Monday, July 20, 2009

Why must I define myself by your criteria?

A reader at The Dish speaks the truth:

I do not identify myself as an atheist, because it is an entirely negative word -- it doesn't really say anything about what I do believe, only what I don't. And it continues to frame the discourse in the terms of the believer. I understand that for believers (or many believers, anyway) questions about the existence and nature of God are very important. But they are not important to me. I think the question of God's existence is just not very interesting, and my lack of belief in God is not a foundation of my moral or philosophical identity (however much believers want it to be). How could it be a foundation? How could I build a moral and philosophical view of the universe predicated on what I don't believe?

What's important to me is what I do believe -- and that's what I'd rather talk about. The mysteries of science and philosophy -- particle physics, genetics, phenomenology, neurology, astronomy, Camus' struggle with absurdity. There is so much there to talk about that is fascinating and unknown and worthy of study and speculation, that to be constantly dragged back to this obsession with "God" is really just kind of dull. That's one problem people who don't believe in God run into -- all anyone wants to talk about is their non-believing. It keeps the ball entirely in the believers' court, and the discussion entirely on their terms. (When non-believers are allowed into the discussion at all, of course.)

Exactly. I've had more discussions than I care to that fall back to me being called on to justify why I don't find someone else's holy book convincing, when it was obviously written by the Big Guy Himself, and we know it was because it says so, right there on the cover...

Or being told that I cannot appreciate wonder, or beauty, or really love anyone...

Which, of course, isn't exactly the case.

[Note to self: Don't start blog posts 15 minutes before class. More later....]

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