I need to address something that’s come up in the last couple of months regarding my treatment of religion here on the site. A couple people have written me, either directly or via the comment functionality, to say that my treatment of religion seems too extreme.
Their main point seems to be that some good people exist that are religious, and that it’s not a simple matter of someone either being an atheist (and therefore good), or being religious (and being therefore bad).
First off, let me start by apologizing for conveying this. I mistakenly assume that people who read this site know me well enough that they’d never be able to come to such conclusion. This is obviously not the case.
Secondly, let me assure you, this is not how I view religion. I don’t think that it’s a 1 or 0 — that you’re either an atheist or you’re an evil bastard. Not only have I met atheists that were pretty shitty people (although the numbers are notably small), but I also personally know hundreds of people who are both somewhat religious and are beautiful people.
I even know a few people who are religious extremists who I consider to be excellent people as well (although, admittedly, I’d say the numbers are also relatively small).
Most importantly, though, many of my best friends are non-atheists, as is my father and, as far as I know, my entire family (German Lutheran Preachers on my father’s side). While I might have a higher number of friends than usual that are atheists (just because like interests attract people), I’ve never done the calculation of how many atheist friends I have vs. how many non-atheist friends I have. It’s simply not valuable to me, as a metric, for judging who will or will not be a good person or a good friend.
So the situation is this: the overwhelming majority of the people that I love and respect in this world are believers in some way, shape, or form. I don’t consider all religious belief to be the same by any measure; in fact this is one of my main thoughts about good, thoughtful believers: they create their own religions guided by their own morality.
So, ironically, I am much like a friend who has too much Jesus (TMJ). I will rarely pass up an opportunity to talk about philosophy/religion, and I feel that since I have a more true way of approaching things (my belief) that I should share that with people I care about. It’s no different, in this respect, than a friend who always talks to you about “getting to know God”. Except I don’t think anything worse will happen to you if you ignore me. ;)
Basically, and all my close friends know this, I am obsessed with two things:
- Having interesting experiences.
- Sharing them with people I care for.
And not to get too hippy on you, but that group extends not only to my close personal friends, but also to people who share interests with me — people who I interact with through my site. Many of you would no doubt be close friends of mine if I were able to meet you and spent time with you, but life’s randomness has built a system where we interact only through the tubes (although I’d love to change that at some point if the opportunity ever arises).
The point is that I try and share things I’m passionate about with the people I care about. If I love a particular book, or movie, or idea — I literally can’t wait to see if my friends enjoy it as well. Seeing the enjoyment or fascination that I feel for a particular thing resonate in my friends is one of the most enjoyable things that happens to me.
It all comes down to the cycle again:
- Find cool stuff.
- Learn about it.
- Share it with friends.
- Experience it again when they love it.
Kind of selfish, if you think about it. I get to enjoy stuff (1 + Number_of_Friends_Who_Like_It_) times.
So anyway, the basic idea is this: if you’re religious and you read my site, I apologize if you’re ever offended. I know that not all religious people are bad people, and I clearly separate the concept of religion from kind, thoughtful people who have religious beliefs.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing what I’m doing, but perhaps I’ll try and take time to point out more often, for those who don’t read this, that I realize there are multiple types of religious belief, and that not everyone who isn’t an atheist is some kind of extremist.
In short, I’ve heard your comments, and hope this helps clarify things a bit.: