Watched part of the PBS program last night about Sigmund Freud, C.S. Lewis and the debate over the existence of ‘god’. The moderated discussion among a group of diverse ‘intellectuals’ held between program segments I found to be interesting. They held different views on the subject but were willing (and able) to communicate openly without rancor. Often expressing understanding of, (not necessarily agreement with) an opposing view.
I am an atheist. You won’t see (at the time I type this) any related LJ interest on my bio page. Though I was raised as a “Christian” it wasn’t overtly forced on me. Rather, the practice of religion was something you did for the same reason you changed underwear and socks daily or washed your hands before meals. It developed as a habit, not a belief. Sunday mornings, evenings, occasional Wed. evenings, plus youth group and other seasonal activities were a way of life. Several attempts on my part to experience some sort of enlightenment beyond just having ‘faith’ through various religious practices failed to produce results. Reaching my mid-teens I began to inwardly question the apparent contradiction between the benevolent deity I was told was in charge and the seemingly random, senseless occurrences of pain and suffering inflicted upon innocent people (either by nature or religious zealots) throughout the world during all of recorded history. By college any thought of continuing the practice of religion was behind me.
I find ‘Christians’ to be an odd bunch, especially the type who choose to have all aspects of their lives centered in and around the so-called ‘mega-churches’. If these institutions could somehow merge all their services and functions with Sam’s Clubs for instance, they could create their own independent country! (but would you have to “pay” to enjoy the privileges?)
Over time, ongoing contact with Christians has led me to conclude they adhere to a standard pattern of social behavior; eagerly inviting you to participate in any number of church related functions but never extending an offer to come into their homes. Odd maybe, but I’m actually offended by this. If you want to know me, then you will do so one-on-one as an individual. Can they not handle social interaction apart from or outside the ‘groupthink’ structure of church? Does taking me to church relieve them of personal responsibility for my care and feeding by putting me into the hands of a “higher” authority?
(side note – the second most common question I was asked by North Carolina residents I met after moving here, right after they asked what church I attended, was “which ACC basketball team do you root for?” THAT is a RANT I will save for later.)
The unresolved question (in my mind) concerns ‘morality’. I consider my self ‘amoral’. (please don’t confuse that with immoral) I do not believe in moral absolutes. Simply put, acceptable behavior for one individual isn’t for another and any attempt at resolving these differences are useless. My faith lies with the ability of man to determine his own purpose. Civilization depends on it.