The Sky Daddy Myth, or “I’m going to hell now!”

734574_10151334099960155_1449830097_nWARNING: This blog entry is bound to piss some of you off. I ain’t apologizing. If we don’t start speaking out, religion will never go away. If you’re a believer, you’ve been brainwashed, honey. But it’s never too late to start thinking again.

Someone on G+ asked me today what keeps me from killing and stealing. She thought me being an atheist meant I had somehow exempted myself from the social contract we all abide by.

Atheism-isn´t-a-religion.-Its-a-personal-relationship-with-realityThis is not the first time someone has wondered how I keep from doing wrong without the fear of some deity keeping me in line.

My first reaction is always amazement. I mean, my parents raised me right. They taught me what was acceptable behavior and what wasn’t. Isn’t that what parents are supposed to do? Their teachings were amplified and 536940_10151379993380155_663154122_nunderscored by the behavior of those around me. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that certain actions are rewarded and approved of while others bring swift retribution in the form of verbal correction and time-outs when you’re a child to harsher punishment like prison when you’re an adult.

I always knew right from wrong. I function within a strong moral and ethical framework. If I don’t kill someone, it’s not because I’m afraid a sky daddy will swoop down and punish me; it’s because I know it’s a bad thing to do. 

I continue to be mystified by the power religion still holds over many people. The idea of worshiping something that doesn’t exist continues despite all evidence to the contrary. Not only that, but believers are stridently vocal that you must believe, too. “Let’s all be delusional together.” 543772_376782935751461_1968619760_n

Religion was a tool developed by those in power to control the masses, and as such, it’s an effective one. That’s one reason why religion is still around. Do you really think a sane, reasonable man would fly a plane into a building, killing himself and thousands of others, if someone hadn’t used religion to convince him it was the right thing to do? “Do it for Allah. You’ll be rewarded in heaven with a crapload of virgins.”

Religious beliefs make otherwise sane people behave badly. Witness the pastors and assorted Republicans who are calling for the persecution and death of LGBT people in the name of their god.

How about the bigoted nutcase teacher and parents who wanted to ban LGBT students from attending their prom “because it’s offensive to us.” Wanna bet religion is at the bottom of that?

69629_4951038492218_1926654476_nWhen people didn’t understand what made thunder, they created the god Thor to explain it. When they finally figured out how thunder happened, Thor vanished. People didn’t need him any more.

Zeus, Hera, and their like have all vanished; instead of falling to our knees to worship them, we snicker and roll our eyes at their quaintness. Today’s gods are cut from the same cloth and it’s long past time they went away. We don’t need them anymore.

74099_422968224444335_1660326090_nWe amuse our children with cute stories about Santa Claus and the Easter bunny, but as those kids grow up, they stop believing in them because they eventually realize Santa and the rabbit aren’t real. The only reason they keep believing in a deity is because their parents and society insist they do so.

Think about that: parents and society insist on making kids believe in something that doesn’t exist. 

I think this does a great disservice to children, as it is a form of long-term and very effective brainwashing that many never manage to undo. How much farther along578375_389450154480234_1181821592_n would humans be if they stopped believing in fairy tales? How many more things would we have accomplished? How much nicer would we be to those who are different from us if we weren’t taught to fear and hate them?

Maybe some day we’ll find out, but right now, religion is still being wielded by those in power to keep us in line, though to less and less effect. More and more people are waking up to reality and embracing reason and science.

It’s about time.

64026_10151325483910155_470013213_n

148927_10151300225264483_1984920501_n

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About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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47 Responses to The Sky Daddy Myth, or “I’m going to hell now!”

  1. Kate Aaron says:

    Ah Theo, I could kiss you. The voice of reason and sanity, as always.

  2. AJ Rose says:

    I think I like what Penn said best. Aside from what you said, of course. Being atheist doesn’t make one automatically immoral. Sheesh.

  3. cindyls1969 says:

    Well, now maybe I’m the one who’s gonna piss someone off. I get that you think that religion is the big bad evil of the world and maybe you have reason. Me? I’m not religious. I do sometimes envy people who’s faith in God helps them get through the tough times in life but I have no desire to use God as a scapegoat, saying that my life is the way it is because God wants it to be that way. My life is what it is because of me and the choices I make.

