I don't know if you have noticed, but you seem to be talking more about God now that you don't believe than before.Well, I pointed out to Ed, I had noticed something like that. In the footnote to my preceding post ("The GWB proof of the non-existence of god"), I had written:
And maybe I did "decide" to become an atheist, after all, because I considered the question carefully, qualitatively sifting and weighing the evidence. Obviously, I'm still trying to sort out the best way to think and talk about it. If I'm concerned about appearing to be obsessed about this, maybe I shouldn't be. It's just a natural process of thinking. [emphasis added]But I also pointed out that I have definitely not been "talking more about God." I have not been talking "about god" at all, for there is no god to talk about—or to pray to or be aided, hindered, inspired, judged, forgiven, saved, or condemned by.
What I have been talking a lot about is not believing in god and believing in no-god, which of course is quite different. I wouldn't trouble to comment on Ed's use of language (which was likely intentional, for the sake of irony), except for the fact that serious philosophical problems arise from misapprehending language.
For example, the Gospel According to John opens thus:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.What this can only, truly mean is that god is only a word1. Theologians have for centuries tied themselves into knots trying to interpret it otherwise. Maybe if they'd noticed that John could have been dyslexic....
There are many reasons, psychological and social, for my dwelling on what I believe. My own dear mother was a devout believer, "rest her soul." But for her I would likely never have become as involved in religion as I did. All four of my sisters have been believers and many if not most of my aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews. (Only two of my sisters survive, and one of my previously many aunts and uncles; "rest the souls," too of those departed.) I come from a religious background. Thus, "becoming" an atheist is very much to go my own way. I have had to endure many tsk-tsks and "I'm praying for you's." I've had to choose between keeping quiet or exposing myself. Obviously I haven't kept quiet, so I've had to deal with the reality that I've amazed and even offended people.
More than half of the members of my commute van pool talk of going to church. At least the two drivers know that religious radio programs offend me. When I objected to their tuning them in, I told them that I'd signed up to commute, not to attend church. Some of them know that I read books by Ian McEwan and Richard Dawkins. But maybe not everyone had picked up on this: "What's that you're reading?" The Blind Watchmaker. "Is it a novel?"2
Some of my neighbors are evangelical Christians. One of them has the email address, everyoneneedsjesus@...Now, that's evangelical!
So, in addition to the "joyful sense of liberation that I feel as a result of [seeing religion for a sham]," I also have a sense of sadness at having made myself peculiar3 to a number of my relatives, possibly some of my friends, and perhaps one or two of my neighbors. But being somewhat estranged from them is a price I'm willing to pay for refusing to join them in their superstition. Centuries of clever Jewish, Christian, and Muslim apologetical book-keeping have not rendered the superstitious beliefs of the fearful ancient Israelites—that groveling, guilt-ridden, image-worshiping, animal-sacrificing, women-subjugating people—any less superstitious today.
- As Christopher Hitchens writes in his 2007 book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (dedicated to Ian McEwan):
[Kant] undid the ontological argument by challenging the simpleminded notion that if god can be conceived as an idea, or stated as a predicate, he must therefore possess the quality of existence. This traditional tripe is accidentally overthrown by Penelope Lively in her much-garlanded novel Moon Tiger. Describing her daughter Lisa as a "dull child," she nonetheless delights in the infant's dim but imaginative questions:
"Are there dragons?" she asked. I said that there were not. "Have there ever been?" I said all the evidence was to the contrary. "But if there is a word dragon," she said, "then once there must have been dragons." [p. 265]
- The Blind Watchmaker, by Richard Dawkins, explains how natural selection, acting over millions and millions of years, fashioned the human eye, bat echolocation, and other marvels of nature.
- I recall a Pentecostal sermon that was preached at me over fifty years ago. The preacher told us that as Christians we were "peculiar," which he explained at length (in the way that such preachers loved to go on glossing words) to mean that we were "circled about" by people who were not like us. To be really circled about in our society today, be an atheist.