If you wander around on the internet for any length of time at all, you find yourself tripping over people criticizing other people. It’s a free internet (for now), and it’s everybody’s right to comment. And if we put ourselves out there, we are opening ourselves up to criticism.
I’m sure I have my own blind spots, things I proudly announce about myself which say more than I recognize I’m saying. And maybe the people closest to me are blind too, out of love and acceptance refusing to acknowledge my worst features, so they can’t tell me.
My internet persona is not actually my real self. It’s a haphazard construction of a projection of my self-image. My online persona consists of who I think I am, who I want you to think I am, plus, probably, some of those things I’d be embarrassed about if I could see them.
Sometimes I am puzzled by what people are intentional and proud to reveal. But here too are blind spots.
There are people who are defining themselves, defining their lives, constructing their identities, by negatives. By what they don’t have, by what they don’t do, by what they don’t believe. I’m sure there are lots of examples, but there are two which cross my path often.
These are people who base their identities on not having children. That someone has opted not to have children is not that remarkable, and it’s not my place to second-guess anyone’s personal choices. But the people who publicly identify as “Childfree” seem to build their lives around their exemption. They declare that they are not having children ever. They actively do not raise children. Many of them clearly do not like children. They proudly boast of a marked prejudice against a huge swath of the world’s human beings, based on the fact that they are young, and against their parents, based on the fact that they, well… we get scholarly things like these on our FB newsfeeds:
So it’s not enough that they’ve chosen not to have children in their lives, but they must make out that people with offspring are stupider, unhappier, poorer, have less sex and are physically inferior.
It does seem as though the childfree are constantly confronted with kids! Wherever they go, there are hordes of annoying children. Their newsfeeds are so packed with other people’s kids they have to use an app to block those posts. Poor things. They seem to encounter a lot more children than I do. Odd.
What happens when the young humans they can’t bear grow up and cross their arbitrary threshold to acceptability? Will the young people shower them with affection? Good planning!
And people are constantly asking them when and why not. Have we forgotten how to dismiss rude people…and move on?
Surprisingly, these same people spend a great deal of time criticizing how people who do have children are doing it all wrong. They are positive geniuses about raising kids; they have all the answers.
I’ve opted not to have dogs. But I don’t build a lifestyle around the absence of a dog, or brag about how superior my life is to dog-owners’ lives, or declare about how selfish or how brainless it is to own a dog. I don’t go on a crusade to make the world agree with my perfect dogfree lifestyle. And I don’t then tell dog owners how to train their dogs, though it does seem as though some could use the advice. (Blind spot alert.)
If these people were truly content and satisfied with their childfreeness, wouldn’t they live and let live, and move on past the child orientation?
I don’t spend all my free time criticizing a lifestyle choice I did not make. I don’t spend time every day looking for web articles on why it’s stupid and harmful to be childless. I don’t join anti-childfree internet groups where we complain to each other about people who don’t have children, and simultaneously about how people without children are doing not having kids all wrong.
I don’t orient my life around the absence of something.
And patrolling the web for thoughts which are in opposition to yours and finding them offensive does seem like a rather negative way to live life.
A theist: the word itself says anti-belief. It’s an active and intentional focus on a negative.
If, as atheism poster boy hopeful Bill Maher said…
“Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sexual position.
Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color.
Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.
Atheism is a religion like health is a disease…”
…then why do atheists spend so much time arguing about God?
If there’s only Absence there, if He isn’t there, why do you concern yourself with Him? Why don’t you dispense with him once and for all, and go on with your life? It seems like since you decided to be an atheist, which you describe as the negation of something, you can’t get your eyes off God. “Atheism isn’t something you practice,” you claim. But you literally cannot stop talking about Him.
Zealous atheists troll Facebook and blogworld, inserting themselves into in-house apologetics debates, commenting on posts where, if they had truly left God behind, they would have no interest. It’s astonishingly obnoxious. It’s very much like if I went out of my way to argue with auto mechanics who were talking to each other, stopping conversation to insist that there is no such thing as the internal combustion engine, and challenging him to prove my car doesn’t run on pixie dust, then ridiculing him no matter how he responds.
I didn’t create a blog for the purpose of arguing with strangers about what I DON’T believe. I don’t believe in Santa Claus, but I don’t spend any time at all talking about Santa Claus. I wouldn’t go around robbing little children of the Santa myth. That would be rude. You see, Santa Claus isn’t there, so I don’t think about him much, and I go buy the gifts myself.
Since Santa isn’t going to bring presents, I take it upon myself to do it instead. Take note non-believers?
The atheists I know pride themselves on their better way of logic and freethinking. To define yourself by what you are not is a lot of things, but it’s not something a thinking person does. It’s something an emotional person does.
It could be that you can’t forget about God because you really do see Him everywhere, and you don’t want to. He’s like someone with a really big personality who just left the room before you came in. Everyone has been impressed by Him in some way, his fingerprints are everywhere, his jacket is flung over a chair back, his cup is sitting on the table. Some people really love the guy, some can’t stand him, some are trying to ignore him. But they can’t. It’s the one thing they cannot do with him.
The one thing you cannot do with God is dismiss him. And atheists are the proof.
If you challenge an atheist in this way, he will insist the real problem is not God, but religion– other people’s insistence on clinging mindlessly to the pernicious illusion of a Santa in the Sky. But discuss for a few minutes, and he will invariably return to his anger at God. Always anger at what God has done, failed to do, or allowed. That God who he knows is imaginary.
The atheist’s dilemma: do I forever rail at the Unjust Straw Man, the Disappointing Santa, shaking my fist at the sky; or do I truly dismiss the concept of a Supreme Being and attempt to live my life as though He’s really not there?
Logically, you cannot have both. If you choose to believe He’s not there, then there’s no one to be angry at, and you’re ranting uselessly at the air. The upside is, you can stop thinking about Him and move on.
If you’re angry at Him, you’ve got to admit he’s there, and you have a different problem to resolve- to work out your relationship with Him. But at least there’s a God!
Either way, you can define yourself by what you are instead of what you’re not.