On examining the beliefs you hold

Posted on 12 July 2024

Just like everything else, I exist in a state of flux, or impermanence, or anitya - whatever you want to call it. Priorities change, situations change, values change. What may have been useful in the past may no longer be useful now or in the future.

Every so often, I examine the beliefs I hold. Then, I'll choose whether to keep them, discard them, or adopt new beliefs altogether. I'm past the part of my life where I want to be attached to any belief – or anything, really – so this is a fairly simple, almost unconscious process.

I lean very anarchist, so I focus on certain things that others may not. Here are some of them:

Personally, I think this keeps me grounded and focused on the things that matter, rather than the things that are inconsequential. Perhaps it may be useful to others as well.

A realization about how Westerners see religion

Originally posted on Wordpress on 10 November 2023

I've mentioned before that I grew up in an atheist family, which is apparently really rare in the United States. I guess most ex-Christian atheists know how church works, they're familiar with Christian myths, fables, parables, whatever - the point is, I'm not. I know jack shit about that religion.

Given my upbringing, I never saw Christianity as the default. It was just one of the many things people believed in, like Greek polytheism or Chinese folk religion. There was nothing special about it; it was just as equal and "valid" as anything else.

Obviously, Christians didn't believe that. Their religion was the one true religion that all other religions were measured against. But it wasn't just Christians who did that - ex-Christian atheists also did this. They might have said that Christianity was no different from any other religion, but they definitely didn't behave like they believed it was true. Instead, they would behave as if every religion in existence was...Christianity.

Somehow, these atheists' realization of "if this other religion is untrue, then Christianity is just as untrue" led to "every religion is exactly the same as Christianity, just with different names". Just about every Western atheist I've ever met acts as if they believe this. They genuinely cannot comprehend the existence of a religion that does not function identically to Christianity. I understand that Western civilization has been Christian for 2000 years and Christianity is baked into every single aspect of Western culture, from laws to morals to holidays, but this is really something else.

But that's not all. It's one thing to believe that all religions function identically to Christianity, with a god to worship and churches and priests, but it's another to believe that religion is about worshiping a god. A significantly large number of Christianized people genuinely seem to believe that you need to worship a creator god in order to be religious.

This must be why so many Westerners don't see Buddhism as a religion. (That, and Christians don't want to admit they admire something created by heathens. And atheists don't want to admit they find something admirable in a religion after all). To Christianized people, "worship of a creator god" and "religion" are synonyms. They've can't really comprehend that anything else can exist.

This realization, while genuinely both baffling and horrifying, has helped me understand why Christianized people hold the beliefs they do. There's a failure of understanding on their part for some reason. An incredibly successful childhood indoctrination program, maybe? I don't know. I'm not one of those people. I'll let them figure out how to justify this level of ignorance.

I used to call myself an atheist

Originally posted on Wordpress on 4 August 2023

My working title for this post was been "I used to be an atheist". For the past couple of years, I've been thinking about if I really wanted to write it or if it would be useful to post online. I've come to the conclusion that as my experience seems to be pretty unique, I may as well write about it and see if anyone has any similar experiences.

I grew up in a nonreligious (atheist) libertarian family. Skepticism of the state and government was always a thing. It wasn't very difficult for me to make the leap over to anarchist later on at 14 or so. In fact, it wasn't a leap at all. I learned about libertarian socialism on a Wiki walk one day and realized that it described my existing beliefs perfectly.

Anarchism is, fundamentally, about the dissolution of structures of control. So, obviously, dissolution of the state and organized religion, given that both are hierarchical and allow for the consolidation of power and control over the narrative. "No gods, no masters," you know?

There weren't any other atheist or state-skeptical kids in my elementary school, so it wasn't until I was in high school that I really started looking into atheism...on the internet. And I honestly wasn't impressed with what I saw. Even though I was comfortable calling myself an atheist, I didn't have all that much in common with these other atheists, belief-wise.

While both me and other atheists believed that organized religion was oppressive and needed to be abolished, that's as far as their beliefs went while mine included other hierarchies and power structures. I've always been baffled by what seems to be an incredibly obvious inconsistency, and it's only recently that I've come to a conclusion.

It seems that some atheists, particularly those that leave highly authoritarian religions, or sects of religions, or lifestyles - you get the point - simply change their target of worship instead of quitting worship altogether. They go from treating their holy book as an infallible source of truth to...treating the laws of the state as an infallible source of truth. Their church becomes the state. It's like switching addictions by taking up smoking instead of drinking rather than quitting drinking entirely.

Atheism is so intertwined with this kind of uncritical state worship that I can't consider myself any kind of atheist. I can't even describe my beliefs as atheist. I simply have no desire to be associated with these people.

The point I'm trying to make is that when examined from an anarchist perspective, atheists/atheism is more often than not a disappointment. More than a disappointment, in some cases, when their infatuation with the law as an "impartial" structure (there are no impartial structures, or people, or anything) turns into state worship.

These are just my thoughts, but like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I wanted to put them out there to see if anyone has ever felt the same.