Friday, July 21, 2006

God and Adulthood

Belief in God is a way of clinging to a vestige of childhood. Atheism is full adulthood. Neither is more praiseworthy than the other, so don't get me wrong. The vestige of childhood that theists cling to is just a dream, an idle fancy, that does not need to have deleterious effect on their character (their backbone, independence, self-reliance, or the like.) Likewise rejecting this vestige and embracing atheism do not improve one's character. They are simply more realistic attitudes toward something that has little practical importance.

God has little practical importance, you see. Many theists would agree. They think that God bids them make up their own minds about what to do. Even when they claim that God shows them what to do, their decisions about how to act are indistinguishable from independent decisions, there being no evidence that God helps them make the decisions.

So, I have nothing polemical to say and I don't mean to denigrate theism. My point is that atheism is the recognition that if your loved ones die there is no one there for you. There is only rocks. What human beings do matters to no one else because no one is there. In particular, there is no one whom we devoutly wish to please and show our adoration and aspiration to be equal. He's not there to show pride in us. There is no harmony or orchestration of human life within a meaningful higher order. There is a higher order, but it isn't meaningful; it's physics. Atheism is like the death of your parents. Dad's dead. There's no one there now. Just you. Your kids need and love you, but you have no one.

What is interesting is whether this makes life pointless. Many theists would say that it does. But it does not. It is rational to attempt to fulfill your large and complexly orchestrated set of desires, is it not? You don't need a divine parent overseeing the matter to make it worthwhile to do so. Or if you do, then God's life is drearily meaningless, as he has no parent. One might utter some Aristotelian mumbo jumbo about God being necessary or creating himself, but even so, he still wouldn't have anyone else to be proud of him or love him. He would be all alone.

In any event, there is a certain adulthood in recognizing that the parent is not there, in accepting that only oneself is there to oversee one's thoughts and actions.