Only Silence Is Honesty
Thomas T. Hite
Dear sentient being:
As the subset of "religious discussion" all too often falls under "insomniac theatre of the mind," I may as well perpetuate the trend by writing this missive:
I have been reading through several letters to the editor of "Positive Atheism" magazine, and two in particular caught my rapt attention -- one titled "atheism is crap" and another the title of which escapes me (there are so many posts), but which centered around the analogy of "atheism" as a etymological case of "default" status as regards belief. Both were responded to, and I am rather uncertain as to whether "the answer" was explored fully enough.
As regards the "crap" letter (an all-too-fitting sobriquet, I admit), it is admirable that a fifteen-year-old is able to parrot ideas and concepts probably heard in church or youth group with such striking clarity amidst otherwise unfettered emotion. She or he is to be commended for caring, at least, about poor ole' dead Lincoln and his posthumous ideology, if not so much about punctuation and spelling. Strangely enough, I had just last weekend stumbled upon the very pamphlet from which the ever-so-astute "Coca Cola" proof of god was lifted (Thomas Aquinas, eat your heart out -- or at least, fizzle it a bit with a refreshing carbonated beverage), called "The Atheist Test." I assure you, if you haven't thumbed through this gauntlet of logical fallacies wherein proof against evolution is offered by way of showing that the bananna [I'll take "automatic association with apes" for a hundred, Alex] was surely created for consumption by human-beings (but you've probably read it), it is surely worth your while -- at least for the belly-laughs. However, in response to this dandy little manifesto of adolescent-Christian-angst, it is outrightly asserted that the theory evolution is "rock-solid," extending into virtually "every area of science," thus it is unassailable.
In sharp contrast, the response to the letter revolving around the "analogue watch / atheist person" analogy was not only favorable, but laudatory. As I recall, it was from a reader who, upon pondering at her computer, came upon an epiphany wherein she suddenly realized that the lexical construction of "atheist" consisted of three morphemes: "a-the-ist" equals "not-god-follower." This suggested to the reader that it would "clear up ambiguity" to simply, therefore, project the idea that the atheist is simply the "default setting" for the human being!
To synthesize, I assert that both potential "foundations" of atheism (i.e. evolution and "default" theory) would actually muddle further the significance and humanity of atheism. As regards dear, dear Darwin (or should we say LaMarque?), it still has yet to be proven that human beings "descended" from austrilopithecine origin. If anything can be said to be "rock-solid" as regards the theory, it would be micro-evolution, not macro-evolution. Micro-evolution asserts that in any given society, those whose offspring survive in largest numbers thus constitute the majority of the next generation, ad infinitum. Of course, this is oversimplifying the idea just a bit, but really the reduction is not to the point of absurdity. In fact, the conditions under which the micro-evolutionary theory are constituted make it rather a tautology: those who survive best in an environment are therefore those who survive best in that environment. From these unrevelatory origins, however, the theory itself evolved once it was unfurled to the public, and historical coincidence allowed people such as Herbert Spencer to distort the notion into what he called "survival of the fittest," thus using it to support all kinds of outrightly racist, sexist and otherwise class-ist doctrine. Macro-evolution has a long, long way to go, sadly, as there are vast, vast gaps between branches of species, many of them only related by leaps of visually constructive faith or, worse yet, retrospective behaviorist assumption (i.e. "it had sharp teeth, so it must have been a predator"). An excellent example of the retrospective-behaviorist-assumption fallacy in archeology is the book "Motel of the Mysteries" (I don't remember the author's name). Not that this kind of belief is inherently bad (nothing is, after all, inherently bad). People really want to believe that from x follows y, where x equals archeological data and y equals the reason we look and behave the way we do (and do). Objectivity is a comforting dream, quite often; it's a dream wherein homo sapiens slowly comes into being, staring into the godless sky and thinking "golly, I could use a hamburger -- let's all work toward that." However, this dream is in contrast with archeological studies which have shown the earliest civilizations to be quite religious, and an awkward, loping "journey" from earlier times, nowhere near as consistent as that free-spirited science teacher told us all in seventh grade, despite pressure from the Christian hedgemony.
Essentially, while it's tempting to respond to those who have wrapped themselves in Christian mythology like a warm blanket -- ignoring the contradictions and bloodstains in favor of its promise of eternal acceptance -- we shouldn't. At all. No matter what we say, to them it's a lie -- in fact, many times it's a lie to us, too: there's no objective, pure universe, where we have bedrocks of certainty on which to build our houses -- no certainty at all, in fact. Electrons don't orbit the nucleus of an atom, like some microcosm of the solar system we're so accustomed to. Time isn't real, despite the radioactive clocks. To do away with god is to admit subjectivity, admit that were we a watch we'd have no maker, only endless, aimless hands moving about. We'd alone have personal freedom and the concomitant responsibility of our own actions. The follower of Christ ignores the footprints of all others, and the hardest thing to do -- what we must do -- is to let them walk, shouting blindly at us as they fall off of the cliff. Only when they ask us where the true path is can we admit that there is none to be found. In a subjective world, only silence is honesty.
-- Thomas T. Hite
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