Thursday, May 23, 2013
What, Like Cosmic Coupons?
Pope Francis says that atheists are redeemed. Did you hear about that? Apparently it’s okay to be an atheist now, because we still get to go to heaven as long as we’re good people.
It’s actually kind of decent of him to say as much. It’s a good message to the devout, and I’m glad he’s telling them that we (atheists) are not, you know, baby-eating monsters and stuff. To the faithful, who listen to him and not to me, it probably sounds like a revelation.
But how does it sound to an atheist? Well...
I don’t represent all atheists. I cannot, do not, will not and don’t even WANT to speak for others who don’t believe in gods. I can only say how it sounds to ME, and to me it sounds somewhat smug. It's like saying that you get to be part of someone’s exclusive club for special people -- but it’s one to which you don't care to belong, because you don't think it confers any benefits, does any great good or even EXISTS, for that matter.
And anyway, I don't need to be 'redeemed' by deities popular or obscure. I'm already 'redeemed' in the sense that I’m doing the best with what I’ve got, which -sadly- not everyone bothers to try. From where I sit, I won the cosmic lottery and get to knock around being sentient for a while, the universe contemplating itself and like that. It’s amazing, and I’m not taking it for granted. That’s why, while I’m here contemplating, I'm trying to make the best of the merits I have as a human being while also consciously resisting and trying to overcome the flaws that are part and parcel of my inheritance as same. I could try harder, sure -- I could be out feeding starving kids and rescuing those in danger, but that’s something we could all be doing. You can’t say that I’m spending ALL of my life as a selfish, inconsiderate jerkface.
My value as a human being, as an engine of potential, is known to me. I have value. YOU have value. I value you. You and I are right here, right now; we don’t have to wait ‘til we’re dead to have an absentee deity prove it to us. We can do it right now. I’m doing it by AT LEAST not killing you and taking your stuff, and occasionally I manage to amuse, comfort, educate or just plain make life more liveable for you.
So...good on Francis for telling his posse to chill out on atheists. Still and all, maybe he should recognize that divine redemption is not what any of us want, and that there’s no one thing that all atheists want -- other than to not be demonized, and for other humans to stop justifying their stupid, harmful and hateful jerkassery with their particular un-falsifiable magical belief systems.
And me, I want to listen to some more New Wave music during what’s left of my lunch hour.