Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A subtle difficulty with being an atheist

I've had an epiphany about something. I just got my copy of God is not Great in the mail yesterday and started reading it that night. And I've noticed that in all the latest books on atheism (The End of Faith, The God Delusion, Letter to a Christian Nation, Breaking the Spell) the authors come to their topics with their own styles, their own attitudes, and their own vast diversity of knowledge and experience. Indeed, I can't read any of Dawkin's or Harris's, or Hitchen's or Dennett's books without being enriched by a lot of knowledge and wonder that go beyond merely arguing that god doesn't exist. I'm already convinced of that and I don't need to constantly reinforce it like I had to do with my faith when I was a Christian. But, to get to the point, while I was reading God is not Great last night I realized a difficulty I'd always had in being an atheist even though I never realized it.

A lack of atheist role models.

It seems perfectly obvious now. I grew up with a notion of how atheists are. Atheists are supposed to be angry at God, rebellious, selfish sinners--at least this is the image I grew up with. And I knew no atheists personally, at least no one who admitted to it. No wonder that for a long time after I realized that I didn't believe in god, I'd had trouble with calling myself an Atheist. Now I've finally been exposed to so many different and rich images of what it means to be an Atheist. It is perfectly right and consistent for an Atheist to be ethical and caring and smart. Even tolerant and tactful and diplomatic. And, of course, smart and rational. I've finally recognized this void in my former life--thanks to all of my role models out there. Thank you!


toomanytribbles said...

i agree with you -- also, no education would be complete without the varieties of scientific experience by carl sagan. it's not has heavily advertised, but it's a really great book.

Arthur_Vandelay said...

Speaking of atheist role models, one of my earlier posts has a YouTube you may want to check out.

chooseDoubt said...

Carl Sagan is a great start and from there on in it looks like your reading some worthy contenders.