Saturday, March 21, 2015


 My atheism is void, blank, and valueless.

It doesn’t mean a whole lot to NOT believe in a deity. Someone said I was courageous to be so blunt about my experiences and factors leading in my return to atheism.

I don’t think so … as far as atheism is concerned.

The smartest, most wonderful people I’ve ever met or known have been RELIGIOUS believers.

Yeah, re-read that.

Atheism be damned, I don’t think it means much. What DOES mean something is WHY and HOW a person’s beliefs cause them to behave in the world. I am more interested in their assumptions, how they came to adopt their worldview, and the implications for their views. 

Actions are much, much more important. BELIEVE ME, I’ve had plenty of people ape my views (my atheism, my anarchism, my skepticism, my joy of life optimism) … only to turn into the most hideous actors.

What IS courageous to me is one’s willingness to follow the truth where it leads.

To me, of course, that is atheism as it relates to a god or gods.

But atheism is NO guarantee of good behavior or right thinking. Not at all. Twentieth century socialism should be all the proof anyone needs that broad, popularly held atheism leads to good – it does NOT, not necessarily. Atheism can quickly devolve into nihilism. Atheism can be replaced by rampant nationalism and statism, fulfilling the deepest needs in humans to worship and exalt.


My atheism is experiential, derived from years of study and consideration. The less hasty I became, the more rational I became. The more I learned to delay gratification, to discipline myself, the more reason and rationality enveloped me as the ONLY guides to a fulfilling life.

But I am very much a creature of the West, of Judeo-Christian values. 

My atheism is tinged with the vestigial philosophies of Christianity. Can’t deny that. I have to constantly keep my assumptions in check, my biases in check, in order to focus on what is real. So many people want to control and frame issues FOR me, especially as a convicted criminal – I am OPEN season for all sorts of cranks, from pseudo-scientific psychologists to religious hacks of every stripe. 

(EVERYONE has an opinion on what made me do what I did, if I can be rehabilitated, and the steps I must take in order to make serious changes in my life. All of them come at me with the assumption THEY KNOW what happened. But they do not. They were not there. They move from the assumption a general crime can be addressed with general measures in a specific case. That is NOT true. One size does NOT fit all. It really isn’t anyone else’s business, but the premise they never examine is how NO ONE directly involved in the case EVER asked for their help. Not one person needs their help.

But their religiousness or secular-ness has little to do with their penchant to intervene.

Let me put it this way: at my most vulnerable, at THE most horrible moments in my life, I did NOT turn toward religion. It is exactly what everyone wanted for me, from the state of California law enforcement agencies to friends. Some had good motives, others less so (every manner of Christianity, for example, is lauded and pushed by the state at prisoners). But I confirmed my atheism during that time, drawing upon whatever inner strength I could summon, a strength I derived from seeing things as they were and not as I’d like them to be. 

It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. Inmates, guards, counselors, nearly ALL of officialdom almost demanded I convert to some kind of religion.


I won’t piss on someone’s faith. I remember how important it was to me, and I remember how wonderful people of faith were to me (and still are). I simply divorce them from their faith (maybe not entirely), and I rely on my faith in the INDIVIDUAL. 

Your group adherence doesn’t phase me. YOU do. 

Jehovah’s Witness? I don’t care. Catholic? So what. Hindu? Neat. I just do not see such affiliations as the true measure of a person. YOU might want to be an ant or part of a collective, but I assume, almost as an article of my personal faith, you really ARE an individual. I respect you for you. If you slight me, hurt me, or attempt to hurt me, I am done with you in the most personal way. DONE. That’s not cruel, that’s me respecting your CHOICE, your autonomy to act in the world. I waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay respect that. And I do because I presuppose your individuality, the you that makes you.

Yes, it is a VERY dangerous way to live. I’d say a fractional percentage of the entire human population hold views anywhere near mine. Fractions of a fraction. And I don’t type that to make seem as if I am part of some elite. Hahahaha. Helllllllllllllllllllllll no. Hahahahaha. I think we can agree I belong to no such elite, and if there were one I would not be invited to join.

It’s just where I end, where I find life exciting and beautiful, in the continuum. Again, I won’t belittle another's belief (on second thought, I will at times), but I do not need stories and make-believe in order to make life interesting. Joseph Campbell had a point, yes. Myth and so on IS the way we’ve coped with phenomenon we couldn’t explain. I get that. It’s probably helpful, and even necessary. But objective reality, and the search to find and confront it, is infinitely more interesting to ME.

Since my release, rationality and reason animate me and make me so pleased to be alive at this time and in this place. I love being alive. I don’t require more in terms of fantasy. That isn’t to insist aspects of dreaming and imagination are not valuable. No. I just don’t want to fool myself, that’s all.

But a person’s atheism doesn’t make them a better person. THAT I am sure about.

What DOES make a person valuable to me is loyalty, fidelity to their worldview, and at least a decent impulse toward liberty and mutual aid. 

And I mean it.
Craig Edward Kelso is the author of Anarcho-Capitalism (2014), a primer on the philosophy of peaceful, stateless cooperation. His curriculum vitae include a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from San Diego State University, and a Post-Baccalaureate secondary education credential in both Social Science and English Language Arts. Kelso taught for nearly a decade in the American public school system, and was voted by colleagues Teacher of the Year, twice in his short tenure, earning numerous accolades from chambers of commerce, mayors, state assembly persons, governors, congresspersons, senators, and even Wal-Mart. Currently he struggles to earn an opportunity to be employed, working as a laborer, dishwasher. He is deliriously happily married to Myra Kelso, living in Southern California with their adorable children.

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