AN ATHEIST’S GUIDE TO BECOMING RELIGIOUS
by Troy Conrad
Lately, I’ve had many atheists write to me, asking if now is a good time to become religious again. It seems that the departure of the Bush Administration has awoken the vast majority of the atheist community to the simple fact that theocracy is no longer a threat here or abroad. It is high time to embrace what we once called superstition, dust off that Bible lifted in protest from the Holiday Inn, and delve once more into the church, dear friends.
For some, a conversion or reconversion to reverence seems a daunting task. As freethinkers, we’ve gotten a bit rusty in the worship department. When working out the faith muscle, we must start slowly so it doesn’t get overtaxed. Start out at the Joel Osteen level, before you consider going full Falwell. If you’re one of the 5% still on the fence about taking this sacred surge, ponder the inarguable, massive benefit of taking the faith train to Godville.
Huge time savings. Take into account how much time you spend thinking. Now cut that in half. Now cut that in half, and repeat until you reach zero, because you now have a handy-dandy book that makes your decisions for you. As Ted Haggard said: “We don’t have to have a debate about what we should think about homosexuality. It’s written in the Bible.” Add up the time it would have taken you to mentally debate this, and use it to go golfing. It is estimated that by eliminating thinking by 95%, the average American would save 14 hours per week. Based on the new U.S. minimum wage increase, that translates to $5,278 per American each year. That’s almost enough to purchase a Smart Car.
It should be quite clear that there has never been a better time to stop and smell the rosary. Though there are obstacles ahead for the skeptical mind, here are some simple, tested guidelines to help you go from “infidel” to just plain “fidel” in just a few short weeks.
Make meaning out of small things, so that you can be trusted to make meaning out of large things. Before you can calm your inquisitive mind and embrace the idea of a loving, caring, and jealous God, you’ll need to start with baby steps. Reading tea leaves and taking fortune cookies literally is a good start toward making meaning out of everyday situations. Is a tearful image of God’s only Son right there in your bag of Funyons? Has an outline of the savior shown up on your shower curtain? Did your lawnmower leak lubricant, only to leave a loving image of God’s only Son on the garage floor? Course through all snack foods, pre-made burger patties, tortillas (both corn and flour), breakfast flakes, nut mixes, or hastily topped frozen pizzas. If the image of Christ or Mary appears, remind yourself that it is not simply coincidence.
Re-read The God Delusion with a more critical eye. Maybe Richard Dawkins himself was sent to test your faith. Have you considered that maybe the only reason Dawkins even writes books is because he thinks he’s better than you?
Develop your ability to follow orders. For freethinkers who have not been in the military, you have a problem with obedience to authority. This can be remedied by wearing a rubber band around your wrist. Simply snap it against your flesh each time you become inquisitive. Do this every day for 21 days, and obedience will become your second best friend. The virtue of obedience will also prepare you quite well for the workforce should something open up.
Watch The Flintstones. Seeing humans and dinosaurs co-exist again will help free the mind from any previous knowledge of anthropology, paleontology, or history. Likewise, shows like Two and a Half Men will leave you with no compulsion to watch documentaries and other shows that contain information.
Be stingy with your new virginity. Since virginity is restored when you become a Christian, don’t just go and give it away now. You need to save it for marriage or Senior Prom. Post a pledge to Bristol Palin’s abstinence organization, and join Promise Keepers right away to build a solid, iron-clad moral and ethical foundation. Additionally, the purchase of a Smart Car is a great way to keep from losing your virginity in the backseat this time around.
Invent a new controversy. If it’s possible to revive a formerly settled debate such as creation vs. evolution, surely there are scores of other settled controversies to renew. These new debates will bring more validity to your newfound belief system, and balance out all the science that’s stuck in your head. Next time you hear people arguing about abortion, say something like: “Whoa! This is almost as heated as the ‘prayer vs. single payer health care’ debate!”
Use the “caps lock” on your keyboard. Many atheists are prone to using a lower case “g” when typing the word “God.” This habit, left unchecked, is an embarrassing mistake for the newly anointed. Using the caps lock is a foolproof solution, making it impossible to mess up a phrase such as: “MAY GOD BLESS E. E. CUMMINGS.”
White-out the violent parts of the Bible. Let’s be honest. Any book that condones rape, murder, genocide, and incest can be a real bummer. Just memorize the parts with the word “love” if you want to really make a difference.
Put “under God” back in the Pledge. You may have loudly objected to the addition of those two words added to the Pledge of Allegiance during the McCarthy era. Noble at the time, but you’re a believer now. Besides, why not prepare yourself for a visit to Ireland? They’ve just passed a bold new Anti-blasphemy Law. It would be rude and illegal to omit “under God” when saying the Pledge in the Emerald Isle.
