Rotten Bastards

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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Apathist Manifesto

After 20+ years of being non-religious (I never really was religious, just hadn't cut the cultural Christian cord.) I have grown tired of being asked, "What are you?" and feeling the need to defend my position on religion. I considered myself an atheist when I was the angry young man and I delighted in the mockery of religious institituions and in gleeful blasphemies. As I grew older I found that such a staunch position was hard to justify rationally and I decided that agnostic was a better label for my position or lack thereof. I still take delight in the mockery of all institutions, religious or otherwise, but that is just my natural reaction to bullshit.

Calling myself agnostic has gotten me more argument from atheists than from Christians. The Christians, at least the educated ones, see agnosticism as a philosophy or viewpoint that they disagree with but that doesn't refute their belief outright. I didn't do this in deference to their poor pious feelings, but because I don't like to speak in absolutes on any subject in which I lack conviction. I have no religious conviction one way or another.

The atheists, my wife being chief among them, see this as some sort of cop out. "If you don't believe in God, then you're an atheist!" Some of them seem as hardcore about proselytizing and recruiting as their Christian counterparts. My lack of lack of faith troubles them greatly and they are more likely to debate me on the subject than the goddamned Christians. My wife's main concern is how to handle the subject with our children. My oldest is now almost seven and she sees through bullshit pretty clearly. She still gives lip service to the Santa thing because she doesn't want to rock the sleigh full of gifts, but she knows what's up. She has been told about God by various adults and other children already and we've given her a plain and simple explanation about how we feel about it. When asked, she tells the other kids that she doesn't believe in God and has gotten some flack for it. That's the part that causes my wife to argue her point with me. She sees my agnosticism as a moral weakness in the face of first-grade religious enemies. She fears that my lack of concern about the subject is going to confuse our daughter when she needs conviction the most. I hope my daughter adopts my attitude of casual indifference towards religion rather than my wife's strident tone.

I have therefore decided to refer to myself henceforth as a religious apathist. I don't know if there is a god or not and I don't give a shit, quite frankly. Pray or don't. I couldn't possibly care any less, as long as you don't attempt to impose it upon me in some legal or political fashion. You can have the afterlife, but this one is mine and don't fuck with it. Amen.

I googled "apathist" and found www.apathist.org. No club to join nor even a forum. Just a philosophical statement. Perfect.

The simple theory of the apathist:
Perhaps there is a god, or gods, or goddesses, or higher powers.
Perhaps not.
It's irrelevant.
You do the most good you can with what you have.
If you get help from somewhere else, that's just icing on the cake.

2 comments:

J W Lamb said...

I very much liked your post about the "Apathist Manifesto". Myself, I am an empirical agnostic. I have encountered the same atheist proselytizing you describe. Just call them religious zealots to their faces and walk away when you can. Atheism is a belief system as well. They believe in nothing supernatural.

Baylee Ray said...

Thank you for this. As a 16 year old girl, I haven't been quite sure what to call my lack of belief towards either side. I don't know if there is a God or not, and I often wonder if God is just an imaginary friend that everyone has, but I've never called myself an Atheist. Although I find religion to be a very interesting subject, I don't have very strong views towards any myself. I only think that people need to learn to respect other people's views the way they expect us to respect theirs.