[personal] More on religion and SF (well, religion, at least)

My question this morning about the intersection between religious belief and genre fiction has spawned a sprawling, fascinating, and mutually respectful series of replies both on my LiveJournal and on my jlake.com blog. Both threads are worth checking out if this topic interests you at all.

Also, at one point, I responded in comments to a question about whether atheism is another form of belief with the following:

I’ll swing at this one as well. I’m not a “quiet” atheist in Sundog’s sense, but I am what I only somewhat jokingly call a “Low Church” atheist. Which is to say I personally find the existence of God not only unprovable, but impossible to prove, and therefore empirically irrelevant outside the personal experience of individual faith holders. That does not translate to a dismissal of the beliefs of others — however silly or irrelevant they may strike me as — but it does translate to a fierce opposition to the imposition of religious belief into educational, civic and political structures. A highly secularized society is the best possible protection for religious freedom, something which seems to escape many American Christians who appear to assume that a natural form of exceptionalist majoritarianism pertains to them.

But I don’t find lack of belief its own kind of belief, at least not in the “leap of faith” sense. Do I “believe” there is no God? Yes, the way I “believe” that 1 G accelerates at 9.81 m/s2. That’s not a faith-based belief, it’s a judgment based on available empirical evidence, or lack of same.

At the same time, even as an atheist I believe the human spirit is gloriously irrational, obsessed with miracle and wonder, and quite capable of nonempirical transcendence. I just don’t require an outside agency to which I can ascribe those impulses.

Also, as an atheist, I deeply resent the assumption that a number of religious people seem to bear that those without faith are incapable of morality. That strikes me as the worst sort of poverty of spirit, not to mention a profound personal weakness in requiring a larger outside authority to create moral force.

5 thoughts on “[personal] More on religion and SF (well, religion, at least)

  1. David Lee says:

    Amen to that, if that’s an appropriate response.

  2. Tom Morris says:

    Amen, brother. Well said. As a classic theist, I deeply appreciate your perspective. Having toiled in the fields of the most abstruse metaphysics imaginable for many years of my academic career, and having seen all the arguments on both sides, developed with as much sophistication as our language and logic allow, I can appreciate the rationality of your well reasoned stance.

    God bless!

  3. Dan says:

    You might find this hard to believe, but as a believer (you know what I mean), I actually agree with you that a secularized society protects religion the best…or at least protects all religion. It’s unfortunate that a large number of my brothers and sisters have caused so much trouble that I now have a hard time having a decent conversation about faith with people of no faith.

    The rest of course I disagree with you on, but respectfully, I promise.

    1. Jay says:

      I don’t find that hard to believe at all. What I do find hard to believe is that more believers don’t see it the way you do, out of sheer self-interest if nothing else. (Well, I know better, I do understand a little bit about human nature.) As for respectful disagreement, that’s what makes this culture great. As the Founding Fathers said, “Be excellent to one another, and party on.”

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