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February 27, 2014

Open Letter to a Fellow Atheist

I published this (in rawer form) as a response to Seattle Slough, who is not really a troll, but does come here to disagree.

I don't mind that he disagrees. He does get a bit insulting, but it's the Internet-- what do you expect? I'm going to insult him (a bit) in this post.

Internet rules. What can you do.

But having written a response to him, and needing some content, I've decided to pop this out as a post.

We start with his quote, in my usual effed-up manner of quotation:

>>> Let me ask you:
Do you believe the Earth is less than 20,000 years old?
Do you believe in a world-wide flood?
Do you deny the theory of evolution?

If the answer to any of these is "yes" you are a fool. If the answer is "no" you deny the Bible as divine truth.

...

Seattle, being a non-believer myself, I agree with you that these things are not true.

Here is where I depart from you: Calling someone who does believe them a fool.

Was Blaise Pascal a fool? Before you answer, you should look him up on Wikipedia. He was quite brilliant. Incredibly brilliant, actually. Also, a religious Christian zealot (I think he'd agree with that characterization).

Was Isaac Newton a fool? I trust you know enough about him to know he was no fool.

Was William Wilberforce a fool? If you have to Wiki him, do so.

What you are doing is taking your lack of inquisitiveness (which I share) for some explanation as to What It All Means (I don't know that it means much of anything, and I suspect you feel similarly) as your demarcation between "fool" and, I guess, a wise man such as yourself.

There are a lot of brilliant men -- far more brilliant than you could dream -- in history, who not only believed in God (and Jesus), and not only were not "fools," but were in fact smarter than you (or, even myself, ego compels me to say, though it's a somewhat closer call) could ever hope to be.

You are guilty not of atheism (which is not a crime) but the great sin of our age, the great Vanity, that of Tribalism.

You believe that your membership in a tribe makes you superior to others; I think your devotion to a tribe makes you inferior.

You are desperately searching for affirmation of self in trivial proofs. I believe this, I don't believe that; ergo, I'm superior.

You might as well be basing your ego upon your favorite ice cream flavor.

Like you, I am an atheist (or, agnostic/Deist/atheist depending on the day). Like you, I do not believe anything in the Bible, except for some small things like I'm pretty sure a man named Jesus lived and caused a bit of ruckus.

But to me, this is about as much evidence of my superiority over my fellow man as my interest in True Detective.

You are establishing, in your mind, a hierarchy of persons, from wise to fool, based upon your own idiosyncratic What's Hot/What's Not list.

Here is an eye-opener for you: Some people wonder more about the First Mover than you or I do. Some people find scientific explanations implausible or unsatisfying.

This does not make them fools; it makes them of a different personality type than you or I.

Now, you will say they're wrong about what they believe; I'll say I agree with you.

But you are essentially doing the same thing a gay-hater does when he knocks him for being gay. The religious were born with a quixotic nature, a need to look beyond the tangible and mundane.

You and I weren't.

We should no more be "proud" of this than we're proud of our sexualities or our eye color.

The Vanity of our age is to find more and more trivial proofs that we matter. That we count. That we're better.

Politics, religion, racial or gender identity, sexual preference... all of it. We stupidly look at the world with eyes full of greed for proof that We Matter. We're Better. We're Special.

There is more to the world than that, if you look. Even if you don't believe in any god.

Some religious people find meaning, and personal validation, in Jesus. Some others seem to find a great deal too much meaning and personal validation in not believing in Jesus.

Let it go. Let vanity go.

I have a theory, which I frankly have not thought about very hard, but my theory is that Vanity is the handmaiden of all other sins.

For no other sin can be undertaken without causing a revulsion in the conscience except that Vanity -- or as a modernist would term it, ego, the Almighty I -- makes up a complicated and nonsense justification for that sin.

Let it go man. Let it go.

So I guess this makes me an agnostic Deist Buddhist or something.

Who knows. Who cares.

Go with God, or, if you like it better, go without him.

But get over your ego. You'll move faster and lighter without it.



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posted by Ace at 05:36 PM

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