My Definition of Atheism by Anne in Berlin
Dear Paul, I have been listening to the Mental Pod for months now and I enjoyed every single show. I would even go so far as to say, that it has changed me for the better. So I’m a little ashamed that my first feedback to you is somewhat of a complaint. Rest assured that I will take it out on myself in the passive aggressive manner that I have mastered over the years. Also, I’m gonna say some nice things about your podcast first for you to skip and/or ignore, eager to take in the harsh things this random stranger from the internet might say to you.
Nice things: I really think it is safe to say, that your podcast has changed me and that it might have saved me from my darkest days, if I would have had a chance to listen to it earlier in my life. The experience, that someone … anyone feels the way I do, has been no less than a revelation. Especially your Fear-Offs have changed the way I feel about my own fears. The fact that the most talented and adorable people you had on the show so far (including the host!) have thoughts of self-loathing and incompleteness, has really put my own feelings in its place. It made me realize, that there is no place I could ever arrive at and nothing that I could achieve, to silence these fears, but that I can face them and above all, question them. This insight is something that is already changing the course of my life and is giving me the opportunity to live up to my creative potential, that has been buried beneath doubt, fear and depression for far too long. For that I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Not so nice things: But the reason I write to you today is, that something you said on the show with your lovely guest Lauren Tyree hit me and doesn’t stop bothering me as I continue listening to the show. And I’m sure I am not the only one, so I hoped that someone else would do the awful job of criticizing you for your (mis)conception of atheism, but since three podcasts had already aired since then, I’m getting a little impatient … In the podcast Lauren expressed that she considers herself an atheist and you seemed to disagree with that, since she is too nice of a person to call herself that.
You probably already guessed it: I’m an atheist too. And I am also fucking nice for fucks sake, you dickhead!! … Listening to the show for so long, I know that you didn’t mean to hurt anyone and that especially in the U.S. the word atheist comes close to an insult. That probably explains your reaction, but you know how the dictionary explains atheism? Being the nice person that I am, I’m gonna tell ya. “Atheism is the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.” “Writers disagree how best to define and classify atheism, contesting what supernatural entities it applies to, whether it is an assertion in its own right or merely the absence of one, and whether it requires a conscious, explicit rejection.” (wikipedia) … but in the end, it only means that you reject any of the dozens of concepts of divine supernatural beings, just like you probably reject the existence of Santa. No big deal.
I’m not gonna bore you by trying to convince you that despite my being a godless heathen, I am an upright, moral, kind and caring woman and that even though I don’t believe in divine intervention and mind-reading supernatural creators of worlds, I cherish life and all the awesome things that come with it as the greatest good since the beginning of everything.
I don’t believe in a universe as a force of love and compassion, but I do believe in a universe that is as loving and compassionate as we are. I don’t believe that someone or something out there makes sure that I am well, how could I believe in such a thing, if I know that so many people are suffering the most unspeakable pain and injustice from the day they were born to the day they die? And yet I believe that I am the only thing that stands between me and the kindness and beauty that life has to offer. I believe in the atoms that make me. I stand breathless before an endless nightsky, shaken by the vastness and unlikelihood of it all and in this tiny fracture of time in which THIS set of atoms, forged in the heat of a star, has the privilege to experience itself. I don’t believe in a greater scheme, but I believe in the human mind (or so my human mind tells me) and living up to it’s potential.
I don’t believe in divine justice, but I do believe in the complex mechanics of “what goes around comes around” and creating the world I want to live in by my everyday actions.
I believe in the power of the spoken and written word.
I would like to believe in a soul, but I really can’t, though I do believe that everything that ever lived is still an inherent part of this world. We are all connected. Not by gods, spirits or fate, but by our actions, by the very light bouncing off of the things we touch and create, from the eyes we looked into, little photons going on forever, energy never running out, only changing it’s course and form.
The light which fell onto my newborn body and into the eyes of my grandfather, still exists. The energy that his mind gathered in that very moment, to decide never to touch a drop of alcohol ever again, is still there. (Sorry for the cheesiness.)
And above all, I believe that letting go of god and religion has also helped me in becoming a more wholesome, mature person and I know for sure, that a lot of people feel the same way.
I don’t know why I’m writing all of this, other than for the sake of making myself miserable over the question wether you gonna read this and if you are going to understand. But I feel that the things you believe in are not so different from the things I believe in. We just have different names for it and it pains me that the mere definition of a word stands between that. Yeah, see … that’s what I wanted to say.
There you have it. Hope you didn’t have to much trouble reading through this wall of text, since I’m not a native speaker and thank you if you did at all. Take care Paul, you amazing set of atoms.
Love and greetings from Berlin/Germany, Anne.