29 December 2006

my absent god.

Meet my new hero, Oxford professor Richard Dawkins. Check out more interviews and a Q and A in Virginia on Youtube.
My other newfound hero is the eloquent Sam Harris, author of Letter to a Christian Nation. Although he gets on a bit of an anti-Islam tirade at the end, which distracts from the "Christian nation" theme, his section on comprehensive sex ed, HIV/AIDS, the HPV vaccine, and the religious right's objections thereto won my heart. I think it's all well and good if your faith gives your life meaning, but I think many people forget that that's their life, not necessarily everyone else's. If said faith leads you to selectively deny people information that could save their life, then you've lost all right to preach moral superiority over my heathen life. And let's not get me started on the hypocrisy present in much of the American religious right - if you can't practice what you preach, then don't judge my life as a consolation. My actions reflect my values, and I'm quite content with that.

Lest I sound as judgmental as those who frustrate me to no end, let me clarify that the vast majority of my anger is directed solely at the "extremists" to which Harris addresses his letter. I don't take issue with religion and god on the individual level - I don't see the point, but then I'm sure many don't see the point in not believing in a god or afterlife. But if it inspires you to do good and help others, I'm not one to judge intentions. Truce.

But when religion has been elevated to the point where challenging its basic tenets is inherently wrong, we're dangerously limiting ourselves as a society. For a long time, I called myself an agnostic so I "at least believed in something," since the notion of atheism is difficult to swallow. Then I realized the absurdity of lying about my beliefs so as not to frighten others. I wouldn't lie about my political or social views, and I think my readiness to hide my atheism illustrates just how pervasive religion has become. Rest assured, I do believe in something - love, passion, helping others, and leaving this world somehow a better place, even if only for one person, for my having lived in it.

On to happier thoughts - Merry Christmas (ahh, the irony cuts like a knife) and a Happy New Year. I actually kept my resolution last year (vegetarianism), for the first time in my life, so now I'm excited by the potential laid out before me for the coming year. What to resolve?

My care package to a group stationed in Iraq arrived, and I got a thank you email on Christmas from the soldier who distributed it to everyone. It warmed my heart in a way the commericalism of the holiday season just can't - turns out I was the first college woman to send anything. Best Christmas present ever - thanks AnySoldier.com! Everyone else should go send a package, especially all you crazy liberals out there who supposedly hate the troops. Changing the world, one person at a time.

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