I’ve been noticing with greater and greater alarm that atheism is getting more and more popular in literary and academic circles. In fact, the majority of writers and scholars believe that anyone who believes in God must be naive and stupid. You aren’t smart enough, aren’t sophisticated enough to realize that God doesn’t exist and that life is pretty much shit. As the old saying goes, misery loves company. Now I don’t claim to be some highfalutin intellectual (fingers corn cob pipe thoughtfully for effect) but my great grand-daddy left me with at least this much sense: anything that makes you miserable ain’t all that good.

What an assumption! I know, right? I’m just as sure that all atheists aren’t miserable as I am that all believers aren’t happy. However, I can honestly say from experience that many (not all) of my atheist friends seem to wear their unhappiness like a badge. They consider their terrible lots in life to be irrefutable proof of how “real” they are. This is an old idea really, suffering being equated with authenticity. As a survivor of many forms and flavors of abuse, I personally think there is nothing noble about suffering, especially when it’s self-induced. It just sucks.

I see the core of this issue as being about the concept of newness, modernity. The idea of God is ancient, so it’s not cool anymore. Cool or not, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any truth to it. At some point in time if I shit on a canvas I might have gotten a gallery show because it was new, but that wouldn’t mean I’m a better artist than someone who could actually paint. For God’s sake people, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you believe there are some things that endure the test of time than who better than the G-O-D?

The literary and academic worlds are supposed to be a haven, a forum for all thoughts and ideas so what’s up with all this judgment? I’ve heard intellectuals call religious people closed-minded but isn’t it just as closed-minded to say something definitely doesn’t exist as it does? I think of the professor who has the courage, yes the courage to believe in a higher power, and the subtle and maybe not-so-subtle flak he/she might take from his/her co-workers, and it makes me sick. But not too sick because like time, God heals all wounds. Awesome.

I guess this is just another case of the old pendulum swinging back the other way again. Once upon a time people were crucified for not believing, now things have reversed and the faithful are ostracized for believing. See? I could have used the word “crucified” but no, I’m not some crazy, religious nut. Nor do I think I am right. I just think God exists insomuch as you let God exist, so hey, maybe it’s a good idea to try cracking the window open a little now and then, eh? I believe in spirituality more than some bearded, old, moody, white man in the clouds, and that spirituality has organically lead me to believe that if there wasn’t some kind of divine goodwill out there, that shit would be a lot worse than it is now. If you think that makes me crazy, well then put me in a sundress, slap my ass and call me Sally, I’m crazy.

Let me just anticipate one question: How can I believe in a God, all-knowing and all-powerful, when everything is so terrible? Well, sorry to bum out your bummers folks, but things are actually pretty good. Ah, I can almost feel the screams of protest! Why look at healthcare and Iraq and the corporations and all that. Terrible situations, agreed, but guess what, it could be a lot worse. The U.S. is a culture of complaints for which I partially blame Jerry Seinfeld and his weak, Satanic little observations, as well as a sensationalist, emotion-preying media. No, the sad truth for anyone out there addicted to the victim identity is this: everything’s okay. Life is hell only insomuch as you let it be. And I really think that is a significant part of people’s problem with faith; if there is a God than woah, what do you know, things might actually be alright.

The fact is that if I were to publicly announce that things are actually okay in some of the more popular intellectual hangouts (coffee shops, bookstores, etc), I would probably be verbally abused. Why I wouldn’t be surprised if the sexual practices of my own dear, sweet mother were called into question. My own flesh and blood mother, the very woman who brought me into this precious, wonderful world. Think about that a second.



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PETER SCHWARTZ is a poet, photographer, and writer. His poetry has been featured in The Columbia Review, Diagram, and Opium magazine. His photography has appeared online at CELLA’s Round Trip, eyeshot, and Litterbox magazine. His fiction in such places as Nano Fiction, Pindeldyboz, Prism Review, and DOGZPLOT, where he is art editor. He thanks God and O.C.D. for his extensive publishing credits.

4 responses to “Faith Isn’t Stupid”

  1. Carl D'Agostino says:

    My analysis of most atheists is not that they don’t accept the notion of a creator, the architect, the prime thought , higher power(notice all secular.), but that they’ve some how become so embittered by history and/or their own life experiences, that they don’t want to have anything to do with God no matter what He is or isn’t.

    The God of the Old Testament has been so anthropomorphized that He is reduced to human on a throne. That God sure has a lot of character defects. There’s anger,revenge, jealousy, and a very judgmental punitive nature. He advocates the murder of non Israelite people. He is uncompromising and totalitarian. If this is God, then I too am an athiest not a born again Presbyterian.

    But if he is gentle, restorative, nurturing, loving and forgiving then that I can believe. But the problem is that I cannot in all honesty postulate what God is or is not and expect everyone else to submit to my thinking.

    Oh, you have put it perfectly.”… God exists insomuch as you let God exist.” Jesus doesn’t demand faith. He invites one to faith. God is an invitation for man to accept or reject. And the covenant is purely experiential beyond empirical confirmation or rejection and offered unconditionally.

  2. I love this, thanks Carl. Yes, you bring up a very important point. I think a lot of people get turned off when they are sold a very specific version of God. That God doesn’t exist for me either. Only MY God exists. That’s what it’s all about, our relationship. I would never claim what I am thinking and feeling is objective. It’s entirely subjective and I think that also turns some people off too. And if (gasp) I am WRONG? Oh no, I would have lived a good, meaningful life. Thanks again for the thoughtful comment, take care.

  3. […] also found a bunch of interesting pieces about faith not being stupid, and God having both womb and a vagina, and a great one by Steve Sparshott on […]

  4. Tim says:

    Faith, religion, and spirituality in general doesn’t make any sense. The entirety of the universe can be modelled mathematically….where is the math in religious texts? What are the properties of a human soul? If it can’t be quantified in some way, even if only theoretically, it’s hogwash.

    It’s not that “God is ancient so it’s not cool”,

    It’s that the scientific method and mathematics have illuminated more about the true nature of objective reality far more accurately and quickly than any other way of thinking has or can. You are an ape, our species evolved from a long lineage of primates and then proto-primates before that, and burrowing early mammals before that, and going all the way back to oceanic single celled organisms at a time in Earth’s history when the atmosphere didn’t even have enough oxygen to support surface light (it took the evolution of photosynthesis for that to happen)

    All forms of spiritual belief are functionally obsolete. We know how factually wrong that view of objective reality is….and objective reality is ALL that matters to us that don’t get the whole faith thing.

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