So you don't believe in God - who cares?

Who Cares?

So I believe in God. Yes. And yes, I even made that G a capital G. But before you go writing me off for having antiquated beliefs - or before you go trying to get all chummy because you think I share your beliefs, let's take a second and slow down a bit.

Anecdotal digression:
A friend of mine on Facebook recently commented on a private group and relayed a story which I think is helpful in framing the discussion this blog post (and blog) was designed to foster.

He told the story of being involved with the church as a youth, in an evangelical capacity at an evangelical place with evangelical people. Needless to say he self-ascribed as a kind of evangelical. So as time went by this person I know on Facebook grew and did things and lived life and over time this person became less evangelical. They were no longer involved with a church, no longer around an evangelical place or evangelical people. In fact, this person began to more seriously doubt the existence of God as a construct at all. Not a big deal, happens every day.

The story goes on, however in that this person recently got a message from someone through Facebook - an old youth pastor. My friend on Facebook told the story of seeing this message in the inbox and of going through all the iterations in his head concerning the content of this message. Likely, he thought, this old youth pastor is attempting to connect on Facebook in order to "win him back" - you know - for the church. He hesitated to open it but finally did, fully expecting to get the full evangelical "Great to see you on Facebook, I can see quite clearly by your status updates that you need to get right with God" treatment.

Such was not the case. In fact the ex youth pastor was exactly that - he too had left the church, had left the evangelical place, no longer hung out with evangelical people, did not think of himself as evangelicalanymore. In fact, he too had begun to question the existence of God at all. In fact, he now considered himself to be an Atheist. That's right, I made that A a capital A.

Doubtless there are people who would see this as bad news, but to my friend on Facebook it was a welcome shift from the expected influx of guilt and awkwardness. I would have felt the same.

So there ends my anecdotal digression.

I bring it up to ask a question:

Must we always wear so much of our beliefs on our sleeves? Must we always be so in each others' faces about what should be believed or not?

I can't pretend to have the kind of evidence to support YOUR belief or disbelief, yet I have my evidence for belief. But I do not care to try and persuade you in any direction - work that out on your own.

I believe in God, yes, and only now raise my voice about belief - not to convince or convert - but to avoid having MY existence doubted.

"What? There are people who believe in God who don't want to convince me to do so on their terms? Preposterous!"

It is a rare bird, I know - but so many of these kinds of tolerant believers are silently sitting by and letting the world assume our extinction - our voices so drowned out that I feel compelled to say something.

In fact I'll go so far as to say maybe I don't believe in God at all - maybe instead what I do is rather to simply suspend my natural state of disbelief long enough to allow for the possibility of God to unfold over time in front of me rather than looking for life and all it's circumstantial joy, pain, excitement and boredom to fit neatly inside any ancient, insufficient, broken, misused construct.

I leave you with this quote from Stephen Fry on Quora.com and my response:

http://www.quora.com/Do-atheists-believe-that-there-is-no-God-or-do-they-believe-that-it-is-proven-that-there-is-no-God

Stephen Fry, Tweeter, Eater, Cheater
162 votes by Shrey Banga, Mahendra Palsule, Adam Mordecai, (more)
"Atheists" are not organised or coherent. They are just individuals. If there was a word for not believing in fairies, flimpist, for example I would be one. But it doesn't make me anything or join me to any group. Flimpists have no agenda, do not insist on anything, they just reply, if pushed by wearisome, noisy believers in fairies, that to be honest they can’t be counted amongst them.
I don’t really care how many invisible friends a person has, one like modern monotheists, or many like the Ancient Greeks and millions of the world’s animists. So long as they leave us alone and don’t make preposterous claims that can’t be verified and yet result in suffering, bigotry and tribal enmity—or worse, legislation that restricts the lives of certain people.Suggest Edits
Via Adam Mordecai.
10+ Comments • Sent Thanks • Oct 30, 2011
Comment
Douglas Lee Miller
I love this. Mostly because I lament that my belief (or rather conscious suspension of disbelief) makes me anything or joins me to any group either - especially groups perpetuating the suffering, tribal enmity, etc...

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  • I wouldn't call theism an 'antiquated belief". For me, Pascal's Wager still seems to be a good bet.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Here's how this "antiquated" Christian looks at it. Inasmuch as God seems to believe in me, why shouldn't I believe in Him? Or Her? Or whatever this creative first force has chosen?

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    The flaws in Pascal's Wager are obvious.

    First it assumes that there are only two possibilities: your god, or no god. This is obviously untrue. There are many different god beliefs, many of which are mutually exclusive. Since you cannot be certain which god to claim to believe in you can't guarantee any kind of eternal life.

    Second, it assumes that there is no option where atheism is the preferred choice. But this is obviously untrue. Perhaps there is a god, a jealous god, who gets angrier about belief in false gods than he does about no belief at all. People who belief in a false god would then be worse off than those who don't believe at all.

    Finally, it assumes that a belief based on a cold (and inaccurate) assessment of probabilities would satisfy an all-knowing god. Perhaps such dishonest "belief" really makes god angry. You never know.

    In any event, I'm sure Pascal's Wager sounds really good to people who already possess a belief in one or more gods, but to those of us who don't it fails to impress.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Yeah, I think there are still a number of people who would count themselves as having reason to believe in God and certainly some of them can be quite vocal about those reasons and why those reasons should be seen as universally applicable. Likewise from those who seem to feel the same about their reasons for disbelief. I think in general folks should be encouraged to think critically about why they believe anything, especially beliefs that can so quickly and fully influence behavior.

  • Jack, I thought I heard your footsteps behind me.

  • If only all believers didn't care about my atheism as much as you do, I'd be happy.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Thanks, Cheryl. I know many who feel the same way - good people who just don't happen to subscribe to any "organized" belief system by choice. I say leave 'em alone.

  • Came across the Blog title and stopped in for a good read:
    I guess it would be fitting to label myself as a non-believer, though I would like to say I do believe in a great many things. Since evidence has nothing to do with so many "beliefs." You exist regardless of your beliefs, however a part of you they are. I have always enjoyed the quote, "God is that which can not be explained."
    Now religion is a whole different story. I think it is important to seperate religion from "God." So far removed it is from any valid, sincere, or pure visions of the original. A simulation of a picture of something that once had a different purpose or place, that has been used as a tool to bring about so much pain and suffering. But, I think and therefore I am able to exist outside anyone elses boxes or labels or prejudices. Thought is the proof of an infinite amount of possibilities, and a tool I hope to use often, and something you obviously use as well.

    I really enjoyed reading this article, and also enjoy that you say God, rather then A god. I feel like Stephen Fry nailed it.
    My deal is that I can never "believe" (or maybe support is a better word) in something that limits possibility, and especially not in something that judges others for being who they are. But, this might not be your vision or belief of "a" God.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    Yeah I'm always talking about the distinction between religion and faith too. Glad you enjoyed the article, thanks for the comment. I think you're right in thinking even the word "believe" carries with it a whole other set of baggage.

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    ...as you say, who cares...

  • are any of you people actually living in chicago with a life? seriously, these are the worse stories from a city this big i've ever seen. i actually enjoy harassing yahoo more than this. how about focusing your stories on CHICAGO?

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