by Michael Wong
Welcome! My name is Mike, and after many years of encounters with religious people, some nice and some not, I've discovered that an awful lot of religious people seem to think that atheists are an angry, bitter lot. In fact, they seem to think that we're bitter and angry at God, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense. How can we be angry at someone that we don't believe exists at all? I think these people need to think a little harder about what the word "atheist" means. Why do they think this? Well, maybe it's because you only hear about atheists when an atheist launches a lawsuit over something like the Pledge of Allegiance or a Nativity display in the lobby of a government building. Given the way the media pretends we don't exist the rest of the time, it's really not too surprising that people start to generalize from the relatively tiny "launch Supreme Court lawsuit" demographic. In reality, you almost certainly know many atheists already, but you just don't realize it because we don't wear badges. In fact, there are many reasons for a happy, non-bitter person to be an atheist.
12 Benefits of Atheism
1. No need for that tortured "love/hate/fear" relationship with God any more. Let's face it, God is a lousy lover. He never calls, he never writes, and everybody's terrified of what he'll do when he finally shows up! In fact, they're so terrified that they call it Judgment Day! Does this really sound like a healthy relationship to you? If God were somebody's husband, he would have been featured on an episode of "Cops" by now, wearing a white sleeveless T-shirt with food stains on it and screaming at his woman to shut up and get back in the trailer.
2. No need to feel guilt about the Post-Masturbation Moment. What's the Post-Masturbation Moment, you say? Don't lie to me; you know exactly what it is. It's that terrible moment after you just get done masturbating. You're wiping up your spunk from the toilet or your keyboard or whatever you soiled, and suddenly, it hits you. God was watching you the whole time! Worse yet, your dead grandmother was sitting next to him, and she was watching you too! Yuck! And that's another horrible deposit into the Shame and Guilt piggy bank for you.
3. You get extra money once a week! Yes, that's right: all atheists get a cash bonus once a week. How the hell does that work, you ask? Well, you know the old saying that a penny saved is a penny earned? Every Sunday, guess what I'm doing: I'm saving the collection plate money that you were going to give away so that your church could add an expansion onto the parking lot, upgrade their PA system, or send missionaries to Africa to explain to the starving diseased masses that they need Jesus, not food or condoms. This means I'm effectively earning a cash bonus every week! Suck on it, bitches.
4. First crack at the dinner table. Yes, we get the drop on everyone else at dinner time. While you Christians are saying grace, we're grabbing the best cuts of meat. Hell, you can't even see that we're doing it, because your heads are bowed and your eyes are closed! Suckers ... and at the buffet restaurant, we're already coming back with our first plate-load of food while you're just finishing up thanking an invisible man in the sky for food that was refined through selective breeding, protected with chemical pesticides, harvested with machines, delivered in air-conditioned trucks, and bought with your money. It's even better on Sunday, when we get to the restaurant for brunch long before the church crowd can squeeze their way out of the overcrowded church parking lot after the service.
5. You get to criticize other religions without being a flaming hypocrite. Ever watch a Christian trying to explain why another religion is stupid or dangerous while simultaneously pretending that none of these criticisms could ever possibly apply to the Bible? It's amazing how the same people who preach endlessly about the evils of moral relativism will suddenly start spouting moral relativist bullshit themselves when they have to, like "well, you have to look at the massacres in context" or "that was a different time". Or my personal favourite, "God only told the Jews to do that, not the rest of us", as if that makes it OK. But with no Scripture of your own (despite the endless attempts of Christians to pretend that atheists have a shared moral ideology rather than being all over the map), you as an atheist would not have to worry about throwing stones from a glass house. Of course, if we carry this analogy to its logical conclusion it would mean that you are metaphorically homeless, but at least that's safer than living in a glass house. And you could think of yourself as a maverick cowboy (the Brokeback Mountain tour is optional).
6. You get to save money on porn! How does this work, you ask? Simple: remember the Shame and Guilt piggy bank from the Post-Masturbation Moment? Well that sucker fills up eventually, and then you have do something, don't you? You have to show God that you're a good guy and you're not going to do this horrible thing any more (even though no one ever really explains why it's so horrible, but I digress). So what do you do? In a gut-wrenching paroxysm of guilt and self-loathing, you will destroy your entire pornography collection! Ah yes, you will say, this house is clear. No more temptation. But of course, we all know this can't last. Like the Corleone family, the world of pornography will keep pulling you back, only to start the cycle all over again, spending more money each time! As an atheist, you would be able to stop this cycle. You could build a porn library without having to periodically throw it all out and start over. And you could watch it with pride. Pride and one free hand.
