Sunday, March 14, 2010

faithless whore

Faithless whore that I am, I’m not at the Atheist Convention this weekend. I’d toyed with it as the Not Boyfriend is attending but when it comes down to it – I just don’t feel strongly enough to part with my hard earned cash and spend two and a half days listening to people talk about faith, or lack of it.

While there are many other labels I adopt happily (feminist being one of them), “atheist” sits uneasily upon me. I do not believe in god or a divine being. I’ve survived the New Age, dabbled with paganism and Buddhism but never in my adult life considered myself a Christian. As a child I had imaginary friends but never an omnipotent one who lived in the sky.

I call myself an atheist only for the sake of simplicity. It’s the closest fit. Agnostic is too wishy-washy, I don’t 'doubt the existence of God', as my core values includes the deep belief in the non-existence of all deities. However I do enjoy ritual and if Atheism had an entry test I’d flunk it on several questions.

You see while I know there is no god (just as a Christian may "know" there is one) and I doubt there is an afterlife, I have experiences with ghosts that I cannot explain. I’ve often been ‘visited’ by those who’ve recently died, even ones I’ve not expected and then there was the Cornwall Experience that is a blog post for another time.

So I have a grey area about energy/self and non-self that I can’t put into words, are not fully coherent but I feel just as deeply as my “knowing” there is no god.

As for ritual, I love a good pagan ceremony, building an altar, requesting the presence of mythical gods (yes mythical, not real) and the whole rigmarole. Even a decent Buddhist puja complete with chants and offerings. But purely as ritual, rather than worship.

I do find wonder in nature, respect the earth as a living entity and have been heard to utter, “the earth is not happy” on many occasions. Gaia is a primordial deity. A myth not a real creature. But I do believe in the essence of what Gaia represents.

So if I turned up at the convention, to the purists I’d be a fraud.

The main reason to not attend though is that I’m not a fundamentalist, I have no zeal for my lack of faith. For this I blame (or rather thank) my parents and their apathy about religion. While nominally christened and subjected to a brief stint in Sunday school (a rather liberal affair, I strongly remember the little sausages at the parties but not a single word about god or the bible), I have no sense that my mother ever had a faith. My father, the product of a Presbyterian mother born in Northern Island, was versed in the Lords Prayer and had a half-hearted attempt at teaching it to me once. But what I remember most about my religious education was the huge sigh of relief throughout the family when asked at age 7 or 8 if I wished to continue going to Sunday school – to which I said no, meaning my parents could thankfully retire from their commitment made to the minister in return for having their children christened.

End of story.

What I’ve observed about the strongest converts to atheism is the key ingredient of conversion. You have to leave something, experienced a faith, to strongly adopt the counter viewpoint. My apathetic introduction to religion gives me nothing to kick against. I don’t “need” atheism, it’s just something that’s there.

Back to the convention. Catherine Deveny and Sue Anne Post almost got me hooked but comedy can be experienced in other venues without such a high admission price (they did hand out sparkling wine, sushi and oysters at the gala opening, a nice touch and a tad more highbrow than altar wine and stale bread). But as much as I like Dev and Sue Anne, I am heading towards loathing Richard Dawkins. It was the recent Andrew Denton’s program that did it. Have you ever encountered such a closed, emotionally constipated public figure before? He may have a brain the size of a planet and he did redeem himself somewhat on Q and A sitting next to Steve Fielding, but I still wouldn’t choose to be lectured by him.

Instead I am enjoying snippets of the convention virtually. Tweets (#atheistcon) are interesting (not to the NB who complained that too many people at the convention are tweeting and not actually listening) and the live blogging from the ABC.

And there the final irony lies – the only source I can find of live blogging comes from the RELIGIOUS UNIT of the State owned media. Don’t forget to read the comments; the irony is not lost on the atheists.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Zarquon said...

I'd be stuck up if I were married to Romana, too.

8:17 pm  
Blogger R.H. said...

I've known a few street preachers, marvellous entertainment; put on for free. It would be sad to lose it: the nutty side to everything.

2:27 pm  
Blogger R.H. said...

It's not religious faith they're leaving, rather a nice upbringing: Pine-O-Clean and no swearing. How oppressive. Miss D isn't funny, just cathartic, -for fellow middle class sufferers shamed by privilege.

1:30 pm  

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