Being godless in the workplace

This is more of a rant than a well-thought out post.

In just a little over one month into my new job (more on that in a bit), the issue of and concerns about my humanism/atheism has already come into conversation twice. I live and work in Tennessee. Every night I’m subjected to christian propaganda in the form of general conversation and apparel (i.e. t-shirts with such witty wording as “Not perfect, just forgiven”). I carry a book with me almost every night to have something to read during my breaks and lunch. So far I’ve steered clear of taking such blatant titles as “The God Delusion” and “The Portable Atheist” with me mostly because I feel the issue of my non-belief is not an appropriate area of discourse for the workplace so I usually take a general science book with me. But “science” itself, it seems, is enough to get the dusty cogs in their brains going.

Twice I’ve had the question put forth to me, “So, do you believe in God?” And twice I’ve answered, “No, I really don’t believe in anything supernatural.” The first person asked an interesting follow-up question, “So.. are you, ya know… happy?” … The second was more down-trodden, “Man, that kind of makes me sad to hear that. Everybody has to believe in something.”

In the two brief discussions I’ve had with these two people, I’ve tried to entertain their personal beliefs without stepping all over them. (I save the stepping for the intertubes.) I’ve even held back a few questions and laughter that would serve no good purpose. One of them kept coming back to the “debate” with questions like, “So how do you explain good and evil?” to which I replied, “What else would there be?” and “We just made all that evolution stuff up.” To which I quickly replied, “No, we just figured it out. There’s a big difference.”

Both seem to be very fond and ignorant of the Bible… “The words in red are what Jesus said.” … as well as ignorant of other religions and modes of spirituality.  It’s pretty obvious they’ve never experienced a spiritual moment from anything other than the religion they were brought up in. They’ve never explored the topic of religion in an academic sense and are oblivious to other culture’s religions. I keep wondering what our country would be like if we had comparative religion studies in our high schools. I’ve explained to both of them that I’m a very spiritual person, just not a religious one… I find my spirituality in the awesome mysteries and wonder of the universe. Pictures like this evoke a spiritual response from me. Hell, just thinking about how massive our universe is evokes a spiritual response. I’m reminded of one of my favorite Carl Sagan quotes…

Many religions have attempted to make statues of their gods very large, and the idea, i supposed, is to make us feel small. But if that’s their purpose, they can keep their paltry icons. We need only look up if we wish to feel small.

Putting “Life” into perspective is a humbling and empowering experience that everyone should take part in. It allows you to see life for what it truly is. An amazingly rare and wondrous thing worth saving and worth making it better for all. Viewing the Earth from space allows you to see the made up lines we’ve created to separate ourselves from one another and to see our little insignificant planet as a single organism that must work together in harmony if it is to survive. Realizing there is no supernatural afterlife awaiting you when you die begs the venture of making all there is to make of this life. As Richard Dawkins put it…

The ‘here and now’ is not something to be endured before eternal bliss or damnation. The ‘here and now’ is all we have; An inspiration to make the most of it.

As it stands, I’m going to continue trying to avoid the ‘I’m a godless heathen among you’ conversation while on the clock.

I’ve now broken two principles because I need this job so much at the moment … damn you U.S. economy. Granted, larger paychecks are nice, but they don’t make me feel any better about myself. The whole situation is a bit loony. I’m attempting to be a nobody that stands out amongst the crowd. Does having a contradictory goal affect the outcome?  Hmmmm.

Okay… my little rant is over… When I write a real post regarding my new job, some of this will make a little more sense. Right now, after a 12 hour shift… I’m pooped. Lights out.

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