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The Issue is God — And Six Reasons it Doesn’t Matter

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The big question — that’s what we disagree on. Is there a God or not? Several of my very close friends whom I love and respect believe that there is no God: no conscious, purposeful Spirit at work in the universe. I could no sooner believe what they believe — or don’t believe — than I could decide to live in a different era.

God is a reality to me. In God I live and move and have my being, as the Bible says. This isn’t a faith passed down from my parents, it is the fruit of my own hard-fought battles with life. It is what I have learned from life and death: we are accompanied.

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But that’s not what I want to talk about today. I’m responding to the WordPress Daily Prompt:

“Do you have a good friend or close relative with whom you disagree on a major issue (political, personal, cultural)?

What’s the issue, and how do you make the relationship work?”

How to Make it Work

The issue is God, as I say. So, how do my atheist friends and I make our relationships work? Without having asked them, here’s what I think:

  1. Respect. Recognizing that none of us has all the answers, which requires at least a modicum of humility.
  2. Being non-judgmental. Not placing ourselves above each other, even if we can’t help thinking that our belief system is somehow better or superior or wiser or more logical or whatever. Does that make any sense? It’s separating the belief system from the person and honoring our common state of “doing the best we can with what we’ve got.”
  3. Refusing to play the victim. This entails trusting that “the other” is not judging. Christians can feel judged by a secular, modernistic world where the metaphysical realm is undervalued if not outright mocked. Atheists (obviously) feel judged by certain Christians who tell them they are going to burn in eternal fire if they dare to entertain non-Christian beliefs. My atheist friends avoid mocking me, and I avoid relegating them to hellfire.
  4. Dare I say unconditional love, or will that sound religious? They love me despite my belief in fairy tales, and I love them despite their inability to recognize a power higher and more loving than the human mind.
  5. I’d like to say open-mindedness, but that doesn’t fly because atheists are not open-minded about God, and I can’t very well be open to atheism. I understand atheism given our societal paradigms, but I can’t begin to open my mind to it. Some things are opinions, some things are beliefs, and some things are just unequivocally true for an individual. If life’s beating the crap out of me hasn’t made me lose my faith yet, nothing will.
  6. We laugh a lot. I have a sign over my desk that reads: “Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves, for we shall never cease to be amused.”

So there ya go, WordPress, that’s how we make our relationships work.

As it happens, I’ve spent this week wrestling with a blog post that’s got me all tangled up in metaphors related to God, atheism, and climate change. I took a break from that blog post, and I ended up writing about the same dang thing!

I can’t help it. Sorry, atheist pals. Thanks for reading anyway.

And on earth, peace . . .

And on earth, peace . . .

I Don’t Believe in God Anymore

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I no longer believe in God. I know it’s cowardly to announce this on my blog, not having talked to any of my God-people, but there you have it. Further conversations with people who believe in fairy tales are not going to change my mind.

Two simultaneous straws broke the back of the camel from Nazareth.

On Death

First, I’ve been asked to give a sermon at church on finding hope in the midst of death and grief, and you know what? I can’t. I’m done trying. It’s silly to pretend that there’s a happy ending, that the people I miss are OK now, and that there is a spiritual realm in which they thrive. What factual evidence is there? We either end up underground, dressed in our finest, or we are burned up in an oven and our ashes thrown around. There are no wings involved.

On Prayer

The other precipitating event that led to my conversion was an exchange on Facebook. One person said “prayer changes things” with regard to some dreadful world event or another, and an atheist responded, “Money changes things more. They give the money to the rich and encourage everybody else to pray. I say get political and take the money back.” Basically quit being fooled into praying instead of actually doing something.

At first I thought I could understand why she felt that way — I have a lot of respect for this particular atheist, and I think that some Christians do ignore the Biblical warning, “faith without works is dead” — but then I decided that my atheist friend is dead right. Prayer is just a chimera.

Prayer is a farce. There’s nobody listening. Nobody home. No “creator” that cares, no spiritual force working for good in the world, no power stronger than ourselves. The meaning I used to find through prayer was all coincidence, my brain’s neurological transmitters trying to form randomness into patterns.

I have been duped.

On Toast

This world is not getting better; people are not getting better — there is no hope. The human mind is the highest power there is, and history and politics and Rush Limbaugh prove that it is incapable of rising above itself to envision or pursue any higher state of being.

We’re toast.

Now that I understand there’s no God, I can abandon the silly notion that I have power beyond human comprehension to change the world for the better, or to love people I don’t like, or to overcome character flaws I would like to be rid of. I no longer have to carry around this false gratitude for beautiful vistas or cute babies or the belly laughs of my friends. Nope, it’s all just random chemicals and minerals and electrical fields born of primordial soup to no end. 

I’m free!

A bunch of chemicals and minerals playing in primordial ooze

A bunch of chemicals and minerals playing in primordial ooze

Author’s Note

This post was written in response to the WordPress Writing Challenge, The Unreliable Narrator. A time-honored literary device, the term was first coined in 1961 by Wayne C. Booth. He wrote: ”I have called a narrator reliable when he speaks for or acts in accordance with the norms of the work (which is to say the implied author’s norms), unreliable when he does not.”

So . . .  consider this post unreliable and expect a return to your fairy tale-laden blogger friend in the next post.

Melting Barriers on February 17th

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What do a 78-year-old retiree, a union organizer, and a bunch of evangelical Christian students have in common? We are all marching on Washington to support Obama’s pledge to take action on climate!

Green God-People, Meet the Funny Atheists

I seem to have gotten myself into an awkward position. Three dear friends, all avowed atheists who don’t know each other, have said they’ll join me in D.C. for the climate rally on February 17th.  I thought my retired activist neighbor, my liberal, rant-prone lawyer friend, and a professional union organizer would get along pretty well, all being somewhat cynical and funny as all get-out.

Then I started hearing from my friends in the Christian community, including a boat-load of young evangelicals who care passionately about protecting the planet. They are coming from all over the country to meet downtown for the rally and want me to join them.

You bet!

I think it’s supremely important that our politicians understand that not all Christians will be co-opted by the right-wing’s corporately funded anti-environmental campaigns. There are many – myself included – who take seriously their responsibility to be stewards of creation.

There are also several interfaith groups marching, and they want to meet up with the Christians. This is exciting news, because oftentimes the various religious groups prefer to remain separate, even when they agree on an issue.

It’s sounding like a movement!

Of course there are bus loads of environmentalists heading to D.C., too, but I can hang out with them any old time. This is a day for crossing boundaries.

Coming Together

So far, I’ve only ‘fessed up to one of my atheist buddies that we’ll be joining the God-people. To be fair, I didn’t know it when I invited them. She’s cool with it and is going to bring lots of green union stickers for the assembled. We’ll see how my other non-faith friends react – perhaps they are finding out about it as they read this blog post.

The broad representation at this rally shows that when it comes to protecting our home planet, we can all find common cause. We might agree about little else, but we will come together in a spirit of peace and cooperation on February 17th to say that :

It is past time to move forward on climate!

Peace Depends on Climate Action – NOW

I am a member of the Bloggers for Peace group, and I believe that nothing – NOTHING – is going to be a bigger threat to world peace than climate change. In the decades to come, wars over fresh water, food, and arable land will increase as the climate becomes more unstable. We will witness famines and floods of refugees the likes of which we can’t even imagine. I choose not to dwell on these likelihoods – there are children I love who will pay the price, and it makes me too sad.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to put my head in the mud left behind by Katrina and Sandy and pretend it isn’t happening. That is nothing short of insane. I’m going to wave my sign and scream my head off and act as if this could be the end of the human race, becausewell, please come to D.C. for the rally.

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If you have questions about transportation, housing, etc, check the FAQ page here: action.sierraclub.org/site/PageServer?pagename=forwardonclimate_faq. Any specific questions not answered there, feel free to email forwardonclimate@gmail.com and somebody will get back to you ASAP.

A few related posts:

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/extremism-in-defense-of-the-planet/

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/every-day-disasters/

https://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/hope-or-hostility-in-a-multi-faith-world/

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