Monday, 27 December 2010

Atheism is boring

I have previously used comments on atheism to express the belief that they are people too, and assert that the Nazis were not atheists, as some erroneously claim.
And in the past I have occasionally strayed onto and read articles - and made the occasional comment on - blogs of some atheists where we can find comments that are not flecked with the spittle of hate and pointless rage. For good-humoured and intelligent atheists do actually exist.

But I've realised that I've not bothered looking for quite a while. And I think that the reason is that they are just boring in the end.

Sure, there are plenty of atheist comedians out there.  I heard one last week, on Radio 5 I believe, telling us all that his wish was that his (believing) father would die an atheist. And I wondered what kind of achievement that would actually be. And wondered whether that was actually atheist evangelism as a form of the Oedipus complex. But it's kind of symptomatic of the atheism we hear in the media. A kind of intellectual parasitism - a creed that consists entirely of negatives. Of course, that means atheist comedy can be funny, but it can only be funny as long as religion exists. After which it would be... well, just empty.

Reflecting on the absurdities of religion is terrific. I do it occasionally, I am told, myself. But the reason it is fun, is because religion is actually interesting. Take Neo-paganism:  like neo-Celtic Christianity it has largely been invented over the last fifty years. It's based on wishful thinking and a deliberate re-creation of an imaginary past. It is a lovely target for satire. And it's still more interesting than atheism.

I guess it's because atheism, of itself, has nothing.  Let us take science, for science is often held up in opposition to religion.  Science is brilliant, science is scary, science opens up all kinds of avenues into great things we can do with the world. And begs all sorts of questions. Last week the Large Hadron Collider captured anti-hydrogen for the first time. Or so they say - I've not seen the pictures yet. And it asks all sorts of questions - not least what was the point? But it's fascinating stuff. And it's fascinating whether you have faith or not. In fact, it's probably more fascinating if you do have faith. Because questions about the origin of the universe - about sexual ethics - about the morality of the latest big, scary bomb - we can ask these questions and reflect on them in the light of our founding texts, of the nature of the God, god or gods we believe in (or not, if you're certain kinds of Buddhist). And then we can still follow the experiment through to see what happens next. The world is even more colourful, more rounded, more interesting.


  1. Well, you know, I always thought of my atheism as not being the whole of me, simply as a part of me. And goodness, you know, I thought I too might have something to say myself, and might - on a good day - even be mildly interesting.

    Terribly sorry to have disappointed you, I guess. Of course, I've never treated atheism as an end in itself, only as a starting position, so I guess if you are treating "atheism" as something other than simply the conscious stance that there are no gods, as an end in itself and not as a starting position to what one does next then after that conclusion, then goodness, I guess you might find it boring.

    But then, I guess, I find people interesting. As people. And I read about, even the blogs of those who disagree completely with me, in case I can learn something.

    Not learning all that much here, though, beyond some premise we atheists were supposed to be peddling something we're not?

  2. I take you completely seriously. The world would be far too boring otherwise!

  3. Gurdur, I have clearly slipped into the trap of condemning a whole class of people, so I apologise for a lack of clarity while attempting to write a light-hearted Christmas thought.

    I think you are right when you say "simply a part of me". It's when a comedian is an "atheist comedian" as opposed to a comedian who's an atheist that it becomes unfunny. Dara O'Briain being a good example of a comedian who's an atheist.

    Likewise an "atheist blog" consumes the only meat it really has. While the blog of an atheist can be an entirely different matter.


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