Labeling myself

Our society is obsessed with labels.  While they are often crude, stereotypical and used to divide individuals from a group, they are integral in our society.  The nice things about labels, however, is that we decide what they mean.  We can choose how to label ourselves to include ourselves in a group of like-minded people. Outsiders to that group may not like the label, and may even disagree on what the label actually means, but what really matter is what members of that group consider to be their values.

I have made some changes in my life that have made me rethink the groups I am associated with and helped me define the kinds of labels that should define me.  I made these decisions a couple of years ago, but was closed about it in public because I was unsure of my personal beliefs.  I have had time to decide what it is that I do believe and with which groups and labels I wish to associate myself.  Now that I know what I believe and how I want to be known I am coming out and labeling myself publicly for the first time.

There are three labels that I have decided to associate myself with.  I will list the labels that I have chosen, the reasons I have chosen them and most importantly, what that label means to me.  As I said before, others outside these groups may consider these labels differently, so I will explain what that means from my perspective.

Firstly, I am an atheist.  As an atheist I do not believe in a God or Gods.  I do not believe in Zeus, Thor, Apollo, Ra, Jesus or God the Father.  I do not believe that there is a being who is watching over me, blessing me or judging my behavior.  I also do not believe that the universe was created by a consciousness. That is all that being an atheist means.  It doesn’t mean that I am a devil worshiper.  It doesn’t mean that I immoral.  It doesn’t mean that I eat babies.  All it means is that I do not believe in any form of a God or Gods.

Second, I am a materialist. A materialist sees reality as the physical matter of which is it composed. Thought, feelings and will can all be defined in terms of matter and physical phenomena. I am a collection of the nerve impulses and synapses in my brain responding to physical stimuli.  I do not believe in a soul, a spirit or a part of myself that is not my physical body.  I am my body and when I die my brain will no longer send those impulses and I will cease to be.

Third, I am a humanist. A humanist is someone who believes that life is fragile and that it matters. That each individual who is lucky enough to have one has the rights to have a good one. It is amazing that we exist at all and we should go out of our way to help those in need, because this is the only life that we get.  Everyone who has one has a fundamental right to have the opportunity of a pleasant one.  Those who have enough to survive, or who have excess, should give and donate to those who do not, so that they may experience the basic rights and necessities of life to survive and be happy.

This is who I am and how I choose to define myself.  I was not raised with these ideals, but developed them over time after years of observation and thought.  I used to be religious. I enjoyed spending time with like-minded individuals who supported my beliefs, but I have left that behind me and found a new identity.  One that I love and that makes me happier than I was before.

My goal with this blog is to share my journey from being a Mormon to becoming an atheist, why I changed my ways of thinking and how I feel now.  I will be sharing a lot of scientific principles and discoveries that helped me to make my decisions, along with future discoveries that reinforce those beliefs and expand my knowledge of this fascinating universe that we live in.

I will be talking a lot about how atheists are perceived in the U.S. and how I have lost friends because of my decisions. I will criticize religion.  I will post anti-religious ideas and images.  I do this not to anger those who have those beliefs or to persecute them, but because being critical is part of life and especially science.  Any group that says not to doubt, not to seek other sources or think about alternative views is destructive to the human experience.  Religion gives answers and says not to doubt them. Science asks questions and doubts the answers until the evidence can be tested, retested, verified and upheld, and can even then be refuted and tossed out when further discoveries are made.

As will become the norm, I will end these blogs with a quote or a comic.  I will do both for my first.

“I am not an atheist because I am mad at your god. I am not an atheist because I love sin. I am not an atheist because I don’t want to answer to authority. I am an atheist because I sought the truth about reality. I have accepted nature and my place in the universe. I will live and I will die. I wish to leave this world knowing that I did my best. I hope our descendants inherit a world that can sustain them.” – Mike Autrey

I had to add a second quote to fit in with my last point.

“Truth does not ask to be believed. It asks to be tested. Scientists do not join hands every Saturday or Sunday and sing, ‘Yes. Gravity is real! I know gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down, down. Amen!’ If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about the concept.” – Dan Barker

Finally, a comic.

 

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you are all well.

RJ

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6 responses to “Labeling myself

  • James

    I enjoyed reading your about your journey from Mormonism to atheism. It is certainly true that the Mormon Church does not want their believers to challenge or question the faith. Many, and I mean many, LDS missionaries have been sent home from their missions for asking challenging questions. I do have to say that what separates genuine biblical Christianity from Mormonism is the ability to challenge and ask questions. Mormonism is ojectively false, but the Bible and real Christianity is objectively true. I believe the bible for many reasons, and one of those reasons is evidence. There is no shortage of evidence for the Bible. I urge you not to project your experince from the LDS church on to Biblical Christianity. There is a difference.

    • Rune von Freiburg

      if you really have evidence for the christian God being true then why haven’t you collected the 1 million dollar prize from the Randi foundation? Or accepted your nobel prize for the most amazing breakthrough in science ever?

      Could it be because all of your so-called “evidence” does not meet the standards of science and are therefore not actually evidence?

  • ryjake

    James, which version of the Bible does all this evidence support? There are many different translations of the bible, translated by different men with different ideas about what was said. Isn’t it awesome that you found the one that is totally accurate between all these different versions? Who wrote the bible? Who was Matthew? Did he really live with Jesus and write about it? How did the stories of Moses, Adam and Abraham make it into the same book when they happened hundred of years before Jesus? Who put them all together? Is there proof outside of the bible that these men were divinely inspired? The fact of the matter is that there is not. All the evidence of the bible is in the bible or written in books by people who read the bible. There is no evidence that the bible is divinely put together. There is no evidence that the people who wrote the original stories ever interacted or even witnessed the life of Jesus. There are stories found by historians and antropologists that predate the bible that are similar in many ways to the stories in the bible and can even be said to have inspired the bible stories. You can’t prove the truthfulness of the bible by referencing the bible. The bible is proof of God and Jesus like a comic book is proof of Spiderman.

  • Amber Jacobsen

    James, you’re being a dickwad. What you’re doing is called trolling. And I do not doubt that you will use this “conversation” in one of your sermons/lessons to validate your thoughts. You haven’t said a fucking word to Ryan in years until you noticed his beliefs differ from yours. All the sudden your worried? It’s so fucking fake!

  • Bezboznik

    >”the Bible and real Christianity is objectively true.”

    Sure, right from the talking snake to the unicorns to idiots who thought all the animals in the world lived within walking distance of Noah’s house! About as objectively true as Santa Claus. LOL.

    Religions are criminal organizations and clerics are con-artist crooks deliberately running a pyramid scam.

    Bring freedom & justice to the world, send the clerics to prison.

  • Josh

    James – I just came across this blog by accident, and I have no idea who either of you are. But I have two SERIOUS problems with your statement.

    Number one, there is no evidence or facts to support the Bible, or any of the other thousands of creation myths that mankind has invented over the years. Saying that there is no shortage of evidence for the Bible is ignorant at best.

    Number two, what you said about your missionaries being sent home for asking tough questions. This blog actually touched on that subject. Science WANTS, no, it NEEDS people to ask the tough questions. Because that is how you arrive at the correct answer. Sending missionaries home for asking questions shows just how insecure your “faith” really is.

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