Go To Meetin’: Hardwired for the High Wire


Freedom From Religion Foundation

Freedom From Religion Foundation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We non-believers can be a smug lot sometimes. One only needs to watch Bill Maher to understand why some of the gentler, more open-minded believers still feel uncomfortable around us.


We make a big deal about the idea that we live an evidence based life and that we have no need to find some divine figure to give us purpose or even a need for a purpose in the first place. We are here, we will contend, and that is enough. We create our own meaning. I have said so at length in the past.


I wonder though if we  really escape the search for purpose, for something bigger than ourselves. We give ourselves to causes both humanitarian and political. We pick our patron saints of non-belief, be it Hitchens or Sagan (which I suppose would mark the difference between our Evangelicals and our Episcopalians,) and put them on a pedestal. We convince ourselves that we are merely admiring great men, but the vigor and love behind it isn’t appreciably different from what believers have for their idols.


Maybe there is something about the human brain that requires worship of some sort. Maybe it is the human experience itself. Cut off from really understanding each other we feel the need to create understanding in rituals, gods, heroes and causes. I call myself a secular humanist, I cleave to a belief-set and define myself by it. I claim moral virtue from it. The fact that I find that virtue by way of logic may make it safer, it may actually make it the correct course of action, but it does not change the fact that I feel the need to connect to that virtue. I strongly suspect other non-believers are much the same.


I understand that given the fact that we cannot ultimately prove the existence of the divine that we should not form policy around it. I have been a vocal advocate of that position since my childhood. Still, I find the mockery of faith disturbing, when in fact, even we non-believers feel its pull, even if it is in a very different way.




14 thoughts on “Go To Meetin’: Hardwired for the High Wire

  1. Christine,
    What I love about this post, is that (as usual) you are so very fair minded and you are not shaming, unlike religious zealots that are unwilling to engage in any meaningful dialogue. At least this is my reading of your post.

  2. I rarely mock faith in front of believers. In fact I don’t think I every do. I do put a few arguments out front if asked. But I am not good with the philosophical arguments.
    I really don’t care what one believes as long as they let others believe as they like and don’t interfere. And I am sure you probably feel this way too. But I write many words to old tunes which …. I guess you would call mocking.

    I think I would probably not do it if the world were as I describe above. But religion has such a grip….a tight grip….on so many. Sometimes my singing and words are the only way I have to express how I feel. I have heard and sung songs long ago in a religious setting that scared me silly.

    I find many like my songs……know they are silly.
    I do not incite.
    I do not sing Onward Atheist Soldiers.

    OH forgive my little rant…lol

  3. One of the common misconceptions of atheists/humanists is that we’re closed off to anything larger than ourselves. That offends believers, and makes us seem less fully human in their eyes, because they tend to assume–incorrectly–that religion is the only way to experience awe and (dare I say it?) reverence.

    But your point–that we also tend to elevate human heroes–is right on the mark. It’s amusing to see how we elevate people like Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc., and then feel either angry or defensive when they fail to live up to our ideals… and soon we’re fighting amongst ourselves like Baptists during a church split. No, we aren’t so different from believers.

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