Friday, June 3, 2011

Coming out of Retirement - Plus a Post on the Moral Case for Atheism

I retired this blog peremptorily. It was a mistake. I'm going to keep my baby steps blog and use it for writing posts, but I think I need a brain dump one. Especially when there's something I've been noodling on for a few days. Like my own atheism.

Atheist is a loaded, scary word isn't it? I confess that when I hear it, I still feel threatened. For a girl raised in a good, Catholic home like mine, "atheist" still feels a little like something hanging out under your bed, ready to getcha as soon as you let your guard down.

But I'm an atheist. And I've been noodling for a while on the moral case for it. Because morality is the reason why I finally gave up cowardly agnoticism and embraced (as Dan Savage calls it) principled atheism.

Here's the skinny: I didn't reject God (although god makes less and less sense to me as I go on). I rejected moral absolutism. I embraced getting along with other people. If God's out there telling you the right thing to do, there's always the chance that the right thing to do becomes the thing God says is the right thing to do. Stop. Period. I'm not a bigot: God says it's a sin to be gay. I don't hate women: God's the one who says she's a whore.

There are, of course, a whole honking lot of people who interpret the will of God thoughtfully and with an eye to getting along with the rest of us earth-walkers. I'd wager a healthy majority of the church going people of the world are tolerant, respectful people. But I'm not talking about religion. I'm talking about God.

The very notion of Divinity means that there is an absolute right, and absolute right leads to absolute authority. I'm a godless democrat and a wannabe socialist. I want to live in a world where the will of the majority and the rights of the minority are privileged equally and above all. There's no room for absolute authority there.

My philosophy in a nutshell: If you let go of God, all you're left with is people. And that's the point when people, including people outside your tribe, start to matter more.

I wish that John Lennon song hadn't gotten somehow to be so hokey. Because it's a radical notion. Imagine (ugh...still hokey... I wish I knew who to blame for that. Is it OK if I blame Sharon Stone?)