And nobody has one. Show me your god… have him drop by and say “Hello”.
Yesterday a friend of a friend shared some ignorant comments about atheism by my fellow countryman, Trevor Noah. Well, I guess he fits right in, in America… Unfortunately I can’t find those images this morning, although I see some of them were shared over here…
This sucks, because I was going to write something completely different. I was going to write about tolerance, and some criticism of my own approach to criticizing theism. Little did I know that my mind would become preoccupied with the intolerance of someone on the other side of my lack of belief.
So here’s the abridged version of my self critique… I unfortunately tend towards dogmatically rejecting all religious and spiritual (God, I hate that word – and no, the irony is intentional) approaches to recovery. It didn’t occur to me until yesterday that my approach to recovery, that is it all being about taking personal responsibility…might work just as well for religious folks as it does for me. You can believe in god and still do recovery as I do. You can believe in god and still be skeptical about an approach to recovery that isn’t evidence based. And you can “thank god” without literally giving credit to a deity, but rather as an acknowledgement of your faith. And maybe sometimes I can get over enthusiastic in my mockery, to the extent that I alienate someone who might get a helpful hint from my approach. Anyway, I’m afraid I find it difficult to tone down the anti-theism. (Aaaand that’s as close to an apology I can get.)
Anyway, on Noah’s idea that we all need a god. Um, no. I don’t think the problem here is ignorance, not really. The problem is bias. If you believe in god, and you hold that belief as important – after all you believe that god is the only thing stopping your immortal soul (which doesn’t exist, by the way) from suffering for all eternity, then you will think everybody needs a god. As with all these arguments, you start with the assumption that your god exists.
The truth is, nobody has a god. What you have is faith. That’s a belief in god despite never having seen god, heard god, or felt god. If you think you feel god in your heart, that’s the result of wishful thinking and years of indoctrination. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It might be good for you. It might be what you need. But it isn’t that you have god. What you have is a belief in god, and no more.
I think many people make the mistake of erroneously attributing meaning in their lives to their god. I can understand how this might happen… Your belief is sincere, and you believe that you have a genuine relationship with your god. You also mistakenly think that morals come from your god. However, other people believe just as sincerely that other gods give their lives meaning. It is clear, if you can think about this objectively, that the meaning is emotional, a feeling that you (and others) have. There is no real meaning coming from your god – it’s just a belief. Without the belief in that god, there is no void left to fill. We make our own meaning, or we see no meaning at all. But assuming that others need this intangible meaning that you think you have, just because you feel that way, doesn’t make sense.
So let’s try to be more tolerant of each other’s views. Most people I know are religious, and I don’t mock them, although I do make fun of what they believe in. And they are free to debate me or mock what they think I believe in. (Almost without exception, theists do not understand atheism. Even my mother is not quite there yet.) But let’s not impose our beliefs on anyone else. We can all believe what we believe, and debate others with whom we disagree… But don’t tell anyone else what they need, for goodness sake… You might just be projecting and that’s dumb.