2nd Cup of Coffee
Photo of Richard Dawkins by Trevor Haldenby, subject to this creative commons license
There’s been something more than a spirited debate over the past year or so about the new strain of “virulent” atheism. This shockingly uppity brand of non-belief has attracted a wave of criticism as well as stout support. This non-creed is posing a strong challenge to the role of traditional religion in government and society in general. “New atheists” are not content to live and let live; they demand not just tolerance but respect.
My father, who would have most likely labeled himself a rationalist, detested the word atheism. He refused to identify with a word which described him by what he did not believe. As a chip off the old block, I feel the same way. I don’t believed in any god(s), but my disbelief is a starting point for my personal philosophy and not the sum of it.
There is no proof of the existence of any god or gods. Likewise I acknowledge there is no way to prove that any particular god does not exist. I learned long ago religion is a subject not amenable to rational debate; any debate about faith is akin to arguing over what the “best” color is (we all know its blue…). I gave up arguing with believers a long time ago; when I was a senior in high school I spent weeks trying to convince a female friend who was planning to become a nun that her religion was bunkum. At the end of our extended conversation she told me how our debate had strengthened her faith and made her more determined than ever to get herself to a nunnery. Alas, her faith withered somewhat, however, in the presence of her new boyfriend and her career plans suddenly changed.
I don’t try to evangelize for my non-belief. What would be the point? Atheism has utterly nothing attractive to offer. It recognizes no benevolent universal presence, sees existence as random, chaotic and pointless, and denies any chance of human immortality. Why would anyone ever adopt such a belief? Whatever the benefit of knowing “the truth”, comfort is not part of it.
I’m an old fashioned atheist. Ninety or so percent of my fellow Americans are Christians and others practitioners of a “god-based” religion. According to various polls most of those folks rank me and my fellow atheists at the bottom of the human heap. They’d sooner vote for a black female Muslim for president than for any of my co-(non)religionists. These sobering facts lead me to the conclusion simple tolerance is a worthy, if difficult to reach, goal.
Leave “in God we Trust” on the dollar bill, I don’t care. Give your mealy mouthed, “non denominational” prayers at the Super Bowl, I don’t care. Preach hellfire and damnation in your church or on the street corner, I don’t care. Band together to elect “good Christian (Jewish, Muslim, Hindu..) people to political office, I don’t care. Believe whatever you want – shout it from the mountain top, I don’t care.
Try to force me to practice or support your nonsensical (to me) faith and I very much do care. Try to have the state teach your nutty pseudo science in the schools I pay for and I care even more. Try to tack you Ten Commandants on my courthouse wall and I will do everything I can to stop you.
Otherwise, just leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone. You worship your God and I won’t worship any god at all…
This sweet, sexy girl may or may not believe in God – but I really don’t care!
Photo by Scott Maxworthy, altered by me, and both original and altered images subject to this creative commons license.
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