Pardon me while I go on a tangent – I am prone to doing so.
Earlier today I was reading a fellow bloggers’ review of Ricky Gervais’ The Invention of Lying. My response, if you’ll indulge my ego, was both lucid and brilliant 🙂 – but, to my utter dismay, when I hit the Post Button, I received an error code that said my response was too lengthy and I was unable to recover it.
I stewed for hours until I could get the opportunity to attempt to recreate what I originally put into words – it’s my experience that second-time-around writings are never really as good as the original, but I’ll give it a shot.
So here’s the set-up. Ricky Gervais is an atheist. If you haven’t read it already, he offered an extremely well written article in the Wall Street Journal just before Christmas explaining why he doesn’t believe in god.
Adam Parker is very obviously a Christian and took some offense at Gervais’ movie, The Invention of Lying, for it’s atheistic spin. Adams’ Blog
If you haven’t seen the movie (it is on cable right now), you can get a gist of Adam’s discontent here…
So far, no big deal. Opinions are being expressed. Ricky doesn’t believe, Adam does, Adam doesn’t appreciate the message of the movie – that people behave civilly with each other so they can get into heaven.
Next up, Shannon. Shannon takes umbrage at Adam’s discontent with the film. Adam then questions Shannon with: “Let me ask you a question, Shannon, if I may (and in asking this question, I am assuming you to be an atheist): What reason do you have to be good?”
Although directed to Shannon, it was too good a question to let pass. My response went along the lines of:
I enjoyed reading your article although I disagree with your assertions at the fundamental level.
When I first watched The Invention of Lying I wasn’t impressed with the movie overall – maybe it was Jennifer Garner’s character that put me off, but I digress. The second time I watched it, I had the opportunity to appreciate the genius of Ricky Gervais and his ability to espouse his worldview, which of course is bound to draw the ire and criticism of Christians, such as yourself.
While not trying to speak for Shannon, I’d like to chime in on your open question to her: “What reason do you [an atheist] have to be good?”
It’s an interesting question you posit – and not one to be taken lightly. A short answer is simple – we as a species evolved as social creatures in order to adapt to our environments. As we banded together as hunter-gatherers and began communal living (I might mention that this is long before the New Testament came about), certain mores, ethics, and codas were needed in order to maintain civil order, even in small communities. When you consider that Charlton Heston came down from Sinai with the ten Commandments – with god telling his chosen people that murdering one another is a bad thing, that stealing from your neighbor shouldn’t be tolerated, etc…do you really think that in other communities that were developing around the globe (that didn’t have a chance to see the movie) hadn’t already figured it out – that in order to live peacefully with other human beings, a standard set of ethics and laws applied?
We are genetically programmed, as a species, for social activity. Social activity requires not being the kid no one wants to play with.
The longer answer has more do with with the nature of secular humanism – which I won’t bore you with as there is plenty written on the topic.
Bottom line is that just about every atheist/agnostic/free thinker/secularist/insert tag line actually lives more of a Christian life than most of the Christians I’ve met. What I mean by that is they tend to be more caring of their fellow human beings and more willing to apply the Golden Rule than those who espouse Christian values.
You don’t have to search to far for examples – turn on Fox News sometime and watch people go apoplectic when talking about Obamacare – the idea that every American should have a right to affordable health care – WWJD??? How about the virulent hatred spewed by the Westboro Baptist Church, or the less general nuanced hatred of homosexuals by your average Christian? How about all the politicians embraced by the Christian Right that say they support family values but get caught with prostitutes or cheating on their wives – not living up to the values that they would otherwise legislate on the rest of America given half a chance.
My question to you, in return, is do you need a Christian version of heaven and/or hell in order to get you to live a decent life here on earth? I would sincerely hope not, but it what you appear to be suggesting…
Well – if you’ve read this far, I need to come clean and admit that I was able to find out that my original response to Adam did indeed post on his Blog and he even responded shortly after posting – but I didn’t know until I was well underway in writing this.