“Freedom of Religion” by John Reed

This article is a continuation of: https://johnreedforpresident.home.blog/2019/05/23/my-atheist-god/

Just a few hours ago, I had a thought. The thought wasn’t true, but the thought was that a person was attacking my faith. Not my Christian faith, but my atheist faith. Allow me to explain.

My atheism is like a faith in and of itself. I built my life on the assumption that I will not have an afterlife. For example, because I never believed that I will have an afterlife, I invested heavily into health (diet and exercise) and even went into pre-med in my younger years. My thinking was that if I don’t have an afterlife, then all I have is this life, and for that reason, I want this life to last a long time. The longer this life is, the more time I will have. This is an assumption that I made which was guided by my belief, or my faith, that there will not be an afterlife. This is an assumption that I made, and I built my life on this assumption. It has influenced my decisions and shaped my system of beliefs.

Now imagine that someone who was very religious confronted me and told me that my belief was heresy, that there is an afterlife, and that I will go to hell for my belief. As a non-religious person, I would perceive this as more than just an attack on an idea or a belief that I hold. I would perceive it as an attack on me. One’s beliefs are built on top of their faith, and an attack on one’s faith is perceived as an attack on them. It is perceived as a personal attack. It is a form of persecution.

Ultimately, the way I generally see the world is that human actions are dictated by the humans themselves and not by God. I see a rock, and I am the one who moves my hand to touch it, not God. My God doesn’t actually do anything – people do things, and God (if God exists) sort of just watches. This is how I perceive the world. My sense of “good love” and “evil hate” is on the inside, and if God is love, then my God is, like me feeling of Love, on the inside. For example, I could imagine that there is like a little God in each of us. Sometimes I can sort of imagine something over my shoulder, but in general I don’t see a God on the outside. Some people might see a person move and think that God moved that person. I see that person as having moved themself the way I move myself. I usually do not have an external sense of God.

Some atheists seem sort of anti-religion or anti-Christian. There were even stories of people who attacked, burned, or blew up churches (hopefully with no people in them). The story at this link might just be “Fake News” that was generated as part of the investigation into Russian Intelligence’s attempt to pit Americans against one another using the media (ex. Facebook ads and news), but let’s assume for a second that this story about an atheist running around burning Black churches is real. In general I think what is really happening in real attacks by atheists on churches is that these (usually crazy) non-religious people perceive that Christianity is threatening their atheist faith, and this is their response. This really isn’t that different from a (crazy) Muslim blowing up a Christian church or a (crazy) Christian blowing up a Muslim mosque. Ultimately, just like these faiths, I see atheism as a faith that one has, and if a religious person says “no, there is a God, you are wrong and you are going to hell for it”, that is like an attack on an atheist’s faith. Atheists just sort of assume that they are right (and this belief that they have, if it is true, means that, from their perspective, someone else’s belief to the contrary is not true). They can’t actually prove this belief that they have to other people, so their atheism is a faith that they have. They have faith that there isn’t a God (at least in the outside world) and that there isn’t an afterlife. This is a belief that they hold. This belief is true TO THEM, and they operate under the assumption that this belief that they hold is true, just like religious people operate under the assumption that there is a God and that this belief that they hold is true. Ultimately, a religious person can point and say “look, God!”, and an atheist can point the same way that the religious person is pointing and say “I see no God!”, and they can do this all day long and make zero forward progress. Ultimately the atheist is assuming that their belief is right and the religious person is assuming that their belief is right. The atheist can’t actually disprove the other person’s belief and the theist can’t actually disprove the atheist’s belief. They both just sort of have the way they see the world, and their reality and their belief is based on that. Regardless of how much each person believes “I am right”, they can’t actually change the way another person perceives the world.

I was never a religious person, and that was true for my entire life. I never saw anything as an act of God. Everything I did or everything that other people did I always saw as an act of people, not of God. If I did sort of imagine something over my shoulder or above me, that thing that I imagined never did anything. From my perspective, absolutely nothing that happens is an act of God. That is the way that I see the world. That is my faith.

