?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Wandering through a few sites between the neverending essay, I meet more than a few opposing views on a given subject. It's interesting to study the differences. More often than not, it's taught me a few things about how I've learnt to perceive the same subjects. So today, I stumbled into a place called Faith Freedom International. Unless I am misreading this, the site appears to be an enclave of ex-Muslims, pretty angry ones at that, reading and dissecting their way to the improved knowledge base of all.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't disturbed by this idea, that somewhere out there, some very well-read, well-spoken scholarly types are producing very angry literature with the exact purpose of pulling people away from the Islamic faith. The problem being that in the first regard, doing so would make me a hypocrite. Some years ago, I would very likely have joined them.

How I left Islam is best summed up as: I woke up one morning, realized that I, not an omnipresent unperceivable (to me) God, controlled me, and thus, I had to take control of me as it was my responsibility as a human being to do so.

I left dead angry. I took it upon myself to provoke every Muslim in my path, family or not, believing very strongly that I had to make them think critically about their religion, that this was for their highest benefit, that they were wrong and I knew better. I suppose in the way of justification, my version of it was that if a Muslim (or any other theist for that matter) had a faith that was so strong, they would not have to worry about being swayed by me on the outset. I researched the Quran, the hadiths, the ears and pieces of people I could question. I tried to find new ways to start fights, if only to provoke thought. I spent years trying to perfect that. This is what I figured out:

No one gives a fuck. Really. No one cares. Theists will remain theists because they're theists, that's just what they do. It took me nearly seven years to get that into my head. Atheism, in particular, is a personal choice. More than the theistic beliefs, atheism demands of its believers a kind of autonomy of faith that the vast majority of people aren't willing to indulge. As an atheist, I stand my ground in that atheism is a level up from theism -- by cutting off one's self from the mollycoddling of a protectionist or decision-making god, one takes responsibility for the self in full. Some people are stronger with their god to fortify their will, that's for them to decide. If believing in god(s) is what allows them to achieve their highest potential as individuals, then it's not anyone's place to take it from them.

Nor is it anyone's place to inflict one's own belief upon another, simply because we can. That doesn't matter where you are a theist or an atheist. If I dislike theists wishing to convert me, I imagine theists do not appreciate an atheist wishing to convert them either. I further surmise that theists do not like other kinds of theists attempting to convert them in turn. The only people who even know what their highest potential could be are the individuals themselves. Each individual is accountable for his/her own potential, and his/her own responsibility to develop that potential. That's not anyone else's right to stick a finger in either. Or so I believe.

I shouldn't be so disturbed that anger is one form of expression leaving a religion takes. I honestly believe everyone does have a right to express themselves, more so in an intellectual setting. It's not like I haven't seen or understood that form of intellectual anger (the site portrays) either. I guess I'm disturbed because of the retrospective view. I'm not fond of anger as an emotional reaction. This is a personal opinion, and thus, not relevant to how other people should conduct themselves. I'm disturbed because I see so much anger in that site, and the people who ply it. The other aspect being the apparent evangelism, even if it is evangelism out of a religion into no particular alternative. Criticism and critical thinking for further study and discussion are high ideals. There should be more critical evaluation of religious faiths, and more questioning as to their relevance to modern challenges. Evangelism and anger tend to distort the focus of study before it has begun. Passion and logic are ill-fated friends.

Or perhaps, anger is a phase by which most voluntary converts find themselves. In that light, it is a necessary phase. In that light too, some do not actually bypass this stage. That's the path they chose for themselves.

Why these issues come up now has largely to do with the segment of my essay I'm researching. It's taken a bit longer than I expected. The reading material is a nightmare of sheer numbers. I've been more disgusted and repelled with Islam than I have in a long time as I worked through the text. The subject of women's advocacy was one of my interests way back when. I'm not unfamiliar with the crimes or the buried abuses. I'm still taken aback by the vast difference in interpretation, how much abuse happens at the slightest shift in language. There is a lot of fork-tongued language at work here, from every side, and trying to distill it into a work with the least obtrusive overriding point of view is hard. Plowing degenerating hadiths is hard. Filing extremist interpretations to get the polar views down is hard. Finding the right words to tell people what the beginning, middle and end would be is hard. Doing this is hard. Why am I still doing this? The prospect of learning something is more rewarding, I think.

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
mokie
Jul. 13th, 2005 05:21 am (UTC)
Part 1...
Some of this may sound odd, or even offensive. I apologize in advance.

I left dead angry. I took it upon myself to provoke every Muslim in my path, family or not, believing very strongly that I had to make them think critically about their religion, that this was for their highest benefit, that they were wrong and I knew better.

I felt the same way when I realized that my father was a selfish prick who never had and never would love me. It might as well have been a religious crisis--we saw him less frequently than we saw Santa when I was little, so he was just as quasi-real, just as much a object of faith. I don't remember when it happened, but one day I just lost that faith, and realized that to him I wasn't even an afterthought. He tried to butter us kids up to butter Mom up, to try to weasel money or sex out of her.

