A Choice

I found this column by Stephen Prothero that describes the event I attended at Harvard last month to kick off the Good Without God campaign and the Boston Area Coalition of Reason. Prothero prefers the kinder, gentler type of atheist, and wants to hear from more women’s voices, which would certainly be a good thing. But while Fred Edwords did take potshots at religion, he did so not with anger but with humor and a flair I found quite appealing. To some extent, the gay rights movement may serve as a model for nonbelievers seeking tolerance. But unlike gays, we do hope to convert others. Unlike homosexuality, nonbelief is certainly a choice.


4 Responses to “A Choice”

  1. December 11, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks for a measured response, Rick. Most of the responses I’ve received to this column have been so angry as to make my point. Good luck, Steve.

  2. December 12, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    I rather liked Steve’s article, although I can’t speak about the original event as I wasn’t there. I think the ‘two voices’ he identifies are real – but I don’t think it’s an either/or proposition. I think all successful movements have a variety of spokespeople, and finding new voices is critical for us at this time. Perhaps you’ll like some of the voices on our magazine?

  3. 3 Rekha Vemireddy
    December 14, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Is it really a choice to not sense the presence of some anthropomorphic supernatural being? I certainly do not remember ever deciding. I think it is a sensibility. That’s why you cannot use logic and evidence-based thinking to convince the believer. He or she simply experiences this sense of a Higher Power, and that is their proof.

    Conversely, many gays and lesbians will attest that pursuing and developing their homosexuality is a choice that they have made–one that is very important to their integrity and character.

  4. December 14, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    The standard “politically correct” view of homosexuality is that its not a choice, but reflects perhaps a genetic predisposition plus some epigentic variation. Yes, gays can choose whether to stay in the closet or leave it, but they don’t choose their actual sexual preference.

    In contrast, many people do change their minds about whether they believe in God. Of course, one could get into a deep philosophical debate about whether there is freewill, but it does seem that people change religions far easier than they change sexual preferences. That’s where the analogy of atheists to gays falls short. Gays really aren’t a threat to religion, because there is a natural limit to the number of people who prefer same-sex relationships. But there is no natural limit to those who might disbelieve in religion with the proper education.

    Also, to see how the other 85 percent live, check out the catchy Amy Grant song, “I Have Decided”


    with the following crazy lyrics

    I have decided,
    I’m gonna live like I believer,
    Turn my back on the deceiver.
    I’m gonna live what I believe.
    I have decided,
    Being good is just a fable,
    I just can’t ’cause I’m not able.
    I’m gonna leave it to the Lord.

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