Sunday, November 22, 2009

So Im a big stinkin' atheist. Why am I such a nice guy?

So.... yeah... don't believe in God. Now, I have to say that I've come by my apostasy honestly, I spent the first 20 odd years of my life deeply immersed in the Southern Baptist church. If the church was open we were generally there and I took my time there seriously. Im no casual disbeliever but disbelieve I do..

The reasons for my disbelief are many but one of the first things that made me start thinking about the status of my supposed salvation was the notion of morality and evil writ large.

Christians will tell you that without their God there is no possibility for morality but I aint buyin' it and frankly never have. First of all to say as much is to essentially announce that you're a psychopath on a short leash which of course they are not but it goes beyond that.

The fundamental problem for those who conflate God and morality is that civilizations with vastly different conceptions of God, or scarcely any perception of God at all, have very similar moral codes and behaviors as believers. Its a small point and an easy observation but its a significant issue for anyone who insists that the Bible or other book is the source of all morality in the world. Wildly different inputs should not have observably similar outcomes, but they do all the time.

But lets get personal. As I observe the lives of the many Christians I know I can perceive no difference in the choices they make for themselves and the choices I make for me. In fact I would say that you would not be able to point to any facet of my moral life and infer my atheism from my behavior or choices. Now Im no better than them but Im certainly no worse and that shouldn't be. I don't believe in heaven or providential judgement of any kind, so why aren't I killing, lying, cheating, and coveting more than the religious folks? I should be....

For me the answer is readily apparent. Morality is a human conception, I'll even call it an evolved trait. What do we want? Well excluding the sociopaths and nutjobs its fair to say that most homosapien types want to live in relative peace and comfort. Now is continued violence against ones fellows the best way to achieve that end? Sometimes it is ( in which case we handily enlist God on the side of our violence ) but most often bashing the heads of your neighbors against a wall because you covet their ass isn't going to make your life less complicated and will invite pain and violence which doesn't serve the interests of our existence over the long term.

Out on the savannah I think we learned very quickly that codifying fundamental respect for one another made the wheels of our nascent civilization turn much more easily for its members and thus was morality "invented".

Now here comes the ironic part....

While its abundantly clear that one God is in no way necessary to the formation of morality it is also clear that myth, symbolism, and belief in the idea of A god are entirely necessary to the CONTINUED existence of morality in a pluralistic world. We are meaning makers. We have an endless capacity to organize ourselves around stories and I think that's a terribly important point in our survival but to acknowledge the equal power of our stories costs us much of their specific organizational impact and that's where it gets dicey. God does not exist. We continually invent him. But we cannot acknowledge as much without radically reorganizing our societal structures and that just aint going to happen quickly. If ever.

This is why Im not an angry atheist.... well I am angry but just not about this. Usually. I don't know if we have the capacity to move toward complete rationality or if that would even be a good thing but I do know through observation that we have the capacity to move away from singular conceptions of the transcendent without an injurious affect on society or individuals and the more we move away from spiritual tribalism the better. How far? I wouldn't pretend to know, just don't start teaching your goddamn creationism to my kids.....


  1. My morality has nothing to do with religion or the fear of God's has everything to do with self-respect and honoring the family I've created.

    I God avenges every sin I've seen from a lot of "Christians", he must have a pretty large back-log of smiting to do....

    One thing I find laughable is I was taught when you do sin, "all you have to do is ask God for forgiveness", really? Then why walk the line for your beliefs, and how many Get Out of Hell Free cards is God willing to give?

  2. That's because you're a filthy piece of shit.

    Now, get the fuck off my planet.