Some Thoughts This Holiday Season
The other day, I ran into this rather hateful person on another internet blogging platform. She was an interesting person; seemingly well spoken, either a nurse or some other kind of professional in the health care system, very positive in her sexuality, but one of the more hateful atheists I've run across in a while. It wasn't just enough to believe or not believe and just coexist; there had to be bashing and ridicule involved. And that just rubbed me wrong.
I told her it's entirely possible for either an atheist or theist world to devolve into a screaming murder festival. The religious leader sends his people into battle because he thinks his god commanded it. And the Stalins and Maos of the world do the same because they see their people as nothing more than meaty fuel to be ground up to feed the machinery of the State. But in both cases, the people are equally dead.
There are good (and bad) people on either side of the argument. Atheists have people like Warren Buffet who donated over $40,000K to humanitarian causes. Bill Gates who donated over $27 billion to global health and education. Believers have people like Mother Theresa, Albert Schweitzer, MLK, John D. Rockefellar. All these people - for one reason or another - believed in generosity and philanthropy. And then, atheists have people like Jeffrey Dahmer, Mao, Stalin, Ted Kaczynski. Believers have shitstains like Fred Phelps, al-Zawahiri, the KKK, and New England witch hunters.
I told this woman that atheists experience SOME sense of morality. When somebody hustles you out of $10 on ebay, you don't nod and say,"Interesting. This fellow lacks the genetic predisposition toward equitable dealing that generations of sexual selection in favor of social behavior has instilled in the rest of us." Hell, no! You're pissed. You think what that guy did was wrong. You want justice. You think he should have acted differently.
I told her that even though there's no wrong molecule floating in the air and there's no justice element on the Periodic Table, you think a swindler should have acted some other way, according to some invisible ideal that everybody is aware of and knows about.
Life is not all a matter of cold, hard reason. We all have a little crazy in our worlds, and we all depend on some fantasy that floats outside the boundaries of cold reason. What about that notion, free will? To a neuroscientist, that's as real as the Tooth Fairy. But if there's nothing beyond the physical, then your ability to choose your actions vanishes along with God, heaven and the angels.
Atheists hate wars, genocide, dictators, dishonest corporations and sexist male assholes. They hate all that because they know that the ability to have empathy for other humans is the only thing that separates us from the cockroaches. Don't even get me started on the GOP.
I was twelve years old when JFK was sworn into office. At that fairly innocent and naive age, I thought that education, reason and brotherly love could solve all our nation's (let alone the world's) problems. And two years later, I saw JFK assassinated, followed by his brother, Bobby. Then, the loss of MLK.
So, at this holiday season, I still believe in the power of love and education, but no doubt the hateful shitstains of the world - atheist AND believer - will just fuck things up for the rest of us; the non-believers and believers (at any level) who aren't hateful bastards. People who have no interest in converting anyone else. People who just want to live their lives in peace.
Season's greetings and love to you all.