This post is part of a series on what it’s like to be an atheist in prison. To read other parts in the series, click here. Some of these inmates have done things that, to many of you, will be unforgivable. I will be disclosing some of their names, so you can easily find out what they’ve done to end up in lockup. You may be disgusted to find out their crimes, and you have every right to be. This series, for the most part, will not be about their crimes. I’m interested in painting a picture of what life is like for nonbelievers in the joint. If you find it is too upsetting to be part of giving them a platform, please choose not to read this. You don’t have to be part of it.
With that said, I’ve sent each inmate some preliminary questions to get the conversation going. If you find you have questions that arise as you read their responses, please post them in the comments below or email them to me: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will make sure the person gets them.
Continued from last week’s post, Mike Webber, who is locked up in Oregon for the murder of his father, continues on with his response to my initial contact:
Our political system reminds me of a sports event. It’s like a football game. People get so excited to spend lots of time and money supporting their team, and they argue, fight etc. Their team can cheat, and it is okay because the other team cheats more. A whole lot of hoopla for a bunch of guys tossing a ball around. Billions of dollars every year spent by relatively poor Americans for entertainment while the owners of teams and the NFL get rich off of it all behind the scenes. People do not want to work to make things better for everyone. They would much rather be entertained than have a cause to fight a battle for.
In my opinion, the true and probably only honest religious people are the nutball extremists, and they are so ignorant they literally do not know any better. Those Christians who actually try to follow Jesus’ word and life’s example or Buddhists and members of other mainly peaceful religions that are humble, kind, helpful and relatively non-judgemental. The latter group of reasonable religious people I respect and have empathy for because they actually make the world a better place on average. Even though I do not believe in God or any supernatural stuff, there is quite a lot of wisdom contained in some of the world’s religions. Also, there is wisdom in the New Testament attributed to Jesus that revolves around not being a hypocrite and the “Golden Rule”; “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “judge not lest you be judged when you sit in Judgment of others”. It exposes more about your character or lack thereof than it ever does the people you judge. “He who is without sin cast the first stone”, ie. you are all sinners so those who stoned someone are hypocrites, using an invalid excuse to brutally murder another person for something the murderer also has or will do. In other words, singling out the few people publicly exposed or caught in sin was in Jesus’s eyes a sin and hypocrisy. One is left to wonder how do so many self-righteous conservative Christians do and support so many things that Jesus explicitly preached/spoke out against? It’s ironic that many of the things the criminal justice system and the religious conservative right supports directly contradict their gods/messiah’s wishes. I find that a lot of these types of people cite the Old Testament as justification. However, the Old Testament is all about establishing the Jewish people as God’s people and Jewish law as God’s law. It taught that the Jewish kings’ bloodlines and tribes were the only ones allowed to rule the Jewish people and the land of Israel. They were the only ones allowed to interpret or ultimately decide Jewish religious matters and any who oppose this may be brutally eliminated. Especially when it comes to the Jews holding or reclaiming the land of Israel. Genocide, killing all the Children that inhabited the land of Israel that were not Jews was approved and recorded as done by the Jews in the Old Testament. The Old Testament was a failed coven with the Jews, and you cannot be a Christian if you follow the Old Testament. If you follow the Old Testament you are a Jew. In order to be a Christian you must believe Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God and only through him and following his life’s example can you get salvation and into Heaven. Jesus said to glorify God is to live a good life doing good deeds in the service of others, not hatred or persecution. Jesus’s way was the new way or New Covenant with God recorded in the New Testament and superseded the Old Testament. To go against Jesus’s teaching is to go against God. How ironic that the people leading and supporting extremist Christian agendas (anti-gay, anti-atheist, anti-communist anti-global warming and anti-environment) that they purport are God’s will or glorifies God and his wishes are in fact exactly the opposite to all the wisdom contained in the Bible. Human nature drives such people’s motivations, not God. Religion is just the tool they use to get or exert power over the masses to get what they want done.
