I am not an atheist for one reason only: it simply takes too much work. An atheist has to be upset by the word god existing on our currency and could not possibly utter the word god when reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Neither of those things bother me at all, nor do a myriad of other religion inspired things like nativity scenes in the public square or a crucifix hung on a wall. Atheists are also always called upon to defend their godless by the faithful. Yeah? Don’t believe in God huh? Well how do you explain …….? I do not care what anyone chooses to believe when it comes to religion; unless you worship in such a way as to be an immediate danger to others. I can make the argument that all organized religions are a danger to anyone who is not one of their adherents, but you get my point. The problem arises though that I cannot be left to my secularity by the faithful. Someone or other has to explain to me the error of my ways or take umbrage at some slight, perceived or otherwise, to their faith. I am, therefore, not an atheist. I simply do not believe in god.
I wish there was some epiphany to which I could point as the seed of my disbelief, but no one event or experience comes to mind. I was, after all, baptized as an Irish Catholic, dutifully made my Communion and Confirmation, sang in my Catholic elementary school choir as a fourth grader and can still remember the majority of the prayers. As I made my way through the above lessons I always had the vague and eventually overt notion that this religion stuff was all just a racket of some sort. Not that Sister Colleen nor Father Al were bad people or even profiting off the faithful, but rather that too many people seemed to have bought into something which I simply could not believe. It wasn’t so much a mass hypnosis as it was a go along to get along and any of you who have known me for any length of time know that I am many things, but not one to do that.
I have visited many churches and the odd synagogue or three and, while there, do as the faithful do. I will cover my head for my Jewish friends and kneel, sit, stand, kneel for my Catholic ones. I can even admit to understanding why the pageantry and ritual of it appeals. After an all too brief exposure though my mind will begin to wander and I will wonder how best to make a graceful exit from whatever house of worship I might find myself in. I absolutely marvel at the artisanship of St. Louis Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel, but that is what it brings to my mind: the artisanship of the mortals who created it from stone, paint and glass, not the supposed breath of god that compelled them to do so. I no more believe that an alleged perfect being, who created man, would then speak to any of them, directing his wishes, than I believe that the pig in the Geico commercial is actually flying first class.
Why would a perfect being and all faiths believe their god to be THE perfect being, after having created man need to tell usanything? Wouldn’t he have imbued our genetic code with all the markers necessary for us to worship him or her faithfully? Why would a perfect being create something decidedly less than perfect, but fail to provide it innate rules for worship? Why wait until after the creations screwed up to demand that they worship the big guy in specific ways to exalt him, or her? I mean truly, what perfect being would give a rat’s ass what his creations do, unless that was part of the program from the get go? I mean a perfect being couldn’t possibly make a mistake, right? Because if he did that would mean the perfect being was either all powerful or all knowing, but not both because to be both would mean everything you did could only be perfect.
Bo Derek may be a 10, but neither she nor Cindy Crawford, (feel free to add your own here and I’m perfect okay with it being Clooney or Pitt, by the way), are perfect, not in the biblical sense anyway. Nor was the contemptible Mother Teresa, or the gracious Pope John Paul, or the prophet Muhammad, or Judah. They were all just what you and I are: imperfect human beings. It is there that I have snared some of the faithful. If you are a believer and are nodding your head as you read saying, “well of course those people are imperfect human beings”, than I have you partly in my boat. Because if the aforementioned people are imperfect but they are if not the creators of their religion, they are indeed progenitors of them. If we agree there we must therefore agree that no religion can be perfect for they are all man-made.
I know, I know. It was the word of god, or the spirit of same that moved mere mortals to create the religions to praise him. I won’t go into the specifics of how an illiterate merchant was dictated to solely in Arabic to establish his, or how another founder was actually the son of god, but him at the same time. Those conundrums never move the ball because you either believe or you don’t, and I don’t. What I will say instead is that if all humans are fraught with imperfection, equals parts good and evil, avarice and philanthropy, then anything created by them to worship their creator must itself be intrinsically flawed. Even if we presuppose that the spirit of god moved them to create something, no imperfect being could possibly create a perfect rendition of what the perfect being wanted. Truthfully, it occurs to me that not only would no perfect being need our supplication, there is no reason for said being to want it.
