To Become an Atheist or a Vegan: Which is More Difficult?

To Become an Atheist or a Vegan: Which is More Difficult?

One shared stereotype between atheists and vegans is that they bring up the topic within 5 minutes of meeting people. In theory, they both have extreme beliefs and lifestyles that many other Americans don’t feel comfortable with accepting.

Atheists deny the existence of God or any kind of higher spiritual power. Meanwhile, vegans deny the need to consume any animal products (meat, dairy, eggs) in order to be healthy.

Both extremes deny things that most people can’t live without: God or edible animal products.

It’s almost an impossible question; to ask, “Which is more difficult, to become an atheist or a vegan?”

(That’s of course assuming you’re not already an atheist or agnostic; or vegetarian or vegan.)

I think much of the difficulty in legitimately asking and answering this question in a public online forum is that it might be easier for the participants to become more focused on bashing each other’s beliefs than it is to actually simply answer the question I am proposing. Hopefully, that’s not the case…

If you live your entire life believing in God (or at least some kind of spiritual higher power), it seems it would be nearly impossible to just switch off that fundamental belief; especially knowing that to believe in God is to accept accountability for your life, once it ends; assuming there are eternal rewards and consequences, accordingly.

It seems that if you truly believe in God, even if you’re a “lapsed Catholic” or a “backslidden Baptist,” you still wouldn’t be able to declare there is no God; because in your heart, you still would believe there is.

In my mind, to choose becoming an atheist over a vegan means you are already heading down that path of non-belief; that you’re already quite skeptical of God, or at least of the general public’s view of what God is supposed to be like.

But my perception is, that is not how most people (at least here in America) are.

On the other hand, if you are used to eating meat, dairy, and eggs, you could switch to just eating veggies, fruit, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. However, it would take much education to realize it could be done.

Most people still believe the myth that vegans don’t get enough protein. But I feel I’ve done a good job of busting that myth.

(Please read my related post: Vegans Don’t Get Enough Protein and the World is Still Flat.)

Look at me. I’ve been a vegan nearly 4 years now, and a vegetarian more than a year before that, and kosher (no pork/shellfish) for several years before that.

At 5’9”, 155 pounds, and age 34, I have remained in the perfect weight range. Notably, I am clearly not underweight.

To Become an Atheist or a Vegan: Which is More Difficult?

If I wasn’t getting enough protein, it would be pretty obvious.

Of course, my doctor confirms I am getting enough protein, as well as all other nutrients I need; and that I am “healthier than most 34 year-olds” he’s seen.

He even commented that he “wasn’t surprised” to learn in hindsight that I am a vegan; since I waited for him to assess my health before I broke the news about my plant-based lifestyle.

I say that not to brag, but to provide evidence that when you actually replace animal products with the proper plant sources of fat, protein, and iron, becoming a vegan is actually an intelligent and efficient option.

Plus, by being a vegan, by default, you consume less than 1% (basically 0%) of your daily allowance of cholesterol. You still consume a lot of fat, but virtually no cholesterol.

But in my experience, most people either A) don’t know this, B) don’t believe this, or C) don’t care.

Therefore, there are many people who believe in God but who are unable to bring themselves to believe that becoming a vegan is a sustainable lifestyle. They would have great difficulty in denying their belief that consuming animal products is necessary for proper nutrition.

That’s why I think it’s such a great, and difficult, question to answer.

Assuming you’re not already an atheist or agnostic, or vegetarian or vegan, which is more difficult, to become an atheist or a vegan?

I think I am the perfect person to propose this question.

That’s because I am not the stereotypical vegan. Most vegans, as this infographic below demonstrates, are liberal, non-religious females.

Meanwhile, I am a Libertarian (socially liberal, fiscally conservative), religious male.

For me personally, the answer is obviously simple: It’s easier to become a vegan, but impossible to become an atheist.

My faith is God is non-negotiable. Sure, I will go to my grave with questions I don’t understand about God, but to me, that’s what real faith is anyway.

And I’ve already been living the vegan lifestyle for nearly 4 years.

I’ve “been there, done that” when it comes to answer the vegan question.

But what do you think? What’s your answer?

Assuming you’re not already an atheist or agnostic, or vegetarian or vegan…

Which would be more difficult: To become an atheist or a vegan?

Which would be more difficult: To become an atheist or a vegan?

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A) Agnostics Vs. Atheists, From a Christian Perspective and B) Is Atheism Technically a Faith-Based Religion?

I’m not trying to convert atheists to Christianity; I’m trying to convert atheists to agnosticism.

Maybe somewhat surprisingly, I am actually not the kind of person who participates in pointless debates.  Granted, I’ll observe them, but I won’t join the heated discussions myself.  One of these classic debates is when Christians try to argue with atheists.  I remember one time on a church mission trip in high school I witnessed one of our youth group’s leaders yell to a guy at Wal-Mart during an emotional exchange: “Well buddy, one day you’re gonna finally meet God and see that He’s real and when you do, I hope you bust hell wide open!”  For what it’s worth, the atheist started it by loudly scoffing at our youth group’s Christian t-shirts which explained we were in that city to help with construction in low-income neighborhoods and also to lead Vacation Bible School at a local church in Phenix City, AL.

But still, that story shows how neither person was there to even defend their own beliefs, but instead to try to prove that the other person was a fool.  Therefore, it’s safe to say they both successfully proved their point.  It was a win-win situation.  Technically.

It has been my observation that agnostics (people who admit they don’t have the answers when it comes to the afterlife or the existence of God or how we all got here, but are willing to admit there’s a chance that just like any explanation out there including atheism, Christianity could be right) are respectful and overall cool people.  Typically, from my experience, agnostics do not have a general attitude that comes across like they are smarter or better than those who do believe in God.  It seems that truly they have no agenda to convert me to a state of doubt or unknowingness.  And I like that.

atheist/agnostic/deist

Generally (but not always), my experience observing atheists typically means they openly mock the “blindness, arrogance, and lack of ability to think freely” of those who do believe in God, specifically Christians.  Of course, this only fuels the emotion of certain Christians who sincerely belief, yet fail to recognize that while Jesus did say to go forth and tell the nations, the Bible also teaches against arguing with a fool– whether that fool is an atheist, another Christian, or the host of a political talk show.

I don’t see how it’s my place to try to convert someone who not only clearly demonstrates they are not interested or are not at all open to the idea, but who also mocks my efforts or even my lifestyle, stereotyping me because I am a Christian.  When it became clear to Jesus that His own people, the Jews (especially the Jewish religious leaders), had officially rejected His claim to be the Son of God, He then focused His time and efforts elsewhere- to the rest of us Gentiles.  Jesus didn’t waste energy on those who wanted to argue with him.  And interestingly, He didn’t waste energy on trying to prove them wrong.  He just simply walked on.  Nice move, Jesus.

Since it’s not a Christian’s place to argue with someone who doesn’t believe or to try to belittle those who belief differently, I would like to expect the same amount of respect from atheists.  It’s this simple: I do not believe I am better than anyone in this world, no matter what they do or do not believe. If I did, I would be contradicting the beliefs of my own religion.  Again, in turn, I would like the same treatment from those who do not believe the same way as me.

It’s pretty clear to me that both Christians and atheists have given themselves a bad reputation in the process of trying to prove each other to be wrong and to be idiots.  For example, there is a facebook group called “f— Jesus Christ” (I am of course censoring the actual name).  Obviously, that group started quite a stir, some Christians started creating groups like“ban the facebook group ‘f— Jesus Christ’”.  Therefore, hundreds of Christians have joined that group and as they have done so, it proclaims on their facebook profile and on the status feed which all of their facebook friends see that “(So-and-so) has joined the group “ban the facebook group ‘f— Jesus Christ’”.

