Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The Atheism Blues

There are days that I wish I believed. I wish I knew I would see my dead friends again like at the end of that AIDS movie where everybody hugs and wiggles their toes in the sand at the big beach party in heaven.

I wish everything happened for a reason, there was someone protecting us and making sure our lives were going exactly the way they were supposed to and that because I'm good and try not to gossip and make sure I do tzedakah and stand up for the righteous I'll be rewarded.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe that. At. All.

I believe that being a good person makes the world better for the person in the car next to me and for my niece and my friends’ children. I believe that no one but my mother cares whether or not I have a full body tattoo. I believe that lashon hara makes the world less livable in the here and now. I believe that saving a life is important because the person’s life you save could be the person to save your own. On the other hand, that person might kill you in an auto accident and that would be a damn shame.

I wish I believed in a justice where a man who got away with molesting his daughter in this life would get his in the next one. And that a person that gave of themselves without recognition and without reward in this life would get theirs in the next one.

Being an atheist isn’t easy. In a world where, according to a recent Newsweek poll, 94% of the population believes in a divine presence, it is lonely not believing. Especially when you're a Jew, just 1.8 percent of the American population...and queer...Arrgh!!!

Gotta tell you though...I'm having a lot of fun reading the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins...just sayin'. It's easier when someone really smart and snarky is articulating all of the arguments so well!

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Blogger Unknown said...

Hmmmm. Have you thought about changing your name to something besides "Faith?"

I believe in living backwards. What I mean is, I try to look at situations in terms of, "How should I behave so that when this is over -- especially if it turns out badly -- I'll be content with my own behavior? I can stand tall about my own part in it? I won't be ashamed of myself?"

This mostly works.

But I've also found that karma happens. (This is my 2nd comment to you and I've talked about karma both times. Again hmmm.) It doesn't happen in the way that children are taught about consequences, that you get rewarded for doing what authority figures want and punished for doing what they don't want. The ways things work out are usually weird and the timing's all wrong, but it does happen.

Just sayin'.

Blogger Faith said...

To be honest Jill - I have thought about changing my name - but it was the one I was born with and it seems a little odd at pushing 40 to start messing with my first name...Also, I am slightly amused at the irony of it.

Blogger adnohr said...

But Faith, do you feel like you are missing anything by not believing? I was trying to articulate this to my fundie-uncle and his wife. I've never had faith, and don't feel like I'm missing anything. I think I'm more agnostic, I guess if I feel the presence of a higher being, I'll be convinced, but I can't just believe for the sake of believing. They just couldn't get it.

I try to behave as if my actions matter today, not in some imaginary disneyland of the future. It mostly works for me.

- Nod

Blogger Faith said...

I don't feel like I'm missing anything, per se. If you look at the reasons to believe (taking it from a logical and not a faith-based perspective), some of the "reasons" to believe are for community, to "know" that life does not end after death, etc.

I get my community elsewhere (besides, as a Jew, I am part of that community, culturally. Although they're not particularly happy about the non-believers among the ranks, they can't deny our cultural Jewciness)

Regarding the rest, I feel like I'm not missing anything. I expect that I gain more than I miss.
Also, as there is no way for me to believe something that I don't, I can't possibly have something that doesn't exist. It's almost like wishing there was a flying carpet that would get me over Cahuenga in the morning without having to deal with the studio trucks. It'd be nice but....

Blogger Orangeblossoms said...

I've been intrigued by this post and didn't want to do that weird clergy-thing that might mess up any potential future friend-ish (fiendish?) relationship.

I am really curious about how you made the journey from Rabbinic Student to Atheist. I imagine that at some point there was belief in your life or you wouldn't have gone to school in pursuit of a professional degree. So, what happened? Was it just so much hocus-pocus without any inner resonance? Or were there other reasons?

To respond to one of your responses here in the comments page, I actually don't believe that religious tradition says much about the afterlife-- because scripture only mentions heaven or paradise once or twice and even then, in rather amorphous definitely ambiguous terms. I'm certainly not a biblical literalist, either, so those mentions don't really hold so much water for me. I do believe that we can create the kin-dom (or kingdom, if you must) right here on earth-- through right and ethical action and the radical notion of Love as a verb for daily life. (corny, I know)

And that's a huge part of my own understanding and faith. I suppose this thought is similar to Tikkun Olam-- to borrow a term.

Also, I don't think you have to believe in a great author of our days to believe in a creator of the universe (I'm a Darwin fan, by the way.) What would happen if it was already laid out before us? Why bother, really? Where is the choice? Where is the personal agency? Where is the proverbial (and not so proverbial) free-will?

I do concur that community is an important component of faith. I also believe that creating community in MANY forms is a pretty radical act in the face of our first-world isolationism.

Again, a thought provoking post, Faith. I love reading your blog.

Blogger Janine said...

Faith, I have to say I'm with you on this one.. I've often wondered what life would be like if everyone didn't believe.. if it would do more damage to those people who are just hanging on to life because of their belief in God, or if it would help the world because wars and injustice couldn't be done in religions name. I guess we will never know as we are the minority.

I kinda always felt the other way around... I don't like stupid people, but SO MANY STUPID PEOPLE have such stupid ideas about angels and fairies and all that junk, that it just makes me sad. (I mean creationism is .... SO STUPID!)

And then intelligent and well read people who feel fulfilled enough with their lives to feel they don't need any silly ole' God, and yeah..
that makes me sad too.

I like intelligence, but I believe in a creative source, something greater than ourselves. It might not be latex suits with feathers glued on living in a cloud, or whatever... but I believe in the human soul,
and I'm an idiot for that I guess, but I'm a lonely idiot since there are so few intelligent people willing and enjoying believing something, meditating, and feeling spiritual and connected to the earth and its people, who aren't complete potheads or just.... don't exist at all.
Spirituality/intelligence don't mix or something,
so I feel a little sad since I love spirituality, but not the hocus pocus bullsht.

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