Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Job

I'm starting a new job and I'm kind of nervous about what will happen when/if people there find out I'm an atheist.  It's not something I intend to hide, so if the subject of my religious beliefs comes up I will tell the truth but I really don't know what the reaction will be.  I don't know if my job itself would be affected by me being open about my atheism, but I don't want to go to work and be bombarded with religion by people who can't just agree to disagree.  At the part time job I have been working for the past six months, the only person I've even discussed it with is not religious so there haven't been problems, but in a previous job when it became known that I didn't believe in a god I was faced with a number of people approaching me to discuss the subject.  It never got hostile but I felt pretty uncomfortable having people try to convince me to believe in the Christian god.  At that time I wasn't as knowledgeable about religion so I didn't like to discuss it.  Now, it is like the polar opposite.  I'm a very outspoken atheist and I love to debate religion, but I don't think doing it at work is the best idea.  A lot of religious people get very defensive about their beliefs and causing a big argument wouldn't be very productive when you're trying to get work done.  I'm just worried that once it gets out I won't be able to stop the discussions from happening.  I'm sure the more devout believers will want to toss their views out there and, being a very outspoken person, it would be difficult for me to not respond.  The other thing that worries me is the idea that my job itself could be put in jeopardy.  I know nothing of the general political/religious views of the employees, whether it be a wide variety or a majority of one over the other, and if the company is full of heavily religious people I don't know how it would affect my prospects.  I'm not sure if I want to stay with this job long term but I do know that in general it's a good, solid company and I would hate for my lack of religion and belief to prevent me from moving up the ladder and into better positions.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Does Religion Make Us Stupid?

A lot of Christians believe the myth that men have one less rib than women.  This is obviously not true, but many people continue to believe it.  All one has to do is look at a skeleton and count the ribs, and it becomes immediately apparent that there is no difference between the genders.  Scientists and medical professionals have been looking at skeletons for thousands of years, yet some people are still ignorant of the facts.  I believed this myth well into adulthood, despite the fact that I had seen countless pictures of human skeletons in science classes.  This belief came from my creationist upbringing and, as a Christian, I never questioned the validity of this claim.

Now I am aware that many Christians realize we all have the same number of ribs.  I recently read a post on a website:  http://www.creationtips.com/ribs.html
This website offers an interpretation of Genesis 2:21, 21 in which the literal removing of Adam's rib occurred but was not made a permanent part of Adam's genetic code.  That is to say, his offspring would henceforth be born as he was created, with a full set of 12 ribs. 

What I find so unbelievable is that so many people fail to even question the idea.  I was having a conversation with someone about people who are born transgender or intersex, and this person suggested that the people have an X-ray done of their ribs to see if they have 12 ribs or 11.  I should point out that this idea was posed to me very recently, several years after I became an atheist.  At that time I had never given the matter of men vs women rib numbers much thought.  I was intrigued by this idea so I did a quick search on Bing to see if any studies had been done regarding it.  Needless to say I felt pretty stupid when I realized that I had been holding on to the creationist belief of men having one less rib than women.  I began to think about all the times I had looked at pictures or replicas of a human skeleton and came to find that I had never even considered the idea of counting the ribs for myself.  I was truly embarrassed because as an atheist I make it a point to be informed about the things I believe.  I look at the world from a scientific standpoint and I don't accept anything without sufficient evidence.

As a child I was taught to believe in God and the biblical account of how the universe began.  I can't remember ever being told that it was okay to question it.  In fact, when I first learned about Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution, I was given a lecture by my parents when I came home from school talking about it.  I was never a very devout believer and as I grew up the bible made less and less sense to me, but that childhood indoctrination still persisted.  It took me a long time to overcome that tendency to shun any information that contradicted my religious beliefs.  Once I was able to set my beliefs aside and analyze scientific findings objectively, my world changed.  I came to the conclusion that Christianity had no basis in fact, and that believing in God without justification was foolish.

Does religion promote stupidity by advocating an unshakable dogma that must never be questioned?  At the age of seven, when I came home talking about evolution and was told to disregard it completely, was I being instructed to be willfully ignorant?  Don't question, just believe...  Anti-Science?  Anti-Knowledge?  Anti-Intelligence?  Christians, as a whole, are by no means stupid.  Some of the most intelligent people I know are religious, but when you teach children to believe what this one book says and disregard anything that contradicts it, you are discouraging independent thought and exploration.  Why had I never once, neither as a Christian nor as an atheist, stopped to count the number of ribs on a human skeleton?  Why didn't the thought occur to me?  Why did I accept what a 1000+ year old book with no extra-biblical evidence to support it told me about the world?  I was told that a certain thing was true because it said so in the Bible, and I accepted that and felt no need to discover for myself whether or not it was true.  I'll pose the question again.  Does religion make us stupid?