The Soul Scapegoat

What do you do when someone is doing something you don’t agree with, but you can’t definitively say why it’s bad? Well there’s one thing that you can always claim is feeling something even though there is no physical or emotional stimulus by which to measure it:

“It may not be bad for the body, but it’s bad for the soul.”

That’s what someone said to me when he was trying to explain to me why homosexuality is a bad thing, because for some reason this argument is still going on in Orem, God Damn Utah.

Yes, claiming something happening to the soul is a great way to shut people up for a few seconds because, for some reason, even many atheists are reluctant to say it doesn’t exist. If they don’t call it a soul, they’ll call it something else: Life force, energy, aura, or sometimes even just something.

Why are people so drawn to the idea of invisible, intangible things that they have no reason to believe exist but still think they have a complete understanding of what’s good and bad for it?

“You should really try meditating from time to time, Taylor.”

“That’s never really been my thing. I just don’t get anything out of it.”

“Well you should really give it another shot. It’s good for the soul.”

Dude, shut the hell up. That’s a really condescending statement. Insinuating my life is somehow less fulfilled because I can’t appreciate this one thing that makes you feel better from time to time. Attacking someone’s “spiritual fulfillment” is one of those masked pretentious arguments. The non religious type that brings up the soul is the kind of guy that wants you think his life is so well put together and he’s reached total nirvana- not that he’d ever admit that. No, it is his habit to act continuously humble, act like there’s so much about this “big amazing world” he doesn’t understand and how he just wants to go see all of it. The type of guy who never gets angry and always has a big fucking grin on his face.

I know your life isn’t as great as you want me to think it is, man.

This is one of the first image results for "soul." Makes about as much sense as any other interpretation.

This is one of the first image results for “soul.” Makes about as much sense as any other interpretation.

Going back to that example, how is saying that any different than telling me I should pray? They’re both insistences that there’s some supernatural experience I’m missing out on because I’m not getting it right.

What I really love about the fact that I don’t get anything out of prayer or meditation is that it’s apparently because I’m “not really trying.”  That’s beautiful. In an exercise that is literally just sitting and concentrating on something, I’m somehow not doing it right (And here is where the religiously pretentious will shake their heads and say “he just doesn’t get it”).

No, the real problem is that after I sit there long enough I don’t instantly believe that the slight shift in my physical being is god or enlightenment. I’m not going to fucking sit there and fall prey to confirmation bias. I won’t tell you that whatever you feel is fake, so don’t fucking tell me that my not feeling something is because I’m just not trying. Screw you, man. I was 10 once, I gave prayer an honest shot. Didn’t do anything for me. It was always an empty feeling. Are you going to insist that’s my fault? I wasn’t skeptical back then, I believed what everyone told me to believe, but I never felt what they told me I was going to feel.

The soul is a nice imaginary construct people have created to give them a term to measure progress in things that really aren’t making any difference in their lives at all.

“Go for a walk, it’ll be good for your soul.”

…. Man, there’s like 50 other reasons taking a walk is good for you, and you chose to go with that one? What the hell does that even mean? You may as well have told me it would be good for the humours. Seriously, sit down and explain to me what you mean by that statement. How is that good for my ‘soul’?

They can’t do it. All they’ll do is use a lot of buzzwords.

“It just fulfills you and clears your mind.”

You could have just said it clears my mind in the first place. Saying its good for my soul gives me no clear idea as to what will be beneficial about taking a walk. I’m just going to go out there hoping it makes me feel better without any inkling as to what will be improving.

But that is what people who promote the soul concept want you to feel like. Because without a clear marker as to why it’s good or bad, it’s impossible to say that it isn’t. Homosexuality, masturbation, tattoos, cursing, there’s absolutely no legitimate reason why these things are bad, but god damnit, they’ll twist your soul until it’s black and shriveled.

Meanwhile celibacy, which causes so much frustration and physical pain because it goes against your body’s natural instincts and every fiber of your being will scream at you “FUCK FUCK FUCK”, is good for the soul. Why? Well because it’s godly. Don’t you want a nice, clean, pure white soul? You may not feel better physically or emotionally, but in pretend land you’re doing fantastic!

A Good Parent Never Teaches Right From Wrong

Most people seem surprised when I tell them I became an atheist as early as 13. I’m more surprised that anyone could continue to believe into that stuff well after the age where they start thinking for themselves, but I’m an arrogant prick, so whatever.

The truth is I always kinda knew I was an atheist. All my time in Catholic school I went along with it because adults told me it was true, and you go to school to learn things, right?

Man, what a joke that makes religion class.

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Empathy Trumps Love

Love is constantly being shoved down our throats as the most beautiful, chaotic, frustrating, and rewarding emotion to ever exist.

Ugh. Enough already. Despite what Japanimation tells you, love isn’t some all powerful force that helps us overcome any obstacle. It’s a term we invented to describe an abstract concept we feel towards people who we tolerate slightly more than the rest of society.

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Philosophy Turned Me from Religion, Not Science

Perhaps one of the reasons I’m not one of obstinate “everyone who believes in god is an idiot” atheists is because my reasons for leaving faith are more philosophical than scientific.

Sure, when I was a kid my atheism started when I realized I only believed in god because adults told me to. When you start thinking critically for yourself you have to question it. I believe it must dawn on everyone that spirituality is completely incongruous with what we understand about the world around us. A choice must be made to put faith in the comfort of supernatural guidance or seek new answers.

Honestly, I don’t think any atheist turns from religion because god “obviously” doesn’t exist. I also don’t entirely believe the ones that claim they “wish I could believe in god.” The truth is that if you really want to believe in something you can convince yourself to, especially in religious matters. Confirmation bias will provide you all the proof you need that god exists. If you are of a more skeptical nature than it will do the opposite, no matter how much you “want” to believe.

I turned from religion because I completely disagree with the philosophies of supernaturalism. In fact, I despise them. That’s not to disparage those that don’t. If you find comfort in the idea that all powerful entities looking after you then that’s fine. It is a lifestyle I simply cannot abide.

To me a lifestyle with god is a life of submission and restraint. Why is it that every religion asserts humility and meekness? Judeo Christian: You are a child of god, he is your savior. Buddhism: in the beginning there’s so much wrong with you that most of your existence will be spent fixing it to reach nirvana. Hinduism: Seek awareness of god and the blessings of deities.

I am so fucking sick of hearing how our species is broken and wrong. How many times do we have to be reminded that people have done horrible things? Why is it that no one is born enlightened and great? Why must all our effort be put into seeking the perfect self?

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t like arrogance, I don’t think anyone is born perfect, and I think we should all aspire to greatness, but it seems to me that religious and spiritual philosophy claims we are much farther behind in our development than we actually are.

Imagine a religion where you are told from birth that god created you with the expectation that you will be better than him. Instead of being born with the guilt of “original sin” (a crime you didn’t even commit), you are told that your species has so much potential it can surpass its creator. What kind of fire would that light in you?

We are not weak, we are not flawed, we are not predispositioned to sin and debauchery. Humankind is an awesome species that will reach out to the universe and overcome any challenge thrown at it.

I don’t need or want some all-powerful entity holding my hand as though I’m an accident-prone child. I can’t stand the idea of something that considers itself the ultimate authority watching me all the time, casting judgments in matters it has absolutely no business judging. How, exactly, is my participation in pre-marital sex an affront to god’s sensibilities? Why should it care? It baffles me that people who follow the strict tenants of the church hear all those rules and think “god sure is a great guy.” To me he’s an overbearing parent more concerned I do things his way rather than finding my own path.

Do you find comfort in the idea that every action is judged?

Do you find comfort in the idea that every action is judged?

When I was a kid I spent way too much time worrying whether my actions would send me to hell. I always wondered if god would be okay with my rationale for doing something that went against church doctrine. Man was that a horrible way to live. Who is god to judge me? All powerful, all knowing, creator of the universe, I don’t care! Why does it get to be the ultimate judge of every living thing?

I was so sick of the tenants religion gave that it was easy for me to accept that god doesn’t exist. I realize some people of religion might claim that I abandoned god as an “excuse to sin.” That I am so arrogant I believe my way is better than that of the almighty.

Please.