As a Christian, I feel bad enough even typing the censored version of the name of the original facebook group.  So I definitely don’t want it repeated all over facebook.  Again, even though Christians are standing up against some offensive atheists who created the group, they have ended up defeating the purpose by not only bringing attention to their cyber bullies but also by wasting their energy arguing with fools.  No one wins; instead they just get upset.  I guess the thing about this story that makes me the most curious is this: Why would an atheist hate Jesus Christ or curse Him?  How can you hate or curse something that truly doesn’t exist?

Ultimately, the atheist who started the facebook group ended up having his or her wish granted: Christians got upset and in turn may have said some less than nice things towards atheists on facebook.  Because if a Christian can be made to look like an unstable, hate-speaking person, the atheist wins because it in essence shows the Christian to be a hypocrite- since the angry Christian’s  demeanor is not in accordance with how Jesus taught His followers to behave.  But again, this whole thing just goes to show that none of this is even about converting anyway; it’s about proving the other to be wrong, and therefore to be an imbecile.

I just think that if I were an atheist, I truly wouldn’t care what other people believed.  It wouldn’t even be worth talking about.  There wouldn’t be any emotion or passion invoked when I thought about it.  It would be that simple for me.

The problem with my hypothetical example of me being an atheist is this: Being an atheist truly requires having faith in the unseen and in prehistory.  And the way I see it, it takes much more faith to believe in nothing than it does in something.  Not to mention, it has been my experience that atheism is a vehicle (or Trojan Horse) for Evolution and Darwinism.   Therefore, I see atheism as a religion based on faith.

But agnosticism, I respect.  Because I’ve yet to meet an agnostic who mocked me, spoke to me condescendingly, or was passionate about their view.  And they never tried to convert me to Darwinism; because just like they can’t prove or disprove there is no God whom they can not see, it would take faith to firmly believe in Evolution.  I am actually fascinated by agnostics, because they evidently have no faith in the unseen or unknown or physically improvable.  I don’t see how they do it.  It seems that goes against how we were wired as human beings.

I see atheism as a passionate, organized religion.  But agnosticism- I just don’t know how to classify it.  The combination of faith and passion is a clear sign of a religion; most atheists I have met in my lifetime clearly possess both.  Agnostics, on the other hand, are not passionate about their non-belief and truly appear to have no faith.  Like Penn said in this candid and honest YouTube video, if a person truly believes in their religion, they should share with it others.  I guess that’s unless you’re an agnostic, because there’s no big idea to prove- not even Evolution.  But it seems to me like atheists want to preach their “nongospel”- and that sounds like religion to me.

Maybe the ultimate irony here is that I realize it could be pretty easy for any blog sniper to come across this article and miss the whole point.  Maybe a reader’s perception could cause them to believe I have found a way to cleverly be condescending towards atheists while ironically preaching that we should Christians and atheists should treat each other with respect.  (But I don’t think so- I’ve made it pretty clear that overzealous Christians have mishandled the situation too and have definitely been in the wrong by being rude and condescending towards atheists.)  I could see how the exact kind of overzealous person I refer to in this post (whether they are a Christian or atheist or political talk show host) could find a way to get upset by the words I’ve said here today and be inspired to leave a three paragraph-long comment using my words (in sarcastic quotation marks and out of context, of course) to try to start a religious debate or character-bashing session.

If that’s the case, I promise this: I will not retaliate.  I will not defend myself.  I will not reply to your comment.  Because then I would without a doubt become my ultimate worst example.

But… if you’re just dying to leave a comment on this one, what I would rather you do is debunk is my claim that because atheism requires faith and has passionate believers (and often has an agenda based on its own bible: the teachings of Evolution), atheism is therefore an unofficial organized religion.  If you want to leave a comment about that, I may be inspired to debate you, with all due respect.



The Curious Case of the Sports Agnostic: Some Guys Just Don’t Care About Sports and They’re Okay with That

Religion and sports are alike in that while they both consist of plenty of true followers (the sincerely devoted), they have their fair share of agnostics (the apathetic yet open-minded) and naturally, some atheists (the passionately opposed).

