07 December 2007

Concepts I Don't Believe In But That Still Rule My Life And I Have No Hope For Doing Anything About Because They're Just Too Pervasive In Our Culture


Plus one I do believe in: God.
  • Fate.
    It's not just that I am uncomfortable with the idea that my life is planned out. I find the notion of fate insulting to my intelligence. What is the point of anything, if it all already exists in a plan somewhere? Yet most theatre is based on some idea, or at least feeling, of fate.

  • Omens.
    Self-fulfilling nonsense. And I will never stop seeing them everywhere. Thank God, actually, because these things can get through to me when I'm otherwise completely disconnected from myself.

  • "Everything happens for a reason."
    No, it doesn't. If science isn't enough to convince you of this, at least take a moment to regard that there is no ending to stories (except death), and therefore no basis by which to judge the supposed long-term purpose of incidents. Still, we need hope or faith or both to get through it all, don't we?

  • Angels/Demons.
    They make great symbols, but ultimately they're contradictory even to the theologies that purport their existence.

  • The D/Evil.
    Another great symbol here, and mainly what he's a symbol for is our guilt. Sometimes the guilt we feel over our lack of guilt, for growing up, for self-interest -- Lucifer (named for a mistranslation, by the way) is all these things. Mainly, I don't believe in such a thing as absolute evil. "Evil," as it is commonly perceived, requires self-awareness, and every self-aware creature I've ever met does "evil" things out of sickness, ill-thought. Plain and simple.

  • Cuteness (as a virtue).
    Oh man. Must I endure? I must, because cuteness, either as an expression of "aw" or the more visceral "oh," endures. We want to procreate, to get freaky with cuteness, to create more cuteness. So we'll always want the cute. But it ain't a measure of nothin'. Except that it is.

  • Violence (as a solution).
    It only works on zombies, and even then you've probably got a lot of personal dehumanization to deal with as an after-effect, assuming the movies are at all relevant to the "real" thing.

  • Zombies.
    See above.
  • Organized sports.
    Blame it on my youth: They don't actually matter.

  • Money.
    I eagerly anticipate the Star Trek utopian future, in which capitalism is obliterated somehow. As common systems of exchange go, money blows. I don't have to justify this feeling to anyone

  • Elvis.
    I just don't get what was so great about The King. Maybe someone can explain it to me. In them meantime, alive or dead, he doesn't make my list of believed-in.

What inspired this rant of rejection, especially from one whose history is so steeped in a faith of universal acceptance? I have been noticing and reading a lot lately--or so it seems to me--about Atheism as a movement. I do not oppose this movement. On the contrary, I think Atheists have been rather oppressed in our global culture, and I don't like anyone to be oppressed (REpressed, sometimes...) and so, say "Bully!" to the outspoken Atheists. I worry, however, over the way so many of them with the benefit of the public ear are immediately resorting to the stampeding debate tactics of those further into a life of faith that they so oppose. It's natural, when your beliefs are shaped by what you don't believe, to oppose another view, and nascent societies (such as openly atheistic groups in America) are bound to overstate their claim when they finally get a voice. So maybe I've nothing to worry about. Maybe them thar' Atheists will never become quite as fascist as to start bombing cathedrals and synagogues.

I believe in God, and it's important you know that if you're going to know me. I know there's no empirical evidence for the big G. I know lots of people think they have lots of conclusive evidence that God can't exist. I don't disagree with such people on any particular point, and actually tend to agree with the "facts," as scientists understand them. I even agree with Lennon, "Imagine," and think the world would be a much more peaceful place without religion. So why do I continue to believe in God? Is it just because I'm a minister's son? Is it stubborn wishful thinking, or deep-seeded superstition? Perhaps it's just playing it safe.

It's that I believe in something greater than all we can perceive. This "greater" thing is pervasive, interconnects us and has more meaningful significance than forces like gravity and magnetism (hell: it may be the source of all force[s]). It's not important to me that the greatness, which I'll go ahead and call God from here on out, created us, or nurtures us, or even has any personally conceivable relationship to us. What is important, to my mind and heart, is that the belief in God keep us from turning completely into self-important little gits, hell-bent on destroying one another and our celestial terrarium. I feel most in a spirit of God when I am grateful for life, all of it, and I can do that without seeing God as a man or regarding a book as gooder than most (the gooderest book). So rock on, Atheists. Get heard. I'm all for it. I hope you do some good in the world.

Me, though: I'm a believer.

2 comments:

Patrick said...

I just got briefly roiled in a debate over at Joe.My.God over a statement from an Atheist group that 9/11 wouldn't have happened if there were no religion. I think that's bullshit. First off, it's way too easy to claim how history would be different if we just changed something, but we'll never be able to prove it. It also bugged me to have all people of faith lumped in with those suicide bombers. But the worst part of it was the implicit "we must all be atheists to save the world". In other words, you're saying the same thing all the radical right born-agains are. If we all just agreed, there'd be no violence. Know what? You're BOTH right! But is that really how you want us to get there? Do you think there's any chance of it happening that way?

But of course so many people heard my objections as more Atheist bashing, or some pathetic little religionist defending his parochial world-view and squawking at the threat of debate... I don't know if the tsimmis is still going over there.

So I'm with you, Brother. Lemme hear an Amen.

Jeff Wills said...

Amen, Patrick. Amen. And many other words of praise. Yee-owch. 9-11 wouldn't have happened? I doubt it in the extreme. Sometimes it's just astonishing how difficult it seems to be to just agree to disagree. Doesn't that save a lot of effort otherwise spent on jihad?

A friend who chooses to remain un-blogged had this to say in response:
"I can never be sure whether I believe in God. I think at times I can say that saying "I believe in God" doesn't succeed in expressing that "thing" for me. I do know that there are times, when I'm painting, for example, or when I'm at the symphony [...] or when I had my babies, and I weep with gratitude and say a deep inner "thank you." At those moments
I get really close to thinking there must be something. For me it is that there is something or someone out there to thank."