I have fundamental disagreements with the philosophy that made me more inclined to believe it untrue. Maybe if I agreed with them I would have clung to religion longer, but when you take an objective look at things god is a difficult concept to believe in. You’d have to really want to believe in religious philosophy to have faith in the supernatural.

In simpler terms: If I liked the idea of an all-powerful protector it would have been much easier for me to ignore the fact that there is no evidence supporting the supernatural. In the same vein, if someone was desperate and seeking answers, it would be much easier for them to accept the comforting thought of divinity and that everything is part of a plan.

So, evangelists and Christian “scientists,” please save your breath. Your promises of an otherworldly kingdom and questionable discoveries supported with pseudo-science will do nothing to sway me. Divinity is a hard pill to swallow, and without indisputable proof I will never believe in it. The idea of god is completely repulsive to me.

The Secular Scene is Too Damn Depressing

In my anniversary post I mentioned that I was hesitant to reenter secular society and Scott of Skeptic Meditations asked me what that meant.

The world of vocal atheists is a depressing one.

When you reacquaint yourself with the popular outspoken voices of secularism you’ll mostly be listening to complaints about the world and harsh attacks on people of faith. That’s not to say the situation isn’t similar in religious circles, but I don’t think fighting fire with fire is the appropriate response here.

There are very few vocal atheists promoting positivity. Everyone seems to be consumed by arguments and screaming how things should be. Look up popular secular YouTube channels. It’s almost exclusively people talking about what religious people did wrong this week.

Man, I’m a gamer. All my negative energy is spent complaining about everything wrong in that industry (Mother characters got cut from the new Smash Bros? For what? Doctor Mario? Are you friggin’ kidding me?). I don’t have any to spare!

The fact is that when we do nothing but argue over every issue our beliefs and principles become a very dark place in our minds.

It’s not that recognizing problems and injustices in the world is bad; it’s that the monologue usually consists only of talking about how wrong it is. I believe that if we talk more about the goal and ideal then we present a positive picture. People will be less inclined to start arguing or take sides and instead work co-operatively to achieve a utopia… An actual utopia, not a literary one that’s destined to fail to teach a lesson about hubris.

When you only talk about what’s wrong, there will always be people who disagree with you and start an argument. When you talk about the goal, it’s less confrontational and more “hey, we can do something good if we try!” Which may be cheesy and not as fun, but in the long run we’re better off.

Reminding each other that there is a simple, positive goal that we all agree upon makes it easier to achieve the goal. The goal is beautiful, uplifting, makes your outlook better and encourages you to reach for the sky.

When someone tries to promote a cause you completely disagree with, like taking evolution out of school, don’t immediately take the confrontational stance. Instead, ask why. Make an effort to empathize their reasoning and then come up with a counter argument that is more accommodating to their thoughts and beliefs rather than ruffling their fathers by obstinately saying “you’re wrong.” They are wrong, of course, but you’re not going to convince them of that by acting like the know-it-all opposition.  The goal in this situation is: Best education for our children. Both sides can agree on that, work from there.

It’s not easy. Fighting is more sensational, more fun, and keeps things interesting, but it doesn’t get shit done.

I didn’t want to get back into the secular scene because I cannot stand seeing everyone too busy fighting about everything to actually accomplish anything. I became a humanist because I love the philosophy that mankind can achieve anything it sets its mind to. Angry, depressing, derogatory blogs, vlogs, and tweets make me believe it a little less every day.

1 Year of Constant Consciousness

Hard to believe it’s been that long already.

When I started this blog I was in a very bad place. I had been out of college for four months and still didn’t have a job, my relationship of three years ended disastrously and I was condemned to live with the woman for another two months before I could move out, and soon I would be moving back to my hometown to live with my parents.

The life I had built was falling down around me. Had Mephistopheles knocked on my door I would have gleefully shaken his hand and accepted any deal he had come to make.

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Karma Sucks

Karma is an afterlife substitute.

I am often surprised by the number of atheists I know who, when someone does them wrong, they say “karma will catch up with them.”

I thought part of being an atheist was abandoning the concept that the universe has some sense of “fair.” Existence isn’t fair. The guy who cut in front of you at the checkout line and made you miss your ten o’clock appointment did not just invoke the ire of an intangible force that demands punishment for crimes.

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