I find things like this very confusing.
Regardless of the one-word religious label that best sums her up, Leah seems like one of the good guys. I haven’t made a habit of reading her blog consistently, but I’ve always got the impression that she’s well on the side of tolerance, intellectual honesty, and all-round being nice to each other. I’ve written before about her idea for the Ideological Turing Test, which was an excellent way of examining how well believers and non- can actually understand and empathise with each other, and accurately describe the opposing view.
She’s been a relatively high-profile atheist blogger for quite some time. A way bigger noise in the godless community than me.
And now she’s a Christian.
Which – with absolutely not a gram of malice intended towards Leah or anyone else – I find seriously weird.
There are plenty of ongoing discussions about what atheism is, but the most common proposition I keep hearing (from atheists) is that it simply describes the lack of belief in a god, and nothing more, regardless of how some religious people might want to stereotype or generalise about us. Perhaps it’s partly because of this oft-repeated truism that I tend to assume that, when it comes to the whole god thing, I’m on roughly the same page as other atheists – at least, those atheists firm enough in their convictions to, say, blog regularly about it. Whatever our other philosophical differences, and whatever the divergent nature of the paths that took us here, we’re of one mind now in rejecting god in all his/her/their forms.
But an announcement like this throws a whole new perspective on it. Apparently Leah and I have been worlds apart this whole time. I can’t begin to understand her reasoning process right now, and apparently that’s been true for longer than I’ve realised.
I just can’t really conceive of myself ever taking a step backward like that. It feels like I’m such an unfathomably long way from where she was when she made this decision. It’s not like I find atheism fundamentally unsatisfying, or miss the comfort religion used to offer. I’m not interested in “exploring my spirituality” in the inane way most people use that phrase. I’m not struggling to find some resolution to the metaphysical epistemology of moral reasoning. There’s just no God.
There are more interesting and complex and difficult questions than that, of course, just like there’s a lot we still don’t know about the history of the development of life on this planet. But the basic idea of common descent and Darwinian selection isn’t in crisis. And nor is my lack of faith.
Also, it’s not just that Leah now believes in God – she hasn’t simply been too troubled by the ultimate question of whether there isn’t something bigger than us out there, and fallen into a flimsy, tentative, unnecessary-but-kinda-understandable deism. She’s Catholic. Not only does atheism not adequately explain the visible world for her any more, but the people who had the right answer all along are the Catholic Church.
Seriously? This Catholic Church? The one right here? From not believing in any god at all, you’ve swung so far round that these despicable fuckers here now seem like the best bet for all the reliable facts about Jesus, and the meaning of life, and morality, which was the exact point of contention which led you to convert?
Apparently I’m more angry about this than I thought. I don’t know Leah personally, and don’t wish her any ill. It’s just quite bewildering.