It hurt. I felt so betrayed that to this day it still makes me physically ill to say "Dad." My sisters were significantly younger than I, and Mom refused to badmouth him, preferring to let us make up our own minds, so it seemed obvious to me: I had to tell them the truth. I had to give them all the negatives, make them think, make them see the truth. This was my justification.

In reality, I had to rob them of their faith, because I was so angry at no longer being able to believe. It wasn't even about hurting him back, or getting back at him for that feeling of betrayal; I'd feel better about it if it had been. I just hurt so bad that someone else had to hurt too, so that I wasn't feeling this terrible aloneness and loss by myself.

So I tend to see angry atheists in this same light, God being the ultimate 'deadbeat dad' and all.

This is what I figured out:

No one gives a fuck. Really. No one cares. Theists will remain theists because they're theists, that's just what they do.


And here's where I believe many atheists fall down: they have looked at the evidence and come to a conclusion; they don't understand that others might come to a different conclusion. They don't understand that their disbelief is a belief, not necessarily indisputable fact. In this, many are as stubborn about their beliefs as any religious fundamentalist, stomping and citing science the way said fundamentalist stomp and cite religious texts.

Many theists remain theists for the same reason you became and remain an atheist: because it makes sense to them.

Part 2, coming up...
mokie
Jul. 13th, 2005 05:26 am (UTC)
Re: Part 1...
"This is what I figured out:

No one gives a fuck. Really. No one cares. Theists will remain theists because they're theists, that's just what they do."

This should be quoted to you.

It would be, if LJ's QUOTE button used one consistent form of quotation. Honestly, the damn thing sometimes blockquotes, sometimes italicizes, and sometimes just uses quotation marks. It's nuttifying, man...
vampyrichamster
Jul. 13th, 2005 05:36 am (UTC)
Re: Part 1...
I see angry atheists as people who are firstly, angry. Angry atheists, like angry theists, have different reasons for being that way. I understand your logic though, and agree. Anger not being logic, and not being funneled to fuel logic, is merely anger. Tearing things down feels good.

I also agree that atheism is a belief system. It's not a middle-ground game. Atheism is the polar opposite of theism. Where I said:

"No one gives a fuck. Really. No one cares. Theists will remain theists because they're theists, that's just what they do."

Is more of a reference to, regardless of what atheists do to make a loud noise, the fact remains a theist who has decided theism makes more sense will stick with theism. Also, in the larger view, a lot of people just aren't interested in all this religious criticism. It's not useful to their lives (whether they're atheist or theist), it doesn't help pay the rent. I learnt the hard way, some people just don't want to hear it. :)

I'm sorry if I came off as insulting theists there though, because it wasn't meant to be an insult that way.
mokie
Jul. 13th, 2005 06:50 am (UTC)
Re: Part 1...
Very dig! Most of the angry atheists I've run into are metaphorically stomping out of the store complaining about bait and switch tactics. I need to keep in mind that this is not the universal atheist complaint. :)

And also very much appreciate the clarification on the 'don't care' thing--makes much more sense now, thanks!
vampyrichamster
Jul. 13th, 2005 07:59 am (UTC)
Re: Part 1...
Well, I didn't actually leave Islam because I felt cheated by the religion. The first and foremost issue for me was the issue of control. I didn't feel or see this Big Remote Control in the sky in my life, and religions (in a blanket fashion) seemed to me too obsessed with surrendering control. From a psychological standpoint, I'm a control freak who likes personal responsibility, a lot, and I don't like sharing that control with someone I couldn't logically fathom.

I guess it's because I didn't feel cheated by the religion (I don't think it's the religion's fault, since it's just another point of view) that I was eventually able to stop being angry though.
mokie
Jul. 13th, 2005 05:22 am (UTC)
As an atheist, I stand my ground in that atheism is a level up from theism -- by cutting off one's self from the mollycoddling of a protectionist or decision-making god, one takes responsibility for the self in full. Some people are stronger with their god to fortify their will, that's for them to decide. If believing in god(s) is what allows them to achieve their highest potential as individuals, then it's not anyone's place to take it from them.


I understand that this sort of feeling may be out of one's control, but really that's not much different from theists who look down on atheists as misguided fools or rebels without a clue. I don't look for protection or mollycoddling; I don't think faith is what will push me to my highest potential.

Not to take things personally or try to make this personal; it's just that I can only speak for myself, y'know?

I am, like you, just looking for a way to make sense of the world around me. Whether I live a good life, whether I push myself to be all the mokie I can be, whether I take responsibility for myself as an individual, is all about my choices. I may call on faith and logic to help me make those choices, but I don't try to hide under God's skirts and claim he/she/it or the Devil made me do it, and for all the joking, I've honestly not met many religious-types who'd try to pass the buck that way.

So...what am I trying to say? Hrm.

