Well, Apparently I’ve Offended Again.
Not that I didn’t expect that. Fran Porretto has asked specifically that I not comment on his “Sunday Ruminations,” and I will state right up front that he makes no direct attribution to either me or my recent post Why I Am an Atheist, but today’s post by Fran includes this quote, in large, bold, bright blue letters:
But one ought to look carefully at such things before running off at the mouth. In particular, one ought to exhibit a trace of humility about one’s outside-observer’s position:
“If I, an outsider, am correct in thinking that what I observe is pointless, does it not imply that the persons who voluntarily participate in it must necessarily be idiots? Were I to find non-idiots among them and (gasp!) ask what sustenance they draw from these endlessly repeated forms, what might they say?”
This question apparently does not occur to many of those who deride the Church.
I have to assume this is directed at me in particular, though it is generic in tone. I won’t respond in Fran’s comments as requested, but I won’t let this go without response at all.
No, Fran. It does not imply that those who voluntarily participate must necessarily be idiots. It doesn’t even imply that they might be idiots. It implies only that they believe in something I am unable to believe in.
Does the fact that I am unable to believe imply that I must be mentally defective in some way? It seems the door must swing both ways.
As to the question unasked: “(W)hat sustenance (do) they draw from these endlessly repeated forms?” I need not ask it. The forms give you comfort. They draw you closer to your fellow believers. You said it yourself:
Formalisms and rituals have several known effects upon the mind. They’re calming, promote peace and order among their participants, and provide a form of psychic refreshment unavailable from informal activities.
I’m quite aware of that, and I don’t denigrate it. As I said in Why I Am an Atheist, I understand and believe that religion – particularly the Christian faiths – are symbiotic. That implies beneficial.
And that’s all I’m going to say on this topic at this point.