As always, I spent the first ten minutes of my day deep in prayer. But today my thoughts wouldn’t focus. I was thinking about my eyes, you see. What you said to me yesterday over coffee made my eyeballs shrivel up until they were withered like raisins, and now I can’t get on with my day until I say my piece.
“There’s obviously a God,” you said, stirring your mug of Americano. I shrugged. Obvious is such a subjective word. “The evidence is all around,” you continued, and I nodded with an eyebrow slightly raised. Evidence is pretty subjective too. “Atheists must be unintelligent,” you concluded, and I snorted into my hot java, burning my eyeballs from the scolding splash-back.
You’d been droning on about religious freedom for the last half an hour, about your right to refuse service to gays (though you didn’t mention your right to refuse service to shrimp-eaters, the tattooed or those who wear polyester, all as detestable as gay love in the often-misquoted Leviticus), and I’d run out of etiquette.
The ‘unintelligent’ atheists. This is the group of people who first had the courage to challenge patriarchal convention and put question marks around the limited, pre-scientific understanding of the universe. Their reluctance to accept “because it says so in this book” as a satisfactory answer to the mysteries of the most high was pivotal in driving the scientific understanding that we rely on.
Oh, but their blasphemy is deplorable to you? That’s ok. You don’t have to change your beliefs. In the same way, the fact that your daughter is allowed to read is deplorable to our Taliban friends. The axiom “One Nation, Under God” is deplorable to many atheists. My use of the “argument by shrimp” above may be deplorable to Jews, and your remorseless violation of certain sections of your own scripture in the attempt to uphold arbitrarily chosen prejudices is certainly deplorable to me. Or does religious freedom only apply to Judeo-Christian faiths?
If you, like me, have faith in the higher power and the intelligent design, and you believe that God is infallible, that unconditional love is the essence, the very construct of everything, then you’ll agree that we’re all here looking for the Light. I see it in the flowers, I see it in the clouds, I see it shining the eyes of the faithful—whether their faith is in God, nature, science, themselves, or in all of us. I’m in awe of my atheist brothers and sisters, who stand courageous in the face of their own mortality and drive humanity towards the Light despite having no crumbling papyrus scripture threatening them with pits of belching sulfur.
And in the contrast of our faiths we can refine our understanding of the Truth, whatever form it takes. We’re truth-seekers, after all.
Just had to get that off my chest.
Love and light,
E. A. A. Wilson
E. A. A. Wilson is an ordained minister, metaphysician and writer. Visit her site here.