Does this mean that I should attack other people’s faiths? Absolutely not. My faith is my faith and your faith is your faith. An attack on my faith is an attack on me just as an attack on your faith is an attack on you. Ultimately, the more someone thinks that their faith is under attack, the more they will want to respond or retaliate. This is true even if they just think that their faith is under attack, even if it isn’t actually under attack. If atheists believe that their atheism is under attack by very religious people, this will probably provoke a response from them. Maybe they will respond by doubling down on their atheism in response to this perceived threat on their belief system. This is equally true for religious people. If atheists attack their belief system, and they feel threatened by it, they will probably double down on their beliefs. If I recall correctly, sales of the Bible actually went up after Richard Dawkins published a book called “The God Delusion”. Richard Dawkins actually believes that he is right and that most of the rest of the population is wrong, and this is a belief that he holds, and to be honest it’s not something that he can actually prove to other people. A religious person can point up at the sky and say that they see God there, and then Richard Dawkins can pull out a video camera and say “no look – look at this video tape directed at the exact spot where you are pointing your finger – no God here”, and they can do this literally all day long and make zero forward progress. Ultimately, people have their belief, and it is their belief, and ultimately atheism is just a belief just as theism is just a belief. My belief is my belief, and I do not want anyone attacking or persecuting it. That is why, when it comes to Freedom of Religion, I believe that each individual’s faith must be protected from persecution. I believe that an attack on a person’s faith is an attack on them. No one’s faith should be under attack and no one should feel personally persecuted for their personal faith. Your God is your God and your faith is your faith. Freedom of religion for all (including people who aren’t religious).

Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1131299319531937792

My Atheist God

For all practical purposes, I am an atheist, but my atheism is still sort of like a faith in and of itself. For all the religious people out there, I would like to introduce you to my Atheist God.

As a person, I have a lot of love, but it is internal rather than external. I feel it in my chest, and I love myself immensely (although I used to fucking hate myself). I am very much drawn to things that I love, and very opposed to the opposite. This is what pushes me towards certain things, this feeling that I have about things. I see indulging in things which are more like “impulses” or “pleasures” as sins (see related: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1098271065917325312). So things like cigarettes, gambling, fucking (not like people who you are actually attracted to, but like the impulsive kind), gorging on candies, etc. Like to me eating junk food when there is a healthier optional available is bad or sinful, and good is achieved through discipline (like self discipline) and love (like self love). To me sinful acts are like engaging in pleasure without purpose – hedonism. I believe that hedonism is bad. It looks superficially appealing or “glam”, but it is bad and I do not love it. I actually hate it. It is a waste of time and counterproductive to the purpose of life, or at least of your life. My current theory of moralist is loosely based on Kant’s second formula of the Categorical Imperative, which states “Always treat others as ends and not means”.

Going back to the subject of sin or hedonism, some people kind of get drawn to it when they have nothing more important to pursue in life. For example, when I was younger I disliked my life and wanted to kill a lot of time and became engrossed in a video game addiction. It is meaningless. Writing a piece of software for someone at least has meaning, but video games are just sort of a waste of life. In a similar way, building a business has meaning for some people, but gambling is a waste of life. I personally am more into technology than money, but it’s the same idea. It’s people throwing their life away to sin or hedonism in order to fill a lacking.

As an atheist person, I see the world differently than theist people do. Everything I do is a conscious decision on my part. If I don’t make any conscious decisions, I will basically just lie there and do nothing. Or maybe my legs will get kind of restless lying there, so then I will move them to ease the restlessness in my legs, but that’s still a conscious decision coming from me. My God (which is generally non-existent from my perspective) makes absolutely zero decisions for me. I make the decisions, and my God is just kind of inside me, or maybe she just kind of floats there and does nothing. Whether my sense of God is inside me, just over my shoulder, or floating (invisible) like 20 feet above the ground, she does nothing. She just kind of is. I am her. We are one. I feel love in my chest, and that’s my God. I think God is love, but my God doesn’t do anything, and she usually isn’t on the outside.

I guess one reason for my atheism is that regardless of whether my God is inside me, over my shoulder, or above me, my God is for all practical purposes impotent. I am the one who does everything. She doesn’t do anything.

