Maybe it’s an atheist thing…
Let’s say, I meet you across a table for the first. After introductions we are charged with making a decision together.
As a way to introduce myself (and, being verbose and didactic and, generally, annoying), I give you a sense of ‘how I think’ — the basis for my decision-making both small and large. My bottom line is simple, I explain: It all depends on what the FACTS are.
Now it’s your turn. And you begin to tell me about your faith — as a prelude to telling me your bottom line: Facts are all well and good but, in crunch time? You’re praying on it — because you know god will inspire you to do the right thing.
I shift in my seat, visibly uneasy with what you just said.
“Problem?” you ask.
“Why would you pray?”
You look askance at me. “So god will help me know what to do.” It seems to so obvious to you — you can’t even believe I’m asking the question.
“What if god doesn’t exist?”
That, of course, is an impossibility to you. And therein lies our problem — or potential problem.
I don’t have an imaginary friend. I don’t believe a Magical Man lives in the sky and watches me like a hawk. I don’t believe a Magical Creature ‘invented’ everything one day out of sheer boredom (or a desire to ‘have’ something exist whereas the moment before, that WASN’T an issue for him). I don’t believe this Magical Creature had anything to do with anything that exists in the Natural World.
I believe YOU made up this Magical Creature — and being a Magical Creature of your design, he changes and adapts and evolves depending on your feelings.
And that, really, is what any god character is for the person who believes in it: A STAND-IN FOR YOUR FEELINGS.
And while those feelings may be valid — as feelings — it doesn’t make them facts. And feelings should never, ever, EVER be confused with facts.
But even with you believing in a deity and me NOT believing in one — we can STILL find common ground. How does this god character impact your thinking if he impacts your thinking at all?
If, like SOME theists you draw lessons from the stories on which your faith is based — KNOWING that parables and instructive stories are just that — stories meant to instruct and not literal history — then we have common ground. Even an atheist can draw positive lessons from the occasional bible story (in theory) — in the same way the same atheist could draw a positive lesson from reading any of the Harry Potter books. Literature is literature.
But if — as we sit across that table — you tell me, eyes wide with genuine, heartfelt ‘I’ll-believe-whatever-you-need-me-to-believe’ faith that you can’t make a decision about anything before either consulting with god or praying on it? I am naturally going to question if you EVER know what you’re talking about.
You’ve clearly replaced analytical thinking and basic research with just sitting there and assuming all the ‘work’ will get done by god. By Magic.
And I can’t go along with that. If we have to make this decision — and your reasoning is all based on Magic while mine is based on the ‘facts on the ground’, I’m going to see your reasoning as foolish and unproductive. I’d be right.
Why, it’d be like all these republicans with their fucking budget scam pointing at numbers that no economist who ever actually studied economics would go along with. Either they’re all fucking liars — not an impossibility — or they are placing the Nation’s Economic Future in the ‘hands’ of Magical Thinking.
And they wonder why we never seem to ‘trust’ them…