Monday, October 5, 2009

The Darkness of Secularism

I don’t watch General Conference anymore {obviously}. But I hear things, both from fellow ex-Mormons who attend due to family pressure and from believers attending in faith. So when I caught wind of Elder Hale’s talk discussing atheism I was not exactly a happy camper. I may or may not have called him names on Facebook. I knew I wanted to write more thoughtfully about the whole thing {without the impulsive name calling} so I went ahead and watched the talk myself. It isn’t fair to criticize that which I haven’t given due diligence researching. You can be bored by be angered by watch it yourself here {it was in the Saturday PM session}.

Right out of the gate Hales is off and running with an attack on atheism. He uses loaded language like "the darkness of secularism.” There is nothing dark about secularism. The most basic meaning of the word refers to anything not being directly related to religion, so driving your car, doing your laundry, or playing ski-ball all qualify. What Hales may have been getting at was “the darkness” of secular humanism, which “is a humanist philosophy that espouses reason, ethics, and justice, and specifically rejects the supernatural and the spiritual as the basis of moral reflection and decision-making. Like other types of humanism, secular humanism is a life stance that focuses on the way human beings can lead good, happy and functional lives.” Yup, gotta watch out for reason, ethics and justice…they’re bad ya’all.

Hales then says

Without God life would end at the grave. And our mortal experiences would have no purpose. Growth and progress would be temporary; accomplishments without value, challenges without meaning. There would be no ultimate right or wrong, no moral responsibility to care for one another as fellow children of God. Indeed, without God no immortality or eternal life.

Holy Secular $#*^! Where do I begin? Let’s start with the {unoriginal} criticisms myths of non-belief.

Myth: Life is meaningless without God.

Unless you’ve lived a life without belief I really don’t think you’re qualified to tell me it’s meaningless, especially because, guess what, it’s not. Just because I don’t have a supernatural parent assigning meaning to my life doesn’t mean I’m incapable of finding or forging my own. Same goes for having purpose. I’m very happy determining my purpose in life {raising my daughter to be happy and good, loving and supporting my life-partner, fighting to make the world better and more beautiful, etc.}. And I don’t need geriatrics to assign a one size fits all purpose for me thankyouverymuch.

Myth: Without God people have no morals.

Please. That line may work on people who don’t have any atheist friends but it won’t work {I hope} on anyone who actually knows an atheist. I certainly hope my friends know I’m not running around eating babies, stealing cars, or cheating on my husband {my life isn’t that exciting, guys}. I still give to charity, strive for honesty {unless you ask me if that dress makes you look fat}, and try to do what is right and good. And I do it because it’s right, not because God told me to, not because God told me if I really loved him I would {manipulative parenting much?}, not because I’m afraid I’ll go to hell if I don’t. However, if by morality you mean not drinking coffee, not watching R rated movies, and not speaking ill of the Lord’s anointed then, OK, you’ve got me. I’m a sinner first class.

Let’s move on. Hales talks about how there is no ultimate wrong or right without God. What he fails to mention is that there isn’t an ultimate right or wrong with God either. Mormonism {any religion really} is full of contradictions in morality that make that perfectly clear. It’s wrong to murder…unless it’s a drunk guy that’s passed out in the street and he has something you really, really want and God tells you to do it. It’s wrong to have more than one wife…unless God tells you to do it. And so on. And frankly, I admit it…I don’t believe in ultimate wrong or right. I believe in shades of grey. I believe it’s wrong to lie, but if I had to lie to save my daughter’s life I’d sure as hell do it.

Hales also says that without God life would end at the grave, there would be no eternal life. Of course, he says that under the assumption that there IS a god and there will be eternal life. I believe there is no god and no life after death. If I’m right then believing otherwise won’t make it so. I’d also like to point out that believing this is all there is has actually added meaning to my life. I strive to extract every last ounce of joy and purpose from my time on earth because I know it’s limited rather than wasting my days looking forward to a celestial future that won’t come.

I have more to say about this talk. And there’s another talk by someone else that I think I’ll need to address. But this post is long enough. So, for now, that’s all. I’m going to go have a baby sandwich. ;)