I was born into a family where sports, for all practical purposes, simply did not exist.  We never talked about them, never watched them, and really, never played them.  Of course there was my 2nd grade year playing baseball- turns out, I was pretty decent.  And my 5th and 6th grade years of basketball- not so decent. There was no lofty moral issue we had against sports; it’s just that virtually no one on either side of my family gave them any thought.  Except my Uncle Al.

My mom’s brother Al has always been a huge University of Alabama football team fan- for every year of my childhood, thanks to him, I never was without several Alabama t-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers, and whatever else kind of proper memorabilia I would need as a kid growing up in the state of Alabama, where deciding your allegiance to either the University of Alabama or Auburn was only second to whether or not you had accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Even now, on the front license plate holder of my Honda Element, I have a University of Alabama fan plate.  Beyond knowing the coach’s name (Nick Saban; easy name to remember since it’s so similar to mine), I can’t tell you much about the team in recent years other than last year was good for them, as was 1992, and that Bear Bryant died in 1983, less than a month after he retired.  But I am an Alabama fan, as opposed to Auburn.  And even if I’m their worst fan ever, I’m still a fan.  But that is the extent of my affiliation with anything in the world of sports.

There’s no way around it: I’m weird for being a guy who doesn’t care about sports.  Guys are clearly supposed to care about sports.  Throughout my whole life, I’ve tried to convince myself that I’m missing out.  That all those Saturday afternoons and Monday nights when I’m spending my time and efforts doing anything else, I should be in front of the TV watching the game.  And that for all the games I miss, I should if nothing else, check the scores online to have something to talk about with other guys the next day.

That despite the fact that team players are traded every season, I myself should stay loyal to certain teams.  Despite the fact that sports stars are multimillionaires while school teachers often make less $40,000 a year, I should still worship sports figures.  And though the outcome of each game and each season doesn’t actually affect reality, it does in the minds of sports fans, so therefore it should matter in my mind.

My apathy towards sports has a lot to do with the fact in my mind, sports aren’t logical.  I do see how sports feed that human instinct to replicate war in some way when we ourselves aren’t actually fighting, similar to how most young wild animals “play fight” to prepare each other to eventually kill for food and defend themselves and/or family members.   But I can’t see how or why sports should be relevant or important in my life to the degree that they are for so many people.  Clearly though, I’m the odd man out here.  And clearly, it’s my view of sports, not sports themselves, that is irrelevant.

I am a sports agnostic, not a sports atheist.  In other words, I’m cool about it.  I just know that people have fun playing and watching sports, so I respect that.  I’m still invited to Super Bowl Parties- because despite not knowing the rules of football, I can still have a good time with people who are having a good time, no matter what they’re doing.  And who knows, maybe in the back of their minds, sports fans hope to convert me once I finally see what I’m missing.  Maybe one day I will finally “get it”.

I have been asked since my first year of high school why it is that I can name any celebrity’s height or ethnicity, what year any song or movie came out, or why I have such a vivid memories of trivial conversations and events that no one else would ever care to remember.  Here’s why:  Most men occupy a good amount of their passion and their memories to sports.  I don’t.  I have to fill it with something.  My passion is writing, and those odd details and stories are the magic stuff of what I write.  If I cared about sports, this website wouldn’t exist, and you would have spent the last couple of minutes doing something else, instead of reading this.  Like watching sports.

Dane Cook is to Comedy What Benny Hinn is to Christianity

In regards to our own religious beliefs, or lack of them, it all ultimately comes down to the classic case of choosing to either overlook or focus on the best or worst of extremes and using that viewpoint as the unchangeable standard to support what we believe.

When it comes to my involvement with facebook, I’m more of an observer and less of a participant.  I’ll comment on people’s pictures and random status updates (as a way to “stay in the loop” with people I haven’t seen in years, because sometimes, there’s nothing really new to say to them, just “hey, how are you doing?”).  It may be safe to say that I tend to get the most enjoyment by reading the controversial status updates that at least 20 people comment on.  It’s just funny, if nothing else, to see the original “status updater” provoke that many people to argue with him or her, or other commenters.

In the last few weeks, I’ve seen several occurrences of this scenario involving religious sorts of proclamations.  The status updater makes a statement that at least in some subtle tone indicates that people who belong to any sort of religion (typically Christianity is specifically targeted) are gullible and naïve.  Then all those who are also non-religious and outspoken jump on the “no god wagon” which in turn provokes those who are religious to either defend themselves or their beliefs.

Benny Hinn, saying his famous catch phrase, "Be healed!"

By being a silent spectator of these events, I get to learn exactly how those who are disgusted by/apathetic towards religion became that way.  It seems a lot of the time the reason they stopped believing in God has to do with other people they saw who were in some way hypocritical.  Or televangelists who make money by telling their listeners they can become rich and blessed by giving money to the church and/or buying his book on “abundant living”.  Or judgmental church marquee signs that try to be cute by scarring people into church: “Without the bread of life, you’re toast!”  (A reference to Holy Smoke). Or because they visited a church one time and were either really bored or ignored by everyone.  Or because they never got a satisfying answer to this question: Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People ? (Click that title to read why.)

Or any other of the thousands of reasons why the concept of God coming to Earth in the form of a Jewish man to die for the sins of the entire world (who was raised back to life after three days, then 40 days later ascend to Heaven) because He loves them and wants a personal relationship with them and will give them eternal life yet will cast them to hell if they don’t believe doesn’t seem logical, practical, or coherent.

And here's your host for "Your Best Life Now", superstar Joel Osteen!...

There are so many reasons not to believe.  I can see how it could be pretty easy to focus on any of them.  But just like the way nonbelievers focus on any of those reasons for a basis for not believing, I overlook all those reasons and instead focus on all the other thousands of reasons to actually believe.

At the end of the day (and more literally, our earthly life), we will have had the free will to choose which reasons why we do or do not believe.  I won’t get into all the details here, but the whole reason I exist ultimately goes back to a scam in 1973 involving some shady tent revival “preachers” who convinced my grandparents to sell all their belongs (and give the money to the church, which in turn went to the preachers) and move from Buffalo, NY (to avoid a prophesied national famine that never came) to Fort Payne, AL (the “Promised Land”, safe from the national famine).  Ultimately, my parents met as teenagers, both being forced to go to that weird church.  They got married four years later, then four years after that, I was born.

What, is it a sin or judgmental that I don't think this guy is funny? Dane, if you're reading this, sorry- I'll buy you lunch. Email me.

If anyone had a reason to be bitter or disgusted or simply just “through with” organized religion and/or God, it was my family.  But instead, they chose to recognize that they had been misled by deceptive people who claimed to be following God.  They chose to trust in God despite of other people, not allowing faulted human beings to get in the way with their relationship with God.

Of all the reasons not to believe in God, the one that I understand the least is the fact that hypocrites and less-than-perfect Christians exist.  To judge an entire religion because of the worst specimens seems unfair to everyone.  I love comedy and comedians.  I’m not a fan of Dane Cook or Larry the Cable Guy, but I don’t denounce comedy in general because of what I perceive as poor example of what a comedian is.  But ultimately sometimes it’s much easier to judge an entire group by picking out the worst examples as the mascot for the whole team.

Yes.  Greedy, selfish, hateful, people are all around who call themselves Christians.  But there are also the ones that don’t make the headlines.  The ones who demand less attention.  The ones risking their lives to help starving and dying villages in the poorest parts of the world.  But instead, Christianity is often judged by our worst examples.

And as hard as I try to be a perfect Christian and try to be a good example for everyone, I will constantly miss the mark in some way.  If I personally was the only example of Christianity for the whole world to see, it would be dangerous for Christianity.  The world would see my sincerity, my love for others, my time in prayer for so many people, my humility in my constant trusting in God for all the unseen and the future.  But they would see me mess up too.  My pride, my selfishness, and my shame.

Multiply that concept by the hundreds of millions, to symbolize all the Christians of the world.  What would onlookers choose to see?  Just the good?  Just the bad?  Both?  Whatever the answer is, that’s most likely how you see God, or don’t.

Free will is a complicated and dangerous thing.