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Mar 11 2012

It Takes More Endurance *Not* To Run A Marathon, You Know

I’ve taken up not running
But it’s going to take a while
Last week, I took it easy
And I didn’t run a mile (continues, after the jump:)

I wouldn’t want to strain myself;
I know just what to do
I’m building up my stamina—
Today, I won’t run two

It’s gonna take a couple weeks
Or maybe even more
But soon enough, I won’t be running
Three, or maybe four

If I can keep my focus tight
And overcome my fear
I might not run a marathon
By sometime late next year

It’s quite a lot of effort;
No one said it would be fun
It’s a heck of a commitment
When you start out not to run

I’ve been reading too many descriptions of “atheism as a religion” (many are responses to Kennedy’s poorly thought piece in Reason magazine), and it’s just gotten annoying.

Long-time readers know I am of the “privative” camp of atheism. It simply makes the most sense. But here’s the deal; I know that there are plenty of atheists who disagree with me. To say that atheism is “a” religion (even if it fit whatever definition you choose) would be akin to saying that theism is “a” religion. There are a plethora of views within either atheism or theism, bound together by one’s answer to just one question of the hundreds or thousands of questions that further discriminate among believers or among disbelievers (those sets of questions would be completely different, for the record).

The attempt at equating all of atheism with one particular religion has been the source of quite a bit of confusion. It is assumed, too often, that (say) PZ Myers’s position and Alain de Botton’s should be the same, since they are both atheists. The people who assume this have no problem recognizing that any two believers might have vastly different positions–that even two conservative protestant christian sects might violently disagree.

If you’re going to claim that Atheism is a religion (a baseless claim, in my book), at least be honest and do the legwork to recognize that differences exist in the belief systems of individual atheists. That’s not a failure of atheists to adhere to some atheist doctrine–none exists, no matter what you might wish–but rather a failure of your “atheism is a religion” claim.

There are all sorts of ways to run–sprints, middle distances, marathons, relays, jogs, barefooted… there are even more ways not to run. The important thing is, not all “not running” is the same thing. It has in common only what it is not.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Jason Thibeault

    Bravo, Mr. Fish.

  2. 2
    Michael Brew

    Not long ago, I used the old “is not stamp collecting a hobby?” question on a guy in my unit who’s quite stereotypically fundamentalist. Sadly, the response I got was, “yeah, that can be a hobby.” I did my best to explain why that was a ridiculous thing to say, but he wouldn’t have any of it. A mind like a steel trap, this guy.

  3. 3
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Lovely, and so right. I’m definitely going to quote this to my running friends as well since the only shape I’m in is round.

    Michael Brew can try “Atheism is a religion as bald is a hair color” or “… as abstinence is a sex position.” But it’s probably better just to skip to pointing out that he is an atheist when it comes to other religions and calling him an aThorist, Sivaist, and so on.

    It might be milder just to quote some of the old religions, like how Aesculapius cured people who prayed to him as proof that he should believe in them.

    Or you could simply infuriate him (I’m assuming you’re in the U.S.) by agreeing that Atheism is indeed a religion in the First Amendment sense, which protects the expression of atheist opinions and people who practise atheism and also prevents the state from endorsing or displaying atheistic opinions. That should lead to a lovely discussion of how non-display of religious statements is not promoting atheism.

    Then, of course, you can give him an example of actual atheistic statements.

  4. 4
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Did you actually say

    &nbp; ”is not stamp collecting a hobby”

    or did you say

    &nbp; ”as ‘not collecting stamps’ is a hobby”?

    You could give him a copy of DC’s poem.

  5. 5
    sailor1031

    Marathons? That’s nothin’. I’ve been not running the 100-mile desert classic for years! I’m also seriously into not-sprinting and not-jogging too! Guess I’ll not-see you out there!!!

  6. 6
    Cuttlefish

    That’s impressive, sailor-it takes all the effort I can muster not to jog around the block!

  7. 7
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    LOL excellent! I love the extra layer in the title “It takes more …” (that stupid “It takes more faith to be an atheist” has always irritated me to no end!).

    Heehee…PZ’s post this morning mentioning you having to force yourself not to write poetry on Sunday mornings (he said you’d have to “force himself to write prose”, but kind of the same thing) It made me chuckle – hey maybe you two had some kind of cosmic mind connection today!!

  8. 8
    niftyatheist, perpetually threadrupt

    …forgot to add “woooooooo!” before hitting submit comment.

  9. 9
    Randomfactor

    If it takes more faith for you to be an atheist, ur doin it rong.

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