If by now your hackles are up and you are ready to start typing furiously to expose the errors of my words, do not bother. I’m not an atheist. I just don’t believe in god. This missive is only about me and no shot across the bow for any of you. It is simply me expressing a view that I hold dear and, hopefully, explaining some of the why I do so. It has always annoyed me that the creator would create us and then demand that we worship him. Seems a bit cursory and superficial for someone that can chart the course of planets and move the tides to expose the seabed, doesn’t it? I, for one, could not care less what entertains those humans I consider beneath me. I do not spend any time wondering why American Idol, Dancing with the Stars or Duck Dynasty not only survive but thrive. I chalk it up to the general appalling, illiteracy of the masses. Should I not believe that as far from perfect as I am, that a perfect being would be similarly unconcerned not only with our daily routines, but would give our machinations nary a thought?
I know, I know. It’s because god is so loving that he/ she cares about us. Didn’t Jesus restore the sight of the blind man he met on the road? Well if I believe he did, I would have to ask why not just cure all blindness? Do some people deserve to be hindered such? Again, I know I know. It is not for us to understand the ways of the lord. Yeah well that is where I have to leave the wagon train of religion. If we are supposed to love our brother, without exception, why should god do otherwise? Ahh… because god moves in mysterious ways my son. It is not for us to understand his will. Well, uhh, yeah, but that’s not coherent, much less proportionate. It seems like the created has to do all the work in this relationship, constantly striving to attain a perfection he cannot achieve. Might just be me, but that seems like a pretty unethical thing for a perfect being to do.
That leads me to the question of ethics. All the major religions believe that without them the world would be a lawless, contumacious place. Dogs would be dating cats and evil would reign across the world as it did in Gotham in the last Batman franchise. Why though would this be necessarily so? Many civilizations existed before the major religions and some even thrived. I am aware of no annotated scholarly work that suggests atheists are more prone to crimes of violence or greed. I would posit a guess that were we to undertake such a treatise that we would find many more acts of an egregious nature have been committed in the name of religion, than have been in the furtherance of atheism. Muhammad didn’t put entire villages to the sword because he didn’t believe, but rather because he did and they had the temerity to not believe as he did. Likewise, Torquemada didn’t sentence heretics to the rack, or burn them at the stake for being atheists, but because they had the gall to be witches!! Proving your innocence of course was as likely to kill you as his proving your guilt though, so I fail to see how that furthers your religious concepts, but hey, what do I know? After all, I’m not even smart enough to believe in god. I am, to put it succinctly, without knowledge.
This leads us to why I am not an agnostic either. Not only do I see that as a milquetoast way of addressing an issue, but it opens the door to the Gnostics were the ones with “special” knowledge of Christ and god. All others were agnostic, literally without knowledge. Forget that the Gnostics have been roundly extirpated for centuries because they were/are, apparently heretics to true Christianity. Odd that those who most loudly profess to “know” the word of god would be most roundly denounced for it. It’s sort of like Dionne Warwick should have known her Psychic Hotline was going to go bankrupt before it did, shouldn’t she? Although there are pagan, Gnostic, Jewish and Greek influences in the modern Bible, Christianity became a separate religion and the Gnostics were deemed heretics. Again, not because they failed to believe, but rather because they did not believe as the prevailing authority did. Agnostics then have the double whammy of being despised as intellectually lazy by both the fervent believers and the equally fervent non-believers.
All of which leads me back to where we started. I am not a believer in any religion nor god, am not an agnostic, and not an atheist because all of those positions require that I deem what someone else does as to be blasphemous, evil, thick headed, obtuse or stupefying. All that takes much more work than I am prepared to expend in what, for me, is the pursuit of proving a negative. I sincerely could not care less how you worship if I am left to my own devices unfettered. I can sincerely appreciate the beauty of a sunrise with those of you who believe it to be god’s will, as easily as I can who will seek to explain the red coloration of it in strictly Stephen Hawking-esque terms. I only ask that we just simply regard it silence.