10 atheist quotes and my thoughts

I sometimes check in with the bel.la on.line forum, married no kids. I found this site when I was trying to understand the decision of my DSIL and DBIL. They really wanted kids and pursued the tx they were comfortable with, but ultimately decided that their lives would move forward without children. There was more tx they could have tried; they considered adoption but didn’t feel called to it, etc. etc. You never know, they could still experience a miracle pgcy – but after at least a year of heartache and prayer and lots of holding onto and talking to each other, this is the path that fit for them.

I had a hard time imagining this, and that is how I ended up discovering blogs and this bel.la site. IF is always near to my heart and just a part of who I am, and I suppose I have an interest in learning from the courage and heroism of ‘ordinary people’ facing all kinds of struggles – Child free not by choice; single with a strong calling to be married, but not having found their partner; those going through the agonies of IF; those who will always have a part of themselves grieving a baby(ies) lost …..

Anyway, a new thread caught my eye on atheist quotes. Now I am feeling more and more called to follow my RC faith, but some of the people dearest to me are agnostic (non-believers) – both my parents, my grandpa M, some of my friends etc. Interestingly, I would say I often see them being more ‘christian’ than some people who do have the official title of christian! Anyway religion is a topic that comes up with these very loved ones of mine, so I was interested in these quotes. Here are the 10 in the post, and my thoughts about them ….

“It is an interesting and demonstrable fact, that all children are atheists and were religion not inculcated into their minds, they would remain so.” – Ernestine Rose (Jewish feminist and atheist)

Very interesting! I wonder if this is true? Given that all civilizations appear to have some outreach to God, or Gods, I think that we have within us a kind of sense for His divine presence. We have eyes specialized to detect light, ears specialized to detect sound, skin receptors that detect touch … and in our development the brain learns to make sense of the information being received. If we do have something that detects the presence and movement of God within us, I would question the truth of this statement. Of course, I have not done the research on it to support my hypothesis either!

“Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites.” – Thomas Jefferson (Third U.S. President and principal author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence)

Sadly I do find that sometimes the most religious people (of any denomination, including RC) also appear to be the most hypocritical. Anyway, as I understand God, burning, torturing etc. is NOT the way to come to a greater knowledge of HIs love and tenderness. So why did this coercive approach hold sway? I would call it the work of Satan, playing upon our desire for power, riches, importance etc.

“It is convenient that there be gods, and, as it is convenient, let us believe there are.” -Ovid (Ancient Roman classical Poet and Author of Metamorphoses, 43 BC-17)

Hee hee hee! This one reminds me of one of my Dad’s favourite quotes: If God did not already exist, it would be necessary to invent him. (my Dad does not believe, or at least he says he does not, but I am hoping there is a bit of him that does!!! I pray for him certainly). Anyway a lot of people do believe that the raison d’être for claiming the existance of God is that this kind of belief has a socializing force. I really do believe God exists, however that has not been especially convenient for me personally. Every time I take another step along the faith journey, I find there are hardships and things I need to change that I don’t especially want to change, and also I end up facing truths about myself that I would really rather not face. HOwever the ‘fruits’ of these steps forward ultimately feel right – more like real life, real joy, real freedom … though there are always struggles (currently: struggling with the idea of fasting, of giving up red wine, at least my daily glass; of finding time – somehow, somewhere – to pray more often).

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?” – Epicurus (ancient Greek philosopher – I have found evidence that this quote is usually attributed to be his but may not be so.)

