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Sunday, 7 May 2017

What's wrong with being an atheist?

I’m a girl, and a black girl at that, and in the eyes of many that seems to mean I face discrimination on a daily basis. They would be wrong. When I believed in feminism, the main reason for it was because I supported classic first and second wave feminism, and I thought it was important to respect the work that they had done by continuing to identify with the movement.

However, I didn’t feel that as a girl I faced ‘discrimination’; I didn’t think men should be feminists because I believed it to be a movement for women’s rights not gender equality, I didn’t think men oppressed women or that women were treated as second class citizens in the West anymore, and I didn’t think there was anything I couldn’t do because I was a woman. I privately disagreed with a lot of the bullshit that feminists believe. The real thing that snapped for me was when I heard this crap about how feminism ‘helps men’ and it’s really about ‘equality’. A movement that claims men are the oppressors (patriarchy) and women are the oppressed (feminism) can’t be about gender equality. Hence I realised I was really an egalitarian and stopped calling myself a feminist.

In terms of being black, I forget that I’m black most of the time. I just look in the mirror and see myself, not a black person. The colour of my skin is just there. I like my skin tone a lot, but it’s not a significant part of who I am. To be honest I care more about the colour of my hair, considering I dye it a lot. I’ve never felt discriminated against due to being black, and why would I be? I grew up in 21st Century London. Most people in modern day Britain to my understanding are not racist. Of course there are some here and there, but they’re few and far between.

However, there is a group that I identify with that I feel discriminated against for being part of. That is atheism. I have definitely felt some sort of discrimination because I am an atheist and against religion. In AA meetings I feel like an outsider when people talk about ‘God’ and praying because I can’t relate. My dad has told me on countless occasions that it’s bad to say there’s no God; my uncle has said it’s a ‘big statement’ to make. I’ve gotten into so many arguments with people over religion, and have been told that I shouldn’t talk about religion or God like that, that I should respect people’s beliefs, that it’s none of my business.

I view atheism as something positive. Being open-minded and rational enough to accept that the notion of us all being created by some magic intelligent being is an absurd thing. ‘God’ is a concept created by humans in order to explain what we can’t understand, and we’ve only been scientifically advanced for the past 500 years so of course some people are still going to hold onto the ‘God’ concept. Being an atheist is still viewed by many as negative, to the point where YouTube has now censored the word atheist for channels. I don’t see what all the fuss is all about. Ever heard a bunch of atheists start a war over who doesn’t believe in God the most?

No one is born believing in God or born religious; it is something that is learnt. All babies are
naturally curious and agnostic; in fact not even, because they have no concept of the word God. If no one told a small child about God they would have no reason to believe it. Even in AA, God is accepted as a subjective concept. Step 3 says ‘God of your own understanding’, showing the subjectiveness of the word ‘God’. I must point out, gladly, that although I am an atheist and I’m in AA, not once has anyone in AA made me feel bad about not being an atheist. Not once has anyone told me I have to believe in God. They say you’re ‘Higher Power’ can be anything; the clouds, the universe, the trees, the weather. As long as you accept you are not in control of everything and there is something greater than you, you’re fine.

I think the main reason I am so anti-belief now is because part of me feels embarrassed for what I used to believe. I believed in a God until I was 15, and then identified as agnostic for a few months until The God Delusion cemented my atheism. I used to believe that I had my own personal God looking out for me, which answered my prayers and cared about me. I used to think people who didn’t believe in God were stupid, and that my God was the right God. Now I feel that that was very self-centred and ignorant thinking, so perhaps that is why I cringe when I hear people talking about
belief in God.

Part of being an atheist is accepting that other people’s views exist, even if you don’t agree with them. I don’t believe in getting rid of religion by force, or state atheism. I do believe in secularism, which is a country governed by reason rather than religious dogma. Humans are the only animal that questions our existence due to having advanced cognition over every other animal. This also makes us the only animal to invent Gods and religions. Polytheistic religions began to be formed 5000 years ago; homo sapiens have been the dominant human species for 100,000 years. For all that time we have invented countless Gods, from Zeus to Krishna.

At the end of the day, whether or not there’s a God doesn’t really matter to me. We will probably never know, and it probably isn’t important. Humans are naturally divine. We are made from the same stuff as stars, and are all a part of the universe, experiencing through our everyday experiences and the people we meet. We are all part of each other. Enjoy your life, try to make the best of things, and do right by the ones you love.

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