded by people insisting we should follow the beliefs of ancient peoples; of mythology and legend, and who are baffled and personally insulted when we try to tell them not to bother us with it. We live in a world where baby boys have their genitals mutilated because some religion says it’s necessary. We live in a world where little girls are taught their gender is responsible for all the sin and evil in the world because the first of them dared to ask a question. Girls should never ask questions. Where by your own book, homosexuality is listed as a “don’t” right next to eating shellfish and getting a tattoo, but neither of the later are illegal, where as there are still 34+ states that won’t recognize the marriages of the first. That’s what I find baffling; most of you aren’t even consistent within the context of your own strange beliefs.
So no, I’m not irritated at your attempt to force my child to pray in school, or teach him that dinosaurs were in the Garden of Eden in place of science because I’m angry at your God. I’m angry because I don’t see or believe in your God; I just see you doing those things, and shifting the blame to your invisible friend.
But that’s okay, I guess. I am perfectly happy with you having an invisible friend if it gets you through the day. I don’t have to travel in your shoes. But for fucks sake, can you stop looking at me weird because I didn’t get my son’s penis mutilated when he was born? Also if you could please stop voting to restrict the rights of people who don’t share your beliefs, that would be great. You don’t want to live under Islamic sharia law; I understand, neither do I. Some parts of it are a little scary. But I don’t want to live under Jewish law either, so can you stop putting the Hebrew’s Ten Commandments on the courthouses we share? I think it’s creepy that coveting (thinking about) another man’s wife is right up there with murder as a capital offense, but child molestation and human trafficking isn’t mentioned at all. (Hell, some parts of your holy book encourage the later.)
So, why don’t I believe in God? I dunno, why don’t you believe in Santa Claus? Or Thor? Or Zeus? Or the Easter Bunny? (Which, by the way, is a Pagan belief you happily let your kids participate in, but then get offended when someone reminds you.)
Next time you want to ask someone like me that question, as yourself those questions first. Everyone will have a more pleasant day.