Right now, it is raining methane on Titan. The planet Uranus, apparently trying to live up to its name, is orbiting the sun sideways, while Venus spins backwards. There are stars exploding, black holes gorging, galaxies colliding.
And here we sit, on a planet pock-marked by collisions, rocked by earthquakes, shaken by storms. A planet doomed to be fried in radiation as its magnetic fields collapse, until finally the sun grows into a red giant and leaves nothing of the Earth but dust.
Here we sit, glasses on our noses, inhalers in our pockets, braces on our teeth, waiting to die as our heart muscle expires, our cells decide to grow forever, or a blood vessel just pops, and sometimes in unnatural ways, too.
Here we sit, and some of us say, “Behold, look at the order of it all.”
~ Raj Bains
I’ve been trading emails back and forth with a member of my family for the past two weeks, since coming out as an atheist to my family. This person is an intelligent, educated person. This person is one of the many intelligent people in the world with devout religious beliefs, and he recently made the decision to attend a baptist seminary and become a pastor.
To be honest, I wanted to post our email conversation here. However, he’s a very private person, and I do not wish to offend. In any case, we’re both verbose so I wouldn’t want to post yet another wall-of-text conversation with a theist. I will say that I was disappointed with the poor quality of his arguments, and expected more from someone with his level of education. Then again, to quote a new friend, “No education can really help an apologist because their position is totally unsound.” He kept asking how I knew what I knew, arguing from an epistemological angle, but wouldn’t answer with anything other than “revelation” when I asked him the same.
As an atheist, it is very frustrating to be told by a believer that they have proof of god, only to then be given answers like, “You just feel him,” or, “I just know.” My family member claims that there was an “aha!” moment while at my father’s funeral. How do you refute this? More importantly, this isn’t proof. If it gives you faith that’s fine, but don’t offer up your personal subjective moment of revelation as proof that the rest of us must readily accept as definitive evidence that your god exists. It’s baffling that people even try this. It’s like if I were to argue that mint chocolate chip is the best and only ice cream, simply because it’s my favorite flavor.
To anyone that understands the physical universe, pointing at something complex or beautiful and saying, “See? God!” will never have much effect. We know that the universe is volatile, and much of it is cold and inhospitable to human life. Yet we’re also supposed to believe that we have a special place within it, despite having no evidence to suggest as such.
It’s a really big problem, this tendency to conflate facts with objective experience. If I ask you for proof, and you offer me your subjective interpretation of a significant religious event in your life, or point to the complexity or beauty of life, we’ve had a serious misunderstanding of terms. It’s one of the reasons that atheists have such a difficult time taking christians seriously, although this one isn’t as bad as some of the other reasons.
I just needed to vent a little bit today. Dealing with family is frustrating. Several of you have shared stories about disagreements over religion and politics that you’ve had with your families, and I appreciate knowing that I’m not alone.
This has been Day 28 of my blog-a-day goal for the month of October. I hope to write 500 words or more per day, or ~15,000 for the month, to get myself in the habit of writing every day. How do you keep yourself motivated for creative pursuits? It’s definitely something I find difficult.
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