Monday, December 14, 2009

You Should Know Better

Take some time and check out this story.

Bunch of interesting things to discuss there, so let's get cracking. I'll tell those of you who are link averse that the story is about a North Carolina city councilman who is having to fight for his job because he doesn't believe in God. Now, go read the article so you understand what I'm about to talk about.

1. If you read the article, you'll notice that Councilman Atheist is quoted as saying he's really not that interested in contemplating the existence or non-existence of God, and definitely doens't think that is relavent to his job as a politician. While I agree with the latter sentiment, I have some problems with the former.

Let's be clear. It's impossible to be an atheist and not contemplate the existence of God. If you're an atheist, which this guy is quoted as identifying as, then that means you've thought about whether God existed and decided you are on Team No God. That's fine, it's your life. But, don't insult my intelligence by telling me you don't even think it's worth considering. That means you think I can't think logically or read for comprehension.

I don't know if this was a mistake made by the reporter, or Councilman Atheist, but somebody plainly thought it would be cool to minimize the importance of God, while at the same time taking a stance that God doesn't even exist. Agnostics can claim they don't really think about whether God exists, atheists cannot. Atheists have made a choice. Man up and stand by your choice.

2. The article notes that many states have crazy laws on the books that conflict with the Constitution, and that people have to go to court to see them abolished. Am I the only one bothered by that?

I mean, isn't it possible that someone could decided to re-institute the institution of slavery based on some obscure state law, and force a lengthy court battle before they would be required to free their slaves? Sure, that's unlikely, but 30 years ago the Internet was unlikely.

Maybe I'm tripping, but I find it ridiculous that there are scores of stupid laws lingering on the books that permit people to do mischief. The article says state legislatures don't have time to work on removing those laws. That's bogus. If they have time to pass proclamations recognizing random rappers and sports teams, they have time get rid of laws outlawing fellatio. Seems like a much better use of time to me.

3. Final point here. What type of black person is pushing for people to be barred from public office over something like their belief in God? Seriously, wouldn't that seem like a red flag to a black person whose ancestors previously could't hold office because of their skin color?

I know, I know, skin color is not the same as atheism. That's true. But, at its core, this law basically punishes those folks who are minorities and prevents them from fully participating in society. And not because their actions have a real affect on people's lives because atheism ultimately is going to be a problem for you, not me. I mean, you could make the flawed argument that atheists make the world a worse place, but really, there are a LOT of people who make the world a worse place, and I don't see them being barred from public office.

This just seems like an attempt to punish folks who think differently. Matter of fact, I wonder how these Christians would feel if the tables were turned and there were laws barring Christians from holding public office. Actually, I don't have to wonder how most Christians would feel since these same people already complain that they can't pray in school. (Although, that must be a white thing because every public black school I have attended included prayers in every ceremony. Every, single, one.)

Seems like a black person would intuitively grasp the problem with taking a stance punishing a vulenerable minority, but I guess some folks are just oblivious like that. Strangley, the dude leading the charge was a former director for the NAACP, so you would think he would be more sensitive. Then again, I've heard people say that the NAACP is one of the most conservative black organizations in the country.

I guess folks just don't know better.



oyster said...

I think you're reading too much into #1.

Here's what the Wapo quoted the atheist as saying:

"The question of whether or not God exists is not particularly interesting to me".

That's not the same as asserting that the question of God's existence is "not worth considering". Perhaps this man considered it once, and now it is a settled matter in his mind. Therefore, it is no longer an interesting question for this particular person to consider. Isn't that a fair interpretation that is consistent with the quote?

Big Man said...


I don't think so. Saying something isn't interesting is a slick way of denigrating it.

It's not like he's still pondering the question of whether God exists. If he identifies as an atheist, he's already finished thinking about it, right? If I remember correctly, the article lists several ways the politician has taken pains to make it clear that he does not believe in God.

Honestly, I don't have a problem with that, I have a problem with him pretending that it's not something he thinks about. It seems to me that he's trying to pretend that this whole thing is a non-issue and not really a large part of his life, when the story lists several actions by him that seem to contradict that.

If people truly don't think God or relgion is important, that's fine. One of my best friends is like that. But, don't pretend that you think like that when you really believe that God does not exist. It feels dishonest to me.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, Not feeling you on this one. Seems to me that the councilman has resolved the question in his mind, and the existence of God requires no further examination. So the question is of no particular interest, it's a closed case. It’s unclear to me why you think the question should occupy his thoughts.

We do agree that being an atheist should not disqualify one from holding public office. I would welcome an atheist president, I get the feeling that her or she will not be getting the southern vote. You know the South, where progress goes to die.

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PPR_Scribe said...

AGree with the previous commenters. (Well, not the person with the Panamanian job offers lol) I interpreted his statement to mean that he has settled the issue for himself, and does not think any further on it.

As for your statement, "It's impossible to be an atheist and not contemplate the existence of God." Would you also agree that it is impossible to be a Christian and not contemplate the non-existence of God? If so, then I can understand why you think that "non-contemplation" is not a possibility--for anyone.

Big Man said...

PPR Scribe

I think it's impossible to be a Christian and not consider the non-existence of God.
Hell, Paul, one of the central and most influential figures in the Bible, discusses that very issue. If you read through the Psalms, you can see where the writers struggle with wondering if God exists in their moments of struggle. Or, if God cares.

Most Christians struggle with moments of doubt about God's existence and his purpose for their lives. Yet, we still make a conscious choice to believe. That's the substance of faith.

I think the fact that Councilman Atheist made a point of being sworn in using an alternate oath, and the fact that he's an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church show that he considers God's existence or non-existence and essential question in life. If he truly found the issue uninteresting, would he take pains to distance himself from the standard oath, or be involved with that particular church.

Feigning disinterest is wack.

But, it cool if y'all disagree, ain't no law here that says you have to agree with me.

Shady_Grady said...

As far as your third question about "what sort of black man.."

Edgerton is not your average black man by any stretch of the imagination. He sees himself as a Southerner, says that slavery was a learning instituion, speaks regularly to "Southern Heritage" organizations and defends the Confederate Flag..

Big Man said...


Well damn. He ain't much of a man at all then...

Shady_Grady said...

Nope, he's not. I think the local NAACP bounced him when he started showing crazy tendencies or maybe they had to sue him to get rid of him. Can't say. But I do remember the stuff about loving the Confederacy and yada, yada yada..

Raving Black Lunatic