Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thinking About Religion

This post here, which I found through the Carnival of the Humanists, linked over at PZ, has me thinking again about the whole god-thing.

Y'all know I'm one of those evil atheists. I haven't kept that from you.

Our household, though, is Jewish, and so I'm culturally Jewish, more or less -- mr. delagar is Jewish, we're raising the kid Jewish, we keep the Jewish holidays, all that.

mr. delagar seems to believe in god, about 78% of the time. For instance, he won't eat pork, because the Torah says not to. When I point out that no god exists, so what does this non-existant god care about whether he has bacon, he refuses to argue. (It's not the bacon I care about, obviously. It's the idea of the bacon! It's the patriarchy that is attached to the idea of the bacon!)

The kid, somehow, is a theist -- a sort of theist. A half-theist. She used to be a whole theist. I remember when she realized I was an atheist. "You believe in God, right, Mama?" she asked me.

"Well," I said. "No."

She was four, maybe. She frowned at me.

"It's all right if you do, though," I promised her.

"But where did the trees come from, if there isn't a god?"

(Interestingly, this is the same argument one of my university freshmen made to me once.)

I explained to her, briefly (she's four, remember) about evolution. Later, we got a child's book on it from the library. Later still, I told her that I believed in knowledge -- in books -- that these could save us.

(This led to the very funny exchange at her school.

Her teacher: "And what religion is your mommy?"

The kid: "She belongs to the church of books.

Her teacher: "...she's a Mormon?")

Now the kid says she only part-believes in God. She part-doesn't know. She writes down in the forms at school that she is "Presently Jewish," which makes mr. delagar insane.

I tell my upper-level classes I'm an atheist, if it comes up. My lower-level classes, the freshmen, I don't tell, partly because it doesn't come up -- or hasn't yet -- and partly because I know most of them could not handle it. This is, after all, the part of the country where the polls show they'd vote for a child molester before they would vote for an atheist. And, yesterday, when I sent them off to research the Flying Spaghetti Monster for extra credit, I had six of them whining in my office about how ungodly an assignment it was. And no, they weren't kidding.

Wouldn't this just be a better country if we could shake off the tentacles of religion? This is what I keep asking mr. delagar. It's not just the fucking bacon, I say to him. I do not care whether you ever eat bacon again. It's the idea of the bacon. It's everything the bacon represents. It's the fucking juggernaut behind the bacon, rolling down over our child. Our child.

Our country.

Can't we just kick it off like the bad fucking idea it is?


(See also this)


CB said...

I went through a phase, in my youth, following a large dose of mythology, where I believed in gods but not God. It simply made more sense to me, and if I suspend disbelief for a moment, it still does.

But then I got a hold of evolution and science, and well, agnostic, atheist. you know the path.

Diane said...

What makes me angry about religion--aside from the obvious obsesion with social control and organized hate--is that it gets in the way of making serious spiritual (for lack of a better word) quests. Genuine searches for God or transcendence, or whatever we choose to call it, CAN be linked to religion, I grudging admit, but they often are not. And religion often makes people so sick and miserable that they give up on their own searches.