The Interloper


Every once in a while, you meet a writer who can do something totally insane. I’m talking about things like combining My Three Sons, the meaning of life and the unconscionable burden of original sin to make a point about accommodating religion. And making it work.

Of course, as an atheist, I can look at the pathetic claims to “other ways of knowing” and scoff. I acknowledge that I have been using very general terms and examples, and in my examples I allow religion to be relatively harmless. It is a concept that claims an authority it cannot have. I could simply sit back and say “Well, if some people want to believe, then that’s their business” and I could leave it at that. With that, I could be just as accommodating as Josh Rosenau or Chris Mooney or Chad Orzel, and then I could whistle on my way nonchalantly.

My problem is that I am not content to leave it at that. I didn’t become an atheist because of science; it was a slow realization that I was not born a lowly worm. I was not born dependent on the sacrifice of a man-god and his resurrection in order to gain “salvation.” I realized that I had no overriding purpose to uncover; I was not born to any certain fate.

You know, I’ve read that essay more than once. I edited it, paying attention to all the details. I still haven’t got a clue how it worked. But work it did, and that’s hardly the only time that he’s surprised me like that.

Happy birthday, Mike, and may you continue to write in your own inexplicable way for years to come. One of these days, I’ll even figure out how you carry it off.

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