Friday, May 25, 2012

The View From My High Horse

A post on Facebook today made me think. It read: 

For me, it's not just one simple fact. I am an atheist because of many complicated reasons. It took 40+ years of observation and inquiry to get me to the point that I was willing to take on the burden of the label "atheist." But here are some of the results of my struggle. 

Where you see a medical miracle, I see the application of doctors' accumulated knowledge, skills and training, advances in medical technologies, and drugs that cost millions of dollars and years of meticulous clinical trials to develop. The woman in the next hospital room might not have been so fortunate. But still, I celebrate that cure with you, as it permits you to enjoy another day with your loved one.

Where you see God's mercy in having the one house in a community spared the devastation of a tornado, I see randomness and a lot of neighbors--probably just as undeserving of this lash of nature's power--who could use some help. But still, I am relieved for you. 

When you find peace, tranquility, joy and meaning in holy texts, rites, prayer and the community of your faith, your happiness brings me happiness. When it moves you to help others, YAY. I might roll up my sleeves and give you a hand.  

Where you see a chosen people, a nation blessed, personal wealth and privilege ordained by a higher power; when you interpret every impulse and desire that pops into your head as treemail from the voice of God, and every accomplishment as a divine pat on the back; when you act with the conviction that your faith will be your salvation "in the next life," no matter what you do in this one; when you expend energy to recruit others to your religion and denounce those who reject it; when myths once used to make sense of the natural world have been shown false, yet you persist in advancing them; where "divinely inspired" texts inspire you to harm others . . . 

I sense a threat to our future. 

NOT believing in a supernatural being gives me peace and tranquility. The internet gives me some semblance of a community of like-minded people, but I'd like to follow Thomas Paine's ideal: "My country is the world, and my religion is to do good." The path I am following brings me joy and meaning as long as I put some thought into my footsteps. I'll get off my high horse now and resume on foot.  

I am an atheist. You won't make sense to me if you tell me that faith doesn't require proof, but I know that that works both ways. Maybe we'll find another reason to listen to each other. Let's just move on.