I have to say that there are times when being an atheist is exhausting. I have friends and colleagues ask me what I think about some news item, whether political or social, not as a conservative, but as an atheist. I sometimes wonder if I’d get the question at all, ever, if I weren’t an atheist. I’ve come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t.
A recent example is the President’s pick to fill an upcoming SCOTUS vacancy. As an atheist, what do you think about the pick? Honestly, as an atheist, I don’t think anything about it – yet. I’m waiting for his confirmation hearing before I plant a flag one way or the other. As a conservative? The same answer would apply but it’s interesting I’m asked as an atheist.
I think I may have to start turning the tables on these same people. Most of them are Christian (or identify as such), with others being Jewish and 2 being Muslim. As a Christian (Or Jew, or Muslim) what do you think about…? I don’t claim to be able to read anyone’s mind, but I think I could say, having known many of these people for several years, they would absolutely base their opinion, not on whether they were conservative, liberal, or even progressive, but on their religious belief. Or at least their opinion would be informed by their belief system.
Atheism has never informed any political or social opinion I’ve ever had and the reverse is also true. For me, being an atheist is completely separate from any ideological position I have ever held. I’ve always fought for the separation of church and state, yes, even when I was a believer. I never thought it was proper for the government to have any say in religious views, and at the same time, believed it wasn’t proper for believers to try and affect policy solely based on their religion.
I don’t actually get those whose atheism defines them as a person. It doesn’t me. Never has. In the same way, I don’t understand how those that are believers, or claim to be, define their life solely on their religious belief or tradition. Most atheists I know would say that those believers were silly, even stupid. What’s the difference?
I’ve been accused, yes accused, of being a Dictionary Atheist. I have always thought of that as being something good. I don’t allow myself to fall into the political or social sinkholes so many others have and therefore, in my opinion, have used their being an atheist for other ideological purposes.
Even some of the so-called leaders of atheism have done the same. I always ask the question, and have never received a sufficient answer, how would those same atheists be regarded when there was a true threat to church/state separation?
I don’t think that I, an atheist, would believe them or trust their motives.
3 thoughts on “The Exhaustion of Being an Atheist”
If I was asked by a Christian what I, as an atheist, thought about the Kavanaugh pick, I think I’d view it as an opportunity to discuss the importance of separation of church and state. Some Christians understand why this is good for them too, but many don’t. I’d try to use this question as an opportunity to explain why I think it is a good thing for atheists as well as for religious believers.
But if you were asked, “as an atheist”, on every topic, would you not eventually find that exhausting?
Maybe, but I’d probably be okay with it for awhile if I thought I was the first atheist they’d had the opportunity to meet.