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I believe that religion devalues human life. All human life, not just the lives of the religious practitioners. I think that religion indoctrinates innocent people to waste their minds and under-appreciated their lives, their family’s lives, their friend’s lives, and the lives of total strangers as well. If you disagree with that viewpoint and want to know just why I hold it, you’ll be disappointed here; this blog post is not one wherein I seek to affirm that position. I will, however, post on that position later.
Rather, in this post I will take one group of people who (in my experience) are some of the most under-appreciated people out there, and highlight three reasons I believe they are more worthy of our appreciation and love than the God of the Bible.
I want to talk about why the cashiers at Wal-Mart are more important to you than God.
1.) The Cashier is genuinely helping you.
Did the cashier create a manufactured problem and then demand that you take steps to fix it? Did they come into your home, rob you of your supplies, and then demand that you return to Wal-Mart to purchase more in order to avoid starving to death? No, of course they didn’t! Matter of fact, there’s a good chance you don’t even know them beyond the name printed on their nametag; and they don’t know you, either.
God, we are supposed to believe, knows each of us perfectly. If you’re really gullible, you may think he knew us before time even began (whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean). However, God set things up in Genesis knowing Adam and Eve would fail and also knowing that the rest of us would sin in their footsteps. He knew from the start that every human being would be in peril of going to hell, but he made the world in a way to accommodate that threat anyway. In short: he’s a prick. He manufactured the problem, then tried to force us to take the “medicine,” which would supposedly be Jesus.
At least the cashier isn’t stuffing you into a problem and then demanding you ask for their help to get out! No, they’re just there to try to help you with problems that you have in one of life’s basic little areas; buying your groceries. But still, when you think about it, that’s more than God ever really does…
2.) The Cashier can affirm you as a human being.
As human beings, we all need interaction with our fellow humans. It’s simply part of what it is to be human. Without interaction with other humans, we quickly start losing our grip on who we are and begin desperately inventing things to talk to (a la Wilson from “Cast Away”). Whenever you pass through a cashier’s line at Wal-Mart, they will at least talk to you and, in so doing, acknowledge your existence has some value. Most of them will even smile and try to make a bit of small-talk.
Now God, on the other hand, if he is real, seems to habitually avoid us. It’s as if he’s the cosmic version of that friend whom you know could answer their phone, but they let it go to voicemail anyway. Believers beg, plead, beseech, and pray all year long, but not once do the clouds part and reveal any attention to validate their actions. Instead, they’re left desperately trying to link disparate events and say it was “God’s work.” That’s a horrible, pathetic reward for so much time spent in prayer. God never speaks to us, smiles at us, laughs with us, or asks us how are day is…all things which, for an omnipotent being, would be infinitely easy to do.
But Wal-Mart cashiers do! I’ve had many chats with them, and I’ve seen others do the same. I’ve seen them smile at me, genuinely laugh at my jokes, and engage in at least somewhat meaningful small-talk. I was a Christian for years and years and never got that sort of treatment from God! When you walk out of Wal-Mart (and if you were lucky enough to get one of the good cashiers) you can, silly as it may sound, feel a bit more like a part of an interconnected community of shared meaning. Again, that’s more than you can say for God…
3.) You can know that cashiers are real.
When it comes to knowledge, it is a tricky business. I’m of the school of thought that we cannot ever 100% know anything; there are for us only degrees of certainty resulting in justified belief.
Still, even taking into account all the Cartesian possibilities, there is more certainty and a greater justifiability in believing that cashiers are real beings than believing that God is a real being. That being the case, there is more reason to give them your acknowledgment, respect, and appreciation. God, on the other hand, is purely hypothetical. Anyone who claims to know he exists (they can be identified online as the ones typing that they KNOW in ALL CAPS, which is OBNOXIOUS) actually only means that they really really really believe he exists; they are convicted in that belief. fervently held belief does not actually count as real knowledge. The fact that we can do tests to show that cashiers are real stands high against the fact that we can do nothing to give even an ounce of credibility to the claim that God is real, not matter how sincerely that claim is made.
So, as real beings just like you, cashiers deserve at least some of our respect and appreciation. They are, after all, our fellow humans, citizens, and sometimes even neighbors. They help us, and they sometimes even try to make our visit to Wal-Mart more pleasant. They are more helpful to you and more apparently real than any god has ever been.
So, the next time you go to Wal-Mart (or any other store) and you’re in the checkout line, smile and talk to your cashier. After all, they’re more important than God!
SASHA blog guest contributor Brandon Christen, a former Church of Christ preacher-turned-atheist, was born and raised in Missouri. He grew up in a religious family, and joined a far-right conservative church when he was a senior in college. For almost six years, the church dominated all facets of his life and thinking until, in early 2010, he began to openly question its steadfast rejection of science and philosophy. After a protracted struggle with his convictions, Brandon became an atheist in September of that year. These days Brandon remains intensely interested in religion, focusing on religious versus secular moral and ethical issues. Brandon frequently engages in conversations with as many religious individuals as he can in a “grass roots” effort to spread awareness about secular morality. He also acts as a strong voice in the Secular Student Alliance at the University of Central Missouri. While he sees debunking religious falsehoods as important, Brandon’s ultimate focus is on becoming a professional philosopher and emphasizing in ethics so as to lend his voice to the attempt to heal the moral divide between believers and non-believers.
and don’t forget… other SASHA members! We are here for you, too!