Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What Atheists And Fundies Have In Common

I believe it's safe to say that fundamentalists take religion very, very seriously. The Muslim versions are willing to do things that boggle the minds of Westerners of every stripe. The Christian versions certainly boggle my mind, and those of my fellow atheists, agnostics and secular humanists (AASH).

Think about it. If you're godless, and you're not one of the fortunate few who grew up in an AASH household, then that means that you had to make a concious decision to walk away from religion. Which, in turn, means you had to sit down, at some point, and put some thought into religion in general, and your particular myths in specific. In other words, you had to take religion seriously.

Most religious people, in my experience, can't make that claim. Most seem to just cruise through their religious devotions on automatic, never really putting any thought whatsoever into their beliefs. At least fundies put some effort into their relgion, if not reasonable thought.

Now, I'll admit that a lot of so-called mainstream Christians run up on some sort of crisis of faith at some point, but it's usually an emotional one, not a rational one. It seems to center around death or some other trauma. And any thought they put into the issue is usually focused on rectifying their emotional distress with their faith, and rarely is any effort expended on examining the faith itself.

There is a second form of so-called crisis, of course, that usually comes about when they get out and start meeting people who hold other verisons of their own myths, or even different myths. This tends to be a more intellectual type of crisis, I think, and it's outcomes are a lot more varied. You get everything from an acquaintance of mine, who's a Republican Catholic that uses contraception and believes in a woman's right to choose, to me, a secular humanist. (My views are pretty well documented here, so I'll not reiterate them.)

And I know that I'm oversimplifying a very complex situation here, but I believe it's in a good cause. It points out that Atheists and Fundamentalists have at least one thing in common: we both take religion very, very seriously.

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"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain

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Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu