Recently I changed my blog name to The Liberated Atheist. I have yet to properly change my blog’s address. Apparently it’s an easy thing to do, but I must do it without losing my followers or having all of my links being broken. If you have managed to change your WordPress blog without having any problems, let me know.
Back on topic, why call this blog the Liberated Atheist? Let’s get the obvious part out of the way, I am an atheist. That means I don’t believe in a God, nothing more or less. There is nothing inherently special about that. I would even wager that being an atheist is the default state – people later come to believe in a God when it is indoctrinated into them (though they may feel otherwise).
But what about the ‘liberated’ part? In a very general sense, it means to be set free from something. In this sense, I took it from the Allegory of the Cave, or Plato’s Cave.
Plato tells a story about some prisoners who have spent their entire lives chained up in a dark cave facing a wall. This cave is everything they have ever known or experienced. Behind them is a fire which provides the only source of light for the prisoners. There are also puppeteers who will hold up objects which project shadows onto the walls of the cave. The prisoners can’t turn around to see the fire or the puppeteers, they can only see the shadows projected onto the wall in front of them. Furthermore, the voices of the puppeteers will echo along the cave. This causes the prisoners to assume that the voices came from the shadows themselves, and that the shadows represent reality, and not mere projections of real objects.
But what if one of the prisoners was able to somehow escape from the cave and experience real sunlight? Initially they would be blinded by the light. But over time, their eyes would adjust, and they would be able to see people and objects, and finally the sun itself. They would eventually be able to reason that what they’re seeing now is ‘real’, and that the shadows they saw were mere projections of reality. This liberated prisoner wants to share his newfound knowledge with the others, so he goes back into the cave again. Unfortunately, his eyes are no longer used to the darkness, so it causes him trouble once again. The other prisoners can’t comprehend what he has experienced, since the shadows are all they have known. Because he returned blinded, they conclude that leaving the cave is a terrible idea.
So how does this story relate to me?
I chose the name ‘Liberated’ because leaving my religion which I grew up in felt like the prisoner being freed from Plato’s Cave.
Christianity, like other religions, claims to be the ultimate unchanging solution to mankind. Its claims did not come from a God though, but from people who had a limited understanding of how our world works. Its ideas are set in stone, ever unchanging and not desiring improvement. You have to worry about random ‘morals’ and pleasing a God, and his wrath, and believe in many things which make absolutely no sense. I liken this to the prisoners seeing the shadows on the wall. Like the warmth from the fire, it gave me hope, but this was a false hope that ultimately disappointed. Instead, time and time again, Christianity fell under the weight of its claims, unanswered by a silent Jesus.
Leaving Christianity was painful, and to many of my Christian friends, it didn’t make sense. I hated having doubts which I was told I shouldn’t have. I was anxious and worried I might be wrong. I liken this to being exposed to the bright burning sun for the first time.
When I decided to leave religion, I felt like my eyes were opened. I’m not claiming to be special, or know answers to lifes difficult questions, but I can look at things more objectively, as opposed to just see things how I want to see them (or simply be told what I’m seeing). Religion encourages the latter. It gives people hope, but it’s a false hope which ultimately disappoints. Sometimes I will get things wrong, but the idea is that I can learn from my faults and continually strive to be a better person and improve society. I can now have control over my own life and define and develop my ‘purpose’. Religion has a body of text which claims to be correct and unchanging, but that’s a problem, because it means its flaws can be overlooked and there is no genuine desire for improvement.
Ironically, many Christians will feel like they are the liberated prisoner in Plato’s Cave. But can you really call yourself free for believing in a jealous angry God who would punish you otherwise? Perhaps your life improved as a result of joining a religion, and if so, I’m happy for you in that regard. But otherwise it just seems like being transported from one prison to another.
So there you have it, the backstory behind my new blog name.
- The Liberated Atheist