If you’re familiar with this blog you’ll probably know I am an atheist. You may also wonder why I don’t post more about atheism: I (usually) don’t rant about organized religion. In fact, I don’t even discuss it. In most of my posts you’ll see I just assume there’s no God, without even discussing the possibility. Why?
The short answer is I can’t be bothered. Read on for some clarification.
First, I need to say I’m extremely lucky. I was born in Barcelona, a city where most people (last figure I read was 65%) are atheists. The social pressure, then, goes the opposite way you’re probably used to: people who believe in God feel sometimes prosecuted or laughed at. It’s not that we’re mean to them. It’s just that, when you say you believe in God in my city, people look at you much like they would if you said you still believed in Santa Claus. We just don’t get it. It’s like: “you know it’s just a story, right?” So yes, religious people in Barcelona are the ones that feel estranged, not atheists. Honestly, I can’t say I’m sorry.
I am also lucky because my parents are atheists. Now they did run into problems because of their atheism in the highly Catholic Spain of the dictatorship. But that Spain is gone (though it survives in some regions of my beloved country and in the party in government) and I didn’t inherit their problems. They did the fighting for me. Thanks, dad. Thanks, mom. I’m not baptized and nobody cares. It’s quite an achievement.
These extremely lucky circumstances have let me avoid the darker sides of religion, in the sense that I haven’t had to confront hordes of intolerant maniacs who told me I would burn in hell if I got a divorce or used a condom. In fact, in Spain we have gay marriage and almost nobody gives a crap. I daresay Barcelona is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. But, again, we just take it for granted. And that has made my reactions to religion a lot more tempered, though that doesn’t mean I don’t get mad. What it means is that I am able to put the matter behind me most of the time, because it doesn’t affect me (much) on an everyday level.
As you can see, these are personal reasons. If I had been born in the US my reactions would probably be very different. In fact, I would probably be a militant atheist. I would have plenty of reasons to. In a highly religious society, finding some kind of support – even if it’s online – from like-minded individuals seems pretty important to me. Something that would help you keep your sanity while your family or co-workers try to evangelize you. I believe atheist blogs play a crucial role, especially in countries where atheists are still prosecuted or enjoy reduced rights, like in America (swearing on the Bible, anyone?).
It is just me. I can’t find the motivation because I have been a lucky bastard and have never had to deal with this kind of stuff. This doesn’t mean I think other people shouldn’t do it. In fact, I think they should. Doing some proselytizing of atheism is absolutely necessary in the world we live in. I will even contribute from time to time. Just not all the time. I just can’t be bothered.
The thing is I find the whole arguing with religious people really exhausting. In my whole life I have never, ever managed to convince anyone, probably because by the end I get too worked up. It is not the religiosity that makes me rail, but the lack of rational discussion. The lack of understanding of the most basic scientific concepts. There is a moment when I just can’t take it. That’s why I never bother to visit some blog written by a religious fanatic (and there are plenty of them, especially in the “atheism” tag of the wordpress reader) and start an argument. I feel it would be useless. Sometimes I really, really want to. Sometimes my whole body is asking me to. But then I simulate the discussion in my mind: I imagine the hours I’m going to spend replying to each one of their arguments, for lack of a better name, getting angry to eventually convince nobody. And I stop myself.
I just can’t be bothered.
(And yes, I do know there are rational religious people that are perfectly capable of having a debate. They’re just hard to find. I also know some atheists are not rational. I also know all atheists are different and all religious people are different. I also know you can’t generalize. Please don’t be the person who points out the obvious.)
And the thing is, I should be bothered. Yes, most religious people won’t change their minds. But maybe one or two readers will. And that is enough. So I actually believe in the wisdom of confronting religious views, of unmasking bigotry and intolerance. S
omeone has to do it. I just find it really, really exhausting. I know I won’t get anything but frustration from the discussion. And so, like the lazy ass I am, I just sit back and enjoy it while other people do the work. I am not proud of it. I am a little embarrassed, in fact. But I just can’t be bothered.
So what can I say? I don’t write about religion because I’m lazy. Because I wouldn’t be writing about what I care about, but trying to convince a bunch of people that don’t want to be convinced. And my desire to convince these people is smaller than my desire to ponder the imponderable mysteries of the universe. So I write a post about time and consciousness instead of explaining why there is no God. I just can’t be bothered.
If you’re reading this and you have an atheist blog then, please, for the love of God, don’t do the same. Don’t stop writing. Keep on. You see, the fact that I can’t be bothered reflects poorly on me. You are a social service. You are a beacon of light for the millions of atheists out there who have to struggle every day because of their lack of belief. You are the only hope we have of making this society rational and enlightened, of finally placing our values on what makes sense instead of what we’ve always been doing, also known as tradition. It is thanks to you and people like you that I can write this blog without being burned at the stake. And for that I am extremely thankful.
So please be bothered. Bother as many people as you can. This is not a piece of advice. This is just a plea from someone who enjoys the kind of world people like you have made possible.
Anyway, just letting you know.
Thanks for everything.