Friday, November 23, 2012

Born Again

I’ve studied all the great philosophers and I’ve decided my favorite philosopher is Henny Youngman. And my favorite Henny Youngman quote is,I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up - they have no holidays.”

Professor Youngman makes an excellent point. How come the atheist activists you see on the news fighting against stuff like public nativity scenes always seem so dour? Atheists ought to have parades and celebrations just like everybody else.  Atheists have a lot to celebrate. Being a born again atheist feels quite liberating. It’s like finding yourself suddenly debt free. And you can stop worrying about silly shit like whether or not life is meaningless. Who cares? Even if you determine that life itself is meaningless, that doesn’t mean your life therefore has to be meaningless, too. It’s not an undertow. If staring at a piece of concrete all day gives your life meaning, then your life isn’t meaningless. You’re free to find meaning in whatever you want.

And who says born again atheists can’t believe in miracles? Inside my skull is this grayish glob. It looks like a head of cauliflower or a hunk of putty sent through a meat grinder. Inside this glob there are constant thunderstorms going on.  This glob barks out orders all day and all night. It never takes a break. It’s telling me to write this right now. And this glob is so damn demanding. It insists on a constant supply of oxygen and if it doesn’t get it, even for a few minutes, it will shut this whole operation down. There’s this other blob of membranes in my chest. It beats and beats and it never stops, all in the loyal service of pleasing the tyrannical glob. The beating blob is the slave shoveling coal into the furnace. Someday it will become too fed up or exhausted to continue.

The point is, all that is a fucking miracle.

And there’s also a certain sense of relief that comes with acknowledging the indifference of the universe toward humans. Suppose a tornado blows away your hometown. If you are the center of the universe and the point of all creation, then you have to wonder what you did to piss off the universe so bad that it blew away your hometown. But if the universe is indifferent, you don’t have to torture yourself like that because you know that whatever happens, it’s nothing personal. It’s all just business.

But what if atheists did come out to the point where they had some kind of big atheist holiday celebration on the scale of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, balloons and all? It might be dangerous.  I’ve always been tempted to conduct an experiment. First I’ll buy a battered, rusted wreck of a car. But I won’t drive it anywhere. I’ll park it and put vanity license plates on it that say ATHEIST of even 8THEIST.  And then I’ll see how long it is before the windows are broken or the tires are slashed.

An atheist holiday might cause a riot.