Yesterday on an airplane I listened to a religious women sitting next to me talk. The subject that we were talking about was abortion and the concept of “pro life”. I mentioned that women have periods all the time and that sperm meets egg forming a fertilized cell that can and often does just get menstruated right out. “We know that about half of fertilized eggs never stick around. They just pass out of the woman’s body” (see: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1080710333147332608). If God put a soul in a cell when sperm fertilizes egg, then my (hypothetical) decision to have unprotected sex with a women during or just before her period would be murder because I would be creating a soul that is then extinguished through menstruation. She (the conservative woman) replied that that doesn’t count because that’s not intentional where as abortion is intentional. My response, which I didn’t say out loud, is to me everything is intentional. God doesn’t do shit. On rare occasions I will think that something is a strange coincidence and maybe that coincidence was an act of God, but then I realize that it was just a coincidence.

Going back to the topic of abortion, if the unborn baby is at eight and a half months old it’s a fucking baby – do a cesarean section for Christ’s sake. This situation was avoidable. A good medical doctor should know this stuff and be able to figure out what the right course of action is, and everyone should have access to a good medical doctor. Medical doctors shouldn’t do medicine for the money. Saving and fixing human people isn’t supposed to be a for profit thing. There shouldn’t be people who “slip through the cracks” or “can’t get care” in the medical system because the existing US medical system is this bloated, disorganized, decentralized, beauraucratic piece of shit that was formed by compromising with stupid, greedy, and even heartless people who frankly should have been told to go fuck themselves. The CEO, shareholders, and board of directors of [BLAH] healthcare company already have a shit ton of money. They don’t need any more money, so they can go fuck themselves. The same is true for the people who collect undergraduate student tuition (50 grand a year? Seriously? What a waste of fucking cash – I went to state school and made good money – private university is a bad investment for the vast majority of people). The cost of undergraduate universities in the US is crazy high, and the big loans that people get don’t exactly force them to pick the lowest price, causing people to pay for bloated “premium” education with lots of “fluff“. Both the hospitals and the universities are bloated fluff services with poor competition and excessive adverting (which looks kind of like catchy sin to me). The medical sector and the higher education sector could use some control from a higher hand. The higher hand of top-down executive control!

Anyway, going back to the story, I was saying that to me everything that I do is intentional (and not an act of God, although to be honest I sort of have this “Messiah Complex” thing where I think that I am like a little God or that God is inside me or something like that, but at the very least I don’t believe that what I do is the result of action taken by an EXTERNAL god who is not me, if that makes any sense). This includes bad things that I do or that I could do (but in general I don’t actually want to do these sorts of things). For example, if I pick up a baseball bat and hit a person on the head with it like Babe Ruth hitting a home run ball, that is intentional. I just (in the hypothetical) made the decision to kill a person with a baseball bat and then did it. That wasn’t the decision of the Devil. That was a decision that I made. If there is a Devil, my Devil, then my Devil doesn’t actually do anything. I mean yeah I get a feeling inside that killing a person by hitting them on the head with a baseball bat is bad, but that feeling is from inside the same way that my feeling of Love is from inside. My “God” or my “Devil” is inside and they don’t actually do anything – I do everything. I exert “top-down executive control” over myself – I am like my own internal God and Devil. Maybe because they are inside, I don’t see any God or Devil or anything on the outside. The closest I get is maybe an invisible feeling or something from over my shoulder or maybe a little above me, but I think that originates from inside my head. In addition, my thinking is basically that even if they (Love/God or Hate/Devil) aren’t there (which they usually are not from my perspective), it generally doesn’t make a difference because they (God/Devil) do nothing (and to me aren’t even real). I’m the one who is doing stuff, not God or the Devil. The hand of God or the Devil or whatever doesn’t move me. I move my hand, not God, and they are just there, as feelings or something from inside me.

I basically don’t have a God or a Devil or whatever (at least not from my perspective) because they are just me. I am like the God or Devil or whatever.

