Why Are Atheists So Interested in God and Religion?

Submitted by Ken Watts on Tue, 05/19/2009 - 21:28

I  WAS RECENTLY ASKED why, if I am an atheist, I spend so much time on my blog writing about God and religion.

I think that's a fair question, and it also struck me as an interesting one.

I began to mull it over by looking back at the posts for the previous thirty days, as a sort of representative sampling. I was a bit surprised to find that I actually write about those topics less than I would have guessed.

Only 20% of the daily quotes have any mention of God or religion. Only about a third of my posts could be argued to focus on either topic in any serious way.

I don't count, for example, yesterday's post, which was a reply to a mean-spirited attack on atheists in the Los Angeles Times. The focus of that post was the irresponsibility of the attacker, even though I had to mention religion in passing a couple of times in order to point out the author's dishonesty.

The ten or twelve posts (depending on how you make the call) that really do talk about religion or God during the last month are the following:

  1. Four posts in an ongoing series on What the Bible Says about Abortion.
  2. Two posts in a series titled Atheism and Religion: A False Division?
  3. Evolution, Religion, and Atheisma post on a Pew poll that broke down levels of belief in evolution by denominations.
  4. Three posts in a series on a piece of email propaganda titled The Legend of the Cherokee.
  5. If the bar is set very low, two posts from the series on Emerging Spirituality might be included, since they discuss the world-views of ancient civilizations, and those world-views did happen to be religious.

I started the daily mull two and a half years ago when a friend pointed out to me that my personal journey had in an odd way paralleled the evolution of American culture in recent years.

I had been a fundamentalist who loved William F. Buckley Jr. and voted twice for Reagan. I had become a theological liberal (though not yet an atheist) who listened to Pacifica Radio and voted for Clinton.

In the process, I had become convinced that the great divide which I had somehow crossed was a divide between two spiritualities—two fundamentally different ways of being human.

I was convinced, and still am, that religion and politics cannot be divided.

I write the daily mull for several reasons. I write to promote understanding between the two sides of that divide. I write to help myself and others understand the shape of that divide. I write to try to find, or at least contribute to the finding, of a way forward, given that divide.

In light of all that, each of the posts or series I mentioned above have their own various reasons:

I'll go into each in detail next time...