Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Of Jello and Faith

Morning Edition, November 21, 2005 • I believe that there is no God.
I'm beyond Atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in
God is easy -- you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do.
You can't prove that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my
car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check
again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the
word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare
So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with
no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to
search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the
people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching
stage. The Atheism part is easy.
But, this "This I Believe" thing seems to demand something more
personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life's big picture,
some rules to live by. So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe
there is no God."
Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not
greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and
that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in
the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just
rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that
raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need
heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.
Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by
kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be
more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time
Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read
ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without
God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm
wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I
don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe
this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith."
That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another
two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less
insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means
more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there
is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm
learning something.
Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family,
and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an
omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help
or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to
help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less
suffering in the future.
Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family,
people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and all the other things I
can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have."

My friend Brit, posted the preceding article on his website, and since I wanted to hear your views on the subject and his blog is password protected I thought I’d just repost here.

My response is as follows:

Thanks Brit for posting this, it was indeed an interesting read. I suppose the part that really struck me first was the following quote:
**So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with
no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to
search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power**

It then goes on to talk about how most people get stuck here and that’s true, yet you never really hear about what happens when people find their own proof do we? What if I have all the evidence I need in seeing other peoples actions, and the beauty of a birth of a child, or celebrating someones 12 step birthday? What if that evidence is good enough for me?

I was sorry to hear that he finds it insulting when people proclaim their faith whether it has been steadfast, waning or lost and found again. You asked for an answer and that's it. Ever heard of a gut feeling or mother's intuition? Why are they there? Who knows, they just are. With the same ability to be explained as why a gene mutates. Sometimes it just does.

The thing though that puzzles me the most about this is why? Why does Penn really care if faith helps me sleep at night? Is he really so interested in disproving it and taking away the thing that I clung to at night and in the NICU while I prayed that both of my babies wouldn’t die? Why would he want to take it away from troops and their families whom it helps get through the days and nights? Why take away the comfort from a family surrounding their dying relative whose sole comfort is knowing that at least know he’s in a better place and not suffering anymore?

I believe in Jello, and family, and sex and God. I believe that there are others who simply will never believe, and there are others who believed so hard and true and got hurt, so hurt that they stopped believing.

I’m glad that Penn see’s this as an opportunity to treat people better the first time around, for me knowing there’s a higher power that is happy to see me do well, and to see others do well. That’s my motivation. So here’s to your Jello and sex and family, I’ll have mine too with a little side of faith.


  1. Your answer to Brit was perfect.
    People who choose not to believe in God want to be left alone. If that is their choice, so be it.
    People who do believe in God do not want to be criticized for doing so. We do not want to be considered ignorant or unenlightened because we have faith. Sometimes I think people think I am not very "bright" because I am a Christian, and that makes me mad.
    OK I'll get off of my soapbox now, thanks for letting me sound off.

  2. I had been thinking about that post since he put it up. It's easy to see how some people can become disillusioned by religion. Since its inception, religion has been used as a justification for all manner of human deprivation. I’m sorrowful for past indiscretions that are well documented in the faith I follow, Catholicism. I do not believe religion is a free ticket to justification on an issue with out proper facts and reasoning. You must still use your brain. Suggesting that people who believe in God have difficulty seeing reality disgusts me. My faith allowed me to go to a third world country and hold hands with some of the starving, sick, and dying of our global community. After I stopped crying, I decided helping people would always be a part of my daily life, not just something I would do from an angel tree at Christmas time. I credit my religion with giving me this opportunity to make this profound change. I know people who do not believe in God can have these very same experiences but I have not seen a group of spring break students going on a mission trip who are not affiliated with some religious organization. Penn suggests that no God means more room for important things in life. I believe I have to capacity for both.

  3. Rose, your last two statements nail it thanks.
    Shirley, I know what you mean exactly about the "being bright" statement.

  4. One more thing. I don't mean to come off like I hate religion completely. Obviously a group that organizes trips to help those less fortunate isn't all bad, and there are many good and genuine people in the church.

  5. Thank you Brit for expanding the conversation with your thoughts. I am really glad to hear where you are coming from.

  6. brit,
    thanks for responding :-)
    The thing that just sticks in my craw about this whole this is if he's not trying to prove or disprove anything then why? Why even write this? To justify his own views and beliefs? Great. Why take those who do believe down with him?
    Does that make sense?
    thanks again Brit

  7. Court-
    Yes, what you're saying makes sense. I would say this, though. I don't know if you can talk about atheistic beliefs without directly comparing them to theistic beliefs. You can't say "I love atheism because I don't need to worship God to XXX" without implying that theists have to worship God to XXX. The opposite, theistic, view is always implied, and being contradicted.
    It's much easier to talk about theistic beliefs without being critical of atheistic beliefs. "God helped me through this hard time." An atheist wouldn't say that "atheism helped me through this time. They'd say "My not having to worry about pleasing God helped me focus on getting through this tough time." Again, implying something like those worshiping God do so for XXX or something.