Stop with that faith stuff already.

No, seriously. [See also: flyingspaghettimonsterism/pastafarianism. --f]

So yesterday I included the following
in a post mostly focussed on the sad state of godbag/queer relations. I received a couple (someone actually reads this thing?) of angry emails about the importance of faith as a firm foundation in life, from admittedly ambiguously "spiritual" folks who do not self-identify as Christian. Congrats to them on that. The point, however, is that atheism isn't some kind of, you know, paucity of spiritual fulfilment or something of the sort. We don't need to be coddled as psychological/emotional cripples. Quite the opposite: if faith is a crutch that gets you through hard times, if your god carries you across the sickeningly teacle-y beach of life when the going gets tough, aren't you (that's the midwesten 'you', meaning 'one', folks), to put a rather blunt point on the matter, the one with the emotional problem? That is to say, doesn't it indicate that one isn't strong enough to handle some aspect or other of life alone, and simultaneously one is unable to turn to one's fellow people for support?

More to the point, however: I am not going to rehearse arguments in favor of atheism (or, better, just not discussing the matter, since it is, you know, just false). Those who don't want to allow themselves to be swayed by sound arguments will always find a way to cut off their intellectual noses to spite their intellectual faces. Wanting is of course the key here. The leap of faith is such a powerful cultural tradition in this country that it sometimes seems hard to imagine a faith built on, for instance, natural phenomena, or on supposed rational arguments (cf. Catholicism). So let's address it in particular.

I claim someone you have never met exists. However, there is no evidence available, besides the professed belief of large numbers of other people, that she does exist. Now believing other people to be generally reliable, you are inclined to accept this. However, I also tell you that you must demonstrate that you accept the existence of this person despite an acknowledged lack of any evidence. That is, you can't even take others' beliefs to be prima facie (at first glance) evidence for the existence of this person. And the reason that you should accept the existence of this person and furthermore follow the rules this person endorses (according to a document written many years ago in another country by an unknown author) is that (1) at some unspecified point in the future you will be rewarded or punished to an unreasonable magnitude for your (non-)compliance with those rules and/or (2) you owe the person you have never met your loyalty. Sounds very familiar, no?

Is this starting to look ridiculous yet?

Beside the truly laughable (ha ha) nature of the claim just outlined as it pertains to the invisible cloud being, there are a number of other reasons for thinking that faith, leapt, blind, or otherwise, in said noodly Lord is to be avoided. Let me mention only one: that it distracts individuals in a rather unfortunate manner from dealing with the actual problems facing humanity. It is, in other words, negative in the sense of providing a reason why things are the way they are and in so doing justifying all of the bullshit we see (see also capitalism, patriarchy, and their associated discontents). Yes, much charity is inspired by "divine" guidance etc. But will that outweigh the many religiously motivated crimes of the past present and (probably) future, and the ongoing crime which is the perpetuation in the minds of unsuspecting human populations of a blatantly false view of the universe? A right does not cancel a wrong.

So, "Dogma" fans and dogma fans, think about having faith for a while. Perhaps you'll be open to changing your opinion. Someone once pointed out to me, back in knucklehead times of church youth group, that challenging one's faith can make it stronger. I should say now that if you've made it stronger, the challenge wasn't difficult enough--kind of like asking Tiger Woods to take on a golf course he's never played before: he's just not going to fail to make 18 holes. Okay, I've made a golf analogy. Time to quit while I'm marginally ahead.



Post a Comment


Create a Link

<< Home