What a great quote – it goes to the heart of why so many people find they honestly just cannot see the logic of God’s existence. I went through this struggle and found that the book ‘when bad things happen to good people’ by Rabbi Kushner was spot on for me. Everything just made sense after I read this book. The heart of the idea was that God created us (I believe, through evolution, but that is another contentious issue) with Free Will. We have to live the consequences of our choices. Other people’s choices also affect us. Why is there so much IF in the world today? I believe pollution – caused by the choices of humans – is a big reason. Why are some people ultimately blessed with children and others not – does God intervene? I don’t believe some are more worthy and others not. I do believe that bringing our situation in prayer brings us closer to God. I don’t believe he automatically dispenses the blessings we ask because we have said the right number of prayers.
so, for me, it comes down to the issue of God is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful – but he created us with free will, set the laws of physics, and he isn’t going to start altering the law of gravity here and there, or it wouldn’t be a law of gravity. Part of how I connect with God is through the amazing beauty and logic of the universe – that wouldn’t exist if God played favourites.

“Creationists make it sound like a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night “ – Isaac Asimov (author)

Um. I have to agree with this – creationism, as I have heard it, does not fit the category of a theory, as in something you can test. The scientist in me does not consider it a theory in the same way as the theory of evolution or the theory of matter, which can be tested, disproved (but never proved – you can only disprove a theory or support it, you can never prove it definitively, as I understand the definition).

“It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand” – Mark Twain (author)

I do understand where he is coming from. The Old Testament has some terribly disturbing parts in it. I think somewhere there is the story of angels coming to visit Lot, near the town of Sodom. Men in the village who want to force themselves on the visiting angels come to demand them. Lot offers them his daughters instead. (!) Or the story of David and Bathsheba. I find it extremely disturbing. Or how often the psalms totally do not exemplify love and respect and praying for the enemy, but instead give thanks for how many were killed and the like. Yes, I understand the context was different – women were more like possessions than people; God was seen not as loving to all but as vengeful, etc. I still find it hard to comprehend.

“Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense” – Chapman Cohen (atheist and Bristish Freethought activist)

I don’t agree with this. I pursued science as a study and find that it brings me closer to God, as you see such miracles in dissection or under a microscope. When you realize how the formulae for calculating the law of Gravitation attraction (think how huge planets etc are) and the law of electrical attraction (think how tiny electrons are!) … when you see numbers like ‘e’ show up consistently in the oddest places – to me it is like a clue or a fingerprint of God.

“If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul” – Isaac Asimov (author)

I have to agree with this also. I think many agnostics and atheists have done a lot more true searching and questioning about their faith, and are more honest in a way, then those who are afraid to delve into and explore their faith. Now this is a bias of mine and I am afraid I am overly critical here, just because I am the type of person that always has to know WHY. (it drives hubby crazy! He would like me to just do things his way sometimes, without me asking why he thinks that is better).

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further” – Richard Dawkins (Evolution Biologist and author)

Well, it is true that I do not believe in a faith that has many Gods. However I do think that the people who do are aware of God’s existence, they just understand Him in a different way. Of course I think that my way is closer to the truth, or else I would be with them in their faith … but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect their beliefs. They may well understand some things about God better than I do. I just find that the RC path is the one that, when it comes down to it, seems the most accurate to me. Everyone who is a sincere follower of a different faith will re-state that with their own path in there. What if we all lived our faiths out of love (not the burning desire to be right, to have power over another, or to be better off materially)?

“To you I’m an atheist; to God, I’m the Loyal Opposition” – Woody Allen (actor)

I have to say I love this quote! I am not quite sure why. I guess because I do believe in the value of really questioning and probing, and I need to be satisfied on an intellectual level. However I do believe that the intellect can only carry us so far, and we do need to allow our hearts and our instincts, our spiritual beings, to be part of what guides our path.

So, there are some thoughts for tonight. Long post! Can you guess I should be marking and getting report cards ready ??? 🙂

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One thought on “10 atheist quotes and my thoughts

  1. CM says:

    Nothing like procrastinating, particularly when you can find interesting subject matter! 😉 Thanks for sharing these quotes and your thoughts on them. I particularly liked that you didn’t just dismiss them all out of hand. I think that atheists do have a lot of good points, I just think that in the end the points are more in favor of God.

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