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.
Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise. – James Madison
This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it. – John Adams
Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies. – Thomas Jefferson
Man is a marvelous curiosity…he thinks he is the Creator’s pet…he even believes the Creator loves him; has a passion for him; sits up nights to admire him; yes and watch over him and keep him out of trouble. He prays to him and thinks He listens. Isn’t it a quaint idea. – Mark Twain
All thinking men are atheists. – Ernest Hemingway
It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him. – Arthur C. Clarke
A man is not moral because he is obedient through fear or ignorance. Morality lives in the realm of perceived obligation… – Robert Ingersoll
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. – Karl Marx
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. – George Bernard Shaw
Creationists make it sound like a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night. – Isaac Asimov
We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. – Richard Dawkins
“The time for respecting religous beliefs of that sort has long past”-Sam Harris at Idea City 05
“Thou shalt not take anything on faith”-Penn Jillette
“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
— Stephen Roberts
“Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.”
“Only Sheep need a shepherd!”
“God is not dead. He is alive and working on a much less ambitious project.”
— graffito (1975), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations
“Appraise the Lord: Tax church property.”
— bumper sticker
“Humanity without religion is like a serial killer without a chainsaw.”
“Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color.”
“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”
“The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.”
— Denis Diderot
“the trouble with theocracy is that everyone wants to be Theo.”
— James Dunn
“Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet.”
–Napoleon Bonaparte, French emperor (1769-1821).
“The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.”
–Ferdinand Magellan, (1480–1521), Portuguese navigator: discoverer of the Straits of Magellan 1520 and the Philippines 1521.
“Clearly the person who accepts the Church as an infallible guide will believe whatever the Church teaches.”
— Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) Roman Catholic philosopher
“Don’t you know there ain’t no devil, it’s just god when he’s drunk.”
— Tom Waits
“An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support.”
— John Buchan
“The atheist does not say ‘there is no God,’ but he says ‘I know not what you mean by God; I am without idea of God’; the word ‘God’ is to me a sound conveying no clear or distinct affirmation. … The Bible God I deny; the Christian God I disbelieve in; but I am not rash enough to say there is no God as long as you tell me you are unprepared to define God to me.”
— Charles Bradlaugh, ‘Plea for Atheism’
Eskimo: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?”
Priest: “No, not if you did not know.”
Eskimo: “Then why did you tell me?”
— Annie Dillard, ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’
“I give money for church organs in the hope the organ music will distract the congregation’s attention from the rest of the service.”
— Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)
“Gods always behave like the people who created them”
— Zora Neale Hurston
“Gods are fragile things; they may be killed by a whiff of science or a dose of common sense.”
— Chapman Cohen
“Pray: To ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.”
— Ambrose Bierce
“I still say a church steeple with a lightening rod on top shows a lack of confidence.”
— Doug McLeod
“We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”
— H. L. Mencken
“Men never commit evil so fully and joyfuly as when they do it for religious convictions”
— Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
“Man has never been the same since God died. He has taken it very hard.”
“The world holds two classes of men – intelligent men without religion, and religious men without intelligence.”
— Abu Ala Al-Ma’arri (???? – 1059)
“No philosophy, no religion, has ever brought so glad a message to the world as this good news of Atheism.”
–Annie Wood Besant (1847-1933)
“Hey, let’s get serious… God knows what he’s doin’ He wrote this book here And the book says: ‘He made us all to be just like Him’, So… If we’re dumb… Then God is dumb… (And maybe even a little ugly on the side)”
– -Frank Zappa
“God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.”
“You know your god is man-made when he hates all the same people you do.”
“Atheism is a non-prophet organization”
“Organizing atheists is like hurding cats”
— Madalyn Murray O’Hair
“In the absence of fear there is little faith.”
— Michael Pain
“If atheists are deaf to the word of God, then theists are blind to the ways of man.”
— Michael Pain
“You’ll never find a dead Christian in a foxhole who didn’t pray.”
“On the sixth day, God created man. On the seventh day, man returned the favor.”
“Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.”
“For god so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son,
that whosoever would believe in him would believe in anything.”
“Theists think all gods but theirs are false. Atheists simply don’t make an exception for the last one.”
“Fundamentalism means never having to say ‘I’m wrong.'”
“Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day;
Give him a religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish”
“You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?”
— Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith