This April American Atheists will hold a convention in Des Moines. These may be the first conventions in history for people who all don’t believe in the same thing. I don’t believe in ghosts. What would conversations be like at the American Ghost Disbelievers’ convention?
Alice: “I don’t believe in ghosts.”
Disbeliever: “Me neither.”
Alice: “Nobody can make me believe in ghosts.”
Disbeliever: “Me neither.”
Alice: “Wanna go get a burger?
In 1970 I wore a button that said, “Anarchists Unite!” This convention has a similar feel to it. Constitutional questions of separation of church and the right of public schools to teach “intelligent design” are complex, certainly deserving conventions. But a large group of people who all don’t believe something for different reasons? Don’t get me wrong; anyone can have a convention about anything. I just don’t get it. So I took a look at the convention website.
Speaker Kathleen Johnson is Military Director for American Atheists. Okay, I am definitely not going to this convention.
Tom Flynn will give his new speech, “The Trouble with Easter.” Oddly enough, I’ve heard sermons on that very topic.
And of course Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, will be speaking, if his health permits. He is described as “One of the ‘Four Horsemen’ of atheism.” That must be an atheist in-joke.
According to this site, the Atheists strongly support the use of Reason and science above all. Apparently they do not realize how fragile Reason is. In a reasoned argument, one unexpected new insight, and the whole edifice can collapse. That’s what keeps the blood pumping and the brain alive. As for science: until a few years ago, dinosaurs dragged their tails on the ground. Now dinosaurs walk like birds, tails outstretched behind them. Reason and science are wonders of the human brain, but I sure wouldn’t limit myself to them.
In October, Hitchens wrote “Unanswerable Prayers” for Vanity Fair. What a cranky, wonderful article by a fundamentalist atheist. He had been diagnosed with esophagus cancer and he responds to people who pray for him with insightful distain. People of prayer can have our wits sharpened by reading it. It’s good practice to learn from people who distain you. God bless him. (Just kidding.)
One belief (so to speak) of atheists caught my eye: “…He [sic] must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and to enjoy it.”
Substitute “a turkey” for “life” in that sentence
Yes, I’m making fun of an organization of people who don’t believe in something, though they all have different reasons for not believing in it. No, I’m not making fun of atheists. Atheism can be as intolerant as any religion. Belief in God is not necessary to form a conscientious, caring person. We know that belief in God does not prevent hatred. Without religion some people would find something else to hang their hatred on.
As I read the website, I began to think I might be an atheist. “[An Atheist] accepts that heaven is something for which we should work now – here on earth – for all men [sic] together to enjoy.” I’ve met very few religious people who would argue about that (though they may not preclude a more “heavenly” heaven). There is a debate called “Does God Exist?” That sounds interesting too, especially if the first order of business is defining the word “God.”
In fact, I might organize a “What Does ‘God’ Mean?” convention. Only two groups of people would be turned away or constricted. The “God is Completely Unknowable” people might as well be atheists and would be directed to the other convention. People who are firm in their belief that every word in the Bible is literally, unassailably true would be limited to 15 minutes podium time. They are generally real conversation stoppers. I doubt they’d come anyway since they already know the answer.
I’ll let a relative of mine from the Old Country finish this article. She told me with pride that she didn’t believe in the Little People (Leprechauns). “They are there; I’ve seen them. I just don’t believe in them.”