In addition, I think the height of my ego has something to do with my sense of worship (or perhaps has some connection with my “Messiah Complex”, which I do believe that I have, like in this Twitter thread). Pete Buttigieg said that the decision for him to be gay (a same-sex attracted male) was made “way above my pay grade ☝️”. He was referring to his God, which is way above him. My God isn’t way above me. I’m a little like Donald Trump in that I have this big tall ego, so my God isn’t that far above me. Maybe I can get up to the height of my (imaginary) God with a ladder. Maybe if I am feeling grandiose, my God or Jesus or whatever and I are at about the same height. I think that Jesus was just a flesh and blood human who I could have just made eye contact and said “hi” to if we were both living in Galilee around the year 20 AD. We wouldn’t be talking in English, but still. I don’t think of Jesus as this magic man (see: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1106262368500269056 ). Maybe other people thought that, but I think if video cameras existed at that time and the whole thing was on video tape, I don’t think it actually would have looked that way on video tape.

Was Jesus super incredibly influential? Yeah, but so was Adolf Hitler, and he wasn’t magic. Maybe some people thought he was (he thought was the Messiah or something, and the name he gave to himself, “der Führer”, meaning “the Leader” sort of connotes this greatness which other people bought into), but that’s not actually magic like Harry Potter kind of magic. That is more like emotional influential force. Every time a politician (or preacher) gets up on stage and gives a speech, they are sort of exerting emotional influential force. Some speakers exert more emotional influential force than others, but it’s still coming from a flesh and blood human person. Donald Trump may have given off the impression of being this super great thing that is 20 feet tall, but he’s actually this 243 pound man in his 70’s who is six feet three inches tall. If you were sitting next to him, you could poke him with your finger. Some people are more or less emotionally influential that other people, but they are all still flesh and blood people, and that includes Jesus (when he was alive, at least).

On the subject of very emotionally influential people, I think it is really important to use emotional influence for good rather than evil. Some people are really dumb and uninformed, and they will believe shit with no proof just because some emotionally influential person said it or preached it. Looking at Adolf Hitler’s quotes, I think he was aware of this:

People will believe things that politicians and preachers say even if there is no evidence, and based on Adolf Hitler’s quotes, I think he knew that he was lying. A person who fact checks everything to make sure it is true wouldn’t say “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

Hitler favored science over religion, but his science wasn’t actually based on true facts. Like look at these “Nazi Scientists”:

Measuring skulls (circumference of the skull, etc) is bullshit science. Like it’s one thing if a scientist gathers objective information, puts that information together, and then comes up with some conclusion that is derived from that factually correct objective information, but this is more like smart people intentionally seeking out information that props up something that they already believe which isn’t actually true. It’s bad science.

I can relate to Adolf Hitler a little bit, what with the ego, science, atheism, intelligence, and even an un-attraction away from or a response to physical cash money (*ugh*) [I dislike money – I would rather live in a tent than a gold mansion], but this is just wrong. I mean maybe if he had good mental health and positive, healthy relationships with his parents (there is something kind of Freudian about one’s God) he wouldn’t have lead the German people to commit mass murder. Also, there were bad economic times and a stupid post WWI policy that produced a massive economic problem that contributed to the rise of anger or hate (sort of like the Great Recession did while Obama was President), but after the WWI economic problem Hitler definitely contributed to the whole genocide thing.

Anyway, changing the subject a little bit, I think Bernie Sanders has emotional influence when he speaks, and he influences his followers, but he comes up with stupid shit like changing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15.00. You can’t just change the wage from $7.25 to $15.00. That’s not how it works. You consult with economists who set up a plan to gradually increase it over a period of several years to a mathematically calculated inflation adjusted number, which by the way isn’t as high as $15.00. I think Bernie just picked a number that sounded good and said it over and over again. He’s got leadership skills, and I believe his intentions are good, but I honestly don’t think he’s that smart. My preference for him is based on the assumption that he will have someone smarter and more practical (like Elizabeth Warren) behind him, keeping him from doing something stupid.

What was I talking about again? Oh, yeah, I’m not religious. Also, vote for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

  • John

Blog post from Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1131606452626309120

Continuation blog post: https://johnreedforpresident.home.blog/2019/05/28/freedom-of-religion-by-john-reed/

Related tweet: https://twitter.com/JohnReedForPres/status/1128532309983076353