Monday, April 11, 2016

Big name atheists

". . . most big-name atheists are ex-Protestants or products of Protestant cultures. For Protestants, you actually have a core, inner self – one who either believes or doesn’t believe. So a few days (or years) of doubt can convince you that your identity is “atheist.” A Catholic or Orthodox upbringing, on the other hand, tends to give you the impression that things are messier. You might doubt one day and believe the next, but if you keep going to Mass, then at least part of your identity is religious – because your identity isn’t some inaccessible, unchanging inner “self.” Instead, it’s is shaped and fundamentally defined by your context and social relationships. This way of doing things, while it has its own problems, is less likely to lead to disillusioned atheism than Protestantism is."

I'd never thought about it.


Paula said...

That's interesting, and it makes sense, even though most of the atheists I've known have been Jewish or lapsed Catholics. I don't like calling myself "atheist" these days. Except for my teen years where it felt "cool" to have a label, it makes me uncomfortable, as do almost all labels. I just say I don't believe in God, at least for the usual definitions of God. That is, if anyone needs to know. I don't find it necessary to have a label for myself for every situation. If people want to know things about me, they can talk to me.

It does make sense that if you keep doing something out of habit, whether going to church or the gym or staying married, and those things are full of rituals and sub-rituals you're less likely to have the time to soul-search every day about how "meaningful" it all is. We are creatures of habit, most of us. But if instead you stare at the wall and ponder your faith or exercise program or marriage in the abstract, you'll probably start feeling less motivated to do the next thing on the routine.

Norma said...

I was surprised, too. Being a Protestant, usually I think we don't have a lot of rituals, but holidays are that, as are family gatherings. But we don't have liturgy of the hours, or feast days, or saint's days and when we were in Spain every town had a festival for shutting down the streets and redirecting traffic. Something to think about how routines can get you past the tough times when the mind is getting a bit out of control by overthinking what in the world is God doing.