Wednesday, February 02, 2005

2 ideas for the price of none

Natalie Angier whom I am told is a rather competent writer, was asked to speak for the Ethical Cultural Society about something or other.

Her talk was a rather uninteresting one about atheism and children. Essentially she plans on, and actually is, rearing her child as an atheist. I have no real qualms with that. After all we all tend to impart our beliefs on our children, and when it comes to deities, zero is as good as any other arbitrary number of deities that you can believe in. I feel very strongly about this because first, I too have little reason to think there is a God out there, and two, here in the US, whether or not you believe in god is a rather benign belief. Sure it is unpopular, but you are not likely to start a genocide because you are an atheist.

But, I think it was Richard Dawkins who once claimed that pointing to a young child and saying "look" at that little Christian" is akin to saying "look at that little liberal". And at least in the case of Christians, where you are one IF you believe, they both sound like ridiculous utterances. An child who has no religious ideas whatsoever has no business being called a believer. But, and this is where I take umbrage with Angier, neither does the child have any business being labeled a liberal.

Angier talks as if she believes that beliefs come in packages. Being an atheist comes bundled with living in a blue state, hating George Bush, sympathizing with every bit of liberal nonsense that comes along, etc. It is entirely possible that she has given real thought to this atheism thing. But what is less apparent is that she has given any real thought to political beliefs. For her, it seems she bought in to some package of beliefs because one of them sounded convincing.

She assumes that because her audience is likely to be sympathetic with her atheism, they are also likely to be sympathetic wither he lefty politics. For all I know this may be true and her audience might be making the same errors she is making, but it sounds really presumptuous.

The rest of us have to think about all of our beliefs. It is annoying when others only have to think about one and assume they can slip in all the others. Beliefs are independent from one another. Just because you are not a fan of God does not mean you have to like Kerry or Nader or Dean, or Saddam, or Stalin, or Chomsky, or Che, any other darling of the left.

In case Angier wants to know, It is pretty clear why atheists are unpopular in most places. Because for her, and probably many others, atheism is really just a code word for "rabid arrogant liberal". Perhaps it is not your lack of faith the red staters despise, but rather all the other dogma that your non-deity makes you believe in.

2 comments:

30 something said...

you are sounding like Rush

Karl said...

Actually, AFAIK, Rush is no different than Angier, only Rush is on the right. Somehow he manages to believe (almost) the whole range of right -wing beliefs. Though Rush sometimes tries to argue for each one.