    I hate those that use God to hurt others. I hate the whole “better than you” attitude that goes along with some religous people . However, not everyone who is religious is bad. I’ve met plenty of good, kind, decent people who believe in some sort of god and I am just big on refusing to tar and feather every person of faith with the same brush.

    As for fairy tales, I’m a little surprised at your scorn. After all, haven’t you written fairy tales? The worlds you’ve created in your books, some of them don’t and never will exist, but they’re fantastic to get lost in for a while. The real world isn’t always a nice place to be, and while I know you can’t hide forever, sometimes it’s nice to have a place to go and recharge your batteries now and then.

    And I believe in dreams too. Hoping and wishing for a better life and working toward it if you can. As the saying goes, “reality bites, dude” so what’s wrong with believing that something better is waiting.

    I think any kind of intolerance is a dangerous, slippery, slope to be on because I think it tends to snowball and can quickly grow out of control.

    I’m sure if anything I’m saying makes any sense, but at least you know that the things you’re saying are touching people in some way…even if they don’t always agree with you.

    • Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, I write fairy tales… and they are clearly labeled “fiction.” I do not expect people to worship me as a god because I write entertainment.

      The bible is held to be true by many, and those of other religions feel the same way about their religious books. But they are fairy tales, written by ignorant men who wrote it was good that women walk five steps behind a man and keep their mouths shut.

      I have no idea why women or LGBT people would believe in any god.

      Yes, there are religious people who aren’t mean, vicious, or intolerant. I know a few. I believe in a live and let live philosophy. Keep your faith to yourself and I won’t constantly tell you how brainwashed you are. But when religious ideas infiltrate politics and start dictating how those of us who don’t believe should live, I draw a hard line. Our government is supposed to represent ALL the people, not just those who believe in a god. They aren’t doing a good job with that lately, either.

    • I did a little search on google:

      Research conducted a few years ago at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis found that atheists are more distrusted than Muslims or homosexuals in the US.

      Every single study that has ever looked at the issue has revealed massive amounts of bigotry and prejudice against atheists in America.

      The most recent data shows that atheists are more distrusted and despised than any other minority and that an atheist is the least likely person that Americans would vote for in a presidential election.

      It’s not just that atheists are hated, though, but also that atheists seem to represent everything about modernity which Americans dislike or fear.

      The most recent study was conducted by the University of Minnesota, which found that atheists ranked lower than “Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in ‘sharing their vision of American society.’ Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

      The results from two of the most important questions

      This group does not at all agree with my vision of American society…
      Atheist: 39.6%
      Muslims: 26.3%
      Homosexuals: 22.6%
      Hispanics: 20%
      Conservative Christians: 13.5%
      Recent Immigrants: 12.5%
      Jews: 7.6%

      I would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group….

      Atheist: 47.6%
      Muslim: 33.5%
      African-American 27.2%
      Asian-Americans: 18.5%
      Hispanics: 18.5%
      Jews: 11.8%
      Conservative Christians: 6.9%
      Whites: 2.3%

      • therealtbaggins says:

        Did you ever see the Family Guy where Brian the Dog is outed as an atheist? The entire town wants to come after him with pitchforks and torches, My favorite part is when the story is reported on the evening news with a picture of him labeled, “local atheist.” That’s about how it would be where I live.

        • There are places where atheists cannot hold public office. You can be put in jail in Kentucky for being an atheist (that law was passed in 2006). Yup, I can be thrown in jail for not believing a fairy tale. Outrageous.

          Yet Christians say they are persecuted. No, what they are is scared they’ll have to face the truth. Otherwise, why hate us so much? Just ignore us! You go your way, we’ll go ours. And keep your religion out of politics please. Believe in anything you like but do NOT force those beliefs down my throat in the form of laws. Separation of church and state is the foundation of our democracy. “In God We Trust” wasn’t even on the dollar bill until, I believe, 1956.

  4. W. Lotus says:

    Even back when I identified as Christian, I never bought that bullshit that Christians are the only ones who are truly happy and moral in the world. I remember a pastoral counselor once telling me anyone who was not a Christian did not know true happiness in life. I looked at her like she had two heads and said, “If that was true, every altar call would be full of people seeing an end to their miserable, unhappy lives. Of course they are happy! In fact, many of them are far happier than I am AS a Christian!” She thought for a moment and, to her credit, conceded that point.

    For all of the promises I was given about experiencing freedom and joy as a Christian, I feel far more free, fulfilled, and joyous as an agnostic Christian (meaning, I like and live by some of the tenets of Christianity without believing in the supernatural myths) than I ever did as a Christian.

  5. Lindsaysf says:

    I believe in something Divine. No, let me correct that: I have found that my life works better and is happier if I act as if I’m not the ultimate power in my life. I ask Something for direction and seem to get better direction than I do from my conscious thoughts. I dialogue with Something I call my higher power and get answers and insights from a perspective broader than my usual perspective. Is “it” real? I don’t know and don’t care. It works for me.
    A wonderful psychic, Rand Lee, speaks of people as coming from different chakras. Those coming from the lower chakras come from force, threat, and blame. Since I heard this from him, I have noticed how many people try to get power over others by physical force, by threats or by blaming them.Just being aware of this has helped me often avoid getting hooked.

    • I think you are talking with yourself, Lindsay, when you ask for direction. You the the Divine. If that works for you, great! You are one of the most generous, loving people I know. I’m glad you’re my friend.

      • Jaycee Edward says:

        I’m reading this MUCH after the day it was posted – for reasons. I found myself agreeing with what Lindsaysf was saying. Then I saw your response and it truly gave me pause. (Truly. Haha.) “You are the Divine”. Now there’s a concept I just don’t have time to wrap my head around right now, but plan on giving it some thought later.

  6. Sue Brown says:

    I’m a Christian. A much battered and bruised one than I was a couple of years ago. I wasn’t brought up with the Fundamentalist religion, neither does it bear any resemblance to the doctrine of the gentle church where I worshipped for years.

    I have little time for Fundies, but I feel the same way about atheists who call me delusional, or parts of the LGBT community who don’t understand how I can be bi and Christian.

    In one epic Facebook conversation I was berated for being Christian by an atheist. He then berated me for not being a true Christian when I said I believed in equality, and when I said that I have a degree in theology from a secular university, and actually I do know what I’m talking about, accused me of not approaching things from a faith perspective.

    Ive realised that irrationality is not restricted to the Christians.

    • Anyone can be irrational. This is not limited to believers or atheists.

      Tell me: what’s the difference between your god and Zeus?

      • Sue Brown says:

        As I don’t follow Zeus, is this a trick question?

        • Not a trick question. Zeus is a god. So is the one you recognize. What’s the difference between them? I mean, why NOT believe in Zeus? He has the same powers the Christian god has. He is almighty, all knowing, and people prayed and sacrificed to him.

          I see no difference between them. There is no evidence either exists.

      • Sue Brown says:

        Look, I’m a theology and religious studies graduate. I’ve studied other religions, looked at the Bible from its origins, looked at the inception of Judaism and Christianity. I have discussed evolution being developed the same time as Genesis 1 was written.

        I’m not a literalist and I’m not American. Which means that all those laws you cite against atheists mean nothing in Britain. They sound as ludicrous to me as they do to you. We don’t have religion dictating politics. They bang their drum but in the end Britain is a secular set of nations.

        Do I believe in God? Yes. Do I think there are other gods? Yes. Can I prove that. No, but neither can you prove they don’t exist.

        I see little point in arguing the existence of God with someone who disbelieves. It’s like arguing about wine with a teetotaller.

        • It’s not up to me to prove they exist. It’s up to believers to prove their god(s) exist. So far, not one has managed to do that.

          I would love to believe in unicorns. I think they are beautiful and magical and rumor has it a virgin can tame them, but no one has ever been able to prove they exist… so they don’t.

          However, if an archaeologist digs one up next week, that would be cool. 🙂 And if someone finally proves there is a god, I’ll reconsider my position.