You're not an apologist. You've come through the worst of the anger and you can now look at the religion for the most part objectively. This is why you have such problems with certain aspects, like the treatment of women and such--because you're no longer loyal to the religion and forced to defend it or loyal to the anger and forced to attack it. You can look at it honestly and offer an objective opinion, and if that opinion is biased by your own beliefs about the treatment of women (etc.), then just be honest and upfront about that.

Angry atheists look for ammunition to use in attacks, proving that they're still running on emotion and not--as they claim and believe--on logic. Don't let them make you feel bad for not being as angry as they are, or for having once been as angry as they are. Life's too short to live by someone else's rules. ;)
mokie
Jul. 13th, 2005 05:27 am (UTC)
"As an atheist, I stand my ground in that atheism is a level up from theism -- by cutting off one's self from the mollycoddling of a protectionist or decision-making god, one takes responsibility for the self in full. Some people are stronger with their god to fortify their will, that's for them to decide. If believing in god(s) is what allows them to achieve their highest potential as individuals, then it's not anyone's place to take it from them."

And again, this bit was afiness...
vampyrichamster
Jul. 13th, 2005 06:28 am (UTC)
*blushes* Where the definition of Afiness is a largely contradictory fluffy evil thing? :)
mokie
Jul. 13th, 2005 07:07 am (UTC)
If you weren't contradictory and fluffy and evil, what would you be?
vampyrichamster
Jul. 13th, 2005 08:01 am (UTC)
The hamster equivalent of Dr. Evil? EEK!
mokie
Jul. 17th, 2005 08:41 pm (UTC)
We have naked ratness in the store!

It's scary how much body heat the little buggers seem to put off. I guess fur distributes that more evenly.
vampyrichamster
Jul. 18th, 2005 04:21 am (UTC)
Poor naked rodents. Breeders must DIIIIIIIEEEEEE!

But as a side note, when my old hamsters got old and hairless, they were very warm too.
vampyrichamster
Jul. 13th, 2005 06:26 am (UTC)
I love your conciliatory popsicles. ;)

"I don't look for protection or mollycoddling; I don't think faith is what will push me to my highest potential.

Not to take things personally or try to make this personal; it's just that I can only speak for myself, y'know?"

That's one of the reasons I personally don't argue with you over this subject. :) My logic isn't bigger than your logic, and your logic may be smarter than my logic (because lo, I look up to your logic), but you'll respect me enough not to smack me for having an opposite view. :) Thus, we respect each other, and don't murder each other for being apostates, because well, we see that seeing others as apostates infringes on their right to a personal view.

In the larger discussion, I admit I have put forth a personal opinion as an atheist that was holier-than-thou, and apologize for it. People do look to beliefs for their own reasons, not just because they want protection or a mental push.

I am also now left to figure out if the religious-type who hides under God's skirts is an atheist myth. Or if they're just politicians. Much food for thought here.

I return now to rebelling violently against violence, and anger, and other such un-Yoda-like values. :)
mokie
Jul. 13th, 2005 07:06 am (UTC)
Poor, dateless Shigure and his conciliatory popsicle... :)

Like I said, sometimes it's hard not to have those "Bah, you fools!" feelings lurking around, even when you consciously try to think tolerant open-minded thoughts at yourself. I know that orange is just a wrong color that belongs on fruit, flowers, traffic cones and nowhere else ever ever ever. As much as I try to be logical and remind myself that others have different opinions and that all things are dependant on circumstances, surrounding colors and cuts and such, deep down, I know that orange is wrong and all orange-lovers are just suffering from retinal damage from repeated exposure to the wrongness that is orange.

Some people refuse to discuss religion or politics; I refuse to discuss complementary colors.

The folks who hide under God's skirt are out there, the ones who want a higher power so that ultimately they're not really responsible for anything, but I think they're fewer in number than it sometimes seems, fortunately. :)
vampyrichamster
Jul. 13th, 2005 08:05 am (UTC)
The fewer they are, the louder they are? Yet in this, I do agree with the ex-Muslim site somewhat: the people who would shrug and leave it to God, or come out of a disaster and attribute it to God, or lose their keys and attribute it to God, are so ingrained into normal, everyday life that most of us subscribe to a higher power without quite realizing it.

Most of it seems to me a kind of social reflex more than it does an actual belief though.
mokie
Jul. 17th, 2005 08:40 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, that seems to be the case--a few loud people seem like a crowd.

And you're right (or the site is, I suppose), in the pervasiveness of passive believe. It all goes back to your own points about religion being pulled out to justify culture--the two become so twisted together that even an average American atheist may thank God when he finds something lost or beseech God when he hears something stupid without ever once actually thinking of this theoretical higher power. These things are no longer religious, they're just...catchphrases. On level with "dude!" and "bodacious" even.
vampyrichamster
Jul. 18th, 2005 04:24 am (UTC)
Or the people who say they only remember God in bed.

I particularly dislike the religious types who'll catch an atheist, for example me, on phrases like, "Oh, my god!" as proof that I still essentially believe in God. These kinds of people really can't wrap their heads around things being a manner of speaking, and these are the ones who are most dangerous, with regards as to how much they'd defend a cultural aspect as a religious one.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )