Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Atheism 101

Although I'm a full-time writer of fantastic fiction, I'm still a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic, pragmatist and atheist. These might seem contradictory positions, but they're really not. (Think of it as cognitive dissidence.) I make a decent living writing about little green men, vampires, ghosts, etc. But it's all made up. I don't believe any of it. I'm just grateful for whatever genetic quirk gave me the ability to think up stories and get paid to do it.

The wonderful thing about science is that, unlike dogmatism, it thrives on being proven wrong. We learn from doing, screwing up, doing a face-palm and trying again -- until we get it right. (Isaac Asimov once said that the most famous phrase uttered in pursuit of knowledge isn't "Eureka!"; instead it's "That's odd ...")

I have no vested interest in believing in God, but on the other hand, I have nothing against being proven wrong. If Jesus Christ staged his big comeback tonight, I'd probably think -- well, probably at first I'd think he was, as John Lennon once said, someone dressed up like Jesus, but after he'd, say, produced a few thousand loaves and fishes out of a doggie bag of Long John Silver's, I might be inclined to admit that he was working some decent mojo.

I'm not planning on losing any sanity points over it, however. In terms of sheer cosmic horror Jesus can't hold a votive candle to Cthulhu, and in terms of sheer cosmic silliness it's hard to imagine any religion that rivals Scientology in risibility, though evangelical Christianity comes about as close as any belief can. Where else but in churches deep within the Mason-Dixon singularity can one find nominal adults willing to fight for their belief that The Flintstones is a documentary? (Yes, yes, I know; but the Flying Spaghetti Monster is supposed to be silly.)

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