          • Sue Brown says:

            I can’t wait for them to find a unicorn. However, I correct you on one point. It is not up to believers to prove the existence of God. That is not faith. That is science.

          • Science already knows gods don’t exist, and I’m sure they looked long and hard.

            Why is it so important to believe in something that hasn’t been proven? I’m not trying to be shit. I really want to know.

            Because I don’t get it. It’s said there is this god that answers prayers, sees all things, etc. etc., yet children are born crippled, they are left to starve to death, unimaginable cruelty is done by humans to other humans and animals. Exactly what do you believe in? I don’t see that you get one single thing from your god.

          • Sue Brown says:

            I have always believed in God, before I went to a church. My relationship with God has got me through the best and the worst of times. The knowledge (faith) seems more fulfilling than the emptiness of nothing.

          • I guess I prefer the emptiness of nothing. ;/

            Thanks for the discussion, Sue. I appreciated it!

  7. I had a friend walk out of Sunday school (her mom goes to one of those churches where the adults still go to Sunday school) because they were talking smack about atheists. She stated she knew an atheist (me) and that I was a good person. I think it’s time to return the favor.

    This is like fighting intolerance with intolerance.

    It’s strange that you’ve chosen to address the civil rights of LGBT people, yet ignore the role churches played in the last big civil rights movement we had in the US. MLK Jr. was a pastor after all. I drive by churches with giant rainbow banners hanging outside. Just like in the civil rights movement before, churches serve as a place for people to meet and organize.

    Religion is like anything else in the world–there’s good and bad to it. Some people will use religion, skin color, anything, to persecute others. Should we judge all of humanity by the worst among us?

    • I am only addressing the worst of religion in this post, and one must agree there is plenty of it in the world.

      While I recognize the good some churches bring to the community, I still think the day of religion is done, or should be. Why perpetuate a myth? Why tell your children something exists that does not?

      Why do humans cling so to this illusion? Are they THAT afraid of death that only the idea of some heavenly reward can make them feel better? I grew up a Lutheran. I didn’t begin to question what I’d been taught until long after I left home. I was helped along this path by others, including a fundamentalist who’d experienced his great awakening at age 19.

      I am becoming less tolerant of the blindness that is religion. I have no close friends who believe, but I do have lots of acquaintances who do. One of them asked me why I didn’t kill and steal, and this leads right back to this post. She is otherwise a sensible person, but when it comes to her religion, her fingers are stuck in her ears and she’s singing ‘la la la la.’

      I get that. Even the most casual questioning about religion shows how full of holes it is.

  8. Amy Peterson says:

    I don’t want to argue with you, Theo, but you say you’re speaking about the worst of the religious in this post, yet your first paragraph says we need to get rid of it and if you believe, you’ve been brainwashed. It’s a horribly narrow-minded view to take.

    • I think it’s a realistic viewpoint to adopt. I do think we need to get rid of it. I make no secret of that fact. Our energies would be better spent on other things.

      When someone says “god was looking out for me” after being saved in the hospital/during a natural disaster/whatever, it bugs the crap out of me. It wasn’t god that saved that person, it was the rescue squad, the doctors, or whoever.

      Sorry, Amy. There is no god and nothing anyone can say will change that. Thanks for the comment, though. 🙂

      • Amy Peterson says:

        It’s hard for me to believe you’re actually serious with all of this. As if the energy that we expend in a religious capacity would be funneled directly into something much more worthwhile. In fact, there are many things that people do in the name of God that, whether you believe in it or not, are helping people. Who are we to judge someone’s motivation for doing good or bad? We all have our own set of beliefs, whether it be religious or otherwise, and putting on it a label of God or an otherness or whatever else people choose to believe makes it no less valid than your personal set of rules that make up your moral code. The only difference I see between you and me is that I’d never write a post ridiculing you for your atheism.

        • What would you think if someone you knew, an adult, told you he believed in Santa Claus? And he meant it?

          What would you think?