7. You get to use the scientific method without having to put blind spots on it. The modern scientific method is right up there with language and mathematics as one of the greatest intellectual achievements of mankind. In just a few short centuries of use, it has accomplished more to improve peoples' lives than religion did in the previous few millennia. And like it or not, the scientific method, if applied to religion, inevitably concludes that it's a crock. Why do you think you won't find a Theory of Divine Intervention in any physics text? This is why religious apologists must either insist on science/religion separation or lie through their teeth and pretend the two are compatible just because religious scientists exist (news flash: there are libertarians with government jobs too, so work/belief conflicts are hardly unheard-of). But as an atheist, you would not have to worry about carefully painting blind spots on science in order to appease your fears, or buying bullshit books written by creationists with fake doctorates telling you what you want to hear. You won't have those creepy moments like hearing about a study relating to the brain, catching yourself wondering for a moment why the thoughts of your immortal soul should be affected by mere chemicals, and then hurriedly shutting that disturbing feeling away.
8. You get to have your own black helicopter! True, I've never seen my own black helicopter, but I know it's out there somewhere because everybody in America knows there's a giant UN conspiracy manned by atheists who have lots of money and black helicopters. I don't know when we atheists will get our invitations to the Big Evil Atheist Conspiracy meetings where we get our black helicopters, but I'm sure it will be really cool. I also hear the Evil Atheist Conspiracy controls the entire media except for Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, National Review, Jeff Gannon, Robert Novak, the Drudge Report, George Will, the New York Post, NewsMax, the Wall Street Journal, the FOXNews network, and the Washington Times. For that matter, we don't have most bloggers or radio talk shows either, and for some reason, an awful lot of right-wing political ads keep getting aired on these networks and TV stations that we supposedly control. But still, I know we have the porn industry. Our evil media representatives may not have much money or influence, but they have great bodies.
9. You won't have to be afraid of gay people any more. Really, they're not that scary, and contrary to popular belief, they can't actually convert people, although I hear they're very good with interior decorating and hair. But we all know how terrifying gays are to your pastor, and what he believes is what you believe, right? Why else would you sit your sorry ass on a hard wooden bench for 1½ hours a week to listen to him telling you what's right and wrong? It's not as if they allow debate during the service.
10. You get to have "family values" that actually make sense, like wanting more government money for schools, tax breaks for parents, harsher punishments for drunk drivers and pedophiles, or restrictions on the power of teachers' unions to fuck up your kids' education with asinine rules which keep school boards from firing those who are lazy and incompetent. While the sheep are out there ranting and raving because of "sexual content on television", you can focus your energies on something that might actually be useful to your kids someday, like helping them with math. That's because you will understand that the key to raising well-adjusted children is to protect them only from real threats and then teach them about things they don't understand, rather than trying to "shield them from temptation".
11. You get to celebrate a good old-fashioned secular Christmas, without guilt. Santa Claus, flashing lights, pagan traditions like mistletoe and decorated trees, presents wrapped in shiny paper, eggnog and booze, all of it. When you walk into the shopping malls festooned with lights and tinsel, you can actually be happy and soak it in, rather than bemoaning the "commercialization of Christmas" every damned year. In fact, our secular version of Christmas is so much cooler than the Christian "go to church and humbly thank the LORD" guilt-trip version that almost all Christians celebrate our version too, just as soon as they can skip out on the pastor who's lecturing them about how they don't come to church enough. Some of them even think Secular Christmas is theirs, despite all of the pagan traditions. It still makes me laugh to think that Pope Benedict actually called upon Christians to be more "sombre" in their celebration of Christmas. What an idiot.
12. Your parents won't try to make you marry someone from your church. As an atheist, you can marry someone of any faith, or no faith at all (as long as they're up to it), and it's none of your parents' damned business. You don't have any "unequally yoked" bullshit arguments to deal with, or a Jewish mother scolding you for dating a Catholic, etc. Hell, I married a Christian Mennonite and my parents didn't mind that at all (although hers certainly did, which was exactly the kind of bullshit I'm talking about).
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