Thursday, March 1, 2007

What, Exactly, is an Atheist?

OK, so it turns out that my "athiest" TREK friend isn't, after all (isn't an athiest, that is. He's still a TREK friend, and always will be!)

His comments are espoused by many, many people. Since I'm not identifying him, I don't think it will violate his privacy to reprint his email here:

I think Gary Sinise would be a good choice to play the good doctor!

RE: Religion. I was raised Protestant, and I went to Catholic school for five years. (We even sent our oldest son to Catholic school for three years.) So, I know religion well, and respect the message, but to me the message is what is lost these days [emphasis mine].

When we have a president who claims that God told him to invade Iraq, well...

Not that I'm a scientist or anything, but I've never felt or experienced any compelling evidence for the existence of God or gods. My mother will probably never forgive me for this, but I'm quite happy without religion in my life.

But I understand its place in others' lives. I think it provides solace, contemplation and focus for some. But I've always liked talking about religion, and finding out what people believe or don't believe, and why. I even studied it in college. It fascinates me.

Personally, if people just studied the Sermon on the Mount, and tried to live accordingly, the world would be a better place. [emphasis mine]

My response to him was this:

Amen at all you said! Bush qualifies as an antichrist to me!

Religion (it means "return to bondage) utterly disgusts me. It's the personal relationship I find amazing, unfathomable and utterly, utterly irresistible.

I got'cha and I love ya!

Religion has obtained a very bad name for many good reasons!


To elaborate: I find President Bush a very poor representative of a Christian. I pray for him, don't get me wrong -- the Bible instructs us to pray for our leaders -- but mostly I pray for him to get a clue! If he's hearing "attack Iraq" from God, I am concerned...

He probably heard "support the oil industry at the expense of everyone else, give Halliburton all the perks, etc." from God, too. Claiming that certainly gives him a spiritual bouquet of additional authority he doesn't possess as President.

But please, oh, please don't get me started on El Presidente. I want to be positive in all ways always. I urge those of you who don't believe he is good for the country or the world to pray that he will get a major wake up call from God the way Saul of Tarsus (who became the Apostle Paul) did. That's a loving way to change things. He's lost in space; I'm sure his Shepherd is actively working to beam him back. So give your ire a break and turn to loving thoughts instead. Just sitting and stewing, or throwing barbs, is not going to do anything but make the bile in your ducts back up and cause toxic waste in your body.

It's no secret or surprise that Bush isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. That said, I think if any of us sat down with him and held a civil tongue in our mouth while we sat there, we would probably like him. People in politics don't get very far unless they are likeable as human beings.

And I think that if we sat down with him we would find a man who truly believes in everything he is doing (which is what makes him so scary to me). He isn't, I don't think, an evil man. I think he's a deluded man, as Saddam Hussein was deluded and as Osama bin Ladin is deluded. These men all think the end justifies the means. With leaders like these, with followers like these men have, we can expect more of the same: eye-for-an-eye, a tooth-for-a-tooth status quo.

And no, I don't have any answers for how to tackle the issue of terrorism. I'm not a pacifist or an appeaser by nature. But when the official response is equal and even superior cruelty and compounded numbers of dead on all sides, I feel my spirit crying out, "Whoa!" I object to mega-retaliation and sorrow over it nearly as much as I objected to and sorrowed over the ghastly sight of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon being attacked.

We live in a fallen world. Have you noticed?


Alison said...

Gary Sinese has my vote. How very apt. Popular idea with the fans I know too. Unlike Matt Damon for Kirk which is not going down well at all!

Alison said...

"Maybe God isn't out there. Maybe He's in here...the human heart" - ST5.

Kristine M Smith said...

If God ISN'T palpably and relationally inside the human heart/mind/soul, He's made less powerful by our staunch and willful "ignore-ance" of His presence. He works through his vessels. That's us! Without the engine, the vehicle just sits there or is towed around by another energy that I don't think I want to be towed around by!

Alison said...

Quite! The trick is having the strength of will to listen to that voice, I find. To be couragious. And in that, you are an inspiration, I find. Keep up the good blogging.

Kristine M Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristine M Smith said...


Thank you, Ali!

You are in my prayers for a breakthrough in your present situation (and you will get it)!

Mark in Texas said...

With religion, it's hard to understand someone who does not believe. I'm not one to look down on them, nor do I feel the urge to save them at all costs. A relationship with God is a truly personal thing, and each must find his own way. As a science teacher, I can explain why the Earth does what it does, but I am still amazed at the wonder of it all and can't help but believe it's not by accident, but by Divine Providence.

As for terrorism, this one is hard. I, too, was outraged by 9/11. I fear we are spiraling beyond reason to resolve this complex conflict.

Let me close with this, "Believe in the Hope, for in It Lies the Future."

Kristine M Smith said...

Thanks, Mark, for this comment.

You are in my prayers and I can't help but believe you must be a phenomenal teacher... just from what little I know about you...

You inspire me from afar! Thank you for being a teacher when it is so much easier and far more lucrative to spend your working life in another pursuit.

Your students are very lucky to have you!