          • Amy Peterson says:

            Theo!!! The whole point that I’m trying to make is that it shouldn’t matter. If that person believed in Santa Claus and believed Santa Claus wanted him/her to murder babies, then I would take issue to this. If, however, Santa Claus brings him comfort in times of despair or death, prompts him to do works of charity and focus on family and community, etc. then I’d say more power to him. It is not who we believe in or do not believe in, it is the actions that we take that show our true character. That crazy teacher in Indiana that believes that being gay is wrong in the name of God is just as abhorrent to me as she is to you. Religion can be, when practiced by some people, terribly destructive and full of hate. It can also be a comfort to people who would otherwise fall apart when a spouse or a child dies. It can give them meaning to a life that would otherwise be full of despair and hopelessness.

            I know this is your blog and you’re free to express whatever opinion you may have. But maybe you should talk about how we need to eliminate hate and intolerance rather than pin all the evils in the world on a fanatical belief in religion.

          • If believing in a deity makes you happy, go for it. If you need that to find peace or comfort, then by all means, have it.

            I find comfort in those I love, my friends and family. I look to myself first for happiness. I don’t expect anyone to hand it to me.

            We walk different paths, Amy. Thanks for the discussion.

  9. Alan Kehoe says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading so far Theo. I’d just like to note (as a longtime student of Zen – though not quite a self-defined ‘buddhist”) that emptiness can be quite full:

    from the famous Heart Sutra:

    “….form is emptiness, and emptiness is form.
    Form is not other than emptiness, emptiness
    is not other than form…..”

    Not one or the other but both, and all and neither…all at the same time, always open to discovery.

    I also note that Buddhism has been and still is as prey to dogma, exclusion, magical thinking etc. as other organized religions. Though at best it asks us to “take heed” of our small, fearful, impressionable minds and yield to an undefinable greater consciousness (self, other and all) – and hopefully avoid unskillful destructive behavior. Some there mainstream sects of all ilk do this successfully – though I fear not enough.

    Best to you and thanks for your good work.

    Alan

    p.s. – a little further on the fullness of emptiness:

    http://www.thebuddhadharma.com/web-archive/2012/8/5/the-fullness-of-emptiness.html

    • Thanks for the comment. Glad you stopped by.

      I am well centered and happy in my life these days. The emptiness hasn’t bothered me in a long while. I think it’s because my writing fills it up. 🙂

  10. Jaycee Edward says:

    I am (still – slowly) reading your blog from beginning to end. This was a fascinating one for me. As I’m writing this, you are driving to your new home in FL. As I told you, I’ve been praying for your safe travels, which is true. Do I believe in God? I don’t know. The geeky, scientific part of me who worked in a lab for 20 years, surrounded by science understands every single word you have written and kind of thinks it’s true. But, the other part of me… and I don’t even know what to name it (dreamer? romantic? spiritual? insecure?)… WANTS and sometimes NEEDS to believe there is a higher power. I’m totally a “I’ll believe it when I see it. Prove it to me.” kind of person. I’ve seen miracles, but are they really miracles or are they just something we’re not intelligent enough to understand yet? I can’t prove there’s a God and I can’t prove there isn’t one. I believe in the power of prayer though, yet that might simply be the laws of attraction. None of us will know who’s right so I don’t see a point in arguing. So, I guess I’m saying I’m basically anti-religion but I will continue to pray for my family and friends when I want some divine intervention on their behalf.

  11. Jaycee Edward says:

    Oh! And the other thing I wanted to mention, but totally forgot. Of all my friends, the ones that have remained the closest to me, the ones that ALWAYS come to my aid, and the ones that are the most intelligent are all atheists. So, I don’t for one minute believe that children need religion to be “good people”. Every single one of them is law-abiding almost to a fault. And, ironically? They are all on their first marriage. None have ever divorced. And the ones that can’t legally marry are still in long-term original relationships. I find that interesting.

    • True for me as well. My ex-boss and his wife are atheists. My aunt, uncle, and mother are atheists. AJ is an atheist. I do know a couple who believe, but we have agreed never to discuss it.

      I can tell I’m in the south; everywhere are billboards about either guns or jesus. *smh*

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