Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Being Atheist is not an -ism.

My viewpoint as an atheist is a rare one, but I find myself even more lonely when it comes to how I describe my lack of belief. Sometimes people ask me what I believe in, and I state that I'm non-religious or atheist, though I never say that my religious belief is "atheism".

Many atheists seem to describe themselves on singles sites as atheists, but the website authors seem to refuse to put the word "atheist" or "non-religious" as an option; instead, we're given "atheism".

The "-ism" at the end of this word implies that it is a structured format. Being atheist should assume no belief structure in the same way that religion does. An atheist can claim a belief structure outside of religion, but an atheist is simply a non-believer. I know many atheists feel the same way I do about the subject and have probably written about it, but it bugs me that people still acknowledge the word 'atheism'. I think the word should be dropped completely, as it simply gives ammunition to the religious, and completely misrepresents what the definition of atheist truly is.

May it also be known that the phrase "believing in evolution" is just as detrimental, as it brings science and religion into the same arena. Science and religion shouldn't even exist as comparable material, and as long as anyone uses the "believing in evolution" phrase, we take more steps back than we take forward.

I'm not lecturing, but the best way to present your side in any debate is to keep from misrepresenting your views, so that they may not be misinterpreted.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

An Experiment for the Religious

As a person who grew up without a left hand, I've been involuntarily slapped with labels that people feel depict my status in modern society. I'm not talking about economic, political or social status... I'm talking about my state of mind in relation to those "normal" ones around me. People assume that I need to be pitied, or that my self esteem is at a point where it almost can't be saved. People also assume that I'm vulnerable, as if I've never explored spiritual fulfillment.

The truth is that I have explored a lot of things, and that my life has had many of the same ups and downs that anyone might have. Some were worse than others, but I don't think life is meant for competitive comparison of such things. Upon suggestion of friends and family, I explored the possibility of religion with them. At a young age it was imposed upon me, and as I got older, I still tried to explore it until I realized that when I reached out to the church, I wasn't reaching for an invisible crutch, I was reaching for the friends that were level headed and were sane enough to realize that earthly friendship and caring are far better than a false sense of security from faith. They were realistic enough to know that advice and will to listen went further than the spewing of scripture or the random interjection of false hopes (ex: "God is here for you!", "Always put Jesus first in your life, and you'll have no problems!", "You need to pray more, son.").

As I've explained in previous posts, I've received all kinds of explanations as for why I'm the way that I am, and they all seemed bogus. People see me as a vulnerable person, as someone they can easily claim as part of a religious army. This has lead me to believe that the religious tend to rely far too much on their god to take care of things for them, rather than taking problems on themselves. Passing responsibility onto invisible friends to help your real friends is just wrong, unproductive, and idiotically hopeless.

Any thoughts?

For the religious: defend yourselves. Tell me why relying on your invisible friend is better than relying on someone elses, or even you.

For the non-religious: Have you ever copped out of helping a friend who really needed it by sending them to someone else (a blog or a book, professional therapist, whatever)?

For the fellow amputees: Have you had similar experiences or any truly different ones?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"The Big Question"

No, this isn't the big question that you would normally think was "the big question". This question haunts the daily life of every amputee, especially those who are social or have a job that thrusts them into public life.

I get it at least a few times a week: "How did you lose your arm?"

My face gets red and a nervous cold sweat immediately starts to appear. I try hard to hold back what I really want to say. "Its none of your business."

Then I realize that this question is truly innocent, and not everyone runs into amputees every day (including myself, and I know lots of amputees!). People usually ask because they want to learn something, or because they want to hear a good story. After all, doesn't being an amputee shape who we are in some way?

Some people are rude about it and let their inquisition fault their politeness, while others might be excited because they happen to know an amputee.

I then calm down, wipe the sweat from my forehead, and tell the person the true story. It happens so often that you'd think I'd be used to it, but the same reaction occurs time and time again.

So, if you're an amputee, how do you feel when you get that question? Also, how do you deal with it?

And for you non-amputees, are you really comfortable asking such a personal question? Is it hard not to ask? Does your need to know often suppress your will to be polite and move on?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Atheistic Amputees are Rare

Its true. I haven't met many of them, and if I did, I didn't know. Most amputees that I've met are actually more "faithful" than many of our so-called normal counterparts, and are also amputees that are not congenital. Almost all of them are first to claim that they've "found God" or "became closer to the Lord" because of their amputation.

How they deal with it is up to them, but I'm not sure that I can relate. I must apply my own experience in the matter to this situation. I was raised as a Lutheran, and while I was once mildly religious, I was never fully caught up in church activities. The church I attended was lots of fun, and was filled with many great people. The problems really started to come about when people tried to justify my lack of a limb. Some viewed it as a "gift from God" that made me special. I hated that suggestion, as it made me feel abnormal. Another justification made by people at the church was that actions occurred that "God wasn't paying attention to", and that I could be "healed".

Bullshit.

This severe contradiction left me baffled and I felt lied to. Everyone seemed to have an answer when I really didn't need one. Grin and bear it.

So I'll end on this question: are there any other atheist amputees out there? Let me know!

Hello?

Is anyone out there? Is anyone listening?

I'm sure that there are many of you out there who are interested in what bloggers have to say (and I'm sure its not a god), and I'm excited about that. I'm going to use this blog to document my experience as an atheistic amputee, and I welcome comments from anyone who is interested! I hope that both atheists and amputees can use what I write to help them, and in turn help me out as well.

Well, lets get started! I'm Jim. I was born without my left hand just below the elbow. I'm actually not an amputee by traditional definition, as the word 'amputee' implies that I lost a limb at some point in my life. While this may be the case, the medical world still refers to people like me as 'congenital amputee'. Conditions like mine are rare, as my arm developed as a normal arm would, but it just stopped growing.

Well, I'm done with my introduction, please use this first post to introduce yourselves if you find your way to my blog!

In the meantime, please check out these guys:

http://www.friendlyatheist.com
http://www.scienceblogs.com/pharyngula
http://www.thesneeze.com