The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Do You Believe In Magic?

The great thing about being an atheist is that there are no subscription fees.

On the other hand, you have to put up with people – people with religious beliefs – describing atheism as a belief system. Well, yes, in a way it is. Atheism is a belief system... in the same way that being bald is a hairstyle.

Of course, one can argue in favour of atheism on the basis of rationality. Though the idea that using rationality is, in itself, rational is... something for philosophers with long beards to think about. And besides, I don’t live my life or make decisions on a rational basis; I’m not Mr Spock, I’m Captain Kirk.

I’d say I was an atheist because I find the idea of a godless universe to be awe-inspiring, life-affirming and massively comforting. I find the idea that there might be something in charge of this, who is either taking an extremely hands-off approach, or is somehow directly responsible for all the cruelty in the world, to be less appealling. I find the idea of a life after death – be it heaven or hell - to be the stuff of nightmares. I don’t want to go on after I’ve finished.

There are many other wonderful things about atheism. It means you can’t salve your conscience when you do wrong by confessing anonymously. It means that you appreciate that the world, and the life on it, was not put there for the benefit of mankind and that it does not belong to us. It means that if you start hearing voices in your head, you know that you should seek medical advice because you are not Joan of Arc. And it means you don’t have to read dull books about tribes bickering in the desert thousands of years ago.

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