In fact, metaphysics is my sleeping pill of choice. It takes reading less than two paragraphs of any philosophical proof for the existence of god to conk me out.
Hell, even the memory of reading a proof will conk me out.
In college, I scored high marks in metaphysics, but that was when I was young and stupid. Now that I’m old and stupid, I simply don’t have enough energy to tread through the awful metaphysical muck of god’s alleged existence.
So far as I can see, god is an unnecessary hypothesis. That is, it seems to me the existence of god is not required to explain anything. And that fact accounts for most of my boredom — maybe all of my boredom — with the question of god’s existence.
Perhaps, I should add here that there are ways in which the notion (but not the existence) of god interests me. I am, for instance, quite interested in how our brains evolved a predisposition to see the hand of god in events. I am quite interested in what some mystics call “an experience of god”. And I am even interested to some extent in the sociology and politics of god. But — and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet — the question of god’s existence bores me.
I am reluctant to call myself an atheist, agnostic, or theist because I am too bored with the question of god’s existence to study the matter. I figure if you are going to call yourself an atheist, agnostic, or theist, you should take at least a day or two to think about whether you honestly believe god exists or not. But I haven’t done anything so noble as that since I was young and stupid, and had professors breathing down my neck to read up on metaphysics.
Having said all that, it might now surprise you that I have somehow managed to work up enough energy to stick an atheist “A” on my blog.
It’s not that I’ve become an atheist. I’m still way too bored to become an atheist. What’s got me riled up enough to stick that “A” on my blog is neither metaphysics nor theology, but prejudice, discrimination, and politics. In short, I’ve become pissed at the way atheists are treated in America.
There are polls that show Americans are so prejudiced against atheists the majority of them would presumably elect George W. Bush to a third term than vote for an atheist. Atheists are now the least trusted people in America — ranking lower even than war-mongering neoconservatives. In the popular mind, they have become scapegoats for nearly every social ill Americans face. Americans think atheists are immoral, anti-social jerks who have no legitimate place in their society and deserve no respect. The President’s father, George H. Bush, at one point even declared American atheists were not citizens: “…I don’t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.”
As if it’s not enough that a former president declares atheists are neither citizens nor patriots, several cases have come to light of atheists being grossly mistreated and harassed by their fellow Americans. Perhaps the most infamous of the recent cases is the Nicole Smalkowski Affair. Nicole Smalkowski is a small town girl who came out as an atheist while in high school and consequently unleashed a torrent of harassment against her and her family. Among myriad other cruelties, she was alternately verbally abused and ostracized by students and teachers, kicked off the school basketball team, and the harassment criminally extended to a plot by her school principal to have her father prosecuted on false charges of assault. In short, her community did everything it could except lynch a rather sweet, brave teenage girl for being an atheist.
The Nicole Smalkowski Affair and other instances of harassment and mistreatment anger me. There is no excuse for it. None. So, I am sticking the atheist “A” on my blog in solidarity with Nicole Smalkowski, her family, and all rest of this nation’s minority of atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers.
The atheist “A” is the symbol of Richard Dawkins’ Out Campaign. Dawkins eloquently introduces the Campaign here. Whether you yourself are an atheist, an agnostic, a theist, or just don’t care about the options, I urge you to support the Out Campaign. Thank you!