Nov 10, 2011

Absence Might Be Stronger

I've never been particularly religious, but until about three or four years ago I had never really dove very deep into it to explore what I really thought and felt. Much of the dust of that inner search had settled long before I started this blog, which is why aside from brief mentions here and there I haven't written much yet about religion. Having settled into a sort of secular humanist approach to atheism (most likely strongly related to my core philosophy), I expect that trend of relative silence here on religion to mostly continue.

However, it isn't just that my immediate interest and search has ended. A lot of my silence also has to do, I think, with a certain passive approach I've noticed in myself. Having just written a piece on my core philosophy, I noticed the stark absence of anything remotely religious in there. This was not a conscious attempt, though it is perhaps less surprising I suppose since I generally don't have any religion in my life. But I almost think this is more profound in the long term.

A lot of atheists seem to delight in finding ways to take cheap shots at religion. They love to get into wars on the internet or in real life, copy-pasting lists of Bible contradictions, and working the "sheeple" and "pew potatoes" into a frothy rage with their casual and flippant dismissal or outright blasphemy. I suppose I won't deny that, at times, there is a certain cathartic quality to the game, but generally I find I do not participate. Partly I just don’t have the hate in me, I don’t feel much desire to piss them off to no end — I’m a lover not a fighter. It may also be overlap from my libertarianism that leads me to a live-and-let-live approach. So long as they do not try to co-opt me into the flock, it's really none of my business. I don't make a point of calling them out, engaging them, or baiting them into a religious war. I'm mostly polite, conversational, and non-threatening. Most of my co-workers probably don't even suspect I'm an atheist, as a result.

I've heard arguments over why we should "come out" and how we need to make ourselves heard in order to change the perception of the word atheist. I don't disagree that they may be right about that. I also freely admit that a certain amount of fear is perhaps guiding me into general silence.

But I also think that, for me, this is the right way to express my position. Firstly, it is more in line with my individualistic approach of letting people be free to worship however they want (or not at all), and that it isn't my job to chastise and correct them otherwise (for, after all, I don't know what's good for others or that my choice really is the best or most correct). Secondly, religion isn't very important to me, nor do I think it is all that important in our modern lives. By not even mentioning it, by having this void in my life, if you will, I am directly highlighting its superfluousness to living a normal, healthy, productive life. It is an optional take for some, and they might enjoy it a lot, but it isn't required to be a good person. If anything, it is more like a hobby, like hunting or video games. Something that individuals choose to spend a lot of time with and derive a lot of enjoyment or some other fulfillment out of. And there's nothing wrong with that, is there?

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