Write down what you would like your City of Gold to look like. You’re going to get one when you die (Revelation 21:18), so sit down and design your city intelligently. Gold is currently near an all-time high, so guess who just picked a great time to be a Christian?
Purchase a firearm. God loves you now, and you’ve taken an oath to “treat your body as a temple.” If someone is loitering near your temple, you better have the stopping power to keep it looking good. A .50 caliber Smith & Wesson will clear out anyone’s temple. Though Christianity is a religion of peace, there’s a nugget of wisdom in the phrase: “Kill ‘em all, and let God sort ‘em out.”
Try a night of gay sex. If you end up liking it, you will meet more people to share your faith with. If you end up disliking it, then your repentance and faith will just get stronger. Either way, God wins.
(Note: Though it’s our responsibility to vote against same-sex marriage, same sex-one-night-hookups are not specifically forbidden by name in the Book of Leviticus.)
It is my hope that these steps to religiosity can help spark a return to the peacefulness of the Middle Ages. I am currently compiling some tips for nonbelievers with a background in Islam, so that they, too, can enjoy the massive benefits of a religious society. So, my fellow former-faithless friends… I am glad that we can all be a part of this new “beginning of faith” together, and I look forward to seeing you all at the Sunday meetups. I’ll be the guy in the Smart Car.
Troy Conrad is a comic, writer, and filmmaker living in Los Angeles. He is the creator of The Comedy Jesus Show, which toured internationally, and has just received distribution on DVD. He is featured in the upcoming Paul Provenza book “Satiristas” with Janeane Garafalo, Stephen Colbert, and George Carlin. To see videos from The Comedy Jesus Show, go to www.atheistcomedy.com or subscribe to “comedyjesus” on Youtube.
This blog will be different for me since this one won’t be loaded with facts, figures, cites and other drab blather that I normally write. This blog is about respecting religious views. Faith. An illogical belief that is devoid of proof. Where else in our discourse do we actually use this word properly? I don’t mean the colloquial meaning, in sentences such as “I have faith in him/her”. For instance, when has anybody (that isn’t completely deranged) actually had faith in any material object? For those that do, society tends to pluck up out and have them reside in a special rooms with padded walls. Why? Because it is obvious that any unjustified and illogical belief in material objects is absurd. So then, why do we tolerate it when the faith is in something that we can not see and is not material? It seems to be that this is far more absurd of the two choices because in the first, at the very least, the material object’s existence can be objectively verified. This is not so with the later case. Back to the original question. If we can lock people away in loony bins for believing illogical and wholly unjustified beliefs about reality and material objects why can’t we lock away or merely question these people and make them defend their claims. Here’s where the problem of respect rears it’s ugly head. The reason is, society has deemed faith a virtue, for reasons that baffle and confuse me. If there is one sociological question I want conclusively answered, it is why this obviously failed way of thinking has gained the attribute of being a virtue. Patience is a virtue, and honestly, when it comes to this topic, I’m out of it. Faith isn’t a virtue anymore than Tinker Bell is. Having faith is something we grow out of as children once we attain more concrete knowledge for ourselves about the world around us. Much like we grow out of having constant temper tantrums for all manner of reasons and crying when our mother leaves to go the store. We should not, under any circumstances, be required to respect this view anymore than we respect peoples views and beliefs about anything else in our discourse. Imagine a world in which you’d be admonished for questioning someone’s opinion that the Holocaust never took place or about their political views. That’s the road to fascism and theocracy, paved with the assault on our freedom of speech. Faith isn’t worthy of respect because it has no attributes worth respecting. Religion, all religion, in the same breath is lacking in components that deserve our respect at all. People will respect others out of empathy for one another. However, views are part of who the person is, and thus, contrary to popular belief, if you don’t respect someone’s views, beliefs or faith that doesn’t mean you don’t respect them as people. All the proof you need for this is the scientific community. Pick up any peer-review journal and you’ll be inundated with humbleness and criticism. And yet their aren’t radical groups of scientists roaming about threatening people with death for blaspheming the Theory of Evolution. The goal should be for humans to understand one another and respect each other, NOT our views and beliefs about reality. Let all those that feel it isn’t ok or “right” to question and criticize the religions beliefs of other people, what are you scared of? That we might convince others, and quite rightly, that religion may in fact be outdated and no longer serves our species a purpose? Atheists/agnostics/humanists/freethinkers, don’t be afraid to question or criticize the beliefs of others, especially religious beliefs because it’s socially taboo. You have the right of free speech, for now. Use it. It make be the very thing that guarantees you that right in the future.
Metro State Atheists