Posts Tagged 'Religulous'

Thinking About Religulous on the 2nd Anniversary of my Atheism

I realized today that it’s October, which means another year has passed since I gave up my faith. It’s embarrassing to think about now (because it’s really not that great of a movie), but seeing Religulous was what put me on the path to being an atheist. It was the first time that I was exposed to something that challenged my faith, and it really got me thinking.

I remember sitting in the car afterwards and talking to my husband about the movie – I have no idea what I was saying to him, but I remember getting a little choked up because I was so excited. I realized that I was alone in my head, there was no god in there monitoring my thoughts, I was free to explore ideas and to be who I wanted to be. It was a great feeling. (I talked about the scene that made a big impact on me in last year’s anniversary post).

After we got home from the movie I went on the internet because I wanted to see who else was excited about this life-changing movie, and since I had no inkling that there was such thing as an atheist forum or blog, I went to a religious forum to see what they were saying. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see negative opinions of the movie, but I was, so I decided to sign in and do some trolling (I can’t stand trolling, but I was feeling rebellious that night).

Today when I remembered that it’s been about 2 years since then, I decided that I’d try to find that forum post to see what I said…and guess what? I did! Woo! Here’s what I wrote, with my responses in red:

Hi Everyone,

I’m a former member of this forum. That’s a lie. I stopped posting here when I began to become disillusioned with Catholocism and Christianity in general. Lies, I was never a member…at least I don’t remember ever joining it… I decided to come back for a visit to see what was being said about the new movie Religulous, and after reading some of the threads about it, I thought I would offer up my perspective of the movie.

I attended Church with my family since I was small, and up until fairly recently I went to a Bible study once a week. True. But gradually as I grew up I began to look at the world through a more critical eye. Nope, I was only just beginning to use my critical eye. I was always very naive and quick to accept what was told to me, but I now know to question things and research things. By now, I meant literally that night, when I realized that if I researched my religion it wouldn’t be so convincing anymore. I don’t want to be a sheep that’s shepherded through life. You go girl!

So with my new outlook on life, I began to question everything, so naturally I began to question my religious beliefs and my faith. I began to see that the circles I was in were full of judgment and shame, and I began to realize that I didn’t believe what I said I believed anymore. I guess I made up this crap about my long history of questioning my faith because I thought it would be more credible than saying that I had just watched a silly movie that convinced me that I had been mistaken about god for my whole life. At that point I realized that a movie was a poor reason to stop believing, but I didn’t let my learning stop there and I’m confident now that I have solid reasons for not believing in any gods.

However it’s not easy to drop religion out of your life. I have dropped it out of my heart, still using the religious lingo and I’m much happier for it, but since a lot of my friends and family have these beliefs, I have felt like I need to hide the fact that I’m now Atheist it makes me cringe to see myself capitalizing “atheist” from them. Sadly it’s still true that I hide my atheism from certain friends and family members. People make you feel ashamed. I don’t think anyone could make me feel ashamed for my atheism now – I’m proud to have put my faith behind me.
 
So the reason I named this thread “Thanks to Bill Maher” is that he has created a movie that is telling people like me that it’s okay not to believe. Hearing that it’s okay to not believe really was novel to me then.

If you have not seen the movie, it is about Maher’s personal rejection of religion. The theme of the movie is to show people that it is responsible to have doubt and to question things. One of my favourite quotes from the movie is the lady that says “I don’t know anything about politics, but I’ll vote for George Bush because of his faith”…well look where that’s gotten us.

Maher questions the doctrine and the beliefs of all religions. This is something that’s a major faux-pas pretty much anywhere you go, but it’s really sad that people should be made to feel like they can’t question these things.

This movie has given me confidence in myself so that I can come out of the closet as an ex-Catholic, and I don’t see anything wrong with it…not to mention it was very funny and entertaining! Damn, I still haven’t come out of the closet…well I guess people realize I’m not a Catholic anymore, but many must think I’m still a Christian.

I hope that came out cohesively…but I welcome questions. Thanks for reading 

I was super excited to see how people would respond to that, and I was hoping to engage in my first debate with religious people as a newly minted atheist (actually I don’t think I really considered myself an atheist at that point, it wasn’t until after I had read some Hitchens that I really embracedthe term).

The first response to my post was this:

personally maher has never come across as funny to me, but everyones idea of humor is different.

from the previews and interviews ive seen him do on the movie it seems more like an attempt to evangelize people to the religion of athesim.

finally, i’m sorry that you doubt the faith. i’ll throw some extra prayers your way.

Here’s how I responded:

I’ve never seen Maher in anything else, this was true, I guess Americans must be more familiar with him than I was…I vaguely recognized him but wasn’t aware of his anti-religious comedy or his show on HBO so I don’t know how he is in other contexts, but in this movie he was funny.

How is evangelizing people to atheism any worse than evangelizing people to the Christian faith? I didn’t know enough about atheism at this point to think to point out that it’s not a religion, but I still think that I had an okay point here.

I don’t need your prayers…I appreciate your intentions, but they’re wasted on me. I think it must have felt really good to write this – prayer no longer meant anything to me.

The next bunch of responses were so stupid, and someone caught that I was trolling, so I never responded again. Someone thought I might work PR for Bill Maher HA! and another didn’t believe me that I didn’t know who Maher was…I thought that was a really odd accusation. Another responded that it’s not okay to not believe, which struck me as so closed-minded. I’m sure that’s when I started seeking out atheist communities on the internet, and I’m so glad I did!

This is long so I’ll wrap it up, but if you’re curious here’s the thread that I quoted from above, on the Catholic Answers forum. I jumped in on Page 7 and my user name was “MyUserName”…so creative! Here are screen caps of my posts (click to expand):

It’s Been a Year Since I Lost My Religion

A year ago today my life began to change in a big way. On October 3, 2008 Bill Maher’s movie about religion, Religulous, was released in Canada. At the time I was a Christian, but I decided to see the movie because I was intrigued by the previews. I had never been exposed to such outright criticism of religion.

I didn’t know who Bill Maher was (honestly…people find this hard to believe), so I didn’t know what to expect. What I saw was a crass, in-your-face dump on faith. But rather than feeling offended I felt inspired by the closing scene of the movie. Maher said:

Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking…keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and distruction.

The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt.

I started to allow myself to doubt my beliefs, and to consider that the Bible was probably just a fairy tale.

A short time after I had seen the movie I was in a book store and noticed Christopher Hitchens’s book God is not Great, and decided to pick it up. By the time I finished reading the book I was an atheist, and wondering how I ever believed in a god in the first place!

I was now very fascinated with the topic of religion, and picked up Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. Dawkins introduced me to the world of skepticism of all sorts of beliefs. I discovered that there was a whole online community of skeptics.

I filled up my iPod with podcasts that allow me to learn while I’m working:

The Atheist Experience
The Conspiracy Skeptic
Hunting Humbug 101
Point of Inquiry
The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe
The Skeptic Zone
Skeptoid

I also got into reading blogs that kept me up to date on the big stories in the atheist and skeptical communities:

Bad Astronomy
Friendly Atheist
NeurologicaBlog
Pharyngula
Skepchick

And I’ve been doing my best to get a fairly well-rounded understanding of science. Some of my favourite books:

The Elegant Universe – Brian Greene
Death From the Skies! – Phil Plait
Quirkology – Richard Wiseman
Trick or Treatment – Simon Singh
The Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins

I’m being opened up to a whole new, fascinating, mind-boggling, incredible, inconceivable, evidence-based, beautiful and awe-inspiring universe.

It has been quite a year! I’ve been taking in so much information that I needed to start this blog in order to articulate some of my thoughts, and to try to take part in what others in the skeptical community are doing. I’m learning and growing every day, and I can’t wait to see where I’m at in a year’s time.

If any of the people involved in the podcasts, blogs and books I mentioned above happen to stumble upon this blog entry, I just want to say thanks!

I think that the best thing that I’ve learned in the last year is the importance of science. Science is the most useful tool that we have, and I’m excited every time I see someone promoting it to the wider public. It seems to be on the increase and that’s so encouraging.

I’ve rambled on long enough, but I just felt the need to reflect on the past year. Thanks for reading!

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