Aaaaand I'm pretty table-flippingly annoyed right now. First of all, I think his ideas about materialism and atheism necessarily leading to pure materialism are on a level with what I thought when I was about 9 and first learned about the way the physical brain works to produce the mind, and how I couldn't believe that cells and chemicals and electricity could make a person. I had no evidence for why I thought that this couldn't be true, but I doggedly insisted upon it for awhile.

Three years later, I found myself unable to believe in God. This didn't mean that I no longer believed that God existed, but that I thought my own faith had failed, that something was wrong with me. There was late-night begging and praying and pleading and crying and a terrible fear of damnation (okay, I always had that. I was a remarkably Calvinist child for someone raised in an Arminian church). Then I started to wonder whether my inability to believe really meant that, or if perhaps I was right, and there was no God after all. So when I was fourteen I secretly became an atheist— and that made me believe more thoroughly in the importance of living a good life and of helping others during life than being a Christian ever had. Not saying that's true for everyone— I still got my morals mostly from my Christian parents, and they do more good in the world than I, and they do it through a religious framework— but it's true for me.

And it has had consequences in my life. It was formative. This man is so glibly dismissive of what being an atheist in a religious society entails that I kind of want to smack him in the face. WITH INTENTIONALITY.


Also, the way he keeps denying atheists' agency by saying "well it's only because religious people allowed it as an option." Um, no, I'm actually pretty sure than in most cultures— let's take European culture because I'm familiar with it— up until rather recently, religion was not really considered OPTIONAL. It was assumed that Christianity was the real actual literal truth, so it wasn't "do you believe in God," it was "are you saved or damned, because of course God is real." Yet there were still atheists, somehow, despite their not having religion's permission to exist. And being an atheist back then? Sure as hell required some imagination. And some courage, even if no one knew (because that was pretty much suicide for quite a while), because it must have been really, really hard to know you didn't believe in God when literally everyone else you ever met did. It must have been so wrenching to wonder whether you were right or whether you were just damned and there was nothing you could do to make yourself believe. (I maybe think a little too much about Christopher Marlowe's imaginary feelings, guys).

Sorry. This just made me ragey. What are you guys' thoughts on this? I don't want to start any kind of a shitstorm, so please don't be dismissive of other people's beliefs or lack thereof (not that I think I have to tell y'all this, but just in case).