I used to think there probably was a God or at least there could be but after all the people and religious hypocrisy (much like government in general), I began to doubt the authority figures. They manipulated and persecuted people far too much and it was justified and necessary or for a good cause or whatever. It always proved false. Also, religious people try to convert me and expose me to the Christian books that make all sorts of ridiculous arguments to support religious dogma and the existence of God and refute evolution. It just motivated me to read the Bible and all sorts of books on the subject and educate myself on religion and in doing so made it obvious there was a lot wrong with religion and its agendas and arguments. Then, as I educated myself on all sciences including biology and physics and Physiology, etc. it all completely disproved many of the religious assertions/arguments and exposed the fact that most religious people do not understand a lot of the more technical sciences and do not want to. Too much work maybe. The details are important but most people take shortcuts. Simple concepts and logical arguments are easier to remember and debate and make it look like you know what you are talking about.Sorry if I rant a lot or seem overbearing. I have been subjected to so many conversion attempts by Christians and end up getting into the same discussions and arguments, and it gets ridiculously repetitive and annoying. But I guess that is exactly what motivated me on it and eventually proved to myself that God and Supernatural were BS. I refined my belief into what it is today.
Atheism is a religion like Christianity, at its core, it assumes the ultimate question is answered first, ie. whether God exists. Christianity assumes God exists and cherry picks evidence and “alternative facts” and spins everything it can to support that ultimate assumption. This is an obvious error of logic and well known not to find truth or prove anything. Again, religious/Christian dogma goes against God’s edicts that Christians not bear false witness and be truthful and seek truth. If atheism assumes first that God does not exist and then cherry picks evidence, generates “alternative facts” and spins everything to support the assumption God does not exist then atheism is no better than religion. It gives religious people valid arguments against atheism. You end up in a stalemate much like a debate or sport event where both sides are no better than the other. The only thing that matters, then, is that your team wins and you support your team and at least the other team does not win.
Ironically, a lot of this was outlined in a book I read in the hole a couple of years back called Intellectual Morons, I believe. It was obviously written by a conservative Republican. He was probably religious as well. The first thirty pages or so we’re really honest and insightful. They were about how people feel it is justified to lie and twist the truth and do whatever it takes to further their agendas. It is because they see a just cause or good results in the end. However, the author just applies it to liberals and Democrats and their agendas and does not want to apply it to conservative religious Republicans who are just as guilty of it if not more so. Thus, the author becomes a total hypocrite doing exactly what he is railing against Democrats and intellectuals for doing.
I am not a true atheist. I accept there is a possibility that there is or was something close enough to what a God might be. I do not see my belief that God does not exist as a fact and presume everything to support that assumption/belief. I do see it as a fact that everything I know and have experienced in this life indicates the probability of a God existing as religion says is extremely low. Even if he did exist he is obviously hypocritical and does not deserve to be worshipped with all the evil he created and allows to wreak havoc on our lives. A lot of things in the Old Testament attributed to God are not very wise, good, fair, reasonable, etc. Most religions are not that divine. They reek of man and his flaws, interspersed with pearls of wisdom often-cited but followed rarely. So I see no reason to fear God or worship him or care even if he did exist. The result is the same. I operate under the premise God does not exist or matter to me. I endeavor to find my own way through life, trying to better myself and help those I care about. I want to do the least harm I reasonably can to my environment and the people in it with reasonable exceptions of course. I try to be as honest and unbiased as I can and seek useful truth and knowledge.
I want to know if you agree on much with Mike, or if you differ on some of the things he’s said. Let me know in the comments! Or if you would prefer to write to Mike yourself, you can send him a letter:
Michael Webber #12362542
4005 Aumsville Hwy SE
Salem, OR 97317 US
As I mentioned last week, Mike sent me close to 8000 words, so I have to split this up. That means you’ll get part three next week. Make sure you’re signed up to receive updates in your inbox as I post these. The form is in the top right sidebar. Or you can follow me on Twitter for all my updates: @godless_mom